Checking in on the Digital Distributors: A Status Update

It’s been a year since I looked at all the digital distributors, so I thought — especially with the various announcements coming out of convention season — now was a good time to check in.

Comixology still clearly rules the roost, with the most participating publishers. They’re also responsible for the individual apps for DC and Marvel, and they provide comics almost everywhere (iOS, Android, web). They haven’t had many major announcements lately, with the most recent news being a DC app for Android. Nice feature: any comic bought through Comixology is available through any of their apps.


Graphicly is still hanging in there, with major steps accomplished over the past year. In addition to the comics they offer (many major publishers, but no DC), they’ve developed iPhone, iPad, and Android apps, and an Adobe Air desktop application. They’re also the only provider of Marvel on Android. While Comixology connects up pull lists and retailers, Graphicly emphasizes community features, with iFanboy communities and postings.

Most recently, they announced interactive extras for digital comics. As they say in their press release, “comic stories can be accompanied by audio, video, interactive games, and other extra features that are easily accessible from within the comic book on the Web, desktop, and recently-released Web-based comic reader widget.” Of course, this depends on the publisher setting up such things, but Graphicly says they’ve incorporated enhancement strategies based on what creators wanted. Readers can “truly experience the creator’s entire vision and become completely immersed in the story’s universe.” Samples so far include Top Cow’s Artifacts #1, which has an audio commentary, and Halo8’s Godkiller, which has a matching video.

This is a potential strategy to set the company apart from their competitors, but at some point, I question when the resulting product is no longer a comic. I’m also not sure why this is news, since they were talking about commentaries being available last August. Oh, it seems that now the extras are visible within the website, as well as the desktop app.

iVerse Returns

Comics+ iVerse logo

iVerse has come back big time by being selected as the Diamond Digital distributor. That will send a certain amount of traffic their way, although it remains to be seen how successful that project is.

Comics+, their flagship app, is still only available on iOS (iPad, iPhone) and the various iVerse websites are hopelessly out of date. Their Android information, for example, is dated early 2009, and there’s no mention whether they still offer or a support a version on that platform.

And the Rest

Panelfly went defunct, only to announce a recent return “as a multimedia app for smartphones and tablets”. Panelfly Prime, an updated comic app, is due next month with Panelfly Plus following in October, adding “videos, news, and social media, as well as original content” for both iOS and Android tablets and phones. They recently developed the promotional iPad Burn Notice app. Lots of popular buzzwords, but it remains to be seen how well they execute on the plan. It’s easy to say what you want to do, hard to make it happen and succeed.

It also remains to be seen how many multimedia connections an online comic fan wants. Maybe they just want to read comics?

Longbox … still doesn’t exist in any functional form. They’ve provided minimal updates (three) this year, with no information since May. They’re beginning to look like the Duke Nukem of digital comics.

7 Responses to “Checking in on the Digital Distributors: A Status Update”

  1. The Biggest Digital Challenge: Pricing » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] how much will it all cost? Jim Campbell does a cost analysis of comic creation to argue that digital distributors are taking too big a cut, which requires publishers to sell more electronic copies to make a […]

  2. Augie De Blieck Jr. Says:

    Longbox’s biggest problem is that it bet its future on one of the dozens of failed “iPod killers” that has gone nowhere. As the saying goes, “There is no tablet market. There’s an iPad market, then everyone else.”

  3. John Jakala Says:

    Johanna, have you checked out Viz’s new site? According to the announcement, users can now read Viz’s any* of Viz’s online manga on any device – iOS, Android, or Web – similar to Comixology. Plus, all first volumes are now 40% off the digital price through 7/31, so you can get many 200-page books for just $2.99.

    * the one exception seems to be Inuyasha which for some reason is not only an iOS exclusive but an iPad exclusive.

  4. Johanna Says:

    I’m working on an article about that now, actually.

  5. Ralf Haring Says:

    “Nice feature: any comic bought through Comixology is available through any of their apps.”

    I consider that basic functionality. I didn’t know they did that and it’s good that they do. I hope another digital retailer can compete with Comixology to keep them honest. Right now it seems like they’re the only real game in town.

  6. Calls Quits to Digital Comic Distribution » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] this: wasn’t offering anything to differentiate themselves. Their intent to create interactive extras for comics never took off (although Marvel is now planning something similar, without their help). […]

  7. Digital Exclusivity Returns, With Marvel Singles Exclusive to Comixology » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] had previously noted that some publishers were backing away from exclusivity, but now I think that digital distributors that aren’t comiXology have tough times ahead. Graphicly already saw the light and left the […]




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