Lots of comings and goings of late, with big moves for popular industry veterans Alex Segura Jr. And Ben Abernathy.
• Alex Segura Jr. has returned to DC Comics as Executive Director Of Publicity, following a two-year stint at Archie Comics where he rose from Director of Publicity to VP of Publicity and Marketing. Segura was previously at DC from 2006–2011 as Publicity Manager. This fills the vacancy left by the departure of DC’s VP of Publicity VP David Hyde back in April. It’s safe to say that Segura is one of the most liked PR people in the business so everyone is a winner here.
• In something of a more surprising move, Ben Abernathy, DC’s former Group Editor, Digital has joined start-up digital comics company Madefire as Editor, where he quickly started answering questions:
MF: From an editorial perspective, what do you think are the greatest challenges and opportunities for comics?
BA: I think the greatest challenge is reaching the audience for the respective product. The traditional comic book stores (and even book stores) is a challenging market for new material to get traction with, and I speak from experience. But I’m confident that hurdle can be cleared with the penetration of technology, particularly smart devices, into the home. Then, the challenge becomes creating/managing the content that people actually want to read and then doing the necessary marketing and P.R. to get the word out. And producing original digital content, I think the opportunities are boundless because of this direct access and communication with the consumer.
MF: You’re joining Madefire, so we think we know how you’d answers this one, but: where do you think the industry is going?
BA: Ah, the leading question! Well, ultimately, the industry is heading to a predominantly digital delivery and that’s not a reflection whatsoever on the direct market or the print publishers–it’s just a reality based on technology and the evolving audience. From the position I held at DC, I had the opportunity to see some of the reading tools being developed for the industry, and from the moment I saw Madefire’s work, I could tell they were ahead of the curve. Way ahead. And you’re right: I wouldn’t be answering these questions if I didn’t believe that 100 percent and wasn’t committed to doing everything possible to help facilitate this next step.
Abernathy’s departure at DC’s digital arm follows the exodus of editor Kwanza Johnson a few months back, so DC’s digital arm is going through something of a redesign. At the same time, that’s a big step forward for Madefire, which was recently profiled in Publishers Weekly:
The business model for Madefire is a little up in the air. Currently, as is frequent with Silicon Valley firms, they’re concentrating on acquiring audience share and want to have their main title available for free for as long as possible. One option is to charge for the content. Wolstenholme says that the $0.99 price point is “interesting,” but they’re far away from a decision on that.
Another option is to charge for third party content. Madefire has opened up their creation tools to third party creators, who can make their comics available for download through the Madefire app. There is software in place to allow these third party creators to charge for these downloads. While all this is currently free, taking a cut of the download fee is possible model.
More to come on all of this, no doubt.
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.