In the past week, Mark Waid announced more of his new digital comics program at C2E2 with a new website and a new comic, DC announced two new digital-first series, Bill Amend takes the self-publishing route with digital "Foxtrot" collections and the DC graphic novels mysteriously disappeared from the Kindle Fire -- and no one is talking.
Creators: Mark Waid outlined his plans for a new digital comics site, Thrillbent.com, during his C2E2 panel, and he went into even more detail in an interview with CBR's Kiel Phegley. The launch title for the new site will be Waid's latest comic, "Insufferable," which he describes as "a superhero dramedy that's about what happens when your teenage sidekick turns out to be a douche bag." Nonetheless, Waid sees digital as a way of stepping outside the Direct Market to reach an audience that goes beyond superhero fans. In addition to the website, Waid plans to publish digital comics to tablets and smartphones, and from the beginning he is insisting on a landscape format, because that is how most people read comics on the computer. Although he plans to publish comics in digital form first, Waid is maintaining an eye on eventual print publication, but his strategy is to serialize the comics digitally and go direct to trade for the print editions. How will he, and the other creators he is pulling in, make any money off this? In his panel, Waid said he would experiment with several different models, including ad-supported content and putting some of the episodes behind a paywall.
Digital Comics: On the eve of C2E2, DC Comics announced two more digital-first comics. "Ame-Comi Girls," by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti, is based on DC's collectible figures that "brings the distinct Japanese influence of anime and manga to DC Comics' female heroines and their foes." I'm not sure why anyone thought that was a good idea, but the creator lineup is a lot more promising than the premise, with Amanda Conner, Tony Akins and Ted Naifeh, among others, drawing the various characters. The other series is "Batman," not the New 52 one but a series of self-contained stories that are outside the regular "Batman" continuity, each one handled by a different creative team. Again, the creators are the selling point here. "Ame-Comi Girls" will launch in May with a new comic every Monday, and "Batman" debuts in June with updates every Thursday; combined with their other digital-first titles, this means that DC will release a new digital comic every day of the week.
CORRECTION: DC graphic novels continue to be available for the Kindle Fire if purchased directly from Amazon. Only the comiXology app for Kindle is affected.
Platforms: Remember last year, when DC announced that its graphic novels would be available exclusively on the Kindle Fire, via comiXology? Remember how Barnes & Noble was so bent out of shape about this that they pulled DC's print graphic novels from their shelves (except, apparently, in my local store, where they stayed put)? Well, this news came out a lot more quietly, but it appears the graphic novels are no longer available via the Kindle Fire. What gives? No one is talking, naturally, although comiXology did confirm it. Most exclusives have some sort of a window, although this one seems to have been rather short: Bleeding Cool says the graphic novels may have been missing since as long ago as November, which is a long time for no one to notice -- which may be evidence that no one was buying them that way. (So even though no one is talking, the question may have answered itself.) Anyway, if you already bought a DC GN for your Kindle Fire, don't panic; it will continue to be available for download. And since comiXology's other apps sync with the Kindle Fire, users will still be able to access DC comics that way.
Digital Comics: Bill Amend published three Fox Trot e-books this week, each priced at $1.99. Amend told TechCrunch that he liked the iPad as a comics platform from the moment he saw it, but he found the other comic strip collections to be too "clunky." The iBooks Author program solved that problem for him: "You have no idea how much fun it was to make these things. I love working with the people at Andrews McMeel on my print books, but the finished product always feels like their creation more than mine. These iBooks are all my doing and it's a great feeling."
Awards: Lauren Davis argues that the Eisner Awards should offer more categories for digital comics, saying, "Webcomics are not print comics that happen to appear on the web. They're a distinct animal, offer a distinct reading experience, and should be evaluated accordingly." Since I was one of this year's Eisner judges, it's hard for me to be objective about this, but I do agree with most of what she has to say, and in fact, I argued for increasing the number of digital comics categories. I can't speak to why that didn't happen this year, but I hope the category grows in the future.
Digital Comics: Here's another bit of Eisner insider info: Dave Kellett's "Coffee: It's What's for Dinner" made us laugh out loud. Well, OK, I'm just speaking for myself here, but there was a lot of giggling in the room when people were reading his book. Kellett is celebrating his Eisner nomination by making the book available as a free, DRM-free downloadable PDF. Fight the power by downloading it, but if you value your computer screen, don't drink coffee while you are actually reading it.
Digital Comics: Marvel and Rockstar are developing a digital comic based on the "Max Payne" game; as is becoming increasingly common, the comic will bridge the story gap between the earlier iterations of the game and the latest version, "Max Payne 3." The story is being written by Sam Lake, the writer of the original "Max Payne" game, and Rockstar honcho Dan Houser; Fernando Blanco is the interior artist and Greg Horn is doing the covers. The comic will be available on the official Max Payne site as well as "additional digital comics channels" -- whatever could that mean?
Digital Comics: Dark Horse is offering digital comics as a premium for users of ePlate, offering free pages with each purchase made with the device and, once the user accumulates an entire comic, both a digital and a print copy. Yes, but what the hell is ePlate? It's a "mobile payment device" that allows the user to earn different premiums by pressing different buttons. I could not find a picture of this thing online, so it's not clear to me what exactly it is or whether the buttons are real or virtual. But hey, free comics!
Apps: zuuka Comics, which developed the digital comic based on the "Cut the Rope" game, has just released another game-based comic: "Dragon's Lair," inspired by Don Bluth's arcade game of the same name, which was first released in 1983. Bluth supplied the cover art and a bonus story for the first issue, which is free; subsequent issues are $1.99.
Creators: Don't hold your breath waiting for a "Wilson" app: "I don't want my comics read on the Internet," Dan Clowes told an interviewer on the eve of a museum exhibit of his art. "Books are a much better module for imparting what I do."