Digital Comics

I don’t know how long these collections of comics on DVD-ROM have been available. I have a hazy recollection of learning about the MAD Magazine offering maybe fours years ago, maybe less, but upon investigation I learned that was PC only when it first appeared. In June of this year I was once again attracted to the possibility of every issue of MAD for decades on disc. This time I learned it had been made PC and Mac friendly so I bought one. Not bad. I love having access to the issues I read as a kid, the issues that got me interested in caricature. It also served to prove to me that with the exception of some of the movie and TV parodies I want nothing to do with the current incarnation of the magazine. Crudeness has replaced cleverness.

The MARVEL comics run that first attracted me was the Captain America disc. I bought that one on a whim and am pretty pleased with it. Surprisingly it covers up from Caps first appearance in “Tales of Suspense” up to and including the now famous “Death of …” issue, # 25. Makes me feel rather foolish for buying the Brubaker run now three times, the arc collections in their respective softcovers, I’ve ordered the hardback that also goes up to #25, now the DVD-ROM!

Today I received the DVD-ROM of 44 years of the Fantastic Four and I was surprised to find myself even more excited to get that one! Yes, Captain America is one of my all-time favorite comic characters but the FF is something else! All comic runs have ups and downs and Captain America’s run as a solo character feels to me like it has more downs than ups. He’s a hard character to sell on his own without a all-consuming flag waving war! The Fantastic Four though! That initial Kirby run? Can’t be beat with a stick, and plenty of people have tried. And there were some subsequent periods of stories and creator teams that I look forward to reading again.

Some will say the fact that you have to read them on the computer screen is a drawback. Maybe it will be to some people but I find myself at my computer more than anywhere else during the day and evening. I’ve been a commercial artist for the past 30 years and in the past 10 more and more of my work has been executed within the computer. Being able to flip through an issue or two while resting between tasks is more convenient for me to start up Adobe Acrobat than digging through the long boxes. (Which I can no longer do. I’ve sold off three complete collections of full runs of various titles in my 47 years of reading and collecting comics. The MARVEL runs from the first issues of most of their super hero titles supported me for six months when I moved to Atlanta in the 80s!)

For this comic old-timer storage space and the hassle of moving long boxes of comics has become an issue. I now have 40 years of Captain America, 44 years of Fantastic Four (and 40 years of Avengers is one the way!) that will take up three and three quarter inches of space, and that’s counting the packaging!

The issues are scanned in as double page spreads, covers, ads, letters pages, everything. I’ve flipped through several issues of the beginning and end of the runs and found this; the ads from the 60s are much less distracting than those of the 21st century comics! (Glaring, graphic, hideous ads are one of the reasons I just don’t buy the monthly floppies any longer! I was buying the last arc of “The Ultimates” as monthlies up until the third issue when I just was repulsed by the full page photo realistic image of a giant hideous oozing eyeball! I’ll wait for the collection, thank you very much!) I didn’t think I’d be interested in the letter pages of these comics – I never read them much when I was buying them off the rack. But look what was in the third issue of the FF letter column:

Alan Weiss went on to draw the FF for awhile! (I’m just going to assume it’s the same Alan Weiss.)

And then on the same page there is a ringer letter from S. Brodsky -Sol Brodsky worked in production in the old Bullpen. Sneaky Stan’s promotion machine in action!

The fourth issue of FF has a brief letter from Roy Thomas, who would write the FF when Stan left the book.

Here’s something interesting:

I’m going to assume that whoever’s collection this set was scanned from had #4 signed by Kirby!

This is what the interface looks like.

You click on the decade then that decade page comes up and you click on the year and you get a page with all that years covers. Click on the cover to get that issue.

I had considered buying the Uncanny X-Men disc but the reviews on warned me about the multitude of crossovers to the plethora of other X titles that are not on the DVD-ROM in the 80s and 90s so I passed on that one.

I’ll look forward to more of these runs coming available and I wish DC would start doing this. The ESSENTIALS and the SHOWCASE volumes are nice but they take up lots and lots of book shelf space. The color reproduction collections like the Masterworks and Archives are great but the color and paper choice never accurately reproduces the look of the cream colored newsprint. With the DVD-ROMs the comics look like they should. Yeah, you can’t feel the paper, but then it can’t crumble in your hands either.


One Response to “Digital Comics”

  1. It seems like a great solution to the onerous problem of storage, not to mention cost, of a great old collection of classic books but still there seems a little something missing when you can’t actually fold over that last back page on an issue of MAD magazine to read the final gag…

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