Newsletter #2: So, crazy news, right?!
So, crazy news, right?! Eight books coming out from comiXology Originals and Dark Horse Comics over the next two years with some of the best co-creators anyone could ask for. My first big creator-owned with brother Greg Capullo too!
First, a word about the projects: at their core, these books are about pushing myself on every front. They're my attempt to both embrace the kind of stories I love, and also to try wildly new things, all with co-creators who inspire me on every level, folks I feel lucky and grateful to partner with: Greg Capullo, Francis Manapul, Francesco Francavilla, Tula Lotay, Jamal Igle, Dan Panosian, Rafa Albuquerque, and Jock! The books range from huge fun blockbusters, like We Have Demons, to historical fictions, like Barnstormers. From books for younger audiences, like Dudley Datson and the Forever Machine, to books that explore this moment in dark and piercing ways, like Clear. There are books that play with classic genres, like Canary, and books that break from tradition all together, like Book of Evil, a blend of prose and illustration. There are books with sprawling, robust mythologies, like our 1950s apocalyptic adventure Duck and Cover, and books that are about a single intense moment, like Night of the Ghoul. Needless to say, these books, and this announcement, have been in the works for a long time, and I couldn’t be more thrilled and nervous and excited to be sharing it all with you today!
Now, over the next couple months, I’m going to FILL this newsletter with teasers, updates, information, interviews, art, and all kinds of supplementary material from these eight series, so there'll be a lot more about each one specifically. Today, though, I just wanted to talk a little bit more generally about what these books mean to me and why we’re doing them the way we are. After 10 years of working in corporate comics, my goal with Best Jackett Press was to create a studio where I could make projects with some of my best friends and most inspiring partners as well as with some new creators who'd challenge me in exciting ways. The key for me, though, was to do all this in a way that would allow my co-creators to work on our books consistently AND that would ensure the books remained truly ours through full retention of the ancillary rights.
So, flash back to early 2020… My plan was to launch a couple books, use them to fund the next books, and so on. My first few co-creators and I were JUST about to begin work in earnest when the pandemic hit and everything shut down. Everyone was scared about work and the future of the industry and truthfully, though we were all dedicated to these books, we weren’t sure the line would be able to survive. And now there was an added issue of affordability. Could we put these books out affordably, in a way that acknowledged the strain everyone was feeling?
Seeing all this, our editor at Best Jackett, Will Dennis (who first greenlit American Vampire), suggested we talk to Chip Mosher over at comiXology who was both a friend and an industry staple. I was already a huge fan of what comiXology had quietly been doing for a long time. Not only had they been sponsoring conventions I loved like Thought Bubble and various other artist alleys for years, but they were also creating original comics with some of my former students and many of the most exciting emergent creators -- folks who, in my opinion, were pushing the industry forward in all kinds of energetic ways. And comiXology never took any ancillary rights, so all creators retained merchandising, TV, and film rights 100%. On top of this, they were offering rates that are were as good or better than the Big Two -- even then in 2020, a time when things were so precarious, rates that would allow artists to focus solely on projects they owned without the worry of having to side-hustle all the time. And, with regard to affordability in these crazy times, the books would ALL be available through a single comiXology subscription. For the price of ONE comic, readers, if they wanted, could get them all. And that subscription would allow them to explore series both classic and new, and find other favorite creators and fall in love with comics all over again.
Chip, Will and I connected in spring of 2020, and right away we clicked. Firstly, all of us shared the belief that digital and print could be supportive of each other, that they didn’t need to be competitive but instead could offer two different experiences. Digital could be immediate and immersive, and print could be experiential and collectible. To this end, Chip explained, comiXology had recently penned a deal with Dark Horse to publish comiXology Originals in print. All of this excited me, and I was especially interested when Chip suggested that there might be opportunities to publish the books with Dark Horse in different formats -- something that had never been tried before. Each book would be its own consideration and follow its own organic sensibilities. For example, a book like We Have Demons, which has a lot of direct market serial appeal, could come out digitally and then possibly be published in single issue format for the direct market, with variant covers, all of it (watch this space for more news)! Other books that might have more direct market appeal as graphic novels, like Barnstormers, could be published in that way as well. The whole conversation was about how to do digital AND print in exciting and complimentary ways, new ways, and all of it was incredibly inspiring to me.
And to top it all off, our deal here will help fund our program to promote, support and realize works by emergent creators under the Best Jackett label. And while I can't talk too much about that yet, know that it's a crucial part of what we have planned.
Now to be clear, our comiXology books certainly comprise a big leg of the stool at Best Jackett, but they are not the only leg -- not by a long shot. We still have Chain coming from Image, as well as the return of Wytches, and more exciting books planned for the direct market… But for me, these books are a KEY part of what we're about at Best Jackett --trying new things, experimenting, and pushing to find exciting new ways of being better, as creators, as members of the community, and as fans of Comics.
Also, please go follow my amazing co-creators on Twitter and IG!