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Marvel Comics goes digital
November 13, 2007 7:25 AM   Subscribe

"Marvel has put the power in the hands of the fans by making thousands of comics—ranging from Golden Age classics to the most recent Marvel masterpieces—available online, including the first 100 issues of FANTASTIC FOUR and AMAZING SPIDER-MAN plus so much more." If Marvel's not your thing, you can always while away untold hours here.
posted by jbickers (36 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oooh, "power"?? So I can use the characters and drawings for my own projects? Sounds AWESOME!

...head to Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited right now where you can sample 250 comics for free! After that, you can sign up for a monthly subscription as low as $4.99 a month (based on the annual subscription rate)—for all the comics you can read! And with new comics introduced to the collection every week, you'll never run out of awesome comics to read!

Reading comics. The power is reading comics. For a fee. Worst. Power. EVAR.
posted by DU at 7:34 AM on November 13, 2007 [3 favorites]


And thus the devaluation of the word "revolution" continues unabated.
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:37 AM on November 13, 2007 [2 favorites]


The power to exchange money for goods? Fantastico!

(PS: Um...isn't this kind of like advertising or something? I.e., "Hey, go here, and for the incredibly low price of..." I realize it's prefaced by free shit, but nevertheless.)
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:40 AM on November 13, 2007


Unless I'm mistaken, we're less than a generation away at this point from most DC and even some Marvel comics entering the public domain. I understand why the companies that own them would want to cash in on archiving before they start losing their copyright.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:50 AM on November 13, 2007


If you want more than just Marvel's gushing press release, Newsarama has more info, initially based on an overly excited USAToday story, but also has a more measured take from AP:

It's a tentative move onto the Internet: Comics can only be viewed in a Web browser, not downloaded, and new issues will only go online at least six months after they first appear in print.

Still, it represents perhaps the comics industry's most aggressive Web push yet. Even as their creations...become increasingly visible in pop culture through new movies and video games, old-school comics publishers rely primarily on specialized, out-of-the-way comic shops for distribution of their bread-and-butter product.

"You don't have that spinner rack of comic books sitting in the local five-and-dime any more," said Dan Buckley, president of Marvel Publishing. "We don't have our product intersecting kids in their lifestyle space as much as we used to."


There's a note in that story about what this might do to the back-issue market, too.

Well, it wouldn't be Marvel if they didn't screw you around on the pitch a little. It's $9.99 a month if you pay monthly, not $4.99. And the "free samples" I checked are just a few pages from the comics, not full comics.
posted by mediareport at 7:53 AM on November 13, 2007


Unless I'm mistaken, we're less than a generation away at this point from most DC and even some Marvel comics entering the public domain.

That's correct, unless Congress acts yet again to extend copyright terms.
posted by brain_drain at 7:55 AM on November 13, 2007


Or to clarify: the older comics will definitely trickle into the public domain over time. But the whole body of Superman comics will not immediately become public domain just because Action Comics #1 loses its copyright.
posted by brain_drain at 7:57 AM on November 13, 2007


Since the site doesn't seem to want to work for me, I'll keep my .cbr files, tyvm.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:58 AM on November 13, 2007


That's correct, unless Congress acts yet again to extend copyright terms.

When is Mickey Mouse scheduled to enter the public domain this time? 'Cause that's when Congress will act.

Again.
posted by dersins at 7:58 AM on November 13, 2007


""We don't have our product intersecting kids in their lifestyle space as much as we used to." "

Because we all know how the kids love to "hang" in their "lifestyle space."

Meanwhile, I can't find a goddamned copy of Airtight Garage anywhere.
posted by klangklangston at 8:08 AM on November 13, 2007


If I could download these onto an eBook reader, I might go for it. As it is, I'm not sitting at my desk to read comics or buying a tablet PC.
posted by seanyboy at 8:14 AM on November 13, 2007


A step in the right direction, but like the record industry it's too little, too late. Hope they get this straightened out.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 8:21 AM on November 13, 2007


At long last, nerds will finally have a reason to use the internet.
posted by bondcliff at 8:36 AM on November 13, 2007 [4 favorites]


But the whole body of Superman comics will not immediately become public domain just because Action Comics #1 loses its copyright.

Will Superman the character become public domain at that point? I don't know much about copyright law.
posted by danb at 8:37 AM on November 13, 2007


"But the whole body of Superman comics will not immediately become public domain just because Action Comics #1 loses its copyright."

Will Superman the character become public domain at that point? I don't know much about copyright law.


I am not a lawyer.

Copyright basically protects a specific version of an idea and anything that is substantially similar to or derived from it. So copyright doesn't protect the idea of an alien orphan who develops super powers here on earth, but it does protect the actual artwork, words, and specific plotlines. Each copyrighted work has its own copyright date and will enter the public domain independently of all others.

So when Action Comics#1 goes out of copyright, you'll be free to scan it, trade it around, photoshop it, etc. In theory.

In practice, DC almost certainly has trademark rights in Superman's name, his logo, color scheme, etc. So you couldn't go creating your own Superman comics because of the perpetual trademark rights. You could create your own "Bob the Alien Wonder" comics with an identical plot, so long as Bob doesn't look confusingly similar to Superman.
posted by jedicus at 8:45 AM on November 13, 2007


The value of having access to a treasure trove containing such riches cannot be underestimated.
posted by sparkletone at 9:01 AM on November 13, 2007


I'd use something like this, if it were reasonably implemented. (Which, uh, I'm not counting on, of course.)

My friend Rick downloads tons of CBRs and forwards a few select titles to me every week. It's nice to read comics again, and I don't feel guilty reading the pirated copies because, unlike music or movies, I can definitely live without comics. If I'm not getting them free, I'm not getting them.I can't pay five bucks for something that I can read in maybe ten minutes and that will then stick around and clutter up my apartment forever. "My graphic novels, let me show you them."

But if there were an "iTunes for comics" that offered a decent selection of titles, mainstream and alternative, at a decent price and without a bunch of garbage restrictions, then I would absolutely use it. I'm not exactly holding my breath waiting for this service, but it would be nice.

Excelsior!
posted by Ian A.T. at 9:03 AM on November 13, 2007


Like a lot of kids I went through a comics stage. I was partial to the New Mutants, X-Men, and Daredevil -all Marvel titles. I heard something about that cross-title thing they had going on earlier this year -whatever it was called, where they blew up Stamford -and thought I might enjoy reading it. I spent about 10 minutes online trying to find a way to legally read them without leaving the house or bringing more paper into my crammed apartment. I was naively surprised that there wasn't such a thing. Doesn't sound like this will help.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 9:18 AM on November 13, 2007


Warning: mysql_connect() [function.mysql-connect]: Can't connect to MySQL server on '192.168.100.117' (4) in /var/www/sites/toolbox/connect.php on line 8

Goddamn you, Magneto!
posted by rokusan at 9:24 AM on November 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


I would love something like Ian A.T.'s suggesting, and this seems like a step in the right direction. If they put all their comics online, including new comics, I'd pay for monthly access to something like that.

One thing that I do like about the Marvel program is that they're sorting through the back catalog and presenting milestone issues. There's so much comic history, that a little sifting and sorting is very welcome.

I also would like it if they'd expand the cheap reprint business to more recent stories. I like being able to pay a reasonable amount to get a lot of stories, even if they're on cheaper paper and in black and white. At this point, I'm not going to follow comics on a monthly basis, but I'd definitely pay to read complete storylines.

The last time I wanted to dip my toes back in comics, I went straight to graphic novel compilations of titles, and that market seemed to be saturated with thin volumes collecting a handful of issues. I wanted to read Grant Morrison's run on New X-Men, and it was scattered across multiple volumes, for 40 issues of comics.
posted by factory123 at 9:28 AM on November 13, 2007


Will Superman the character become public domain at that point? I don't know much about copyright law.

No. Superman will never, ever be public domain, because Superman is not copyrighted- he (it) is a registered trademark of DC Comics.

When Superman comics start entering public domain, much like the Fleischer cartoons that already are public domain, anyone will have the right to copy and republish them, including for a profit. They do NOT, however, have the right to make more Superman stories, or any original content, or any use of the Superman character beyond the work already created.

For example, the Fleischer cartoons in the public domain. Any filmmaker is allowed to have a movie where a kid is watching said cartoon, and there's no restriction on showing the cartoon in the film. It's public domain, so DC doesn't have to give permission. However, that filmmaker can't have Superman show up in the movie, or create a new adventure of Superman, or pretty much depict Superman in any other context in the film without DC's permission.

This is, essentially, the symbiotic relationship between copyright and trademark. Public domain allows the eventual use of previous works as a means for the creation of new, derivative material; trademark prevents an original element of a work from being appropriated by an outside party.

/Not a lawyer, just a cartoonist with copyrights
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:08 AM on November 13, 2007


"My graphic novels, let me show you them."

I have said that before and I will say that again. Some are worth buying and keeping and collecting and reading again.
posted by Soup at 10:31 AM on November 13, 2007


Nope.

Some are worth downloading a well organized archive of their entire run, for free.
posted by blasdelf at 10:48 AM on November 13, 2007


Some are worth downloading a well organized archive of their entire run, for free.

Nope.

Not until a downloaded copy can replicate the magic of curling up on the couch with a cup of hot chocolate with a new graphic novel, or trading them with your best friend.

The last thing I need is another reason to stare, glassy-eyed, at the goddamned monitor.
posted by lekvar at 1:32 PM on November 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


Not until a downloaded copy can replicate the magic of curling up on the couch with a cup of hot chocolate with a new graphic novel, or trading them with your best friend.

Yep. Couldn't have said it any better.
posted by Soup at 1:45 PM on November 13, 2007


Do you guys use old lawn furniture as computer chairs or something? No comics experience beats leaning back in a recliner in front of a 24 inch monitor having every Vertigo release available at the click of a mouse. No eye strain, no digging through boxes to find the one issue you want to reference something from. You dead tree people are weird.
posted by bunnytricks at 2:25 PM on November 13, 2007


Better than those goddam roller skates.
posted by sparkletone at 2:31 PM on November 13, 2007


Buddy of mine and I a while back did an all-day pt session ending with a total muscle failure workout. We’ve eaten bugs together, but being the uber-hard guy he was, he decided not to eat at all that day (yeah, so I’m a big sissy). Anyway, we stopped by this pizza joint so I could pick up some stuff (long story short - really lousy pizza) and he’s going on and on about how hungry he is and how he hasn’t eaten all day and how hard we were hitting it and so on and the manager offered him a slice of pizza. And he says “Oh, no thanks.” and the manager says “No, go on, it’s free.” and he says “Uh, no. No, thanks.”

Kinda how I feel about this. I’m starving, but...
posted by Smedleyman at 3:10 PM on November 13, 2007


Lekvar: "Not until a downloaded copy can replicate the magic of curling up on the couch with a cup of hot chocolate with a new graphic novel, or trading them with your best friend."

You would have a heated beverage within twenty feet of a graphic novel while it's outside mylar, naked to the environment and attracting moisture and dust!? Blasphemer!
posted by ZachsMind at 3:28 PM on November 13, 2007


they're sorting through the back catalog and presenting milestone issues.

Which, a comic geek pal reminds me, they've already milked to death in those black-and-white "Essential" reprint collections. Now, after that, he laughingly noted, they're trying to sell us the same comics in the original color.
posted by mediareport at 4:09 PM on November 13, 2007


Huh? They also sold us the same comics the same time around. They're repackaging the material in various ways to appeal to different markets. What's laughable about that?
posted by factory123 at 4:22 PM on November 13, 2007


err...the *first* time around...
posted by factory123 at 4:23 PM on November 13, 2007


Not quite. My smiling pal - who works in a comic shop - tells me those early issues were hard to find; lots of folks didn't have them before the cheapie Essentials collections came out( which is why the Essentials sold pretty well). He just thought it was funny that Marvel's basically trying to sell the same people the same comics, but this time in color. I thought it was funny, too. Sure, comics companies do this kind of thing a lot, but the hype about this version seemed laughably out of proportion to what's really going on. *shrug* Different folks have different senses of humor, i guess.
posted by mediareport at 9:28 PM on November 13, 2007


The moment Action Comics #1 goes out of copyright, I'm walking into a comic book store, smashing the display case and taking what's mine.
posted by stavrogin at 9:43 PM on November 13, 2007


*cough*comicmix.com*cough*

I mean, I know they don't have everything yet, but the idea is similar and they seem to be working with all the right folks. And its free.
posted by rulethirty at 6:29 AM on November 14, 2007


Notable comic torrent site/forum Z-Cult FM has just been hit with a C&D, apparently.
Hurm.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:20 AM on November 21, 2007


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