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Mark Millar on Digital Comics Skepticism: "I Was Wrong"

The "Kick-Ass" co-creator explains why he's finally embracing digital comics with his new Image Comics series "Starlight."

Starlight Cover Art - P 2014
John Cassaday/Image Comics

Noted digital comics skeptic Mark Millar has seen the light -- or at least the potential sales -- and reversed his longstanding demand that digital release of his comics is delayed until three months after print release ahead of this week’s launch of his new Starlight series.

Calling himself “the chief of the Chicken Littles” in regard to his previous attitude toward digital comics, Millar explained in a piece for Comic Book Resources that he was worried that simultaneous release of digital and print editions of comic books would hurt print sales.

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“Those digital readers had to come from somewhere,” he wrote, “and my fear was a very simple combination of micro- and macro-economics where I suspected even a modest ten percent switchover from print to digital would mean all those comic stores hanging on by their fingernails (and in Nov. 2011 that felt like rather a lot of them) would be dealt the same death blow as so many record stores, suddenly switching from a small profit and into a loss.”

Instead -- and to the surprise of more than just Millar, it should be noted -- print sales for comic books have remained steady (indeed, they’ve crept upwards) following most publishers launching simultaneous digital editions.

“I can't pretend to figure out the logic,” Millar admitted, “but from speaking to retailers, speaking to other pros, speaking to readers, speaking to distributors, talking online and every other piece of investigating I've done since I sounded that death knell two and a half years ago, the resounding overall conclusion is that digital has been inarguably good for comics as a whole.”

The upshot is that Millar’s Starlight, from Image Comics, will be the writer’s first project to enjoy a simultaneous day-and-date digital release with the print edition this Wednesday. “I like the fact that comic stores are making more money,” Millar wrote. “I like the fact that people who don't have access to our books can now suddenly read them.”