Digital Comic News

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The digital comic industry saw $90 million dollars in revenue over the course of 2013. This is a drop in the bucket compared to the trade industry that raked in $870 million during the same period.

The rise of the digital comic industry has consistently been growing since 2009. We saw $1 million in revenue in 2009, $8 million in 2010, $25 million in 2011, $70 million in 2012 and now $90 million in 2013. This is explosive growth, but many industry experts have acknowledged that the industry might be tapering off.

Amazon is hoping to capitalize on digital comic industry by purchasing the biggest distribution company, Comixology. It is currently unknown how Amazon intends on keeping the momentum going with the acquisition, but it already has turned off a number of customers.

The flagship Comixology app for iOS has disabled the ability to purchase digital comics within the app. Instead, users have to access the main website through their web-browser and sync the purchases to the app. Comixology also powers Marvel, DC, Archie, GI.JOE and a number of other standalone apps. Marvel is one of the only ones that still allow you to purchase comics within the app, due to the contract they signed a few years ago.

The new comic book industry sales data is primarily due to the combined work of pop culture trade news website ICv2.com, headed by Milton Griepp, whose annual White Paper on the comics and graphic novels sales, is a standard on sales reporting in the comics industry; and Comichron, a longtime repository of comics sales data. The core data comes from Diamond, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple and a myriad of other resellers.

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A Russian state company that distributes comic and graphic novels of Marvel has asked a federal media watchdog to investigate Marvel for denigrating Soviet symbols and amounting to “propaganda of a cult of violence.”

Russian media watchdog Roskomnadzor has agreed to investigate the books and is considering giving the publisher an official warning, two of which within a year is grounds for revocation of its license, the Ekho Moskvy news outlet reported.

The specific comic in question is The Avengers, issue #1 poised to be released in August 2014. It was designed for middle school age children and Russian officials are concerned over the use of Soviet symbols, the presentation of the characters as Russian service personnel, and the incitement of violence and cruelty,” the press and mass media agency wrote in its letter.

According to Izvestia, the request was likely filed because one of the characters, Vanguard (Krasnogvardeets in the Russian version), has the Soviet symbol – the hammer and sickle – on his breastplate. Vanguard is affiliated with the Winter Guard: three human mutants and a bear, a group of superheroes based in Russia. When the Avengers ask who they are, Vanguard answers: “We are servicemen for the Russian Federation.”

Marvel’s own site makes it clear that his real name is Nikolai Krylenko and his alias is Great Beast.  He apparently joined the “KGB-sponsored Soviet Super-Soldiers and a “staunch communist.”

Is it possible that a Marvel Ban could be employed in Russia? Comic books could be considered art in many circles and acquiescing to demands could compromise the artist process and could open the floodgates for more vanilla stories.

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Motion comic pioneer Madefire has just signed a deal with Hasbro and will be giving away a new five issue Transformer series away for free. Madefire is hoping to capitalize on the new film coming out at the end of the month and drawing attention to their Windows 8 app, launched last week.

Transformers: Punishment is all-new original content developed within the current IDW Transformers universe. The creative team behind the five-part series are Transformers comic fan-favorites, writer John Barber and artist Livio Ramondelli.

“It’s a thrill to see Optimus Prime spring into action,” said Barber. “This is a hard-hitting action story, and Madefire’s Motion Books — including music and sound effects — deliver a powerful reading experience that makes you feel like you’re in the center of it all!”

The Madefire app for Windows 8 is really solid with the first issue of Transformers Punishment. There is sound effects and an audio score that sets the mood and pace. It features the Decepticons, Autobots and Dinobots duking it out on the wasteland of Cybertron. You hear the quintessential transforming effect and even the roar of Grimlock. The app itself is really interesting and basically blends Guided View from Comixology and the new Motion comic tech found in the Marvel Unlimited App.

The entire six issue series is available for free by installing the new Madefire for Windows 8 App HERE.

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Marvel and Samsung has signed a multi year agreement that will bundle the Marvel Unlimited subscription based comic book system to all future Phones and tablets. Readers will enjoy three free months of access to Unlimited, which will allow for reading as many comics as you want on a monthly basis.

Samsung has been reaching out to companies to help distinguish themselves in the marketplace. The ironed out a similar agreement with Amazon a few months ago that will give one free eBook a month to anyone who has the Kindle for Samsung app installed on their device. The Marvel Unlimited deal goes far beyond just digital comics though.

Beginning with the launch of the Galaxy Tab S, Samsung will debut a wealth of exclusive content. Over the next year, customers will have access to early sneak peeks for Marvel movies debuting in 2015 including Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, Classic Marvel One-Shots, and a host of other great content.

The partnership between Samsung and Marvel will activate across a wide range of touch-points with exclusive content, custom Marvel-branded Samsung products, event activations and feature film integrations.

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Blurb,  a company that begin by producing limited print runs of graphics-heavy paper books before expanding into a digital publishing platform for self-published authors with a suite of user friendly tools, has been on a mission lately to acquire key products and support personnel to make their platform even more engaging, easy to use, and far-reaching. A release from the company today fell in line with their current mission when Blurb announced that it had acquired several key members of the Graphicly team, including co-founder Micah Baldwin.

“This acquisition of incredibly relevant talent will help us advance our vision of 21st century authoring,” said Eileen Gittins, Blurb founder and CEO. ”What self publishers need now is the ability to focus on the creative aspect of authoring, with output automatically generated for all relevant ebook formats, as well as print output.”

Graphicly was one of the pioneers of illustrated ebooks, which included children’s, graphic novels, comics, and more. For its part, Blurb has made its platform easier to use, no longer requiring InDesign files by creating a drag-and-drop suite for file creation. Blurb has also added expanded distribution to major print and ebook retailers and the Ingram catalog, with new announcements for other distribution opportunities slated for this summer.

“Authoring isn’t just for authors anymore,” continued Gittins. “For the past 18 months we have been working behind the scenes to build out support for people who want to publish any kind of book – both print and ebooks – whether highly illustrated, or text-driven or a combination of the two. But ‘publish’ doesn’t stop at the point of creation; authors need and want to get the widest possible audience and that means broader distribution and marketing support.”

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MadeFire is the pioneer with Motion Comics and the company has signed some big partnerships with DC Comics, IDW, Dark Horse and Top Cow and their biggest titles Batman, Injustice, Transformers, My Little Pony, Hellboy and The Darkness. MadeFire is making it a priority to bring on big name publishers to its ecosystem and has announced a big new deal with Seraphim, Archie Comics, Lion Forge and Arcana. These partnerships will expand the growth of the Madefire Motion Books Marketplace within its free app and through the exclusive Motion Books network within the deviantART website. The truly revolutionary reading experience, powered by Madefire’s Motion Book Tool, will now include famous comic titles such as Afterlife With Archie, Knight Rider, The Instrinsic and Clive Barker’s Books Of Blood.

Designed for reading on a screen, Madefire has built an end-to-end publishing platform called Motion Books that immerse the reader in an interactive experience with sound, motion, and depth. Their web-reading partner is social network and creative giant deviantART, the largest creative community in the world and host to the exclusive Motion Book category on the web. Madefire Motion Books is a free comic app that delivers the most innovative reading experience for iOS devices as it pioneers the next chapter in storytelling; it has been 5-star rated since launch, and was awarded an App Store’s “Best of 2012”.

Recently Comixology was absorbed into Amazon and this makes MadeFire one of the largest companies left that are proudly indie. Madefire continues to take a digital first approach to storytelling, including assuring content is immediately available to people on device with in-app purchasing.

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Comixology has unveiled their summer reading program where they are giving away 20 assorted comics and graphic novels away for free. All you have to do is visit their Tumblr  account to download your daily free comics. You only have 24 hours to grab it, so check back often.  You obviously need a Comixology account and to download the free content you are basically “buying” it. Since its free, you don’t need to spend any money, but you are going through the shopping card system.

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The Diamond Retailer Summit has just occurred in Las Vegas and it was a tremendously newsworthy event. Marvel quietly announced that they were going to talk about what they are doing with the new Star Wars comic license in July and the next big event that will last until the rest of the year.

Marvel is unleashing two big events this year that will crossover into other serieses, much like Infinity and AVX. The first one is AXIS, which stars the Avengers and the X-Men teaming up to fight a modern day Axis of Evil. The villains will feature a team led by the Red Skull and includes Sabretooth, Doctor Doom, Loki, Green Goblin, and Carnage.

The second big Marvel event will start in early 2015 and is titled Time Runs Out. It is based on a big storyline right now about parallel dimensions being destroyed in order to preserve the current version of earth.

Earlier in the year Marvel was awarded the Star Wars comic book license away from Dark Horse. This July Marvel will officially announce the first few titles it intends to publish, leading up to Episode 7 dropping at the movie theatres next year.

Speaking of movies, there is a brand new Guardians of the Galaxies trailer that was released today. It is filled with a ton of new footage and we finally hear the voices of Rocket Racoon and his houseplant Groot. I give it 9 out of 10 ooga-chakas!


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Comixology was acquired recently by Amazon and the company decided to suspend in-app purchases. This now prevents any comic book fiend from devouring tales featuring Galactus or what hairbrained scheme Norman Osborn is cooking up next. Instead of using the app, you need to fire up Safari to buy comics directly from the website. Today’s video instructs you how to purchase, use your $5 free credit and then sync the new content into the dedicated app.

There are two things you need to start purchasing comics with Safari, a Comixology account and either a Paypal account or a credit card. Simply open up Comixology.com from the web-browser and login to yoru account. Next, the free credit you have is displayed on the top right-hand corner. Next, find a comic you want to buy and make the purchase. If you have any credit, its automatically added to the purchase. In the tutorial video, I basically got one for free!

Once you make the purchase simply hit the Home button and re-open the main Comixology app for iOS. If the app is already open you need to click “in the cloud” and then drag your finger down on the left hand side, where all of your past purchases are displayed. This syncs any new content you purchased and you can begin reading as the issues are downloading.


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Marvel Unlimited is similar to Netflix, in the respect that you can subscribe for a low monthly fee and read as many comics as you want. Lately, the comic book publisher has implemented a number of new technology features in their iOS app. The most interesting enhancement is Adaptive Audio, which adds a soundtrack to a select number of comics.

Adaptive Audio is an immersive experience that goes beyond simple loops and creates a pacing of the stories, the pivotal moments in scenes and how certain characters are associated with specific sounds. You can think of it as storytelling device as opposed to just being some music that plays in the background.

There is less than a handful of comics using Adaptive Audio, mainly just a bunch of Captain America issues. There is background music in conjunction with sound effects. You can hear a character walking up the stairwell and hear the beeps of a holographic display. Villains are accompanied by ominous overtones and Captain America frames have soaring crescendos.


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Bluewater Productions is a comic book company best known for their biography based editions. The company has made a name for themselves writing origin stories of famous pop culture icons. Over the course of the last few weeks they have dipped their toes into the audiobook industry with three new offerings.

Female Force: Princess DianaFame: One Direction and Fame: Justin Bieber will kick off the new product line. Each audiobook is available to be purchased for $3.99 and is available via Audible, iTunes and Nook.  Bluewater is working on biographies of Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato and Taylor Swift that will be released in the next two months.

Michael Frizell the head writer of the comic books said in a statement “The stories, and legends, behind the real people featured in Bluewater titles continue to grow. In order to keep the stories timely and current, the scripts had to be expanded. Longtime readers will find something new and up-to-the-minute here, while new readers will be immersed in the topics.”

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Marvel is celebrating their 75th anniversary and the comic book publisher will be releasing a 1200 page Omnibus. Fans will play a role in this initiative by selecting the best comics for inclusion.

This is the first time Marvel is soliciting their extensive fanbase to vote on their favorite story arcs and memories since the very first Marvel comic. If you feel like participating in the program, fans will have to email their suggestions to marvel75@marvel.com.

“Marvel’s 75th Anniversary belongs to our fans as much as it does to our creators and everyone behind the scenes,” says Marvel SVP of Sales & Marketing David Gabriel. “From day one, Marvel fans have been an integral and vocal part of making Marvel the company it is today and we want their help in celebrating. The 75th Anniversary Omnibus is the perfect way to celebrate with our marvelous fans.”

The omnibus will be released this November in hardcover and digital format. The price has not been established yet, but likely will cost $100.

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Many of us remember fondly the pocket-sized comic books of classic works of literature. Those mini precursors to the graphic novel saved a lot of us come final exam time, but they were also a great tool to use in order to understand great writers’ works, to peruse timeless works of literature in order to decide to read the full edition, and to simply be more well-rounded in terms of having been exposed to the classics.

Unfortunately, those great works are out of print and are prohibitively costly when they can be found for sale by a dealer or collector. But an existing comic publisher has expanded its business to include graphical representations of books for older readers.

Toon Books, who has produced award-winning titles for younger readers, announced the growth of Toon Graphics, which will launch with adaptations of novels by Neil Gaiman, Yvan Pommaux, and others. According to an interview by Brigid Alverson with Toon Book’s co-founder Françoise Mouly, the titles will speak to a larger audience while still offering everything that makes graphic novels enticing.

Possibly the most exciting news about Toon Graphics is its focused on education. Where the pocket editions of literary comics were considered a nice diversion in their day, they were certainly not expected to be a classroom reading tool by bibliopurists. But Toon Graphics will not only be aligned with the Common Core standards just as their titles for young readers were, many will also incorporate teacher material and additional information features to make them an excellent classroom resource. This educational focus of the titles, while still not impeding the enjoyment level of the works, makes the books a great investment for classrooms of a variety of age levels.

As more schools receive funding for technology, especially through literacy initiatives that help provide ebooks and devices, and as new platforms for digital comics and digital graphic novels open up, this medium stands to make a tremendous impact. This effect can not only reach literacy ability levels (especially in reluctant readers and at-risk students), but can also stand to improve readers’ attitudes towards reading for pleasure. By removing the “chore” aspect to reading instruction, graphic novels may give rise to a renaissance in reading.