Category Archives: Comics

I seem to be writing (relatively) frequently about comics, lets have a category for comic related posts.

DC Vertigo First Issues

I noticed this evening that DC are offering the first issue of a range of their Vertigo titles for free download in PDF format.

Once again I’m left hoping that this is a sign of things to come. I’m fairly certain that this is just a marketing stunt, the same as the frequent 50p issues that we see in comic shops to attract interest to a comic line. By giving away the first issue of an established series in a convenient to consume form DC will likely attract new readers by hooking them on the stories and characters.

Still, I can’t help but think back to my post in December where I mused:

“Perhaps DC will try to beat Marvels offering by allowing download of their comics? I think this would be enough to encourage Marvel to rethink their strategy, I wait for DC’s offering with bated breath.”

My breath is still bated and I hope that if DC see significant interest from readers in these PDF first issues that they will look more seriously into digital versions of all their comics.

Perhaps I should pen a letter?

Marvel Digital Comics

Earlier this year in a post titled Screen Reading I wrote:

“Now that I’ve found FFView I only wish more comics where available in digital (cb[r|z]) format. If some of the larger comic publishers would offer their publications in digital format I would gladly subscribe to and/or purchase them.”

Thus it was, at first, with great joy that I saw the /. post which informed me of Marvel Digital Comics. That was, until I went to the site and saw the first “feature” of the service: Instant access over the web (no need to download)”.

It’s a shame, for a paltry $60 USD a year I could get “unlimited access to thousands of Marvel comics online”. The shame is the fact that I can only access these comics through a Flash application which I had absolutely zero success in running on my x86 Linux machine (even with Adobes flash plugin) and that ran much too slowly to be usable on my iBook (less than instantaneous page transitions).

Even had I managed to actually run the player I’d still be disappointed with the service, when I saw the /. post I thought (hoped?) that Marvel had made a huge leap towards embracing the digital age and giving their customers more freedom by allowing them to download digital versions of the comics. Apparently not.

While I can understand certain arguments for implementing the service as they have I think the arguments are awfully similar to those of DRM and the outcome is just the same. Anyone who doesn’t want to pay for comics will just download them from alternative sources anyway but people who are happy and willing to pay for comics in a more convenient digital format are restricted in their use in a futile attempt to prevent piracy.

It’s a shame, I hope Marvel (and DC) embrace a more open service model so that I can use the likes of Comix and FFView to read their comics regardless of whether I am actively connected to the internet (long journeys on public transport perhaps). $60 USD a year is a small price to pay for the service I describe, hell – I’d gladly pay the subscription fee to both Marvel and DC if I could get the comics in a more friendly way.

Perhaps DC will try to beat Marvels offering by allowing download of their comics? I think this would be enough to encourage Marvel to rethink their strategy, I wait for DC’s offering with bated breath.

Screen Reading

I’ve never been a big fan of reading things from a computer screen, web-sites have never been a problem but PDF’s of any significant length have always been a lot of work and have either gone unread or been printed and read offline.

Recently, that all changed. It seems I should follow Unix philosophies more frequently. General purpose document viewers are all well and good for short documents but for more in depth on screen reading the additional niceties added to purpose built readers are a must.

More specifically of late I have been reading a lot of “academic” papers and comic books (polar opposites?) on my iBook.

Skim“… is a PDF reader and note-taker for OS X. It is designed to help you read and annotate scientific papers in PDF, but is also great for viewing any PDF file.”

The main advantages Skim offers over Preview.app is the note taking features. How far can you actually get through a paper without wanting to highlight (or circle) a section or jot down some notes. Even better, if you’re reviewing a document in PDF form you can cross out sections and add notes for proposed changes.

Full screen mode is a great (although not unique) feature enabling you to immerse yourself in the paper while still having access to all of Skims features via automatically hiding “drawers” and menu bar. Very nice.

Skim makes the process of consuming papers on-screen much more pleasant and enjoyable.

FFView“…is a fast OpenGL-powered picture viewer a la ACDsee (2.x). It is aimed at letting you read manga or other comics onscreen (windowed & fullscreen mode). Features include fast prefetching, smooth panning, voice commands, 2-page mode, a magnifying lens, the ability to browse pictures inside archives (.rar/.cbr, .zip/.cbz/, .pdf) and sticky per-picture options. It reads EXIF tags and is scriptable.”

Now that I’ve found FFView I only wish more comics where available in digital (cb[r|z]) format. If some of the larger comic publishers would offer their publications in digital format I would gladly subscribe to and/or purchase them.

FFView makes reading comics on-screen a joy. You can use the spacebar to page through the pages and if a page doesn’t fit on one screen it will scroll down before turning pages on the next tap of the spacebar, a nice feature which other comic readers I tried don’t get right.

The magnifying lens often comes in very handy, particularly when reading a double page spread on a 1024×768 screen, in fact my only gripe with FFView is that there is no shortcut key for enabling/disabling the magnifying lens meaning the menu must be invoked with a mouse.

Shameful update: I should have known better. FFView has an impressive preference pane allowing full customisation of keyboard shortcuts for all menu items. I now have Command + Shift + M bound to show/hide magnifying lens. Fantastic!

Like Skim FFView supports a full screen mode where the menu bar is automatically hidden and shown which works very smoothly.

Both Skim and FFView are open source projects. Skim is a new project with frequent updates whereas FFView has been around for some time now but is still receiving attention from its developers having had an update within the last month.

If you’re a Mac user and read comics and or PDF’s check these apps out.