Category Archives: Technology

SDCC 2014: DRM-Free at ComiXology

comixology small imageToday during their panel at San Diego Comic-Con, comiXology unveiled a new DRM-free backup feature that allows customers to download and store copies of their books.

The first wave of participating publishers making their books available as DRM-free backups include Image Comics, Dynamite Entertainment, Zenescope Entertainment, MonkeyBrain Comics, Thrillbent, and Top Shelf Productions. In addition, creators and publishers that are self-publishing through comiXology Submit are now able to choose to make their books available with a DRM-free backup.

To obtain the DRM-free backups of their books, customers can go to the “My Books” section of comixology.com on their desktop computers and click the button that appears next to their books. Books and series from participating publishers will be available for backup starting today. Backups are available in high definition PDF and CBZ.

Customers will continue to enjoy all of their purchases – whether available as a DRM-free backup or not – on the comiXology platform in comiXology’s exclusive cinematic Guided View reading experience, anytime and anywhere.

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Pay 99 Cents to Read 15,000 Marvel Comics Online

SDCCMU99C_shareableMarvel might be physically at San Diego Comic-Con, but it doesn’t mean the comic publisher has forgotten about the folks who can’t make the show. For the next week, Marvel is allowing folks to purchase a month’s worth of access to their Marvel Unlimited digital service for 99 cents.

Use the promo code SDCC14 and you’ll get a month’s access to 15,000 comics for less than a dollar.

The comics can be viewed on PC and Mac, as well as iOS and Android devices through a Marvel Unlimited app. Readers can download up to 12 comics at a time for offline reading. Newer comics tend to be added to the Unlimited archive after 6 months, so you’re not getting the latest releases. But for a dollar, there’s more than enough to read.

Typically, a subscription to the Marvel Unlimited service costs $69 a year or $9.99 a month.

Valiant Entertainment and Visionbooks Partner for Animated Digital Comic Books

visionbooksVisionbooks has announced a new partnership agreement with award-winning comic book publisher, Valiant Entertainment. Launching today with the release of X-O Manowar #1-4 on the Visionbooks app, relive the best-selling first story arc of Valiant’s alien-armored Visigoth hero as realized by Visionbooks’ groundbreaking digital animation process.

Visionbooks transforms two-dimensional comic books into a digital animation experience. By combining traditional comics with cutting-edge technology, Visionbooks creates dimensional action like explosions, smoke, weather, character conflicts and action, all within static comic panels.

From New York Times best-selling writer Robert Venditti and Eisner Award-winning artist Cary Nord, X-O Manowar is the acclaimed series that relaunched Valiant’s publishing line in 2012 to critical and commercial success.

You can check out the first issue totally free of charge right now.

In addition to Valiant Entertainment, Visionbooks’ current partnerships include: Asylum Press, Arcana, Real Interface Studios, A.P.N.G. Enterprises, Vanquish Interactive, Pavesio and Cavalletto.

SDCC 2014: Farrago Comics Heads to SDCC Calling for “Comic Book Freedom”

farrago-BG-fightThere’s a new digital comic player on the market. Farrago Comics is heading to San Diego Comic-Con with calls for “Comic Book Freedom.” Their goal is to “crack open the comic book industry in favor of a more fan-friendly and creator-centric model.” At the show, they’ll be working on pre-registration for their app that will launch first on iPads in August 2014.

Farrago’s model is similar to Pandora/Spotify, that “uniquely supports and favors creators.” Both systems rely heavily on advertising for revenue, but you can pay to upgrade the service. Both of those services as well have come under fire for little payouts to musicians, and the music industry consistently fighting to get more money out of them. There’s also reports of collusion within the music industry against those services. Hopefully things work out better in the comics industry.

Two names mentioned in the company’s initial release are Eisner Award winning writer Paul Jenkins of Spiderman, Wolverine, and Fairy Quest fame, and Rob Kutner, current writer for TBS’s Conan, five-time Emmy winning writer for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and co-creator of the new sci-fi comedy album 2776.

The company will be at SDCC handing out flyers, buttons, and T-shirts to promote the app. It will also hold an Instagram contest (#farragocomics) with signed Farrago artwork by Andrew Robinson, artist of The Fifth Beatle and creator of Dusty Star, as prizes, and is co-sponsoring San Diego’s BoomShop of Comics Drink & Draw, Saturday, July 26.

Kindle Unlimited includes Comics and Graphic Novels. Can comiXology Unlimited be far behind?

2014-07-18_0941It’s been rumored for a few days now, but Amazon today introduced Kindle Unlimited, a new subscription service that gives customers access to over 600,000 Kindle Books, and and some of Amazon’s thousands of Audible audiobooks for $9.99 a month.

But, buried in the massive offering from Amazon are is a section dubbed “Comics & Graphic Novels” featuring currently 3,690 books.

When you dig deeper into the offering, things get a bit stranger. The biggest publisher I’ve found so far is IDW Publishing, but their offerings are limited. There’s also a lot of manga, but within that count too is a lot of “how too” books as well as books on the industry, so it’s not all comics and graphic novels in the traditional sense. What does seem present is a lot of independent books, some I recognize as having been sent to our site to review, or from Kickstarter.

The big question though, is how comiXology fits into the bigger plans. Earlier this year Amazon purchased the digital comics distributor, and other than how you can purchase your books (in the app vs through the web), the changes have been minimal. Rumors of comiXology providing an all you can read service have persisted, and it’s a question that’s come up at every panel I’ve ever attended of theirs. With this move by Amazon, maybe we’re seeing the first steps towards that.

Batman’s Wolverine Claws

Every other Monday this summer, the Man at Arms team of blacksmiths and craftsman will be taking some of your favorite characters and items to mash up into brand new hybrid weapons that you’ve never seen before. This week, they mashed together Batman’s batarangs with Wolverine’s claws!

Valiant Entertainment, a Case Study for Dropbox

Learn how comic book company Valiant Entertainment uses Dropbox for Business to work with hundreds of freelancers around the world to meet weekly book production deadlines.

Valiant Entertainment returned to the comic book world just a few years ago, but since then, they’ve been putting out some of the best comics out there, in the most well put together comic universe out there.

On top of the excellent comics they release, the company has also been pushing the envelope when it comes to marketing, trying new initiatives in hopes to expand their market. From sponsoring an Olympic team, to partnering up with a coffee/tea shop, to driving around NYC around convention time, they are a company willing to try new things and see what works.

Enter Dropbox, a cloud service that allows you to upload and share files across the web, a must tool for businesses. Dropbox has released the above video spotlighting how Valiant uses their service to get their work done. It’s good promotion for Dropbox, but also gets Valiant out in front of an audience who might not know who they are.

Bravo Valiant!

Amazon Fire with comiXology

After months of rumors, the Amazon phone is here. The Amazon Fire was announced today will go on sale July 25 for $199 with a 2-year service agreement exclusively on AT&T, or $649 full retail, and comes with one year of Amazon Prime.

But, this isn’t really a site about technology, so why do we care about this announcement? Amazon is in the process of purchasing comiXology (it’s a bit unclear when it’s officially taking place, or if it has), and comiXology is the leading digital comic book service.

In the announcement for the phone, as we predicted some time ago, comiXology will come pre-loaded on the phone along with Amazon’s other digital services.

There’s two major impacts from this announcement. First, and most obvious, the prospect of digital comics just got a much larger audience, and you better believe Amazon and comiXology will take advantage of this pairing. The second, the phone has a new way for the phone to react to how people hold, view, and moves the phone. Expect this function to be better integrated with the comiXology software down the road.

Check out the full video below to find out more about the announcement. We’ve reached out the comiXology for an official comment.

RedBubble Responds about Skottie Young

We previously brought you the story of creator Skottie Young who took to Twitter to vent about his art being sold without his permission on clothing and other items through the website RedBubble. We reached out to RedBubble and received a response over the weekend. Through email, we learned about 20,000 works per month are removed. Some of this is in direct response to DMCA notices and some will be as a result of the pro-active polices, cited below, that the company takes.

RedBubble CEO Martin Hosking wrote us with the below info, which is similar to what we discussed years ago when we talked to them about the same subject:

First thing is once we were aware of the Skottie issue this morning we immediately took action. We do this under our normal processes. They may be more extensive than people realise and go beyond the strict requirements of the DMCA. I highlight this below.

You know this, but so it is in one place: Redbubble is a community built on respect, recognition and appreciation of original artists. We take matters of intellectual property extremely seriously. We value originality and creativity, and we strongly oppose infringement of copyright, trademark, publicity rights, or any other intellectual property rights.

I’d like to clarify that Redbubble does not itself manufacture, sell or distribute the products on its Web site.  Rather, Redbubble is the host of an online marketplace. Regardless, it is absolutely Redbubble’s policy and practice to respect intellectual property rights of others and to provide reasonable assistance to rights holders in this regards.

As you have written on in the past, in an effort to strike a balance between the rights of rights owners to prevent infringing uses of their intellectual property and the rights of visual artists to make non-infringing, and/or fair uses of related content, Redbubble has implemented a fairly extensive set of copyright, trademark and DMCA procedures, which are set forth at : http://support.redbubble.com/kb/top20/copyright-trademark-and-dmca.

Central to these procedures is our Notice and Takedown process, modeled after the one set out in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Submitting a takedown notice is a fairly straightforward process, and once we receive the information required under the DMCA, we act expeditiously (typically within 24 hours) to remove any listing that a bona fide rights owner or licensee identifies as infringing. This takedown is always subject to our counter notification process, which gives sellers affected by takedowns the opportunity to establish their right to sell the material at issue. More detail about the take down and counter notice process can be found at the following URL: http://support.redbubble.com/kb/top20/redbubble-ippublicity-rights-policy#report

Although we’re not required by law, we take further proactive efforts on many occasions and work closely with numerous content owners, brands and individual artists to minimize instances of third party infringement of intellectual property rights via the Redbubble marketplace. We also immediately remove any user who is identified as a repeat infringer, per our policies.

Again, I want to emphasize, Redbubble takes matters of alleged IP infringement very seriously and we do not take lightly any suggestion (not that you have made this) that we have any other stance on this issue.

It’s good to see RedBubble take this issue seriously. This is an issue that’s beyond them, and one of the nature of the internet itself. With everybody able to quickly share, re-use, and re-post, this debate has raged for years, and I expect to continue for years to come.

Marketing Monday: Top Comic Apps

It’s Marketing Monday here at Graphic Policy and we’re still tracking various comic apps, how they rank up against each other, and the general app population.

For this report, I felt it best to focus on Wednesday of the previous week, since that should be the busiest day of the week for apps since its new comic day. This report also focuses on the ranks in the United States. I’ll eventually look at the entire week down the road and expand the location. I also wanted to look at the gross income for the apps, so apps included are those where you’d purchase books. So apps like comiXology’s offerings would be included, but Marvel’s AR app isn’t.

This is the fourth week since comiXology removed the ability to make purchases directly through the iOS device as well as use Google’s function.

While comiXology has dropped in in its downloads, and Marvel and DC increased in their rankings in the iOS book category, their overall rank in applications haven’t increased to anywhere near where comiXology was. ComiXology’s possible loss hasn’t translated to massive gains by others.

Over time, it’ll be interesting to see if comiXology moves up in rank for Amazon as the company comes in more under their fold.

iOS

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Google

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Amazon

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For these next two stats, I looked at their download ranks for the iPhone and iPad based on their book rank.

iOS iPhone

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iOS iPad

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And that wraps up this week’s breakdown. I’m still thinking through a good name for this feature, so if you have suggestions, let me know!

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