“How’re you feeling about the PSP comic store/digital comics in general? Me? I think I’m sticking with paper. I’m fuckin old school!”

-John via Twitter

I think publications on PSP are a great idea. I’d totally get into books and such again if they were actually available on devices I’m always carrying on me. Does the iPhone do ebooks? Probably some kind of rigged app or a few standalone apps, but on no universal book reader, right? I can settle for comics. One thing on comics is I like to sit there and examine the art in great detail. The PSP comic viewer let’s me do that. I can zoom out or in as I please and pan the page around to study every which way. There’s even this Autoflow thing where mashing L & R Buttons automatically zeroes in on all the relevant screen placements, making reading these things as lazy as you wish. Button config is even available.

A massive plus is the custom soundtracks function that somewhat works with this comic viewer. Too many times I’m walkin’ somewhere with my PSP music goin’, then when I go to sit down and switch to a game, I have to stop the good sounds for crappy game music from R-Type Command. Say I’m in a podcast I want to listen to but don’t want to sit there and stare at the wall, I can whip out a comic instead without holding up my audio. The music player is limited though. There’s no fast forward function for picking up where you left off in a long track and it doesn’t support PSPgo very well, so the player can only read from the system storage but not from the expandable cards (where I keep all my music). I’m not even sure it supports playlists. Thanks Japan!

Either way, the big draw for me on PSP comics is portability and hiding what I got. I work with baby boomers. They’re not very smart. I got the heavy stink eye when I sat in the public commons and had a lunch while reading Watchmen. I’d much prefer masking what I’m looking at and maintain the privacy. Sure I’m 20-something years old and it’s not a big deal for me to defend what I’m into, but I also value solo downtime above most things, so avoiding possibility of needless conflict with nosy old people idiots with high judging and poor listening skills is a selling point. Since I don’t do a lot of reading when I’m at home, I pretty much have to bring whatever I intend to read with me somewhere else. At home I’d prefer the music, gaming, or time with the pre-wife, so books are right-out. I’m not owning a man-purse ever, so that leaves me with whatever fits in my pocket. PSP works, a tube hanging out a foot above my back pocket doesn’t.

Let me ask you some things. I perceive PlayStation brand to be of the highest average age demographic of players. We’re balls deep in the “e-book revolution” right now and apparently everybody’s solution is to offer non-pocket devices with strange DRM limitations instead of using devices we’ve got out there in large quantities. PSP screen would be adequate for reading and DS would be above adequate for reading (brain age style) and navigation. Why do you think e-books have not been formally considered for portable console and smartphone devices? Furthermore, do you think Sony’s choice to offer comics instead of books cements stereotypes that portable gaming outside the iPhone is supposed to be for audiences no greater than teenagers? Or do you think the gaming culture is so synonymous with graphic novel culture at any age (exampled by Comic Con containing a gaming showcase event) that it would have been stupid for Sony to offer real books before comics?

Dude, Shawn, I’ll totally take back two or three “suck it Andrich”‘s if you guys discuss all that on your conference calling show.

Anyway, I’ve been out of the comic scene for a long time (like, back when Superman died, came back to life, whatever). Based on what’s available in the PSN Comics store, what should I purchase to get me back into things? I like stories where something actually happens, characters change, and a overreaching story/franchise can formally end. I don’t like going into anything knowing the main character is never going to lose, and the big villain is never going to be killed or incapacitated beyond repair. I like stories with complex life lessons and eerie parallels to the real world. “What if” situations are kinda neat. “I’ll get you next time, ________, next time.” struggles are pretty stupid.

So what should I be reading?

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8 Responses to Thoughts on Digital Reading

  1. skreesha says:

    Stanza is a great free ebook reader for iPhone. It handles quite a few formats.

  2. MNGwinn says:

    I’d love good, inexpensive, digital distribution of comics. I like to read them, but I don’t have the space for piles of paper comics, and I tend to like to read long runs at a time. Trades are expensive if you aren’t a collector. The Marvel “pay us $XX a month and read our archives” model is very appealing to me.

  3. phneri says:

    Stanza is indeed delightful. though it doesn’t do your fancy complicated picture books, I’m also now in love with my Kindle. Part of this is because my semester is over and I can read for fun again. The other part is that while everyone I knew read comics I was reading Asimov and Analog Science Fiction, and now I can do that again without filling a drawer with magazines.

  4. JD says:

    I bought my wife a Kindle for Xmas (pretty sure she doesn’t visit Robot Panic). I can’t wait to try it out. Maybe I should pre load it with some George R.R. Martin as a hint to let me borrow it.

  5. MNGwinn says:

    A color kindle would be a killer comics platform. I’d buy one in a heartbeat.

  6. John says:

    I’ve read comics off and on my whole life, but only really started buying them regularly in the last 4-5 years, thanks to Hilden and his geek evangelist ways. There’s just something about buying an actual comic book at a dedicated comic book shop that I really love. It helps that I like my comic book shop and the guys there aren’t uber nerds. Well…they are…but not in that obnoxious kind of way. They’ve probably seen real vaginas before. Anyway, going there every week is a cool experience. I check out the new release rack, page through books that I’ve never heard of, sometimes picking up something that I forgot about. I get to check out the trades shelves and oftentimes find something I always meant to check out but never picked up the monthly issues. My comic shop also carries old-school toys, so I’ll browse through those and inevitably pick up a He-Man or TMNT figure “for my son”.

    And speaking of my son, Hilden always tells the story about how he got into comics after discovering a box of his uncles old comics. I’d like it if my son got into them that way; just one day opens up one of my long-boxes out of curiosity and discovers a whole new, fascinating – and fucked-up – world.

  7. skreesha says:

    My experiences with comic book stores were generally bad ones. The comics were poorly organized and the employees unwilling to help me find what I wanted. I tried subscribing through the mail, but they were stolen on a regular basis.

    I wouldn’t mind buying digital comics but I would require a screen significantly larger than a PSP or an iPhone.

  8. BenFromOhio says:

    ive never tried digital comics. i subscribe to 4 or 5 comics through marvel and it has been great. i always stock up about 3 months worth so i can read it all at once. you save alot of money that way too if you like to read a certain series rather than just buying them at the shop.

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