Mark Millar, the visionary behind such comics as The Ultimates and Superior, has a real gripe with digital comics. The scribe penned his discontent earlier today in an open message to the industry and media. Retrieved by the kind folks over at CBR, here are some of the juiciest tidbits:

“I think digital could be a useful tool, but I’m increasingly concerned for friends in retail that they’re going to get shafted here,” the writer explained. “I really think day and date release is a disastrous idea and makes no economic sense at all to comics as a business. It’s potentially ruinous for comic stores, and in the long term it’s not going to do publishers any favors either. I see the attraction on a very superficial level. They think they’re cutting out the middle men and all the guys taking a piece of their gross, but there’s an equivalent number of hidden costs in digital too, and it’s short term thinking to obliterate the life-blood of the medium. Retailers are as big a part of comics now as the characters or the creators. They’re not just an outlet. These are carefully crafted communities and owned and staffed by people with a genuine passion for what they’re doing in a way that the ‘Amazon Also Recommends’ box isn’t quite going to match. I’ve got an awful lot of friends on the retail side and so many of them are hanging on by their finger-nails right now. Even a five or ten percent dip could be enough to put huge numbers of comic stores out of business. I know two huge American retailers, like really famous stores, in this position, and once they’re gone these guys are gone forever. Retailers stuck with us through the ’70s collapse and the ’90s post-speculator boom. Shouldn’t we be showing them a little loyalty now? Everything from the chair I’m sitting in to the keyboard I’m typing on has been paid for by royalties that retailers have made me, so I feel quite passionately about this

Is Millar right? Should publishers take a more active role in supporting their retailers? We’ve all seen the numbers folks…comics are once again on the decline. Even with the timely success of DC‘s New 52, the market continues to shrink. Trade paper-back and digital copies are thought to be the safe haven of comic creativity…but what if they destroy the need for original works?

Here’s another really interesting point:

“A more sensible approach to digital comics, I think, would be the look at the model used for movie distribution for the last decade or so,” he said. “The primary phase of selling would be comic stores and theatrical. This is where the bulk of the investment is recouped or maybe even recouped entirely. The secondary phase is DVD or, in comic terms, the collected graphic novel sold in book stores as well as comic stores. These fans aren’t as hardcore as the first group, but they’re a great place to recoup any money lost in the initial phase. Digital comics are like TV rights to me in that they’re the tertiary phase of all this. These are for the most casual, mainstream readers or viewers and much cheaper than the primary or secondary waves. They’re a great way of pulling people in for the next product coming out in theatres or in comic stores, but absolutely not the bedrock of your business. The fact they’re not on paper doesn’t matter as these guys aren’t collectors as such and the lower price point is very attractive to them. But release comics digitally on the same day as a higher price point print edition is basically sentencing the latter to death. It’s like a movie studio bringing out ‘Avatar 2’ on TV at the same time as a theatrical release. Studios have talked about day and date for a while now, but everybody gets out the calculators periodically and realizes they might not be able to afford to make any more movies a couple of years down the line. They’d destroy cinemas, their primary source of income, in much the same way I think day and date could be devastating for comic stores.”

Millar contest that tangible, printed comic books are the driving force for all other sales, whether they’re films or toys. Without an emphasis on new, printed content, Millar thinks that the whole industry will collapse…and I tend to agree.

What do you guys think? Sound off in the comments below.