"What is it in France they say? 'America contributed three things to culture: jazz, musical comedy and comic books.'" You can already buy two on iTunes. And if things pan out, you'll be get the third on the Apple tablet.
Over the last few weeks I've been talking to people within the comics industry to try to sniff out Apple's plans, including Neal Adams, developer of an upcoming motion Astonishing X-Men comic on iTunes, who also told me the French saying. Everyone in Adams' line of work is buzzing about the tablet and what it can do for their masterpieces.
It's an easy presumption for comic book fans. The Sun Times' Andy Inhatko is betting that LongBox, a digital distribution platform for comic books, will make an appearance on Apple's upcoming tablet. More than just an appearance, really:
I'm pretty sure that Apple is entering into a formal alliance with LongBox. When I asked [LongBox CEO Rantz] Hoseley about what kind of partnerships the company is forming, he spoke vaguely of what was taking up most of his time at the moment: a lengthy and complicated agreement with a seriously large company operating in the media space.
One problem: Several sources I spoke to over the last couple of weeks, including top-level executives at giants like Marvel and DC, have said they've not heard a whisper from Apple—despite a nearly desperate hope that Apple would come a-courtin'. One executive said to me, when I mentioned the possibility of putting his comic books on the Apple tablet, "If you've heard anything from Apple, please tell them I'm ready to do it."
That means that LongBox may be the only distribution option for comic books at the tablet's launch, through some sort of dedicated LongBox app. And if LongBox's distribution plan for the Apple tablet is just an app, why would they need to do any negotiations with Apple? Launch the LongBox app, sell the content, and go. No Apple nod necessary.
We know that Apple has been reaching out to select publishers. It was Andy Inhatko who passed on the rumor about "trucks loaded with books" earlier this year. It all fits with the moves we already know Apple is making in its outreach to magazine and newspaper publishers. For Apple, the tablet is about cleaning up; with the addition of books, newspaper, magazines and comic books, there isn't a single vector of mass media that Apple won't be able to distribute through iTunes. With the success of the App Store—a success I think even Apple wasn't expecting to such a degree — they're even a major distributor of software and games.