SDCC 2019: ComiXology Originals Debut Second Seasons, New Titles, Announcing Zdarsky On ‘Afterlift’

by Hannah Means Shannon

At the comiXology Originals press event at SDCC 2019, we expected a focus on recently announced titles as well as some new announcements, and we were not disappointed.
ComiXology Co-Founder and CEO and Amazon Head of Digital Comics Worldwide, David Steinberger said the following in his keynote speech:

We all love comics. They’re full of sturm and drang, melodrama, big emotional swings, clear good and evil and all that. As fans of the form, we love the drama, we do! The talk about the industry swings like that: it’s feast or famine. I’m not saying there aren’t some clouds out there, and I said, certainly we’re facing competition from lots of other entertainment, but there are actually some really bright trends to focus on. Not only is the industry seeing incredible sales for young readers – which dominated 2018’s Bookscan’s top ten last year and are creating a generation of lifelong comics readers, but manga is making a resurgence – I’m happy to report that our manga business is up significantly in the last five years.
And we’re in full-on mission mode, trying to contribute to the next big gains for comics, graphic novels, and manga. So, I’m going to talk a little about what we’re seeing. We’ve told publishers that we’re seeing a multi-year change in consumer behavior, from single issues to trade paperbacks and graphic novels, to discount-oriented sales, to subscriptions.

Chip Mosher, Head of Content, spoke about what’s next for Originals, mentioning how easy the tab is to find now on the platform now. He highlighted The Stone King, last year’s announcement, now nominated for the Eisner Award in the digital category.You can now read the complete Initial D in English for the first time, in conjunction with Kodansha, Moser explained, and that’s just one of their many manga titles.

Adora and the Distance is an upcoming title they expect to receive industry attention. Marc Bernardin, Ariela Kristantina, and editor Will Dennis took the stage. Bernardin spoke of his daughter’s diagnosis with autism and how wondering about her world and her experiences influenced writing this new graphic novel. In the book, our central character is on a quest to reach outside of a world that confines her. It’s Kristantina’s first full length book, and says she fell in love with the characters, which led her to collaborate with Bernardin. Dennis described himself as a huge fantasy fan and “D&D” guy and Bernardin and someone he’s stayed in touch with over the years.
The Promethee 13:13 team gathered to talk about their previously announced title, including Will Dennis, Andy Diggle, Shawn Martinbrough, and Jock. This book debuted today. They wanted to publish this preview series to introduced more people to band desinee (BD), where this property/universe is very popular. Diggle found the original sci-fi story daunting due to its sweep and scope. As a reader coming in, he knew the end-point of the story, and crafting a prequel involved creating a character who knew the ending, too, and had to decide how to act in context. Kind of like knowing about climate change, he reflected. A character with precognition helps give the reader perspective on these events, he said.
Richard Starkings, who took part in the first wave of comiXology Originals, said that the biggest surprise for him has been the quality of print on demand, describing it as the same quality as he found on Image trade paperbacks.
Joe Glass spoke about The Pride, which was a “hit” on comiXology Submit, but is now on Originals. He appreciates the aspect of feeling like he’s not having to do everything himself with his team. Now there’s support and helpful staff to bring the story to a bigger audience. It’s been about “stepping up”. He advised creators who want to “break in” to simply make comics, and not wait for anyone to discover them. Season 2 of The Pride teases included a mention of “the Bear” and some big changes coming up.
Jim Zub spoke about Stone Star, which will be coming back for a second series. It’s full of big, bombastic action, as well as “space-fantasy drama”. Max Dunbar said that keeping both sides of it, whether action or intrigue, dynamic, to drive the story.
Delver will also be coming up for “season 2” this fall. M.K. Reed teased the upcoming series will deal with change that the main character doesn’t embrace well, leading to some bigger face-offs coming up. Spike Trotman said that if Delver had been published by small press, she would only have gathered half the readership they’ve reached through Originals.
Mosher brought up Chip Zdarsky as their final announcement, a five issue series called Afterlift debuting this Fall with Jason Loo, Paris Alleyne, Aditya Bidikar, and Allison O’Toole.
Zdarsky described himself as a “serious author” now, and criticized a photo being used of him in spandex for the announce. Afterlift is about a rideshare to Hell, Mosher said, and asked for further commentary.

Zdarsky said that all rideshares are Hell, and he’s being serious now. His collaborators have all suffered making comics and have therefore “lived” in a serious enough way to make this comic, he assured. As a serious author. And he’s sure that readers will have a “multiverse” of questions after reading it, but no refunds will be given.

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