Marvel, Slave Labor Graphics Move To Increase Digital Presence

Coming on the heels of DC's massive, line-wide move to same-day digital and an impressive first week of sales that saw both the Comixology app and the DC Comics custom app make the top ten list of highest-grossing apps on iTunes, two other major American comics publishers made digital announcements today.

Marvel took the initiative to start selling collected editions of single issues, essentially digital editions of existing graphic novels, starting with ten popular stories including Captain America: Winter Soldier, Spider-Man: Maximum Carnage and the first arc of Joss Whedon's Astonishing X-Men. Buying as an arc will save a little money, but not very much, much like buying in trade paperback. Starting with only ten collections is a bit conservative, too, but given that Marvel is getting a leg up on DC with a digital move that's unlikely to alienate their friends in the direct market is in itself worth keeping an eye on.

Slave Labor Graphics, meanwhile, has announced that they're moving to "digital-first" distribution, replacing the floppy, single-issue comics format with digital copies and selling hard copies only for collected editions. Despite having a negligible share in direct-market, single-issue sales, Slave Labor has built a name for itself both in and outside of mainstream comics with titles like Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, which seems to have sold more in traditional bookstores and other retail outlets like Hot Topic.

"The market has been pushing us away from serialized comics and more towards books and graphic novels for some time" said SLG president and publisher Dan Vado. "However, it is difficult to publish a 200-page graphic novel from an unknown artist without having some sort of lower-cost entry point like a comic book series to help build an audience, so going digital first seems like a good way to introduce readers to new creators and build an audience which we can build on for potential book releases."