Debate and Discussion

Is there any Future for Comics ?
lothar at 8:42AM, Dec. 15, 2009
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do you think that comics will get more popular or less popular in the furure ?
seems like they are just getting less popular as time goes by . like , lots of comic books shops closed .and they already raped all the famous comics by making crap movies out of them . so now in mainstream media people want animated or live action versions of the same stories and dont have the patience to read .

but what about web comics ? how willl they do ?
i think that comic books on paper will become rare because as electronics advance the need for personal pr0perty will decrease and all the good stuff will be in digital form.while webcomics will become more geared toward mobile reading on future devices that are sort of like enlarged iphones or blackberries. or some kind of thing that can project images .

you know ? what u think ?
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:45PM
imshard at 9:17AM, Dec. 15, 2009
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I think that traditional comics are always going to have some following just not as much as they used to. Kids today are way too jacked into technology for paper comics to ever be massively popular again.

Web comics are a different story. They're free, online, easier to read than online novels, and tend to be less retarded and more sustainable than mems and other i-fads.

Some webcomics have readerships in the millions and have been going for years with no sign of stopping soon. Its a trend I hope to see continue.
Don't be a stick in the mud traditionalist! Support global warming!

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last edited on July 14, 2011 12:59PM
shirkersama at 9:24AM, Dec. 15, 2009
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I think the strugle of the comic book industry is just a small part of a much larger issue, people don't read. It's really sad but most people now days read very little if at all, just one of the downsides of technology I suppose.
Meh
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:34PM
isukun at 9:51AM, Dec. 15, 2009
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I don't see print comics really going anywhere. People's interests are changing, but I still see a lot of iterest in comics. A couple of decades ago the comics industry started to decline as people became less interested in reading comics and the idustry tried to focus more on collectibility. The manga market, however, brought the focus back to actually reading comics and not just sealing them away in a plastic bag for all eternity. With the shift in market, the popularity of comic stores declined and they were replaced with manga and comics sections in major book stores. It's not like comics aren't still out there or people aren't still buying them, it's just that the audience and the outlets have changed.

Web comics I don't see ever being more than public exhibition of a hobby. They have a similar role to things like deviantart and youtube. It is just another way for people to get their five minutes of fame and for a very rare few, may actually make a buck. I don't see it ever being a major industry the way print comics are, though. As it is, web comics tend to be more profitable for web hosts than for the actual creators of the comics. Plus the market lacks discpline since it is something people primarily do in their spare time or for fun. There is no guarantee a project that's been started will be finished and the quality of the product can vary widely in all aspects.

I also disagree with the notion that people don't read. If anything, the advent of the internet had lead to more people reading. Sure, not everyone cares to read physical books, but certainly more people are getting their news and information from online sources in the form of text-based pages, forums, and articles. Plus, I think to some degree books are still popular, people are just looking for more convinient ways to update them for our time. Gadgets like Amazon's Kindle are incredibly popular right now and a lot of people have been showing interest in the ebook capabilities of devices like the iPhone and the new Android-based phones.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:04PM
Hawk at 10:01AM, Dec. 15, 2009
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Yeah, I think the decline of comic books has more to do with the dying print medium than anything about demand. I also don't think you can ignore the 90's superhero glut that essentially tanked the industry and left a giant parking spot for Manga.

Comic books are no longer an ideal way to get your comic fix anymore, because the main publishers either haven't figured out that we're tired of spandex vigilantes, or those same heroes are still profitable enough to keep milking. Because of this, I think webcomics will do just fine. I really do think people still love comics.

I'd like to see comics sold the same way e-books are, to peoples' mobile devices and Kindle. People aren't as focused on owning comics now, so why not do it like Japan, where comics are enjoyed and disposed of, unless you like it enough to buy the collection.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:47PM
PhilWrede at 2:52PM, Dec. 15, 2009
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I'd like to think that if the big/mainstream/superhero/etc publishers really cared about growing their reader base, they'd back as far away from that $3.99 price point as quickly as they could (and some are even pushing against the $4.99/issue price, which I find a little ridiculous). Most of Marvel and DC's comics aren't impulse buys anymore, no matter how many issues of Wolverine they want to put on spinner racks at Borders (not that I don't think it's neat they made their way back into bookstores, because I do). Sure, a higher quality product will typically be more expensive to produce, and therefore to own, but this still smacks of grubbing money to me.

On the other hand, comics aren't going anywhere. Between websites like comics.com, that let you continue to read newspaper strips even after your local paper drops them/shuts down all together (and I'm sure there's a revenue stream in there somewhere, I just don't know what it is), to all the different sorts of media adaptations that will lead an excited fan back to the source material, to places online like this where enthusiasts of all skill levels and passions come together to discuss every different kind of work (and produce their own), and all the other facts that everyone above me have listed (particularly portable media readers, which seem to finally be usable)… I'm actually rather bullish on the future of the comic in all its forms. I didn't think I was going there, but there you go.

Assuming Disney doesn't just shut down Marvel's publishing arm. But even then…
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:43PM
Orin J Master at 7:27PM, Dec. 15, 2009
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comics popularity is really dependent on providing potential buyers with something they want…..which is easy to say, but very hard to translate into a plan.

it's going to be finding a way to make the idea of buying print materials attractive to the current “fuck everything, i'll steal it on the internet” mindset towards most things, and providing something in their comics that people that will want without needing too much preexisting involvement in comics to get a reliable influx of fans that'll be the trick.
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:22PM
DAJB at 7:15AM, Dec. 16, 2009
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Comics in the form of monthly, soft-cover pamphlets probably are dying and it's difficult to see quite what the major mainstream publishers can do to change that. They have too much capital invested in the format and are now desperately trying to live off past glories.

On the other hand, comics in other formats are only just beginning to come into their own. New, indy and other amateur creators now publish their work online without giving a second thought as to whether that's “credible” or “legitimate”, thereby bypassing the stranglehold that DC, Marvel and, particularly, Diamond have had on talent. At the same time, the graphic novel format is constantly addressing new and diverse subjects and, in doing so, is finding entirely new audiences.

Overall, I think the current situation may - once the dust has settled - result in a far more healthy comic industry … Artistically, if not commercially!
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:04PM
Aelwyn at 11:43AM, Dec. 16, 2009
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In general; the Comic is not a dying form of art or literature. However; the print industry is. Hundreds of local newspapers have closed their doors recently across the country - bookstores deface thousands of books that they just can't sell before new shipments come in. The publishing industry, in general, is changing.

With the coming of the Kindle, the Knook, and other e-reader devices starting to emerge; I think we are going to see less and less demand for traditional paperbacks.

On average an author makes 60cents - $1 per book that is sold; part of that goes to their agent. The publisher makes maybe $4-5, and the bookstore makes the rest. If you have ever tired to immerse yourself in the printed world; you know what a maze of politics it really is. The stress and toll on an author, particularly a new one, can be quite immense.

It is sad in one sense - but most of the authors I know agree that overall the coming change is good; both in the sense of artistic credits and value, as well as the positive impact on the environment.

I think in the future we will starts to see the comic industry become more reliant on electronic interfaces in a financial aspect. But I don’t think they will ever lose their value in the literary or artistic world.
last edited on July 14, 2011 10:46AM
patrickdevine at 10:58AM, Dec. 17, 2009
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Aelwyn
In general; the Comic is not a dying form of art or literature. However; the print industry is. Hundreds of local newspapers have closed their doors recently across the country - bookstores deface thousands of books that they just can't sell before new shipments come in. The publishing industry, in general, is changing.

With the coming of the Kindle, the Knook, and other e-reader devices starting to emerge; I think we are going to see less and less demand for traditional paperbacks.

On average an author makes 60cents - $1 per book that is sold; part of that goes to their agent. The publisher makes maybe $4-5, and the bookstore makes the rest. If you have ever tired to immerse yourself in the printed world; you know what a maze of politics it really is. The stress and toll on an author, particularly a new one, can be quite immense.

It is sad in one sense - but most of the authors I know agree that overall the coming change is good; both in the sense of artistic credits and value, as well as the positive impact on the environment.

I think in the future we will starts to see the comic industry become more reliant on electronic interfaces in a financial aspect. But I don’t think they will ever lose their value in the literary or artistic world.


This is a weirdly sobering look at how print media is doing throughout the country. Curiously books and newspapers seem to be doing all right in the Pacific Northwest. Bookstores that have remained open for years are showing no sign of closing. Even our comics stores seem to be doing all right.
Comics, I think have gathered more interest in recent years than they have in a long while and we're seeing more ambitious comics being made. It's also been a fairly recent trend to see comics taken seriously as literature so in my mind there seems no reason why the next great American novel won't be a graphic novel.
It's true that movie adaptations and cartoons make the same stories and you don't have to read them but recently when Watchmen came out all kinds of people bought the book to read before or after they saw the movie. I guess what I'm going on about is that comics aren't on their way out just yet.
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:41PM
Ironscarf at 2:08PM, Dec. 17, 2009
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A few years back the accepted wisdom seemed to be that comics were being replaced by video games and the internet would be the final nail in their coffin - this was at a time when comics had disappeared from mainstream outlets and comics shops were largely populated by middle aged men like myself!

Well I finally worked out how to plug in this interweb machine and what do I find? The place is teeming with comics! Admittedly, many are rough diamonds and some are just plain rough but this is no bad thing. It reminds me of the advent of punk rock, when the dinosaurs were put out to pasture and ordinary people demanded to be heard, grabbing the means of production along with a bunch of instruments they couldn't play. Some of them turned out to be great of course and after the fuss died down, some of those original dinosaurs, the ones who were able to adapt to the new landscape, came back too, bigger than before.

As I see it, comics are looking healthier now than they have for a long time and I do think print comics/graphic novels will continue: the desire for people to own something they can flip through and curl up on the sofa with won't go away, but it will probably be driven by online popularity - more like a piece of merchandise and not the main event.
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:02PM
mlai at 6:19PM, Dec. 29, 2009
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I think comics will move into webcomics as e-paper devices like Kindle proliferate and refine themselves. Sooner or later someone will put 2 and 2 together; it might already be happening but I'm not fully informed about this particular handheld tech.

FIGHT current chapter: Filling In The Gaps
FIGHT_2 current chapter: Light Years of Gold
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:06PM
isukun at 7:59AM, Dec. 30, 2009
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There are a handful of comics on Kindle. The problem with the tech right now, though, is that it doesn't support color. Web comics are fine for hobbyists, but I really can't see professionals adopting the medium. The potential for actually making money off of web comics is too limited and there is still quite a bit of demand for print comics, even if your average Marvel and DC style comics aren't doing so hot, anymore.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:04PM
Hawk at 9:14AM, Dec. 30, 2009
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They've been working on a color Kindle, haven't they?
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:47PM
DAJB at 12:17PM, Dec. 30, 2009
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isukun
Web comics are fine for hobbyists, but I really can't see professionals adopting the medium.
Ummm … I think you'll find that, with Freak Angels, Warren Ellis has already started doing just that. The medium is gaining credibility far more quickly than many are prepared to admit.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:04PM
isukun at 3:41PM, Dec. 30, 2009
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There are rare exceptions, but the medium just doesn't have the money to support the professional market. It's precisely because so few people try to make a living off of the medium that anyone is able to. If major comics studios and distributors shifted all their work to the internet and hoped to make money the same way, the market would collapse. There just isn't enough interest in T-shirts and advertising for that business model to work on the larger scale.

People assume since it has worked for a handful of people online that it would work for the larger print industry, as well. The problem there, though, is that the print idustry already uses the same business model to bring in extra income, but still relies on selling the content directly in addition to selling merchandise and advertising. Making the move to online exclusive content is a step backwards and financial suicide for most studios.

Honestly, I wouldn't count Freak Angels, anyway. They still sell a hard copy version of the comic. The web version is more like advertising for their physical products including the paper version of the comic, itself. That's hardly the same as replacing the print medium.

They've been working on a color Kindle, haven't they?

Supposedly. But then there were rumors about the current version being in color before it launched, too. I have a feeling the physical Kindle units aren't the future of digital distribution, anyway. Instead, people will prefer to use the Kindle software on their phones or other portable devices so Amazon won't need to develop something more advanced. I just use Kindle on my iPod Touch at the moment and whenever I get around to upgrading my phone, I'll probably switch to Google Books on the Droid. Both are in color and are far more cost effective solutions.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:04PM
Hawk at 6:31PM, Dec. 30, 2009
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I've been wondering if comics have much of a future on devices like the iPhone and iPod Touch, but it seems like the screens might be too small to really enjoy the comic's artwork, let alone read the text. And I sort of get tired of zooming in and out all the time. The Kindle seemed like a more logical move for comics because of this.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:47PM
isukun at 8:35PM, Dec. 30, 2009
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I think it really depends on where they go with comics. I think if we do go for a fully digital format, studios will probably alter the format to fit the preferred medium. Modern comics are only hard to read on an iPhone because modern comics aren't made to be read on the iPhone. The presentation for the smaller digital screens would more likely resemble the comic DVDs or Flash comics today, where the viewer focuses on a single panel at a time and even allows for a soundtrack or simple animations.

If you prefer the traditional feel, there are a number of companies working on augmented reality technology. I personally feel that will be the next major revolution in internet, phone, media, and games, allowing people to dynamically create and manipulate virtual objects placed in the real world. At that point, screen size won't matter.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:04PM
mlai at 2:20AM, Dec. 31, 2009
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1. I'm not talking about the current B&W Kindle. Once the color version portables are readily available and cheap, then we'll see the comics move to that new medium. That is in the very near future.

2. OTOH, your “augmented reality tech” is in the (relative to color e-paper) far future. There's almost no point talking about that atm. Ofc we'd all love to have those manipulated holoscreens we see in Minority Report. And AI-driven maglev cars.

3. You're thinking when I say “webcomics” I mean the current indirect-profit business model of webcomics. No, I simply meant digital comics, like the digital books you purchase and download (off the web) for your e-paper device. If digital books must be purchased, so must digital comics. You're paying for the medium in the e-paper format.

The advantage of the e-paper format is that the material cost of production would be much less, driving down the currently ridiculous price tag of colored print comics.

The collectibility aspect of comics can kiss my ass. It's part of what's killing American comics, I'm sure.

4. I don't think i-phones can ever substitute for the e-paper devices, because the e-paper screen is different from phone screens and laptop screens, and is also its main selling point.

FIGHT current chapter: Filling In The Gaps
FIGHT_2 current chapter: Light Years of Gold
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:06PM
Orin J Master at 9:22AM, Dec. 31, 2009
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mlai
1. I'm not talking about the current B&W Kindle. Once the color version portables are readily available and cheap, then we'll see the comics move to that new medium. That is in the very near future.

i love technology. we've been on the verge of cheap reliable cloning that will let us revive cryogenicly frozen people sine 1984 or so, and noone's even been working on that part yet!

mlai
2. OTOH, your “augmented reality tech” is in the (relative to color e-paper) far future. There's almost no point talking about that atm. Ofc we'd all love to have those manipulated holoscreens we see in Minority Report. And AI-driven maglev cars.

ah, yes, active bullshit. sci-fi's crap that looks awesome but gets beaten nightly by physics.

mlai
3. You're thinking when I say “webcomics” I mean the current indirect-profit business model of webcomics. No, I simply meant digital comics, like the digital books you purchase and download (off the web) for your e-paper device. If digital books must be purchased, so must digital comics. You're paying for the medium in the e-paper format.
and then you're ripping the medium in an E-paper format, and illegally distributing the medium in an e-paper format. that's the main setback here, people already poffer illegal digital downloads of comics (if you know where to look) so there's little to no real marketability in making it easier and better to steal them entirely.

mlai
The advantage of the e-paper format is that the material cost of production would be much less, driving down the currently ridiculous price tag of colored print comics.
the disadvantage is that you invariably end up selling much less because potential casual buyers will opt for free downloads from other sources.

mlai
The collectibility aspect of comics can kiss my ass. It's part of what's killing American comics, I'm sure.
no, the focus if collectibility in first market sales is part of what's killing comics.

mlai
4. I don't think i-phones can ever substitute for the e-paper devices, because the e-paper screen is different from phone screens and laptop screens, and is also its main selling point.
they're all crap compared to actual books, being small and causing eyestrain, not to mention the publisher can't control the reader's personal screen settings which is a major issue with artwork.

also, you keep saying e-paper……that may not mean what you think it means.
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:22PM
Hawk at 10:03AM, Dec. 31, 2009
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isukun
I think it really depends on where they go with comics. I think if we do go for a fully digital format, studios will probably alter the format to fit the preferred medium. Modern comics are only hard to read on an iPhone because modern comics aren't made to be read on the iPhone. The presentation for the smaller digital screens would more likely resemble the comic DVDs or Flash comics today, where the viewer focuses on a single panel at a time and even allows for a soundtrack or simple animations.

That's a good point. I suppose if comic authors formatted their panels uniformly, like they did in Watchmen, you could browse from panel to panel pretty easily zoomed in on each one. You'd probably just have to have this format in mind as you make the comic.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:47PM
isukun at 1:57PM, Dec. 31, 2009
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2. OTOH, your “augmented reality tech” is in the (relative to color e-paper) far future.

I think it's closer than many people realize. If you lose the whole scifi aspect (holographic displays wouldn't be augmented reality, anyway), all the technology needed for it already exists and is scaled down enough to make a cost effective system that anyone could use. The problem right now is actually just a matter of sorting out what we want to do with it. We already have limited augmented reality software for devices like the Droid or iPhone. It wouldn't be that hard to apply the same tech to a pair of LCD glasses with built in GPS, accellerometer, phone, wifi and cellular data uplinks, camera/motion tracker, and a CPU capable of handling detailed textures and simple 3D (all of this hardware can already be assembled and scaled down to a device smaller than a cell phone). Any complex operations could be handled by wifi capable hub systems that generate the image overlays depicted on the virtual screen and the screen could be positioned using IR LEDs, RFID, or dynamically based on the position and facing of the viewer.

You're thinking when I say “webcomics” I mean the current indirect-profit business model of webcomics.

Which is basically what defines the webcomic market. Webcomics are published exclusively through a web site, not through a digital download like most of your e-books.

I don't think i-phones can ever substitute for the e-paper devices, because the e-paper screen is different from phone screens and laptop screens, and is also its main selling point.

Most of the people I know use either the iPod Touch or the iPhone because the screen is better for their needs. I also don't recall seeing that many people whipping out their Kindles on the last few flights I've been on. Saw plenty of people reading on their iPhones and laptops, though. Cell phone screens may not be as big, but it really doesn't matter. The picture is clearer (higher contrast) and it can be backlit if you want to read in lower light. Also, e-paper at this point only has limited color capabilities. You won't get anything nearly as vibrant as you could out of a real screen. My father, who's old and practically half blind, has no problem reading on his iPod, in fact, the backlit screen was a major selling point for him when he picked up the Kindle app. Phones and media devices are also far more portable and why would you want to carry around multiple devices when one can do everything you need? That's the major selling point to devices like the iPhone and the Droid.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:04PM
mlai at 5:08PM, Dec. 31, 2009
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@ Isukun:

The entire, entire point of e-paper is that the screen is NOT backlit, like your desktop monitor, laptop monitor, and cellphone screen. Backlit screens naturally cause eye strain when you try to read on it for a long time, which is why many ppl don't like to read books/comics on a monitor. E-paper screens (when ideally made) does not cause eye strain.

Without considering the e-paper screen, yes the entire concept of a digital book download device is absurd because your cellphone can do all that.

The point is the cellphone will never have an e-paper screen because its functions are better suited with backlit screens. But when reading something long, the idealized e-paper screen is more comfortable.

FIGHT current chapter: Filling In The Gaps
FIGHT_2 current chapter: Light Years of Gold
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:06PM
isukun at 2:27AM, Jan. 1, 2010
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Eyestrain on portable devices is not caused by the backlight, despite what amazon may want you to believe. In fact, it is the backlight on LCD screens which reduces the eyestrain caused by reading off of the otherwise low cotrast surface of the unlit screen. It's one of the major hurdles ebook reader manufacturers are trying to get over now. The lower contrast generally results in greater eyestrain from e-paper (also one of the largest complaints about the Kindle 2).

Amazon likes to confuse the customer the same way Apple does, by applying outdated issues to modern hardware. Like applying the eyestrain caused by the variable light sources in plasma and CRT screens to backlit LCDs. The fact of the matter, though, is that millions of people spend 8-12 hours every day doing nothing more than reading text off a backlit LCD screen and the vast majority aren't running home at the end of the day with bleeding eyes. These screens are designed specifically to accomodate that kind of functionality.

The only real advantage the e-paper screens have right now over a backlit LCD screen is power consumption. Because of how they function, they can run for days on a single charge. Most people aren't going to be sitting in one spot reading for that length of time, however.

The factors which do contribute to eyestrain on portable devices tend to be font size and type, formatting, and the contrast between the background and text. Backlights are adjustable to the lighting scenario and many devices will adjust automatically to the ideal brightness.

Honestly I don't see much of a future for e-paper, anyway. Once Apple finally releases their tablet, sales for all those ebook readers are going to go straight down the tubes.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:04PM
freefall_drift at 10:58AM, Jan. 4, 2010
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I don't see a real problem for reading comics when we all eventually shift from paper to a digital format. Paper will be around, for collectors, and everyone else will read online.

What I do see as a problem the future of comics is making money doing comics online. Most readers simply won't pay to read comics online. They demand free. If you bring up the idea of payments or micropayments, most react like you have cyper herpes or you called their kid ugly.
Hobbyists and dilettantes will still do comics, and tiny few of them may do well, but most will wither and die if they are doing what they love to pay bills.
Freefall Drift - A sci fi space opera of a starship's mission of stopping the Endless Kings.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:31PM
EmilyTheStrange at 3:39PM, Jan. 4, 2010
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Honestly, with the popularity of manga and super hero movies, I'm not worried about the future of comics. Most kids I know (ages 8-13) at least read manga and Tintin, so the younger generations seem to have an interest in it. ^^

If anything, most comics will become digital, but I HIGHLY doubt we'll go completely paperless during any of our lifetimes. There's just too many people who enjoy print and feel completely disconnected with kindle.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:21PM
I Am The 1337 Master at 3:59PM, Jan. 4, 2010
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webcomics will survive along with the internet.

manga will too but other stuff will more than likely die out eventually. unless, as strange em said, the kids read them.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:53PM
mattboy115 at 12:40PM, Jan. 5, 2010
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True dat. Everything is turning into the internet. Comics have to follow. When newspapers all become digital only so will the funnies that go with them. Hopefully Mangas don't go digital only because then we wouldn't be able to check them out of the library. Then again there's PDF's and the like. I prefer the official translations to the fan translations you find online.

I am getting off topic. The point is when comics as we know them all go digital things will be much easier but they will lose something important. The paper they are printed on.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:55PM
Orin J Master at 3:51PM, Jan. 5, 2010
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i like how all-important people treat the internet without any realization how fragile its ability to actually be useful is.

tell me folks, if the internet collapses under it's own weight do you see comics as having a better future or a worse one?
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:22PM
mlai at 4:25PM, Jan. 5, 2010
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mattboy115
when comics as we know them all go digital things will be much easier but they will lose something important. The paper they are printed on.
Yes, the forests we cut down to make the paper that they are printed on. Because we're too stubborn to use grasses for paper.

if the internet collapses under it's own weight do you see comics as having a better future or a worse one?
A better one for corporate comics, because suddenly a major outlet for amateurs and hobbyists will disappear.
A very bad one for webcomic artists. I'm old enough to remember the childhood days when I drew comics for nobody but myself. Sure my friends and classmates would say “Hey that's cool you're a good artist,” but they don't really appreciate it like fellow artists and true comics readers. Oh and you try breaking into indy print comics, because you crave someone to read your pages.

FIGHT current chapter: Filling In The Gaps
FIGHT_2 current chapter: Light Years of Gold
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:06PM

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