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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:
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.”