Robot 6

Graphicly: The YouTube of comics?

The digital comics publisher Graphicly is not a company that is afraid of change—heck, they changed their name from a little while ago—and today they announced a big one. As CEO Micah Baldwin explained to CBR’s Kiel Phegley, Graphicly is not only redesigning its site but also adding a number of features, including embeddable comics and comics from solo creators.

The use of social media has always been what set Graphicly apart from other digital comics distributors: Readers can put comments right on the comics page for other users to read, and the iPhone app includes a news stream telling you who is buying and reading what. Now they have redesigned their website, shifting from an iTunes model to more of a YouTube model—readers can embed a comic on their blogs or share it via Facebook and other social media, just as they do with videos.

The other difference is that Graphicly, which carries comics from Marvel, BOOM! Studios, and other publishers, will now accept comics from solo creators as well, so it becomes a place to be discovered as well as to discover. Baldwin explains:

But our process is a two-tiered process where we first check ourselves that the submission is not heavy porn or copyrighted material. The second process is where the community itself curates the content to let the best stuff bubble up. It’ll be going through a review process once it’s on the site. People can see books and review them, and once they achieve a certain level, they’ll enter into our promotional engine. Up until then, it’ll be the creator’s job to promote their own content.

Sounds a bit like Threadless, actually. Or Zuda. This really changes the nature of Graphicly, from a distributor to a true social-networking service that encourages conversations and sharing, and making it a very different animal from the other digital distributors out there right now.



You know, there’s a lot of cool ideas here. But ComiXology has more of the content I’m interested in, and the backing of the biggest publishers. So… that’s that.

Embeddable content is a great idea for comic creators that want to spread the word. But you’ve been able to do that on sites like ISSUU (as Avatar Press often does) for the past couple of years.

Saying that, if a hardcore community of comic fans were to share content via embedding this could be a very good thing.

Graphicly has had a lot of great ideas in this space especially around social and community. I think they’ve been hindered slightly by technology and the perception that they don’t have all the big names even though they carry Marvel.

What really interests me with this new move is that they really seem to be shifting to web-based rather than digital comics which not only differentiates themselves from Comixology but goes against the current conventional wisdom on where everything is going. They’ve done a lot to improve the experience of reading comics through their browser but have done very little to update their iPad app in the past year.

They may be onto something and may look very forward thinking in a year or two.

This is an interesting move, I think, to differentiate them from the competition. Who knows yet if it will work or not, but I think it’s a good move to try to do something outside of what the industry leader is trying. And I like the idea of embeddable comics. Though as Jason notes above, you can do so via ISSUU, if Graphicly can come up with an easy, social way to do so, it could be a good thing.

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