Recently, the folks at Comic Book Resources reported on an exciting announcement at HeroesCon in North Carlonia -- Longbox Digital Comics. Basically, Longbox is marketing itself as the iTunes of comics -- a place where consumers can purchase digital versions of their favorite single-issue comics for a low price (99 cents!). The interface looks really neat, with the ability not only to easily organize your digital comics, but to enlarge individual panels for easy viewing (see below).
With a target release of late 2009, I think that there is some great potential here for getting comics into the classroom in a much more cost-effective (not to mention environmentally-friendly) manner. As Ron Richards from iFanboy mentioned in a recent article, the key to success is securing the big comic book publishers, one of which (Marvel, through their Digital Comics Unlimited program) already has a subscription-based digital comics service. (Though as Ron mentions succintly in his article, Marvel does not allow for offline reading of their digital comics--something that Longbox will.)
Some concerns I have about such a service in the classroom:
- Would students feel comfortable reading comics from a computer screen? I've heard adults bemoan the rising popularity of hardware like Amazon's Kindle, but is there a generation gap that might explain a greater receptiveness by students to reading digitally?
- The aforementioned announcement at HeroesCon included mention of developing software for use with the Kindle and iPhone & iPod Touch. While I believe the digital comics format can work on a large-ish computer monitor or television screen, will it work on small, portable devices?