a/k/a my Dinner With Bluto (the only other Crustacean who'll admit to reading them). So any you guys hip to digital-comic collections? I had no idea such things existed until mid-December of last year. I'll keep this condensed: About 2-3 weeks before Christmas last year, I lucked into buying a very high-quality, near-complete run (the first 32 years, up to around 2009) of HEAVY METAL for a pittance. I don’t believe in “collectibles”, and I’d never buy any book or record or poster or whathaveyou for any other reason than to enjoy it, but the guy I bought this from bagged and boarded everything and threw in at the last minute, a small stack of DVD-r’s., which was awfully white of him and which, in a short accompanying note, he explained was a digital collection of not just all the magazines I’d just purchased from him, but further issues to 2014, plus all special issues/annuals, one-off special projects, graphic novels, and complete runs of HM's main competitors during the past 40 years (which would be EPIC ILLUSTRATED, France's METAL HURLANT and even the short-lived FRANK FRAZETTA FANTASY ILLUSTRATED), so that I can read any issue at any time without ever needing to worry about damaging or devaluing the actual physical copies of the magazines. I’d seen the first now-primitive attempts at digital comics 15 and 20 years ago and was highly unimpressed, thinking ‘here’s an idea that’s good in concept but incredibly disappointing in execution’....so I was fucking astounded when I popped in one of his dvds at how awesome digital comics had gotten while my back was turned!! It wasn’t just the image quality but the speed, functions, flexibility - I couldn’t believe how good they looked. And just as important, read. So anyhow, what had me further flabbergasting was that I recalled that both MAD Magazine and the NATIONAL LAMPOON had both tried marketing something like this in the late 90s, only to pull both products after what I assume were constant bugs and fuckups and consumer resistance to paying $100+ for problematic products nobody seemed to like very much. And I thought, well I guess they fixed those issues then, but what had me curious was how something like a digital HEAVY METAL could ever be attempted - it was essentially a 40-year-long miasma of countless copyright holders, I was amazed they weren’t bled to death by lawyers long before they could get a product to market. I assumed this, because clearly he’d sent me dvd-r copies he burned himself, and I wondered what a legit copy of this dvd set cost. Only I couldn’t seem to find one, because there wasn’t any, because of everything I just said up there re copyrights. So how….where….who…? Best believe I Googo’d dat shit, and what I learned is there’s this apparently quasi-legal underground gray-market in digital comic collections, put together by what seems to be a loose collective of a few hundred scanners trading/assembling massive collections. From what I can tell, this is a kind of caravan moving from site to site as hosts get spooked by too many red flags on content-ownership issues (EBay used to allow them on, but no more) . In fact, the only place I found that does allow these digital pirates safe harbor is a semi-scummy online flea market called iOffer….and all I can say is once I got over that perfectly-natural wariness of being gypped with a few small test-orders, about $250 later I’d assembled a staggering collection of over 10,000 comics, magazines and trade paper/hardcover books of strips. In case you’re not a math-minded, that’s about 2.5 cents per title! It’s fucking insane! For what a few overpriced bullshit superhero comics would cost you as crumbly back issues, you can wallow in untold thousands of hours of reading and some of the best comics ever made. Best of all is the fact that you’re expected to haggle these guys down from their already-insanely-cheap pricing. Every Buy button has a second “Or Make Me An Offer” button. I usually knock off another 10-20% that way nearly every time. How long this can continue….who knows? Maybe forever; maybe they get shut down, hard, by next Tuesday (most comic book companies are now subsidiaries of giant media conglomerates, so you never know.) The only thing I can say for sure is that now that I know about this......oh how I wish I hadn’t’ve dropped the coin on all those actual issues of HEAVY METAL. (And rememner, I paid a pittance for 'em!) I would strongly advise all int’d parties to check out iOffer (select the COLLECTABLES drop-down menu, and type in ‘comics dvd’, for instance….click on the various vendors to view their full bill of fare, etc. You're clever kids - you'll figure it out). For my part I bought a slew of complete runs of not just single titles (2000 AD - 1900 issues, 9 discs, $27; POLICE COMICS/PLASTIC MAN; GROO THE WANDERER; CASTLE OF FRANKENSTEIN magazine, all $10; DARK HORSE PRESENTS, $5) but the entire comics output of not merely individual talents (every comic Alan Moore ever wrote, 2 dvds, $14) but of entire companies (EC Comics, including the first 500 issues of MAD, 4 discs, $18; Matt Groening’s Bongo Comics [3 dvds] and DC’s adult-imprint Vertigo [13 dvds], both current up until late ‘14 - $16 and $50, respectively; a not-exhaustive-but-pretty-packed 5-disc set of Fantagraphics comics and books, $25; DC’s entire newsstand output 1970-1974 - their best-ever half-decade when they had every great artist in the field working for them, 9 dvds, $40) and even a few uncategorizable oddities ( a 3-disc shitload of about 600 underground comics, which is surprisingly around 70% great, $20; a treasure-trove of approx. 3000 old daily and Sunday-newspaper tearsheets of old comic strips ca 1924-32, $10; and a Warren Publishing odds-and-sods catchall collecting impossibly-rare time pieces like HELP! magazine and Forry Ackerman’s SPACEMEN alongside many others, as well as full runs of BLAZING COMBAT, THE ROOK, Eisner’s THE SPIRIT - probably the best of all the Spirit reprint projects, also $10) There’s even a guy who’ll email you an Excel file of 125,000 scanned titles for you to custom-assemble your own dvds from. You don’t have to tell me I went a little nuts up there; as far as I was concerned, once I saw these collections were legit - at those prices - I couldn’t not go nuts. Look, like I said - for the price of maybe half-a-dozen yellowing, crumbling back issues in the bloodsucking secondary market, I’ve got a library at my fingertips that, previously to last December, I could never even idly daydream about owning. Now I’m waiting for digital old magazines….a nice complete set of WEIRD TALES or DIME DETECTIVE or - even more intriguing - THE SATURDAY EVENING POST, ESQUIRE from the 30s and 40s, and PLAYBOY from the 50s, for a mere 10 or 20 or 30 dollars? Let me at em….. ! Anyway the preceding has been a public service message. It’s too good a deal to keep under my hat for myself, and who knows how long before the caravan moves on again, possibly off the grid for good…? PS: most of the iOffer guys offer some kind of HEAVY METAL set for $20-30, depending on how many extras are thrown in.