Amazon buys comiXology

Amazon buys comiXology

I used to read a magazine called Psychotronic Video (no longer going, I believe). I remember them having proudly put on the cover, “Still not a part of AOL-Time-Warner.” 😉

Well, nowadays, it wouldn’t surprise me to see someone say, “Still not a part of Amazon” with the same intent.

In this

press release

Amazon triumphantly announced that it acquiring

comiXology (at AmazonSmile)

a very popular and successful app for digital comics.

David Steinberger, the CEO (Chief Executive Officer) of comiXology, also made the


(in very positive tones, by the way) on their site.

I expect you are going to quickly see a lot of moaning and wailing and gnashing of teeth over this.

comiXology has been a leading digital distributor for both DC and Marvel comics, and also a great many other brands.

They always have freebies, and you can read them on different platforms.

I used to read comics more than I do now, but I’ll still occasionally dip a toe in the pulpy pool. 😉

I’ve read them on a Kindle Fire, using the app I linked above.

As a customer, I think this is a good combination. Amazon does not tend to go in and make a lot of changes to the way something is run…although you do start seeing integration.

After they bought IMDb (the Internet Movie Database), which is a site I use frequently, we did get a connection between the two. The IMDb app came on the Fires, and the IMDb information powers X-Ray for Video.

I do think we’ll start seeing comiXology as one of the installed apps when you buy a Fire…and there may be some connections on the comiXology app to getting things at Amazon.

I do not think this means comiXology leaves its successful perch at iTunes. Amazon doesn’t tend to pull their apps out of their competitors…you can get a Kindle reading app at iTunes, for example.

I think people will be concerned about it not because it takes anything away from comiXology, like independence, but just because it gives Amazon more power.

Hm…I suppose this could help comics show up on the

Amazon Fire TV (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

That mght actually be a good match: I can imagine several kids reading a comic together, displayed on a TV.

I don’t think this gives Amazon any more adaptation rights…comiXology is a distributor, not a publisher.

One thing that might happen is that if Kindle Worlds starts doing comic books (they’ve indicated that is coming), you might see them distributed through comiXology as well.

Well, since we are talking about comics, and I know some of you are interested in my tastes, let me talk a little bit about my experience with comic books.

I was more of DC fan (Superman/Batman) than a Marvel fan (Spider-Man/the X-men) when I was a kid. I used to say, “I don’t want my superheroes to have acne.” 😉

What I meant by that was, when I was reading them in the “Silver Age”, Dc heroes were symbols. They generally didn’t deal with real world issues, like paying the rent and relationship problems.

Marvel heroes were much solidly in the real world. They lived in actual cities: New York rather than “Metropolis”.

That’s a matter of taste, but I think it was partially driven by my optimistic nature.

Superman’s enemies were often funny. Mr. Mxyzptlk was an “imp” from the 5th dimension. Bizarro was goofy. We even had the unpredictable red kryptonite, which might turn Superman into a giant ant or something (that actually happened…well, you know, “comic book actually”).

While the Marvel heroes might seem equally ridiculous at first glance, they really hurt people.

Later, I guess I can say I became more “comicspolitan”, and stopped “taking sides”.

My favorite comic book character was the original DC Animal Man. Again, silly: this character could “absorb” characteristics of animals which were in range: hop like a rabbit, that kind of thing.

I know there’s been a “reimagining”, but I liked the whimsy of the original.

I also liked The Inferior Five, Dial H for Hero, the Metal Men, the Challengers of the Unknown…and was a big fan of Herbie (Popnecker, not the Love Bug…although I liked those movies, too) (I wish Herbie would become available in a digital format).

One more serious sequence I did really like was when Green Arrow took Green Lantern across America…that one did deal with more realistic issues (in addition to not so realistic ones).

I also read Harvey comics, Archie comics, and others.

Oh, and I really thought that Batman: The Dark Knight Returns crossed genres…even if you didn’t like comics, you might like that one.

There came a point when I just stopped reading them much…digital got me back into reading them every once in a while.

Eventually, as adults, we decided to sell many of the comics we had kept.

I used to be amused when someone would say, “If my mom hadn’t thrown out my comics, I’d be rich.” I would say to them, “If everybody’s moms hadn’t thrown out their comics, they wouldn’t be worth anything.”

Then, I read this book:

The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America (at AmazonSmile)

I had heard the author, David Hadju, being interviewed on the radio. This was back in 2008. I had a Kindle, and wanted to read it on that, but it wasn’t available in that format at the time. I wrote to the publisher, they said they would look into it…and lo and behold, it was released in Kindle format!

It’s a great history, and explains clearly how it wasn’t just negligence that caused the demise of all those copies: it was a deliberate campaign against comic books by one person. There were actual mass (comic) book burnings at schools!

I recommend Ten-Cent Plague…good stuff.

Anyway, as we were getting ready to sell our comics, I can give you a good example of one of my siblings’ unusual abilities (we have some…odd things in our family). 😉

This particular sibling has the classic eidetic memory: remembers everything that they have ever seen.

I picked up an obscure comic, and said, “I remember this guy.”

My sibling said, “On the seventh page in the third panel, he says this…”

I checked: correct, of course.

That was after having read the comic book once…decades earlier.

Well, enough about me and mine: how about you? Do you comiXology now? If you do, how do you feel about this purchase? If not, and it shows up on a device you own, would you try it out? Were you strongly a DC fan or a Marvel fan? Any obscure comics you loved? Any current ones you might recommend? What else should Amazon buy? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.


6 Responses to “Amazon buys comiXology”

  1. George Evans Says:

    I loved Sad Sack and still have a few. I look for them all the time. Richie Rich was also one of my favorites. Would love to see in digital!

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, George!

      Oh, yes, I read both of those, too! Being an animal lover and a techie (now), it probably isn’t a surprise that I particularly remember Dollar (RR’s dog) and Irona (RR’s robot maid).

  2. jjhitt Says:

    You’re date of birth can’t be more than a year different from mine. The Inferior Five weren’t in print that long. Same thing for Dial H for Hero.and the Metal Men. I read most of those sitting in a tree.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, jjhitt!

      “jjhitt, sitting in a tree…R – E – A – D – I- N – G!”


      Since somebody can’t choose their birthdate, I don’t typically reveal those. The Inferior Five were around for a few years…and of course, someone could have picked them up any time after that at a comic book store…

      The Metal Men ran a lot longer (more like six or seven years for the original series, I think).

      Let’s say that somebody buying them new off the stands would likely have been doing so in the mid-1960s…so these are around half a century old.

  3. Tom Semple Says:

    Note Comixology has a ‘free comic a day’ promotion that started Monday (5/26) and goes for 3 weeks. That’s in addition to free comics they normally offer. Of course, these are the equivalent of the first chapter in a larger book, and they’re hoping you’ll continue with the series (and pay for it).

    It will be interesting to see how Amazon integrates this with Kindle platform (and the current Kindle Comic Creator tool). I think it should be possible to apply Comixology-style ‘animation’ to existing fixed-layout content, though in some cases one would probably want to re-author things to work more smoothly in that mode. Also they need to address ‘accessibility’ (either TTS or embedded audio – the latter could provide some KOOM! FAP! sound fx to enhance the reading experience).

    I’d love to see more ‘serious’, literary graphic novels make their way to digital (Maus, Persepolis etc), as well. Maybe we’ll see that.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Tom!

      TTS (text-to-speech) in comics is complicated, because there typically is no “text”…just an image that contains words. That’s not insurmountable, but it is quite different.

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