It's Scott Snyder time! The plan, as Bleeding Cool knew it, was that last year would have seen the launch of a number of creator-owned imprints at Image Comics, each with a lead comic book creator. Then the pandemic, shutdown and lockdowns hit, and things changed. Scott Snyder, Warren Ellis, and Rodney Barnes were three planned comic creators. Barnes is launching Zombie Love Stories as a publishing imprint for his planned books, including a Blacula adaptation. Warren Ellis' work would have led with Fell but his relationship with Image Comics is on hold right now. And Scott Snyder took a different approach. On his mailing list, he talked more about the origins of the Best Jackett Press deal with ComiXology, Amazon, and Dark Horse Comics.
So, flash back to early 2020… My plan was to launch a couple books, use them to fund the next books, and so on. My first few co-creators and I were JUST about to begin work in earnest when the pandemic hit and everything shut down. Everyone was scared about work and the future of the industry and truthfully, though we were all dedicated to these books, we weren't sure the line would be able to survive. And now there was an added issue of affordability. Could we put these books out affordably, in a way that acknowledged the strain everyone was feeling?
This would have been at Image Comics, who offer 100% creative ownership, who only take a flat fee per published book, and pay after the comic is published. So creators have to work for a few months without pay, something that can be a hurdle for some. Especially during a lockdown.
Seeing all this, our editor at Best Jackett, Will Dennis (who first greenlit American Vampire), suggested we talk to Chip Mosher over at comiXology who was both a friend and an industry staple. I was already a huge fan of what comiXology had quietly been doing for a long time. Not only had they been sponsoring conventions I loved like Thought Bubble and various other artist alleys for years, but they were also creating original comics with some of my former students and many of the most exciting emergent creators — folks who, in my opinion, were pushing the industry forward in all kinds of energetic ways. And comiXology never took any ancillary rights, so all creators retained merchandising, TV, and film rights 100%. On top of this, they were offering rates that are were as good or better than the Big Two — even then in 2020, a time when things were so precarious, rates that would allow artists to focus solely on projects they owned without the worry of having to side-hustle all the time.
So that's 100% ownership, and a page rate for the creators, taken out of their eventual royalties, which enables creators to get paid while creating the comics in question. How that will compare to what Image Comics pays per book overall is unknown, especially with Image Comics titles regularly hitting six-figure sales of late. But ComiXology is owned by Amazon, who have the deepest of pockets.
And, with regard to affordability in these crazy times, the books would ALL be available through a single comiXology subscription. For the price of ONE comic, readers, if they wanted, could get them all. And that subscription would allow them to explore series both classic and new, and find other favorite creators and fall in love with comics all over again.
The ComiXology Originals deal, as part of Amazon Prime and ComiXology Unlimited/Kindle Unlimited, does give great value to readers who use it to stream comics, and can reach a billion readers that way but per book it pays much less than if they had bought it. The deal also gives the likes of Prime Video, Audible, etc a first refusal on adaptation – which may cause difficulties later if Netflix suddenly turns up with an offer. But then, at least, it gets the comic seen by Amazon, as well as Amazon's customers, whereas otherwise it may have been ignored. Amazon also spend a tonne on marketing and advertising, which gets absorbed into Amazon's overall marketing budget rather than being set against royalties. And Snyder is in a prominent position to make all manner of negotiated arrangements. There is also some concern that Snyder's deal for eight separate titles may have sucked up all of ComiXology Originals' budget for the next few years, leaving other less-well-known creators unable to take advantage of these deals. He writes;
And to top it all off, our deal here will help fund our program to promote, support and realize works by emergent creators under the Best Jackett label. And while I can't talk too much about that yet, know that it's a crucial part of what we have planned.
He also confirms that Chain, Wytches, Nocterra, Undiscovered Country and the like are still coming out from Image Comics. And showed off a bunch more teasers to upcoming series…
BARNSTORMERS written by Scott Snyder with art by Tula Lotay and colors by Tula Lotay and Dee Cunniffe—A high flying adventure romance set just after the First World War.
THE BOOK OF EVIL written by Scott Snyder with illustrations by Jock—A prose story about four young friends growing up in a strange, near future where over 90% of the population are born as psychopaths.
CANARY written by Scott Snyder with art and colors by Dan Panosian—It's 1891 and a mine collapses into itself. Find out what the dark substance found 666 feet underground is in this horror Western!
CLEAR written by Scott Snyder with art and colors by Francis Manapul—A sci-fi mystery thrill-ride into a strange dystopian future, where a neurological internet connection is transforming reality.
DUCK AND COVER written by Scott Snyder with art by Rafael Albuquerque—A manga-influenced teen adventure set in the strange post-apocalyptic America… of 1955. In conjunction with Albuquerque's Stout Club Entertainment.
DUDLEY DATSON AND THE FOREVER MACHINE written by Scott Snyder with art by Jamal Igle and Juan Castro and colors by Chris Sotomayor—A rollicking adventure story about a boy, his dog and a machine that controls time and space! What could go wrong?
NIGHT OF THE GHOUL written by Scott Snyder with art and colors by Francesco Francavilla—A dazzling work of horror, intercutting between the present day narrative and the story of a lost horror film.
WE HAVE DEMONS written by Scott Snyder with art by Greg Capullo and Jonathan Glapion and colors by Dave McCaig—The conflict between good and evil is about to come to a head when a teenage hero embarks on a journey that unveils a secret society, monsters, and mayhem.