The comic market hashtag on twitter is really a discussion of the ever-changing landscape of opinions, cancellations, creator-owned titles tying to get off the ground, and musings on ComiXology and other digital formats. Two of the bigger independent companies, Image Comics and Boom! Studios have redesigned their digital presence and commerce leader Amazon steps in with a huge announcement this week, the launch of it’s own Jet City Comics imprint. Earth Prime Time re-introduces you to these websites and shows you what digital offerings they have to offer.
Scans and PDFs of comics have been in existence for years now, especially since digital files have been used to produce the books. Before the age of iPads/Kindles/smartphones, reading digital comic meant reading a poorly formatted .CBR/.CBZ archive file on your computer monitor. Likely, these files were scanned in by pirates or those wishing to give access to out of print books, and hosting the files on torrent sites. Our world has changed, and with it the comic market.
ComiXology offers a Guided View that animates panel to panel on your computer or your device, as well as the traditional full page layout. Amazon offers a similar experience to some of it’s graphic novel selections for reading on your computer or Kindle Fire, but the experience is not as great, but serviceable. After watching Man of Steel, I caught up with Mark Waid’s Superman: Birthright as the cheapest digital option on the Kindle app for iPhone and Mac. Not bad, but not great.
Though more expensive, ComiXology would have offered a better experience for my devices.
I do not have a color Kindle. Comics are also available on the Apple iBooks store, and are locked into the Mac ecosystem, but the store does provide an option for publishers. iBooks expands to the Mac from being tablet or phone exclusive with the next version of OS X, Mavericks.
IMAGE COMICS / imagecomics.com
Last week at Image Expo 2013, the publisher revealed a new website and web store for both it’s current and expanding back issue catalog. Image recently tapped Ron Richards, formerly of the comic book podcast iFanboy, as the Director of Business Development. Richards gave a great interview to Comic Book Resources last week that goes into Image Comics’ view on piracy and the digital comic market.
The creator owned and creator driven publisher has opened up a direct to the consumer store, at full cover price on Wednesdays new releases available in a variety of formats, with no copy protection.
.PDF, ePUB, .CBZ, and .CBR are all available for the taking when the book comes out. Image Comics even provides you with the resources to read your books. There is no restriction on the files, so you own these comics just like you are comforted by your collection in a longbox. Save ‘em, back ‘em up, let a friend borrow. Yours to keep. By not restricting the files or buying into a particular digital file ecosystem, Image has once again become an industry pioneer.
Providing customers with production ready .PDFs or .CBZ increases the quality too, no more scans.
The launch was coupled with the release of Warren Ellis and Jason Howard’s Scatterlands webcomic and last week’s #1 pick, Satellite Sam #1 from Matt Fraction (Hawkeye, Invincible Iron Man) and Howard Chaykin (American Flagg!). J. Michael Straczynski (JMS) and Tom Mandtrake’s The Sidekick #1 superhero twist will be released in August. Trailer below.
BOOM! STUDIOS / boom-studios.com
It would be funny to pit these two companies, Boom! and Image against each other, as if they were the Big Two, these would be the Little Two. I’m sure both companies have had a site redesign in the works for some time, but earlier this week Boom!’s site got a facelift as well. Though not available as digital comics, the Boom! Store does allow for you to pre-order books directly from the publisher. Might not be a bad idea for those of us out there looking for Adventure Time Variant Covers. Boom! features such great titles as Supurbia, Bravest Warriors, Planet of the Apes, Sons of Anarchy, Deathmatch (Paul Jenkins) and many many more licensed and original properties.
With a focus on Boom!’s social media and a Trending tab, the new Boom! site is more engaging to use and view company news and announcements.
Speaking of Boom! announcements, two of note came this week as well. Boom! acquired fellow indie comics publisher Archaia! The exclamation point is mine, not necessarily new branding. The merging of the two companies makes sense, especially in regards to both having Muppet and Jim Henson rights. Archaia titles include the popular Mouse Guard, Return of the Dapper Men and role playing games. Check out the full press release on Comic Book Resources.
Perhaps the biggest news for Boom! Studios is that of signing longtime DC and Marvel artist and writer, George Pérez (Teen Titans, Avengers) into an exclusive contract. Perez launched the New 52 Superman title in 2011 and conflicts with editorial made him leave the flagship book. DC’s loss is everyone’s gain, we’re more excited to see a a new creator owned George Pérez book, and George Pérez covers at Boom! than have him retread 75 year old characters.
Now a new generation can see how many heroes George Pérez can fit onto a cover or wraparound poster (spoiler warning—it is a lot).
AMAZON – JET CITY COMICS / jetcitycomics.com
Let’s recap – two of the best indie comics publishers (three really, counting Archaia) have redesigned their websites and made their content more accessible. Awesome, that would be newsworthy and we’d let you all go.
Perhaps the biggest news is this purposely buried lede. Amazon.com is directly getting involved with comic book publishing with new imprint Jet City Comics. Part of the publishing arm of Amazon, Jet City will be at first releasing work by Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin, Jimmy Palmiotti (Jonah Hex, The Pro) Neal Stephenson and today sees the release of Symposium #1 by Christian Cameron. Exciting stuff, to have Amazon get into the space. It is very easy to buy content form Amazon (DRM free music, Kindle Books) but my criticism of the cloud reader and iPhone view for comics stands. Hopefully that deveopment matures a bit more as they figure out the Kindle kinks.
There you have it folks, some exciting stuff, an ‘inside baseball’ update about digital comics and the medium. While talking and encouraging my friend to self-publish his book the other day, we arrived at the conclusion to be included on all platforms is the way to go. Perhaps Amazon will make it easier for a self-published comic to get onto devices as well, similar to the ComiXology Submit indie creator platform. Kudos to both Image and Boom! for reintroducing their products to the masses as well.
We’re always looking for exciting stories and artwork, sometimes that comes from a Batman comic, but remember to check out these imprints for top notch product.
Remember that The Walking Dead was and is an Image Comic comic book, and it is approaching the 10-year anniversary mark. Keep your eye on the independent books!
League of Ordinary Gentle-People podcast Episode #157 — Little League for Nerds
Clay, Dursin and a returning Stacey talk X-Files: Season 10 #1, World War Z, Saga, Sex (the comic!) and what goes on in hobby stores late at night.
Direct Download / Mp3 Stream (opens in new window).
THIS THURSDAY 7/11/13
BRIGHTON MUSIC HALL
CROSSROADS & LEAGUEPODCAST PRESENT:
REVENGE OF THE NERD TOUR 2 with
We’re giving away tickets! Email your favorite MC Chris song to firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance to win!