Let’s Get Digital! – 2000AD via Clickwheel

A little while ago in Episode 91 of WFTT we reviewed Prog 1700 of 2000AD. Prog 1700 was a jumping on point for the venerable British weekly anthology, what that means is that all of the five stories within the issue were starting at #1 of a story arc. If I remember rightly they engineer this to happen every year and for the non-reader it means you’re not coming in part way through a story. My history with 2000AD goes back 30 yrs or so but I’ve not been an active reader in a while.

I enjoyed dipping my toe back in the 2000AD water but wasn’t enamoured with a couple of things. Firstly it’s a floppy comic, I just don’t do floppies any more, they take up too much space and generally get in the way. And secondly, the price was a little steep at £2.25/$3.50 a week. A possible answer presented itself and I thought I’d pursue it…

Step forward Clickwheel. One of the many digital comics providers Clickwheel has been 2000AD’s digital home for a few years and if press releases don’t lie then it’s owned by Rebellion (owners of 2000AD). The thing that sparked my interest is that Clickwheel offer a subscription service for digital 2000AD. Here’s how it stacks up against individual digital and paper subscriptions:

  • Individual Digital – £1.49
  • Individual Paper – £2.25
  • Subscription Digital – £5.74/month or £62.49/yr
  • Subscription Paper – £115/yr

So in terms of my financial considerations it’s a pretty compelling argument, a Clickwheel subscription brings the cost down to about £1.43 an issue (a 37% saving). How does the rest of the offer stack up…

Issues are made available about a week after they are in the shops or 10 days after paper subscribers get them, for someone used to WFTT it’s a very minor delay.

Unlike most of the offerings that are making waves Clickwheel isn’t an iPhone-centric offering, but yes there’s a Clickwheel iPhone app (which I couldn’t get to download). Clickwheel’s bread and butter are high quality downloads of comics in PDF and CBZ formats. Yes, unlike for example Comixology or Marvel DCU you own the copy and can do with it what you wish, within reason…no false panic about piracy, no clunky DRM, no need to be constantly interwebbed up…just open the PDF or CBZ in any reader and off you go.

The files weigh in at about 20MB in both formats. The resolution of the PDF is about 900×1200 and the CBZ appears to be about the same. I read the issues on my PC and they’re perfectly legible with a full-page in view and being a PDF you’d be hard pressed to find a tablet or smartphone which won’t read them, I look forward to trying them on the iPad v2 that I’ll be buying next year!

As you’ll have guessed I’ve chosen to subscribe to 2000AD via the service and it’s pretty good but not perfect. A few observations as a subscriber of a whopping two months.

  • The PDFs themselves are pretty good quality but there’s a couple of oddities. Some pages which should have a black background have a grey one (specifically noticed this on Defoe pages), which just seems weird as others in the same story will be black, I can see no reason for it. The other is that sometimes you can still see the “frames” (don’t know correct DTP term) where the page elements are laid out, just a little distracting.
  • The website is clunky, both in terms of design and performance. Really could do with an update and some better hardware. At a guess they use Amazon’s cloud offering for storage (based on URLs) and sometimes it’s nigh on impossible to link through to the PDF and save it…on those occasions I’ve given up and come back another night.
  • There’s no notification when a new Prog is released. You do get notified when your subscription renews but nothing to say there’s a book waiting to be downloaded, would be a nice feature.
  • Due to format there’s no panel-by-panel view, I don’t see this as great loss but if you’re used to it and using a smartphone you might miss it.

Overall I’m satisfied with what I get for my money and would recommend it to people who want the thrills of 2000AD without the hassles and cost of floppies!

Rating:

N.B. As I finish writing this I’ve got some weird billing/account problem with Clickwheel and the current Prog isn’t appearing as pre-paid through my subscription. Hopefully soon I can report back as to how well Clickwheel manage support queries!

Reviewer: Dave Williams

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