Ones And / Or Zeroes: Nook Comics, Part 1

EDITOR’S NOTE: The first draft of this was written on Christmas Day while my parents were at church. They came back before I could finish, so I put it aside hastily, because I would rather have them believing that I was viewing pornography than running a comics Web site. So please forgive the dated references.


Merry Christmas from deepest, darkest Florida! Being the holiday season, familial obligations have forced us to leave the Crisis In Infinite Midlives Home Office, with it’s convenient bars, restaurants, bars, liquor stores, bars, movie theaters, bars, comic store and bars. I am writing this from an area of Florida that, if you’re familiar with the adventures of Sonny Crockett and Ricardo Tubbs, well… they’re familiar with those adventures here too, because they also watched them on TV when they were younger and had less ear hair.

This is what they call a “snowbird community,” because to call it a “retirement community” brings uncomfortable connotations of Blade Runner, which their Generation X children forced them to watch repeatedly on grainy VHS tapes. Or at least my parents were forced, so we’ll stick with the snowbird thing. It’s a nice little town where you can get anything you need, provided it helps in maintaining regular bowel movements.

But one thing they don’t have is a comic store. If you ask a local where you can get a comic book, they think you’re asking for something by Andy Rooney, and then they remember that he’s dead, then they get quiet, and then they call you an ungrateful hippie.

So it seemed that my visit here would remain comicless, since I certainly didn’t pack any comics for my trip down here. Packing anything more subversive than an iPhone with a fart generator app is a non-starter when facing an interaction with a TSA “agent”, since the last comics-related story they’ve probably heard was that Superman renounced his American citizenship, and if they see a picture of Batman boning Catwoman, you will become intimately familiar with the second knuckle of the middle finger of a strange man making minimum wage. It’s a Christmas Miracle OH GOD WHY I’LL ADMIT ANYTHING YOU WANT I’M SORRY BATMAN IS A BIGGER PIMP THAN YOU YES THOSE ARE MAGNIFICENT DREADLOCKS FOR A FEDERAL AGENT NO NOT THE THIRD KNUCKLE

But I digress. I thought I was going to be comicless, but a couple of weeks ago, Barnes & Noble released an operating system update for their Nook Color e-reader that prominently touted the availability of digital comics, particularly Marvel Comics. So I thought I would give the new functionality a shot.

So I fired up my Nook Color and did a search for “comics”… and the first thing I got was “Little Comic for Little Readers”. Oooookay. Then, knowing that Marvel has an Android app for reading digital comics, I searched their app store. No dice. Just like the last time I tried to read comics on this thing, none of the obvious ways to read them seemed to be available.

So in the actual press release, I saw that Barnes & Noble had trademarked the phrase “Nook Comics”. Ah! Must have their own app, or just taken Marvel’s or’s or someones and rebranded it. So I search for “Nook Color” in the nook’s onboard store and… huh. XXXena: Warrior Pornstar is in the top three. There’s a good way for kids to convince their parents that they should be allowed to buy comics on the Nook!

Now, I write about comics, so I know that Marvel Comics has a deal with Barnes & Noble to make some of their trade collections available on the Nook. So I did a search for Marvel Comics and… fourteen total results. All of them old Captain Marvel comics – Shazam comics from the old Whiz comics days, for the uninitiated. Actually, wait – one of the top two results is one of those WikiFocus books about Marvel Comics that does nothing but copy and paste from some subject’s Wikipedia article and sell them to you for two clams.

So in short, unless you know exactly which Marvel Comics you want to buy from the Nook Store, some of the most prominent results you find are pornography and a ripoff publication I could whip together with three right-clicks, Calibre and a crippling hangover, if not while suffering a mild stroke. If you search for “Spider-Man,” you get some comics… but still, the first result? Peter David’s novelization of the first Spider-Man flick. So yeah, you can get comics on the Nook, but it’s not like they make it easy for you.

But being Christmas morning, I feel I deserve to treat myself with some comics, so I searched for Avengers and decided to buy New Avengers volume 1: Breakout. I was gonna try grabbing a single issue, just to give the comics a try on the cheap, but – surprise! – they’re not offering single issues for sale. So fuck it – I have all the original issues of New Avengers longboxed, but they’re not here, and I didn’t buy this Nook to read big blocks of text, I bought it because I happened to be hammered in a mall one day.

So once I knew what book to buy, it was very easy to find. I was able to get a free sample to try out with no issue whatsoever, and once I decided to buy the book, it was easy – as every purchase on the Nook Color has been since I bought it – to download. Just press purchase while the machine was connected to my folks’ Wi-Fi, and I had the book in about 60 seconds.

So how was it to read? Well… it was readable.

To be continued…