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March 29, 2012

Comics Go Digital

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Written by: Kevin
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Comics Go Digital

Comic books have never been associated with strenuous physical activity, and with the amazing technology we have available to us today in the Information Age, it has never been easier to create or read comics.

DC comics and Marvel comics, along with several other major comic book and graphic novel publishers, have developed digital versions of their comics that can be downloaded into or simply read via multiple platforms – both PC and MAC, of course, as well as mobile devices like Android, iPhone, and iPad. Most publishers also have digital comics or webcomics available for purchase and for free on their websites.

Webcomic vs. Digital comic

The terminology common to this method for creating and distributing comics tends to overlap itself in places. For instance, do you know what the differences are between webcomics and digital comics? If you don’t know, that’s OK. They are often used interchangeably, even by so called industry experts. There are differences to be sure, however, there are also a lot of similarities, and the line between the two is getting blurrier and blurrier every day.

Semantically speaking, a digital comic can be one of two things:

1. A comic book that has been drawn, inked, penciled, written, etc., totally and completely on a computer.

2. A comic book that has been digitally released via email, a subscription service, or an online storage site like YouSendit.com.

Webcomic generally refers to comics that are published on a website, regardless of whether it exists only in a digital format on that site, or if it also can be picked up (literally) in a printed format. Webcomics typically are daily (or weekly) strips, similar to those printed in old school media, such as newspapers, magazines, and books.

One pretty cool trait digital comics and webcomics share is that they each enable just about anyone who has the ambition, drive, and determination to create their own comic, as well as the computer and software available to them to self-publish it.

Where have you been all my life?

Believe it or not, digital comics and webcomics are not really that new. Eric Millikin – former human anatomy lab embalmer and dissectionist, as well as award-winning artist and all-around cool cat – is credited with publishing the very first webcomic, Witches and Stitches, way back in 1985. It was created in a digital medium and published on the internet via good ol’ CompuServe.

Another solid feature of most webcomics is that they are usually published independently, so their creators in turn are free to explore different color schemes, take chances with social commentary, be adventurous with settings, and be creative with how characters and backgrounds look.

Digital comics can be displayed in a number of different formats, however, the vast majority of them retain the overall look and “feel” of print comics. If you would like to dive right in to the wonderful world of digital comics, check out comiXology, MyDigitalComics, and Graphicly, websites that focus solely on the creation, acquisition, and distribution of digital comics. [Editor’s note: Manga fans can purchase digital volumes via their American publishers (Dark Horse, Viz Media, and Digital Manga Publishing all have digital comic applications) or sites like JManga.]


The big boys of comics land also have digital versions of several of their titles. Check ‘em out here:

DC Comics

Dark Horse

Image Comics


Top Shelf Productions

IDW Publishing

SLG Publishing

[Editor’s note: Please welcome new staff writer Kevin! Kevin is going to be doing a regular column on the world of digital comics. Welcome to the team, man!]




  1. Billy

    Good, informative article sir!

    • Muchas gracias, Billy!

  2. Drew

    We’ve reviewed “Transfromers Autocracy” in our “From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays” column (and actually will be reviewing it again in a week or two). The title rocks, looks amazing and comes out bi-weekly for a buck, great stuff. I know Marvel has pushed digital comics as a way to expand reading chocies and repalce print, while other comic companies have said it’s the future and will most liekly take over print fully one day, so either way, its here to stay and I’m pretty happy with the results so far (and don’t miss having a printed book at all)

    • Thanks Drew! I’m heading over to “From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays” right now to check out your earlier review.

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