ComiXology is expanding its reach with a new Paris-based division devoted to “spearheading the acquisition of international language content across the European continent.” Staff from comiXology Europe and the U.S. branch will have a presence this week at the Angoulême International Comics Festival, the second-largest comic-book festival in the world.
“ComiXology has already proven to be enormously popular with consumers in many countries around the world – and that’s just in English,” comiXology co-founder CEO David Steinberger said in a statement. “With comiXology Europe, comiXology takes the first step in becoming the platform for multi-language graphic literature from all over the world.”
It’s been an eventful few months for the digital-comics platform, which was the third-highest grossing iPad app of 2012, up from No. 10 the previous year. In December alone, comiXology launched a continuous-bookmarking feature, signed distribution deals with Andresw McMeel Publishing and Mark Waid’s Thrillbent, and rolled out comiXology Submit. In October, the company surpassed 100 million downloads, with more of than 50 million occurring in 2012.
Creators | Colorist Jordie Bellaire launches a protest against a convention that refuses to include colorists as guests. “Your one sentence, ‘this is not a colorists thing,’ was surely the most pigheaded and dismissive thing I’ve been told since I began professional coloring,” she writes, and then goes on to point out all the things colorists do to make comics great and make a forceful argument for including them (as many major cons already do). In a later post she explains why she won’t name the convention. [Jordie Colors Things]
Graphic novels | A study soon to be released by a University of Oklahoma researcher shows that students who read a textbook in graphic novel form retained more than those who read a straight prose textbook. [The Oklahoman]
Last year, we got the news that Archaia is reworking the late Shotaro Ishinomori’s classic manga Cyborg 009 as a Western-style comic. This week, we get a first look at it as they post the first issue on comiXology. Cyborg 009: Chapter 000, priced at $2.99, is actually a package deal, with the first 17 pages of the new version (to be released as a graphic novel at Comic-Con International) and the first 61 pages of the manga. While the real intention is probably to whet readers’ appetites, the release also coincides handily with Ishinomori’s 75th birthday.
(For those who like to get back to roots, Shaenon Garrity has a loving explanation of the original, which is available on comiXology for $4.99 a volume).
Anyway, the coolest thing about this sampler is something you won’t see on the hard copy: the “truly digital” variant cover. It’s a cover that can only appear on the digital comic because the image builds up with a series of swipes. This type of reveal has been used before, in Mark Waid and Peter Krause’s Insufferable and Marvel’s Avengers vs. X-Men #1: Infinite (written by Waid and drawn by Stuart Immonen), but this is the first time I have seen it on a cover. And it will likely be unique, not just to digital but to comiXology, because it uses comiXology’s Guided View to achieve the effect.
You can check out an animated GIF of the cover below.
Following the release last week of Capcom’s DmC: Devil May Cry, Titan Comics has announced the digital debut today of the prequel comic DmC: Devil May Cry: The Chronicles of Vergil. Yes, it gets two colons.
The first of two installments can be purchased now from comiXology; both will be available in print in May.
A reimagining of the video-game franchise that’s sold more than 12 million copies worldwide, DmC is set in a parallel universe where Dante finds himself under attack by demons in a seemingly sentient town called Limbo City. He meets a girl named Kat, who sends him to meet Virgil, the leader of a demon-fighting organization — and Dante’s identical twin.
A veteran writer for DC Comic and Marvel, Waid is the creator of the alt-superhero series Incorruptible and Irredeemable, former editor-in-chief and chief creative officer of BOOM! Studios, and the winner of three Eisner Awards this year for his work on Daredevil. In other words, he knows his comics. But with Thrillbent, Waid struck out into the unknown, creating a digital-comics site and using it to host his newest comic Insufferable.
The end of the year seemed like a good time to touch base and see what Waid has learned so far and what he plans to do next with Thrillbent.
Robot 6: What has been the hardest part of all this so far?
Mark Waid: Besides working for free on my own end of it, the hardest part by far has been making the jump from print to digital in terms of story construction. When I started out with this idea over a year ago, I still had in the back of my head that we would be doing print comics out of digital comics fairly easily. I wanted to do comics in a 4/3 ratio so we could stack one on another and make a comics page. Trying not to do in digital what I can’t do in print was such a bad mistake. If you’re going to do it, do it right, go all in, is what I learned. That was a hard leap to make, but once I made it, it was very liberating. It made me a lot less cautious, and it narrowed my focus so I no longer had to feel that I was serving both masters, print and digital. Then being able to use different techniques like rack focus, repeating panels, pop-up dialogue, that you can’t do in print becomes a reality, and it made us all the more adventuresome—I don’t mean just me, I mean my collaborators. I made the mandate fairly early on: Don’t worry about print; we’ll figure it out later.
As we finish off Year Five of digital comics (depending on how you count things), the distribution method is positioned to bring in a continually growing sector of new readers.
comiXology, the market leader, is ending 2012 as the third highest-grossing app of the year for the iPad. That’s up from the 10th spot last year, which is even more remarkable when you consider virtually no other app made an appearance on both lists. I can’t imagine that could be accomplished strictly with purchases from direct-market customers crossing over to digital. And when you take into account that direct-market sales have also been improving, that couldn’t happen even if every reader in comics got a big raise this year and was buying both digital and print copies. Worst-case scenario, we’re winning back lapsed readers. But mixed within those two groups (current and lapsed/returning readers) has to be a third, even if only a small percentage at this time. It seems too good to be true but it’s becoming more and more likely that the elusive new reader is being reached.
As digital sales continue to grow (“getting close to 25 to 30% of print sales,” for Robert Kirkman), several elements are in place, or just about in place, that could be creating a perfect storm to increase that new readers section of the pie.
The digital comics juggernaut comiXology is having quite a week: Mark Waid put his Insufferable, which is also hosted on his own Thrillbent site, onto the service, and the company signed a deal with Andrews McMeel for digital versions of Doonesbury, Dilbert and Big Nate. And today comiXology debuted something that was initially announced in October: ComiXology Submit, which allows creators to submit their own creator-owned comics to the platform. Here’s the deal, fresh from the press release:
Continuing its busy week, comiXology has announced a deal with Andrews McMeel Publishing to bring Garry Trudeau’s Doonesbury, Lincoln Peirce’s Big Nate and Scott Adams’ Dilbert and other comic strips to the growing digital platform beginning today. Additional AMP releases will be available in later months.
“We are thrilled to bring our cutting-edge, world-renowned comics and best-selling humor books to comiXology’s global audience,” Kirsty Melville, publisher and president of Andrews McMeel’s books division, said in a statement. “Andrews McMeel prides itself on publishing exceptional and innovative content, and making it available to consumers wherever and however they choose to read. This digital engagement with comiXology, through their innovative buying and reading experience, provides a perfect way for new audiences to discover our titles.”
ComiXology kicked off the week with news that Comics by comiXology was the third-highest grossing iPad app in 2012, up from No. 10 the previous year. That was followed Wednesday by the debut of Continue, a continuous-bookmarking feature that permits users to pick up reading on one device where they left off on another, and the announcement this morning that Mark Waid’s Thrillbent imprint has signed a distribution deal that begins with the digital debut of Insufferable by Waid and Peter Krause.
Even the mob can get into the spirit of the season.
Today sees the release on on comiXology of Masks and Mobsters #5 , the latest issue of the digital series by Joshua Williamson and Mike Henderson. Not only does it feature a special holiday story, but the creators are also being awesome and donating everything they make off the issue to charity. Henderson and Williamson (who shared with us on Sunday what he’s been reading) were kind enough to answer some of my questions about the series and their plans for this special issue, as well as reveal a whole bunch of art.
Today comiXology will introduce a continuous bookmarking feature for all of its comics apps, which Venture Beat reports will permit users to pick up reading on one device where they left off on another.
The feature, called simply Continue, will remember the last page a reader viewed on, say, her iPhone, so that when she moves to her iPad, she won’t have to flip through pages to find her place. As Venture Beat’s Tom Cheredar notes, Continue probably won’t be a big deal for those who buy their single issues digitally; however, for readers of graphic novels and collections, it’ll likely be a revelation.
“It’s true that the continuous bookmarking may seem like a small feature, but its little elements like this that make comiXology’s reading experience better than its competitors,” Cheredar writes. “(Seriously, reading a comic on iBooks or Kindle feels so rigid by comparison because it lacks things like the panel-by-panel Guided View feature.) Hopefully, we’ll see more little additions in the future, such as annotations, and being able to view comics without having to download them.”
It’s been a good year for comiXology, which on Monday was revealed as the third-highest grossing iPad app of 2012, up from No. 10 the year before. The company followed that with the announcement that it has served more than 2 billion pages of comics since its launch three years ago.
Update (9:30 a.m. PT): ComiXology has officially announced Continue. You can read the press release below:
Publishing | Pulp heroes The Spirit, Doc Savage and The Avenger disappeared from the DC Comics lineup more than a year ago, with Co-Publisher Dan DiDio now confirming on his Facebook page that the company’s rights to the characters have lapsed. Brian Azzarello paired the vintage characters with Batman, Black Canary, the Blackhawks and other current DC heroes in his First Wave miniseries, which launched in 2010. Heidi MacDonald adds, “we’ve heard that at WB it was pointed out that DC paying good money to license old characters didn’t make much sense when they had their own catalog of little-used characters to exploit.” [Blog@Newsarama]
Digital comics | As noted here Monday, comiXology was No. 3 on the list of top-grossing iPad apps of 2012, and in the press release announcing this, the comiXology folks dropped another number on us: They have served more than 2 billion pages since their launch three years ago. [comiXology]
Digital comics | Comics by comiXology was the third-highest grossing app on the iPad in 2012. Last year Comics made No. 10 on the charts, and two other comiXology apps, their Marvel and DC apps, also made the Top 20. [Inside Mobile Apps]
Manga | Black Lagoon creator Rei Hiroe has announced that after a nearly two-year hiatus, he’ll resume his hit manga in January or February. The violent action/black comedy series, which centers on a team of pirates/mercenaries, is published in North America by Viz Media. [Crunchyroll]
Legal | Disney has filed a motion to dismiss a $5.5 billion copyright-infringement lawsuit filed in October by failed dot-com Stan Lee Media Inc. in its sixth attempt to claim ownership of the Marvel characters co-created by Stan Lee. SLM, which is no longer affiliated with its co-founder and namesake, asserts Lee didn’t properly assign ownership of the works to Marvel, and that Disney didn’t file its Marvel agreement with the U.S. Copyright Office. Disney calls the lawsuit “completely frivolous,” and argues, in part, that the claims have already been litigated and rejected. [The Hollywood Reporter]
Publishing | As final print edition of The Dandy promptly sells out and the venerable U.K. children’s comic migrates online, David Fickling briefly discusses why he launched The Phoenix — a weekly geared for readers ages 6 to 12 — nearly a year ago, and why comics aren’t dead: “Reading comics was always a delight. Reading them under the bedclothes or the desk, even better. Now at last the experts are understanding the importance of reading comics. The loss of reading for pleasure has been identified as one of the principle reasons for falling standards of literacy. Perhaps part of the reason for our disgraceful literacy rates is that we don’t have comics. Comics are a link to books not competition; in short they are a great leveller.” [The Telegraph]
Almost three weeks ago, DC Comics expanded its digital distribution of periodicals beyond comiXology (and its own branded app, which is run by comiXology) to a number of other platforms, including iBooks, Kindle, and Nook, and in the process, the notion of a coordinated release time got scrambled.
To recap: When it was just on comiXology, DC delayed release of new digital comics until 2 p.m. ET each Wednesday to give comics shops a chance to get them onto the racks before the digital editions came out. However, each of the new platforms has its own timing and queuing, and as a result, the comics go on sale at different times on each platform — in some cases, as early as 12:01 a.m.
Is this really a big deal? It must be to someone, because DC sent a memo to comics retailers last week, stating that from now on, comics would go live on comiXology at 3 a.m. each Wednesday:
Why fight the crowds today when you can take advantage of Black Friday savings on print and digital comics from the comfort of your own home? Here’s a roundup of online sales kicking off this morning, with discounts on everything from The Walking Dead and The Incredible Hulk to Star Wars and Adventure Time. If you know of any other, please let us know in the comments.
• Dark Horse’s web store is promoting a “Star Wars Black Friday MegaBundle,” with digital editions of 153 Star Wars comics — they include such titles as The Clone Wars, The Old Republic, Crimson Empire, Dawn of the Jedi and Agent of the Empire, 3,772 pages in all — for $100. The sale ends Sunday.