Tag Archives: iTunes

Comics in the Digital Age

Congratulations are due for DC Entertainment on account of them fully embracing the future. It was announced a couple of weeks ago that DC is now offering their new releases (and some back library) through Amazon, iTunes, and Barnes and Noble. Not only that, but it was announced recently that starting this week DC is also releasing digital content to these outlets on the same day as print. Amazingly enough, they are the first publisher to do so.

Even though print sales are up 12%, it is obvious that we live in the digital age. Between January and September of 2011, digital sales were up 197%. That is not a typo. Digital sales rose almost TWO HUNDRED percent in nine months. When DC launched the New 52, it was met with resistance, as is to be expected, but combined with their digital outlook, it has been wildly successful. Whether you agree with their move or not, you can’t deny that it has worked.

So why isn’t everyone else jumping on this bandwagon? Mainly, what is Marvel’s deal? They have a subscription service already, Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited, that at first blush seems like a great idea. All the comics you can read for $50 a year? Yes please. As the saying goes, if it seems to good to be true, it probably is. That “Unlimited” part of the title? Not so unlimited. In order to read the comics, you have to be on a computer, on the internet. There is no way you can download to your computer to read at a later date, and if you happen to not have internet service? You are screwed. Surely they are watching DC’s numbers surpass their own, for the first time in quite a long time, and have to be asking themselves where they are going wrong.

Perhaps they should take a look at the music industry as a cautionary tale. People don’t buy CD’s any more. It is rare that the average consumer purchases an entire album (I’m an album girl but I realize that I’m in the minority) anymore, choosing instead to pick and choose single tracks to build their music libraries. The music industry refused to recognize this in time and as a result, is hurting. Had they been a little less cocky and had a bit of forward thinking, they could have introduced digital platforms of their own instead letting piracy take over and then having iTunes pick up their fumble and run it in for a touchdown. Unless Marvel realizes the path they have chosen is not the most fitting to the times, they will find themselves in the same situation.

But what about the local comic shop? What about it? Look, I love a print comic just as much as the next girl. There’s something about going in and having that human connection (as awkward as it might be- let’s be honest, we geeks aren’t really the most socially suave people out there) and feeling the actual paper in your hands. Seeing the stack of books to be read on your desk and the collection of carefully preserved editions in boxes lining your dining room walls. I get it. If nothing else, it provides a link to our childhood  and past that we are reluctant to give up. Think about it this way though, I am 34 years old and vividly remember going to a record shop and searching through the stacks of CD’s looking for that one that a friend of mine mentioned was good. I’ve spent countless hours with a pair of headphones worn by countless others before me on my head as I sampled whatever the store had on tap that day. People who are even just a few years younger than I, have absolutely no idea what that experience even looks like. Does that make me sad? Of course it does. Much like I imagine people older than I miss the times where you’d go into a soda shop and sit at the counter and the ordering a malted. Does anyone even know what a malted is anymore? Not I. It is the nature of the beast and there is nothing we can do to stop it.

A practice so old, it’s only available in stock photos.

Nostalgia aside, there simply are not that many comic shops around anymore. I live in south Georgia and there is one shop in town. That’s it and there is never anyone else in there when I go in so sadly, I’m not sure how much longer they’ll be around. There are plenty of people who might read comics but have zero outlet to them. Until now. The digital age has opened up the world of comics to such a wider population and surely that’s a good thing right? I think so. The more the merrier and all that. No, I don’t want anyone to go out of business. I want everyone to be able to man a comic shop if they so desire and do so until their dying day, or until they retire, whichever comes first. Frankly, that isn’t a reality anymore. DC recognizes that the print stores still (for however long) have a place in the world though and they have set up a digital storefront that enables those brick and mortar places to place that on their site and then receive 30% of the sales. Better than a sharp stick in the eye I guess.

Another good thing to the digital revolution in the comics world? It has allowed smaller publishers to find success. Even on Comixology you can find small publishers but it’s the small vendors that are finding a small bit of success as well. Sites likes Dark Horse, an outfit that pulls double duty of publishing and sales, are becoming more popular. Dark Horse has a variety of comics, including a personal favorite of mine- The Guild, and has in the last week announced that they too are going to be offering their graphic novels (Hellboy for example) through Amazon. Not only that, but individual artists have set out their own shingles.

Mark Waid, of The Flash fame (at least that’s where I know him most from), has set up a site of his own called Thrillbent and it is comprised solely of digital content. He even makes a point of saying that it isn’t his intent to bury print media but rather that he believes that print and digital can coexist in peace. If someone of his caliber and experience believes so, then who are we to doubt? Want to hear more of his thoughts on the matter? Head on over to GEEK for an exclusive Q&A where he discusses his new site and his current work on Daredevil.

As with so many things today, we find ourselves in a situation where the “future” has collided with the present time. Now if only those hoverboards were to come to fruition, I’d be a happy woman. For now I’ll just have to settle for reading Batman on my iPad.

Grizzly Review: God Bless America

The most recent generation of human beings, and more specifically American human beings, is known as the “generation of entitlement”. We’ve been given the most technology, the most variety, and most of all more career options than any generation before us. We can do, or not do, anything we want. Yet, as time goes on, it seems like all we want to do is nothing or everything. We’re either changing the world, or watching the world change right before our eyes.

Everyone over the age of 30, and a lot of people under, have had thoughts of killing the idiots who are supposedly educating the young minds of our great country. On the conservative side, it’s the Barack Obama’s and the Bill Maher’s and the Rachel Maddow’s of the world who are ruining the world. But on the liberal side it’s the Rush Limbaugh’s and the Bill O’Reilly’s and Michael Savage’s and Mitt Romney’s who are damning the United States to the deepest layer of Dante’s Inferno.

Meet Frank (Joel Murray), a middle aged, overworked, underpaid, and depressed man who decides to literally live the dream. After wrongly being fired for sexual harassment and being told that he has a brain tumor, Frank gives the ultimate middle finger to the world and starts killing our nation’s most repellent and atrocious citizens. He gets the idea after seeing a copy-cat “My Super Sweet 16” on TV. Completely disgusted by the state of our nation’s youth, he adopts the mentality of “If you can’t change ’em, kill ’em”. And that’s exactly what he does.

After his first, sloppy assassination, he picks up Roxy (Tara Lynne Barr), a 16 year old sociopath ADD child who wants nothing more than to take the life of guilty filth. Reluctantly allowing her to come along, the two form a strong bond and become something of a “Mickey and Mallory” for the YouTube age. From state to state, target to target, Roxy and Frank witness firsthand the ins and outs of America’s worst personalities.

When I was going to rent God Bless America from iTunes, I saw a comment that said: “…my wife started playing ‘Words with Friends’ 5 minutes in.” That beautifully worded sentence is, in a nutshell, what God Bless America is essentially about. We’re a society that revolves around technology. We victimize the weak and exploit them for our own entertainment. We’re consumed by technology and all that is has to offer. In fact, if you’d like to hear me rant more about the product of a generation of inept children, read this right here.

At times heartwarming, at times extremely violent, and at times overly preachy, God Bless America is one hell of a film that doesn’t really know what it wants to be. Uneven as a see-saw, God Bless America is good, but not great. While I agree with almost everything the film had to say, its method of saying it was rather amateur, especially considering how gifted writer/director Bobcat Goldthwait is when it comes to screenplays.

The central performance by Joel Murray is one of the best I’ve seen all year, and he definitely elevates the sometimes unrealistically long winded monologues. Tara Lynne Barr is also excellent as a blood-thirsty high school student out for revenge against her generation.

Is God Bless America quality entertainment? Probably not, no. But is it entertaining as all hell with a good message to move it along? You bet your ass it is. If God Bless America isn’t great, it is one thing; original. And in a world of sequels and remakes, that in itself is something to be thankful for. And for that, I say not God bless America, but God bless Bobcat Goldthwait. For having a voice that isn’t conventional in the least.

3.5/5 Bears

Grizzly Album Review: “Blue Slide Park” by Mac Miller

Since 2007, 19 year old Mac Miller has been gaining a well-deserved following, releasing a steady amount of mixtapes since he was only 15. Now, four years later, he’s releasing his first studio album, Blue Slide Park. Garnering an insane amount of hype on Twitter due to Miller himself posting a constant stream of tweets about it, Blue Slide Park is finally here, and it doesn’t disappoint.

As a newer and sometimes skeptical fan of Mac Miller, Blue Slide Park has a miraculous balance of classic Miller, while also boasting his ability to carry an entire album on his own. That’s right, not one guest spot on this joint, just pure rap with some catchy hooks. I have to say this is a refreshing and much-needed change of pace in a day when some songs have as many as 15 guest stars on them (see: All of the Lights by Kanye West). It’s calming in some ways to know that one voice really can carry a whole album from front to back with no pit stops.

For non-Mac Miller fans, this album probably won’t change your mind, but for fans of the Pittsburgh native, you’ll fall even farther in love with him than you already have. A 16-track album with not one dud is a pretty amazing feat considering the state of hip-hop these days. Miller is a young voice that almost every teenager can relate to in some way or another. I remember on his mixtape Best Day Ever, he has a song entitled “She Said” and in the opening he says, “Yo, I’m feelin’ ill! And not like, cool or anything, like I’m coming down with a sickness.” At that point, I knew this white boy meant business.

The only drawback that I can’t think of at the moment is that Miller is known for rapping about three things: weed, parties, and girls. He hasn’t deviated much from this pattern on Blue Slide Park, and yet in some ways he has, thinking of more creative ways to let the listener visualize these things.

Overall, Blue Slide Park is an extremely solid release, as well as one of the best albums of the year. It’s available now wherever music is sold (iTunes is probably your best bet though).

Best Track: Frick Park Market and Smile Back

4.5/5 Bears