The most successful online platform for fans of graphic novels, digital comics and manga just bolstered its dominance in the market. ComiXology, a subsidiary of Amazon and a perennial top performer among iPad apps, unveiled ComiXology Unlimited, a $5.99 a month subscription service that lets users “borrow” as many titles as they can read.
Well, not quite. The service has several limitations. One is that comics from DC and Marvel, which are available for purchase on ComiXology (along with 50,000 other titles), are not included in the unlimited service. (Marvel already has its own subscription service; DC’s resisted.) That might be a deal breaker for die-hard superhero fans, but for readers of the burgeoning selection of great new material — such as Saga and The Walking Dead from Image — or old classics — such as The Peanuts from Fantagraphics — the rental service is still very attractive. Here’s a full list of its offerings. The technology that ComiXology uses, Guided View technology, allows readers to view comics either full screen or panel by panel on a touchscreen device, with their retina display version, called CMX-HD, doing the same in higher definition.
It’s frustrating that, in most cases, only the first or the first few volumes of a series are available to borrow. The service will change up its offerings regularly, but it seems pegged as more of an exploration service than a fully stocked library. But despite its drawbacks, ComiXology Unlimited is undeniably providing some of the best of the illustrated medium being published today, and it’s helping to ease the cost, both in dollars and shelf space, of collecting entire comic series. Call it a small but definite step forward for the medium.
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