EDITORIAL: Why I stopped reading the print edition of The Walking Dead

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Today is the day that I will stop buying print editions of Robert Kirkman’s Walking Dead. It isn’t because of the story; those who think this series is destined for a happy ending need a reality check, and it isn’t because I’m fed up with the same ol’ same ol’ that seems to be the nature of the series. The decision to drop the print edition is one that regular Spoilerites have probably already guessed – I own an iPad.

In an interview with Comics Alliance, Image Comics Publisher, Eric Stephenson said this was the new now, “In terms of scheduling, the digital version of the series has caught up to print version, so it makes sense to release both simultaneously. With the debut of the AMC television series only weeks away at this point, our aim is to make ‘The Walking Dead’ as widely available as possible, in all formats, and I believe everyone involved will ultimately find this beneficial.”

It makes sense that those who dig The Walking Dead on television will want to find out what happens next, and with a well placed commercial spot, the millions who currently have an Internet connection could flood the ComiXology website to download and get up to date quickly, and then follow along as the series continues to progress.

Stephenson’s statement isn’t the one-off Look At Us that Marvel did with the three-part Iron Man Annual, and trumps DC Comics’ Justice League Generation Lost digital day and date limited run series. With this announcement, Image Comics has thumbed its nose at the other comic book publishers and have said in a loud voice “Neener-Neener-Neener!” As far as we know, The Walking Dead isn’t ending its run anytime soon.

SO NICE, LET’S DO IT TWICE

The success of The Walking Dead television series on AMC will probably propel series creator and writer Robert Kirkman to double his efforts to bring the series to two hundred issues before he retires. For the long term, Image Comics has committed to a digital day and date release of this series, and my guess is, it won’t be the last.

Invincible is currently two issues behind the print run on the Image Comics and Comics by ComiXology apps on the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch. If Eric Stephenson feels so strongly about The Walking Dead, then Invincible can’t be too far from receiving the same treatment. And once those two big titles hit, then there is no reason why the rest of the company’s titles can’t follow suit. While other companies like Boom! Studios promises their entire back catalogue online by the end of the year, it’s the digital day and date that is the lure to get new readers on board now.

With the tens of thousands of print comics quickly filling up the Major Spoilers Nerd Room of Doom, moving the Walking Dead collection to a digital environment is a welcome announcement from the company. Knowing that I have a digital day and date release at my fingertips, means I don’t have to worry about getting my Previews order in three months ahead of time. I won’t have to worry about a storyline suddenly losing my interest, yet I still committed to buying three more months of issues. If I do drift away, I also know I won’t be caught empty handed when the series rebounds and I discover the store is sold out.

Best of all, I don’t have to worry about getting cheated into paying more for the digital edition of a copy. Both DC and Image Comics have realized that you don’t need to charge the customer more for the convenience of reading digital. The Walking Dead has a cover price of the digital and print issues are both $2.99. I like that the comic publisher isn’t discriminating against its digital readers and giving us all the same opportunity to give our money to them. Of course I still have a problem paying the same amount as the print edition, but that is an argument for another time. Had Image decided it would be in their best interest to charge any extra for the online edition, I would probably have dropped the series completely. Having some money is better than no money, and Image appears to have realized that digital day and date is better than leaving digital readers hanging.

BOTTOM LINE: HOORAY!

Should my decision to stop buying the print edition of The Walking Dead worry my comic book guy? Not at all. With the steady increase in other comic book related items I’m purchasing, I’m pretty sure I’ll be supplementing his youngest child’s college fund for years to come. As I’ve come to discover, those who really love print will continue to flock to the comic book store. A few of those will change their spending habits and begin to switch to digital comics, but I really think at this point the comic book stores have no short term worries about losing their shirts as the transition continues.

At the end of the day, I’m very pleased with Image Comics announcement, and I can’t wait to see how the rest of the industry responds.

OTHER DIGITAL DAY AND DATE RELEASES I WANT NOW

I’m in the process of rethinking the way I read, buy, and store all my comics.  I know I would be more interested in reading certain titles if I didn’t have to worry about storage and/or disposal later on.   In addition to The Walking Dead and Invincible, I would really like to see the following comics go digital day and date:

  • Action Comics
  • Amazing Spider-Man
  • Batgirl
  • B.P.R.D.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  • Flash
  • Green Hornet
  • Incorruptible
  • Invincible
  • Irredeemable
  • Supergirl
  • Superman
  • Ultimate (comics) Spider-man (and really the entire Ultimate (comics) line)
  • The Walking Dead
  • Witchblade
  • Wonder Woman

Is there a series that you want to see get digital day and date release right now, or are you happy with the way things are going now?