Comic Book Fans Surf the Waves of Change

August 28, 2007

Comic book readers are the harbingers of a sea change in the reading world. Often of the generations born native to the digital realm, they’re well accustomed to reading on-screen and they’re pointing the way to a long-promised future where most book content is consumed digitally.

Penny and Aggie on a Lenovo X61T Tablet

Webcomic Penny & Aggie in ebook format on a Lenovo X61T Tablet PC.

Comics — whether in webcomic form or in traditional print-style formats — are generally very visual, relatively light on text and short, making them ideal for computer screens in spite of any form factor limitations. Comic art often actually looks better on a screen than in print, given the vibrant and wider-ranging colors of modern computer displays.
Lexian Chronicles on a Lenovo X61T Tablet PC

A two-page spread from print comic book Lexian Chronicles, displayed as a PDF ebook.

With a profusion of webcomics blossoming on the pixelated trail blazed by Scott McCloud, the pieces have already come together: ubiquitous hardware, pervasive broadband distribution, strong content… and a ready audience.

The result? Comics are exploding on the Web. For example, comic titles have risen to a high perch on WOWIO’s popularity charts — and the growth shows no sign of leveling off.

Extrapolating comic readers’ digital-reading habits to the population of general book readers isn’t a huge stretch. Mainstream content is increasingly available via new Web channels driven by a variety of business models. Publishers sense the impending shift and are taking steps to position themselves accordingly. On the demographics side, the same generational shift to digital natives seen among comic readers is occurring in the general reading population. Meanwhile, computers, dedicated readers and mobile devices are continuing their steady evolution, punctuated by energetic mutations with revolutionary promise. The emergence of a killer device seems inevitable.

As these factors fall into alignment, they superpose into a surge that will lift us once and for all past the fifteenth-century technologies of paper and ink… and we’ll find ourselves in a new land already pioneered and settled by folks clutching stacks of digital comics.



  1. Right on!

    I gotta get me one of them Tablet PCs…

  2. The tablet is very nice in some ways (reading on it is fantastic), but very frustrating in others (Vista has blue-screened once and forced reboots from sleep twice in the three weeks that I’ve been using it).

  3. This is a timely post as I read it on my slate table PC that I bought because of the comics on WOWIO. I discovered WOWIO on vacation while using my wife’s tablet PC. I downloaded several books and I tried the first issue of the 10th Muse comic. It looked absolutely fantastic on the table screen. The problem is that the 5 pound tablet was just to heavy to read comfortably for any length of time. Not being able to justify a new laptop I started looking for the cheapest option on a light slate tablet. I ended up ebaying a Fujitsu Stylistic 4110 for $250. The case is pretty well thrashed but the screen is good and the computer works fine. I downloaded the rest of 10th Muse and I’m working my way through them. I also set up the PC Mobipocket software to read the text books that I have. The form factor of the slate is great for comics and I can do my blog reading on Bloglines as well. I really like the WOWIO site and concept and hope you can keep adding more good content.

  4. […] Comic Book Fans Surf the Waves of Change « The Reader (tags: comic ebook tabletpc) […]

  5. Mike, I was reading Lullaby on the X61T tablet today, and the color artwork looks absolutely beautiful. It weighs four pounds, and it does feel a little bulky when reading in bed. It’s usable though, and it’s totally comfortable when reading in a sitting-up position.

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