Category Archives: Technology

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LibraryPass and Yen Press Announce Digital Access for Libraries and Schools Through Comics Plus

Yen Press, Comics Plus

LibraryPass, Inc. has announced a distribution agreement with Yen Press to make a selection of their digital catalog available to libraries and schools through Comics Plus. With Comics Plus, readers can access thousands of digital comics, graphic novels, and manga through their school or library—with unlimited simultaneous access for online and offline reading.

Yen Press will be adding more than 100 titles to Comics Plus, featuring dozens of original titles and popular licenses of interest to readers young and old.

Founded in 2006, Yen Press has quickly risen to become one of the largest and most prolific publishers of manga and original graphic novels in North America, including popular series like Kingdom Hearts, Maximum Ride, and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children: The Graphic Novel. JY was founded as a middle-grade imprint in the fall of 2017 and includes the acclaimed Awkward and Brave graphic novels by Svetlana Chmakova, as well as brand new JY releases, such as Kyle’s Little Sister by BonHyung Jeong.

GlobalComix Releases an All-New Digital Reader

GlobalComix has announced a completely new digital reader that was rebuilt from the ground up with three goals in mind: performance, intuitiveness, and mobile gesture support. The new reader also improves the vertical reading experience — especially on mobile devices — and introduces new features to give users more information about the comic they’re viewing within the reading experience.

Here is a breakdown of the updates:

  • General reading experience: the vertical layout has been completely rewritten, including support for browser-native pan-zoom-pinch
  • Improved reader settings: an option to always use the vertical reader layout, and customization options for image spacing and header display
  • Comic info panel: a new “series info” pane that lists all the meta-data for the comic and all the available releases for easy back-and-forth navigation
  • Crowdfinder integration: comics that have a crowdfunding campaign active now display the details at the top of the reader
  • Footer credits & suggested comics: credits to the creator/publisher, as well as suggestions for other comics the user might like, are displayed at the bottom of the comic

Substack Getting Into Comics with Nick Spencer Guiding

Substack

Business Insider via The Beat has the news that Substsack is expanding its pay newsletter model to comics with Nick Spencer leading the project. Substack is a newsletter service where individuals pay to be on lists and receive messages.

The plan would move into the comic space with and Substack is already experimenting with fiction authors. According to The Beat‘s reporting, the plan is to pay prominent writers a substantial upfront and take the majority of the subscription fees. The platform would take a 10% cut after a year.

Substack has had a lot of issues being charged with enabling bigotry. It has become a haven for alt-right individuals and alt-right adjacent regressive attitudes. Any comic creator who takes part in this will likely be pressed on the controversy.

The concept is nothing new and sounds not too different than Patreon or some webcomic platforms. There individuals pay for updates or to get comics in small chunks. Numerous platforms have experimented with “micro” comics with only a few breaking through with a scalable model.

We’ll have updates when the news is officially announced.

Diamond’s Pullbox Launches on June 7

Previewsworld Pullbox

Diamond Comic Distributors has announced June 7, 2021 as the official launch of PREVIEWSworld PULLBOX to consumers, a new service that allows comic shop customers a better way to manage their preorders and subscriptions with their local comic book specialty shop. PULLBOX was announced in February 2018 and “slated for release later” that Spring.

The service, which is currently wrapping up beta testing, already boasts an impressive list of existing users. There are currently more than 300 comic shops and 17,000+ consumers using PULLBOX to manage their weekly orders. PULLBOX users are managing more than 225,000 subscriptions on the platform, which supports the full list of products available Diamond’s PREVIEWS catalog and beyond, including fan-favorites Image Comics, Marvel Comics, DC Comics, Dark Horse Comics, IDW Publishing, Dynamite Entertainment, BOOM! Studios, VIZ Media, Funko, Kotobukiya, Mezco Toyz, Diamond Select Toys, and many more!

PULLBOX allows fans to use the PREVIEWSworld website to place orders directly with their local comic shop. A suite of easy-to-use tools allows consumers to synch orders with participating local comic shops, manage preorders & subscriptions, place special orders, keep a wish list, and track weekly purchases. It also provides customers with e-mail alerts for order confirmations and when items are available for pickup.

PULLBOX will officially launch to consumers June 7. Consumers interested in setting up a PULLBOX account can visit PREVIEWSworld.com/PULLBOX starting June 7.

Kakao Entertainment Acquires 100% Stake in Tapas

Tapas

Continuing their global mission to create super IP across multimedia platforms, the leading digital publisher of webcomics and novels, Tapas Media, Inc., has been acquired by Kakao Entertainment in a cash transaction announced today. The acquisition will expand Kakao Entertainment’s original content business in North America and other English-speaking regions.

The terms of the agreement give Kakao Entertainment a 100% stake in Tapas, for a transaction valued at $510 million. CEO and Founder, Chang Kim, will remain in his role as CEO and become a Global Strategy Officer within Kakao Entertainment. Kim will provide insight into the US Market while continuing to focus on developing IP on the Tapas platform.

Headquartered in Los Angeles, Tapas is a pioneer of mobile storytelling platforms in the US and have found success in the rapidly growing mobile stories market with more than 8 billion pageviews of 96,000 original series – both webcomics and digital novels. Tapas’ microtransaction-based digital currency (Ink) empowers readers to directly support their favorite creators and stories, generating revenue for creators.  Tapas saw five times year-over-year revenue growth in 2020, averaging more than $2M per month for creators, making it one of the top 3 grossing comic apps in the US.

Tapas have spent almost a decade dedicated to developing a creator-first ecosystem with an open publishing platform and creator community. Tapas is not just a creator platform, it also produces original content with creators – content that expands into additional business opportunities including development deals in film and television, book publishing, audio, and other ancillary business. Recent Tapas announcements include Scholastic signing global publishing rights for the critically-acclaimed Studio Tapas original series Magical Boy – releasing as a graphic novel on November 2, 2021; a partnership with Zoic Studios for television and cross-platform adaptation of the AI thriller Tapas original, Mnemosyne; and Frolic Media and Madison Wells are producing a scripted podcast and developing the TV adaptation of the modern office-place romance series, Yes, My Boss!. The expanded partnership with Kakao Entertainment furthers this mission broadening creator opportunities on a global level as they are a leader in the Korean web novel and webcomic industries, with a successful track record of creating super IPs made into secondary formats such as films, TV series, games, and live performances.

Madefire is Shutting Down. Users Must Download Their Comics by the End of April

Madefire

It’s flown under the radar but Madefire has announced that they have declared insolvency. The digital comic platform entered into the process on April 7 and at some point in the past few days posted the details on their website.

With the announcement, Madefire has said users that customers are encouraged to download purchases from the cloud as future access “may be limited”. Users have until the end of April 2021 to do so.

Madefire was one of the bigger competitors against digital comics platform comiXology when they launched in 2011. Though they had some high-profile announcements, the app never really was much of a challenger filling a very small niche.

You can read Madefire’s complete statement below.

Notice

On April 7, 2021, Madefire, Inc. (the “Company” or “Madefire”) entered into an assignment for the benefit of creditors (the “Assignment”), which is a state-level insolvency proceeding similar to bankruptcy. Madefire made a general assignment of its assets to an assignment entity, a California limited liability company by the name of Madefire (assignment for the benefit of creditors), LLC (“Assignee”), an affiliate of Sherwood Partners, Inc.

Due to the uncertainty in this situation, the following actions have been taken: – All new purchases of books have been suspended indefinitely. -All publication of new books has been suspended indefinitely. -Support of and future updates to the Madefire App have been suspended indefinitely. -Access to purchased content stored in the cloud may be limited and therefore customers are encouraged to download all previously purchased content from the cloud onto the Madefire App before the end of April 2021.

Further information with regard to the process may be found on www.proofofclaims.com/Madefire.

Thank you.

There are numerous publishers who had built their digital comics app with Madefire. Archie is one of them and they have announced they’re shutting their app down as well. Below is the publisher’s announcement:

To our valued Archie App customers,

We regret to inform you that the Archie App will cease operations as of 4/28.

We realize this comes as a surprise and we are making every effort to do right by our loyal customer base. We sincerely apologize for this inconvenience.

With that in mind, we are working with our digital partners at ComiXology to offer you a free, one-month trial of their top-flight streaming platform, ComiXology Unlimited, where you can find our entire Archie digital library, day-and-date with its release. You will find almost every comic currently on the Archie App and more via this service, for a lower price than you paid for Archie Unlimited. To sign up, click here.

We are of course aware that many of you have made individual purchases via the app. To make up for the loss of those purchases, we are offering a free digital bundle of Archie Comics titles – including some of our best-selling collections. Some of the titles featured in this bundle include:

Best of Archie Deluxe Vol. 1-4
Best of Betty and Veronica Vol. 1&2
Best of Archie Americana Vol. 1: Golden Age
Best of Archie Americana Vol. 2: Silver Age
Best of Archie Americana Vol. 3: Bronze
Best of Josie and the Pussycats Vol. 1
The Best of Archie Comics: 75 Years, 75 Stories
The Best of Archie Christmas Comics
The Complete Sabrina the Teenage Witch Vol. 1: 1962-1971
The Complete Sabrina the Teenage Witch Vol. 2: 1972-1973
Archie Modern Classics Vol. 1-3
Archie Vol 1-6
… and more

To redeem your download link, please email digital@archiecomics.com (include the email you’ve registered with the Archie App) by June 1, and we will reply with a download link that includes the above titles and more.

If you have any questions, please let us know via the email address linked above.

Thank you for being a valued Archie Comics customer.

Other publishers whose apps were built by Madefire include IDW Publishing who we have not seen an update concerning the issue.

Graphic Audio and Archie Comics Announce Plans for Audio Adaptations

Graphic Audio has completed a licensing deal with Archie Comics. Archie Will You Marry Me?, also known as ‘The Archie Wedding,’ will be the first of several graphic novel collections that Graphic Audio will be releasing in their dramatized adaptation audiobook format.

Archie Will You Marry Me? will be available on Graphic Audio’s website store and everywhere digital audiobooks are sold in late Spring, followed by the release of the hit Archie Horror graphic novel Vampironica and the Archie relaunch by writer Mark Waid.

Graphic Audio and Archie

Heavy Metal and Golden Apple Collaborate on WonderCon VR Experience

Heavy Metal

Golden Apple Productions, the publishing and production arm of famed LA comic book shop Golden Apple Comics, is launching Golden Apple VR, a first-of-its-kind Virtual Reality space where fans around the world can connect with creators and IP, 365 days a year. Golden Apple VR launches this Friday (3/26), corresponding with pop-culture convention WonderCon, which has gone virtual this year. Golden Apple VR will livestream convention panels in a virtual space Friday and Saturday and host an exclusive VR Q&A in conjunction with legendary sci-fi/fantasy comic magazine, Heavy Metal. A post-panel Industry Mixer will cap off the events on Saturday.

When the pandemic changed the way fans engage with creators and IP, Golden Apple Comics owner, Ryan Liebowitz, saw an opportunity to not just give fans a unique, safe space to engage with their fandom, but also to fix a growing industry concern. “There’s been a problem for years where fans only have a few times and places a year where they can engage in public fandom. The aim of Golden Apple VR isn’t just to create a virtual hangout space because of the pandemic. We want to broaden the scope and reach of any convention, signing, promotion and pop culture event to the entire world.”

Instead of a handful of conventions that are often geographically inconvenient, Golden Apple VR brings “the Con” to you. Added Liebowitz, “Only 150,000 people can go to San Diego Comic-Con and the badges and hotel rooms sell out in less than ten minutes. With Golden Apple VR, an infinite number of people from around the world can meet up online. Instead of reaching a finite amount of people, cons could reach millions.”

Golden Apple VR will launch with two “environments”: one space is a scale replica of their flagship comic shop on the corner of Melrose and LaBrea in Hollywood, and the other space, accessible through a portal in the back of the virtual comic shop, is The Promenade, a virtual outdoor public gathering area, similar to what fans would experience at a physical convention. In The Promenade, fans from anywhere in the world can gather for a watch party of livestream panels from WonderCon, show off their virtual avatars, and geek out with like-minded fans.

Inside the virtual Golden Apple Comics shop, fans can peruse the shelves of comics, just like they would at their physical store. For now, fans can just touch and look, but in future updates, virtual patrons will be able to purchase physical comics and merchandise from the shop or any environment inside Golden Apple VR. Eventually, brands and creators will be able to set up virtual shops that can be open any day of the year. And environments like The Promenade can be easily re-skinned for targeted events, like the launch of the latest Funko POP! or a Marvel watch party. Liebowitz notes, “The potential is endless.”

Golden Apple VR was brought to life by Kari Dietrich from digital strategy firm, Partikle, and Big Rock Creative, experts in the social VR space and founders of BRCvr, an official Burning Man Experience, which won the firm this year’s Producer’s Guild of America Innovation Award. “When I saw BRCvr, I felt that something amazing could be started for the comic fans and industry professionals,” said Dietrich. “Together with Golden Apple, we look forward to growing the virtual experience for one and all.” Producer’s Guild of America Innovation Award this year.

Through the Burning Man VR Experience, Athena Demos of Big Rock Creative has seen firsthand the power of connecting fans in a virtual space. “At the height of the pandemic, we welcomed over 90,000 visitors into 200 worlds created by 100 artists. Since then, in partnership with Microsoft’s AltSpaceVR platform, we have seen exponential growth in reach and cross-cultural connections by adding seven additional languages, customized interactables, and integrations with passionate brands.” When it came to selecting the right passionate brand to partner with for the launch of Golden Apple VR, Heavy Metal was an obvious choice.

For Heavy Metal CEO, Matthew Medney, making the leap into VR has been a long time coming. “Both Heavy Metal and Golden Apple are in the business of magical worlds, and have been for over 4 decades. Moving from the magic of pages to VR Voids is something we’ve published countless times, in numerous variations, most notably in Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep. It is crazy to see now, all these years later, this fictional construct starting to seep into our everyday life. As I always say, all science started as fiction.” During the exclusive Heavy Metal Q&A, fans from around the world can meet and interact with George C. Romero (The Rise, Cold Dead War), Blake Northcott (SYNAP$E, Echoes From the Void), Brendan Columbus (Savage Circus) and Medney himself (Beyond Kuiper, Dark Wing).

Golden Apple VR is accessible through AltSpaceVR, the world’s largest social VR gathering platform. After creating a free account, fans can access the roster of all Golden Apple Events through the AltSpace Events tab or by going to this site. And fans without a VR headset can still enjoy the events from their PC/Mac or smartphone.

Omar Spahi embraces NFT with the comic Xenoglyphs

Omar Spahi

Indie comics creator Omar Spahi has announced that his comic series Xenoglyphs will be released in single-issue format first on Rarible.com, making it the first full comic book story released as a one-of-one digital collectible.

As a comic book indie creator embracing the emerging NFT platform and technology, Spahi hopes to change the way indie creators use technology to generate income and broaden their fanbases.

NFT stands for Non-Fungible Token, which means that unlike bitcoin, it cannot be traded for another identical token. Each NFT is a unique, one-of-a-kind piece, and if you trade it, you are trading it for another completely different collectible. It’s the one-of-one approach that makes Spahi’s plan unique, in that the rarity of the item – historically speaking – is something that is typically appealing to collectors of comics.

I strive to be groundbreaking in this space, it’s not just for myself, but for the comics community at large. There are many misconceptions about this technology and much to learn in the days ahead, but the potential rewards for creative participants on a project like this are undeniable.

Unlike the printed comic market, which usually cannot sustain a one-of-a-kind product, the NFT model allows us to offer something that is truly distinct and unique to a collector. If you just like the artwork, we will make digital prints available to anyone who wants one, but the collectible itself is limited to one.

As NFT collectibles are traded and resold, the potential for increased value only grows. This means a writer or artist can be paid on an NFT comic at potentially higher rates than through traditional channels. We don’t intend for this to replace direct market comic distribution, but it certainly levels the playing field amongst indies and corporate publishers.

We’re on the precipice of a new era of collectibles, and I feel Xenoglyphs has a chance of appealing to people through Rarible.com who have never read anything in this format before. And for those who have, this is a chance to be the first collector to own a full comic book in this format.

Spahi sees strong potential here for putting power into the hands of artists and writers. The long lifecycle and trading and reselling potential of an NFT collectible has opened up new earning opportunities, and the stakes are much higher than in physical media.

Spahi’s Xenoglyphs is the story of best friends Steven and Dom as they try to stop Anubis, the master of evil, from collecting all nine elemental stones, known as Xenoglyphs.

If someone holds a stone they control that element. For example, if someone holds the Water Stone they have the power to control all the water around them.

You can bid on Xenoglyphs at Rarible.

Xenoglyphs

Toybox and Warner Bros. Consumer Products to Develop a 3D Printing Toy Range

Toybox

Toybox, the 3D printer for kids of all ages has partnered with Warner Bros. Consumer Products to provide their customers the ability to print Warner Bros’ iconic and fan-favorite IP characters. Toy Box fans will now be able to print items based on; DC, Cartoon Network, Looney Tunes, Hanna-Barbera, Friends, Seinfeld, and classic movies such as Polar Express and Elf.

Customers will be able to buy a range of toys starting with DC’s Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman by purchasing Toybox Bolts, an online currency unique to the Toybox platform. This is a first of its kind licensing agreement with a major studio that allows customers to print their toys at home…no two-day shipping or trip to the store needed.

Toys available to print at launch will be Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman action figures with nine points of articulation, Batarangs, Batman’s Batcave computer, Batmobile, Batman disc launcher, Bat-Signal, Justice League disc launchers, Daily Planet building; with additional items to follow.

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