On Comics: Superman, Shrunken

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By Matthew Shaer

Can’t be bothered to actually flip the pages of your favorite comic book? Worry not: you’ll soon be able to digitally geek out through the magic of the mobile. Reuters is reporting that several cell carriers in Japan are beefing up their “content-delivery” systems – i.e. all the shit that’s not logging a regular old phone call or an SMS – with an eye towards widening a market that reaches an estimated 85 percent of Japan’s population.

“Comics led the size of the mobile publication market to double in the last business year to 22 billion yen ($204 million),” Reuters notes. That’s a number almost “three times bigger than the e-publication market for PCs.”

Caveat: we’re talking about Japan, a nation infinitely more plugged in then our own. So will we see comics on our own beat-up cell pieces any time soon?

It’s very likely. For one, web comics are already a hot commodity here. And Marvel’s Digital Comics – an pay-for-play goody bag of old and new strips – has proved to be a hit among deskbound fanboys.

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Marvel's digital comics

What’s lacking in the hardware: our smartphones are a couple generations back from the top of the line in Tokyo. But as the Reuters piece points out, the launch of the new iPhone, with beefed up web access, will likely start to pave the way for more dynamic devices.

The question will be whether we prefer to hold a comic in our hands – paper cuts and ink-stains be damned – or if we’d rather watch a 2-inch pixilated Wolverine march across the 3-inch screen of our mobile phones.

More: Reading comics on the iPhone

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