While at New York Comic Con this year I had the chance to catch up with Jordan Plosky of ComicBlitz. I chatted with Jordan previously about the new eReader (ComicBlitz) which is set to be the Netflix of the comic industry.
Dustin: Last time we talked you were still talking to publishers and obviously you probably still can't talk about any of the specifics, but where do you stand on that?
Jordan: Since the last time we spoke we have entered negotiations with a handful of top ten publishers, also some top twenty publishers as well, but I think people want to know which top ten publishers. Which I can't reveal until contracts are closed and we do a formal press releases, which would include Comic Bastards of course.
I think people are going to be very happy with the companies that we're hopefully going to be finalizing deals with very soon and the content that's going to be available from those publishers.
Dustin: Are publishers giving you their entire library or what is the scope of the content looking like?
Jordan: That varies from publisher to publisher; some publishers are ready to go with their entire back catalog, like let's bring it on and do it all, and other publishers... its not that they're dipping toes in but for other reasons that I can't really discuss right now it's more of a chunk and we'll hold a little back and we'll give another chunk and that's fine too. We're just happy to be associated with the publishers that have some of their best content coming out.
Realistically no one is going to be able to read everything we put out month one to begin with. So if we start with a thousand, fifteen hundred comics, everyone will be fine and we'll keep rolling out with more and more content every week and every month because we still need to keep people excited, we still need to have new stuff all the time to keep people coming back and to keep them renewing their subscription.
Dustin: Which is kind of like the Netflix thing where people browse more than they view, you don't want more browsing than reading.
Jordan: We want people to read, we want people to come log on and see and find something they want to read and enjoy. If you want to browse we are going to have a feature just like on Netflix where you see something and you don't want to read it just yet, you add it to your queue so you can read it later. You can add an individual issue, you could add an entire series or a run.
We do have some other features we're exciting about bringing to the table in that vein and what you can do with your own personalized queue and the type of material and the features associated, there is a lot we feel isn't being done by other people and we plan to bring that to our product.
Dustin: In talking before the interview you had brought up the back issue market and that publishers don't see anything from those sales, can you speak more to that?
Jordan: Something this platform does is that it creates an aftermarket for publishers and creators because right now the back market for comic books is eBay and shops. Publishers and creators don't benefit from that at all.
With movies the film goes to movie theaters and then it's released on home video and Netflix and Hulu and then on cable. Same with TV as it's picked up into syndication and also picked up by Hulu or Netflix, there's a much longer life span for those types of media that comic books don't have.
A comic book comes on the shelf for one month and it gets featured in a graphic novel, trade paperback a few months later and typically, not for every book you see your Walking Dead’s and your Sagas that are doing well, but typically what happens is that's the lifespan of a comic. That's as much money as could be made.
Dustin: Well unless you're a break out hit instantly like the two you mentioned, that's kind of it. You get those single issues and the trade.
Jordan: I read a bunch about the industry, obviously this is something I'm in deep with right now, but I know creators have a tough time. There was an article recently that said they need those monthly sales, they can't sustain on people trade waiting any more.
Dustin: Well the trade market kind of popped, it doesn't seem as strong anymore...
Jordan: It is strong, the trade market in comic shops and book stores, together combined is larger than the single issue market.
Dustin: Okay then I stand corrected.
Jordan: It's just hard as a creator, so a platform like this sees more money, sees a longer life span for the books and more money going back to the publisher, back to the creators so that they can continue to experiment, create stuff and put out new content for people. Hopefully it's just a good thing for the industry as a whole.
I liken it to Humble Bundle. A bunch of publishers have done their two-week Humble Bundle runs and they'll make anywhere from a hundred thousand to even four hundred thousand in some cases like I believe one of the Image bundles did. If you liken what they're selling every individual issue for the breakdown is pretty comparable to what our payout is like to publishers, somewhere in that area. For an aftermarket product we could do a Humble Bundle for these publishers every month basically. We could do the same amount of revenue that Humble Bundle brought in for these publishers every single month and that's huge. That's revenue that could potentially be a huge benefit, that's more staff, that's more product that they could put out.
Dustin: Well that could be a lot of revenue even just for the some of the top ten publishers.
Jordan: A million dollars is a lot of revenue for anybody and I'm really not blowing smoke, the numbers are there. From a marketing stand point, from a business plan stand point. It's very realistic. If even just the tiniest, tiniest, that sliver of the tiniest percentage of the user base that Netflix has, they have 50 million subscribers; if we got less than a percentage of that, you can do the math, but if we got less than 1% of that, it's millions of dollars coming back into the publisher market. It's found money, I don't see why publishers wouldn't want to do it, and I see the value for customers as being great.
Ten bucks a month, all you can read. You don't have to leave your couch to have access to an entire comic book store. It's the same thing as Marvel Unlimited we are going to have a wait on books. We're not going to have the latest stuff that comes out that month, because we want to help the industry. If we were competing with that we'd be killing the industry. Please bear with us, it is an aftermarket product, but hey most people spend their comic allowance each month, mostly on the big two if we're honest, but you might have heard of Letter 44 from Oni or the Bunker, The Valiant or Image titles that aren't Saga or The Walking Dead and you say, "that sounds cool I wish I could afford it." Now you can.
Now you can go back and check out all that stuff that you might have missed because you couldn't afford it at first. This is a reader friendly market, this isn't for collectors obviously, go pick up the print copies to put in your long boxes, but if you want to read it come check it out on ComicBlitz.
Dustin: What about Manga? Any plans or discussions to bring that to the app or is it mostly North American comics?
Jordan: As of right now, because we're just a small team, our focus is on those top ten American publishers. Do we want Manga? Do we love Manga? Yes! It's definitely an area that I'll honestly admit that we're weak in right now. But once we build some traction and we can expand, that's probably the first thing we want to tackle.
Yen Press, Viz Media the team that publishes Attack on Titan, and everyone else that makes up that huge market. There are people that love their manga and we want them to be able to read it and read it properly on our platform as well.
Dustin: What about parental controls or a rating system for the comic books?
Jordan: For those parents out there that like getting your kids to read, there will be parental controls. Don't worry about your kid picking up your laptop and signing into ComicBlitz and picking up the racier stuff and seeing stuff they shouldn't be seeing. There will be ratings and we will have parental controls so that you can monitor what your kids are reading or prevent them from reading certain things.
It would be easy enough for a kid to go in and read some kid friendly books that are going to be available for them. I'm a parent myself and I've had other parents tell me that they'll just buy their kid a comic book to shut them up when they’re shopping, “if I do that twice a month you're just telling me that if I just bring my iPad, for $9.99 a month I'll have my kid reading hundreds, thousands of comics compared to the two I could afford at the store?” Yeah that's exactly what I'm saying. Bring that iPad around.
Dustin: That might actually be a great market for getting kid readers. I know as a kid I could only afford to get so many comic books.
Jordan: Its way easier to ask your parents for a monthly subscription so that you’re reading every month versus every time you want to buy something asking for money on the spot. Hey ten bucks a month for all you can read, for kids as well, if it gets kids reading I think it's a good thing. I don't want to say I started reading in comics, but that's what helped me read a lot when I was younger.
Dustin: I think a lot of comic readers have that same kind of attachment to comics for the same reason.
Jordan: I never liked reading, but I loved reading comic books.
Dustin: You’re still looking to launch on iOS and browsers?
Jordan: We are going to roll out first on iOS tablets and smartphones and our website. Our website is still being developed and its awesome it’s just not live yet. Right now we just have a sign up for our email list, but behind the scenes there's a lot going on and it'll all be revealed at the proper time. This is the comic industry so secrecy is key.
Dustin: What about the official launch of Comic Blitz?
Jordan: Our time-table, fingers-crossed because nothings official and everything changes, but we're looking to launch at Wonder Con in Anaheim the first weekend of April. Before that launch we are going to be Beta testing probably sometime in January.
If you are interested in beta testing a new comic book eReader then people can email us at Info@ComicBlitz.com with a subject line of Beta Test, Beta Tester, I want to Beta test; anything like that to Info@ComicBlitz.com.
Dustin: And where can people find you and check for information?
Jordan: You can check us out at ComicBlitz.com. We're on Twitter @ComicBlitzApp and we're on Facebook.com/ComicBlitz. Follow us on Twitter and Like us on Facebook. Sign up for the email list and you'll know more of what we have going on when we have things we can share and official release news such as publishers and features and launch dates.