Earlier this week, Batman and American Vampire writer Scott Snyder shook up the creator-owned comics market by announcing that his Best Jackett imprint had inked a sweeping deal with ComiXology Originals, bringing eight titles to the Amazon-owned digital publisher. Through ComiXology's deal with Dark Horse Comics, the digital-first titles will still see collected editions hit the market in a timely fashion, and Snyder and his collaborators get to hang onto the rights -- something that seems like an ideal situation, especially in light of an ever-changing comics market and a global pandemic that has everyone in the economy asking "what's next?"
Best Jackett, whose first series, Nocterra, hit the stands from Image Comics earlier this year, sees Snyder collaborating with some of the biggest artists in American comics, from Tula Lotay and Greg Capullo to Tony Daniel and Jock. And while some have wondered whether Snyder "defected" from Image to ComiXology, the imprint will continue to develop and release titles through both outlets, and the deal with ComiXology has apparently been in the works almost as long as the comics themselves.
"I remember talking about all these books a year and a half ago, and setting up this deal with ComiXology," Snyder told ComicBook. "We really started to finalize it last spring. So it's been well over a year of us working behind the scenes, making sure the books were ready, that they were good enough, that we could have enough of a variety, make sure everything was really well curated...nobody was being pushed."
The series being released, which include adventure, horror, western, and science-fiction titles, not only have different audiences, but different formats, different lengths, and more. Some are graphic novels while others are ongoing comics. Snyder said that figuring out the best way to distribute each is part of the big picture at both ComiXology and Image.
"We were figuring it out case by case when the pandemic hit, and books that were already up and running at places Image were halted, and the flow of money halted entirely," Snyder said. "Nobody had any idea of when it might start up again, if ever. It just became imperative to figure out ways of making the books in a safe way, where we weren't compromising when it came to the rights."
And that's a big part of the allure of the ComIXology deal. While some have wondered whether this means BestJackett titles will all end up on Amazon Prime Video someday, Snyder describes his rights situation as very comparable to what creators experience at Image. The only advantage Amazon has, he told us, is that they get to see the books first -- not contractually, but for practical, production-related reasons.
Here's a rundown of what's coming from Snyder and ComiXology:
- 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.
"I think there's a lot of untapped markets," Snyder told ComicBook. "I think the goal isn't to abandon one for the other, but try all at once. You know, Nocterra has become a big runaway hit for us in print. It's done a lot better than I had expected. Undiscovered Country is going stronger than I'd expected at issue 14. So my footprint at Image is actually bigger than it's ever been. I already have two ongoings there, and I'm bringing back a third, and I have a fourth announced coming in early 2022 with Ariela Kristantina. So it's not even a kind of, 'Hey, is the direct market not working? Should we try something else?' I think it's a great moment for creators in print. You see books like Department of Truth and Something is Killing the Children and Crossover just killing it. I think there's a real hunger on the part of readers for new material in print. But I also think it's silly at this point just to continue to create these kinds of silos and compartmentalize the different aspects of comics as things that shouldn't be working together, synergistically and fluidly all the time. Digital should be in conversation with print. The book market should be in conversation with the direct market and with digital. And if we do that and we find channels to kind of cross promote and cross-pollinate, we're going to have such a healthier, stronger industry."
The first of Snyder's ComiXology titles will be available later this year. Nocterra #6 will be available in stores and on ComiXology on August 18.