Comic Books In the Digital Age
When we think about how comic books have changed in the past several years, or even decades, the most obvious example that comes to mind is the genre’s explosion into the film industry. It was probably inevitable that popular comic heroes would be adapted to film, just as popular literature and even ancient legends have. However, no one could have foreseen just how enormous the comic book industry’s influence on cinema has become. Now, it seems as if every month brings us a new Marvel or DC blockbuster primed to earn over $100 million at the box office.
This is most evident with the recent release of Guardians of the Galaxy, a film that many doubted would have much success given the limited public knowledge of its characters. Yet, it’s clear that this movie isn’t a failure, misstep, or letdown of any kind. According to Vox, GotG is a “massive success” at the box office with its $94-million opening weekend at a time when movie-going tends to be slower. Vox contends that this victory for Marvel should give them more confidence moving forward in the cinematic realm, because, again, this franchise wasn’t exactly buzzing like that of Spider-Man, Superman, etc. Could this mean we’ll finally see other comic book characters getting their just due at the theatres? We’ll see.
Beyond films, though, what fewer people realize is that the transition of comics to digital media goes well beyond the cinema. There’s an assumption among many that film simply represents the new form for comic stories. The truth, however, is that new comics are still made in traditional form as well, and old ones are reissued, collected, and re-read on a regular basis. And because of the high demand for comic content, it is perhaps only natural that a number of mobile tools have emerged to help collectors and enthusiasts to stay on top of their favourite characters and stories. Here’s a look at a few such tools that demonstrate the modern transition of comics to digital form, both through readers and games.
A wonderful tool for building a digital comic book collection, comiXology is one of the best services available. Essentially, the app provides a massive library of new and classic comics available in their full forms on digital devices. The app is available for iOS, Android, and Windows devices. And as noted in the Verizon write-up, it supports comics from Marvel, DC, Image, IDW, and some smaller companies like Moonstone, SLG, and Monkeybrain. Users can also access the same library of content on the comiXology website.
While the previous service may be the best in terms of delivering beloved, classic content and new sequels, Madefire may actually be the most innovative service in digital comics. Essentially, it’s a tool that allows the comic book experience to cross new boundaries, inviting readers to touch and interact with the art. The “motion books” featured at Madefire don’t go so far as to be considered gaming experiences, but greatly diversify and enhance the traditional storyboard style of comic book literature.
Available on the iOS app store, Madefire is in many people’s minds just getting started. They’re also a partner with deviantArt and have access to mainstream comic characters like Batman, Hellboy, etc., making Madefire the potential future of comic books. And if you want to know more about the service, be sure to read this great piece with its founder.
One of the places where comics have become increasingly popular may surprise you: online gaming, especially that which includes actual money. You see, the typical image that comes to mind when you think of people playing games at online casinos is one of users hunched over their keyboards and mice amid an hours-long session of poker or blackjack. But through collaborations with developers such as the Amaya Gaming Group, these platforms have reached (and developed) new audiences by incorporating well-known franchises. Among them, of course, are many in the world of comic books, which is incredibly clear at one site working closely with Amaya, InterCasino UK. This particular platform includes games showcasing the trials and tribulations of Batman, Wonder Woman, the Flash, and others. While these games center on your standard slot experience, the goal is to create a “thrilling gaming experience, complete with stunning graphics and lively story lines.” It doesn’t hurt that you can play them for free if you like, too.
Just like with the above online games, those on mobile platforms are reaching a new and growing audience of longtime and newfound comic book lovers alike. And while one could point to games offered on consoles (PS4, Xbox One, Wii U, etc.) as “stronger” examples, they aren’t quite as prevalent as their mobile counterparts. The reason being that more people simply own smart devices, be they phones or tablets (or both!), than video game consoles. That just makes it much easier for someone to download and play a comic book game—they just need to hit up the app store and they’re basically done.
If you (the reader) decide to do that, there is a lot to choose from depending on which universe you favour. Let’s say you’re a DC Comics fan and want to extend your fandom to games featuring Batman, Superman, and the like. Well, the Caped Crusader’s game in the Arkham series are readily available, including the very highly rated Batman: Arkham Origins. As for Marvel fans, you should probably check out the beyond-entertaining Uncanny X-Men: Days of Future Past. Stretching beyond that, though, did you know there’s a series of games based on The Walking Dead? Yup—and critics and gamers alike appear to love them.
Basically, it’s become increasingly obvious that there’s never been a better time to be a comic book fan, especially if you happen to love film and video games. The way we’ve been able to view and experience our favorite medium has changed significantly, though it’s important to note that one things remains the same: the feeling of cracking open an actual comic cannot be matched, but these can come pretty close.