Monday, January 13, 2014

Digging into Digital: Retrofit Announces Digital Option

Box Brown started off Monday morning with huge news for fans of mini-comics who are making the transition to an electronics reading lifestyle or who live in teeny tiny apartments: For the first time, Retrofit's line has gone digital.

Brown broke the news on Twitter, along with a post you can read here on the Retrofit website. Offering not only future comics but the back catalog as well (some of which are long out of print), Retrofit is starting off on Gumroad, where you can download a copy of your very own to keep. You can also get Retrofit titles on Barnes and Noble or Amazon, if you prefer reading via an app.

Brown promises that Retrofit is coming to Comixology as well, which opens up a large proportion of the digital reading population to the high quality mini-comics he publishes every year. If Retrofit gets its own publisher notation (like AdHouse or Monkeybrain), this will be huge, as it pulls mini-comics work out of the huge pile of "Submit" and into a place where they can actually be seen, gives the potential for them to be on the main page, etc.

I don't know the Retrofit Library by heart (sorry Box, I'll try harder), but from what I saw, it looks like the entire line is available. That means Fungus, Retrofit's breakout hit, is now available for anyone who wants to read a little seen, but excellent, James Kochalka comic. Similarly, Noah Van Sciver's 1999, Josh Bayer's Raw Power series, and many others, are all there with a click of the mouse, and at half the cost of the physical copy, too. Best of all, it's a download, so the comic is yours to keep.

I couldn't be happier about this news. I am a huge digital fan, even though I also like paper copies of comics. In some cases, I missed the print original and now it's gone. In a few other instances, I'm a lot more interested at $3 a copy than I was at $6. Having this option allows me to go print for my favorites and digital for the rest, giving me the full Retrofit experience.

Further, as I hinted above, the reach of digital comics via Comixology cannot be overstated. Getting in there, once it happens, could really mean big things for Box as well as the creators he publishes. If something becomes a cult hit via downloads, that creator might get picked up to do a longer story or a collection.

All in all, this is a net win for everyone. Readers get the chance to read out of print Retrofit comics or sample ones they were unsure of for half cost. Readers also have their choice of platforms, though I'd recommend Gumroad, of course, as your first choice, since you get the file. The creators are able to have access to readers they might not otherwise have reached, who don't go to comics shows or shops.

And Box adds a new revenue stream, which is always a good thing, helping him bring more great comics to the public.

Not bad, Monday. Not bad at all.

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