Publisher of the Year candidate Drawn & Quarterly has finally broken the seal on literary comics going digital with a two-book deal with the Kobo Vox which will see Chester Brown’s LOUIS RIEL and PAYING FOR IT released. According to associate publisher Peggy Burns, the deal is non-exclusive, and next year will see more titles and platforms for D&Q.
Literary comics publishers Fantagraphics and D&Q are along the last holdouts among publishers going digital — partially due to their authors’ ambivalence (or complete dislike) of the platform — so even this tiny toe-dipping into the digital world represents a big step forward. In this case, Chester Brown actually encouraged the move — and it doesn’t hurt that Kobo is, like D&Q, a Canadian company.
“Many people assumed we would never do e-books,” Burns said, “we were open to the idea, but wanted to approach it cautiously.” Burns cited Brown for moving the digital effort forward. “This past fall, we had a fortuitous series of events that brought the project to the foreground. Chester voiced his desire for e-books, CBC Canada Reads shortlisted Louis Riel in its top-ten for its annual contest, and most importantly, fellow Canadian company Kobo inquired if we would consider e-books.”
Burns also noted the impact of the tablet devices which are much better at displaying comics than e-ink devices. Brown’s comics are also black & white and “easier to translate to the digital readers,” she said. Kobo’s pitch was “very friendly and nonexclusive,” in addition, Kobo promotes the CBC Canada Reads titles. “They understood who we are and what is important to us. It all happened very organically which is how we prefer to do business,” she said.
According to publisher Chris Oliveros, proceeds will be split 50/50 between author and publisher.
Fantagraphics has long been said to be looking into a digital partner; with digital readers better than ever, it seems only a matter of time until they decide to venture out of the locker and get down to the shore of Tablet Ocean.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.