2009 was a big year for comiXology, as the company launched their "Comics" application on the iPhone, an app that allowes allows users to download and read comics from various comic companies, including Marvel, Image, Dynamite, AdHouse, Arcana and many more. In addition, they have also been working with creators on original content for the app, and in October their first exclusive comic launched, "Box 13" by David Gallaher and Steve Ellis.
The publisher's rollout of original content continues into 2010. After releasing a >free preview last month, comiXology is releasing "Moon Girl" for 99 cents an issue.
"Moon Girl" is written by Johnny Zito and Tony Trov, the writing team on Black Cherry Bombshells and LaMorte Sisters webcomics, both of which are hosted by Zuda Comics. The writing partners have known each other for 15 years and are currently roommates.
"We share many of the same influences and memories," Zito said. "We communicate with each other mentally in a language only dolphins can understand."
"We spend pretty much every waking hour trapped in a room, thinking at one another about monsters and cartoons. We take turns typing the script. I hit all the vowels and Johnny covers the consonants," Trov joked.
While the writing duo's previous comics have fallen into the horror genre, featuring zombies and vampires, respectively, "Moon Girl" is their first super hero work.
"Super Heroes are tricky," Zito said. "We find they work best when re-contextualized to the 1940s – 60s. We took a lot of inspiration from 'Justice League: New Frontier' and 'Marvels.' 'Moon Girl, is based on a Golden Age superhero created by Gardner Fox for EC Comics in the 1940s. The copyright has slipped into public domain so we started there."
"It's 'The Dark Knight' meets 'Mad Men,'" Trov said when describing the book. "Clare is a Russian princess exiled to New York. When enemies from the past threaten her new life, the repressed Warrior Queen fights back. The media catches wind of her nocturnal crusade and christen her Moon Girl."
Zito added that Moon Girl is a "champion of the counter culture," and represents a movement of young people "fed up with the corporatism and conformity" of post World War II.
"The urban legends of Moon Girl inspire the 'Super Manifesto' - a post-human gospel," he said. "Activists subvert the establishment by dressing in bright Technicolor clothes and taking futuristic new names. Extremists turn to violence and terror, expecting to shock the system into change. Only Moon Girl stands between them and us, anarchy and order."
While Zito and Trov have made changes to the original story, elements of the Golden Age Moon Girl still made it into their version.
"Moon Girl's original adventures are kind of simple, but she has an origin that shares similarities with Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman," Trov said. "She's this princess from a country that no longer exists. She's inherited a moon rock that makes her more than human. Moon Girl uses this power to protect her adopted nation from the evils that destroyed her homeland. She's a very unique archetype that lets us play with lots of genre conventions."
"For instance, we're toying with criminal insanity, antisocial behavior and trend setting," Zito added. "Does Moon Girl's magic gem give her super powers, or is it a coping mechanism? Is her secret identity a form of repression? Is violence a deviant behavior or revolutionary act?"
"The 1950's are a great era to explore all of this, because it's so rife with paranoia, secret wars and psychoanalysis," Trov said. "Not to mention we live in similar times."
Trov said that the duo plans to include additional material with each issue to flesh out the world of Moon Girl. "To help the world building, we're gonna try to show the commercialization of the super humans into something gaudy and campy," Trov said. "We've got vintage ads, newspaper articles and 'Cosmo' quizzes in the first few issues."
"'Are you a Super Hero or a Super Zero!? Fill out our risqué questionnaire and discover the sidekick of your dreams!'" Zito said. "This is an exciting world plagued with diabolical freedom fighters; Sugar Plum Fairy, Tiki Bob and Satana. Think different and be become more than human. Save the world and force everyone to be free!"
For "Moon Girl," the duo is working with an illustrator simply known as "The Rahzza" to bring their ideas to the screen.
"We produced 'Moon Girl' independently with our amazing illustrator Rahzza," Trov said. "Our set up with comiXology allows him to draw the rest of the graphic novel episodically. Like Zuda's release schedule, it'll help us build buzz while we look for a print publisher."
Zito said that "Moon Girl" is produced in a standard comic book size, so it will be easy to publish it down the road. "The comiXology navigation is flexible to our formatting, rather than the other way around," Zito said. "It's definitely the best way to get your comics on the iPhone. The flow is very intuitive."
David Steinberger, CEO of comiXology, said he met Zito and Trov through David Gallaher, a mutual friend, and was impressed with their work on Zuda. "The quality of work is great, and the willingness to experiment with the platform is there. That's enough for us," Steinberger said.
As for comiXology's original content, Steinberger said it has been doing well for them.
"Being free doesn't hurt, of course," Steinberger said. "'Box 13' #1, while only having been out a short time, is the eighth most downloaded comic on the app, and the other chapters aren't far behind. That doesn't include the many thousands of views of the comic via the Web interface, either. We release 'Box 13' every other week on the Web and the iPhone."
In addition to “Box 13” and “Moon Girl,” comiXology has also released Keenspot's “First Daughter” on the iPhone. Steinberger expects to release a “good half dozen” exclusives in 2010.
"2010 is already shaping up to be even bigger: more products, more great partners, more exclusives and more big announcements," Steinberger said. "We expect to continue to surprise the fans and help both publishers and retailers move further into the digital market. We're the only company positioned to bring together digital publishing and traditional publishing, so I expect us to extend our lead in the digital space. 'Box 13' fits in there as well, as we're already in negotiations to have the graphic novel in print mid-spring."