Digital comics are far from completely replacing paper hard copies of comics. However, their accessibility on tablets and even phones can only be good for the comics industry. The brick-and-mortar comic shop is not going away any time soon, for the simple reason that collectors can't thumb through a digital collection with the same feelings of satisfaction the way they can through a long box.
Digital can only help the comics industry because now folks not normally inclined to read a comic book might just download an IRON MAN or BATMAN comic after the movies to check it out. If one out of every five folks that sample a comic digitally decide to step foot into a comic shop, it's a win for us retailers.
In his comments at WonderCon about his decision underscored this, and his desire to grow digital comics in the right way to help the overall comics industry grow. (Read about the Waid panel here: http://herocomplex.latimes.com/2012/03/16/wondercon-2012-mark-waid-buys-into-digital-sells-off-his-comics/#/0 )
Waid was pretty clear that his decision to sell off his collection was not a blanket dismissal of the print medium. If that were true, would he continue to write DAREDEVIL, ROCKETEER, and his own print books IRREDEEMABLE and INCORRUPTIBLE? Doubtful. Waid is simply adapting to a new storytelling method, just as folks in Hollywood had to do when television emerged as a popular new method of telling stories.
That firestorm I mentioned at the top? Mostly because of one shop in Florida. Many have expressed their displeasure with Waid, but a shop in Florida went so far as to ban Waid's books, including the latest iteration of DAREDEVIL, which has quickly rocketed to the A-list of Marvel's monthlies.
The owner of Coliseum in Florida wrote in reaction to Waid's announcement:
So here’s my deal. I haven’t promoted anything by Mark in some time due to his vociferousness against print comics. Now I will actively be letting customers know that his work isn’t welcome in my stores. Movie stars, rock stars, and comic creators only have a soapbox because of their successes. I won’t help contribute to any success that will be turned against me. And no, I see no difference between a creator owned Image book or a relaunch of a major character from Marvel or DC. I have 1000 other creators who I can support so even tanking a big character book won’t impact my bottom line significantly.
I don't buy that last line at all. Waid is a fantastic writer (pun intended), and has a long history of creating great stories for characters long-established at the big two as well as his own creations. Waid has enough fans that will take notice when a store decides to stop carrying the offerings of one writer, especially when he writes a best-selling Marvel book. Customers will start looking to other stores to keep getting their Waid-written books, and there's a reasonable chance that those subscribers will simply stop going to Coliseum entirely when it becomes inconvenient to go to more than one shop on a regular basis.
Where would you rather go - two shops because a few of your favorite books are not available at your regular shop, or a new shop willing to carry all the books you want no matter if they agree with a writer's politics?
Let me reiterate that Waid never said that print was dead, or that he was only going to produce digital comics. Waid is simply going to try and figure out what the new way to tell these stories will be. He will be at the forefront of this new storytelling movement and not trying to catch up when it's too late.
The biggest thing about this story that I find so unfathomable is that a store owner would willingly cut off a supply line for his customers over a difference of opinion, particularly when that opinion was developed without quality research.
Every one of our loyal customers counts on us to get them every comic they want to read, and help them discover new stories and storytellers. Ours in not to alienate them by denying them the one thing they come to us to find: a few minutes of entertainment and escape from the craziness of the world.
Our customers don't care if one of us disagrees with a certain comics creator on which Science Fiction series is the best or if color books are better than black and white. It doesn't matter. We have one common goal: grow the industry. If you are willing to reduce your customer base solely on the basis of a petty disagreement, then you probably shouldn't be in sales.
We wish Waid all the best in his venture, and we will continue to support his continued print work. Also, just know that we at GAME ON! will never allow an uninformed decision to get in the way of what we strive to do better than anyone else: getting you your comics.