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Comics A.M. | Ron Richards leaves Image Comics

Ron Richards

Ron Richards

Publishing | Ron Richards, who joined Image Comics in January 2013 as its director of business development, has announced his departure from the publisher. “I am immensely proud of the work that I was able to be a part of,” he wrote. “Re-defining how a comic company makes announcements and interacts with their fans with Image Expo, and helping usher in new and exciting comics like Black Science, Wytches, Southern Bastards, Deadly Class, The Wicked + The Divine (among so many more) has been an honor and a privilege. It’s been a delight to work alongside some of the most talented comics creators in the business  —  and I leave with respect for all of them.” A co-founder of iFanboy and a veteran of Graphicly, Richards said he doesn’t have any immediate work plans. His departure from Images follows that of Jennifer de Guzman last week. [Medium]

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Digital to account for 15% of Image’s revenue this year

Image Comics sales

Image Comics sales

While the launch on Tuesday of Image Comics’ DRM-free digital comics storefront rightfully attracted a lot of attention, the bigger eye-opener may end up being some of the numbers behind that decision.

The publisher shared with statistics — and charts! — that should go far to ease lingering concerns about piracy and digital’s “cannibalization” of print sales: As you can see above, digital sales accounted for 12 percent of Image’s overall revenue in 2012, a figure that’s expected to increase to 15 percent by the end of this year. Twenty-two percent of the sales of the bestselling Walking Dead comes from digital (presumably that’s monthly sales, although the article doesn’t specify). What’s more, “when measured solely against print comics sold in the direct market at comic book stores, digital makes up 27 percent of revenue.”

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iFanboy splits with Graphicly as Ron Richards joins Image

The comics news site/podcast iFanboy, which was acquired in February 2010 by Graphicly, announced this afternoon it has “amicably split” with the digital comics distributor turned e-book distributor. At the same time, iFanboy co-founder Ron Richards and Image Comics revealed he has been hired as the publisher’s director of business development.

“Now before any speculation happens about nefarious business dealings or behind the scenes decisions let me be absolutely clear,” Richards wrote of the split with Graphicly. “This was a joint decision by all of us and there’s nothing to read into beyond that. Simply put, Graphicly is focusing their resources beyond comic books, and no one involved wanted to see iFanboy shut down as a result. So Graphicly generously worked with us to enable this transition back to independence.”

Graphicly announced in April that it would move away from distributing comics on its own app and instead focus on providing visually based books and comics to eBook platforms like Apple’s iBooks, Amazon’s Kindle and the Barnes & Noble Nook.

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Robot Roulette | Joe Keatinge

Welcome to the very first edition of Robot Roulette, a new interview feature where creators spin the virtual roulette wheel to find out what questions they’ll be answering. With a little help from my friends, I’ve come up with 36 possible questions that any creator could answer, on topics ranging from their careers to their personal lives to their tastes in music. Each week I will randomly select which of those questions they get to tackle.

The first pro to step up to the wheel is Joe Keatinge. Formerly Image Comics’ publicity guy and co-editor of the award-winning Popgun anthology, Joe’s now the writer of Glory and Hell Yeah from Image, and the upcoming Morbius ongoing series for Marvel. He talks about all of these things (and more) regularly on his Tumblr, and Comic Book Resources recently posted a lengthy interview with him on Glory, Hell Yeah and lots more. But nowhere did they address his pet peeves or what instrument he wished he could play. But don’t worry; I’ve got your back.

Joe was one of several pros I sent an email about this wacky feature idea before it existed, and I appreciate his willingness to be one of my first victims guinea pigs. Now on with the show …

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Graphicly publishes digital version of Cowboys & Aliens

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?

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