“The digital world empowers the small guys” New Worlds Comics’ Guy Hasson reveals his goals for digital comics success
We often hear digital comics described as a brave new world, but Guy Hasson has taken that description literally and used it as the name for his new line of digital comics. With a mix of dystopian sci-fi and smutty humour, New Worlds Comics titles like Wynter and Goof are available via their own storefront app and from this month on ComiXology. We caught up with Guy to find out about his plans for a globe-spanning digital comics empire.
Tell us a bit about the formation of New Worlds Comics? Where are you based, who are the main players and what was the goal when you started?
GH: New Worlds Comics is a company that can only exist in the digital age. I’m the CEO and head writer, and I live in Israel. My artists live in Spain, Hungary, the U.S., and Brazil – and I have never spoken to any of them, not on the phone and not on Skype. I found them on the web, we email back and forth, and then we publish digitally – and people all across the world download us without going to the store.
The goals for New Worlds Comics:
1) Artistic freedom. Artistic freedom for the writers and for the artists. I wanted to create a quality so high that comic books will truly be an art, one that appeals to adults and not just kids. Once we open up our submissions in a couple of months, people are going to have a very hard time getting in. I’m not looking for the things you’re used to reading.
2) Women are heroes. It’s absolutely ridiculous in my eyes that historically there have hardly been any realistic women in comic books, not to mention heroines. Girls and teenage girls need comics that can empower them, and that’s lacking. Boys and teenage boys need to see realistic, three-dimensional women. Almost all our titles will have women as the main heroes, and all secondary female characters will be three dimensional human beings. You may have noticed there’s a girl in our logo. That’s not a coincidence.
3) The best stories. I already spoke about the quality I’m looking for. But I also wanted to create a space where stories were told right: Stories need a beginning, a middle, and an ending. Stories that don’t end, don’t have a middle. Stories that don’t end, have something wrong with them. Sure, it’s sad to see characters you love go away, and it’s bad for merchandising, but you can reread your favorite stories again and again, and you can always pick up more titles by us. I promise a unity of quality. So all our stories will have endings. All our stories will be built as stories should be built.
4) No continuity. Each title will be consistent with its own continuity, of course, but the titles take place in different worlds. We’re New Worlds Comics – we’re here to create new worlds, not one new world.
5) One story – one writer. Another way to make sure the quality of the stories stays good is to recognize that a story, and its characters, belong to the writer. When you change writers, the original intention, the original fire, disappears. The writers will own their stories, they will tell them from beginning to end, and no one will replace them.
6) Artists should be treated as artists. I’ve lived the life of a struggling writer for decades and I believe in the depths of my soul that artists and writers should be able to live off their art. All our artists and writers get percentages of sales of what they did in addition to their salaries. Every dollar you spend on our books will have a hefty percentage that goes to the artists. This will be true as long as New Worlds Comics exists.
You’ve gone for 2 quite different titles as your start point – dystopian sci-fi and slapstick comedy – was that an intentional choice to create a broad range of titles or just a reflection of the kinds of books you like to read/write?
GH: That was on purpose. I’ve been a science fiction author for quite a few years, and agents never knew what to do with me. I always insisted on following one book with another book in a completely different style for a completely different audience. So people who loved one book, hated the other, and vice versa. It’s hard to get a devoted readership that way.
Comic books allow me to turn that into a positive: I can release many titles, in different styles, without it seeming like I fell from the moon. It’s the most natural thing for a comic book company to do.
You’re releasing your titles via ComiXology and also via your own iPad app. How important is it for you to have your own platform for releasing titles on compared to releasing them via ComiXology? Are they available anywhere else?
GH: New Worlds Comics started as an iPad app, where you can look at the shelves, buy the comics you want, and keep them forever. I soon saw that although we were getting great reviews, ComiXology had all the readers. So I approached ComiXology and now we’re available through them, as well, across all platforms.
Now that we’ve been around awhile, we’re about to release physical trades as well. Goof #1 through #4 will be available as a trade paperback soon and be available in special indie comic book stores around the world (yes, the world, not just the US and UK). Wynter #1 through #4 will be released in December. And a new title we’re working on, a graphic novel series called Lost in Dreams, will be available simultaneously in physical and digital form. So keep updated at our website.
I should say that in the next few weeks, we’re going to release our comic books through a platform in a way you’ve never seen before. I can’t say more than that at present. Look for news at our website.
How important is digital publishing for a small start up company like yours? And what pros and cons does it bring to your comics?
GH: The digital world empowers the small guys. Distribution costs nothing. People across the world, in all countries, buy our comic books. Printing costs nothing. The costs were creating the app and paying the artists. (Although now it seems we’ve found a way to print and distribute trade paperbacks in a way that losing doesn’t lose money).
We’ve only been alive since February, and with every month we’ve grown bigger. We got great reviews, more readers, books on ComiXology, received ongoing interest from a few Hollywood production companies, are about to release trade paperbacks, and there are even bigger things planned in the very near future.
What can we expect to see from you next? Will there be more series debuting from different artists and writers or are you continuing to develop Wynter and Goof for now?
GH: The ongoing series, Wynter and Goof, will continue. Wynter is popular among the SF readers. Goof is popular among those looking for light-hearted hilarious comics.
We’ve got a new graphic novel series coming soon. It’s a massive project called Lost in Dreams, about a little girl who lives in the dream world and can’t get back to Earth. She’s raised by her father who only comes when he sleeps and doesn’t remember her when he’s awake. It’s an adventure for the whole family (unlike our other titles). The graphic novel series will be about her life, from birth to death, with each new graphic novel taking place three years after the last one. It’s a sort of Oliver Twist in a fantasy land with a whole lot of adventure. And it’s a new form of epic fantasy that can only be done in comic books.