Comics: Physical or Digital?

Physical_vs_DigitalComics (both single issues and trades) are available in two different methods of delivery (sorry purists, I’m not counting weekly/daily newspaper strips): Physical or Digital.  Physical was número uno for years and then digital bounced in about 10 years ago.

I came back into reading comics in the summer of 2011 when DC’s The New 52 was launched and I was really high on reading everything on my iPad. This was the future!  Fuck paper books!  I went through my library, kept only a few books and then ended up donating the rest.  I doubled-down on the e-pub versions of books that I had physical copies of.  And when it came to comics, I thought digital copies were the bees knees, as it were. I loved them and thought there was no turning back. ComiXology Library 2

Well…if you’ve been reading this blog, you will know that I am all about the physical issues so…I was wrong in 2011.  Big time.

After about a year of reading issues on my iPad, I had a conversation with my friend Sammy who had been chastising me since August 2011 about my decision to buy comics online. Sammy thought it was great that I had come back into reading comics but then also thought that I was being short sighted, ridiculous and plain ‘ol stupid for reading my comics on a tablet. Sammy is nerd for all things pop culture.  His DNA is built upon the four-coloured world of comics from the 80’s through to today. He’s a purist, plain and simple. And while we disagree about a lot of things (such as the DCEU movies and the often-needed requirement of wearing pants), he wasn’t wrong about digital comics.

Sammy made a lot of good points about why digital comics were to be shunned and not accepted: the formatting of the comics is all wrong, including the zooming of panels; they should be viewed as one page, not bit-by bit; the responsibility to support our local comic shops and finally – the feel of a comic in your hand is more rewarding that the glass screen of a tablet.

Of course, I had disagreed with all of Sammy’s points.  I essentially told him he was an old man living in an old world and his refusal to move with the times was mind numbing.  But fuck, he was right the entire time and I was 1000% wrong.  Well, maybe 900%.

After about a year and change of buying comics online, I walked into a local comic shop and was browsing, checking out what they had and talking with the guys who owned the place.  And in my conversations, I decided to pick up volume 1 of the Scott Snyder/Greg Capullo Batman comic in the trade paperback format (I wrote about my enjoyment of trades a couple weeks ago,  if you want to check it out).

It was in that moment that I then started to buy the physical copies of my comics and, essentially, got back into collecting.  I finished out the Batman (New 52) run starting with issue 32.  Side note: I’ve often thought about finding the first 31 issues and completing the run just because I’m a completionist but I also know it’ll cost me a fortune. But I digress…

From that moment on, I began purchasing and collecting the physical copies of my comics. I had a couple of long boxes in my basement with my comics that I had collected as a kid and now I’ve added an additional long box (or two).  When DC rebooted their universe…sorry, course corrected it….with Rebirth, I expanded my collecting to more titles. I have also expanded to other comics (non superhero) and imprints such as Image and those decisions were made based solely on the atmosphere that you get in your local comic shop.

Batman Trade 1See, you can browse the racks and overhear or talk to the other comic nerds about what they’re reading.  You don’t get this when you’re scrolling through your ComiXology app on your tablet/phone.

I’m not shitting on digital comics.  Not at all.  In fact, the other day I wrote about a sale that ComiXology/Amazon was having (and still do!) and that I had picked up a couple of collections to read off my tablet.  The titles/story lines that I chose were ones where I was interested in reading them but was unsure if I wanted to drop the $30 for the physical trade.  If it turns out that, after reading the digital copy, I love the story, I will go out and pick up the trade from my local comic shop.

And its here where I think there can be a healthy relationship with physical and digital comics.  Personally, I think that physical comics are the best medium in which to read comics. I also, though, concede that it can be costly and some cannot afford to purchase the issues/trades but can still download and read them digitally through their local library.  I get that and have no issues (zing!) with that…although most libraries do have physical copies of some great titles on their shelves.

When you go to your local comic-con, the vendors don’t have digital codes for sale.  They have physical issues.  And as I stated above, this method of commerce is where you can expand your reading library based on the conversations with fellow nerds and comic lovers.

At the end of the day, whether you’re reading comics your purchased from your local store or online, the fact that great stories are being read and looked at is the key for publishers to continue to put out great content.  I just prefer the feel of the paper as I flip from page to page, rather than swiping on a screen.

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When I said that my bud Sammy was nerd for all things pop culture, I meant it.  He has a passion for music and is the program director for Girth Radio where he hosts a show/podcast called My Summer Lair.  He also co-hosts a weekly podcast called Back Issue Bloodbath where they talk comics (new and old), creators and other comic-related topics.

Finally, if you’re on Twitter, follow Sammy.  His opinions and conversations will either infuriate you or make you laugh out loud. May or may not be best read while going to the bathroom, I leave that to you.

 

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The Price of Gaming.

xboxonex

I used to consider myself a gamer.  I guess I still do but not anywhere in the league of those of you who sit home all day long and spend countless hours playing games, whether for pleasure or competitively.  I am the generation that started off with Atari 2600 or Colecovison; that marveled and bought the NES; that jumped at the the chance for the SNES; that dropped hundreds of quarters into Street Fighter II arcade machines.

I currently have a PS4 and previously wrote about my love affair with that glorious machine and how much I loved gaming now that I am an adult with kids.  Prior to my PS4, I had an Xbox 360 and before that, the original Xbox.  I loved those machines but chose the PS4 because it was, to me, the better system and had the better games.  I still stand by that assertion.

This past weekend at E3, Microsoft unveiled their mid-cycle system which was formally nicknamed “Project Scorpio”.  This new machine would be leaps about bounds better than the current Xbox One S and would have true 4K gaming and resolution at 60FPS and a bunch of other things that I don’t understand.  But here’s what I do understand: The Price.  The price is, to me, a very real factor when making a decision to purchase a new game system.   Of course, there is the personal preference from one system over the other, what systems your friends and what system-exclusive games are out there.  But price is pretty high and this is where, to me, Xbox dropped the ball.

Fuck that.  They fumbled the damn thing.  Because the new Xbox, a mid-generation upgrade, will go on sale (November 7) for $499USD/$599CAD.  Since I am in Canada, I will speak to my complete shock at the $600 sticker price for a gaming system.  That’s fucking nuts!

So, lets assume that the system comes with one controller and a game.  In Canada, after taxes, you’re dropping a mind-numbing $677.99 on this system. Are you kidding me, Microsoft?  That’s way too much for a gaming system, regardless if it makes all the games look better than real life and regardless if it is the fastest gaming experience I will ever have.  I cannot imagine anyone in their right mind being ok with removing close to $700 from their pocket for a game system (I’m not even going to add in the amount for new games that you would want to get, but if we did, you’re likely looking at dishing out about $1,000 all-in).

I love gaming.  And I know that this system is likely not targeted at me.  I concede that without hesitation.  A quick Google search told me that the average age of gamers in the US is 30-38.  I’m 41 and while I don’t have many friends in the low-30’s age range, I know enough that no one in that age group would drop $1,000 for this system.  Especially a mid-cycle system.  And this is partly what boggles my mind.

How many people are really dying to play their games in 4K?  I can only imagine that this caters to those with massive disposable income or those who game professionally.  Other than that, I don’t get who this system is for.  If you want to know more about the system and its internal workings, check out here and/or here.

I personally think it’s absurd that Microsoft is pricing the Xbox One X this high.  Casual gamers (and, lets face it, most of us are just that) know that if you are to stack up games vs. movies vs. books vs. whatever else, games are the better investment in your time against the money you spend.  Go to a movie, its gonna be $40-$50 for 2-3 hours times.  Buy a game for $80, the campaign is going to be about 8-12 hours, and then countless hours with multiplayer (if that’s your thing).

I don’t care what special tricks the new Xbox One X can do.  Its not a next-generation system therefore is not appealing to me at all.  Microsoft, you made two big mistakes with this system –  the ridiculous price.  And you should have kept the ‘Project Scorpio’ name.  That/s a fucking bad-ass name.  But not for $600 CAD.

Read This: The Vision 

Vision TabIf you’ve read any of my postings on this blog, it’s easy to assume, and you’d be correct, that I’m a DC fanboy.  Granted, I did read and post about Daredevil: Born Again and if you take a look at my collection of trade paperback, you will see some Marvel books in there. But for the most part, for me, it’s DC.  Their characters and story lines are more appealing to me than the Marvel stuff since I’ve come back to collecting and reading weekly issues.

I’ve spoken to my comic shop guys, read online articles and listened to podcasts discussing the Marvel books and their story lines over the last few years and nothing has appealed to me.  That is, until I listened to The Excelsior Podcast (you can find them on iTunes and here is their Twitter feed) where they spent just under two hours discussing The Vision collected editions, written by Tom King.  The episode intrigued me because Tom King is currently writing the main Batman title at DC – and let me say he is totally killing it and I love what he’s doing – and I had saw the cover to The Vision Vol.1 trade in my local shop and it stuck out in my head.

But as I am not “a Marvel guy”, I didn’t skim through it nor gave it a second thought.  Until I listened to the podcast and the hosts discussing about how good, smart and emotionally rewarding and, at the same time, exhausting it was.  I thought about the podcast for a couple of days and then a couple of weeks later I went and asked one of the guys at my comic shop about it and they said both volumes were outstanding.

Now, this is why I love going to comic book stores and getting to know the staff.  They get to know you and if they think you’re not going to like a book or comic, they’ll tell you.  They’ll also not hold back and tell you if you should be trying something new.  And knowing my preferences, they didn’t hold back when telling me I would regret not reading The Vision solely because of my lack of interest for a Marvel book.

Vision Tab2So I picked up both volumes and took them home.  And I am so glad I did.  As I stated above, I am a fan of Tom King’s current work with Batman and despite my misgivings about the publisher, he wrote such a tight story that it packed a number of emotional punches to the gut that I was not expecting to feel.

The book deals with family and as a father, I couldn’t help but feel gutted during certain moments in the overall story.  The art by Gabriel Hernandez Walta is just out of this world and totally fit the tone of the book.

Listen, there are no super heroics happening here.  This story isn’t about The Vision saving the planet for a 38th time. This is a human story by way of androids and I do implore you to read this.  If my wife would ever get over her disdain for comics as a viable medium, this would be the book(s) that I would ask her to read, its that good.

There is currently a sale at Amazon on some Marvel trades (Kindle ComiXology versions, not physical) where you can pick up Volume 1 and Volume 2 for about $6.50 CAD/each.  If you have been on the fence about picking up these books, this is an affordable way to dig in.

I honestly cannot recommend this story and these books enough. Enjoy!

Summer Movies 2017

Summer Movies

Last weekend Wonder Woman was released in theatres and it’s amazing.  Seriously, you have to go see it if you haven’t.  My wife, who isn’t a comic or superhero fan at all (except Batman.  She has a thing for Batman, oddly enough) loved Wonder Woman.  I plan on taking my son in the next week or so as well.  Go see it.  You’ll be rather impressed.

As we are into the second week of June, I started looking at what was coming out for the rest of this summer and planning on what I was seeing next.  But first, here’s what I have seen thus far these last couple of weeks:

Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol.2 – Its fun! I liked it a lot, likely wont live up to the hype of the first one and I’m ok with that.  Its an impossible task to surpass the unexpected surprise of the first movie.

Alien: Covenant – Stay the fuck away.  Wait until it drops on Netflix. Seriously.

Wonder Woman – See above.  And then go see it.

And here are the movies that I want to see in theatres this summer:

June 9: The Mummy – I’m not overly hyped to see this movie but if a friend called and asked (and maybe bought the ticket), I would go.

June 23: Transformers: The Last Knight – Honestly, the only reason I would go is because you almost have to see it in theatres, it’ll be so big and loud.  I highly doubt it’ll be amazing, but it seems to follow the same logic (or illogical) as the Fast and Furious movies.

June 28: Baby Driver – Edgar Wright looks like he’s hit it out of the park.  I get a very early Quentin Tarantino-vibe off these trailers.

June 30: Despicable Me 3 – I have kids.  I’m going to be stuck going.

July 7: Spider-Man: Homecoming – I can’t wait to see this movie.  Seriously…after 5 movies, it looks like Sony finally got Peter Parker right.  Well, with the help of Marvel, of course.

July 14: The War for the Planet of the Apes – Yes!  YES!  Take my money!!!  This looks amazing.

July 21: Dunkirk – Thus far, the trailers haven’t really hit a home run for me, but so far Christopher Nolan hasn’t done wrong by me so I’m in.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets – I just re-watched The Fifth Element and it didn’t really hold up for me, but it was still enjoyable. The visuals look amazing but, if I don’t get to see it, I wouldn’t be heart broken.

August 18: The Hitman’s Bodyguard – This just looks…fun!  At the end of a summer with huge blockbusters, I like having a plain old fun movie. And this will be it.

Summer Movies 2017

I know there are a lot of other movies within these months, like Atomic Blonde, The Dark Tower that are coming out.  But honestly, I don’t know if I would go to see those in the theatre. Shit, as I type this, I think I do want to see The Dark Tower.  So maybe I will.  Who knows.

So what movies are you going to be watching this summer?  Any sleeper movies I should be aware of?  Whatever you end up watching, I hope it was worth the money you spent.  Otherwise, that a kick in the junk.  Much like Alien: Covenant. Fuck….

 

 

Comics: Issues or Trades?

MyTrades

In which format do you read your comics?  And, to be clear, I am not referring to physical vs. electronic.  But rather, the single issues or the Trade Paperback formats (which are the collected versions of those issues and story lines)?  It may not seem like a very interesting topic to you and you would be totally right, but I find it interesting to see what peoples preferences are and why.

The above picture is my collection of trades.  There are some titles that I had bought many years ago when I stopped collecting, to scratch that comics-itch I had.  But for the most part, 80% of those titles were picked up because I wanted to read that story line.

In a previous post, I discussed why I was drawn to comics but I took a big break in actual collecting of comic issues.  And I mean, a big break.  As in close to 20-years long.  In that time, I would buy the occasional trade just for shits and giggles; mostly it was if I had heard something was good or maybe the cover looked neat.

I got back into comics about 6 years ago, starting with the electronic versions and then back into the physical copies of issues about a year or so after that.  But it was a slow progression back into weekly collecting.  And in that – transitional time – I picked up some trades and really found that comics had changed drastically.  The stories were much deeper than I remember.  The art was gorgeous.  I had a different appreciation for the medium now than I did back all those years ago.  I know that with age, a change of perspective happens but with that in mind, I was still shocked at how rich comics had become.

Batman Trade 1The first trade I picked up was DC’s The New 52 Batman, written by Scott Snyder and drawn by Greg Capullo.  Within the first few pages of that trade, I was overwhelmed with Capullo’s art and Snyder’s scripts were fucking amazing. This was a Batman that I wanted to know more about and I hadn’t recalled reading any other Batman comic that was so rewarding as this one was.  I consumed Volume 1: The Court of Owls in a few hours.  And then I read it again to be sure that I wasn’t being ridiculous and sure enough, I enjoyed it more the second time.  After that, I went and picked up the next two volumes and that really is what kick-started my habit again.

As I write this entry, I have come to realize that maybe the trade formats are the gateway into collecting. I think its possible, dont you?

So, I collect issues of my books now.  But I am also grabbing trades because I have either missed the issues and their story lines or I wanted to wait to get that particular story line in a trade.  For the most part, its the former.

As stated above, I still grab my issues on a weekly basis but I do also like to get a good trade from time to time, allowing me to catch up on some really great stories that I missed while I took my comics break.

Some people prefer to just wait and get the trades; collecting comics for them is not a fun hobby.  And I can see that point of view and admittedly admire it to an extent.  When you get a really good story line that spans 5-12 issues, having them all in one book makes things much easier and kinda fun.  You can pull a trade off the shelf and not have to worry about opening the bag of each issue.

So what do you prefer?  Single issues or trades?  Or both?  Because while writing this post, I came to realize that, for me, I have a healthy attraction to both.  And that’s ok.

Comics on Sale! Comics on Sale!

Comic SaleIf you are a reader of this site (and judging by the bleak numbers, not many are), then you likely know that this past weekend thousands of Marvel trade comics went on sale on Amazon for dirt cheap.  I mean, 90%-95% dirt cheap.  That’s ridiculous and way too good to pass up.  Even if you are a DC fanboy, such as myself, you cannot snub your nose at this sale.

Of course, these are only good for the e-versions of the trades, not the physical copies. I have some feelings with respect to physical copies of my comics compared to the electronic versions and I will get into that at some point, because I flip-flopped on the medium in which I read my comics and have had some really interesting discussions with people on which they prefer.

But, for now, I digress…

Personally, I took this sale and opportunity to grab a few trades that I had interest in but wasn’t committed to dropping $20-$30+ CAD (that’s Canadian Dollars, for those not from the Great White North) on said titles.  But in this format, it gives me an opportunity to read some of the titles I am interested in and, if I end up really enjoying them, I may buy the physical copy.

But for now, its all about the sale and I suggest you get on that pronto!  If you have a ComiXology app on your tablet or phone, you will need to ensure you have migrated your Amazon account so that you can purchase the books.  Just an FYI…this was some of the issues I had run into because its been a number of years since I bought an electronic copy of my comics.

Hit the below link and enjoy perusing.  I would suggest making a list of your interests because after a few pages of scrolling, you may forget which title tickled your fancy when you begin.  The link is for the Amazon.com site and Canadian’s, you will be redirected to the .ca site when you make your purchases. For the rest of the world, I think that most of the Amazon sites have the deal on as well.

Have fun and enjoy!!

Comics Sale! Go! Now!!!

A Problematic Scheduling Conundrum

To Do ListUh Oh.  Huston, we have a problem.  Ok, I may be over exaggerating on this and I do admit that in the grand scheme of things, this isn’t really a problem, but lets put aside the real issues in our current world and escape into a parallel world for a few minutes, shall we?

I am at a cross-roads, of sorts, when it comes to my “free time” and how best to spend it.  To clarify, its not whether I should do, say, yard work vs. gaming.  No no, my issue is much deeper than that:

I have too many options and not enough time.

This may seem like a nerd’s dream but alas, its a nightmare of epic proportions!  My free time consists of about 2-2.5 hours on weeknights, after my kids are asleep.  Starting this week, two of those nights are down to about 1-1.5 hours as the kids have soccer.  So my time is limited.  My problem is, I have a bunch of TV shows, Movies, Comics and Games that I want to delve into and how do I do that with my aforementioned limited time? Lets face it, its not really feasible to break up a 2-hour chunk of time to do two of those things.  Now, I could watch two different shows (if they’re an hour each), but what if I want to watch the following episode of the first show?

Currently, I have immersed my self with my PS4 and playing Doom and GTA5.  Both of these are new games to me and I have only gotten about 25% of the way through Doom and played 0.98% of GTA5.  On top of that, I want to watch the 2nd half of The Getdown (just read the show was cancelled by Netlfix today), the 2nd season of Master of None, the new seasons of House of Cards and Bloodline, the last 8 episodes of this seasons Arrow, the…you know what?  Forget it.  Lets just agree that there are too many shows.

Oh wait, one more…I want to re-watch all the Game of Thrones seasons before season 7 drops in July.  I may have to end up settling for season 6, I don’t know.  Speaking of GoT, did you catch that amazing new trailer for season 7?  Fuck, I cannot wait for this season.

WWOk, so we’ve established that I have more television shows/episodes to watch than there are days this year.  Lets not forget the movies that I want to watch, including those that are in theatres or coming soon (I’m looking at you, Wonder Woman and Spider-Man).

And finally…my comics.  I have been reading a lot of comic books lately and I cannot get enough of these amazing, wonderful stories. If you haven’t, pick up the mini-series The Vision and Identity Crisis. Both of these are phenomenal.  On top of that are the weekly issues I read….Vision Tab

Ugh.  Its all too much, isn’t it? And its such a stupid fucking thing to complain about but I figure I cant be the only one who is having this….this scheduling problem. I want to do it all but I cant!  I just don’t have the time and I don’t want to sacrifice anything.

What I imagine will happen is, time will get the best of me.  The summer months are coming and with it are the later evenings spent chatting with the neighbours, drinking by the pool and some of these activities will be relegated to being “fall and winter activities”.  It’ll likely end up being the TV shows, to be honest.  Sure, I wont be able to game as much.  I will try to make time to watch a movie here and there at home and I will always make the time to go to the theatre to see the big movies.

Regardless, that’s where I currently stand.  Tonight I will have 2-2.5 hours of “free time” and I have to make a decision on how best to spend that time.  And I really have no idea what to choose.  This is truly a problematic scheduling conundrum.