The PSP Comic Book store, though, puts me in a position where digital reader technology might actually trump the feeling of holding a real comic book in my hand. Because unlike books—which are published with beginnings, middles and ends all in place—comic books are strung out over many issues. If you’re a poor student type like me, this is a problem, because the next issue of a comic you really enjoy could be coming out and you don’t have the cash to buy it.
This is what it was like for me when Marvel’s Civil War arc unfolded. I got all the way up to issue three before running out of money to spend on comics. I had to grind my teeth waiting (and dodging spoilers, which was impossible) for a time when I could afford the next four issues or the entire trade paperback whenever that came out. But if I’d had the PSP’s comic book store at my disposal, it wouldn’t have been a big deal. I might still have been strapped for cash, but I wouldn’t have had to go to every comic book store between Berkeley and San Francisco looking for Civil War #5 and #6 having already found #4 and #7.
The way the comic book reader itself works is pretty nifty, too. There’s an auto-flow feature that moves panel-by-panel, zooming in to the bubbles of text in the order the authors intend you to read them in. You can switch the feature off, of course, if you like panning the camera around the page of a comic at your own pace. But if you manipulate the manual control of the auto-flow feature with the shoulder buttons on the PSP, it’s almost like watching a movie – but without the the dramatic narration and crazy over-use of the zoom function.
So far, Sony has signed Marvel Comics and IDW Publishing to their PSP Comic Book Store distribution service. They’re in talks with “several other” comic book publishers, but the representative demoing the service declined to say who (or didn’t know—I get the feeling they weren’t a comic book reader).
If they sign Dark Horse and Slave labour Graphics, I’m in. I’ve been dying to catch up on Blade of the Immortal and grab the issues of Charm School I’m missing. Besides—I have to have something to show all my Kindle-snobby friends.