How Digital Platforms Make Comic Books Better for Everyone


"Digital Platforms Breathe New Life Into Comics Industry," was originally released on January 12, 2015, and original writeup is below.

"Any time you don't have to ask permission is awesome. And now you don't," says Jason McNamara, anaward-winning graphic novelist based in northern California. McNamara is just one of many in the comics community turning away from traditional publishing routes—largely controlled by Diamond Comic Distributors—to digital platforms like Kickstarter and Comixology to finance and publish work. 

It's a strategy that's worked well for McNamara's newest release, called The Rattler—a graphic novel he co-created with Los Angeles artist Greg Hinkle. After launching a Kickstarter campaign for $4,600 to publish the book, McNamara raised over three times his financing goal. "By going through Kickstarter first we could get a real idea of what the interest is for this book," states McNamara. "There is an element of entrepreneurship and there's a gamble that appeals to people."

The emergence of crowdfunding sites has helped provide a more diverse selection of comics for fans by allowing creators like McNamara to break through editorial gatekeepers and produce content without sacrificing artistic integrity or ownership. 

"In order to get in the comic shops you had to go through Diamond. They do have a monopoly of sort in the comics community," explains Matt Silady, chair of the MFA in Comics program at California College of the Arts in San Francisco.  "Diamond does great things for retailing, but they also have a business model that requires you to have a certain number of pre-orders for you to even be considered as part of that catalog. If you're not in that catalog, nobody is seeing your work." 

Now artists and writers can showcase their work on a variety of websites and speak directly to fans.  

"Diamond will turn a lot of stuff down based on whether they think it's worth it to them. You have to appeal to their taste and what they think. But Comixology is more open … Kickstarter—there is no barrier of entry," says McNamara. "Which is great, because if you want to make comic books, no one is saying 'no' to you anymore. You just have to find the right platform."

As more creators turn to online platforms to publish their work, consumers are also embracing the digital marketplace. Comic book sales broke industry records in 2014 with digital comics contributing an estimated $90 million in sales according to the most recent numbers published by IcV2. The rise of these digital platforms has only helped to expand readership—which has led to bigger profits in the comics industry and a reported four percent increase in brick and mortar comic-book retailers. 

"Overall, comics is healthier than ever as an art form," says Silady. "There's nothing more exciting than the traditional barriers falling away and someone having art, showing it, and being able to put it out there without having to compromise." 

About 5 minutes.

Produced by Alexis Garcia. Camera by Garcia, Tracy Oppenheimer, and Zach Weissmueller. Music by Jonny Chan and the New Dynasty 6

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  1. Yet again, creative destruction FTW.

  2. In case you thought Britain couldn’t become any more of a creepy police state.

    But the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill, now slipping quietly and quickly through Parliament, is in a way even worse. It tells us what opinions we should have, or should not have.


    But universities are told they have a ‘responsibility to exclude those promoting extremist views that support or are conducive to terrorism’.

    Those words ‘conducive to’ are so vague that they could include almost anybody with views outside the mainstream.

    What follows might have come from the laws of the Chinese People’s Republic or Mr Putin’s Russia. Two weeks’ advance notice of meetings must be given so that speakers can be checked up on, and the meeting cancelled if necessary.

    Warning must also be given of the topic, ‘sight of any presentations, footage to be broadcast, etc’. A ‘risk assessment’ must be made on whether the meeting should be cancelled altogether, compelled to include an opposing speaker or (even more creepy) ‘someone in the audience to monitor the event’.

    1984 was not an instruction manual.

    1. If you hooked Mr. Orwell’s grave up to the power grid I think you’d solve the ‘energy crisis’.

  3. From Robert Reich’s Facebook:

    In his State of the Union address, Tuesday evening, President Obama will call for billions in tax increases on top earners (including an increase on the capital gains rate on couples making more than $500,000 a year to 28%, closing a tax loophole on inheritances, and a fee on the biggest banks), in order to fund new middle-class tax credits, make college more affordable, and make community college free. Excellent idea.

    But why didn’t Obama propose this idea earlier when it had a prayer of passage ? between 2008 and 2010, when Democrats ran both houses of Congress, or between 2011 and now, when Democrats at least ran the Senate? The answer is he was never serious about it and still isn’t. But he wants credit for it as part of his legacy if and when Hillary Clinton or Elizabeth Warren or another Democratic presidential hopeful proposes it on the campaign trail, and if it’s ever enacted into law after 2016.

    1. When you’ve lost the Mighty Midget of Marxism…

      1. When you said this I googled his height and incidentally found out that he’s from Scranton, which let to one of those, “Oh, yeah, that makes perfect sense” moments.

    2. What I find funny is that the argument in favor of increased taxes on the rich flies completely contrary to the Keynesian economic arguments that Reich claims to favor.

      The point of Keynesian economics is that you engage in deficit spending in order to goose demand during economic downturns. Well, increasing taxes has the exact opposite effect since it lowers deficits and takes money from people who otherwise might have spent or invested it.

      As a result, raising taxes during bad economic times is actually an extraordinarily un-Keynesian idea, but progressives argue in favor of it because their primary driving emotion is envy.

      Their arguments in favor of higher taxes during an economic downturn are 100% contrary to all their other economic arguments about deficit spending, but they’re too blinded by their own jealousy to realize it.

      1. I’m just getting some schadenfreude now that someone like Reich is openly admitting Obama doesn’t care and likely never did.

      2. Consider that these tax increases would likely hit every member of congress and every big Obama supporter. No rich person is going to end up paying more taxes. Bet on that and you will become one of the one percent yourself.

        This is all for show.

      3. I think you’re forgetting that one huge reason why most of those people favor Keynesian economics is their unshakeable belief in central planning. So yes, tax increases may decrease individual spending, but those stupid evil rich people would have wasted the money on houses and cars and investing in companies for dirty profits; whereas by collecting the money and putting it all in the hands of the Top Men, it can be capably and efficiently spent on high speed rail and handing out MRAPs to local police departments and other such shovel ready projects.

    3. American companies are expanding (which explains their “record profit”) so much outside of the country that they probably don’t have to fear tax increases anymore. They can just close a few hundred locations here and keep the money earned abroad in some offshore account.

      Obama’s free college racket won’t be good news for mid tier private colleges and accepts B- students as long as they can pay the expensive tuition. Community colleges are like 20 minutes away from your home in CA, there would be no need for average students to burn money on housing and meal plans on some non elite colleges. And the UC kids won’t be happy that their underachieving buddies are getting a free education while they’re deep in debt.

      1. Community colleges are like 20 minutes away from your home in CA

        Online universities are milliseconds away, and just about infinitely scalable.

  4. Is the current top comic book superhero Saint Aaron Rodgers (PBUH) or is drawing representations of His Holiness strictly proscribed?

    I understand that if Jesus Christ Himself were to come back as an NFL quarterback He would weep with shame and frustration that He could never be as good as Aaron, but the sell job on Rodgers reminds me so much of the sell job on what a saintly superman Jerome Bettis was and what an injustice it would be for all of humanity were he to retire without a Superbowl ring – whereupon the refs went out there and jobbed the shit out of Seattle to make sure Mr. Bettis got his ring.

    I don’t expect the refs to so blatantly job Seattle this time around, but I have a sneaking suspicion that this game is scripted and the script calls for Saint Aaron to perform a miracle or two on the way to a Green Bay victory. The sports commentators have been working overtime the last few weeks to convince us that Rodgers is a god so nobody will look too closely at the improbability of the miracles or wonder why Rodgers isn’t currently looking for his seventh Superbowl ring if he’s all that damn great.

    1. I’m going to enjoy Rogers getting sacked.

    2. Fuck Seattle.

    3. Needz moar replayz

    4. Damn Jerryskids, hate much?

  5. I see Green Bay flags all over my neighborhood, and I live in LA. And I can hear these people.

    “Yeah! “F-yeah! You ain’t gonna make the playoffs! (some other team playing Green Bay)”

    These people are a cult, and their cheese hat is so stupid. And they watch the game in their garage, with the door open. Don’t you have a TV inside the house? Is your wife watching something else?

    The last 5,6 minutes of football games are usually garbage time in which the other team can keep possession and just run out the clock. I’m convinced that Americans hate soccer because they hate Europe, not because the game is lame.

  6. Sounds like a solid plan to me dude. WOw.

    1. You sound like your head is made of solid concrete.

  7. The Drinky Crow Show was awesome.

  8. NERDS?!?

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