Digital comics, on the other hand, generally take a very different approach to selling. Here, viewers have to pay in order to read the comic in question, but they don't have to see any advertising while they do so. And while those t-shirts, prints, etc. are still available for purchase, they're not shown or linked to from the digital comics platform. It's like calling up a movie on Netflix instead of watching it on cable.
And for me, personally, I find that I don't really get into digital comics precisely because of that business model.
I will admit that I tend to prefer having a printed copy of a comic in my hands over a digital version, but it's not the artifact itself that I'm interested in. That is, I don't feel the need to have a literal copy in my hands. What I do want, though, is ownership. If I buy a comic, whatever format it's in, I want to know that it's continued existence is entirely in my metaphoric hands. If I keep a copy on my hard drive which then crashes, well that sucks, but that's my fault for not keeping a backup. But I can do what I like with that file, and put it on as many or as few devices as I like and I'm always guaranteed (provided I don't screw it up) of being able to read that comic.
Subject to your complete and ongoing compliance with all the terms and conditions set forth in this Agreement... [comiXology] grants you a limited, non-exclusive, non-transferable, non-sublicensable, revocable license to access the Digital Content for your personal, non-commercial use. Such license does not confer on you any ownership interest in such Digital Content. Words such as “purchase” or “sale”... refer to the grant to you of a limited license as described herein.(Emphasis mine.)
Now, granted, it would be bad business on their part if they just randomly revoked your access to comics you'd purchased, and I don't expect them to really do that. But at the same time, they can remove or modify any of "your" comics and there's no way you can keep the one you "purchased." But even in a less Orwellian environment, comiXology could still go out of business (not that they're currently in danger of that, so far as I know) and all of your digital comics would vanish with them.
A webcomic certainly can close up shop, too, at any point they choose and leave you without even their archives to browse through. But you haven't put any money towards that either. Any funds you might have sent the creators' way would be in lieu of tangible items that you're now in possession of -- a t-shirt, print, etc.
So what I'm wondering is: is it financially possible to serve up digital comics using a business model more akin to webcomics? Provide them in some sort of more universal platform (CBR/CBZ, perhaps?) for free, with an option to purchase t-shirts, prints, etc. I don't think I've seen anyone try an approach quite like this, but I'd be curious to see if/how it works. Anyone out there willing to give it a shot?