Unbound Comics launches with a new vision of e-comics

Tue, October 23rd, 2001 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Keith Giles, Staff Writer

Aaron Thacker may not be a name you're familiar with, but if he has his way that will change shortly. Thacker is championing the proliferation of comic books in a format that so far hasn't been completely embraced by fans or creators; the electronic version.

Recently, Thacker debuted his vision of the future of comic books to the cyber world in the form of Unbound Comics.

While there are currently several other online comics sites in operation, Unbound Comics hopes to stand out from the crowd of usual suspects.

"What separates Unbound Comics from everyone else right now is that we have invested in the partnerships and infrastructure needed to sell secured e-books and we're working to build that market," said Thacker. "Some of the same creators you've read at OPI8.com and NextComics.com are also releasing e-books at Unbound Comics, and in my mind we're all working together to carve out a future for comics in this new market."

Unboundcomics will feature work from both indie creators and seasoned veterans of the industry.

[Dalgoda]"Part of what is so great about Unbound Comics is that we don't close off markets to creators and publishers. You continue to control all the rights to your work, including the right to simultaneously publish your work in any format," said Thacker. Our agreement more closely resembles a licensing contract than a publishing contract. You'll notice, for example, that all of the work on the site is published in e-book edition under the imprint of its original publisher, not Unbound Comics. All we do is pay for the right to distribute secured e-book editions of your work. In the first of what will hopefully be a long line of out-of-print works that we return to availability, we will be re-releasing 'Dalgoda' by Jan Strnad and Dennis Fujitake."

So, Thacker may have piqued your interest, but how does it work?

"A visitor to the site can get free PDF previews for every comic book in our catalog. When they buy a book, it is downloaded to their computer and read offline in Adobe Acrobat E-Book Reader."

While the success of paying for comics online is yet to be seen, Thacker is a strong believer in the format and sees it as a great opportunity for fans.

"The way to sustain comic books as an active, dynamic art form is to have readers who support creators by buying their books," said Thacker. "$1.50 for a comic book of the quality we have on the site is a great deal for readers, especially when they know that most of that $1.50 is going right to the creators." The content you'll be seeing on the Unbound Comics Web site will cross-over into many genre's. Due to Unbound Comics ability to reach an audience outside your traditional comic book store, the depth and variety of content will reflect that of a wider audience.

Thacker isn't only working behind the scenes at Unbound Comics, he's also collaborating with artist Ben Templesmith to release a comic version of Shakespeare's "Hamlet."

[Hamlet]"The original idea behind staging the complete Hamlet as a comic book," said Thacker, "was that we could create, not only a great read, but also something that was an innovation among both stagings of Hamlet and comic books. It's the kind of comic book that could make people see both comics and Shakespeare in a new light, and neither of us could pass up that opportunity. Now that we have three issues finished and a fourth underway, I think that the thrill of the book itself has taken over for both of us. When your collaborators are William Shakespeare and Ben Templesmith, it's easy to get excited over a project.

"Because we are using the full script, when the book is complete it becomes something we can use to take comic books into places they typically don't go. I want to see it in comic book store, but I also want to see it in bookstores next to the other editions of Shakespeare and in schools and libraries. I hope it does really well, because I think William Shakespeare's KING LEAR by Ben Templesmith and Aaron Thacker would be a fun book to do as well."

Thacker sincerely feels that one day everyone will read comics online.

"They're the wave of the future. The question is how long it will be before that wave hits. We've already seen some important moments. Adobe and Microsoft have built some good second-generation reader software, and we're going to get nice second-generation hardware this winter with the release of the tablet PCs," said Thacker. "It won't happen tomorrow, but e-books are viable today and will become steadily more so until they finally eclipse paper book sales - they simply bring too many advantages for it not to happen. If you think about what the Internet was 10 years ago, you can imagine some pretty radical changes across a 10 year time span. In 10 years, there will be a lot of e-books out there, and we'll be reading them on something more like a tablet pc than a desktop of laptop computer. In that climate, there will be a lot of companies offering e-book comic books. I would like to see Unbound Comics right there at the head of the pack, still choosing quality over quantity, still with the best deal around, still bringing comic books to new readers."

Thacker believes there are many reasons why digital comics are needed.

"Because we all know that good comic books aren't as easy to come by as they should be," said Thacker. "They go out of print or are under-printed, they are from presses that don't get noticed or ordered by retailers, (or) they are never printed because of the costs of publishing and distributing a comic book. When it became clear to me that we could create a bookstore full of e-book comic books that would never go out of print, that could be downloaded 24 hours a day, and that you could read and collect without filling your attic with boxes, I saw an opportunity to do something about the challenges facing the comic book industry.

"If you come to the site as a reader, you're going to find a place to buy e-book editions of some of the best comic books you'll ever read - from an out-of-print classic like Jan Strnad and Dennis Fujitake's 'Dalgoda' to a new graphic novel like John Ira Thomas and Jeremy Smith's 'Numbers.'

"If you come to the site as a creator or publisher, you are going to find an opportunity to release secured e-book editions of your books without giving up any rights to your work or making any investment in the technology."

To learn more about what Unbound Comics has to offer check out their recently launched Web site at http://www.unboundcomics.com.

Article edited October 24th, 12:34 PM

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