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We Talk with Min Kim about the Digital Comics Coalition and the future of Digital Comics

digital comics coalitionSeemingly launched out of nowhere in mid-February, the Digital Comics Coalition is the brainchild of Min Kim, the founder of Taptastic. Other members include Mark Waid (Thrillbent), Josh Wilkie (Madefire), Felix Kiner (ComicsFix) and Doug Lefler (Scrollon). The group of comics creators, programmers, businessmen and filmmakers joins together regularly to share ideas on the innovations happening today in digital publishing. But, other than their panel at Meltdown Comics, not much is known about the organization, its purpose, direction etc.

We got a chance to talk to Min Kim about the DCC, and find out more about many of the questions we’ve been waiting to find out the answers to.

Graphic Policy: How did the Digital Comics Coalition come about?

Min Kim: I’ve been living and working in San Francisco Bay Area for about 10 years witnessing all sort of technology innovations in the media and entertainment space. We now stream endless music to our phones. We video-chat with family and friends from anywhere in the world. We consume so much content on mobile including news and books. So, when I walked into San Diego Comic-Con in 2014, I was shocked by how technology, particularly digital comics, was heavily underrepresented. I met Doug Lefler (Scrollon) and Josh Wilkie (Madefire) at the convention and we all just naturally connected because we shared the same frustration. We continued to talk after the convention, and then more of our friends, Mark Waid (Thrillbent) and Felix Kiner (Comicsfix), joined in on the conversation.

GP: What are the goals of the organization?

MK: The coalition is still very new. We’re still in the process of finalizing our manifesto and bylaws. However, the general purpose is to facilitate comic industry’s transition from print to digital. We know that there are other important matters to keep in mind such as content diversity, racial diversity, and gender equality. Mark, Doug, and Josh are all creators themselves. Indie comic creators are an important part of all our companies and the industry. So, we want to make sure that everything we do prioritizes comic creators. Sorry that I cannot provide bullet point answers at this time.

GP: Is the organization going to be formalized as a non-profit or a trade organization?

MK: It’s currently an agreement between the members. We are discussing how we want this group to evolve. If we feel that the group needs to officially register in the future, we will do so.

GP: Are there current coalitions or organizations that the coalition is looking towards as inspiration?

MK: As a group, no specific ones. Personally, I admire organized groups that have been recently fighting for net neutrality. There are also many that are promoting or fighting for advancement of good ideas. Digital comics is a very good idea and very good for the industry and the creators.

GP: There’s a lot of issues facing digital services like broadband expansion, EULA standardization, CISPA, and more. Will the organization get involved in the policy end of things?

MK: We currently do not have plans in place for those issues. Perhaps in the future.

GP: How has the digital landscape shifted since you became involved?

MK: DCC was organized in 2015, and we’ve only done one event at Meltdown, which you can view on Youtube. We’re happy about the turnout and the fact that various organizations like Graphic Policy and creators are contacting us. We’re hoping an accumulation of events will eventually lead to a positive shift in the industry.

GP: One of the major issues I see with digital services is the walled environments, and lack of standardization of formats for the digital goods. Will the coalition work at all together to standardize the digital comic format and make it easier to port comics if a service were to shut down?

MK: This is a tough question because standardization can impede innovation, yet there are also benefits like transferability that you mentioned. Usually free competition determines standards in any industry and the same goes for digital comics. The coalition is a good starting point to discuss how we can work together to minimize bad consumer experience by lowering some of those walls that you mentioned. Unfortunately, the sad reality is that some consumers will feel like losing out when a service shuts down. This reminds me of my HD-DVD that I once purchased that is useless today.

In addition, there is some psychology at play here because the society has hardwired us to think that there’s more value in something physical than digital. For example, consumers associate all the tangible costs such as paper, ink, and delivery into pricing of a book. Although digital books don’t have those tangible costs, there are inherent values such as the ability to instantly download, mobility, and storage that consumer do not think about. Furthermore, purchasing digital comics goes beyond just purchasing a book like we are used to. Digital comics today offer a unique experience that was never available. This unique experience varies based on platforms, but comics today can now support background music, animation, and engagement with other readers. So, we’ve come a long way from purchasing static content. So when something goes away because nothing in life really lasts forever (I’m sure most of your comic books are stashed away in the garage like mine), we should try to stay positive. I hope more people view buying a digital comic as buying a ticket to a movie or a Broadway show.

GP: There’s this founding group for the Digital Comics Coalition, but numerous services that aren’t involved. Will more be joining?

MK: Oh yes, definitely! We already have a few requests and we are in talks. We’ll make an announcement when appropriate.

GP: We’ve already seen one service have a data breach, will the coalition work together to better protect data of the customers?

MK: Security breech happens all the time across all industries. It is very unfortunate that it happened to Comixology, but it’s also a great opportunity for others to learn from such events. So although we did not have a specific discussion around this issue, I can see members of the coalition sharing experiences and resources to protect the consumers.

GP: What do you see as the biggest hurdle for digital comics? What do you see as the biggest advantage for digital comics?

MK: I’ll answer the second question first. I’d say the biggest advantages are accessibility for readers and creative freedom for creators. Accessibility is obvious where anyone with PC or mobile device can instantly read millions of visual stories. In addition, technology has lower the barrier to entry for creators. Anyone can publish and share his or her comics online. Anyone has a chance to display his or talent to the world, so digital has democratized storytelling. As for creative freedom, I think exploring some of the creators’ work on any of our digital comics platforms speaks for itself. In the past, creators were restricted to panels and pages. They had to because economic costs were also factored in – paper quality and ink used for production and printing. Technology has provided more creative freedom. Technology allows unlimited ways for a creators to tell stories. Creators can now add music, transitions, and other animated effects. So many people are doing very cool things out there.

The biggest hurdle? There are so many. Right now, it’s the distribution. How can more people know that these new experiences exist? How can more people learn that digital comics is not just pages scanned for digital viewing? So many people still think of superheroes when they think of comics. No, there is so much that digital comics offers beyond that.

Updated: Digital Comics Coalition 404s on Launch

digital comics coalitionMin Kim of Tapastic, Mark Waid of Thrillbent, Josh Wilkie of Madefire, Felix Kiner of ComicsFix and Doug Lefler of Scrollon. Together they’re some of the folks behind the digital comics landscape. Together, they have launched the Digital Comics Coalition, and interesting new group that we’ll know more about next Friday at an event being held at Meltdown Comics.

The email release announcing that event had little on details as to what this coalition will actually be doing other than this quote from Mark Waid:

Traditional print publishers have build their businesses on competition and closed doors. The Coalition is instead eager to conduct transparent, honest discussions between some of digital’s biggest, most dedicated creators and publishers. We not only plan to work together to promote this new medium, we also encourage others who feel that passion to freely join our conversation and be heard.

But, being a comic fan, being a tech geek, and having worked with and formed coalitions, I wanted to learn more. Following the email releases’ instructions, I emailed the address provided…. and it bounced. It didn’t exist. Well, ok email is tough to do at times, so I decided to head to their website to find out more. Using the domain listed with the contact email provided, I went to their website and found the below captured in video. The site was a shell, a beautiful shell. Instead of finding out about goals, and how to get involved, I found Lorem Ipsum, and image placeholders.

A rather weird way to announce a coalition, and death before starting in the political/non-profit world. If you’re going to be taken seriously as a “Digital Comics Coalition,” you need to have your email addresses working, and a website up and running with the basics when you first step in the spotlight.

According to the release, the group is a diverse group of comics creators, programmers, businessmen and filmmakers joins together regularly to share ideas on the innovations happening today in digital publishing. The event promoted is the first time their frank discussions will be open to an outside audience. “Each company has its own unique business model, but all share a passion for combining art and technology in new ways that can benefit the comic reading community.”

Technology and comics is still in the infant stages, and a coalition is more than needed. This one will have to answer some tough questions when they get going, and hopefully some of those will be answered when they officially launch.

Update: A little after two hours of our posting, about 10 hours after the announcement, the website was updated to include the bios of its members, a repeat of the quote from the release, and an email sign up form. You can check out the Tweet to us from founder Min Kim:

Of course I signed up, and turns out, the email list is run by Comicsfix. There’s possible legal questions that might arise of sharing that email system if the coalition is a nonprofit or trade organization, but with it unknown as to their legal status…

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Digital Comics Coalition Launches

The Nerdist Showroom at Meltdown Comics will host Off The Page: Creating and Marketing Digital Comics,” a roundtable discussion and demonstration of today’s cutting-edge digital comics Friday, February 27th  at 3:00 p.m.  Award-winning comics author Mark Waid of Thrillbent.com will join other innovators from ComicsFix, Madefire, Scrollon, and Tapastic to announce the world’s first Digital Comics Coalition and to demonstrate the secrets behind some of today’s most forward-thinking digital comics and graphic novels. The presentation will be moderated by Meltdown’s own Gaston Dominguez, livecast on Twitch, and recorded for later viewing online via YouTube and other platforms.

The Digital Comics Coalition is the brainchild of Min Kim (Tapastic). Members include Mark Waid (Thrillbent), Josh Wilkie (Madefire), Felix Kiner (ComicsFix) and Doug Lefler (Scrollon). This diverse group of comics creators, programmers, businessmen and filmmakers joins together regularly to share ideas on the innovations happening today in digital publishing. This is the first time their frank discussions will be open to an outside audience. Each company has its own unique business model, but all share a passion for combining art and technology in new ways that can benefit the comic reading community.

In the release, Waid said:

Traditional print publishers have build their businesses on competition and closed doors. The Coalition is instead eager to conduct transparent, honest discussions between some of digital’s biggest, most dedicated creators and publishers. We not only plan to work together to promote this new medium, we also encourage others who feel that passion to freely join our conversation and be heard.

The Nerdist Showroom is located at Meltdown Comics, 7522 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90046. Tickets for the event are available online.

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Valiant Comes to ComicFix

ComicsFix has officially announced a new partnership with award-winning comic book publisher Valiant Entertainment to bring select Valiant titles to ComicsFix’s digital comics library. The comics stealthily came to the service in late December, but was officially announced today.

The first wave of Valiant titles on ComicsFix is available now, featuring the origins and initial adventures of Valiant’s most popular series – including X-O Manowar Vol. 1: By the Sword; X-O Manowar Vol. 2: Enter Ninjak; Harbinger Vol. 1: Omega Rising; Bloodshot Vol. 1: Setting the World on Fire; Archer & Armstrong Vol. 1: The Michelangelo Code; and Shadowman Vol. 1: Birth Rites.

In addition to these best-selling titles, new additions from Valiant’s library of comic books and graphic novels will be added to ComicsFix monthly.COMICSFIX_VALIANT_screenshot_001 COMICSFIX_VALIANT_screenshot_002

Comicsfix releases beta for Animated Panel Editor

After this week’s announcement by iVerse for their newest update to their Comicsplus app, Comicsfix has made their own update announcement, introducing an Animated Panel Editor. It’s a set of tools which allows publishers and readers who want to participate to quickly and easily tap-and-drag to create animated panels for books on the Comicsfix iPad app.

Panel creation is as easy as tapping the screen and dragging your finger to create simple rectangles around the artwork. Each panel can then be enhanced by deciding on the timing and special effects. This allows for special effects such as sound to be added, and can be turned on or off.

This tool is available for both creaters and readers, as readers will be able to make their own panels and share it with friends and the Comicsfix community. Currently, the Animated Panel Editor is available in beta on iPad 2 or newer.

You can check out the video below to see more of the feature.

Dynamite Comics to Comicsfix

ipad-app-main-pageIt’s been a few weeks since they quietly debuted but it has been officially announced that Dynamite Entertainment has signed with Comicsfix to bring their comics to the subscription-based digital platform. Comicsfix gives readers access to unlimited comic book titles and graphic novels for a monthly price.

Dynamite’s library of popular titles currently available on Comicsfix includes: the first two volumes of The Boys by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson; Legends of Red Sonja with Gail Simone; Project Superpowers, featuring covers by Alex Ross; The Blood Queen; Pathfinder, based on the best-selling Paizo RPG; the Bob’s Burgers comic book based on the Emmy award-winning television program; Mark Waid’s The Green Hornet; Zorro; Vampirella Strikes; the first volume of Evil Ernie; Battlestar Galactica; The Twilight Zone; and the all-ages Lil’ Dynamites series by Art Baltazar and Franco. More Dynamite single issues and full series will be added every week. The steady flow of comic book additions will support Comicsfix’s ongoing efforts to promote the latest way to read digital comics to new and returning readers alike.

Comicsfix is one of the numerous digital platforms that have launched in the last few months. These new platforms do away with the current pay for each individual comic model, instead attempting to build off of different revenue systems. Comicsfix is a pay a low monthly few, while others are attempting to build off of advertising.

Dynamite is the highest profile publisher so far to make their comics available on Comicsfix.