It struck me this week that one of my favorite bits of the Phonogram comics is the extra content at the back. I love the glossary of music referenced in the issue, the ramblings, the little view inside of the creators’ heads. I realized that several of my other favorite comics include this bit of backmatter–Local, any number of Warren Ellis books. The Vertigo Voices in the back of the Vertigo books are great fun.
It’s almost like the liner notes on a CD–one of the reasons I still buy CDs in solid format is the little booklet that comes along with it, with lyrics and pictures and other little treats. It’s a reason to still buy the solid artifact. The whole package. In a digital age, when there’s any amount of free media available on the Web, buying something you can hold in your hands has to have extra value. I get annoyed at CDs that come packaged in a simple cardboard folder and go buy the songs on iTunes instead–I don’t need the clutter if it’s not really worth having (I live in a studio apartment!).
The double features in the backs of comics are a great little bit of added value as well. I’m enjoying the resurrection of Manhunter in the back of Streets of Gotham, and the B-sides in Phonogram are fun as well. They can be experiments with shorter stories, or complete in themselves, or just choppier fragments of an ongoing tale, but they’re mostly just an added value to something you’re already buying.
As print becomes rarer, people are going to expect more and more for their money, and they’re going to expect something that won’t be the same in digital form. All these additions are a good start to experimenting with this idea.