Amazon Publishing just announced this week that it’s starting its own comic book imprint called Jet City comics, which will publish serialized comics and trade collections on Kindle as well as in print. While comic book publishers are probably shaking in their boots at the news (considering the big bad Amazon tends to eat competitors in whatever new field it ventures into), this could potentially be great news for independent comics creators and comics fans who like a little variety.
As Jeff Belle, Vice President of Amazon Publishing, said ”Comics and graphic novels, especially in digital format, represent a unique area for innovation,” and he’s not wrong. Digital comics are on the up and up with companies like Comixology beasting the access and selling side of things and tablet and e-reader sellers perfecting the reading experience. And Amazon is king for digital readers.
Amazon’s digital strategy together with it’s penchant for digging bestsellers out of the hordes of no-name hopefuls could mean opportunities for fresh new talent and independent creators in an industry dominated by heavy hitters, where the writer/artist’s name on a comic can mean everything.
We could see a revolution not unlike what we saw with the boom of new fiction and genre writers when Amazon moved into book publishing. And out of that boom came sci-fi phenomenons like Hugh Howey‘s initially self-published novel Wool, which will actually be one of Jet City‘s first adaptations. While not every unknown genre writer can claim the staggering success of Hugh Howey, Amazon has at least opened the doors for them, giving many low profile writers the opportunity to publish without breaking the bank and reach an audience outside of their extended family.
Now, I’m not saying Amazon is doing this out of the goodness of their hearts or with some indie-supportive mission in mind. No way. Evident in the imprint’s launching with an adaptation of George R.R. Martin‘s Meathouse Man and with names like comics veterans Jimmy Palmiotti behind the Wool adaptation, the soul behind the new imprint is clearly as profit-driven as you’d expect from any big bad corporation. But just as their book publishing venture has done, Jet City will likely make itself competitive by tapping into the deep well of the creative masses with thin wallets, and publishing them widely and cheaply. Competing comics publishers are bound by their own brands and in some cases story continuities and publish much more selectively. In fact, Jet City is already kicking off in this vein. Their first digital comic is already out and it’s a $0.99 cent Kindle Edition Symposium: A SideQuest Comics by relative unknowns Christian Cameron and Dmitry Bondarenko. Cameron has authored several works of historical fiction some of which sold over 100k copies, but he’s hardly a household name.
If Jet City continues in the tradition of Amazon other imprints, it will mean more comics from a broader selection of creators. Which, ya, might mean a lot of mediocre crap, but it will also open the door to some new and fresh voices that are actually good.
Right now many creators and artists are getting their work out there online via. sites like DeviantArt or web comics on their own sites, some are even managing small prints through sites like Kickstarter. If Jet City mines these sources, they’ll have a wealth of talent to draw from, and all those dope projects that can’t find a home at the traditional comics publisher might have a shot.
———————————————————————————————————————————————————————Crystal (@geekoutsider) is an assistant editor at a respectable publishing house by day, by cover of night she goes full on geeky. You can see her writing at geekoutsider.com