Robot 6

SDCC ’10 | Robert Kirkman launches Image imprint to help new creators [Updated]

Witch Doctor #1

Witch Doctor #1

Writer and Image Comics partner Robert Kirkman has launched Skybound, an imprint designed to recruit and showcase the next generation of comic creators.

Announced in today’s New York Times, Skybound will make its official debut on Thursday during Kirkman’s Comic-Con International panel. There he’ll introduce the imprint’s first title, Brandon Seifert and Lukas Ketner‘s Witch Doctor, a horror-medical drama described as “House meets Fringe.”

The duo came to Kirkman’s attention after he saw an illustration Ketner created for Portland, Oregon’s Willamette Week, and then stumbled across an earlier version of Witch Doctor on the artist’s website.

Kirkman, whose Image titles The Walking Dead and Invincible will move under the Skybound banner, will offer creators advance payments and marketing assistance. If a Skybound title draws attention outside of comics, Kirkman will help them maneuver international publishing rights, licensing for film, television and toys, and so on. In return, The Times reports, Kirkman receives a stake in all of the imprint’s properties — one that can include a percentage of any licensing deals.

However, Kirkman insists, creating good comics is the priority: “I’m not going to publish anything that would be a bad comic but would make an excellent TV show.”

Update: Kirkman has followed this morning’s announcement with a press release that includes details of Skybound’s second title, a collaboration with writer Nick Spencer (Existence 2.0, Morning Glories) called Thief of Thieves. Read the release after the break:

Skybound

Skybound

Robert Kirkman announced that he is launching SKYBOUND, an all-new imprint of Image Comics. The imprint will give a new generation of comic book creators the opportunity to publish their works as SKYBOUND Originals.

With SKYBOUND, Kirkman will handpick up-and-coming creators and maintain an active role in promoting and expanding the projects of this already growing talent pool. Artist and imprint alike will be fully vested in the development of their properties into new mediums (e.g. television, film) globally.

Image Comics, the comics publisher that has served as the outlet for Kirkman’s original works (including the New York Times bestselling series The Walking Dead and Invincible), since 2002 will provide publishing and distribution support to SKYBOUND. Kirkman will continue his duties as COO at Image Comics, and use the SKYBOUND imprint to release his own titles as well as every SKYBOUND Original to follow.

Robert Kirkman will preview the first SKYBOUND Original, Witch Doctor by newcomers Brandon Seifert and Lukas Ketner, during his spotlight panel at Comic-Con International this Thursday. “Witch Doctor is a perfect example of the material we’re looking to cultivate with SKYBOUND,” says Kirkman, citing the comic’s unique vision of a “sick world” where mythical creatures interfere with the natural order.

Kirkman himself found the creators of Witch Doctor online and will continue to play a personal role in the ongoing search for a constant stream of new talent to sign under the SKYBOUND umbrella. SKYBOUND will focus on cutting-edge, creator-owned stories that are outside of the normal spectrum of mass-market genres.

Looking forward, Kirkman recently secured the second exclusive SKYBOUND Original, Thief of Thieves, a collaboration between Kirkman and writer Nick Spencer (best known for his critically- acclaimed Image series Existence 2.0, Forgetless, and the upcoming Morning Glories). Thief of Thieves tells the story of Conrad Paulson, the world’s greatest thief, who has set his sights on his own kind. He vows to steal only what’s already been stolen, in an effort to right the great wrongs of his life. But he may be too late for redemption.

Witch Doctor will hit shelves in early 2011, with Thief of Thieves following close behind. Kirkman has several other SKYBOUND Originals in the works, but plans to focus on quality and the company will take its time to find and develop unique projects that reflect SKYBOUND’s core ideals.

About Robert Kirkman: Robert Kirkman is a New York Times bestselling author known for being the cultural zeitgeist of the comic book industry. He maintains one prerogative in every undertaking: quality. It is Kirkman’s belief that good people who produce good writing and good ideas make comics people love. Kirkman was recently made partner at Image Comics, and continues to revive the industry with refreshing new characters. AMC is adapting his bestselling series, The Walking Dead, into a TV series (set to debut in October 2010), and his books are among the most popular on the iPhone and iPad’s “Comics” app.

About Image Comics: Image Comics is a comic book and graphic novel publisher founded in 1992 by a collective of best-selling artists. Image has since gone on to become one of the largest comics publishers in the United States. Image currently has five partners: Robert Kirkman, Erik Larsen, Todd McFarlane, Marc Silvestri and Jim Valentino. It consists of five major houses: Todd McFarlane Productions, Top Cow Productions, Shadowline, Image Central and now SKYBOUND. Image publishes comics and graphic novels in nearly every genre, sub-genre, and style imaginable. It offers science fiction, romance, horror, crime fiction, historical fiction, humor and more by the finest artists and writers working in the medium today. For more information, visit www.imagecomics.com.

About Witch Doctor: Witch Doctor is a medical horror comic from Brandon Seifert and Lukas Ketner, a pair of Alaskans currently based in Portland, Oregon. Cover blurb: “It’s a sick world, and Dr. Vincent Morrow’s here to treat it. Headhunted into an exciting new career in the black arts after his excommunication from the medical community, Morrow serves the world with both hands — one in magic, one in medicine — as earth’s protector. Earth’s Witch Doctor.”

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Comments

46 Comments

Awesome.
I’d be a bit weary of the fact that Kirkman would get a cut of any property, but it is good to see a comic company actually actively seeking out fresh talent. Of course, there’s always the potential that this imprint won’t last (I sure hope it does, though) because of the sheer glut of entrants, pitches and applications they’ll get, many of which may be really bad.

I hope it works, lasts and is totally above board.

Great idea… and sure, he gets a cut, but how else is he to insure himself against the financial flops this pretty much guarantees? He’ll make a mint of the one that becomes a blockbuster, and nothing of the majority that never get past a limited series I guess. Hopefully this approach is helpful to nurturing unknowns

A cut of the property is only fair if they’re offering a creator advance. Sounds like a good move to me.

That is a very cool move and of course he gets a cut he is trying to help people not throw money away.

Jeff Hotchkiss

July 19, 2010 at 4:50 am

If the comics released under the imprint will be that good, why not just release them under the Image banner?

I get the idea of the advance in exchange for a cut of the profits, but why does Kirkman receive the cut and not Image?

Re: “Why does Kirkman receive the cut and not Image?”

If I were guessing, it would be because Kirkman (or more exactly, his Skybound imprint/studio) is fronting the advance as opposed to Image Central.

The article mentions “toys.” How will he help them get a toy deal if he can’t put out Invincible figures?!?!?! ERRRRR!!!

….why can’t I hold Atom Eve….. :)

No, you guys are right, the cut makes a lot of sense if you consider the financial fronting/capital the creators receive, and the potential for flops. I was just concerned about the cut that seemed to be going directly to Kirkman, and not to Image as a whole. But now, thanks to Sean D, even that makes sense.

so will this be Kirkman actively seeking new talent, or is he going to wait until talent comes to him?

If I had to guess, this is Kirkman using the fat wad of cash he theoretically got from AMC for the Walking Dead tv show, and actually using it to help other creators and generally make comics better. If you ask me, that’s the very definition of someone who loves comics, and only wants to see them succeed. And for that, I applaud him.

funkygreenjerusalem

July 19, 2010 at 6:23 am

If the comics released under the imprint will be that good, why not just release them under the Image banner?

Because he’s giving advance payments, and it sounds like doing editorial on the books, and Image doesn’t do either.

@Weakly Roll:

“so will this be Kirkman actively seeking new talent, or is he going to wait until talent comes to him?”

In the case of WITCH DOCTOR, Robert came to us. Considering the Skybound website only talks about submissions from artists, I imagine that’s going to be the case in general.

As far as I know, Image doesn’t pay advances to anybody. You make what you make based on sales and sales alone.

I think this is really cool and a great way for Kirkman to push his independent creator owned comics initiative that he declared a year or two back.

If you ask me, this is proof that when one door closes, another one opens.

When Zuda ended their competition, it put a halt to a lot of newer creators projects. In this day, it’s harder and harder for new people to break in. Zuda gave a chance to those people. Now with Skybound, they may have that shot again.

Not saying it’s going to be easy. Zuda had the luxury of bringing in 10 creative teams a month. If Kirkman brings in 5 new titles a year, that would be amazing. Just so long as the door is open.

It’s fair for Kirkman to ask for a piece of the action in return for the financing he’s providing, but only for a PREDETERMINED PERIOD OF LIMITED DURATION–NOT “IN PERPETUITY”. Before anyone signs on to a deal like this, they had better be damn sure of just what Kirkman is going to be giving them, what he gets in return and for how long.

I see this as Kirkman creating his own Studio within the IMAGE banner.
Like Top Cow or McFarlane Studio’s and so on. Also, Kirkman is getting a good amount of money from the entire IMAGE publishing line since he is one of the company owners. So his money is much more than just his pay for his titles or any Advance from Walking Dead.

this is a cool Idea, I may have to submit something to it.

Is Skybound accepting scripts by aspiring writers and helping match them up with artists?

For more SKYBOUND, visit the official site: http://www.skyboundent.com

For more SKYBOUND, please visit the official site: skyboundent.com

Looks like it’s time to start scripting out my outlines and find a freakin’ artist! :)

Congratulations to Brandon and Lukas on this new deal. Can’t wait to read some more WITCH DOCTOR.

“Also, Kirkman is getting a good amount of money from the entire IMAGE publishing line since he is one of the company owners. So his money is much more than just his pay for his titles or any Advance from Walking Dead.”

I don’t think Image works like that. I’m pretty sure the fee collected from books goes for administrative staff, advertising and stuff like that. Not to give Todd McFarlane a nickel for every issue of Proof sold.

I hope Image Skybound will still be around looking for new talent in five years. An amateur comic writer or artist (like me) could try to get a job there. I’ve got plenty of original creator-owned story ideas similar to Kirkman’s Invincible and Guardians of the Globe and I’m only a high school student so I’m still practicing. I could use it to find some artists and writers to help.

“I don’t think Image works like that. I’m pretty sure the fee collected from books goes for administrative staff, advertising and stuff like that. Not to give Todd McFarlane a nickel for every issue of Proof sold.”

Why not? It’s his company. He’s part of the administrative. If Image only operated on focusing on overhead costs, it would have gone under a long time ago.

Anyway, I’d rather take chance and go directly through Image Centrl than sign away some of my own flesh and blood for a cash advance. I don’t behoove Kirkman for taking some money for investing and acting as some sort of agent, but the idea of him actually owning part of the property is scary to me, particularly since he’s always been a guy who has championed success with creator-owned work.

Robert Kirkman just continues to impress as being THE guy comics need.

mr. pants, he gets a share in licensing, he doesn’t own anything. It’s pretty similar to the creator owned deals DC offers on its books, though probably more competitive.

The way they’ve talked Image’s share has always been to pay their administrative costs only. Nothing about that would ever cause the company to go under. The individual creators have the ability to pull in their own profit as they go along by publishing their series. Now I’m sure Valentino and Larsen pulled in some money when they were publishers, but I’m not going to outright say they receive money from every profitable Image comic.

And more power to you if you can afford to go through Image Central. A lot of young creators can’t, as they (and myself) don’t have the six or seven thousand minimum it’s going to cost to get the first few issues published before we see the first paycheck. Skybound seems like a great way to help young creators get their foots in the door of the comic industry. From there, hopefully they can expand in their own ways OUTSIDE of Kirkman’s imprint. I’m sure that’s the way Kirkman would want things too.

And FYI, Shadowline (Valentino’s side of Image) has been doing this for awhile with books like Bomb Queen and Nick Spencer’s titles.

funkygreenjerusalem

July 19, 2010 at 6:04 pm

Why not? It’s his company. He’s part of the administrative. If Image only operated on focusing on overhead costs, it would have gone under a long time ago.

I guess there is no ‘why not’, but it’s just not how they operate, and they haven’t gone under from it.
You can argue it, but image founders and creators have spoken openly about this before.

I’d rather take chance and go directly through Image Centrl than sign away some of my own flesh and blood for a cash advance.

Getting paid to work on a book is very different to working on it for free – if getting paid an artist can sit and draw all day, and get their page a day.
Without getting paid, they also have to work a day job, and can only work in drawing around other stuff.
Same with the letterer and colourist.
This is why books that are done through image are often late, and sometimes just disappear – there isn’t money coming in for months after you start, and when it does, it’s probably going to be less than the creators hoped for.

but the idea of him actually owning part of the property is scary to me, particularly since he’s always been a guy who has championed success with creator-owned work.

For all we know it’s a 5-10% stake in the profits – which even three times that is more than fair for taking the initial risk to fund a project.

Michael Sacal

July 19, 2010 at 7:59 pm

Funny how this only focuses on new artists and not writers.

funkygreenjerusalem

July 19, 2010 at 9:31 pm

Funny how this only focuses on new artists and not writers.

Why’s that funny?

It takes longer to draw a page than to write a page, so they need more payment, and comics are a visual medium, so there’s going to be a bigger pay off than developing a writer – especially for someone who is a writer, such as Kirkman.

There really seems to be a lot reality denial going on in the snarky comments here.

Michael Sacal —

“Funny how this only focuses on new artists and not writers.”

That’s just the way it works. Art is visual communication, writing is not. You can’t glance at a page of script and immediately see that it won’t work for you, the way you can with a lot of pages of comics art.

“Kirkman receives a stake in all of the imprint’s properties — one that can include a percentage of any licensing deals.”

Its this line the creeped me out. Its a stake in the actual properties, not just the the profits from sales, licensing deals, etc. That’s how I read it at least. Granted, I don’t blame him for wanting to own a little part of something he poured money into. It’s only fair, especially if he’s acting like what seems to be a heavy duty liaison for these deals. Still, if it’s something I thought up and made on my own, I would want to say the whole thing is mine….ALL MINE. He has two successful comics based on this principle. I just find it kinda strange that he’s doing this because of that. Actually, he has bragged about that.

“B-bu-buuuhhht a guy has to eat.” Yeah, yeah, wah, wah. If an artist believes in and is dedicated their art, they’ll make it somehow, even with a day job. Tim Hensley, Dash Shaw, Seth, Chris Ware, Joe Sacco, Michael Deforge, and many others have done it without giving up any ownership. It can be done.

As for Image only operating on an administrative budget, I find that to be a bit hard to believe. A company can’t grow without profit. How else are they going to take a chance on new serieseseses, funding the printing and whatnot?

Sorry if this came off a little pissy, but it’s something I believe in.
And I’ve had a few Sessions.

funkygreenjerusalem

July 20, 2010 at 1:56 am

Still, if it’s something I thought up and made on my own, I would want to say the whole thing is mine….ALL MINE.

He’s not taking that option away from anyone at all – no one has to take his deal.

If an artist believes in and is dedicated their art, they’ll make it somehow, even with a day job.

That’s some nice BS, but it is BS – yes, a lot of work can get you there, but it doesn’t guarantee it.

If you’ve got a book, you can submit it to Kirkman, and he will invest in it.
Like any investor, if there’s profit, he gets a stake in it.

As for Image only operating on an administrative budget, I find that to be a bit hard to believe. A company can’t grow without profit. How else are they going to take a chance on new serieseseses, funding the printing and whatnot?

You don’t have to believe it for it to be true.
How do they fund new series?
By using the money they make off their successful books to go back in and fund new books – here is Image’s FAQ page: http://www.imagecomics.com/faq.php#q32
Every book has the same fee taken from it’s profits, regardless of those profits. This covers the costs image faced, plus administrative fees and such, and probably a bit extra to fund other books.
Top Cow and McFarlene are separate from this process, and Larsen and Valentino make their money off their own books.

Sorry if this came off a little pissy, but it’s something I believe in.

But you seem to be believing in some dream that’s never been a reality – yeah, some top books come from people like Seth and Ware and Kirkman, but plenty of people can’t get that far, and we’ve probably missed out on some great books from some great creators because of that.
Kirkman is saying he is willing to invest cash into people’s work that he likes – ie pay people to make comics – in return, he gets a stake in any profits the book he invested in makes.
I really don’t see why or how anyone can act like he’s being a bad guy here – this is a good thing for talented comic creators starting out.

Michael Sacal

July 20, 2010 at 7:41 am

@funkygreenjerusalem

If you really think that the job of a writer boils down to writing a page, then you don’t really know what kind of work goes into the development of a goodstory.

A hack may boil it down to writing a page of whatever crosses his mind, but a real writer makes an effort to make sure that the story is as good as it can be from start to finish.

Writing, for real writers, does not start and end with writing the script, it involves months of research on the subject, the development of the characters, the development of the plot, etc.

The artists’ job does not start until the writer has already spent a considerable ammount of time developing his story to near-perfection (unless he doesn’t give a damn and hacks it).

Clearly there is a LOT about what goes into writing a story that you are not aware of to make such a comment.

I recommend that you read some bookks like Truby’s The Anatomy of Story or McKee’s Story, or even Campbell’s Hero With A Thousand Faces.

While the first two of those books are primarily to teach how to write screenplays, there is NO reason why the lessons in them could not be applied to writing comic books. Comics, like movies, are a STORYTELLING medium, and therefore there is no reason why the quality can’t be on par… unless you think that comics are beneath cinema, and the best they can accomplish is the continued creative incest found in comics written by people who steal their ideas from comics published 60 years ago.

Michael Sacal

July 20, 2010 at 7:43 am

@Brandon Seifert

You can’t tell stories without writers.

If that’s the way it works, then maybe the way should change, or otherwise the medium will die out.

What good is there having great artists if they have no stories to tell because there are no writers?

Michael Sacal

July 20, 2010 at 9:28 am

Even when publishers look only for artists, they are looking for the artist’s ability to convey a story in sequential art. This requires a script for the artists to turn into five pages of sequential art, as submitting five pin-ups won’t do it.

In light of that, to anyone here who is an artist planning to submit to Skybound, I offer to do five-page scripts for you to have something to show in case you don’t have any scripts to adapt into artwork.

If interested, pleae send me an email by clicking on my name.

Sorry, I thought my name had an email link

michaelsacal@heroictendencies.com

Michael Sacal:

“You can’t tell stories without writers. If that’s the way it works, then maybe the way should change, or otherwise the medium will die out. What good is there having great artists if they have no stories to tell because there are no writers?”

Dude, I’m a writer.

And look, I got into Skybound. Yes, Robert found me through Lukas’ art. He still found me.

There are avenues in for writers — they’re just slightly different avenues than for artists. Saying that if companies accept open submissions from artists and not from writers means that writing will “die out”… doesn’t make sense in terms of how the industry actually works.

Different and far and few between

Michael Sacal

July 20, 2010 at 1:00 pm

My above offer to provide pencillers with a script to work on for their submission to Skybound is much more than just a script.

I am currently looking for artists willing to work on three short stories of five to seven pages in length that I’ve written for an anthology series to be published by Red Leaf Comics next year, so anyone who takes me up on my offer will not only have something for Skybound but you are guaranteed to be published by this indy publisher so you can have something to add to your portfolio.

funkygreenjerusalem

July 20, 2010 at 5:08 pm

If you really think that the job of a writer boils down to writing a page, then you don’t really know what kind of work goes into the development of a goodstory.

A hack may boil it down to writing a page of whatever crosses his mind, but a real writer makes an effort to make sure that the story is as good as it can be from start to finish.

Writing, for real writers, does not start and end with writing the script, it involves months of research on the subject, the development of the characters, the development of the plot, etc.

The artists’ job does not start until the writer has already spent a considerable ammount of time developing his story to near-perfection (unless he doesn’t give a damn and hacks it).

Clearly there is a LOT about what goes into writing a story that you are not aware of to make such a comment.

YAWN.

I’m sure you are thoroughly unappreciated with your work, and it’s a goddamn travesty Kirkman hasn’t set up a funding project for you.

But writing is easier to do around other stuff than sitting and drawing the pages in a timely manner.
This is why a lot of self-publishing writers make certain the artist gets paid before they do.
For an artist to really develop he needs time to sit and draw and learn – and if there’s no money coming in, he can’t do that, at best he’s got to rush through.

Look at the other companies – including image central – they all take submissions from artists, even if they don’t from writers.
One writer can do several books a month, but most artists can only do one.

Michael Sacal

July 20, 2010 at 5:28 pm

@funkygreenjerusalem

You are focusing on what happens AFTER the artist already has the script. You are going off the assumption that writers just magically come up with a script in under two weeks.

The bad ones do, which is why there are so many crappy comics, which is why there are so many plots stolen from comics published 40 years ago (on at least one occasion a fanboy told me that it was acceptable for popular writers to STEAL from old comics so they could meet their deadline).

GOOD writers DON’T steal to meet their deadlines nor do they magically hack out a script in a week or two. GOOD writers actually WORK at their craft, and can take as long OR longer than an artist draws 22 pages of art to develop a script.

@Michael Sacal

>GOOD writers actually WORK at their craft, and can take as long OR longer than an artist draws 22 pages of art to develop a script.

And good artists work at THEIR craft.

It still takes more time to draw a page than to write one.

“Different and far and few between”

That’s your perception. Mine is very different. There’s lots of ways for writers to get into the industry, and lots of opportunities for new writers to find work. It’s not easy, but neither is anything else.

Yep, Sounds cool. But It also makes me a little worried. You drive so much time into creating something, and you don’t own the property. hmmmm?

@Brandon Seifert

Like for example….?

@K

It may take longer to draw a page than it takes to write one, but it takes as long or as longer to develop the story before the write writes the page.

You have to take that time into account, and not be as dismissive of it.

i need a comic book artist to hook up with. i am an aspiring writer who already has my characters created via help from an excellent concept artist. character images ,bios and story synopsis already completed. i need to hook up with an artist to put something together(maybe five sequential pages) to present to comic book companies…such as SKYBOUND…if interested hook up with me at my email:lotegeluakijon@live.com

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