Comic Con was a blast this year and as always there were several panels dedicated to the ways digital comics are changing the industry for creators, publishers, retailers, and readers. I've been directing a lot of my work on the subject over to Popmatters recently so here is part of a feature I published for them discussing the convention:
Comic Con Explores the Digital Future of Comics
Industry insiders and comic book publishers hosted multiple panels at this year’s Comic Con to discuss the future of the medium and the way digital comics will affect how titles are sold, distributed, and created. While topics of this sort have been mainstays of major conventions in recent years, this year’s gathering was definitely typified by a strong sense of confidence and a cohesive vision for what is to come that has been noticeably lacking in prior discussions. While previous panels have often speculated over what the industry would look like in the upcoming decades, much of the enthusiasm these events attempted to engender was often diminished by lingering doubts that were only compounded by the wait-and-see answers that, while not satisfying, were to be expected when an industry is in flux.
Concerns over whether comic book readers would flock to iPads and forgo the direct market stores that have been the backbone of the industry for decades were definitely questions that many retailers – who already operate in a risky business environment – were unable to answer. How would this effect fans who preferred buying and collecting paper comics? Were publishers slowly abandoning paper and brick-and-mortar businesses in favor of cheaper and more streamlined means of digital distribution? What about readers who have been raised to believe that digital content should be free and who rather get pirated versions of their favorite titles from torrents then pay to download them from a publisher’s app? These concerns were only heightened when one looked to the publishing and music industries and saw how the digital revolution had sent traditionally entrenched market giants into turmoil.
While this anxiety will no doubt remain in many corners of the comic book world, this year there was a genuine sense that a functioning and holistic business model was finally emerging. While some of this newfound clarity came more from the unification of multiple disparate ideas that have been floating around the industry ever since the iPad and other tablets at last offered a functioning and convenient way of reading digital comic books, an important component of this new confidence came from answering the crucial question that has been central to all discussions on the subject: who are the readers?
Check out the rest of the article here. Feel free to share your thoughts!