Not content with just releasing digital comics online, Comicker Digital’s Sean E Williams is aiming for total domination of the market with a fantastic range of titles appearing on ComiXology, Drive Thru and a soon to be released app as well. We caught up with the digital publishing powerhouse to find out more.
Tell us a bit about the formation of Comicker Digital? What inspired you to set up company and who are the main players? What is your background in comics?
SW: My background is as a writer in comics. I wrote the New York Times best-selling third arc of Fairest (the spin-off of Fables), as well as issues of Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman, The Vampire Diaries, and others. I also co-created a series called Artful Daggers, which is published digital-first via Monkeybrain Comics, and is recently out of print as a trade paperback at IDW. My partner, Saori Adams, has been managing tables at comic conventions for years, which is how we met.
I’d been working on trying to find a way for comics professionals to do more creator-owned series, but on a flexible schedule. While I was trying to nail a viable solution down, Saori approached me about starting a webcomics company, and everything clicked into place. So many creators I knew wanted to do more of their own books, but didn’t have the time or technological background, which is where Comicker Digital comes in. We have a loose, flexible schedule, and handle all of the tech side of things, leaving creators to focus on their series.
You have a variety of titles available from different creators, how did they come to be part of the Comicker family? Did you approach them or did they pitch to you? Was there any plan to feature a certain type of title, or was it just a case of picking your favourites?
SW: All of the creators for this first batch of titles I know from attending conventions, or through mutual friends. For example, I had met Kate Sherron at an anime show and fell in love with her work. When I saw that she was ramping up The Casebook Of Rabbit Black on her own, and I approached her about bringing it into the Comicker family. Aaron Pittman, on the other hand, was a friend of a friend, and he approached us about publishing Grimfish, which we were happy to pick up!
We don’t have a “house style,” though. Our focus is on stories that interest us, and that we think readers will be interested in, first and foremost. As long as the art serves the story, we’re open to pretty much anything, style-wise (which you can see from our first batch of series that are already out).
Tell us a bit about each of the books you have in your line up and what are the reasons people should check them out?
SW: The Casebook Of Rabbit Black is by Kate Sherron. It’s about a freelancer who gets killed, and has to solve his own murder after the necromancer downstairs accidentally brings him back to life. It’s an odd-couple buddy-cop story with visuals unlike anything in comics right now, which is what drew us to it.
Grimfish is created by Aaron Pittman, and is a straight-up sci-fi story that focuses on a guy who tries to run away from his past, but only gets into more trouble in the process. Aaron’s pacing and worldbuilding are captivating, and so thoughtfully done that you’re just drawn in and can’t look away.
Some Kind Of Blue Moon was written by Michael D. Stewart, illustrated by Thomas Boatwright, and lettered by James Greatorex. It’s about misfits, and werewolves, and witches, and just trying to get by in this crazy world. It’s a self-contained graphic novella, but we’re hoping to see some more from these guys.
Lost Angels was created by David Accampo and Chris Anderson. It takes place in a universe where an alien city lands on Santa Monica – except the aliens are angels. It follows a high schooler whose mom is a cop who oversees the angel jurisdiction, and so you get all these layers of high school drama mixed with crime that just blend perfectly.
Artful Daggers is the webcomics edition of a series I co-created and co-wrote with Adam P. Knave and Andrew Losq, who does the art, and Frank Cvetkovic does the lettering. It’s set fifty years after Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court, where corporations have taken over all the kingdoms in England, and 1800s technology has run rampant in the medieval world in a dieselpunk kind of way. The main character is a princess by day, and a saboteur by night. All the issues are available via Monkeybrain Comics on comiXology, and there’s still a few copies of the first trade paperback floating around out there as well.
You’re releasing your books digitally, both via your website and also ComiXology, was it important for you to be a digital first company, and how important is digital to the current comics industry do you think? What advantages and disadvantages does it offer you as a small publisher?
SW: We’re also releasing our series via DriveThruComics, as well as our own subscription app, which is coming out later this month for iOS. The reason we went so many different routes is that the overlap in readers between platforms is small-to-nonexistent. People like what they like, and it’s easier for us to go to them than it is to try to convince them to come to us.
Digital is the future of comics, and is only growing every day, so launching digitally was a bit of a no-brainer. It also gave us the most flexibility from a schedule- and platform-standpoint, and allows us to make our series available to far more readers than if we had launched in print.
What’s the next step for Comicker? More titles? More creators? A greater degree of availability? You also mentioned an app, can you tell us anything about that?
SW: Yeah, as I mentioned before, we have our app coming out later this month, which is going to be a totally different reading experience from any of the other platforms, which we’re really excited about. It’ll also have extras that you can’t get anywhere else, and it’ll be getting new pages exclusively before the webcomic or digital editions. Beyond that, we have big plans for next year, but can’t really talk about them just yet.
As far as series go, I recently launched Gatehouse with Adam Bolton, and we have a new series called Sylvania by Kristin Kemper debuting on September 15th.