Q&A on EComics: Libraries join forces to provide electronic comic books free

WESLACO — Without hesitation or reservation, Martin J. Mata proclaimed his love for the DC Comics stalwart, Batman, in such dramatic fashion that it would make even the Caped Crusader proud.

A conversation about comic books Thursday led to the endearing moment, when Mata’s tone changed from upbeat to serious upon being asked to identify his favorite childhood hero or heroine.

While the assistant director for the Mayor Joe V. Sanchez Public Library in Weslaco responded rather simply, saying only, “Batman … Batman,” the breathy sincerity emanating from his voice did all the talking.

“I grew up with that,” Mata said of the Batman comics. “I even watched the 1960s show. It was one of the first TV shows I watched.”

It’s also a piece of American pop culture that’s easily accessible on TV and in the form of nearly a dozen Hollywood films and several reboots, but the source material dates back 77 years with thousands of storylines to catch up on.

Enter Comics Plus.

In its database are more than 16,000 EComics — electronic comic books — available for free to library members via their computer or mobile device.

What’s more, the collection combines the Weslaco library’s catalogue with the Donna Public Library, the Dr. Hector P. Garcia Memorial Library in Mercedes, the Dustin Michael Sekula Memorial Library in Edinburg, the Hidalgo Public Library, the McAllen Public Library, the Peñitas Public Library, the Pharr Memorial Library and the Speer Memorial Library in Mission.

Arnoldo Becho, the library director in Weslaco, explained that as many as 10 titles can be checked out at a time for up to seven days. The Comics Plus app is currently available on IOS and all Apple devices, and soon on Android.

Also coming soon to the service is DC Comics, which means access to Batman, Superman and other popular titles.

Until then, Becho and Mata encourage members and non-members alike to stop by the library, located at 525 S. Kansas Ave. in Weslaco, or call (956) 968-4533 to learn more about the service. Additional details are also available by visiting weslacopl.us, where Comics Plus is linked.

For more on EComics, Becho and Mata went in depth on the new library feature.

1. How common is it for public libraries to have EComics available?

Mata: Having EComics is not very common but it is easy to see them becoming more common in the near future. Comics are becoming more popular, due in part to the abundance of superhero movies and several popular comic book series which are currently ongoing. EBooks are also becoming more popular in libraries and together these conditions make it likely that EComics would grow in popularity.

2. How does this add to the library experience?

Becho: This is another way that our customers can access entertainment and information. Customers could use these comic books from home or at the library. All of these comics are provided free of charge.

3. What’s the appeal of EComics?

Mata: The comics appear on your phone, computer or tablet in a very rich, high-definition format. They are an excellent alternative to the paper format at times because there is no need to carry around more than your phone. It is also much easier to access thousands of comics electronically than it is to build your own personal collection.

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