If you’re a regular reader of my stuff on Biff Bam Pop! you’ll likely be aware that I’m a big fan of the whole digital comic world. The option to legally purchase comic books through a variety of Apps is the way I really think the future of the industry is going and it’s nice to see that all the major companies have some sort of digital presence to help perpetuate it’s growth. While I don’t agree with the way all online digital business is handled by the big guns (Marvel’s day and date pricing is a real sticking point with me), the more options we have as readers the better.
This past week, Dark Horse Comics, North America’s third largest comic book publisher, unleashed Dark Horse Digital, it’s foray into the online comic book world. For months the company had been doing a fantastic job of generating buzz for this new service, so much so that it had me checking their Facebook page and web site regularly as I tried to discover a release date and what fans could be expecting. That was some solid work on their part, as was the constant encouragement for fans to register their interest in advance of the site and apps release. Finally, at 8pm EST time Wednesday April 27th, Dark Horse Digital went live, both online and in the Apple App Store, offering up 100’s of titles from key company publications such as Conan, The Goon, Hellboy, B.P.R.D., The Terminator and many more. It was a solid start up offering, though I must admit I was disappointed to see nothing from either the Star Wars or Buffy The Vampire Slayer series’ Dark Horse puts out. They may be on the way or there may be legal rights as to why both weren’t available, but they are conspicuous by their absence.
Dark Horse Digital does offer up a ton of free comics to download and try out immediately, which is a great way to get fans experimenting. Their prices are also extremely reasonable. First issues of some titles are as low as ninety-nine cents, while most single issues are $1.99 each. Larger titles, such as Mike Mignola’s 92 page The Amazing Screw-On Head or 200 plus pages of Finder were priced at $5.99. The desktop version of Dark Horse Digital also offers up multi-issue comic bundles, something that I would have liked to see via the App itself but which it doesn’t currently seem to offer.
Speaking of the desktop version, the premise behind Dark Horse Digital, much like Comixology, the web’s main multi-publisher online comic retailer, is that you can read your books wherever you are, on whatever device you want. With that in mind, I wanted to experiment with all the functionality. Seeing that there was a five issue mini-series called Baltimore, a prequel or sequel to the award-winning novel of the same name by creators Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden, I decided to buy the five issue Baltimore bundle off the desktop site for $5.99, which would be cheaper than purchasing each issue individually via the App by more than three dollars. After making the desktop purchase, I then refreshed my account on the App and, low and behold, there were the five issues waiting for me to read on my iPad. Talk about multi-platform joy.
Having tried out a bevy of digital comics apps, I have to say I’m extremely impressed with what Dark Horse is offering right out of the gate. The reading functionality on both desktop and on the iPad is straightforward and, no surprise, the comics looks gorgeous. If you haven’t experienced a digital comic yet, you really need to. It’s become my preferred means of reading. I do think Dark Horse needs to work on having the bundle option for their App or offering up collections the same way that Image Comics does with their Invincible and The Walking Dead series, as well as getting a few more of their high profile titles available quickly, but in the grand scheme of things I think that these are minor points that will likely be addressed soon.
In the meantime, head over to digital.darkhorse.com or download the Dark Horse App and check out the way comics are heading.