When he isn’t writing and drawing, Ty Templeton teaches at the Toronto Cartoonists Workshop, where the “Fit to Print” class simulates a real freelance job for a mainstream comics publisher — complete with deadlines, editorial feedback and working on pre-determined characters. And eventually, publication, in the form of an anthology that will be sold at Fan Expo Canada Aug. 25-28 and digitally (for free!) through Graphicly, DriveThruComics, My Digital Comics and The Illustrated Section.
“Our end-of-the-year project takes the form of an anthology book featuring adventures of the 21st Century descendants of Sherlock and Watson, under the title Holmes Incorporated, and the work this year is shockingly good for a group of rookies trying to get their foot in the door—they deserve a little love and attention. And to sweeten the deal we wrapped our issue up in a cover by X-Men/JSA/Supergirl artist and nice guy, Leonard Kirk — who is also an instructor at our school, so it was a matter of cornering Len in the lunch room,” Templeton said. “This year we’re making the new issue (and last year’s) available as a FREE download for anyone’s e-reader, computer, phone, iPad, etc. Between the two issues it’s 140 FREE pages of the remarkably skilled comics work of some eager and talented newcomers looking to prove themselves, and all they ask is the time it takes to look at the pages.”
After the jump you can take a look at an embedded preview, courtesy of Graphicly.
The Cowboys & Aliens movie premiered last week at Comic-Con International, and it opens nationwide on Friday, so it’s a good time to revisit the graphic novel on which it’s based. Remember the graphic novel? Despite the controversy around the initial marketing — the claim is that publisher Platinum Studios boosted the book onto the bestseller list by giving it away for free — I thought it was a pretty good read. Which is not surprising, considering it has a pretty solid team of writers and artists behind it: Scott Mitchell Rosenberg, Fred Van Lente and Andrew Foley are the writers, and Dennis Calero and Luciano Lima handled the art.
Graphicly announced Wednesday that it’s releasing an enhanced digital edition priced at $9.99, and publishing a special Nook edition at the same price. Or you could get it for free: Years ago, Cowboys & Aliens was published digitally at Wowio, which was owned by Platinum at one time but is now a separate company. It is still up at Wowio with a list price of $1.99, but at the moment it’s free as a sponsored download— without the enhancements, of course.
So what makes Graphicly’s version worth $10? I put the question directly to Ron Richards, the company’s vice president of external relations, and here is his response: “The C&A book on Graphicly is the latest release (the Wowio one is dated 2006), and the extras contain all the movie trailers, character sketches and bios. The characters are hot-spotted throughout the book, so you can click on someone and load up their bio and see development sketches. And when it’s purchased at B&N, you can unlock even more extras including video and audio.”
The extras are pretty impressive, but so is the price differential. So I leave it to you, readers: Which would you buy?
Blair Butler reviews a stack of new comics every Friday on G4TV.com’s Fresh Ink Online, and now Graphicly is getting in on the act by providing one of those comics each week, for free, in an embedded comics reader.
They are starting with a demo of Criminal: The Last of the Innocent, by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, but it’s not the whole comic, just a 5-page preview. Let’s hope the publishers aren’t too stingy with this and are willing to put up whole issues, as that would make the feature a lot more worthwhile.
The digital comics publisher Graphicly is not a company that is afraid of change—heck, they changed their name from Graphic.ly 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.
Less than a year ago, Archaia signed an exclusive agreement with the digital comics distributor Graphicly, and Johanna Draper Carlson mused that this could be bad for the industry as a whole:
I wonder how online music would have developed if there were certain tracks you could only get through iTunes and others that you couldn’t listen to there, but had to install a different player.
She needn’t have worried: Yesterday the news came that Archaia would be putting the comic Days Missing on comiXology. Since the comic is also available on Graphicly, this may signal that exclusivity isn’t working all that well for them. And it looks like this is just the beginning. From the press release:
The digital release of Days Missing by Archaia on the comiXology platform is the beginning of a partnership to distribute more of its expansive library digitally. comiXology users will be able to enjoy a breadth of new Archaia comics digitally in the upcoming months.
Retailers around the world will once again celebrate the greatest holiday of the year, at least for comic fans, on Saturday — Free Comic Book Day. In addition to giving away comics from a wide range of publishers, many retailers will also host creator signings and other events at their shops. To see what’s happening in your area, head over to the FCBD’s event listing page.
For parents wondering what you should pick up for your kids, Katherine Dacey has a great guide posted at Good Comics for Kids.
And after you’ve hit your local comic shop, you can also find some free comics of the electronic variety:
- Graphicly will have several free comics available via their site and applications on Saturday, including a Free Comic Book Day Edition of Mouse Guard that will appear in all of their user accounts. They will also have issues of Archie, Atomic Robo, In Maps & Legends and many more that can be downloaded for free on Saturday only; head over to their blog for a complete list.
- ComixTribe and Red Handed Studios have joined forces to digitally release a crossover between their flagship titles, Epic and DynaGirl. You can download it now, right here.
And finally, to see previews of just about all the titles that will be available, head over to the FCBD website. My personal “shopping” list for tomorrow includes everything, but the ones I’m really psyched about include the Amazing Spider-Man one, featuring Shang Chi; DC’s Green Lantern one, mainly for the Flashpoint preview; Robert Kirkman’s Super Dinosaur; Spontaneous #1 from Oni; and of course the Roger Langridge/Chris Samnee Thor/Captain America book, which is the perfect thing to read after we see Thor tomorrow. For more on the comics themselves, Dorian at Postmodern Barney has a rundown.
Barnes & Noble’s unveiled its app store for the Nook Color e-reader, yesterday, edging the $249 device even closer to being an alternative to the iPad. And Graphicly was right there at the launch with three graphic novel apps Mouse Guard: Fall 1152, Wanted, and Irredeemable.
This is not Graphicly’s fault, but the Nook Color app store is not very well organized; they have cute headings like “Explore” and “Organize” but not “Comics” or even “Read.” Plugging the titles in to the search engine gave mixed results: The Mouse Guard app turned up alongside listings for the physical books. Clicking on the title brought me straight back to the generic Nook Apps page. I couldn’t find Wanted or Irredeemable at all. Maybe if I had a Nook it would be easier, but the website should be as well organized as the built-in app store.
The bottom line is this: It’s great that Nook is getting into apps, and it’s great that Graphicly was there on Day One. But if no one can find your books, no one can buy them, and unless Barnes & Noble comes up with a better way to feature content than this—vague categories and no complete listing of all the apps—they aren’t going to move many comics.
The digital comics scene continues to be a bit of a mishmash.
Every week, I get an e-mail from comiXology listing all of its new issues for the week, but the order seems to be somewhere between alphabetical and random. Viz Media also does a nice job of letting me know what’s new on its app. Graphicly sends a chatty e-mail featuring a couple of titles, but the company doesn’t put them front and center in its app, so I have to go looking for them (and it’s not the most intuitive interface). And while I know the iVerse folks have been busy, they don’t update their blog or (as far as I can tell) send out e-mails. This is all my way of saying that while the following may seem heavy on comiXology content, that’s not because I’m biased — it’s because comiXology has more titles and is doing a better job of promoting them.
That said, I thought it would be helpful to sift through this week’s offerings and pull out some good weekend reading.
A couple of classic series are debuting on comiXology this week. Having attended both the Vertigo panel and the Bill Willingham spotlight panel at C2E2, I was interested in seeing more of Fables, so it’s a happy coincidence that Jack of Fables #1 is up there for free. It’s just as clever as the main series, and Tony Akins’ supple penciling is a treat for the eyes. (One of the things I enjoy about Fables is that there is plenty of eye candy for the ladies as well as the guys.) Sometimes the free samples are kind of mingy, but not here: This is the whole first issue of Jack of Fables, and if that whets your appetite, Issue 2 is up there for $1.99.
Also new this week, although, sadly, not free, is Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s Batman and Robin. The first six issues, comprising two complete story arcs, are up this week.
Starting today, Graphic.ly becomes the latest digital comics service to launch an app for Android devices. With about 2,000 comics from 150 publishers, Graphic.ly is one of the smaller digital distributors, but they are the only distributor of Marvel comics on the Android platform, and their lineup also includes Archaia, Archie, Boom! Studios, IDW, and Top Cow. Last week, Graphic.ly announced that beginning in April, they will be carrying Archie comics on the same day they are released in print.
The Android app, which is free, includes a full storefront so users can buy comics via their Android phones, and they can also sync their Android app with their Graphic.ly account on other platforms, so you can, for instance, buy a comic via their web app and read it on your Android phone. In the official press release, Graphic.ly CEO Micah Baldwin says “This application is only the beginning of the expansion of our relationship with Google, which began as a launch partner with the Chrome Application Store.” That opens up some interesting horizons, as Apple begins to enforce its iTunes restrictions and publishers start to wonder about alternatives. With its web and Air apps (which allow you to buy comics through their own store) and now the Android app, Graphic.ly is definitely diversifying.
Until recently, Android users haven’t had many comics to choose from. Robot Comics has been publishing comics as single apps for Android phones for the past few years, but for a long time they had the platform to themselves. ComiXology announced an Android app in December, and Graphic.ly is only the second multi-comics app to make the leap to the Android.
Full press release and more screenshots after the jump.
Archie Comics co-CEO Jon Goldwater announced today that beginning in April, Archie comics will be available through Graphicly on the same day that the print editions appear in comics stores. Graphic.ly is a digital comics reader that is available on the iPad, iPhone, on the web, and through Adobe Air (which works on Macs and PCs).
This is the third channel in which readers will be able to buy Archie comics digitally on their release dates; they will be available through the Archie iPad app (powered by iVerse) beginning in April and in comics shops through the Diamond Digital program beginning in July. The new comics will sell for $1.99 in all three channels.
Goldwater said Graphic.ly approached Archie about making a deal shortly after the announcement of the day-and-date releases through the iPad app. “They called us up and said ‘We read your announcement and we would like to be part of this,’ and we immediately said yes,” he said.