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The Great Free Comics for New Readers Experiment

So who out there is interested in comics but doesn't know where to start? Have an iPad or other iDevice? Ready to try a painless, potentially mind-blowing, and entirely FREE experiment with me?

1. Go to the App Store and download the Comixology app. Install, register, and open that sucker up.

2. Click on the "Browse" button in the upper right. Click on "Series," then download the following FREE comics:

"Action Philosophers: Ayn Rand!" (+Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey)
"Atomic Robo" #1 (+Brian Clevinger and +Scott Wegener)
"Battlestar Galactica" #0 (yours truly and Nigel Raynor)
"Bayou" #1 (Jeremy Love)
"Bone" #1 (Jeff Smith)
"Ex-Machina" #1 (Brian K. Vaughan and Tony Harris)
"Fear Itself: The Worthy" #5 (yours truly and Lee Weeks)
"Mouse Guard" #1 (David Petersen)
"Planetary" #1 (+Warren Ellis and John Cassaday)
"Scott Pilgrim Vol 1" (First chapter) (+Bryan Lee O'Malley)
"Vision Machine" #1-3 (me again and RB Silva)
"Walking Dead" #1 (Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore)
"Y The Last Man" #1 (Brian K Vaughan and Pia Guerra)

(The above is a list of modern classics (plus a few of my own comics which I've thrown in because I'm shameless like that). A pretty good variety of genres, all perfect starting points for their respective storylines.)

3. Click on the "Free" button on the navigation bar and download anything else that catches your fancy.

4. Read some stuff! Don't worry about reading it all -- just check out what looks like fun.

5. Then come back here (https://plus.google.com/118004481840782880691/posts/AZG6KpPjMB4) and tell us what you think!

A few questions for the conversation:

1. How was the reading experience? Did the storytelling make sense? How did reading the comic in digital form compare to reading a physical comic book?
2. Were you sucked in? Did you want to read the next issue in the series?
3. Are you now addicted? Will you read more comics? Did you pay money for anything on the Comixology app after trying out the free stuff?

Can't wait to hear what you think!

As someone who's always interested in roping new people into reading comics, I've loved +Joe Mulvey's thought-provoking and hilarious "What do you REALLY know about comics?" interviews at http://joemulveyart.com/. The above experiment is directly inspired by Joe and his columns. Please reshare if you like the idea!

UPDATE: +Comixology Comics is on G+! As is another digital comics vendor, +Graphicly Comics. Follow 'em both!
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48 comments
 
GREAT IDEA GREG! More people need to give comics a try and this is definitely a step in the right direction. I'm going to cut and paste this and put this out on my site as well. Can't wait to see where this goes.
 
Posted on my blog as well!
 
Ideas like this are why I love comics and those who create them. Sounds awesome, gents!
 
Y'all are awesome! If anyone's taking the challenge, please feel free to chime in even before you start reading, just to say howdy!
 
This is a great idea and I shared but I thought Marvel was only available on iPad/iPod?
 
Hey, Frank, thanks! Actually, Marvel Comics are available on the iPad/iPhone/iPod via the Marvel or Comixology and Graphic.ly apps. And you can read a huge selection of Marvel comics online by paying a pretty minimal subscription fee at http://marvel.com/digital_comics/
 
Oh no, I mean I have the Comixology Android app for my tablet but I can't get Marvel digital comics from them. Hopefully Marvel will remedy that the iPad exclusivity.
 
Awesome, thanks Blue Tyson! (That's a list of the free comics at Comixology that you can read online right now, for those who are wondering.)
 
I'm having trouble getting the comics to actually download. I click it, but the bar instantly fills up and then it just gives me the download symbol again.
 
I've tried both Comixology and the Marvel app for the iPod touch but they keep crashing. Which is a shame because I've got an hour and a half commute each way on the metro and would love to be able to read some comics to while away the time. Has anybody else had problems with them? Everytime I start it says it's updating publishers or something and then just crashes.
 
Hey, John. Sorry you're having trouble! Sometimes I've had it take a while to update publishers, but it usually finishes in a few minutes. The Comixology folks are really responsive on Twitter -- maybe try asking them for help there: http://twitter.com/comixology
 
One concern: I feel like this could get very expensive.
 
+Greg Pak (or anyone) if you had a list of (non) free comics that you think similarly would make a great entry point, Im happy to make them all free on +Graphicly Comics (granted we tend to lean more towards the creator owned world than the mainstream world)
 
Hey, Micah! Thanks so much for chiming in! I'm checking out the Graphicly iPad app now!
 
Mr. Baldwin that is AWESOME! There are TONS of creator owned books out there that could grab a whole new audience. I'd recommend throwing out some of your own suggestions as well. You can read all of them, but which ones get your time?
 
+Joe Mulvey I really enjoy In Maps and Legends http://graphicly.com/unwrecked-press/in-maps-and-legends and Caryn Tate's stuff: http://graphicly.com/caryn-a-tate Also Godkiller is great from Halo-8, http://graphicly.com/halo-8 but lately my favorite (selfishly) is +Josh Flanagan's Dixon's Notch http://graphicly.com/josh-flanagan-comics/dixons-notch/1 - not just because he works at +Graphicly Comics (on +iFanboy on Google Plus ) but because he has tried to get that book printed for years, and when it debuted on Graphicly, it was the 5th highest selling book for the day, and has more than 40 likes, 13 comments and 8 +1's. Places like G+ are going to change how creators get found and promote their work.
 
Phones and Tablets are nice but sometimes it's nice to be able to sit back and get a really nice 20"+ view of the art in a comic ...nice to know both Comixology and Graphicly have their apps in the Google Chrome Web Store https://chrome.google.com/webstore?hl=en-US ....just for those who like to see things on a larger scale.
 
Well, the idea is great but the execution is a little buggy and not that intuitive (at least for the iPad).
I want to raise a question/suggestion, when you pinch (and thus zoom in), this removes the ability to properly navigate and makes the whole thing a little quirky. I would think of a way to move "in rows" when you zoom in so that the whole story is broken down to 1 single "very long" line. This requires segmentation of the story but provides some added value for the digital version, otherwise missing.
And there is always the option to add an automatic forward/backward option as with slideshare. IMOHO
 
I have a massive amount of print comics from years of reading and I love them, but I absolutely love digital comics.

I read my digital comics on my iPad through +Comixology Comics and some like Vision Machine by you and Misery Loves Sherman by +Chris Eliopoulos through Good Reader because they're PDFs (I got Vision machine from your website before realising it was on comiXology).

comiXology is brilliant to read via but it does require you to allow it to update everything before you try to read or it's glitchy and crashes out. They say this will improve in the future and I hope it does because it is the biggest turn off for people when I try to get them interested in digital comics.

I prefer reading digitally to print now. The fact that my iPad goes everywhere with me means that I can always have something to read. I also buy novels through iBooks. Add in my music purchases from iTunes and my iPad is my portable media centre.

I find this post really interesting because I was recently looking for new comics to enjoy and seeking suggestions from friends and strangers on twitter & fb when +Chris Rose suggested Vision Machine and Invincible to me, +Adam Richard suggested The Walking Dead, and two others suggested Maus and Y: The Last Man. I saw +Chris Eliopoulos post on twitter regarding Misery Loves Sherman, so I followed his links to his page.

Was I sucked in after sampling the suggested comics?
You bet I was!!!

I read all of The Walking Dead in under 24 hours. I read the first issue, then purchased the collected volumes until they ran out, and then I swapped back to the individual issues... and then today I bought the new issue - my second single release since the massive 24 hour binge :D My initial reading binge of The Walking Dead cost almost $300 in local costs (very happy the costs lowered a couple of days ago!) but I paid it without hesitation because it was engrossing and soooo much easier than travelling hours to my (not at all) Local Comic Shop, and I don't have to find more space in my home to store them :)

I followed with Invincible, then Maus (but that wasn't digital), then Y: The Last Man, then Vision Machine (that last panel was brilliant), and now I'm starting on Misery Loves Sherman.

I am very much addicted to digital comics and I try to support Same Day Digital Releases foremost. I'll be taking titles listed here for further reading suggestions, so thanks to everyone that lists some :)

For me, digital comics are where I will spend the bulk of my money now and I will hope for all comics to be on Same Day Digital Release in the near future.

Thank you to +Jim Lee & others for supporting that ideal! I plan on buying all 52 first issues of DCnU upon release and I will be grabbing Ultimate Comics: Fallout #2 as soon as I finish this post. Same Day Digital Release is wonderful and I'll support and promote it as much as I can :)
 
Greg, I have an Acer Iconia and a Droid X and the first comics I read on them were your Vision Machine books. They were brilliant by the way and I have already started paying for a couple of comics on +Comixology Comics I enjoy +Comixology Comics much more than I do +Graphicly Comics, but both ways I think that the reading experience is clean and inviting. I think the resolutions (particularly on my tablet) are as good as you are going to get without having the book in your hand. For me it is much more convenient because I do not have LCS, the only thing I will say that I miss, is the socialization of the LCS and the feeling of having the book in hand and taking it out of its plastic. That to me is one of my favorite things about comics and it will be missed. That being said though, I am getting older and do not get to buy them often anymore anyways so I think +Comixology Comics is probably going to be my comic book home for some time.
 
Lynn, thanks for the great post! A question for you -- have you bought print copies of any of the digital comics you've enjoyed? Just wondering how often people want a story in both forms.
 
Hey, Jason, thanks for the kind words. Glad to hear VM got you started! ;-)
 
Thanks for the list! I've already read VM via your site, but this will be great to share. I like to use the free digital issues as a starting point to discover new books, but I still prefer buying the hard copies, because then I support both the creators and my incredible local comic store. 
 
already way into Comixology on my iPad. It sucks you in. So easy to finish reading one issue and then just click on the "get next issue" button...then you've spent a billion dollars...or something like that.
 
ditto to what josh abv said. excapt i run comiology on the android, moto xoom. very nice! missing the marvel comics, but thats a steve jobs thing and marvels loss of my money. pumped for dc's same day philosophy getting started shortly on their series rebooting! im in and buying them all!

i am now starting a new circle "comix" and adding you all! do the same and keep spreading the digital words of greatness!
 
Hi Greg,

I read Vision Machine on my iPad a few months ago via the Comixology App, I loved it, and as a free digital comic it was even better.

By that I mean there was plenty of free material, normally the free issues are just a few pages or even worse, "character profiles". If there was more Vision machine I'd happily pay per issue as I'd have a better idea of it's quality. Were as some of the shorter previews it's a bit like someone just showing the logo of the product then asking you if you want to buy it or not. If that makes sense.

I'll check out the rest of your list, but on digital comics as a whole it's changed my comic reading world. As a reader in the UK, not from London or another big city comics are far too expensive and hard to get hold of, so my comic reading was more just the occasional graphic novel and TBP. Suddenly with digital comics I feel like I can take part in the comic reading community. My favourite discovery since digital comics came along is Hack/Slash I bought every Hack/Slash digitally available and check every week for new ones. I also follow Chew, The Walking Dead and the Mass Effect comics (on Dark horse, I don't like that app as much TBH). All had at least a full first free issue come to think of it.

My biggest disappointment was generally the superhero comics from Marvel and DC, I'd read a fair few TBP's like Birthright, Superman for all season etc. etc. so I thought I could jump in and get some superhero goodness. But finding a jump on point is so hard, and with the Green Lantern film on the horizon (back then) I tried to get into the Blackest Night, it seemed like something recent and a clearly defined start of "something". But it was a nightmare, it felt like I needed to know everything that had happened in every DC comics ever and after 10-20 issues I gave up.

I'm going to give it another shot when the DC reboot comes around, I'm just trying to work out what to follow, even though it's a new start, 52 comics is still a slightly overwhelming choice for someone who thought they were the target market.

Hope this is the sort of feedback you are looking for.
 
My stuff will hopefully be on Graphicly soon (I just filled out the forms) ut in the mean time, I offer whole bunch of free comics for download at ryanestrada.com.... you can download all of my ebooks (including a couple that ran on Zuda, alongside Bayou) for free with just one click. http://www.ryanestrada.com/complete/index.html
 
I currently have 2100 + comics from Comixology. I can't recommend it enough. At this point I'm fairly much digital and hardcovers only. The digital presentation is just incredible. No worry of the print machine screwing up colors etc. You won't be sorry. Maybe poorer, but not sorry. 
Ziggy B
 
Hey Greg, what are your thoughts on the issue with digital comics that you don't own what you buy? I love the +Comixology Comics reading experience, but I hesitate to spend too much money ($3 or more each when it comes to Marvel and DC new releases) on something that exists only as long as Comixology exists. If these were physical files that I owned and could back up and transfer and bring with me, like music MP3s, I'd be all over this. But it feels like a big investment for something that could just disappear on you one day.

I realize part of this is them trying to take steps against piracy, but I wonder what point is when every roadblock you set up is negated by one guy with $2.99 and scanner.
 
Bayou and Bone are highly recommended.

I blogged over a year ago about digital vs. print (written as a print collector and digital creator) and the only advantage I can really see at this point for print is the tactile feel of it and the ownership of the material. Otherwise digital has it beat in every regard, and as someone with a background as a colorist and now a digital painter, it's great seeing your work reproduced so accurately on screen. Dealing with printers is largely a nightmare.
 
+Greg Pak, I don't tend to double up much on print and digital. I have purchased some issues in digital that I already own in print to save me trying to find them in a mountain of longboxes, and it means I can showcase specific writing or art to people when they're interested in comics but don't know what titles they'd enjoy, what kind of selection is out there, or where to start. As for the reverse, buying print after I have bought the digital comic, no, I haven't.

I own X-Men #1 (1963), Giant Size (1975), etc, so I definitely know the attraction of owning print and looking at these issues that are older than me and marveling at them. I recently looked through my entire collection (looked, not read) while reorganizing them and just seeing covers and recalling the stories made me smile :) Still, looking at gorgeous covers on my iPad can make me smile and recall the amazing stories within just as easily!

Just wanted to add that I read the first issue of Planetary last night for free on +Comixology Comics and loved it, so I bought the Planetary Omnibus while it's still half price!

Oh! I also wanted to say how thrilled I am that Marvel have announced Same Day Digital Releases for Spider-Man titles once Spider-Island starts, and then X-Men later in the year! Fantastic news!
 
As for buying things in both forms - yes, if I really like it.

e.g. recent Planetary sale. Think I have most of the comics, the trades and the digital version now.

I'd like to get digital Agents of Atlas for example, but Marvel won't sell comics you can read in a garden variety browser.

Digital comics that you can't 1) read on the web or 2) download so you can view then in a better program e.g. 2000 AD (much better comic to start with) are completely pointless, to me.
 
No really, now I'm afraid of spending hundreds of dollars...
 
+Lyn Rose Thank you for saving me quite a bit of money! Planetary Omnibus is totally worth it.
 
haven't seen you since film school, in which time I've made films and comics too. looking forward to reading your stuff! keep on keepin on!
 
Thanks for the call to action Greg. I posted something on my google plus page that is too long to copy here. But, yeah, comics are like serial TV, in a good way, and Comixology is like the Netflix.
 
comixology is like the best thing since sliced bread. Actually, I read "Vision Machine" because of comixology and fell in love with it.
 
Just got done reading the VISION MACHINE today. I got it from my comic shop last Wed (I told him about your google+ post) and it was awesome. It was a good read through and through. I really want to know what happens next.