We're taking a break from wall-to-wall Mark Waid coverage this week to take a look at some other big stories: Marvel signs a digital exclusive deal with comiXology for single-issue comics, comiXology announces 65 million downloads and the CEOs of Dynamite and IDW talk about the part digital comics are playing in their retail mix right now. And since we can't go a week without any Mark Waid content at all, we have some commentary from him as well.
Digital Comics: Digital comics giant comiXology scored another coup this week with the announcement that it will be the exclusive digital distributor of single-issue Marvel Comics. This news didn't raise a lot of eyebrows -- comiXology has been the chief purveyor of Marvel comics for some time, and it also is the platform for the branded Marvel app -- but the significance is in the negative space: With Graphicly out of the picture, comiXology's chief competition for single-issue comics is iVerse, which has its own set of comics apps and is partnering with Diamond for its Diamond Digital program. This may have everything or nothing to do with the fact that most of comiXology's announcements lately have been exclusives (last week it was Valiant Entertainment), but it certainly looks like comiXology is cornering the single-issue comics market, at least for the foreseeable future.
UPDATE: ComiXology CEO David Steinberger clarified on Twitter that the 65 million number does not include re-downloads.
Publishing: In announcing the Marvel news, ComiXology CEO David Steinberger also announced that 65 million comics have been downloaded from comiXology since the company's inception. That number keeps popping up in comiXology stories and it has been growing; in January it was 50 million downloads. Because businesses such as comiXology seldom give details, it's hard to know how many downloads were paid vs. free, or whether this number includes multiple downloads of the same comic (at least one comiXology upgrade required readers to download all their comics anew). Even taking that into consideration, though, we're talking 15 million downloads over a fairly short period, which is pretty impressive.
Publishing: Ted Adams, President and CEO of IDW, spoke to ICv2 about the good times his company is experiencing, including an increase in sales of both print and digital comics. Adams says digital revenues are almost exactly 10% of direct market revenues, and he wouldn't be surprised to see that number increase to 15% or even 20% next year. Print revenues are up as well, but digital is rising faster: Direct market revenues are up 25%, he said, while digital is up 150%. This is a company that has been aggressive in the digital realm from the beginning; IDW was one of the first publishers of comics for the iPhone. Although he can't really explain it, Adams concludes from these numbers that digital comics are not stealing customers away from print. And why the phenomenal increase? Adfams' answer is simple: "It's got to be the number of people walking around with the devices. You see everybody with an iPad now. It's a ubiquitous device and people are discovering comic books on the iPad in a way that they probably haven't before. Maybe we're talking about lapsed readers, people who fell out of the habit of going to comic book stores for whatever reason, and they've stumbled upon the comiXology app and got back into the habit of reading comics. And some of those people who were lapsed readers have migrated back to the print versions as well."
Publishing: Meanwhile, Dynamite Entertainment CEO Nick Barrucci is seeing a somewhat different trend: Digital is keeping pace with single-issue sales, rather than soaring ahead, although he expects it to make up 15% of his business in three years, which suggests a faster growth rate than print. Like many publishers, though Dynamite is holding back a bit on digital comics in order to protect the direct market: All same-day releases are priced the same as print for 30 days, and trade paperbacks are released 30 days later in digital than in print.
Digital Comics: With a new "Phonogram" series due out from Image later this year, the creators have made the second mini-series, "The Singles Club," available digitally via comiXology -- and the first issue is free.
Creators: Mark Waid hit a roadblock with the second episode of his comic "Insufferable," which is the headliner at his Thrillbent digital comics site. As Waid explains in his process blog, the concept was to have four panels drop in one after the other as the reader scrolls across a particular panel, but he ran into both a technical obstacle and a human error, the latter being that he didn't describe his idea clearly enough to artist Peter Krause. The result was an issue that, as Waid says, doesn't use a lot of digital bells and whistles. As with many of Waid's process posts, a fascinating discussion ensues in the comments section.
Digital Comics: Artist Alley Comics doesn't exactly exist yet, but they offered a free downloadable comic on Free Comic Book Day (and it's still there on their site). As Robot 6 reported, it's a digital comics service created by a group of writers and artists that includes Michael May and Jason Copland (the creators of "Kill All Monsters," which they will be relaunching), Rich Woodall ("Johnny Raygun"), Craig Rousseau ("The Perhapanauts"), and Kelly Yates ("Doctor Who: A Fairytale Life"). They will launch in June at Heroes Con.
Digital Comics: The latest publisher to take the digital plunge is Graphic Classics, which has made their line of adaptations of classic works, both single stories and anthologies, available via iVerse and Ave! Comics.
People: Cory Casoni is leaving his post as marketing director at Oni Press for a consultant post at game company Namco Bandai, where he will be the head of marketing for their game-based comics line, ShiftyLook.
People: Marvel has let go John Dokes, SVP of Integrated Sales and Marketing, Publishing and Digital Media. This seems to have been a sudden move, as a press release quoting him went out the same day the news of his dismissal leaked out. Judging from the comments on blog posts about this, Dokes was smart and well liked, so hopefully he will be back in action somewhere else before too long.