Sunday, August 9, 2015

ComicsFix - Monthly Subscription Service for Digital Comic Books

**  I received complimentary access to ComicsFix for this review.  The opinions are my own and I did not receive any financial compensation for this post **

If you appreciate and enjoy reading comic books, but find yourself reading an issue once than normally never picking it up again a new digital subscription service called ComicsFix may be perfect for you. For $8.99 a month subscribers have unlimited access to a catalog of hundreds of digital comic books from nearly 200 self-published authors and small publishing companies that are accessible via PC or apps for Android and Apple devices. The service is anchored by Dynamite Comics and Valiant Comics two of the Top Ten publishers in the comic book industry.  As long as you subscribe to the service you have access to the whole available catalog of offerings but cancellation cuts off your access to the publications.  ComicsFix is bringing a cable/internet television approach to viewing comic books.  Most people will view an episode of The Walking Dead on AMC or Daredevil on Netflix and than that is it ... they've paid their subscription to the media channel to watch its shows but don't expect to own or keep the program after they've viewed it.  ComicsFix is now taking that same approach with distributing comic books to fans.

I tried out ComicsFix for a month and the digital quality of the comic books was excellent.  The website and app also have some great features to ensure accessibility, customization and ease in the  reading experience.  Subscribers can download comic books and read them whenever they want without having to be online at the time.  That is especially nice if you want to read some selections when you are on the go and don't have access to wifi or a mobile data service.  During our recent Up North Michigan vacation we were out of our service area for our mobile phones and the wifi at the condo we rented was horribly slow but during some downtime I read a bunch of titles downloaded from ComicsFix onto my iPad so I really appreciated the accessibility and convenience of this option.

ComicFix also has parental controls so you can make sure your kids don't start getting into material that may not be age appropriate for them.  The service also provides other features to allow you to customize it for your own convenience including creating a personalized reading list of selections you may want to read in the future, a history of what you've read using the service with suggestions on other selections to read based upon your reading trends, and bookmarking comic books so you won't lose your spot if your reading is interrupted. Some selections even provide hands-free reading where the panels automatically flip through the story.

Unfortunately, enjoying comic books as a leisurely reading activity or hobby is starting to become somewhat prohibitive for many people as the cost of publications continue to rise.  Buying new issues at a comic book store now average $3 to $5 dollars each.  If I wanted to buy every issue that interested me that hit comic book store shelves, I'd be spending a few hundred dollars each month.  Sorry that is not going to happen.  $8.99 per month to be able to read a large number of selections is much more reasonable and opens up comic books that I would previously never have though about purchasing.

Dynamite Comics has a large selection of comic books that I've been wanting to read but just haven't been willing to invest the money into purchasing them in print from a local comic book store or in a digital format from a service like Comixology.  Dynamite takes a lot of "old school" super hero characters like The Bionic Man, Flash Gordon, John Carter - The Warlord of Mars, Tarzan, The Lone Ranger, The Green Hornet,and Zorro and creates stories with 21st Century styling and spins to them. So I read through a few of these titles that I've been eying but not flipped through for a read up to now on ComicsFix.

Through ComicsFix I read 12 issues of  Dynamite's Classic Battlestar Galactica which would all be included in the monthly $8.99 subscription price for the service.  To have purchased print versions of these comic books from Dynamite I'd have needed to buy the two graphic novels that compiled issues 1-5 and 6-12 at $14.99 each for a total of $29.98.  If I'd purchased digital versions of these comic books through Comixology each issue would have cost $1.99 for a grand total of $23.88.  Now to be fair maintaining a year of ComicsFix would cost someone more than $100 and once you end your subscription you would no longer have access to your comic book selections while with the print version it is yours forever and for Comixology you own it as long as you live or that service stays in business, whichever is longer.  Of course with ComicFix you can continue to read new titles for its monthly subscription fee rather than paying for each individual item you want to read.  $1.99 per issue starts to add up quickly.  To be honest, I enjoyed Dynamite's Battlestar Galactica series but I probably won't be going back to read those issues over again so reading them through ComicsFix made a lot of sense.

During the last month, in addition to Classic Battlestar Galactica I also read several other Dynamite titles including sixteen issues of Kevin Smith's The Bionic Man (aka The Six Million Dollar Man from television), four issues of Monster War which pits Tomb Raider's Lara Croft versus Dracula, six issues of The Green Hornet, and six issues of Zorro.  Next month I'm also looking forward to spending some time reading some issues from Dynamites' Turok: Dinosaur Hunter, The Shadow, and Warlord of Mars series.  While perusing ComicsFix, I also read a few issues from a publisher named Arcana whose titles I don't read that often and probably would normally not have picked out if they hadn't  caught my eye while browsing and were included in the unlimited reading package.  The Steam Engines of Oz is a steampunk interpretation of adventures in the world of the Wizard of Oz and was quite an impressive read.  I also enjoyed a title called Dead Men Tell No Tales which story is somewhat a merger of two of my favorite pirate shows, History Channel's Curse  of Oak Island and Starz's Black Sails with a little bit of inspiration from Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean added into the mix.

When you click on the image of a title you are interested in reading an overview screen appears.  It provides an option to add the title to a reading list so you can come back to it later, the amount of pages for the issue, the year it was originally published, and its content rating so you know if the material is age appropriate for the reader. The screen also provides an option for readers to rate the comic book's story, artwork, and overall appeal.  A synopsis of the comic book and some preview screen shots of its artwork are also included as well as credits for its script and art.

ComicsFix allows you to search for comic books by title or publisher.  You can also scroll through recommendations that ComicsFix lists on its homepage under categories such as Book of the Day, New Arrivals, Science Fiction, and For Young Readers.  Some other categories include For The Little Ones, Manga, The Super Hero's Journey, The Worlds of Fantasy and Tickle Your Funny Bone.  This feature on the home screen makes it really easy and enjoyable to browse through ComicsFix selections.  I like how the issue covers pop out at you like walking through the shelves at a comic book store.  Tag featuring a little circle with a play button on it highlight that those titles have the automated reading option that allow for hands-free viewing of a comic book.

With Marvel and DC controlling more than 65% of the comic book industry's market share, ComicsFix is a nice way for everyone all the other publishers to gain exposure and readership and an affordable option for the average consumer who enjoys reading comic books but doesn't have an unlimited budget to purchase them.  I enjoyed the ComicsFix experience so it gets A Geek Daddy nod of approval.

I would note that this is a new service and most of the comic books featured only have the first five to twelves issue of their run available and don't have extensive collections available just yet.  Also you shouldn't expect brand new material to be available through this service as publisher's put a premium price on first run comic books and ComicsFix should be viewed more as a source for back issues. I'm assuming and hoping that as the service gains subscribers and has been in business for a longer period of time that the publishers will extend and expand upon the offerings. Hopefully a few other members of the comics industry top ten publishers who are trying to gain ground on Marvel and DC like Boom! and IDW will start participating in ComicsFix too in an effort to build their fan bases.  Just like Dynamite there are a bunch of comics from those two publishers that I've wanted to read in the past but haven't because of the family budget.  Adding them would really add to appeal of this service.

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DISCLAIMER:  I received complimentary access to ComicsFix for this review.  The opinions are my own and I did not receive any financial compensation for this post.

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