When Diamond Comics distribution was halted due the Covid-19 outbreak, the fear of the comic book industry dying was on the minds of readers and fans. A divide would develop in the community, some readers would complain about not being able to read their books and that the comic book industry should go strictly digital during this outbreak. But in my honest opinion, if comic books were to go the route of streaming, it would kill the industry. I am no industry insider, but the existence of physical comic books is the main ingredient for the comic book community.
When we go to our local comic shop, we spend most of our time talking to those in the shop and finding new discoveries. If comics were to go strictly digital, it would kill the direct market and any needs for a comic shop. To many of us that read and collect comics, the comic shop is our second home, the place where we find more than just comic books.
There is just something about going to this place every Wednesday for new comic books, a place that use to be defined by a stigma of being “just for guys”. I can honestly say in the years of collecting, each year I have gradually seen an increase in comic shops welcoming to all kinds of people and I hope those that feel ashamed of reading comics, can find themselves in a shop or at a convention. If it was not for physical comics, we could honestly say we would have never met some of our closest friends by meeting them in comic shops or conventions.
But beyond the impact that physical comic books have on the community, the feeling of holding them in your hands can cause a connection that a digital cannot provide. Stan Lee said it best when he compared comic books to boobs. Yes Stan Lee compared comic books to boobs, he said “comics are like boobs… they look good on a computer, but I’d rather hold one in my hand”
To put it another way, certain comic covers are like amazing pieces of artwork. For example, in our home, we have a wall of comics that cannot be displayed in the same way in the digital format. Our wall features commissions from local artists that may never work on a comic book. Also variant covers give collectors something to hunt down. Some may hate that a certain comic can have 20 different covers, but just think about the opportunity that gives an artist with a major comic publication. The comic community goes beyond the fans and the readers, it includes the creators as well.
Physical comics give collectors more than just something to read, it offers something they can own and take pride in. For example, finding a first appearance of a comic book character is a highlight and goal in collecting. Hell for my 28th birthday, Nora bought me the first appearance of Miles Morales and I consider it one of the best gifts I have received.
Beyond the value of a physical comic book and beyond a physical comic book acting as a piece of art that one can own, the most important thing that a physical comic can provide is the connection between the reader and the comic shop. The idea that purchasing a physical comic book can play in the role of keeping a local comic shop alive is the most important thing.
Also if I can suggest something, please don’t belittle or call physical comic book readers “dinosaurs”. The Wednesday warriors and comic collectors are key in the survival of the comic book. We may spend $4-$5 on a single issue resulting in a hefty price on really good weeks, but once we spend that $4 to $5 dollars, we own that issue. We take pride in that ownership. Now what’s the point of spending $4 to $5 dollars on a digital copy? Also physical comics are not easily pirated, and pirating comics is worse than not buying comics at all, it’s stealing from creators. The people who make comics possible in the first place.
This blog may be against digital comics but I do understand the need for digital comics as well. It’s just as a collector and reader, it’s difficult to see the industry surviving if the collector and the comic shop are removed. Some web comics are absolutely brilliant and it may be a great way to introduce new readers to the hobby. But nothing can replace the feeling of holding an actual physical comic book.
That being all said, we were exited to learn about comics coming back on May 20th. Not to mention being excite with what the summer of 2020 has in store for us with great stories coming out like Death Metal and the spin-off/sequel to DCeased from DC Comics. There are many more books to include here, but with just those two, the future looks amazing.
The industry will not die, the creators will not stop creating and the fans will not stop their support.