At NYCC, which runs through the weekend, comiXology is maintaining a major welcoming presence — not only through its panel programming (starting this morning), but also through its inaugural sponsoring of Artists’ Alley and its hosting of a Saturday-night party. (This, fresh off the news that the publisher has finally reached a major deal to distribute Dark Horse Comics titles online).
ComiXology aims to mirror that inviting open-door approach on its website, as well. The company doesn’t want merely to sell existing content — though that business engine is doing quite well, thank you very much, with about 80,000 titles. The publisher also wants to encourage and discover fresh talent with its comiXology Submit program, which is built to foster indie creators — to date, more than 5,000 titles are available.
“One of the things we talk about internally is the idea of karma,” comiXology president and CEO David Steinberger tells The Post’s Comic Riffs. “When we made the business plan way back in the day, in 2006, we always said [we didn’t want to be a disrupter]. This is an industry that in the late ’90s disrupted itself. We needed to do something that makes publishers feel safe.”
Toward that end, comiXology has aimed to set itself up as the virtual version of a great neighborhood comics shop.
“Even with something as big as … [signing with] Dark Horse, it serves the mission to get people comfortable with comics,” Steinberger says. “You need to be reliable … You need to have great customer service and you need to have great content. And when you see the demographics of comics changing, you need to serve that by having a lot of great comics in your shop.”
In its mission to be a self-described “partner” in the comics industry, comiXology is sponsoring more public events, such as Saturday’s NYCC shindig and last month’s Ignatz Awards at Small Press Expo. And just as it did at Maryland’s SPX, the publisher is spreading word of its Submit program to young-skewing audiences, as executives like John D. Roberts paint in concrete specifics just what this red-carpet extended to creators looks like.
“We’re trying to be the friendliest folks for people to submit their works through … ,” the president says. “And hopefully we can help these creators make a little, or a lot of, money.”
“And what’s great is, we’ll have a table to bring some Submit folks in,” Steinberger says of the publisher’s New York Con presence. “I think it’s a real gift for indie creators, and we like supporting them. I’m excited that they’ll get to have print books to sign and give out.”
Plus, the CEO notes, the Submit program — a site by which any comics creator may submit content for publication consideration — “allows us to open it up and serve a broader demographic.” He noted how the diversity of comics readership is exploding, especially given the rise of female comics readers in the West, and the continuing in-roads made by Japanese comics. “We’re adding a lot of content that otherwise wouldn’t get picked up here” in America, he says.
(Disclosure: comiXology is now owned by Amazon, whose founder, Jeffrey P. Bezos, owns The Post. The corporate ties, they abound.)
And as comiXology leaders sit on panels and at tables this week at New York Comic Con, they hope to win converts to their “comic shop” — new readers looking for recommendations, or a cool podcast, or advice on how to submit their work.
Because convention after convention, and invention after tech invention, it really, Steinberger says, is all about the karma of being a good comics partner.