Digital Comic News

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Frozen by Disney has become the 5th highest grossing movie of all time After sweeping theaters worldwide like a snowstorm for over half a year, Frozen has grossed a whopping $1.219 billion at the box office! According to Variety, the film raked in $400 million-plus in the U.S. alone and $194 million in Japan. Frozen has also become the top-grossing animated flick ever. This has promoted a new graphic novel to be commissioned and will come out November 29th.

The graphic novel costs $14.99 and will run a staggering 394 pages. Over 100,000 have been sold so far on a pre-order basis from customers on Amazon and comic book stores.

The graphic novel is basically retelling the same story that occured in the movie. “Fearless optimist Anna sets off on an epic journey – teaming up with rugged mountain man Kristoff and his loyal reindeer Sven – to find her sister Elsa, whose icy powers have trapped the kingdom of Arendelle in eternal winter. Encountering mystical trolls and a hilarious snowman named Olaf along the way, Anna and Kristoff battle the elements in a race to save the kingdom. Audiences who thrilled to the adventures of Anna and Elsa on the big screen can relive their favorite moments in this oversized graphic novel keepsake featuring an introduction by Leonard Maltin. With hundreds of movie stills and over 300 pages of adventure and laughs, the Frozen Cinestory will transport fans back to Arendelle time and time again!”

A frozen graphic novel will likely sell like gangbusters once it comes out in late November and many parents will be purchasing it for their little kids for the upcoming holiday season. A standalone comic is also planned by Disney for January 2015, and will clock in at 48 pages. No word yet if a digital edition will be available.

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The Spider-Man  newspaper strip debuted in 1977 and was drawn by master Spider-artist John Romita Sr. and written by none other than Spider-Man co-creator Stan Lee. IDW Publishing has announced that the first three years of the strip will get the graphic novel treatment in early 2015 and will likely be available digitally.

Newspaper Spider-Man is quite possibly the worst version of the character ever made. Newspaper Spidey is never quite that offensively terrible, but he also has a pretty dismal track record from when it comes to actual superheroism. He’s generally pretty cowardly, gets conked on the head a lot, and doesn’t actually seem all that concerned about this whole using-great-power-with-great-responsibility thing, instead preferring to just sort of lay around waiting for things to sort themselves out.

Early story arcs in the newspaper strip were paced much like a comic book, and a complete story unfolded in about 2 months of Sunday and daily strips. While the strip and the comic book feature the same characters, they do not share the same continuity. The strip differs from the established story lines of the comic books, most notably in the villains who Spider-Man fights and the women who Peter Parker dates. Many villains were introduced that have never appeared in other media, including the Rattler, a man who acquired snakelike characteristics. A rare exception was the 1987 wedding of Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson which occurred in both the comic book and the comic strip.

The comic strip rebooted in 2008 and is still going strong today. The early days are really good for a laugh due to the cheesiness of the story-lines.



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Gone are the days

Gone are the days

Trajectory started in 2011 and their core business model is assisting publishers in converting their comics and graphic novels to the digital arena. They also formulated their own fledgling distribution network and marketed the content overseas, where many people were curious about the west. In order to gain more traction in the industry the company signed agreements with Diamond Distributors earlier this year, to basically provide conversion services for their entire list of contacts. This relationship has paid off, as Trajectory just announced a new movement to bring digital comics and graphic novels to libraries.

At the New York Comic Con 2014, Trajectory announced that it has signed an agreement with Ingram Content Group and Follett School Solutions. Over 10,000 comics and graphic novels will now be available for schools and libraries to purchase through their existing relationship with either Ingram or Follett.

Diamond Comic Distributors v-p of purchasing John Wurzer said, “Schools and libraries can be incubators for the future appreciation of comic books and graphic novels and we are happy to be working with Trajectory to foster that.”

Kelly Gallagher, v-p content acquisition, Ingram Content Group, said, “Comic and graphic novel content is in demand by readers.” He added that “Ingram is excited about our collaborative work with Trajectory to be providing comics and graphic novel content to the library market through our leading MyiLibrary e-book platform.”

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Archie Comics has been undergoing a renaissance the last few years, as the comic company tries to diversify its target audience. They introduced the openly gay character Keven Keller and tapped into our infatuation with Zomibes with Afterlife with Archie. What would happen if Archie married Betty or Veronica? Life with Archie chronicles the quintessential What If scenario. The next chapter in Archie comics has just been announced and it involves the Predator.

Jesse ‘the body’ Ventura and Arnold Schwarzenegger famously battled the Predator in the 1980’s classic. Since then, the franchise has spawned many sequels, mash-ups and comic books. The next comic book hero to take on the Predator is Riverdales favorite son.

Dark Horse Comics and Archie Comics are combining two popular franchises for Archie Meets Predator, a four-issue series coming in spring 2015 by writer Alex de Campi, that puts Archie and the gang in the alien hunter’s sights while they’re on spring break in Costa Rica.

It all starts with Jughead winning a vacation prize from a lucky bag of chips and hi-jinks start to ensue when Betty runs off into the Jungle after losing a “Best Dressed” contest with Veronica.

In an interview with the USA Today de Campi said “Let’s take this gentle, beloved, classic teen cast and hunt them down and slaughter them one by one. Seriously, if you wouldn’t jump at the chance to write something like this, you need your head examined.”

Archie meeting other entertainment properties is nothing new. It all started with 1994’s “Archie Meets the Punisher” crossover with Marvel Comics, and continued in 2011’s “Archie Meets KISS.”

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Dynamite Entertainment has just signed a new deal with Ian Fleming Publications. Starting in 2015 Dynamite will publish comic books, digital comics and graphic novels starring 007. Readers will be able to re-live the exploits that have thrilled and captivated fans for over half a century in fresh visual adaptations of the classic Bond stories.

Dynamite plans to create a series of brand new adventures unveiling the defining – and largely undocumented – early years of Bond’s career. These new stories will draw inspiration from the Fleming canon to explore Bond’s ‘origins’: his raw early years before he gambled with his life in the first novel, Casino Royale. Some other familiar faces from the expansive 007 mythos will also make appearances in this series – criminal masterminds, hired henchmen, glamorous Bond Girls and secret service allies – alongside all-new characters.

The first James Bond comic books will be published in 2015, soliciting periodical issues in Diamond Comic Distributors’ Previews catalog, the premiere source of merchandise for the comic book specialty market. Digital and print editions will be available simultaneously through such platforms as Comixology, Dynamite Digital, iVerse, and Dark Horse Digital. Original graphic novels and collections will be released through the comic book specialty market, digital platforms, and numerous book market channels including Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and more.

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The Fantastic Four is known as the First Family in comic book circles. The Fantastic Four was the first superhero team created by writer-editor Stan Lee and artist/co-plotter Jack Kirby back in 1961. FF4 has been experiencing dragging sales in the last few years, despite attempts to reboot the series.  We now have it on good authority that the series is coming to an end in June 2015.

Disney and FOX has been going head to head in the Marvel cinematic universe for quite awhile. FOX has the movie rights to X-Men, Deadpool and the word “mutants”, which is why your will never hear this uttered in any of the films Disney creates. FOX also has rights to the Fantastic Four and will be releasing a reboot of the series in mid 2015, and Marvel does not want to promote it at all. This has prompted the comic book company to suspend production of the Fantastic Four comic for over a year.

The destruction of the Fantastic Four to not promote the upcoming Fox movie is reverberating across the industry. Diamond Select Toys were told by Disney that they can’t make any new toys if they feature Mr Fantastic, the Invisible Women, Thing, the Human Torch, Doctor Doom, Galactus, Silver Surfer, the Watcher or Skrulls.

When it comes to bookstore distribution, this is primarily handled by Hachette.  They only handle graphic novels now and abandoned single issue distribution in 2013.  The last graphic novel will come out in June and is entitled Fantastic Four: The End Is Fourever. “THE END IS FOUREVER! Witness the closing act on the First Family of the Marvel Universe! THE INVADERS meet the FANTASTIC FOUR as the hunt for REED RICHARDS and the missing kids of the FUTURE FOUNDATION continues. Meanwhile the mastermind behind everything unveils his ultimate plan. But how does FRANKLIN RICHARDS factor in? And how does this all lead to…The END?! Collecting FANTASTIC FOUR #642-644 and the Triple Sized Final Issue 645!”

I think its very interesting that Marvel would rather give up one of their oldest ongoing franchises just to stick it to FOX. Likely, we will see no more comics featuring the FF4 to be produced until well after the DVD will be released sometime in 2016.

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Madefire is well known for their unique brand of motion comics and the company is hoping to be a solid number two behind Comixology. In order to accumulate more regular buyers into their ecosystem Madefire has announced that every Friday they will give away a free digital comic.

“Free Friday is all about discovery – being bold, checking out the possibilities, and being inspired with a creator-first approach to try something new,” said Madefire CCO and co-founder Liam Sharp.

In order to read the free comic book every Friday you need to download the official Madefire app for iOS or Android. Today’s first Free Friday offers copies of IDW’s The City on the Edge of Forever #1, adapting Harlan Ellison’s classic Star Trek episode.

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The second season of Sleepy Hollow is all set to debut on September 22nd and Boom! Studios is hoping to capitalize on the demand. The comic book company is releasing a series of digital shorts that focuses on the central characters prologues.

The first two prologues are already online, via the show’s Facebook page and BOOM!’s Tumblr page, and center around Ichabod Crane and Jenny Mills. Both shorts are written by Bad Robot’s Mike Johnson, with art by Matias Bergara, and take place prior to the first season — a long time prior, in Ichabod’s case.

There are five digital shorts planned and in the near future they will be repackaged and sold online in a graphic novel format. I think it is very interesting that Boom! decided to engage in digital comic shorts. Something like this is rarely done in the comic book industry, and most of the time they do full digital editions, that take longer to produce.

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When Comixology was purchased by Amazon, many digital comic fans thought that the service would drastically change. The acquisition has been a bit of a mixed blessing, as Apple users lost the ability to purchase content directly within the app, leading to a decrease in impulse purchases. One of the big upsides was the decision to offer publishers the ability to submit new issues with no encryption. Today, Comixology has announced a slew of new partners that will be offering their comics DRM-Free.

Image Comics, Dynamite Entertainment, Zenescope Entertainment, MonkeyBrain Comics, Thrillbent and Top Shelf Productions are now joined in the program by IDW Publishing, Valiant Entertainment, Oni Press, Fantagraphics Books, Aspen Comics, Action Lab Entertainment, Th3rd World Studios, A Wave Blue World, Blind Ferret Entertainment, Caliber Comics, Creative Impulse Entertainment, Devil’s Due Entertainment, GT Labs Comics and Kingstone Media.

All of these publishers now offer their comics to be downloaded in PDF or CBZ formats and users can store them locally. Instead of being locked into the Comixology app, users can download their favorite 3rd reading app for Android, iOS or Windows.

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Image Comics was the first mainstream comic book publisher to embrace going DRM-Free and this has prompted Valiant and Action Lab to follow suit.

Comixology is the top digital distributor of comics and their app is available on every major operating system. In July 2014 the Amazon owned company announced that it would allow publishers the ability to distribute DRM-Free comics, allowing users to backup their purchases.

Valiant intends on making their digital comics available on Comixology the same day the print issues hit the market. Meanwhile, Action Lab will go digital-first, DRM-free and prices for the first two weeks of release will be just $0.99 on every title on ComiXology before rising to $1.99 after that. In addition, books will be timed to release digitally the same month they are offered in Diamond Distribution’s retailer catalog, making digital a sales instrument for physical copies.

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Udon Entertainment has finally been able to reach out to readers outside of North American with a distribution deal with Comixology. They signed it back in early 2013 and the Canadian manga company has garnered tremendous success with their  Street Fighter, Makeshift Miracle and Dark Stalkers comics.  At the San Diego Comic con Harmony Gold and Udon have both announced a new licensing deal for a series of Art Books.

Robotech is one of the most successful mecha franchises of all time. The 85 episode series first launched in 1985 and seamlessly crossed over into North America from Japan. The premise of the series involves a fallen battlecruiser landing on earth and sparks major scientific advances. With this technology, Earth developed robotic technologies, such as transformable mecha, to fight three successive extraterrestrial invasions against the likes of the Zentradi and Invid.

The franchise has been going strong with different movies, OVA, manga, comics and television series. The more notable ones are Macross Frontier, Macross 7, Macross Plus, Macross Zero, The Shadow Chronicles. Overarching themes normally involve love, music and mecha based combat.

The new licensing deal will see a number of new art books developed. They will have concept art, model sheets, early developmental designs and sketches covering Robotech and the original Japanese Macross, Southern Cross and Mospeada series. Udon will also be the publisher for the Kickstarter-exclusive Art of Robotech Academy book. Although an exact page count is not finalized, the target is for 96 pages and will feature the character and mecha designs for Robotech Academy.

Udon does have past experience working on the Robotech franchise which likely helped them secure the exclusive contract for the art books. They helped  produce the five issue comic series Prelude to the Shadow Chronicles. Most people in art book circles hold Udon in very high regard, so likely they will do very good work with the IP.

Right now details are sparse on whether or not these will be books exclusively in print and sold via Amazon or will include digital editions sold on Comixology. Most of their prior art books were in paperback format exclusively, so it is unlikely that they will digitize it. Harmony Gold and Udon both would not comment for this story, but did say more news would surface towards the end of the year.

Tommy Yune, Creative Director, Harmony Gold told Good e-Reader ” We’ve uncovered in our archives the original production model sheets for the Macross, Southern Cross, and Mospaeda, television series’. We have a ton of model sheets, and even early developmental designs that have never been seen or published anywhere. We’re going to be working with UDON to collect this all, to have one of the most unique artwork collections ever made from Robotech. I’m extremely grateful for the energy that UDON has put into Robotech.”

Meanwhile Erik Ko, Chief of Operations, UDON Entertainment told us ” I grew up watching Robotech, it was a big part of my childhood. We’re thrilled to be involved in this project. In fact, since the founding of UDON we’ve been involved with Robotech through various comics and design projects. We’re honoured and very thankful to have been chosen to work on this new art book project.”

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Marvel is attending the San Diego Comic Con in a big way and is spearheading many discussion groups, where the top brass is announcing the future. A few months ago Disney announced that all Expanded Universe books are not considered canon and decades worth of content is null and void. This opens up a new world, of new stories to tell and some of its coming in the form of three new digital comics.

The three series announced were Star Wars by Aaron and Cassaday, Star Wars: Darth Vader by Gillen and Salvador Larocca, and Star Wars: Princess Leia by Mark Waid and Terry Dodson. All three series will take place in a timeframe immediately following the end of the original Star Wars movie – A New Hope.

The one story arc I am excited about is the new Darth Vader one. “With the Empire suffering a crushing defeat that resulted in the loss of the Death Star, Vader has a lot to make up for. He needs to restore his reputation as the most feared man in the galaxy, as well as prove to the Emperor that he’s still got what it takes. The title is billed as the story of the epic battle for the galaxy, only this time told from the dark side.”

Marvel intends on making Star Wars and Darth Vader both an ongoing series and Princess Leia is going to be a limited five-issue miniseries. The first issue of all of these new comics will be released in January and February of 2015. Likely they will hit Marvels own official app for iOS and Android first and then be available on Marvel Unlimited six months later.

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When it comes to digital comic books, often publishers and distributors rely on dedicated apps. Marvel, IDW, DC, Dark Horse all run their own ecosystems that allow readers to purchase and view comics on their tablet or smartphone. This often relegates your Kindle, Kobo, Nook or Sony unviable. Though, this might all change due to Comixology finally going DRM-Free and allowing users to backup their purchases.

Comixology has announced that they are teaming up with publishers Top Shelf, Image, Dynamite, Thrillbent, and Zenescope for a DRM-Free initiative. They are also allowing aspiring creators who publish their comics through the Comixology Submit program the option to offer their digital editions DRM-free. The downloaded files will be available in PDF and CBZ formats, which are ideal for most e-readers on the market.

Your average e-reader is capable of reading PDF files, and most have newfound support for the format. Your Kindle, Cybook, Sony or Kobo has really grown up in the last few years with robust pinching and zooming and new e-paper technology to cut down on screen refreshing.

Most e-readers do not have native support for CBZ files, but new models that have come out in 2014 do. Onyx and Icarus have both released Vanilla e-ink readers that run Android, and allows users to install their favorite comic reading app. Sadly, your Kindle or Nook does not have native support for CBZ.

In order to read CBZ files on your favorite e-reader you need to rename the CBZ file to ZIP and you can extract a folder full of ordinary images. This allows any reader in the world to view them.

Comixology going DRM-Free is one of the best things to happen to the e-reader industry this year. It finally gives owners a viable alternative to having to use a small screen phone or a bulky tablet. Instead, you can store hundreds of issues on your Kindle and read them at your leisure.

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