Ben Abernathy, who left DC Comics last week after more than a decade with the company — most recently as digital editor — has joined Madefire, the innovative motion-comics company launched last year by Ben Wolstenholme, Liam Sharp and Eugene Walden.
“About two years ago Ben [Wolstenholme] and I realized there would be a point very early on where Madefire needed a full-time editor – if all went to plan!” Sharp tells ComicBooked.com. “We started to draft a wish-list – and it barely got past one! Ben Abernathy!”
Abernathy, who worked briefly for Dark Horse and Marvel, was senior editor of WildStorm until the imprint was closed in 2010 amid a corporate restructuring and he was moved with other staff to DC’s West Coast digital division. “… Ultimately, the industry is heading to a predominantly digital delivery and that’s not a reflection whatsoever on the direct market or the print publishers–it’s just a reality based on technology and the evolving audience,” Abernathy says in a Q&A on the Madefire website. “From the position I held at DC, I had the opportunity to see some of the reading tools being developed for the industry, and from the moment I saw Madefire’s work, I could tell they were ahead of the curve. Way ahead. And you’re right: I wouldn’t be answering these questions if I didn’t believe that 100 percent and wasn’t committed to doing everything possible to help facilitate this next step.”
Digital comics is still a small business, but it is growing fast. comiXology launched its Comics iPhone app in July 2009 with 80 titles, many of them small indie comics. Last week alone, they added 150 new titles, and the week before, it was over 200. The app is now multi-platform, with iPad and web-based readers and Android on the way. Like any new company, they have had growing pains, and one complaint has been that smaller publishers can’t get their comics onto the app. Two weeks ago, CEO David Steinberger announced that comiXology would make its development tools available to individual publishers so they can prep their comics themselves and speed up the process. It seemed like an opportune moment to talk to Steinberger about the new program, the logic of in-app purchases, why he has a separate Walking Dead app, and the potential for comics as they expand into the digital space.
Brigid: Why is the developer tools program offered by invitation only?