In 1992, the western comic book market changed irrevocably with the creation of Image Comics, an independent publishing house focused on allowing comic book creators a space in the medium to create new stories and worlds without having to give up ownership to the likes of Marvel and DC. However, what was once lucrative for comics creation in the 1990s has changed.
Comic books are now the springboard for major intellectual properties, being gobbled up by streaming networks and made into both films and television. Digital collecting has drawn the ire of many, but remains very lucrative to the artists behind many digital collection pieces such as NFTs. Thus, enter DSTLRY, a new comic book publishing house that promises to not only bolster creator reward for the comics they make, but allow them to have direct stake in the company.
DSTLRY founders David Steinberger and Chip Mosher have spoken to the New York Times directly about what exactly will come from their new publishing house, Mosher stating that; “The main drive here is to create a more sustainable and equitable future for creators. That’s our macro goal — benefiting the creators, and in turn benefiting readers and retailers.”
They plan on doing this through a few different avenues. The first is with their emphasis on creator ownership. Creators within the company will both retain the ownership rights to their creations, as well as own some stake in the company. The second will of course be the production of physical media with over-sized, limited edition comics, as well as toys and merchandise. The third, and one of the most intriguing, is the introduction of a new, all-digital, collecting system.
As per their website, the company promises their system to involve zero “NFT hustle or crypto hassle” whatsoever. Consumers will be able to purchase a limited time, digital version of the comics DSTLRY will publish. Future trade value set completely by the customer who bought the books in the first place. Creators will receive cuts from these trades, thus turning the collectors’ market into something creatives can now get a slice of.
The focus on digital product schemes and limited edition products here make it hard to tell whether or not this company will be a good place for up and coming creators to go, or if it’ll be a collectors house where only the biggest of names will be setup to thrive.
However, Tula Lotay, a founding creative, has put her faith in the team. “We literally co-own the publishing company, which is amazing,” she says. “Aside from that, I know Chip and David know my body of work and trust what I’m doing, and so it feels like I have absolute freedom to be as creative as I want to be.”
As of right now, their lineup of founding creators contain some of the biggest names in comics as well as general entertainment media. The list includes: Mirka Andolfo, Brian Azzarello, Marc Bernardin, Elsa Charretier, Becky Cloonan, Lee Garbett, Jock, Joëlle Jones, Tula Lotay, Jamie McKelvie, Junko Mizuno, Stephanie Phillips, Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, and Ram V.
DSTLRY first book is entitled “The Devil’s Cut”, and will be an anthology book full of self-contained stories from most of the founding creators. It will be released in comic book stores across the country just in time for Comic-Con International this July.
Industry Watch: DSTLRY – The Next Step in Independent Publishing
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