Ok. Let’s make some things clear here. Comic books, graphic novels, graphic non-fiction, or whatever, are exploding right now as a form of literature. The growth of public libraries collections for these materials has grown from almost nonexistent six years ago to being a pretty prime and popular section.
A digital graphic novel database just makes sense. Most Ebook lending systems for libraries are a mess. Too many restrictions, to unnecessarily complex a process, and (maybe worst of all) too little control in the hands of librarians.
Graphic novels though, have a reader culture who is consistently aware and participates in technical and online developments. They have a huge presence of social media and blogging sites. Most comic books are thin and flimsy, quickly read and yet pretty damn costly. Having a digital lending database just seems like the next solid step.
Comic book publishers do this. You’ve got Marvel Unlimited for about 10 bucks a month. You get back issues and new issues 6 months after they hit the shelf. There’s issues with it of course, but the idea itself is pretty freaken awesome. You are looking at paying upwards of 4 dollars for a single, small comic book and now you get an almost unlimited amount for about double that? Cool.
So my local library (The Kitchener Public Library) recent started using Comics Plus, “thousands of graphic novels and comic books”. Whoa. Honestly, the big comic book publishers have been really lacking in their use of libraries. It been shown again and again that readers use libraries, and like illegal downloading actually helps promote artists and help them sell more, libraries also can help authors find a wider readership market and allow them to better interact with them.
Darkhorse has made attempts to work with libraries. But Marvel and DC have done squat.
Where am I going with this? The thing is Comics Plus was pretty horrible. None of these big three (It’s the big two really, though Darkhorse deserves to be listed with them because of quality it produces) had anything up there. Nothin. Nada. It was just a large amount of publishers I’ve never heard of and a crap load of Archie comics (and let’s be honest here, the only reason there hasn’t been a mass book burning of Archie comics, is because of the realization that it would take centuries to accomplish).
Also the search function was terrible. No real way to navigate the site or pursue information about the publishers or bibliographical details about the works. Also there was an insane amount of those “Stan Lee Presents” comics. I don’t think Stan Lee has presented anything good since the 60s. In fact the label “Stan Lee Presents” has now become synonymous with mediocrity. The works are neither good nor bad, they are just ‘ehhh’. The title ‘Stan Lee Presents’ would fit perfectly above most essays I have written for my undergrad.
Now I know that these smaller comic book publishers are obviously more receptive to such a digital library system because they really do need the promotion, but wouldn’t it be nice if there could at least be some back issues of Marvel and DC as well?
I mean obviously having current issues would create a problem. But could they not at least have old 50s and 60s comics? Wouldn’t that be awesome? They probably make nothing off these issues nowadays anyways (Though maybe a lot have yet to be scanned? Not sure. I’ll get back to you about it). But seriously, even if they had just one lousy Spiderman comic I would be happy.
That’s my rant. A library based digital comic database with recognizable characters and storylines. Somebody make it happen.