Digital Comics Archives - Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources
If you’ve wanted to explore Marvel’s massive digital archive, now’s your chance: For the next week, in celebration of Comic-Con International, 99 cents will get you a month-long subscription to Marvel Unlimited and its online collection of more than 15,000 classic and newer comics, dating from the Golden Age to about six months ago.
The publisher offered a similar deal in March for South by Southwest; a monthly membership normally costs $9.99, while a basic annual subscription is $69.
I’ve never been to a comics convention, but I can imagine it can be overwhelming — Comic-Con International especially, with its enormous exhibition hall, packed programming schedule and multiple venues. There’s a webcomics presence, but it remains something of a niche. A quick scan of events, for example, turns up more presentations on how to become big on deviantART than anything directly connected with webcomics.
There’s a powerfully strong digital comics representation, however. Perhaps this indicates a swing from the independent, comic strip-influenced world of webcomics to the formalized, floppy-inspired format of digital. Shoot, Publishers Weekly even arranged a panel to discuss that very thing on Friday morning with “Behind the Digital Line.” Mark Waid has an entire panel devoted to pitching ideas to Thrillbent. Monkeybrain Comics will have a roundtable about the benefits of publishing digitally. And on Sunday, “Digital Comics: Going Beyond the Page” will feature a discussion with a panel that includes Waid (Thrillbent) and Ron Perraza (formerly of comiXology and DC’s digital division).
ComiXology is celebrating its fifth anniversary with a deal that’s pretty difficult to pass up: a bundle of 100 titles from comiXology Submit, its self-publishing platform for independent creators, for just $10.
That’s 10 cents each for comics like Wolves by Becky Cloonan, Aw Yeah Comics! #1 by Art Baltazar, Franco and others, nemu*nemu: Out of This World by Audra Ann S. Furuichi, Feather #1 by Steve Uy, and The Pride #1 by Joe Glass, Marc Ellerby, Joshua Faith and Gavin Mitchell. Plus, y’know, 95 others.
One upon a time, an entire subcontinent crashed into the largest continent. Tectonic plates collided, sending rocks jutting toward the heavens. Jagged peaks formed formed the Himalayas, and looming higher than any other was Everest. Sir Edmund Hilary famously journeyed to the top of the world, a feat that inspired generations of explorers to believe that no place on Earth is unconquerable. But they’re not always right, for on its icy, windswept cliffs, many an intrepid soul has succumbed to its perils. Everest is a mountain of madness. It’s a mountain … of death.
Christopher Sebela and Ibrahim Moustafa’s Eisner-nominated comic High Crimes (Monkeybrain) follows the thrilling, high-stakes adventure of a lost soul named Suzanne “Zan” Jansen. She was an avid snowboarder until her Olympic dreams were cruelly crushed by an injury. Haunted by failure, her days are spent in an unbreakable cycle of drinking and self-loathing. She ends up involved in a sordid occupation: finding the missing bodies of those who disappeared on climbing expeditions. The dirty work is done by her grizzled, older business partner Haskell, who chops a hand off the dead, then returns to base to have it stored in his freezer. The fingerprints are traced by a corrupt police officer, and the identity lets them know which families to bribe.
One day, Haskell is dealt a bad hand. Literally. It belongs to a decades-old corpse who used to be Sebastian Mars. He’s not just a climber; he’s a person of interest. Inside the severed hand, Zan discovers a capsule containing a rolled-up microfiche of secrets. It turns out that it’s something like the Maltese Falcon: the stuff that dreams are made of, and a thing of extreme value to the wrong kinds of people.
This year, The Oatmeal dominates the Eisner Best Digital comic category as “the one that most people have heard of.” That’s pretty much in direct contrast to last year, which was populated by five relatively obscure titles. It’s a testament, I think, to the far-reaching diversity of webcomics, where few ever become pop culture superstars but many have devoted fanbase. You had indie-style comics like Ant Comic and It Will All Hurt, the haunting short story Our Bloodstained Roof and the classic Thimble Theater-inspired art of Oyster War.
The eventual winner, though, was the one that most closely resembled a traditional comic. Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover’s Bandette (Monkeybrain Comics) was the first Eisner winner that had to be downloaded from comiXology — a true “digital comic” as opposed to a “webcomic.” I imagine that the familiar panel layout was the one least likely to send traditionalists into paroxysms. Heck, the tone of the story itself feels very much like a throwback to both Silver Age comic stories and European all-ages fare like The Adventures of Tintin. But so what? It’s old school, and in a way that made it refreshingly novel.
Neil Googe has made a career drawing the works of others — from recent fill-in issues on DC Comics’ The Flash and the impressive graphic novel Word of Warcraft: Dark Riders to Wildstorm’s Mr. Majestic and Welcome to Tranquility. But now the Bangkok-based British cartoonist is returning to the world of creator-owned, but not just in comics. For the past few months, he’s been writing on his website about a new transmedia project titled Welcome to the Hood.
Mixing ’90s-era gangster rap with a love for apocalyptic scenarios, Cthulhu and world-building, Googe is looking to create a story and a universe to rival those he’s worked in for the past 15-plus years.
It’s shaping up to be a red-letter day for fans of free quality comics: As if that digital edition of Warren Ellis and Jason Howard’s Trees #1 weren’t proof enough, this morning also saw the debut of Moose Kid Comics, an impressive children’s anthology featuring the work of more than 40 creators.
Created and edited by Jamie Smart, the 36-page digital comic boasts such talents as Roger Langridge, Tom Plant, Neill Cameron and Abby Ryder, Mark Stafford, Aaron Alexovich, Sarah McIntyre, James Downing, and Samantha Davies. And did we mention the “Young Tank Girl” strip by Alan Martin and Warwick Johnson-Cadwell?
“Here in the U.K, mainstream children’s comics have been dying out, especially ones featuring original content,” reads the comic’s mission statement. “The Phoenix and The Beano are the only commercially available weekly titles still producing entirely original characters, but they are competing against big-name licensed titles based on TV shows or merchandising. We want to help change things. We want to be creating the next generation of loveable characters for the world to embrace, all created by artists who retain their copyrights and put all their heart into their creations. We want to remind both children and adults alike how fantastical and imaginative comics can be, and to help bring children’s comics back into the public consciousness.”
“It’s not every day that a writer as important and influential as Warren Ellis launches a major new series, so making sure Trees reaches as many readers as possible is an ongoing priority for us here at Image,” Publisher Eric Stephenson said in a statement.
Debuting May 28, the sci-fi miniseries is set a decade after enormous, sentient tree-like creatures arrived on Earth, putting down roots and standing silent vigil, without even acknowledging the planet’s inhabitants.
“When we were developing the idea Warren asked me what kind of things I wanted to draw,” Howard, who previously collaborated with Ellis on Scatterlands, told Comic Book Resources. “I sent him a folder of a bunch of images that inspired me. From there he sent me the basic idea of, what if aliens landed and didn’t seem to do anything? What happens to society when these alien structures land but nothing comes out and after a while they become normal and they just stand there, like trees? I thought that sounded fascinating and could immediately visualize situations and story potential. I excitedly told him I loved it and we were off.”
Coinciding with the release today of the second chapter of Mark Waid and Barry Kitson’s Empire Volume 2, Thrillbent is making the first chapter available for free.
Originally published in 2000 through Image Comics, and later with DC Comics, Empire is set in a world a where the evil armored despot Golgoth has won, defeating all of its heroes. Volume 2, which launched May 28 after a 10-year hiatus, continues the saga of Golgoth, whose grip on Earth is as strong as ever.
The announcement late last month that digital distributor Graphicly would close and its key employees join self-publishing platform Blurb was met immediately by questions, many of which centered on whether the company’s clients will be paid what they’re owed.
Originally envisioned as “iTunes for comics,” Boulder, Colorado-based Graphicly was soon overshadowed by competitor comiXology, and in 2012 shuttered its comics app to focus instead on providing visually based books and comics to eBook platforms. In its most recent incarnation, Graphicly was a digital conversion and distribution service: For a fee of $150, the company would convert a comic to ePub and other formats and distribute it to digital platforms such as Amazon’s Kindle, Barnes & Noble’s Nook and Apple’s iBooks. Graphicly would then act as middleman, collecting money from sales on those platforms and passing it along to the creators. Unlike other digital comics distributors, Graphicly didn’t take a cut of sales on eBook platforms, just the upfront fee.
Since Graphicly announced its closing on May 27, a number of creators have asserted publicly that the company wasn’t tracking sales correctly and hasn’t paid them what they’re owed from sales. Bleeding Cool spoke to Dave Dellecese and representatives of Th3rd World Studios, as well as a former Graphicly employee. At The Beat, Marc Ellerby and Mike Garley told similar stories, and Eric Grissom and Dara Naraghi added their names in the comments. Ellerby tweeted:
More than 500 volumes of such top-selling manga as One Piece, Naruto and Death Note debuted today on comiXology as part of a new North American distribution agreement with Viz Media.
The publisher, which already had its own self-contained app for multiple platforms, brought its digital catalog to the Amazon Kindle in October; just days later, comiXology announced a deal to distribute titles from Viz Media Europe and its subsidiary Kazé to French-speaking European countries. Amazon purchased comiXology in April.
Humble Bundle’s new eBook offering has expanded with the addition of two more titles from Top Shelf Productions: The From Hell Companion, by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell, and Too Cool to Be Forgotten, by Alex Robinson.
The promotion allows you to name your own price — as little as a penny — for DRM-free digital editions of March: Book One, by Congressman John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell, and Wizzywig, by Ed Piskor, plus prose work by the likes of Cory Doctorow, Terry Goodkind and Tobias S. Bucknell. Those who more than the average amount offered (that’s $9.68 at the moment) now can unlock From Hell and The From Hell Companion, Too Cool to Be Forgotten and James Morrow’s prose novel Shambling Towards Hiroshima.
A portion of the proceeds from the Humble eBook Bundle IV benefits the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and Doctors Without Borders. The promotion ends June 11.
Nearly two months after Amazon announced the purchase of comiXology, the first title from the retail giant’s Jet City Comics imprint has debuted on the digital comics platform.
Wool: The Graphic Novel, an adaptation of the bestselling sci-fi novel by Hugh Howey, will be serialized in six biweekly issues beginning today on comiXology for $2.99 each. The full run is also available for $4.99 on Amazon.com as a Kindle Serial, with new issues arriving on the same schedule; comiXology will offer a $4.99 bundle once all six installments have been released.
A dark, dystopian story set on a post-apocalyptic Earth, Wool was published in 2011 by Howey as a novelette through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing system. As it attracted a following, he wrote more installments, which became the bestselling Silo Series. The graphic novel is written by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray and illustrated by Jimmy Broxton; a print edition will be released in August.
Amazon launched its Jet City imprint in July 2013, intending to serialize its titles for the Kindle, and then offer bundled digital editions and print collections. Naturally with the acquisition of comiXology in April, the distribution channels expanded.
Top Shelf Productions has teamed with Humble Bundle for an eBook offering that includes three acclaimed graphic novels: From Hell, by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell; March: Book One, by Congressman John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell, and Wizzywig, by Ed Piskor.
Humble Bundle, which made its entry into comics last month with a successful Image Comics promotion, allows customers to name their own price for DRM-free titles. In the case of the Humble eBook Bundle IV, a penny can score you digital copies of March, Wizzywig and the prose Sword & Sorcery Anthology; those who pay more than the average amount offered (that’s $9.67 at the moment) can unlock From Hell, plus Terry Goodkind’s Wizard’s First Rule, Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Alchemist and Tobias S. Bucknell’s The Executioners. For $10 or more, you can get Lovecraft’s Monsters: Anthology and Yahtzee Croshaw’s Jam.
The motion-comics platform Madefire announced this morning that four more comics publishers have signed on: Arcana, Archie Comics, Lion Forge and Seraphim.
There’s a definite skew toward horror in this announcement: The first Archie title to go on the platform is the zombie comic Afterlife With Archie, the Arcana title mentioned is The Intrinsic, and Seraphim is the publisher of horror writer Clive Barker’s work. The outlier is Lion Forge, which is best known as the creator of digital-first adaptations of 1980s TV shows; its first Madefire comic will apparently be Knight Rider.
That shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise, as Madefire seems determined to make motion comics for adult readers. The current lineup includes Tom Taylor’s dark Batman/Superman story Injustice: Gods Among Us, as well as Batman: Arkham Origins, Hellboy in Hell and Infinite Crisis.
Madefire is available as an iOS app and on DeviantART. It’s not unlike Thrillbent, although the Madefire comics I’ve read have more aggressive animation. On Thrillbent, each swipe makes one thing happen — a panel is revealed, a word balloon appears, the background shifts somehow. Madefire also works on swipes (or page turns on DeviantART), but several things may happen with each page turn, so the reader is a little less in control of the timing. That may be a plus in horror comics, because it allows the creator to surprise the reader in a way that can’t really happen on the printed page.