By Todd Allen
Archaia is another company that’s throwing its hat in the growing category of “digital release, then print.” Certainly, digital comics are an increasingly common thing, but the relationship between digital and print is still evolving. They’re taking a direction with a couple titles that I think will end up being fairly common. They’re also adapting/remaking a classic manga title.
First off, the digital story. There are a few different schools of thought on digital comics. One school is they should be totally their own thing and not worry about print. Another is that they should come out as an afterthought (fortunately, this school of thought is on the way out, as it’s asinine). There’s a school of thought that digital and print come out at the same time. There’s yet another school that you do digital first and then reprint it in magazine format (DC’s current experiment). And finally, there’s what Archaia has just announced: digital serial, much like a monthly print comic, and then collect it in a book.
Serialize digitally and collected the material in a print book is something that has a track record in webcomics. The major difference being you tend to have massively larger audience bases in a free webcomic than you do for a paid download. We need to see several examples of this with the paid monthly download converting to a book and see how it works. That will happen soon enough, but it’s a very reasonable experiment.
This is also a little more interesting because one of the titles is revisiting the old Space: 1999 television show. Space: 1999 certainly isn’t Star Trek or Doctor Who, in terms of popularity, but it does have the sort of science fiction following that lingers on the Internet and may be more easily directed to a download than into a comic shop. Whether that audience is interested in a serial or just wants the whole book remains to be seen.
Over on the manga side of things, Cyborg 009 dates back to the mid-60s in Japan. Definitely old school. Archaia is remaking the comic, which is also in tradition of remaking Japanese films (see: The Magnificent Seven, The Ring, The Grudge, etc.). New trend or one-off? Something to keep an eye on.
While Archaia touts Bradley Cramp for his production manager gig on Gattaca, I’d personally opt for his executive producer credit on the vastly under-rated (and totally mis-marketed — it’s a pitch black satire) Lord of War.
Award-winning publisher Archaia Entertainment is excited to announce a partnership with Ishimori Production Inc. of Japan to produce CYBORG 009, a modern adaptation of the classic manga series created by the legendary Shotaro Ishinomori, author of other such notable works as Kamen Rider, Goranger, Kikaider, and Skullman. This deluxe hardcover graphic novel will feature the classic characters and origin story from the original series, re-imagined for a new worldwide audience. The new edition will be written by F.J. DeSanto (The Spirit, Immortals: Gods and Heroes) and Bradley Cramp (Gattaca, the forthcoming filmInvertigo), and illustrated by fan-favorite artist Marcus To (Red Robin, The Huntress).
The story follows nine normal humans kidnapped from around the world to become unwilling test subjects by The Black Ghost Organization, a secret society that provides weapons of mass destruction to the highest bidder. The nine victims are put through a series of extreme experiments that transform each one into a unique super-powered weapon. With the help of a compassionate project scientist, these living weapons rebel from their captors and set off on a mission to stop Black Ghost from plunging the world into a perpetual state of war.
“On the surface, CYBORG 009 appears to be a science fiction action/adventure story,” says DeSanto. “However, Ishinomori’s creation has endured because it’s a story about the human spirit triumphing over incredible adversity. The sort of emotional trauma these nine people experience could happen to anyone, anywhere, and at any time. Instead of becoming dark and oppressive, the story evolves into a message of hope and cooperation between people of different countries and races who share the singular goal of bringing peace to the planet. Humanity is the heart and soul of CYBORG 009.”
Todd Allen wears a lot of hats. At various times he’s been (alphabetically), a bouncer, college professor, humor columnist, Internet producer and an NBA/WNBA Beat Writer, among other things. He’s the author of Economics of Digital Comics. You should probably read it.