This Week In Digital Comics
MADEFIRE – The motion book start-up Madefire announced new partnerships with print comic publishers Archie, Clive Barker’s Seraphim, Lion Forge, and Aracana. The new publishers will join DC Comics, IDW, Top Cow, and Dark Horse – along with Madefire’s own, original content – in distributing motion books through Madefire’s free app and web platform. What does this mean for digital comics? At the very least it means that Madefire’s is making a strong move to diversify and grow their audience. It could very well mean that Madefire’s brand of motion books is gaining traction and distinguishing itself from the false start of poor animatics that the comic industry collectively branded “motion comics.” This is a good thing; Madefire’s motion books are distinctly different from motion comics. More experimentation with how digital tools and techniques can evolve graphic storytelling and sincere attempts to popularize digital comics are both positive goals and Madefire’s digital first approach is going after both head on. Related: Three Questions with Madefire Co-Founder Liam Sharp.
THRILLBENT – Thrillbent announced the return of Mark Waid and Barry Kitson’s Eisner-nominated series EMPIRE. Originally published in print through the short-lived Gorilla Comics and completed with DC Comics, the series will now be offered as a premium digital comic available only to Thrillbent subscribers. What does this mean for digital comics? The idea of reviving a fan-favorite print comic series as a digital comic offers digital readers new content and potentially appeals to fans of the original series, transitioning them to digital reading. Companies like Netflix have seen great success in continuing beloved but cancelled series (eg. ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT or STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS) as a draw to their subscription service. Replicating that in a digital comics environment has a lot of marketing and growth potential. As mentioned before, figuring out ways to grow the digital comic readership and expand the market is always a good thing. Making direct connections between the established print comic readership in ways that support comics as a whole makes this a win-win. With a subscription price of just $3.99 it’s a bargain. Related: Three Questions with Thrillbent creators Mark Waid, Geoffo & Mast, Alex De Campi, and Gabe Bautista.
ELECTRICOMICS – From legendary curmudgeon Alan Moore (WATCHMEN, V FOR VENDETTA, THE KILLING JOKE, FROM HELL, LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN, and so on and so forth), comes Electricomics. Presented as “a research and development project to create an app enabling digital comics to be made by anyone” the initiative/app isn’t much more than an announcement. There are some impressive creators attached to the project – Peter Hogan, Garth Ellis, Peter Snejbjerg, Leah Moore, John Reppion, and, of course, Moore himself – but without much more than story titles and brief descriptions, and almost nothing about the proposed toolset, it’s starts to feel like the announcement of an idea instead of a thing. What does this mean for digital comics? Claiming to be part digital comic and part open source toolkit for digital comics creation, Electricomics has a lot of potential. Backed with legendary creators with the possibility for some original, made-for-digital work makes the project even more interesting. We’re big fans of open source digital comics tools, like our Yanapax Comic Reader, so having someone of Moore’s profile experimenting in this space could be beneficial for both the digital comics and open-source software communities. However, it’s all speculation at this point. Chalk this one up to vaporware at the moment but with fingers crossed.
DIAMOND – Diamond Comics is the largest comic distributor of English-language comic books, graphic novels and related pop-culture products in the world. They also have an effective monopoly on the Direct Market in the United States but have struggled with digital distribution, most recently with a stillborn Diamond Digital initiative meant to “empower” brick-and-mortar comic shops to sell digital comics over the counter; almost certainly an effort to placate comic retailers’ unfounded fears about digital comics cannibalizing print sales. Unsurprisingly, the program quietly faded away. Diamond’s most recent effort, a multi-year partnership with eBook distributor Trajectory, is much more sober, building off of their expertise at distribution without being burdened by protectionist fears. This new partnership should enable publishers to distribute their print comics and graphic novels not only through Diamond’s network of Direct Market retailers but also through Trajectory’s network of eBook retailers, library and schools. What does this mean for digital comics? Not much. This is a straight-up, print-to-digital conversation and distribution deal for traditional comics publishers. It’s late in the digital distribution game but it could potentially help a number of print publishers that don’t have the ability or desire to navigate digital distribution on their own. For that reason it’s good because – yeah comics! Don’t expect much in terms of innovation.
GRAPHICLY – Graphicly, a former digital comics app and marketplace turned digital comics conversion house, has been aqcui-hired by indie book and magazine publishing platform Blurb. Existing behind the scenes for the last few years, Graphicly was at one time part of some key initiatives in the mainstream comic market; including funding the comic community and news platform iFanBoy and acquiring the digital comics reader application Double Feature. Recently they’ve focused on print-to-digital conversion services, creating fixed layout ePub files for comics, picture books and the like. This move gives Blurb a much needed boost in comic and graphic storytelling knowledge while nearly doubling the size of their current eBook team. What does this mean for digital comics? Indirectly it could mean a lot. Blurb’s expertise on high-quality, boutique print-on-demand publishing combined with Graphicly’s knowledge of the comic market and graphic storytelling could mesh together nicely and result in Blurb’s ability to offer digital comics creators a turn-key service for print editions of their digital comics. Something to keep an eye on.
Got some digital comics news of your own? Let us know in the comments!