Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Future of Comics?

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This is a fascinating, thought-provoking video, if you have a few minutes to spare.

This man has amassed over the course of his life (he's 69) the world's largest record collection. He estimates he has an archive of over 1 million records worth more than $50 million.

And yet, it seems, no one cares.

Records have become so obsolete that even at the modest asking price of only $3 million, he has no serious offers.

This is even more astonishing when you realize that only 13% of the music in his collection is commercially available on CD.

It makes me wonder about the future of the comic book industry. While far from obsolete at this point in time, one has to wonder when and if the rise of digital reading devices like the iPad and tablet computers will eventually lead to the decline and disappearance of print comics. I know people said this about books when the Kindle first came out, and so far, the apocalypse has not arrived, but the fact that chain bookstores are being forced to close all over the country is surely a sign of the times (though this probably has more to do with the overall economy).

What I also found interesting about this video was the idea that technology alters the original music in such a way that it ruins the essence of the song. In regards to comics, this is something Frank Santoro has been (sort of) blogging about recently, and after watching this piece, Frank's essay really resonated. The fact that digital technology exists to scan, reduce and compress a print comic book into a digital file forever alters the artist's intended experience. Of course, as I noted in my Android comics essay, there are definite benefits to having access to digital comics, but the merits and side effects of this alteration process are certainly debatable.

The end of print comics as we know it hardly feels like it's on the horizon, but then again, record collectors never thought they'd see the day where no one cared anymore, either.


Johnny B said...

And yet, every time I turn around I'm reading an article about the resurgence of vinyl recordings...

Marc Sobel said...

Really? Is it just some small group of audiophiles, or a major resurgence? Seems unlikely to me, but you never know.

Johnny B said...

I did a quick Google search for "vinyl resurgance" and got several articles...I'd say it's not "major", really, but it seems like vinyl is as popular as it's been since CDs came along...

That said, I don't know why this dude is having such a hard time, but that's an awful lot of money and an awful big collection to pack up and move, so that may be part of it.

I do agree about the digital comics experience, though- I think it's a lot like vinyl in regards to that- in my opinion anyway- a good condition vinyl album sounds better than a CD or MP3. However, the convenience of the digital format is a definite positive.