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I read about a little girl finding her first Teen Titans comic in a shop a few days ago, and her excitement at holding that comic in her hands. Owning it. And it was a genuinely touching story – the next generation meets paper, print, and the characters they love from the TV. The story went on to talk about digital, and it being no substitute for the real thing. You can’t own the object in the digital world; You can’t treasure it – so the argument went. The response – and there’s always a response these days – was almost unanimously pro-print, though the author conceded room for both.

I spent the last couple of days mulling this over, because this is a mental barrier we are up against – a false meme. And I don’t believe it. It’s not what I’m seeing in practice.

The first point is that the girl found a comic of her favourite TV characters. She didn’t know, most likely, that they were characters in a comic first. She came into contact with the Teen Titans through another medium, and that led her to comics. I’ve said, repeatedly, that many of the people finding digital comics on apps or online are a new audience, and that this could lead them to print. It’s possible that a young girl could discover Teen Titans in a digital comic format first, and that could lead her to discovering print. Comics are not ubiquitous in the way they once were, and the internet is the new corner shop, the spinning rack of old, where I first discovered comics. I was 19 before I stepped into a comic shop in London – I had no idea they existed! I could have so easily missed them all together. Digital helps make sure another generation doesn’t miss them.

My second point is that kids don’t need to own physical things the way we did. My youngest son has a world he’s created in Minecraft. He logs in, and goes to a virtual space which he has full ownership of. Young people feel they collectively own the internet, and everything they put on there or build in their virtual spaces. Similarly, my music collection is vastly more progressed and varied since the advent of iTunes. I know more about music, I have broader tastes, and I am prepared to take more of a chance with a new artist. I also don’t have boxes of vinyl cluttering up a house already too small for five of us, and destined to keep growing, along with my comics and books collection. I long ago had to stop buying books and comics, and indeed had to cull them – which was pretty heartbreaking! But I now have a solution to that. And if I really want the print book – and sometimes I do, because I will ALWAYS and FOREVER love print – then I can splash out, buy it, and that makes it extra special.

We must remember – the means of transmission does not the story make! We loved the films we saw at the cinema long before we could own them on tape then DVD!

Finally – comics were a by-product of newspapers. They are themselves a young medium. They are words and they are pictures, but most importantly, they are stories. And great stories can be told in ANY medium.

These are exciting times. We should embrace them, and be open to them. Everything needs to change and evolve. It’s part of what makes life so very exciting!

– Liam Sharp

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:iconmeylek:
Meylek Featured By Owner Apr 3, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
     "Finally – comics were a by-product of newspapers. They are themselves a young medium. They are words and they are pictures, but most importantly, they are stories. And great stories can be told in ANY medium." Words that speak to my heart.

     Comics have always been a personal favorite. I still need to go to a comic store; and I believe I saw one downtown if I remember correctly.
Reply
:icontonydennison:
TonyDennison Featured By Owner Feb 15, 2014
Whenever I hear people talk about the tactile nature of print and how digital will never replace the unique charm and qualities of physical products, I see it as a mild self-deception.

Digital incarnations of books do not exist at the expense of print editions. The argument that digital will never replace print suggests an implicit threat and this is a false dynamic because we live in a Print-On-Demand world of books readily available in any format in which we care to consume them.

Of course, Print-On-Demand technology does not satisfy the debate for the traditional comics consumer. Because in truth, it is not the availability (or lack thereof) of printed editions of comics that's really what's at issue.; but the manufactured scarcity that comics with finite print runs delivers.

A large part of comics culture is the collectors market and the speculation over rare comics. There are many collectors who garner as much pleasure, if not more, from having a rare comic as much as many consumers draw from the pure enjoyment of a good story drawn well.

I admit having felt the pleasure of finding that rare book to fill out my own collection or purchasing a bargain bin comic only to later find that it was worth much more than the twenty five cents I paid for it.

All of these pursuit and idiosyncrasies are fine things, in and of themselves, but they are rooted in speculation and the pursuit of comics as artifacts.

Neither of those interests serves the growth and development of comics as a medium. The iPad is the new retailer and comics will be purchased for pennies on the dollar. Print editions of collections will be available through Print-On-Demand services with licensing agreements with creators.

Collectors will still speculate and commodify comic book material in a secondary industry, only it will be based on different criteria. Since most books will remain perpetually and indefinitely available in print-, Print-On-Demand services may begin an individual numbering system where each individual printed copy has a unique number (ex: issue no. 1 print: 0000001).

Whatever the case, there will be new paradigms and the whole Print versus Digital debate is just misplaced nostalgia at best.

 The future is a beautiful thing.
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:iconliamsharp:
LiamSharp Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2014  Professional Artist
Absolutely wonderfully and succinctly put! Thank you for this. :-)
Reply
:iconcirprius:
Cirprius Featured By Owner Feb 5, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Fantastic article! I never really thought of it like that, but it's very true. I like your viewpoint!
Reply
:iconferenzaanet:
FerenzaaNet Featured By Owner Feb 5, 2014   General Artist

There is room for both digital and print, one way or another this will probably always be the case. Ultimately, it has to be about the story. Do you want to read it or not?


I’ve been involved in printing and publishing since 1982, and in today’s world the costs of physical paper and four-color (or more) impression make profits slim for a serial book. A hardcover collected edition or Catalogue Raisonne is another story, more like an objet d’art, with the high price and rarity to be expected. Then there is the storage, shipping and handling, possibilities of lost inventory due to moisture intrusion, rodents, mishandling during shipping, and heaven forbid, fire. Plus, there is the issue of production deadlines, distribution delays, etc.


On the other hand, digital publishing can be distributed instantaneously which can also mitigate delays in production. Digital publishing occupies no physical space other than the viewable gadget. Digital books can be read upside-down or in the dark. Those gadgets can “hold” 2000- plus books, until the memory is full or the internal batteries die. The Cloud will not last forever and someday all our ComiXology accounts- with lists of purchases- may be gone. 


In my world I have two examples (besides Madefire which is a third category all its own):


PRINT- 

DC’s “Major Bummer” by John Arcudi and Doug Mankhe ran for 15 issues in the late 1990s and as far as I know still is not available in legitimate digital form. Dark Horse did a collection in 2011 in print. I found the issues one by one on Amazon or ebay. Now they are bagged and boarded but I do read them as well.


DIGITAL-

“Lanfeust de Troy” and the successor books “Lanfeust Odyssey” and “Lanfeust des Etoiles”  by Arleston and Tarquin, along with the whole range of other books covering the Lanfeustiverse, published by Soleil. This French-language series is expensive either digitally or in print, and each issue is 50 pages or so. You have to consider that the shipping for print versions from Europe can cost more than the purchase price, and the selection on Amazon is limited, and still expensive. If I really want to read this work, it has to be digital, for now.


Really the question is, how badly do you want to read the work?

Reply
:icondstinct:
Dstinct Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2014  Professional Artist
Issue comics going digital is the natural progression. Save for the augmented stuff like Madefire makes, individual issues will be read and disposed of like television episodes. If you really like the material, you can buy a physical collected edition, like the blu-ray copy of the seasons as they are released. You can get those signed. When I look at my bookshelf of issues, I've found I don't reread a lot of them. They just sit there taking up space. I'm much more likely to grab a TPB or GN out of their bookcase instead.

I've cut back on my physical comic purchases because it's getting to expensive, but moreso I'm running out of room. I'm also transitioning from comics to the CG industries, which means I'll be moving around a lot (although I'll still work on the odd project that interests me). The issues I want to keep I'll bring with me, but most other ones I'll have to get rid of because I can't take them with me.
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:iconmiguelzuppo:
miguelzuppo Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2014  Professional
great text.
Reply
:iconliamsharp:
LiamSharp Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2014  Professional Artist
Thanks. :-)
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:iconmiamight:
MiaMight Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I only started reading comics beginning last year and I'm, like, nearly 21 now. How did I get into it? When the dawn of really awesome superhero films starting to debut and I wanted to know more about there origins. My first comic I bought was purely for the artwork (ame-comi) and was digital. Since then, though, I somehow found the only comic store in my region and begun building my collection.

Soooo...ya. I agree with Liam is what I want to say. Basically.
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:iconmiamight:
MiaMight Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
*GASP* I used "there" wrong. I just grammar-nazied myself. 
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:iconliamsharp:
LiamSharp Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2014  Professional Artist
Ha! :-)

Thanks! Appreciated the feedback!
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:iconmemenda-seven:
Memenda-Seven Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I agree with a lot that you've mentioned here. Digital comics are good towards an extent that it can feed a generation. I tend to read comic as print but over time I began reading comics digitally. There is a joy of purchasing a comic and having it in your hands. :)  
Reply
:iconliamsharp:
LiamSharp Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2014  Professional Artist
Absolutely - I LOVE print! But it's good to have a decent digital library too. :-)
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:iconmemenda-seven:
Memenda-Seven Featured By Owner Feb 5, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
:)
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:iconicenectar:
icenectar Featured By Owner Feb 3, 2014   General Artist

I only tend to go digital when there are volumes that I can't purchase (I read manga) or were never translated in my language. Digital is great but please keep in mind that there could be times when one is out somewhere with no access to electricity. I do have a lot of comic books (mostly Archie. Yes, I'm a girl but I think I have the Marvel Return of the Jedi series) and I have a lot of anthologies (mostly of Peanuts, but I do have other strips like King Aroo, Hagar the Horrible, Beetle Baily, The Far Side, Fox Trot, etc.). Then there's my foreign collection which are translated versions of Tintin and Asterix. Oh yeah, I do have a Spider-Man omnibus. I want the X-Men one too but it's a little pricey.

 

Um, I know there was a point I was going to make. Oh! I think this goes back to the watercolor feature (you know this one: techgnotic.deviantart.com/jour…). In one of the interviews, :icondark134: said: "Although Digital Art may rule the world but I don't think digital art could show the artist's emotion better than traditional art. Traditional art always touches viewers's hearts and the artists themselves. So I think Traditional art never could/ should be replaced."

 

I think that's the core and I don't think digital should ever replace traditional means. I think traditional captures something in human nature that digital just can't get. At least that's my two cents (or whatever it's worth nowadays with inflation and all).

 

I know  I would certainly love to see my stories in print but I'm glad that people can read them online. If I had kept them in my notebooks, no one would have read them. Now I sorta have a following (although I don't know why but I appreciate it even though people don't really review as much as I'd like). The same with my artwork (and I use that term loosely). My pictures may not be the best and certainly nothing on par with your work but at least others can see it that I would never conceivably reach any other way. Digital in may ways is a way of getting one's feet wet but it shouldn't replace traditional means. Again, if you're stuck in a storm or some other natural disaster (or even camping) and you have no access to power, at least you can read printed material.

Reply
:iconliamsharp:
LiamSharp Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2014  Professional Artist
Absolutely! I'm with you all the way. The truth is there's room for both! :-)
Reply
:iconicenectar:
icenectar Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2014   General Artist
^^ After I posted it, I felt bad about the length. I mean, I know how busy you are with all your projects and stuff...
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:iconliamsharp:
LiamSharp Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2014  Professional Artist
Never feel bad! I love hearing from people! :-) I feel bad that I haven't always got the time to respond as fully as I would like. But always feel free to be honest, open, and say what you think and feel on my page! It matters! :-)
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:iconicenectar:
icenectar Featured By Owner Feb 11, 2014   General Artist

^^ It's nice that someone seems to appreciate what I have to say. A lot of the time it seems like I'm just talking in the wind so I tend not to say anything.

Also, I know you are super busy with so many projects and you've got a lot of followers/fans. Of course, you have a reason for that. You're extremely gifted plus you love what you do.

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:icon12jack12:
12jack12 Featured By Owner Feb 3, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist

Next CON I see you at Liam, I will get you to sign the cover of my Gears of War #1 digital issue.  Oh snap! I can't do that because I don't own it and you can't effect the digital copy in any way. :no:


And in my Apocalyptic Future world! :nod:


When the big solar flare hits and the world is covered in and EMP blanket, I will still be able to read my paper comics and drive my 1965 Ford :nod:

The rest of you who depend on and IPad or Android Tablet will have a nice paper weight and no comics to read, but you will be able to sit in your new computer controlled

car, just not make it move.



 

Reply
:iconliamsharp:
LiamSharp Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2014  Professional Artist
We've written our stories in every medium - in stone, clay, wood, paper, film, and now we can write them for the digital space too. I truly believe every medium has its merits. We don't just lose computers in your solar-flare storm BTW! We lose film, TV... many means of transport.

I love print. I'm in my mid 40s. I learned to paint, and ink, and everything traditionally. But do I ignore change, and evolving mediums, or try and be a pioneer?

I started Madefire because I was struggling to get work. My print company wasn't working - I was losing money. And I saw a glint of light... a chance to try something new that utilized my skills as a writer and artist. And that was digital. It's given me a new career, and a chance to give many artists and writers a new way to present their work. And I LOVE what we've done too. Captain Stone is the kind of work they don't print any more.

And even if you don't have a tablet, or an iPhone, or android - we're talking right here in the digital space. And you can read it right here, in the same space. For free.

That's got to be worth all the effort, the risk, the chance? That's got to be worth doing? After all, if WE don't, some other young upstart will! :-)
Reply
:icon12jack12:
12jack12 Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist

You know I'm the guy who will poke you just to get a rise :nod:

For the past 30 years I've been selling and repairing PC's, notebooks and printers.  I love everything digital. :squee:

I have, well I don't really know, how many comics in one digital form or another.  I also have those same books in paper. (My wife will tell you I have a hording problem)

I fully understand that things have to change, hell my first PC had a 10 meg hard drive in it, my current one has 16 gigs of ram and 2tb hard drive.

So please don't take my poking the wrong way and I hope you have a big future with Madefire. :thumbsup:


or by the way, I don't have a 65' Ford, wish I did :nod:




Reply
:iconliamsharp:
LiamSharp Featured By Owner Feb 5, 2014  Professional Artist
Ha ha ha! OK. You got me! Look at me - all defensive! I guess I'm always having to question things - there's STILL a lot of digi-hate out there... ;-)

Thanks man. Appreciated!

L.
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:iconbey-fenn:
Bey-Fenn Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
If I drop my paper copy of Xmen in toilet, It cost me $3.50 to replace. I drop my Phone with my digital copy in the toilet...$600 to replace...As long as there is reading on the  throne, there will always be a place for print. 

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:iconliamsharp:
LiamSharp Featured By Owner Feb 5, 2014  Professional Artist
Man, I'd better stop reading Madefire on the can... :D Far too risky!!!
Reply
:iconoperaghost96:
operaghost96 Featured By Owner Feb 3, 2014  Student
As much as I love the Cap Stone series, I'll always be a bit old-fashioned when it comes to comics. I even prefer hand-drawn over digital, simply because I like the old-school feel that goes with it. The dark, almost sketchy look of Danny Ketch's Ghost Rider in 1990 and 1991 I feel compliments the story better than the 2009 miniseries Ghost Rider: Danny Ketch, when it would look a lot grittier to match the story if it was done by hand. So, while I feel digital comics have their merits, and they do, it's just a matter of personal opinion for me.
Reply
:iconliamsharp:
LiamSharp Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2014  Professional Artist
Glad you loved Cap!

And I love print too, but I think we're at the start of something, and that there is room for both. :-)
Reply
:iconoperaghost96:
operaghost96 Featured By Owner Feb 5, 2014  Student
No problem! The only reason I didn't read it earlier was because I didn't know it was free. The other digital comics I tried to read (Treatment, Star Trek) I only got to read a few pages of because you had to pay for them. That's about the only thing I don't like about digital comics: paying online. I'm only a teenager, so I don't have a Pay Pal account or anything like that. So, obviously, normal comics are easier to get.
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:iconliamsharp:
LiamSharp Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2014  Professional Artist
Understood! :-) Hope you enjoyed it!
Reply
:iconsteelpengu:
Steelpengu Featured By Owner Feb 3, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
Whoa, whoa whoa, hold up. Bill Sienkiewicz illustrated a Sherlock Holmes comic? 
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:iconliamsharp:
LiamSharp Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2014  Professional Artist
You can read it right here on dA - www.deviantart.com/art/Sherloc… :-)
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:iconsteelpengu:
Steelpengu Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
You can bet I will. 
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:iconliamsharp:
LiamSharp Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2014  Professional Artist
:-)
Reply
:iconghost-notes:
Ghost-Notes Featured By Owner Feb 3, 2014
Liam did the pencils. Bill inked them. Either way, it's pretty amazing.
Reply
:iconsteelpengu:
Steelpengu Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
That's a wild combination of subject matter and artists. 
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:iconliamsharp:
LiamSharp Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2014  Professional Artist
Cheers mate! :-)
Reply
:iconshadewolfe:
Shadewolfe Featured By Owner Feb 3, 2014  Hobbyist Artist
I will forever be a paper first kind of guy.  But there is the reality of the digital age and it's impact.  Digital stores better and can contain the same content.
Reply
:iconliamsharp:
LiamSharp Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2014  Professional Artist
It's our generation! We love the paper! :-)

But we should still embrace change, and it's an exciting time to be trying new things and evolving a new medium!
Reply
:iconskullboy94301:
Skullboy94301 Featured By Owner Feb 3, 2014
I first discovered comics by simply browsing through a local store and happening upon them by complete accident. The first physical comic i owned was based on the first X-Men film! I gradually/tentatively started buying them whenever the title's or the story interested me. Unfortunately they became quite a bit expensive so I had to drop my new found joy for some time. I kept the comics I had though!! Now when I first heard of digital comics I was ecstatic! It was a way for me to buy comics and carry them with me wherever I wanted to. Currently I'm catching up with all the stories and characters that I've missed out on since leaving comics and digital has made it a bit easier for me. I know there's gonna be resistance to this and I do say I enjoy having a physical copy a tad more than the digital version, but now Marvel has Infinite comics and it's amazing animation and style and they've also incorporated AR into the physical copies. So I guess I'm kind of walking hand-in-hand with both of them.
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:iconliamsharp:
LiamSharp Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2014  Professional Artist
That's great to hear! :-)

And have you checked out all the digital comics here on dA?

www.deviantart.com/motionbooks…

A lot are free - Captain Stone is Missing..., MONO, Treatment, The Engine, The Irons...
Reply
:iconodd-tech-0support0:
Odd-Tech-0support0 Featured By Owner Feb 3, 2014  Hobbyist Photographer
you like comic, maybe you'll like some manga too. try Area-D, Magister negi, UQ Holder, tower of god manhwa, shokugeki no shoma, terra formars, elfen lied, onepunchman, akira, sora no otoshimono, akame ga kiru!, cloud manga, vinland saga, evergreen. all of them can be found on www.mangapark.com.
and, yes i do have some printed collector edition comic, marvel and DC. mainly. but i think im going to sell them on kijiji at one point.
Reply
:iconliamsharp:
LiamSharp Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2014  Professional Artist
Cheers for the link!

And try these on dA too! www.deviantart.com/motionbooks… - A lot are free - Captain Stone is Missing..., MONO, Treatment, The Engine, The Irons... :-)
Reply
:iconodd-tech-0support0:
Odd-Tech-0support0 Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2014  Hobbyist Photographer
^^
Reply
:iconcaptblitzdawg:
captblitzdawg Featured By Owner Feb 3, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I think the only thing missing in the digital age is the feel of real ownership of something that is attached to a moment in time and has a finite availability. What I mean is this- I have a vast collection of public domain comics, and access to pretty much all the public domain comics I could want. But I can distribute them, share them via the internet or a flash drive- they are limitless. Because they are digital, they can be retouched, corrected, etc. If I do that to a print comic, I am likely damaging the comic. A comic of which only so many were printed, and depending on how old it is, there may be significantly fewer than when it first was printed. Plus, a print comic has a feel to the time it was printed- as I said, I can read a ton of golden age comics, but I found an old Four Color Comics from 1944 in a price range I could afford. I bought it because I felt it was special to have something from that era of American history in my hands. A digital version is just a modern copy when you come right down to it. Kids today may find it special to own that digital copy, depending on where they get it. I like Comixology, but it appears the comics you "purchase" have to be read through their site. You can't download what you bought and read it offline. Maybe I am old, and I prefer (when I can) to use my money on something tangible.
 Anyway- keep up the great work with the motion books! I showed them off tot he Cartooning Club a couple weeks ago and they were blown away! The possibilities of that format seem limitless right now!
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:iconliamsharp:
LiamSharp Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2014  Professional Artist
I agree, there's a collectability aspect we loose, but that's kind of unique to comics. Films never had that - until the advent of tape and DVD. Even so, the mediums change...

There's no right, or easy answer, but storytelling constantly evolves, and each generation finds a new way to make and consume stories. What we're doing is pioneering a new one! :-)
Reply
:iconartwolftk:
ArtWolfTK Featured By Owner Feb 3, 2014  Student General Artist
These comics are really cool and I love they way they look and are interactive! The difference for me is that I like having a solid copy to keep on my shelf and read with a cup of coffee haha! Also, I LOVE comic book stores and with everything going digital i'm worried they'll all disappear! 
Reply
:iconliamsharp:
LiamSharp Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2014  Professional Artist
Actually you'll be glad to know that digital has helped grow the industry, and sales are up in print! The way to see it is not as a replacement, but something else. TV didn't kill cinema. Cinema didn't kill theatre. :-)
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:iconartwolftk:
ArtWolfTK Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2014  Student General Artist
That's great to know! I don't want to see my favourite comic shop vansh any time soon. Either way, these motion comics are really interesting!
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:iconliamsharp:
LiamSharp Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2014  Professional Artist
:-) Me too! I HATE to lose print comics!
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:iconartwolftk:
ArtWolfTK Featured By Owner Feb 5, 2014  Student General Artist
Yeah, there's just something special about holding the comic in your hands when you read it and being able to go out to the shop and talk to other people with similar interests! :D
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