You're never spoiled for choice when it comes to comic publishers, but it is pretty hard to compete on the level of DC and Marvel. Amazon thinks it has what it takes, however, with its new imprint.
Amazon Publishing announced today the launch of Jet City Comics. It's a new imprint dedicated to comics and graphic novels from some of the world's best authors. Case in point - Amazon has managed to get George R. R. Martin on board with reprints of his old comics as well as a new adaptation of one his most celebrated short stories.
“My fans have been clamoring for the return of Dunk & Egg ever since the graphic novels of 'The Hedge Knight' and 'The Sworn Sword' went out of print several years ago,” said author George R. R. Martin, “so I am delighted to announce that Jet City Comics is bringing them back—newly formatted for digital readers, and in paper for those who still prefer the traditional formats. And Jet City will be bringing you something new as well: the graphic novel 'Meathouse Man,' adapted from one of my strangest, darkest, and most twisted short stories by the amazingly talented Raya Golden. I'm pleased and excited to be a part of Jet City's takeoff. May they fly high.”
Martin isn't the only big name Amazon has managed to snag for its first foray into comic publishing. Readers can also look forward to new comics based on novels by Hugh Howey and Neal Stephenson:
An adaptation of Hugh Howey’s bestselling dystopian novel Wool by comics veterans Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray, and illustrator Jimmy Broxton, where the remnants of humanity live in a massive silo hundreds of stories below the surface of the ruined and toxic landscape of Earth. Wool was a #1 bestseller in the Kindle store and is one of the most-reviewed science fiction novels on Amazon, with almost 6,000 customer reviews. It will be released as a Kindle Serial, as six individual comics issues starting in October 2013, followed by a collected graphic novel in 2014.
Six original comics from The Foreworld Saga, the bestselling alternate history series that began with The Mongoliad (a serialized novel collaboratively written Neal Stephenson, Greg Bear, Mark Teppo, Nicole Galland, Erik Bear, Joseph Brassey and Cooper Moo). The first Foreworld comic, “Symposium #1” by author Christian Cameron and Illustrator Dmitry Bondarenko, details the origins of the Shield-Brethren in Ancient Greece in the days following Athens crushing defeat to Sparta in 394 BC. It goes on-sale today, with new installments releasing monthly before being collected in a series of graphic novels in 2014.
“It’s a dream to work with superstar authors like George, Hugh and Neal on the launch of a new imprint,” said Alex Carr, Senior Editor of Jet City Comics. “Millions of fans have read and loved their novels, and with Jet City we look forward to opening up these iconic worlds to new audiences. We’re working with an incredible, hand-picked team of comics professionals, writers, artists, and translators, who have done an amazing job developing and expanding these inventive stories. I’m looking forward to the response from comics readers and fans.”
As you can probably already tell, Jet City Comics will be focused on comic adaptations of book series. It doesn't appear that Amazon is getting into original characters just yet, and that's perfectly acceptable. Selling a new character is hard these days, especially in comics. Amazon would be wise to stick to recognizable worlds and characters for its first foray into the highly competitive, but still relatively niche, world of comics.
As for availability, it looks like single issues will only be sold as digital downloads via Kindle. The press release says that print editions will be available, but it doesn't clarify if it will print single issues alongside graphic novels. We've reached out to Amazon for clarification and will update if we hear back.
UPDATE: Amazon Publishing provided us with the following statement:
Jet City Comics will publish in print and digital formats, as single-issue comics and collected graphic novels. Print issues will be made available for comic book stores and other physical retailers to carry.