The above tweet by Comics Explained set off a firestorm. At a time when comic stores are on the decline he’s apparently part of the all digital way of thinking. There’s a group who believes that digital comics aren’t just the future but the only future, and print comics in any form are a waste of time. I disagree with that. Print comics don’t require electricity beyond maybe a light to read by, are harder to accidentally delete, and offer up its own reading experience. I don’t mind digital comics obviously given that I make them and read quite a few but there are advantages to print comics.
There are also advantages to a comic book or any physical store that apparently the tweeter realizes. I’m going to start with a video by Just Some Guy but I have some thoughts of my own I want to add to it, including one disagreement I have with his video response. As soon as you hear it, you’ll probably know what it is if you’ve followed this site long enough. Note that he does drop a few curses, and the N-word but he’s black so he’s fine.
Catch more of Just Some Guy’s commentaries on his YouTube channel. And ask him to do more artcasts.
Of course the part I disagreed with him on is the idea that the single issue is outdated. As I’ve gone over numerous times the problem is that the comic companies stop doing single issues and telling stories in that format because they saw how the trade collections are doing and didn’t think of WHY they were sought after. A comic is like a TV show but the way it’s written now they’d rather make movies. Remember, a lot of manga starts out serialized in anthology magazines.
As far as the comment on preview pages they’re usually not a good indicator for additional reasons than Mr. Guy mentions. When I browse a comic I don’t just look at the art. I’m a story guy and I do look a bit at the story to see if I want to know more. This isn’t likely with the preview pages because sometimes the story doesn’t really get going in the first few pages. For example the Free Comic Book Day offerings of Miraculous told me nothing about the superhero side of the story. Like the episodes it started off with Marinette and Adrien hanging out with their friends. It didn’t tell me what their powers were or that there was a guy named Hawk Moth that was their primary antagonist. We’re shown in the preview that Marinette has a crush on Adrien but because we see nothing of their superhero lives we don’t know Adrien is into Ladybug, or that they don’t know each others’ identities due to certain rules involving the Miraculous that is their power source, which we also aren’t told. There is something to be said for leafing through a book, even a prose/visual hybrid like comics, and seeing if it sounds like something you’d want to read.
Community is probably the strongest case made in the video. While the wall rack at a now extinct pharmacy was where I first started buying comics as well as magazine and spinner racks in grocery and convenience stores (the latter is where I found more obscure stuff like Robotech and the Modern Publishing version of Voltron), thus making it the perfect environment for casual readers, it’s the comic store where they can go to get more into the medium if they so choose. It works for books at the grocery or box stores leading people to a book store. The comic store is where you go for back issues of a comic you just found at Stop & Shop and want to see more. Then you meet other people and learn about other titles. The way comics are distributed needs a huge change, but going from print to digital-only is not going to do it. It’s only going to further place comics into a niche that risks going away like you see in some science fiction works (at some point we’ll get to a Star Trek comic where comic books are more obscure than print books, which itself is a novelty in that time period) even if it’s a few generations down the road. Comics shouldn’t be insular to the comic store, but if someone gets hooked on the medium and wants to see more of a particular title, there’s the comic store, where they will then be exposed to titles that they wouldn’t see otherwise and meet others who love comics as much as they do.
That’s why comic stores are great and why their loss is so disappointing. I wonder if Comics Explained would have gotten into comics in a digital only world where he’d have to be shown comics by someone else, but only if he knew anyone who was already into comics? Comic stores don’t create comic fans but they do nurture them.