Friday, 21 June 2013

The Perplexing Case Of How I Got Saga Vol. 2 Before The Private Eye #2

Or some thoughts about the differences between completely independent digital comics publishing and print comics consumption.

I really like Brian K Vaughan comics. He is a very talented writer who collaborates with some great artists, and as a result, great comics happen. Currently, Brian K Vaughan is involved in two comics: Saga with artist Fiona Staples and The Private Eye with artist Marcos Martin. Both are gorgeous comics, with neat concepts, and are absolute obligate comics to read. They are also published, and therefore consumed, in completely different ways. 

Saga is a print comic being published by the creator-ownederish Image Comics and is being distributed in comic book and book stores both in a monthly magazine format as well as periodic trade paperback collected editions. The Private Eye, in contrast, is a purely creator owned affair being published monthly digitally and sold exclusively in a pay-what-you-want manner through the creators web storefront. From a consumer perspective, what this means is that we have to buy these comics in completely different ways. In my case the plan is to buy the collected Saga volumes as they arrive in stores and purchase The Private Eye digital files as they are made available online.

Or at least this is the theory.

In reality, it hasn't quite worked out that way. And I think this might be interesting.

My Saga consumption is more or less going to plan. I strategically avoid the Saga issues as they come out for budgetary reasons (while also fanatically evading Saga spoilers online) and then buy the trades on the weeks they came out. And it's easy to do. I am a weekly comic store customer: every single week I make a trip to my local comic book store and buy whichever of my ten-and-only-ten ongoing series comics have hit the stands as well as a trade for the week. It is a habitual process honed through the years and is now just a scheduled, expected part of my life. (And I am nothing if not a creature of habit.) Basically, Saga takes advantage of the existing comic book distribution system and is bootstrapped to our existent comic book fan behaviour. Which, is to say, it doesn't require us to do anything differently.

Where my consumption plans fall apart, a bit, is with The Private Eye. Despite very much wanting to buy The Private Eye as soon as it is published online, it took me more than a month to actually purchase the comic. This wasn't because I missed the announcement of The Private Eye #2, I follow an unhealthy amount of comics-related social media and noticed its release. The trouble is that getting The Private Eye #2 requires a non-habitual, special effort. Which, fair enough, is a fairly tiny one. But what I found was that I had difficulty prioritizing making the web transaction, when I thought of it I was always busy with work, or making dinner, or going to the comic book shop. Buying The Private Eye #2 became that thing-I-have-to-do-later that never actually gets done. 

I think there are essentially two reasons for this. The first is that by using a non-standard comics service, The Private Eye removes itself from habitual consumption habits. This requires people to effetively make a very small, special trip to their store which can be hard to remember and easy to put off. Procrastination is not a rational mode. The second reason I think I put off The Private Eye is a lack of reminders. The comics internet made a justifiable fuss when The Private Eye #2 was released,  and then went mostly silent about the comic. Moreover, neither Brian K Vaughan nor Marcos Martin maintain a social media presence. And I think this contributed to my not thinking about the comic in moments when I actually had the time to make the short transaction. Of course this might all be me being an inflexible consumer who spent the month of May frantically trying to prepare for the biggest test of my life.... 

Regardless, all I know is that I had Saga Vol. 2 before The Private Eye #2, despite the latter's one month head start. 

(Also, Paypal is actually the worst. I spent half-an-hour grappling with it to do a non-member credit card transaction from Canada... it was very buggy. And Paypal will not let me connect my credit card to my account for... reasons I guess? I used up my entire lunch break based comic reading time actually getting the comic!)

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