by Zachary Clemente
Well, this is a wonderful surprise! Panel Syndicate announced today that a new digital comic by Albert Monteys (of El Jueves fame) is being hosted on their platform. Panel Syndicate, launched by Brian K. Vaughan and Marcos Martin with the purpose of hosting their spectacular 10-issue series The Private Eye with colorist Muntsa Vicente, is holding true to their word and opening up the publishing platform up to other creators.
The reason this is super-noteworthy (other than gracing us with more of Montey’s wonderful work) is what makes Panel Syndicate’s platform so unique. Their comics are digital-only, DRM-free, widescreen-oriented, and available in multiple file formats costing as much as you’re willing to pay. This digital pay-what-you-want method, while undoubtedly around previously, was popularized when UK music group Radiohead released their acclaimed In Rainbows album in 2007 self-produced on their website.
For me, Panel Syndicate’s method is one of the best available – for those willing to take the risk. If you receive enough purchases from readers, there is literally nothing standing between you and the full payment other than the costs of hosting and the time spent making the work. It goes without saying that The Private Eye has been a smash hit as it was launched soon after it became clear that Saga was well on its way to becoming the titan it is today, but I’m thrilled that we’re getting work from a creator who is less known in the United States. I didn’t consider the possibility of a place like Panel Syndicate being leverages as a way to expose the US audience to comics from other countries, but it makes so much damned sense. If Monteys wants Universe! available in Spanish, Catalan, and English; that’s an easy option, no second printing needed. It’s ultimate control for the creator with nothing but gain for the reader, so long as we have an open heart and open mind when choosing what we buy.
You can find the first issue of Universe! and all released issues (8 0f 10) of The Private Eye at Panel Syndicate.