Getting into comics in 2019 might be a somewhat daunting task given that there are so many stories, alternate universes, and even different starting points due to the multiple reboots that have been going on for decades, but just as important as that is the nature of how to read said comics.
Since its inception at the beginning of the 20th century, comic books have been read as a printed medium, but that has certainly changed over the last decade or so, with the digital platform becoming a useful alternative for readers all over the world.
Digital comics have been mostly divided into two fields: digital sales and online reading, which also makes for a very interesting debate about which one is the best choice in that regard. So, here we are going to present you the three best alternatives and determine which one is the best way to read comics today.
Online platforms make for a much simpler and effective way for comic book readers that may have to travel a lot and still want to keep reading their favorite stories: you only need to pay a certain price per issue or per month and you can read it on the website.
This is particularly the case of Marvel’s online platform, Unlimited, where you can pay for a monthly subscription and have access to almost 300.000 comics, which is actually a pretty good deal for readers everywhere. DC’s equivalent: DC Universe, is also an excellent way to read their comics. Other subscriptions that include indie titles are Kindle Unlimited and Comixology.
This is also helpful for people in other countries where the access to comic books is not that easy and perhaps they can’t get their printed copies on a regular basis, so this is a pretty good substitute for that.
Buying Online Issues
This is something similar to the previous case, but not quite the same. In this case, you can pay a certain amount of money for a particular issue and you can download it in order to keep reading it on your Kindle or any other reading platform that you have in you tablet or in your cellphone.
One of the big benefits of this option is that is something a lot more precise and a lot more circumstantial for those readers that perhaps don’t want an online subscription and only want to read a few specific titles or even just one. This is the procedure that Amazon and/or ComiXology works with and they are very helpful platforms in that regard.
So, if you are not a huge Marvel or DC fan but perhaps you only want to read a specific title from them, then this procedure might be the most helpful for you.
This is of course the most known and traditional way of reading comics and the one that has been going on for almost a century now. Due to the recent decrease in the last three years, there have been many discussions among comic book fans and professionals about the validity of the printed alternative in the medium, but I will admit that’s a discussion for another day.
When it comes to printed copies, it has to be said that while they are more expensive, they can also be the most valuable over the years: there are issues that have gained a lot of value throughout the years, like an original copy of New Mutants #98, where Deadpool appeared for the first time, just to make an example.
There is also the collector perspective, much like it happens with printed books: there is a very satisfying feeling when you have a big collection of comics that is a testament to your interest, passion and dedication to this medium as a fan, plus it gives you the opportunity of having a lot of different options to read as time goes by.
There is also the factor that reading from a computer, a tablet or a cellphone can wear you out after an hour or so, which makes reading printed copies something a lot less demanding and something that you can do for a longer period of time.
The big negative factor of printed comic books (and this is something that has affected its sales number throughout the years) is the fact that you can only find them these days on comic book stores, which are mostly in the United States and not in every single city, or in Wal-Mart, which is only occasional. Back in the 80s, this wasn’t a problem because comics where in different types of stores, supermarkets and so on, making it a lot easier for potential new readers to get these comics, but that is something that has waned in the last two decades. Of course, you can get them online, but that’s never the same as entering a nice comic store.
Which is the best way to read comics today?
I know this answer might seem like a bit of a cop out, but I think it depends a lot on your needs and your personal context.
As I said before, if you’re someone who travels a lot or perhaps lives in a country where you don’t have much access to comic books, then reading online or buying digital issues might be the best choice for you because it’s a lot easier to carry with you and it’s obviously a lot more practical. This is also a good option for all those who want to save on space and, depending on how many comics you read, cost.
Now, if you’re a bit like me, I still prefer the printed medium: it’s a lot more interesting to see the art of a comic on paper, which I find makes it a much more fun experience. You can flip the pages back and forth with ease, allowing you to compare parts and determine a lot of different things.
So, I think you have to make your own decision based on what you need and based on what you want because that’s the only way to make a proper decision. Of course, you don’t have to pick only one; you can try all options as you see fit and perhaps that would be a lot better for you at short, medium and long term.
Comic books are a very fascinating artistic medium and you can get a lot from it as you learn more and more about it.