Tag Archives: Thought Bubble


Thought Bubble: Amazon Acquires ComiXology

By Heather Knight
April 15, 2014


Digital comics have been a hotly debated subject for years. Much in the same way that Amazon has, so you can imagine the immediate uproar an announcement like this might cause in either direction. Speaking as a retailer in the comic shop business, I realize I am unabashedly biased in a certain direction about these controversial issues, so here are the facts. Amazon and ComiXology have announced the beginning of their new partnership, but there are no details yet as to what exactly that means, beyond the desire for a wider reach of digital comics for Amazon and its customers. ComiXology has a comics store and a mobile comics app, as well as their own self-publishing platform similar to Amazon’s Kindle platform for self-publishing authors (what made Fan Fiction now a thing you can buy). The only definite confirmation by a ComiXology spokesperson is that the ComiXology brand and apps aren’t necessarily going away. The two companies are interested in finding ways for ComiXology and Kindle to work better together.


That’s all well and good, but not really addressing my concerns as a retailer. What about the already growing popularity of digital comics and Amazon, and the resulting impact that is having on physical book stores? I’m not knocking the entire concept. I recognize the value to having digital comics as a reliable source, but there is a line. Amazon is famous for being the world’s largest on-line retailer, and one of the biggest incentives for people is their promise of the lowest prices. A book at full price in a bookstore may be around $19.99, while on Amazon it could be offered at $11.99, plus shipping and other fees. After the whole process it usually averages out to around what you’d be paying anyway, but the prospect of home delivery is far more appealing to some than going out to the store. I am all for the notion of reaching more people who could become lovers of comics– that’s an attitude ComiXology has gotten very right– but it still remains to be seen if all their and Amazon’s interests where the comic industry is concerned match up. Where am I going with this? It’s simple.

Once the ComiXology brand is linked with Amazon, a retailer like me fears the worst. It’s disheartening enough every time we hear a phrase like, “That’s okay, I can find that graphic novel for cheaper on Amazon,” or even asked by people why we don’t offer Amazon prices on the comic books in our store. I have no beef with ComiXology or digital comics in general, I see the need for them and understand why some people prefer comics in that format, so here’s my question. You can find Batman #28 on ComiXology or the Amazon Kindle both for $2.99, which is already a dollar under the cover price you would find in a comic store. Will the price always be dictated by the publisher, or will Amazon find a way to make it cheaper to appear more appealing, as it always does? What about digital pull lists that ComiXology offers, will Amazon become a part of that as well? Subscriptions are a big part of being a comics reader, and honestly a huge incentive for comic stores to gain loyal regulars who come in weekly for their new comics. If Amazon is going to start offering subscriptions to their Kindle customers with the promise of improved digital imagery from ComiXology, how long before more people are opting out of printed copies in favour of digital?

Girl reading comics via Getty ImagesAs a former customer and avid comic book reader, I can’t help thinking with a merger like this that the personal relationship between comic book stores and their potential customers will only become more estranged, as more people flock to the internet instead of talking to another human face-to-face about what they’re looking for in a comic. As a comic store employee, we really count on that connection with people. Things like the Marvel bonus incentives in the back of physical issues are great, because the only way to gain a free digital copy from their own digital distribution platform is to buy the printed one with the code in the back, but if you can get physical comics and digital copies from Amazon… then what’s left? And if Amazon can pick and choose, the independent creators who use comic stores as a way to get their creations public notice may be out of luck. It’s bad enough that corporate bookstores like Barnes and Noble have extensive graphic novel sections, but I’ll never forget the day I walked into one not that long ago and was shocked to still see single issued comics on the magazine rack mixed in with US Weekly and GQ. No Marvel, of course, but still plenty of DC. It’s a bad message we’re sending, because if other stores and platforms that are not specifically tailored to the comic book needs are able to sell what we are selling, then what makes us any different?

That’s easy. We, the comic stores, are the real face of the comic retail industry. We are the ground floor, the front line, your one-stop-shop to connecting people with comic books, and that message is getting lost. Expanding on the message of this article, more recently there has been a boom of new readership and interest in comics across the board, coming from a variety of age ranges of both men and women. In my comic store alone, there’s been a huge shift in the volume of our customers, and our monthly women’s comic book club has been growing steadily every month. However, you don’t have to work in a comic store to have noticed this inspiring change in readership. You just have to have eyes, and an internet connection. Yes, there is still a need for more All Ages reading material, and yes, not everyone is close enough to a comic shop so going digital is a really nice alternative for them, but the idea of Amazon-published comic books and graphic novels? It’s imperative that we keep local comic shops alive and thriving in this industry. The prospect of direct distribution cutting out the middle man is an ongoing threat to our existence, which is still very much essential to the overall mission of bringing people to comics.

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Thought Bubble: What’s Really Wrong with Film Criticism?

March 28, 2014

Earlier this week IndieWire offshoot CriticWire asked a bunch of noted film critics if film writers should talk about the form of a film more often than they already do. It sparked a heavily tweeted, debated, and written about impassioned response, but what about the role of the reader and average moviegoer in film criticism and what is the biggest problem facing film writing today? Our Film editor shares his thoughts. Continue reading

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Thought Bubble: Intersecting Kink and Games

November 20, 2013

Soha examines some of the problems with depictions of kink in mainstream video games and explains what we can do to fix them. Continue reading

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Thought Bubble: Pokemon Is Still The Master

By Megan Patterson
October 17, 2013

After witnessing a launch event for Pokémon X/Y packed with fans young and old, Megan looks at why the series has endured for more than 15 years. Continue reading

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Thought Bubble: Gaming’s Industry Problem

October 10, 2013

After a misgendering incident at the Eurogamer Expo in London, and the ensuing backlash on Twitter, Soha El-Sabaawi argues that gaming has a long way to go before it can be considered a safe space for trans* people aspiring to be a part of the community. Continue reading

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Thought Bubble: Rage Against the (Steam) Machine

October 4, 2013

Eric explains why Valve’s trio of new announcements – Steam Machines, Steam OS and the Steam Controller – might not live up to expectations of reinventing the video game console landscape. Continue reading

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Thought Bubble: Shut Up About Batfleck

August 25, 2013

Our Film and Performing Arts Editor is tired of everyone asking him his thoughts on Ben Affleck getting cast as Batman in the forthcoming Batman Vs. Superman film and here are 9 reasons why. Continue reading

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Thought Bubble: Sony’s Irrelevant E3 Victory

June 27, 2013

The verdict is in. Sony won, Microsoft lost, Nintendo stayed the course and we can all go home because Jack Tretton dropped the microphone. If only it were that simple. Continue reading

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Apple vs. Saga vs. Comixology?

April 10, 2013

Comixology quietly removes Saga #12 from the iOS app store for offensive content; two postage-stamp sized images of gay sex. Apple gets the blame. What’s all the fuss about? Continue reading

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Thought Bubble:
We are artists
(so let’s start talking like it!)

By Navid Khavari
April 9, 2013

Are video games art? Yes. Should we move on? Yes. A guest editorial from Ubisoft Toronto narrative designer Navid Khavari. Continue reading

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Thought Bubble: A Gamer’s Thank You to Roger Ebert

April 5, 2013

Given Roger Ebert’s well-publicized opinions about gaming’s (lack of) potential as an art form, some might find it strange to eulogize him in the context of video games. Personally, I think it’s important. While the many accounts of his unrivaled contributions to film are obviously well-deserved, Ebert had far more to offer the world than a couple of thumbs up or down. Continue reading

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Thought Bubble: God of War: Ascension

April 3, 2013

Dork Shelf writer Eric Weiss shares his thoughts on what makes a video game replayable after essentially replaying God of War for the fourth time on a console with Ascension. Continue reading

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Thought Bubble: A Eulogy for Silicon Knights

January 30, 2013

R.I.P. Silicon Knights — a writer’s reasons for taking the funeral approach with the troubled Ontario game studio. Continue reading

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Thought Bubble:
I’m No Comic Expert

January 24, 2013

And that’s OK. Let’s stop punishing new fans for loving the same things we do! Continue reading

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Thought Bubble: The Wii U and the Trouble with Triple-A

November 20, 2012

The Wii U has finally arrived. Now that the first reviews are trickling in, we want to explore what the first crop of games tell us about the Wii U’s potential as a hardcore and mainstream gaming platform. Continue reading

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Thought Bubble: Theatrical Gaming?

October 12, 2012

Can you imagine going to the theatre to play a game in tandem with the audience on a regular basis? RENGA gave life to the concept at TIFF Nexus. Dork Shelf’s Eric wonders: can theatrical gaming become the next big form of live entertainment? Continue reading

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Thought Bubble: Running out of Steam (sales)

August 2, 2012

Barely a week has passed and I don’t even remember all the games I just bought. The Steam Summer Sale, the digital download service’s most momentous sale where PC games are discounted to massive, nay, ridiculous margins, has come and gone, and gamers could neither contain their excitement nor their wallets. As my email inbox floods with successive “Thank you for your purchase” messages, it becomes increasingly clear that this shit is getting ridiculous. Continue reading

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Spider-Man: Never Too Old to be Young Again

January 28, 2010

I have a lot of sympathy for Spider-Man. After a remarkably successful eight-year run, hundreds upon hundreds of millions of dollars grossed, three major villains vanquished (along with a few minor ones to boot), and tolerating Kirsten Dunst for three … Continue reading

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