Pixel Pages: JManga shuts down, digital comics at SXSW
Your latest webcomics and digital comics news.
Creators: Keep those press releases and other notices coming! I want to know what you’re up to so I can tell others.
# Jmanga is shutting down, according to an urgent notice posted on its website last week. Users can no longer purchase JManga Points to purchase comics. Unredeemed points can still be used until next week. After that, Amazon gift cards will be issued to refund unused points. By the end of May, all content and accounts will be deleted. There is no way for users to retain the digital comics they have purchased.
Jmanga was created from a conglomeration of multiple Japanese manga publishers. It only launched a couple of years ago and while it didn’t release any digital-first manga or comics, it was a noble attempt to bring Japanese comics to English-language readers and combat digital piracy. Brigid Alverson at MTV Geek has a good write-up with more background and info.
Excerpts from the notice summarizing the details:
“As of March 13th 2013 at 11:59pm (US Pacific Time) users are no longer be able to purchase and/or acquire JManga Points through the Monthly Point Plan and Pay-as-you-go Plan on JManga.com. Due to this termination all Monthly Point Plan members’ accounts have been automatically switched to Free Memberships. As such Monthly Point Plan members will not be charged after March 13th 2013 at 11:59pm (US Pacific Time).
“As of March 26th 2013 at 11:59pm (US Pacific Time) users will no longer be able to purchase digital manga content on JManga.com.
“As of May 30th 2013 at 11:59pm (US Pacific Time) users will no longer be able to view digital manga content on JManga.com. At this time all purchased and free digital manga content will be erased from all JManga Member’s accounts.
“All JManga Members will be issued Amazon Gift Cards for use on Amazon.com as a substitute for the amount of unused JManga Paid Points possessed at March 13th 2013 at 11:59pm. Refund Distribution: Amazon Gift Cards will be emailed to applicable users at the email address registered with their JManga account. Amazon Gift Card Distribution Schedule: March 21st 2013 to March 25th 2013 (US Pacific Time).”
# ComiXology servers failed for about two days following the announcement of a mega-sale of 700 free Marvel comic books at the South By Southwest festival last weekend. “We expected a high degree of excitement for the Marvel initiative – and had believed ourselves prepared – but unfortunately we became overwhelmed by the immense response,” reads a blog post by CEO David Steinberger. They will be resuming the sale at a later date and have since resumed their normal service.
I wrote about it more at Robot 6, and within the context of the Jmanga story above, I think it’s even more crucial that digital comics providers give the option of true downloads, while keeping the option of cloud storage, so that their systems aren’t so taxed in the future.
# ComiXology and Marvel Comics made a number of other announcements at SXSW expanding their digital comics programs. Calvin Reid at Publisher’s Weekly has a great wrap-up.
- ComiXology officially launched ComiXology Submit, which allows independent creators to turn their comics and graphic novels into digital comics sold through ComiXology. Revenue is split 50/50 and creators can also sell their comics on other digital distributors. A previous beta testing allowed the service to also launch with a 35 new digital comics, most notably Shannon Wheeler’s Too Much Coffee Man. For more information, check out this interview with CEO David Steinberger from TIME.com’s Techland blog.
- Marvel Comics has expanded and re-branded their subscription-based digital comics service Marvel Unlimited (formerly Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited). Previously only web-based, there are now iPad and iPhone apps with an Andoid app to follow. The $10/month rate gives readers access to over 13,000 comics with more being added each week. I joined the Robot 6 crew in a roundtable on what we thought of Marvel Unlimited.
- Marvel Comics will be launching a weekly series of digital-first comics in their Infinite Comic format this summer. Each serial will run for 13 weeks and feature Marvel’s marquee characters like Wolverine.
- Marvel Comics will be introducing music to some of their digital comics as part of Project: Gamma. The music will be responsive to the reader’s pace, similar to how music shifts to player dynamics in video games. Rolling Stone has a write-up on the announcement.
- Symbolia, the journalism comics magazine for the iPad, is nearing its initial goal of 3,000 subscribers. An Android version is several weeks away. The third issue is coming soon and will be called The Mating Ritual, featuring articles and stories on “sex, relationships and interpersonal encounters.”
# American BOOOM! is a unique super-hero webcomic by writer Patrick Yurick and artist Alonso Nuñez that chronicles the story of Sarah Hannigen, a girl with exploding fists on a mission to avenge her DEA father. He’s believed to be murdered by Mexican cartels, so with the help of her grandfather she takes up the inherited guise of American BOOOM! and moves to San Diego, where she ends up exploring the bi-national world of that city and Tijuana to track down her father’s murderer.
“The use of story as a metaphor/reality is very important to us,” said Yurick. “Everything in this story takes place in real landmarks in San Diego, where we live, and our neighboring city of Tijuana. The characters are based on real interactions and stories. The references to cartels and teenagers are as close to fact as possible. The stuff that isn’t ‘true’ (super powers, plot, character specifics) is at the very least aimed at being palpably meaningful metaphors.”
Citing inspiration from Scott McCloud’s book Reinventing Comics and Mark Waid’s recent address “Reinventing Comics and Graphic Novels for Digital”, Yurick and his Little Fish Comic Book Studio are striving to produce a webcomic that can exist just as effectively on mobile devices and in print, as it does online. “It’s really important that the design of this potentially 200+ page comic story balance the needs of multiple distribution platforms like print, web, and mobile technology,” said Yurick. “In the ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s, comics were cheap and accessible to all people. At some point that stopped. We wanted to design this project to be something all people could have equal access to and that each access point be of equal quality so that no one feels left out.” Little Fish enlisted the help of two local app developers, Jesus Flores and Phuc Nguyen, to bring the uniquely designed art of the comic to the Android and iPhone platforms, respectively. Yurick wrote more about the design balancing act at Little Fish’s blog.
With the completion of Chapter 1, Little Fish is putting on a comic book release party at Villainous Lair Comics in San Diego on Friday, March 22, 7-10 PM. There will be a limited edition of American BOOOM! Chapter 1, as well as new releases of both the iPhone and Android apps. The launch party will also include live music by Tijuana’s Sixties Guns and Science Fiction Jazz, spoken word performance & commencement by Marisol Franco, handmade prints provided by Chikle, and more.
In Other News
# Noelle Stevenson won the Cartoonist Studio Prize for Best Web Comic of the Year, for Nimona. The $1,000 prize was given by Slate, which reported on the news, and the Center for Cartoon Studies. The 3-judge panel consisted of Slate Book Review editor Dan Kois, the faculty and staff of the Center for Cartoon Studies, and guest judge Françoise Mouly, art editor for the New Yorker. This was the first Cartoonist Studio Prize. The next round of nominees will be announced February 2014.
Slate‘s write-up of Nimona: “This twice-weekly series about a medieval supervillain who takes on an irritating sidekick is funny and vibrant, with wonderful energy in Stevenson’s illustrations and a wicked wit in her storytelling. In recent weeks the story has been expanding surprisingly into a kind of deadpan epic, which suggests the comic has a long way to go before it’s done.”
Nimona is updated Tuesdays and Thursdays. It launched last year and in December was included on io9’s list of Best New Webcomics for 2012. A print collection from HarperCollins is scheduled for 2015.
“Attica has had ups and downs over the run of three years. It’s appeared in the Globe & Mail, National Post, The Feathertale Review, and I get regular web traffic from places all around the world. But I wasn’t getting any sales interest from other newspapers. … It’s a full-time effort for me to draw Attica and the economics are such that you need to be in multiple papers to earn a full-time salary.”
# VIZ Media has released a new digital comics app aimed at kids, sticky DOT comics. No digital-first content yet but it’s the first digital release of Pokémon comics, and also includes Voltron Force and other manga aimed at readers 6-12 years old. The app is targeted for the iPad but also works on the iPhone. No web, Android or other platforms yet. It’s built to work through iTunes, so no account set-up is needed. There is intentionally no overlap of content with the main VIZ App. Brigid Alverson is once again on it with an interview with VIZ’s Beth Kawasaki, senior editorial director for children’s publishing.
# Speaking of the largest publisher of manga in North America, VIZ Media was revealed as the newest partner in iVerse Media’s ComicsPlus: Library Edition, a digital comics app with special rates for libraries. The app will launch April 1st. The Beat has some analysis.
# Happy 7th Birthday, Act-I-Vate! The Beat has an interview with Wave Six contributors Simon Fraser (Lily MacKenzie & the Mines of Charybdis and its sequel), Jim Dougan (Sam & Lilah), Neil Dvorak (Easy Pieces), Gideon Kendall (Whatzit) and Cristian Ortiz (Golden Campaign). Fraser reveals that a site rebuild is in the works, which is great news.
# They say that virtual content is ruining the collector’s market, but apparently there’s a growing secondary market for re-selling digital download codes, according to an article on TheNextWeb.com by Todd Allen.
# Webcomic Creators Google+ community is a great way for creators to talk shop with others.
Posted on March 18, 2013, in Pixel Pages and tagged Act-i-vate, Alonso Nuñez, American BOOOM!, Attica, ComiXology, comiXology Submit, Cristian Ortiz, digital comics, Easy Pieces, Gideon Kendall, Golden Campaign, Infinite Comics, iVerse Media, Jeff Burney, Jim Dougan, JManga, Lily MacKenzie, Little Fish Comic Book Studio, Marvel Comics, Marvel Unlimited, Neil Dvorak, Nimona, Noelle Stevenson, Patrick Yurick, Project: Gamma, Sam & Lilah, Simon Fraser, sticky DOT comics, Symbolia, VIZ Media, webcomics, Whatzit. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.