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Original Marvel Comics Going Online

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the pay-up-true-believer dept.

The Internet 172

An anonymous reader writes "In a tentative move onto the internet, Marvel is putting some of its older comics online Tuesday, hoping to reintroduce young people to the X-Men and Fantastic Four by showcasing the original issues in which such characters appeared. The publisher is hoping fans will be intrigued enough about the origins of those characters to shell out $9.99 a month, or $4.99 monthly with a year-long commitment. For that price, they'll be able to poke through, say, the first 100 issues of Stan Lee's 1963 creation "Amazing Spider-Man" at their leisure, along with more recent titles like "House of M" and "Young Avengers." Comics can only be viewed in a Web browser, not downloaded, and new issues will only go online at least six months after they first appear in print. Dark Horse Comics now puts its vibrant and large images of 'Dark Horse Presents' up for free viewing on its MySpace site. DC Comics has also put issues up on MySpace, and recently launched the competition-based Zuda Comics, which encourages users to rank each other's work, as a way to tap into the expanding Web comic scene."

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172 comments

No downloading? (5, Funny)

HalifaxRage (640242) | more than 6 years ago | (#21338457)

"Comics can only be viewed in a Web browser, not downloaded" - except for the fact that they have already been downloaded. Print screen, anyone?

Re:No downloading? (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 6 years ago | (#21338607)

Everyone was thinking that :P I was thinking more just right click the image and save as, or even save the whole HTML page/get one of those mass downloaders

Re:No downloading? (1)

skoaldipper (752281) | more than 6 years ago | (#21339227)

Everyone was thinking that :P I was thinking more just right click the image and save as, or even save the whole HTML page/get one of those mass downloaders
What about Flash? Not Gordon, but Macromedia.

Re:No downloading? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21339375)

https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/2254 [mozilla.org]

Works with everything I've tried it on.

Re:No downloading? (1)

skoaldipper (752281) | more than 6 years ago | (#21339693)

Just installed it. Works like a champ when saving most flash content.

However, on atomfilms, it locked my desktop. I had to kill npviewer.bin proc after saving an swf. It tried to start some offsite ad or something. Maybe just my Gutsy x64 and flash wrapper.

Thanks.

Re:No downloading? (2, Interesting)

Fierythrasher (777913) | more than 6 years ago | (#21340839)

I coudln't get this to work on the Marvel site for anything, though. The comics are in a new window, no little fishie to click on. Tips?

Re:No downloading? (5, Informative)

TheCycoONE (913189) | more than 6 years ago | (#21338637)

Or use Mozilla's media properties to find the path to the image and then paste that into IE, right click and save to get the original. (I've noticed that sometimes a page of image data isn't recognized as an image in Mozilla but it is in IE.) Or submit a request over telnet and pipe the response into an appropriately named file. There is no way to provide content using existing cross-browser compatible web technologies which cannot be saved locally by a knowledgeable individual.

Re:No downloading? (2, Interesting)

JeTmAn81 (836217) | more than 6 years ago | (#21338899)

I wonder if these aren't going to be the same digital comics as have already been released in packages by GITCorp. They've already released full runs for X-Men, Avengers, Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, Incredible Hulk, Captain America and Iron Man. I've bought them all. It's not been exactly cheap at $40 per package but since you get 500+ comics with each package you're getting a lot of bang for your buck.

I have often thought that I would be very interested in a subscription service for comics, but now with these complete packages the service would need to offer new comics to get me to subscribe. But if they did it, I'd be all over that as far as reading new monthly comics. I don't want to buy them and instead wait for trades, but it would be worth $5 a month to me to be able to read whatever comes out and follow along instead of spending $100+ a month on single issues and having to go into the comics shop every week.

Re:No downloading? (3, Informative)

Bobartig (61456) | more than 6 years ago | (#21339103)

I purchased two of these for my girlfriend, X-Men, and Fantastic Four. The only problem (which I'm sure you're aware of), is that some series like X-Men did a lot of story line branching into mini series and spin-offs, which are not contained within these anthologies.

Plus, once you have 500 comics in PDF format, they just scream to be put onto a mobile device, or eBook reader, but I haven't figured this part out yet. Maybe I can load a few issues at a time onto a flash card and read them from my OLPC =D

Re:No downloading? (4, Informative)

Odiumjunkie (926074) | more than 6 years ago | (#21339791)

>Plus, once you have 500 comics in PDF format

Ahhhhh!

PDF is a horrible format for comics, unless you intend to print them, and you should only think about doing that if you access to a very high quality printer designed specifically for this kind of work.

Scene rips of comics use the excellent Comic Book Archive file [wikipedia.org] format, which is an archive (usually ZIP or RAR) with an image file (usually JPEG) for each page of the comic. The archive is typically renamed with a different extension to identify that it is meant to be viewed sequentially (.cbr for RAR archives and .cbz for ZIP archives.) Suitable viewing software (e.g. CDisplay [wikipedia.org]) sequentially decompresses each page and displays it. It's a much simpler, more elegant way of viewing comics than PDFs and with much less overhead.

Viewing comics on a laptop can be great, especially if the laptop is widescreen - you simply rotate the desktop 90 degrees and you've got the perfect aspect ratio for comic pages. I regularly read comics on my laptop fullscreen at 800 (width) x 1280 (height).

I imagine it would be great on a machine like the XO because the screen folds right over, giving you a very convenient read.

Re:No downloading? (2, Interesting)

an.echte.trilingue (1063180) | more than 6 years ago | (#21338979)

That's OK. The vast majority of people are not "knowledgeable individuals", neither do they have the patience, and as such, will not bother with figuring out how to save these comics. It's the same principle that keeps movie people encrypting DVDs long after DVD Shrink became available: most people will by a new copy of a DVD rather than figure out how to make a backup before they destroy it.

All you need is a minimum of security through obscurity on your product and most people will either pay for it or do without.

Re:No downloading? (4, Insightful)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 6 years ago | (#21339947)

Or download the torrent (or get a copy from one of the tens of thousands who has).

I was almost done with Judge Dredd complete run with Demonoid went down.

Why mess with a page at a time when you can get gigabytes.

The media companies are overpricing this service.

They need to charge a low price for "any time, reliable" download access.

$9.99 for that amount of content is a joke.

It reminds me of when I used to work in long distance billing software.

Cost of the call... $.011 cents
Cost of billing the call $3.75

Same thing here-- the cost of simply putting the content up on a server is probably under $1000 and any money above bandwidth costs would be pure profit. However, the effort of surrounding it with DRM probably cost $100k in analysis, salaries, extra DRM servers, licenses, etc.

Read all comics for free with no DRM (1)

Von Rex (114907) | more than 6 years ago | (#21340821)

Yes, they certainly have been downloaded. Most of them are sitting on my shelf in a DVD case.

My favourite place for comic downloads is zcultfm.com. Get yourself a membership there and check the "newest submissions" forum every day. You'll never lack for comics again.

Or, if you don't want to bother with that, just go to the bittorent site of your choice and type in "dcp" for "digital comics preservation". You'll see weekly packs of new releases there.

To read the nifty .cbr and .cbz formats, get a program called "cdisplay". cbr and cbz are just rars and zips of jpegs, so you can easily create your own "comic book" files of photographs if you choose and use cdisplay to read those, too. cbr and cbz are interchangable as far as cdisplay is concerned. It's really a pretty useful image viewing program.

Comics will be on Bittorrent anyway (2, Insightful)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 6 years ago | (#21338467)

Marvel is trying to compete with the torrent community in this, since an increasing amount of older comics can now be downloaded through Bittorrent.

Re:Comics will be on Bittorrent anyway (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21338505)

Yes, but what will make Marvel stand above the bittorrent traffic is that you can view comics in mint condition whereas you can only get good to fair condition comics from bittorrent.

Re:Comics will be on Bittorrent anyway (1)

Racemaniac (1099281) | more than 6 years ago | (#21338621)

and the reason these better quality comics won't be on bittorrent within an hour is....

Re:Comics will be on Bittorrent anyway (1)

explosivejared (1186049) | more than 6 years ago | (#21339155)

I think that one went over your head.

Marvel should just realize there is no way to get past the fact that digitally distributed media doesn't fit into the scarcity-based business model. The ones who want only to consume the media and care nothing for the experience of holding an actual comic book will pirate. There's no reasonable way to stop it. Eventually they'll realize that this digital market is vastly untapped. Hopefully sooner rather than later and in a non-RIAAesque way.

Re:Comics will be on Bittorrent anyway (4, Funny)

somersault (912633) | more than 6 years ago | (#21338649)

Comic book guy, is that you??!

Worst...Simpson's Joke...Ever. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21340853)

Worst...Simpson's Joke...Ever.

Re:Comics will be on Bittorrent anyway (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21339021)

Marvel should have a Photoshop-style Mint, Good and Fair filter to degrade the content according to the subscription price...

Re:Comics will be on Bittorrent anyway (1)

Shaman (1148) | more than 6 years ago | (#21338959)

I don't like piracy, and I don't advocate it. That said, you can't beat the Chronological X-Men torrents. Simply incredible stuff for comic buffs.

Hell, I was out of comics for 20 years or more (Heavy Metal excepted) and this is what got me back in.

Thing is, I have bought over $4K worth of Ultimate collections (X-men, Spider-man, House of M, Civil War, etc.) because I want the quality books in my own hands. So if Marvel doesn't over-react, I think they have nothing to fear from those of us who want the real thing.

On the other side of the coin, I will never buy comic books again. If they're not collected in graphic novels, I won't buy them. Too much wait, too costly, not as high a quality as the collected graphic novels. But I'm nearly 40. :/

Re:Comics will be on Bittorrent anyway (1)

chthon (580889) | more than 6 years ago | (#21339707)

Ha, I am 41. I started collecting the X-Man again after I searched in 2006 after the comic heroes that I once had 30 years ago. Once I figured out it where the X-Man, I had to look for what I could get. It took some time before I discovered Marvel Masterworks. A bit pricey, but I can afford it, and like you say, somewhat neater than buying the comics themselves.

However, I like to scrounge around in second-hand book shops and online, and I am collecting the Dutch versions of the X-Man. It takes time and patience, but it is a hobby. However, the original X-Man I like to have completely, which is possible. It is six volumes.

Oh, and about looking on-line, a book is so much more handy.

Can't Be Downloaded? (1)

rhennigan (833589) | more than 6 years ago | (#21338479)

What's to stop people from screenshotting the pages and placing them into a pdf?

Re:Can't Be Downloaded? (5, Funny)

Funkcikle (630170) | more than 6 years ago | (#21338587)

What's to stop people from screenshotting the pages and placing them into a pdf?
A visit from Dr.DMCA and his sidekick Kopyright Kid, of course.

Re:Can't Be Downloaded? (1)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 6 years ago | (#21338639)

What's to stop people from screenshotting the pages and placing them into a pdf?
Nothing at all, but it probably makes their suits happier to emptily delcare otherwise.

Hmm... (3, Funny)

rde (17364) | more than 6 years ago | (#21338481)

In the long term, this is of course a good thing. However, the idea that issues 1-100 of X-Men will encourage anyone to take it up is, at best, optimistic. Let's face it; they may have been good at the time, but nowadays they're extremely dated. Of course, it does have Iceman looking like a snowman and Cyclops being called 'Slim' which might be good for a laugh, but overall I don't think they'll encourage many people.

Oh, from the article:
Even as their creations -- from Iron Man to Wonder Woman
Ahem.

Re:Hmm... (3, Funny)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 6 years ago | (#21338567)

Of course, it does have ... Cyclops being called 'Slim' which might be good for a laugh, but overall I don't think they'll encourage many people.

See? Cyclops was called "Slim" and he wore shades, predating that great alter-ego of your rap hero Eminem by almost four decades. </pathetic-attempt-to-make-1960s-pop-culture-relavant-to-today's-youth>

Re:Hmm... (3, Funny)

GammaKitsune (826576) | more than 6 years ago | (#21339769)

As a member of today's youth, I can assure you that most of us who visit /. find 1960's pop culture far more stimulating than Eminem.

Re:Hmm... (2, Interesting)

MalleusEBHC (597600) | more than 6 years ago | (#21338627)

In the long term, this is of course a good thing. However, the idea that issues 1-100 of X-Men will encourage anyone to take it up is, at best, optimistic. Let's face it; they may have been good at the time, but nowadays they're extremely dated. Of course, it does have Iceman looking like a snowman and Cyclops being called 'Slim' which might be good for a laugh, but overall I don't think they'll encourage many people.

When I was around 10 years old, someone got me a subscription for the reprinting of the first 12 X-Men comics. Even though some of it was dated (this was almost 15 years ago), I was still hooked and pretty soon I had subscriptions to the latest X-Men and FF comics. I think this is a great way for them to get new kids interested, and it's very low risk for them. All it costs is some scanning and a webserver.

My only hope is that this doesn't lead to the death of the physical copy of a comic book. I still go back every few years and read through my old collection, and the fun of reading a physical comic book never gets old.

Re:Hmm... (1)

apt142 (574425) | more than 6 years ago | (#21339087)

I highly doubt the original copies would be devalued by this. There is some novelty in owning those rare items. To make an analogy of it, reprints of the Mona Lisa are nearly worthless, the original is priceless. Not that I think that _Amazing Spiderman_ #1 is a Mona Lisa, but I'm sure many somebodies would disagree with me.

As for the digital back prints, I find that a very fascinating prospect. I was always curious about how those original series kicked off but never so curious to spend the time and shell out the cash to collect even reprints of those old books. This is convenient and relatively cheap.

Re:Hmm... (1)

c0d3g33k (102699) | more than 6 years ago | (#21341085)

Your post triggered a somewhat tangential thought on my part. It's interesting that the original printings are given such high value, since they are essentially mass market copies. It's really the original art which is priceless. I think back on all the times when I wished I owned Amazing Fantasy 15 when what I really want now is Steve Ditko's original art. (Looks across the room at the white long boxes full of 40 year old mass market copies in plastic bags and sighs).

Re:Hmm... (1)

Babbster (107076) | more than 6 years ago | (#21340827)

My only hope is that this doesn't lead to the death of the physical copy of a comic book. I still go back every few years and read through my old collection, and the fun of reading a physical comic book never gets old.

There's no reason to think that comics will stop being published. They clearly sell enough of them to make money even though the number of people buying them today isn't a tenth of the numbers from 20 years ago.

There's nothing bad about this idea (having started a subscription last night, I have some issues with execution, but I think it will improve in that area). Marvel still gets to sell physical copies of their products, and with the low subscription price (incredibly low since comics are about $3 a piece now) they could get back some of the customers lost when comic books stopped being everywhere and started being found (in quantity) only at specialty stores, and often only by preordering, often months in advance.

Personally, I'll be recommending this service (or making a Christmas gift of it) to my sister for her kids and to anybody else who wants "back issues on a budget." Sure, I could teach them all how to use Bit Torrent sites and download the stuff for free, but with the very low price Marvel is charging nobody has an excuse to steal (not interested in the semantical argument about this word, by the way) digital copies of Marvel comics anymore - it would take months for a normal person in school or with a job to read what Marvel's already put online and they claim they're going to be making additions every week.

Re:Hmm... (1)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 6 years ago | (#21340539)

It'll do a better job of interesting people than current comics do, which cater solely to an small, incestuous niche audience. Ok, not all of them do, but the majority of the mags in the marvelous worlds of Marvel and DC have shriveled to small and dark figments of what they were in the 60's, 70's, and 80's.

yeah (4, Insightful)

thatskinnyguy (1129515) | more than 6 years ago | (#21338533)

Interesting concept of putting comic books online. But nothing beats having a hard copy. That just takes me back to being a kid and getting excited when a new issue came out.

Re:yeah (2, Interesting)

Ansonmont (170786) | more than 6 years ago | (#21338613)

True. I bought the X-Men Ultimate CD_ROM which has all of the issues on one disk (only about $8 or so). It displays as a PDF that is unreadable when made to fit my 15" laptop screen and way too big when put at readable resolution. Hopefully they will take care of this for the online version, but I couldn't even get through the first issue....

-A

Re:yeah (1)

SuiteSisterMary (123932) | more than 6 years ago | (#21338757)

Out of curiosity, did you try rotating the PDF 90 degrees, so that the long axis of the page was along the long axis of the monitor, then rotating the laptop?

Re:yeah (1)

Shaman (1148) | more than 6 years ago | (#21338887)

That wasn't an official release, then. I bought something similar, cost me $30 and had dick-all on it for comics. Used DJView for the comics, though... very good quality.

Re:yeah (1)

toleraen (831634) | more than 6 years ago | (#21338681)

I don't doubt that having a hard copy is better, but don't some of the early editions of the comics they put up sell for hundreds or thousands of dollars?

Re:yeah (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 6 years ago | (#21338739)

With books, I whole-heartedly disagree.

With comics, you are very much correct. I tried reading some comics (manga) on a 15" laptop... It was the most portable thing I had that was big enough. A PDA is way, way too small, and sitting at a computer to read is annoying. I came to the conclusion that a $2000 tablet PC (possibly a ModBook Pro) would be the best solution... And that it wasn't worth spending $2000+ to read a few comics.

For comics to look right on a computer screen, they'd have to be able to adjust the format, like a regular book does... And that's just not an option when dealing with old comics.

Oh well... Here's hoping cheap tablet PCs are just around the bend.

Re:yeah (1)

AnyNoMouse (715074) | more than 6 years ago | (#21340473)

I picked up a Toshiba M200 tablet for $500 refurbished. I got it mostly as a sketchpad, but I found that it works great for reading manga as well. Especially as it has a a little joystick built into the face allowing easy turning of the pages in tablet mode. This particular model is better than many of the other tablets in that it's screen resolution is 1280x1024 instead of the more common 1024x768 they put in most tablets. The only real downside is that it's a little heavy.

Re:yeah (1)

Scudsucker (17617) | more than 6 years ago | (#21341351)

Except with a computer, you never have to worry about damage to the comic when you take it out and read it. And since comics are so much more visual than books, it isn't a strain to read them on a computer screen. I've looked at a ton of comics on my 19" monitor and have never had a problem.

Old comics (1)

heresyoftruth (705115) | more than 6 years ago | (#21338551)

I am not a big comic gal, but I used to read Xmen. I stopped when they split it into a handful of titles. I have a buddy that got fed up with reading Spiderman, for a similar reason. He needed multiple titles to see what was going on. It was a blatantly an effort to make those of us who were into it, buy more. It didn't work for us, we stopped collecting. I started reading indi artists.

I think the older comics, before they split up all over the place.

Re:Old comics (1)

WuphonsReach (684551) | more than 6 years ago | (#21338949)

Indeed... the #1 reason why I won't buy comics:

Crossover issues

If they want to do a crossover issue, they should publish the story in both product lines. Then, maybe if I'm interested in the other characters / storyline, I'll start following the other series.

Human Torch, meet Server Torch (4, Funny)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 6 years ago | (#21338571)

Hey, True Believers, the response to Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited has been so overwhelming, we're just doing a bit of routine maintenance to make sure you have a great experience! We'll be back shortly. Thank you, Marvel.com.
Flame on!

No demand for the newer stuff. (3, Interesting)

MMC Monster (602931) | more than 6 years ago | (#21338595)

As with everything else, the older stuff looks great because we forget about all the junk that no one ever bought. That being said, there is some classic Chris Claremont stuff and John Byre stuff from the 80s that I keep on reading even now.

The first 50 issues of New Mutants. Uncanny X-Men 100-200, Fantastic 4 140-175. Good stuff all around.

That being said, I have all of these in print and have no moral reason against downloading them in .cbr format from a .torrent site. :-)

Re:No demand for the newer stuff. (1)

rde (17364) | more than 6 years ago | (#21338753)

The first 50 issues of New Mutants. Uncanny X-Men 100-200
I'd agree with you on the New Mutants, but I still remember Uncanny 175; the last issue of the X-Men I bought. It's the one where the Jean Grey clone (Madeline Pryor?) turned out to be another bloody Phoenix. X-Men 137 (I think) was one of the finest stories ever to come out of marvel, and by resurrecting, reinventing and cloning Phoenix (initially for the poxy X-Factor, and later for other inane reasons), Marvel served only to piss off its loyal fans and bring in a new breed of fans that think buying two copies each of the five covers of the new X-Men #1, putting them in mylar and never reading the damn things is being a comics fan. It was around then that stories became subservient to heroines built like barbie dolls (I blame Image for this more than anyone else), and your only guarantee of quality became a black-and-white comic no-one ever heard of.

I'm not saying Marvel, DC et al suddenly became incapable of bring out a good comic, but the quality became accidental, and subservient to gloss 'n' tits.

There. Rant finished. It's been bubbling under the surface for nigh-on a decade now, so even if no-one cares - or even reads it - it was good to get it off my chest.

I'l be fine now. Unless someone metions Deep Space Nine.

Re:No demand for the newer stuff. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21339401)

"I'm not saying Marvel, DC et al suddenly became incapable of bring out a good comic, but the quality became accidental, and subservient to gloss 'n' tits.

There. Rant finished. It's been bubbling under the surface for nigh-on a decade now, so even if no-one cares - or even reads it - it was good to get it off my chest.

I'l be fine now. Unless someone metions Deep Space Nine."

Ok, I won't talk about DS9, but how about Jeri Ryan? ;-)

good way to catch up (2, Interesting)

Cooldrew (1184399) | more than 6 years ago | (#21338609)

I've been out of comics since the X-Men animated series. Ever since I started playing City of Heroes, I've been wanting to get back into them, already bought a lot of Transmetropolitan. Here's hoping they'll eventually put up something like Civil War, so I can see it and hate myself for reading it.

$10 pm (4, Interesting)

Silver Sloth (770927) | more than 6 years ago | (#21338615)

$10 per month seems a little excessive to me. In fact this looks more like a cash in than a 'let's get a new generation interested'. The only people willing to pay that sort of cash are Baby Boomers reliving their childhoods.

Re:$10 pm (1)

tim_darklighter (822987) | more than 6 years ago | (#21338821)

It really depends on the titles going up. I used to collect comics and pay up to $30 a week to keep up with my favorites. I don't have that kind of money anymore, so $10 per month for unlimited reading of any available title seems like a nice deal when I really just want to catch up with the stories where I left off four years ago. That is granted they offer unlimited reading of all titles for one fee (which it sounds like they are).

My money is licensed, not sold... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21339225)

and the EULA requires that they do not own the money, they cannot pass it on to any other entity without my permission and they will require a license transfer payment.

And if they break the agreement (by, for example, stopping me reading the comics because "I'm not paying rent any more") then I'll take the money back.

What, did you think you OWNED my money just becuse you supplied a service to me? Pah! What an outmoded concept.

Re:$10 pm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21340535)

When you consider that is the cost of purchasing maybe 1 or two comics on their own, that 10 per month doesnt seem expensive at all

Re:$10 pm (1)

revco_38 (657452) | more than 6 years ago | (#21340597)

I'm guessing you still think comics cost a dime and you get them at the grocery store on a spinning rack? Your average comic these days are near $3 a pop so there is _some_ value in $10 per month.

Not gonna happen (5, Insightful)

Womens Shoes (1175311) | more than 6 years ago | (#21338617)

Look, if they want to promote interest in their current work by getting us hooked on the classics, great. But that's marketing. And they want to charge us for their marketing?

These things are ancient and should be in the public domain anyways.

And guess what... if they were, they'd already be promoting more intrest in their current work!

The truly ancient stuff is in the public domain (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 6 years ago | (#21339051)

Anything that post-dates Mickey Mouse is not.

Whether it should be or not is a matter for another thread.

Re:The truly ancient stuff is in the public domain (1)

Womens Shoes (1175311) | more than 6 years ago | (#21340301)

Whether it should be or not is a matter for another thread.

Only if you think the constitutional idea of copyright was meaningless.

And if you think that extending it every few years is "limited time" then you're playing a game with semantics and the spirit of the law.

Re:Not gonna happen (2, Interesting)

jayp00001 (267507) | more than 6 years ago | (#21339081)

I don't think they are trying to get folks hooked by reading the classic issues or if they are its a dumb idea. Anyone reading the classic issues and picking up a new issue of Xmen, Captain America, Spiderman (et al) will wonder if the guy writing today's issues ever read the classic issues. The only thing the new issues have in common with the old ones is the name.

You're obviously not the target market (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 6 years ago | (#21339669)

This isn't marketing, this is trying to find a new market for old content.

If I had the comic-book fan mentality, I'd be really excited by this. After the first Spider-Man movie came out, I was sufficiently impressed to go out and buy some reprints of the early comic books.

Two big disappointments: the reprints are available only as line drawings, which destroys a lot of the impact of this kind of comic. And the stories were just plain dumb. (I mean jeez, they show a Mercury space capsule flying around like an airplane.) But a serious comics fan (and there are a lot of them) would overlook the second issue, and gladly pay $5/month to avoid the first issue.

Re:You're obviously not the target market (1)

Womens Shoes (1175311) | more than 6 years ago | (#21340373)

Yeah, I admit I'm not the target audience. And though there certainly are people who would pay for the content, I predict it'll be tough to compete with the free download market. Not because it's impossible for a business to do so (Apple has proved you can) but because they got it wrong.

No downloading? Aren't they trying to appeal to comic book people, who are notorious collectors? A limited subscription service sounds like a nightmare to them (as it does to me for music).

If they had something more like the iTunes store, or a "all of the 60's Spider-man for $39.95 or something, then I bet it would work.

Re:You're obviously not the target market (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 6 years ago | (#21340833)

No downloading? Aren't they trying to appeal to comic book people, who are notorious collectors?
Good point. This is another case of a media company shooting themselves in the foot because of piracy concerns.

Re:You're obviously not the target market (1)

Scudsucker (17617) | more than 6 years ago | (#21341281)

I wish they would just get together with Apple and sell comics on the iTMS. Well established site, reasonable prices, and something to buy to put on those new iPhones and iPT's while your on the subway.

Sounds like a dare (1)

Itninja (937614) | more than 6 years ago | (#21338651)

Comics can only be viewed in a Web browser, not downloaded,...
I'll take that bet. If it can be viewed on a screen, it can be downloaded. In fact, in a manner of speaking, if it's being viewed on your screen it has already been downloaded.

Re:Sounds like a dare (1)

Hic sunt leones (1048372) | more than 6 years ago | (#21341115)

In what manner of speaking exactly?

To view something, regardless of what it is (images, text, etc...), the web browser must download it.

I know I'm being anal over this, but don't dumb it down. It isn't downloaded "in a manner of speaking". It is simply downloaded: as in, there is a copy of it currently residing on the computer you're using to view it.

It is downloaded to a temporary folder (usually called a cache), where it stays while you view it with the web browser. Once you end your session on the web browser, it wipes everything in that temporary folder[1]. This happens regardless of which web browser you're using, on any OS.

[1] If this is set as the default, sometimes it doesn't wipe it automatically after every session, you have to do it manually. IE, for instance, doesn't automatically.

Correction (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21338677)

... Stan Lee and Steve Ditko 's 1963 creation "Amazing Spider-Man" ...

meh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21338687)

I wait for Spider-Ham.

get thee to http://komics-live.com/SMF/index.php (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21338705)

and you will NEVER have to pay for another comic book ever again

GrabIT! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21338837)

My copy of Grab It! is ready!

e4? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21338873)

so that you do8't w0uld like to

My new comic book villain (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21338881)

Is this anti-hero called StanLee Man, he gives artists a very basic idea and takes all the credit for their work. Does anyone think Marvell will be interested?

It's already been done -- for free. (3, Informative)

arudloff (564805) | more than 6 years ago | (#21338883)

ComicMix.com [comicmix.com] - no drm, back issues, original issues, solid community, etc.

Re:It's already been done -- for free. (2, Informative)

skoaldipper (752281) | more than 6 years ago | (#21339529)

Searched for x-men and xmen, yet "We cannot find what you're looking for."

Either your jedi mind trick worked, or your database met Thor's hammer. The website only lists 6 comics (which I've never heard of) as freely available. Where's X-Men? Ala Hocus Pocus? or Subscription Locus?

"young people"? not the ones I know (1)

microcars (708223) | more than 6 years ago | (#21338907)

I have stacks of old Spiderman and X-Men comix at home.
I leave them laying out for my grandkids (10-13yrs old) to read at their leisure.

I thought they would go "WOW! COMICS!" and then curl up in a corner to read for hours and hours....

They browsed through them, then left them to go do something else.

If they go on the computer, they want to play games or watch funny things on YouTube.

"Hey Kids, look! Here are some static images on the computer! Look!"

I don't know, maybe there is something wrong with them....

Re:"young people"? not the ones I know (1)

objekt (232270) | more than 6 years ago | (#21339885)

Issues 1-100 are better than what you probably would allow kids to mess up.

The old comics are terrible. (1)

realmolo (574068) | more than 6 years ago | (#21338913)

If they really wanted people to pay for this, they'd put up the late-70s through late-80s stuff. That was the PEAK of Marvel, as far as writing/storylines goes. Before that...eh. There was some good stuff, but not all that much. And pretty much ALL of the good stuff from the early days is widely available in "compilations" that are dirt cheap. As in, clearance-bin cheap, most of the time.

Missing their market (4, Interesting)

Telvin_3d (855514) | more than 6 years ago | (#21338947)

Marvel, and comics in general, have a problem here. It is the same problem that the other entertainment industries are facing. Scanned comics are already a reality online. They are on the torrent sites right beside the music and movies.

However, one thing that makes digital comics a little different from other media is that the community has had to create their own file formats, standards and viewing software. While the means to play movies and music files have been built in for as long as they have been technically possible, there is no long standing computer format designed to show a series of pictures. So, the community has created their own standards in using re-named zip and rar files and viewing applications created to display them.

So, now Marvel is trying to get into the digital market. They have a problem here though. The market already has some well defined segments. The first is the people who already read comics on the computer. This is going to be a hard segment to win over. Not only do they have their own practises and conventions, but their selection is up to date and in-depth. 99.9% of the (surviving) comics ever produced by Marvel or DC are available, from WWII right up to the new releases each Wednesday. Trying to compete with this using not simply a limited, protected format but one that is incomparable will be vary hard.

The next market segment is comic fans who do no already download. This is going to be a small market. It is limited to those who are not digitally inclined and thus poor targets for any digital service, or who have chosen not to download for various reasons.

The final market available are people who are not currently into comics. Unfortunately for Marvel, traditionally when launching a new service the smallest returns are going to come from outside the established fanbase. And those who become interested are likely to divert to the 'pirate' comics scene if only to avoid having all the surprises spoiled six months before they can read them.

Is this worth doing? Absolutely. I suspect that it won't take much interest for Marvel to at least break even. Costs on this have to be minimal, and much of it can be written off as basic archiving work that is necessary anyways or possibly already done for other projects in the past. It is also good to see them start to look at new distribution channels. As an industry, they have been fossilized for the past 20 years.

Still, you would think that after a watching each other, one of the various entertainment industries would work with, or at least follow, the communities when it came to digital media.

Re:Missing their market (1)

Sax Maniac (88550) | more than 6 years ago | (#21339971)

there is no long standing computer format designed to show a series of pictures
PDF and TIF supports multipage images. Why don't those work?

Re:Missing their market (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21340423)

There's already a de-facto standard.
Compress the images as a ZIP or RAR. Rename the extension to CBZ or CBR and use the CBReader app.
It has an optional hover/magnify feature along with the ability to show them 2-up and rotate an image if you want.
By adding a text file to the zip you can include some information about the comic in question, along with an estimate as to how much money you are costing the artist/industry.
I think legitimizing the downloads (for cash, of course) is necessary for those collectors who would rather fill up their harddrives than closets.

Re:Missing their market (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21340653)

Their other problem is that paying $4 for 30 pages of comic is a huge waste of money. I'd buy more if they'd still use cheapo newsprint for newsstand copies. Subscriptions just aren't how I read. You can't hop title to title and every hero besides my favorite gets annoying and repetetive. With prices so extreme, I only buy one comic a week and usually have to try to make sure it's a self contained story.

Re:Missing their market (1)

steelfood (895457) | more than 6 years ago | (#21340883)

They should've just made a Youtube for comics. Allow people to make and publish their own comics with their custom software. And their content library would've been perfect to spark interest.

They can make money via advertising, via "premium" accounts with value-added featuers, via merchandising (where the money goes to the author, but they get a cut), etc. That seems to be the model that a lot of web comics follow. The problem is that the barrier to entry is still particularly high. Imagine if the barriers of entery was as low as popping videos onto Youtube...

The problem is that these older media companies are still stuck in their box of owning and charging for content wherever whenever. That kind of thinking is no longer valid. Anyone can create content these days and promote it online. It's a matter of creating a central place where people can conveniently find the content, as well as filter out the good from the bad. The faster media companies realize their role is that of a service provider rather than a content provider, the quicker they'll expand into the online realm.

That is to say, it isn't impossible to charge for new content. It's just that old content can't be milked. Slashdot's subscription model seems to work fine for new content.

Re:Missing their market (1)

NMerriam (15122) | more than 6 years ago | (#21341231)

The next market segment is comic fans who do no already download. This is going to be a small market. It is limited to those who are not digitally inclined and thus poor targets for any digital service, or who have chosen not to download for various reasons.


On the contrary, "comics fans who don't already download" is probably 98% of the comics market. These are precisely the people they're going after. Most people don't download because they don't know it exists, it is inconvenient, or they don't want to read on screen.

If you can let people know it is available, make it convenient, and enjoyable, you can win a lot of eyes. Of course whether this effort succeeds at those things is another matter entirely. I don't think reading in a web browser is convenient or enjoyable, and I doubt many others do. But even just releasing CBZ files wouldn't satisfy this market, because reading comics onscreen isn't a good experience for most people even with good software.

Ultimately 99% of the challenge is figuring out how to make reading comics in a digital form enjoyable. We have plenty of technology options to make it convenient and easy once we discover a decent format. eBooks have been dealing with these same issues for years, and they have a MUCH simpler problem than visual storytelling does.

the interesting thing is: (1)

ILongForDarkness (1134931) | more than 6 years ago | (#21338955)

At $4.99 they probably are selling for a higher price than they originally did (~5-10 cents each). Still not a bad deal if you are a comic book fan.

Starting to make sense now... (1)

kalel666 (587116) | more than 6 years ago | (#21338971)

The alt.binaries.dcp.comics group stopped posting zero day releases a couple weeks ago on usenet, purportedly due to a DMCA takedown notice to the chief uploader of the group. SPeculation is that the notice came from Marvel. I wonder if these events are related?

Should they do it for free? (2, Insightful)

walterbyrd (182728) | more than 6 years ago | (#21339009)

I don't really care. But, it seems to me that the real money is in the movies.

If they put up the old comics for free, maybe ad supported, it might generate more interest in the movies.

Beating Piracy (1)

RyoShin (610051) | more than 6 years ago | (#21339025)

You might be interested to know that the online trading and downloading of comics is just as active as music or video trading- perhaps less popular, but still very active. A comic site I visit regularly has "Release Wednesday" download links in the forums, right on that Wednesday, and almost all of the major comics released that day. I think Marvel is doing this to combat that as well as falling sales.

I personally think it's great, and plan to buy in. It won't put a huge dent in comic piracy, as it won't include the most recent titles, but it's great for me to get the back-issues I might read once or twice without having to hunt them down or shell out $1/each.

Hopefully they'll start making online releases sooner and sooner after paperback releases, but it's a step in the right direction.

no thanks marvel, you blew your several chances! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21339053)

this company just wants money. they screw their artists
to the point they leave in disgust. they have stories
run in multiple books to milk the cash cow even more.
their dated characters rehash the same stories over and
over to infinity. they have forgotten about making a comic
into a engaging story and relied upon art to sell the books.
marvel attracts kids, dc keeps the adults. too bad when
you printed groo you only went into bankruptcy instead
of an outright failure and disappreance. i look over your
offerings and just puke. i wanted this internet delivery system
10 years ago and wish you had the brains to develop a handy
portable reader. we would download comics to a memory stick
for keeps! your subscription model can kiss my ass. i hope
your company once again goes bankrupt and your ashes regrow
into a company worth reading its products.

the company has nothing left to offer and it has not created
anything significant in decades.

Re:no thanks marvel, you blew your several chances (5, Interesting)

Chibi Merrow (226057) | more than 6 years ago | (#21339763)

this company just wants money. ... they have stories run in multiple books to milk the cash cow even more.
Gee, DC would never [wikipedia.org] do [wikipedia.org] anything [wikipedia.org] like that. DC invented [wikipedia.org] the universe-wide crossover event spanning multiple titles. Such things have become summer fixtures for both companies.

their dated characters rehash the same stories over and over to infinity.
You mean like having WWII-era superheroes fighting a multiverse-shaking battle-to-end-all-battles? Yeah, never seen that before...

This post reminds me of a DC panel at one of the Cons where a fan asked some DC execs "How's it feel to be whipping Marvel's ass?" (during the post-Infinite Crisis DC sales implosion) and was promptly laughed out of the room by the entire audience. Seriously, besides JSA and Hellblazer (which is Vertigo, so it doesn't count), there's not much worth reading on the DC side of things. Well, except the couple times a year an All-Star Superman sneaks out...

they have forgotten about making a comic into a engaging story and relied upon art to sell the books.
Even assuming that were true, then at least they still remember the damn art, unlike most DC stuff. And to say the company that's printing Daredevil/Captain America/Hulk/New Avengers/Iron Fist/New Universal is the one which has forgotten how to write an engaging story is the same as saying "I don't (ever) read any Marvel books but I'm going to give you my opinion anyway." I'll take the company with Bendis/Brubaker/Ellis anyday.

marvel attracts kids, dc keeps the adults.
See, funny thing is, I work at a local comic shop on occasion. Spend a lot of time there when I'm not working. More adults do buy DC comics, than kids, true, but that's because no one's buying DC comics. Meanwhile both adults and kids are snatching up Marvel titles so fast I'm actually having trouble getting some of my regulars (boss stole an Iron Fist out of a customer folder for me this past week, for instance...)

the company has nothing left to offer and it has not created anything significant in decades.
At least they're not strangling under some parent company that won't let them do anything interesting with their characters out of fear of ruining the movie properties based on them (ala Warner Brothers and Batman). Give me a break.

They really think this will grow their readership? (1)

GnarlyDoug (1109205) | more than 6 years ago | (#21339617)

I think this attempt is doomed to failure, at least in terms of growing their readership and fan base. Charging a monthy access fee? Who do they think will pay this? You want to hook new readers on to your stuff, but tell them "hey, it's great, trust me. Pay up and you'll see how great it is!"? That's not going to fly.

Successful web comics have the same formula. The comic is free online, of decent quality, has a decent archive / mass to it, and is updated regularly. Money is made from merchandise related to the comic and/or advertising. Given their huge amount of material, Marvel could have went this route and not only made a killing off the merchandise, but massively increased their fan base. By charging for access they've pretty much guaranteed that most of the readers will be old guard comic fans who want to read all of this stuff. They'll make money from this, but it will amout to more effecient mining of their existing market share, not building or growing their market, which should have been of much higher priority to them. It would not only have made them a lot more money, it would have given them much better long-term viability to survive as a company.

Content creators: (3, Insightful)

sootman (158191) | more than 6 years ago | (#21339817)

Can you GET THE FUCK OVER YOURSELVES?!?!?

"...Marvel is putting some of its older comics online Tuesday, hoping to reintroduce young people to the X-Men and Fantastic Four by showcasing the original issues in which such characters appeared... For that price, they'll be able to poke through, say, the first 100 issues of Stan Lee's 1963 creation "Amazing Spider-Man" at their leisure... Comics can only be viewed in a Web browser, not downloaded..."

So: the shit is forty-four years old. What's the big fucking deal if people print it? Or download them so they can read them while on a flight? You don't have to give up your copyrights. It's not like you're releasing the characters into the public domain and all of a sudden you'll see stickers on the backs of Chevy pickups depicting Spider-Man pissing on a Ford logo. (Not that copyright laws have prevented Bill Watterson's 'Calvin' from being abused as such anyway.) You're not making it available to all to print infinite copies--just your typical "personal use" type of thing. And what if people do start printing them, binding them, and selling them? Guess what: that means there's a market, shitheads! Print NICE collections at REASONABLE prices and watch them fly out the door.

I can only assume that Stan Lee and the others learned a lot about their craft by a) reading old stories and myths and b) looking at old art. What if the complete works of van Gogh, da Vinci, Homer,* Shakespeare, and all the rest were under such draconian control? Would you even be an artist if Sonny Bono had been alive in 1000 BC? Why even charge at all, you hypocritical fucks? You've already made some money once. Releasing them for free might actually grow the comic audience. That would inspire some new fans (and probably some new artists.) Rather than always trying to get a bigger slice of the pie, why don't you try to make the whole pie bigger?

"The publisher is hoping fans will be intrigued enough about the origins of those characters to shell out $9.99 a month, or $4.99 monthly with a year-long commitment."

Consider the other angles. I am not a huge comic fan. But, it's a big part of our culture and yes, I would kind of like to see how Spidey, the X-Men, and all the rest came about. If I did, maybe I'd become a fan and start buying the current stuff. But I do not care enough to pay and jump through a lot of hoops. So I'll continue to be the non-comic-buyer that I am.

It's a very simple question: do you want to a) gain new fans or b) milk your existintg fan base? I think we all know the answer. Probably because that's an easier sell to the bean-counters: rather than possibly making a huge pile of money by exponentially increasing the market, they'd rather just have a smaller but predictable amount--"Lucas has shown us the way. X% of existing comic buyers will pay $Y per month for whatever we shove down their throats. That will net us $Z in 2008."

Also: "can only be viewed in a Web browser, not downloaded"? I guess these douchebags never heard of screenshots, either.

* no, not Simpson, I mean the old Greek guy.

PS: sorry for all the swearing, but this stuff really, really, really pisses me off.

if it's consistent.... (1)

marvelouspatric (1112793) | more than 6 years ago | (#21339865)

i just want to chime in that, as a comic geek, i kinda look forward to this. i buy a lot of single issues every month. if marvel got in the habit of putting up _everything_ six months later on their website, then i would totally go that way instead of the floppy route. then, if i really liked something, i could go buy the hardcover. if they put up all of brubaker's captain america and warren ellis's next wave, i'm in. patric

These were all on CDROM recently (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 6 years ago | (#21339961)

These were all on CDROM recently. I know because I saw a stack of boxes at "Half Price Books" for $5 each. And you owned them for that $5, and could read them whenever you liked throughout the year, without having to pay $120.

DVD set (2, Informative)

zegota (1105649) | more than 6 years ago | (#21340119)

Marvel's already released DVD compliations of many of these comics. I bought the Amazing Spider-Man set (1962-2006) for $30 and it's excellent.

I know they also have X-Men, Iron Man, FF, Captain America sets and probably more. Seems much more economical than renting them for a monthly fee.

wow... just wow. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21340295)

if this had been an article about streaming music from some company of 40 year old recordings of pop music we'd have tons of posts howling that the copyright system is broken and that it's just plainly wrong to expect payment for such old works and how if the works were free both as in beer and as in speech that it would be a great advancement for civilization. people would be cursing the riaa and others would shout about boycotting, blah blah blah.

with comic books we have people saying that it's great and that it's really not to bad of a price considering the size of the catalog. not one word about how evil copyright is or any banter about how the home recording act should absolve people from wrong doing because of some obscure passage that doesn't relate to recordings at all. only one poster so far has even mention copyright and it was just a tangent, one person putting down on dc for being a rip off institute. a couple of people talking up torrents and everything else seems to be gravy. ain't that just incredible. somehow charging for 40 year old comics is fine and dandy but charging for music made last week is a sign that the system is broken and that everyone who's ever been elected is corrupt and anyone who actually supports paying an artist is a shill. i just love this place.

Warp! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21340415)

I don't remember if it was marvel or another one, but does anyone else remember the Warp! comic? Lots of stuff about gems and near nude girls, etc. Things like that. I has the first few issues years ago. This reminds me of it for some reason.

It's a good idea (1)

mr_resident (222932) | more than 6 years ago | (#21340461)

I applaud Marvel for doing this and I wish more entertainment content was available this way. If it was, I wouldn't be torrenting so much. In fact, I believe this kind of content will drive the use of the tablet style PCs, it's much easier to read a digital book with a device like that than on a laptop or desktop.

Two off-topic notes:

1) Stan Lee functioned as an editor at Marvel. He owned the company and through his contracts with the writers and artists, gave himself co-creator credit.
2) Why does Slashdot allow anonymous submissions like this which are little more than advertising? It's happening more and more lately. Why not just sell them ad space?

Worthless (1)

YumYumClownMonkey (903920) | more than 6 years ago | (#21341255)

What a steaming pile of schlock. First it takes me 4 minutes to just access marvel.com. Finding a comic, (any comic,) I might be interested in seeing takes another 10 minutes. Then flash-player popup window malfunctions after the first page, (something about mysql_db_connect throwing an exception - They're clearly getting lagged into oblivion,) leaving me staring at a blank screen with a stupid look on my face, wondering how I'm going to get the last 20 minutes of my life back. Oh, and it forced me to register with marvel.com. Pass
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