One of the great potential boons of digital is that it can bring back older comics at a reasonable price, without the problems of distribution and per-unit costs that caused them to disappear in the first place. Three examples popped up this week, while everyone was bickering over same-day releases of new comics:
Eddie Campbell announced on his blog that his early graphic novel Dapper John in the Days of the Ace Rock â€˜nâ€™ Roll Club is available as a standalone iPad app. The comics, a series of interlocking seven-page stories, were drawn in 1978-79. Campbell self-published them in the 1980s, and Fantagraphics did a collected edition in 1993. The app, which was produced by a Tokyo company called Panel Nine, includes not just the original run of comics but also the original small press covers, Alan Mooreâ€™s review of the comic (which started the ball rolling), and sundry other extras, some of which have not been seen in years. So itâ€™s sort of a digital collectorâ€™s edition.
Batton Lashâ€™s Supernatural Law is another vintage comic (well, from the 1990s) that is getting a new life in digital form. In this case, the comic is not its own app but is available via the Comics + and Graphicly platforms at a reasonable digital price: Wolff & Byrd #1 is free, and subsequent issues are 99 cents.
Finally, the Japanese publisher Ohzora, the parent company of the now-defunct U.S. publisher Aurora, has not given up on the English-language market, apparently: Its English site makes clear that it has lots of manga available for licensing, and in a few cases, itâ€™s skipping the middleman and going straight to digital. And that means: Project X Cup Noodle, possibly the greatest manga ever published in English, is now available as an iPad app. This was one of the great oddball manga of the U.S. manga boom: The story of the development of instant noodles in a cup, presented as a series of heroic struggles. It was originally licensed by Digital Manga but published only in print; the license must have lapsed, because Ohzoraâ€™s app uses Digitalâ€™s cover dress, now strangely appropriate, for the iPad app.