Well, the archive certainly looks good. These aren’t photographs of faded old pages or unwieldy images that spill off the screen; Marvel has converted the glorious old artwork of Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Jim Steranko and Neal Adams into bright, burnished panels. To check out this e-resurrection, I went straight to an old favorite, issue No. 33 of “The Amazing Spider-Man” from February 1966, which has a classic Ditko cover of the despairing hero being crushed beneath machinery. The art now seems to glow from within, which is precisely what’s happening on a computer monitor. The website is easy to search and use and there’s a deftly designed zoom-in function and “smart reader” feature, too, so a reader gets a smooth progression from panel to panel that lets you follow a story in a natural flow.
Colleen Doran has also signed up for the site, despite her reservations about royalties:
Anyway, so I signed up for this Marvel online comics thing, even though Marvel announced they would only pay royalties when the site became profitable. Is this ethically dubious of me? Should I have waited? Royalties first, then sign up? Chicken before egg? Just chicken?
All I know is the prospect of getting to have access to lots of comics I could use for reference for only about $5 a month without having to run a 3 hour round trip into the city to get a comic every time I had to look up some joker’s costume was too much to resist. I paid about $40 tracking down reference on the last Marvel job, and for a few bucks more, I could reference EVERY job…but…would it be right?
Curse this comics temptation greater than the pull of bumping uglies, sweeter than wine…
Much more at the link, including some difficulties she had with the registration process. Overall, she says, “Everything looks good, if they can just get it running smoothly.”
What I found interesting was that Doran said she’ll be using the site as a reference. I guess I found it surprising (and maybe I’m being naive here) that Marvel doesn’t have some sort of system in place already where freelancers working on a particular character have access to images of said character. That way Marvel could ensure the character was being drawn in the right costume, and the freelancer wouldn’t have to hunt for back issues. At the very least, it seems like the DCU could be a way to do that.