Valiant Head DRM-Free – But Not at ComiXology

Digital comics come in two forms – DRM-laden, and DRM-free. The latter is the better of the two options, as it means that when you buy the comic online, you get an actual copy of it stored on your inbox, for you to read at any time. DRM means you essentially rent the comic, so you can’t access it unless you log into the site you got it from. For years now, 2000AD have been one of the only companies who offered the option of DRM-free comics, with most other publishers reliant on ComiXology to put their books out.

But now Image have gone DRM-free, and ComiXology this last SDCC finally relented and announced that publishers like Monkeybrain and IDW would now be able to sell DRM-free comics to people via their store. And now! This week sees a further step towards all comics becoming DRM-free, as Valiant Comics have announced that they too will be making their comics DRM-free… only, not at ComiXology.


Instead, they’ll be putting out DRM-free comics over at DriveThruComics, a smaller digital seller who are more associated with RPGs than with comic book series. As Multiversity suggest, this looks like it may be a deliberate attempt to steer readers away from a digital monopoly – ensuring that ComiXology don’t come to single-handedly own digital publishing over the next few years. If ComiXology were to become the only option people used, they’d effectively control and shape the digital marketplace however they wanted – and when that happens, bad things tend to follow.

Image have been emphasising their own shopfront recently, and Dark Horse Comics have completely shunned ComiXology over the years. Marvel Unlimited has been getting a facelift (not as practical a one as fans have wanted, but the skeleton of a good site is there) and now Valiant have started offering DRM-free comics on a different site.

It certainly feels a bit like a line being drawn in the ground, and Valiant are also offering all their first issues for free right now. Now, I haven’t used DriveThruComics myself, but! Anything which breaks up a monopoly seems like a wise move, right now.

If this proves a successful move for Valiant? Comics will be better off for it.


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