So, Sunday night I’m surfing the World Wide Web and an article shows up on Yahoo News: “Marvel Comics to offer 700 first issues free digitally”
Hmm. Tell me more.
In an attempt to promote digital comics, Marvel put 700 comics online for anyone to download and read on their computer or iPad. At no charge. The deal would end at 11 p.m. Tuesday.
Ah, digital comics. Tomorrow is here today. Now, I’m an old man. I like my comics on paper like God and Jack Kirby intended. I have four bookcases and many xerox boxes filled with comic books. It would take two lifetimes to read all the comics I own. As my father always likes to say, I could’ve bought a car with all the money I’ve spent on comics. A really nice car.
So yeah, when people first started talking about digital being the future of comics, I was skeptical. Who wants to read comics on a computer? How inconvenient is that? A year or so ago Marvel started putting codes in their more popular (read: expensive) comics that allow the buyer to download a digital copy of the comic they just bought.
I ignored those codes for a long while but then one day decided to download a bunch of them because, hey — why not? Now I am addicted to my digital comics. You can store them on the iPad and they’re easy to read and instead of hauling piles of comics when I travel, I just need the iPad. And if my house burns down, I’ll still have my digital copies. In this one instance, I am not being dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st Century.
So you bet, I immediately logged onto Marvel.com to check out the selections. I decided not to be too greedy. Out of 700 comics, I only downloaded 61. They showed up in my cart: 61 Comics, Price: Free. Then I go to checkout.
wait. wait. wait.
THE SITE CANNOT BE ACCESSED
This went on for the rest of the night.
Surely, the geniuses at Marvel Comics would not put together a promotion like this, announce it to the world, and not be adequately prepared for the onslaught of nerds wanting free comics. It would be stupid and irresponsible to put together a promotion like this, announce it to the world, and not be adequately prepared. Right?
Monday morning I log on, still no access. Monday afternoon, still no access. A couple of times I got as far as the first page, where my cart still had the 61 comics inside, so at least I didn’t have to start over. But when I tried to download them, I would get nowhere. Around 7 p.m. I got to the first page where I noticed my cart still had the 61 comics, but the price suddenly went from “free” to “$139.39.”
Nice. The deadline hasn’t even passed yet and now they’re wanting money. Of course, I still can’t download anyway. And they don’t have my credit card number so good luck getting any cash out of me.
By Monday night a message was posted at the front page: “Looking for FREE #1s from Marvel? Please read this.”
I click on the notice, which read in part:
“a number of technical issues have arisen with our technology partner in getting the more than 700 free issues to each of you. When we have further updates from our partner, we will share them.”
I’m beginning to wonder if this wasn’t a clever ploy by Marvel to destroy the legitimacy of digital comics and keep people buying print. If so, well played.
Either way, it proves that old adage: There’s no such thing as a free comic.
Except on Free Comic Book Day, I guess.
To be continued…