Today, it begins. Today is the day where I begin the steady transition from being a collector of physical comics, to becoming a reader of digital comics.
I’ve been considering making the switch for some time. Not because I particularly favour digital comics over physical copies, but because I finally feel the time is right for me to make the switch.
I’ve collected comics since I was ten-years-old and up until the age of 30 (I’m 36 now), I had amassed a vast collection of more than 3,000 comics, spanning DC, Marvel, Dark Horse and pretty much everything in between. I’d kept almost every single comic I’d ever bought and over two decades I’d cherished every inch of my collection, despite various changes in my life.
Throughout the course of that 20-year period I had moved house countless times (university, college, flat share with uni chums and/or partners etc); I’d lived in three different cities; and I’d been unemployed at least twice. Despite all this, my comics remained with me and had continued to grow with each passing month.
Without even realising it, one day I stopped and looked at my collection and suddenly I realised that my comics were somehow occupying more living space than I was. That was unacceptable and something had to be done about it.
Staring down the barrel of ‘the big three-oh’ and looking around my increasingly small abode, I decided the time was right to sell my collection. So, with the exception of half-a-dozen comics and a few Batman & Superman graphic novels, I sold everything.
Yep, everything. Key storylines, back issues, signed comics, the lot.
With no collection and a lot more room to manoeuvre around my home, I decided that moving forward I wouldn’t be building up a physical collection ever again. I simply didn’t have the room and to be honest, now that my 20-year collection was gone, I couldn’t see the point of doing it all over again.
Of course, selling my comic book collection did leave me with a very big problem: How was I going to get my comic book fix? As much as I liked collecting comics, I enjoyed reading them a lot more.
So, I made the decision to try out the digital option – saving space, while building up a cloud-based collection instead. After all, this was during a period in time where smart phones were really starting to come into their own and digital reading seemed the obvious solution to my problem.
Unfortunately, I hit a big stumbling block and that was my inability to adapt to reading comics digitally. All those years spent pouring over the pages of comics created a unique experience that I simply couldn’t replicate with a smart phone.
I tried. I really did. But I failed.
I then went through a very bizarre period (well, bizarre for me) where I simply did not buy comics. I didn’t go into comic shops; I didn’t trawl through eBay looking for the back issues; I didn’t even pay that much attention to comic book news. I figured, if I wasn’t going to amass another physical collection and the digital route hadn’t worked, I was best to just step away from it all and just enjoy all the superhero movies that we hitting cinema screens instead.
That didn’t work either.
It took one visit back to a comic book store (three-years after going cold turkey) and I was hooked again. And from there, a collection built up. And from there, I started to watch my living space become smaller and smaller and smaller.
So today is the beginning of a new journey. A new digital journey, which I believe will work out fine.
What’s different this time around? Well, first and foremost, my connection with smart phones has changed considerably over the last few years and that will make a big difference.
Whereas six years ago, my phone was just used for the occasional text and not much else, now I’ve got the device permanently glued to my hand, as I web surf, watch TV shows, hop about social media and generally waste hours of my life staring at that gosh darn black mirror.
I’ve also recently invested in an Amazon Fire Tablet, which makes reading digital comics a much more enjoyable experience. The Fire Tablet is bigger than a smart phone, but not as big as an iPad, so it creates the perfect balance between the two.
Neither my phone nor my iPad were quite right for reading comics (at least not for me, anyway). Having tried out the Fire Tablet I can now safely say this is the perfect size for reading comics.
So, is this the end of physical comics for me? No, not quite.
As mentioned at the top of this post, this is a transition period, whereby I decrease the amount of physical copies I purchase, while increasing the number of digital copies. I’m midway through a number of limited series’ at present so in some cases, such as with Marvel’s Iceman for example, I want to conclude that run in physical form before moving on.
It will take some time before I am 100% digital and even then, I know I won’t be 100% digital. I will still pick up the occasional comic from time-to-time, when I’m in the mood. I will also continue to pick up trade paperbacks for when I’m travelling on long journeys or when I simply feel like having a TPB day.
In fact, I’ve recently started collecting The Legends of Batman graphic novel collection from Eaglemoss, which will build and build over the coming months – expect a review of this collection in the not too distant future. As far as I’m concerned, in order to move forward I now need to create a mix that works for me, which of course favours digital where possible.
This morning I posted the latest edition of The Great Stampede, which offered up a beginners guide to digital comics. One of the final comments in the guide stated: “When it comes to reading comics, pick the solution which is most convenient to you and your current situation and remember, you can always switch back and forth between the two at any time.” These are words I aim to abide by as I begin this new chapter as a comic book reader.