By Todd Allen

I was wondering if we had a full-on exclusivity war brewing when I started hearing about publishers, particularly digital imprints going exclusive with comiXology.  Now we see Contraband Comics starting up and going exclusive with iVerse, so I guess two sides makes it a war.

Contraband’s highest profile creator would be Marat Mychaels, who’s done some Deadpool work and was recently on Army of Darkness for Dynamite.  Contraband’s founder, Jon Goff, has also done a little work on Spawn. They do have that ever-important link to a Free Sampler, so you can judge their work for yourself.

I scratch my head a little when I hear about digital exclusives.  The point of digital is to have it available everywhere and there are enough proprietary formats, it makes you ask the consumer to choose when you pick an exclusive.  That said, there could easily be financial incentives for a publisher to choose an exclusive and I’m curious if Contraband will be using iVerse’s DRM-Free PDF option.

Contraband will be rolling out comics starting next week.  We’ve got not one, but two press releases on this one:


New Creator-Owned Publisher to Launch Exclusively on ComicsPlus
(August 15, 2012—Waco, TX) – iVerse Media, creators of some of the world’s most
popular and widely used technologies for reading and distributing digital comics,
announced today that the company’s Comics Plus platform has been selected as the
exclusive digital distribution platform for Contraband Comics, a new independent,
creator-owned comics publishing initiative.
“We’re extremely happy and excited that Contraband Comics has decided to launch with
us exclusively,” said Michael Murphey, iVerse CEO. “Their creative team is outstanding
and, from the work we’ve seen so far, we know that our readers are really going to enjoy
“iVerse’s dedication to creator-owned projects is what we were looking for in a
distribution partner,” said writer/artist and Contraband founder, Jon Goff. “Their ability to
deliver content on a level that meets the high standards everyone at Contraband strives
for made this a very easy choice for us. We plan to utilize the Comics Plus app’s many
features to their fullest, as Contraband continues to roll out titles that push the envelope
of storytelling and innovation.”
The first wave of Contraband titles that will be available exclusively on Comics Plus

BLINDSIDE by Marat Mychaels (creator/illustrator) and Jon Goff (writer) – The worlds of superheroics and espionage merge head-on in an all-out, bullet-riddled, adrenaline rush blockbuster! Debuts August 22nd exclusively on Comics Plus.

BIG HITTERS by Travis Sengaus (co-creator/illustrator) and Jon Goff (co-creator/writer) – This science-fiction action/adventure follows the exploits of a pair of sanctioned hitmen – called “Hitters” – as they navigate the seedy underbelly of an advanced post-war universe. Debuts September 5th exclusively on Comics Plus.

JACK RABBIT by Jim Hanna (co-creator/illustrator) and Jon Goff (co-creator/writer) – A supernatural crime-noir thriller that follows an ex-boxer-turned-privatedetective as he investigates the darker corners of 1930’s Los Angeles, where truth and myth merge in a surreal mixture of violence and hope. Debuts September 19th exclusively on Comics Plus.

“A big goal for us at iVerse is to help talented creators like Jon get their creations out to millions and millions of people,” said Steve May, iVerse Director of Business Development. “There are many amazing creator-owned books out there just needing the right distribution partner to take them to the next level.  With talent like Jon, Marat, Travis and Jim on board, I have no doubt that Contraband Comics will quickly reach that level and grow beyond it.”

And direct from Contraband:

Creator-Owned Publisher Set For Digital Debut!

August 15, 2012, Tempe, AZ—Creativity feeds off creativity, ever seeking new inspiration—ever providing that next spark. Each generation inspires the next to improve—to go beyond. Each advancement in the creation and/or delivery of imagination pushes the boundaries of what can and cannot be. This document is not a selling point. It is a call to arms disguised as a sales pitch. It is an introduction to a revolution that is already underway. A revolution sparked by those who, through the years, have been fearless enough to conquer new ground, and given rise by new technologies that empower the mass dissemination of creativity outside the limits of well-established tradition.

Contraband Comics (and other independently crafted, funded and imagined outlets for the delivery of storytelling) is what happens when the tools used to create and provide content evolve to a state that allows for the rapid exchange of ideas/stories/nightmares/daydreams between creator(s) and audience.

Formed by writer, Jon Goff (Spawn, Halo Evolutions), as an outlet for creator-owned comic book projects that span the vast range of genres, topics and acceptable behavior, Contraband has but one goal…to entertain (not everyone…but anyone).

Showcasing top artistic talent, both established and up-and-coming, Contraband Comics’ initial wave of books features stories co-created and illustrated by Marat Mychaels (Grifter, Deadpool Corps), Travis Sengaus (The Adventures of Spawn) and Jim Hanna (Philly, Spotlight).

“Creating comics isn’t easy…but it’s never been easier,” said Goff. “What we’re trying to do with Contraband, aside from telling the best stories we can, is to show that this can be done. And not just by us…by anyone. The tools are there, and the talent exists—you can see it all across the Web—all that remains is the drive and—just as important—the inspiration.”

To that end, Contraband has teamed with iVerse Media, who will be handling the digital distribution of Contraband’s titles, exclusively through their Comics Plus app.

“I love comics—good, old-fashioned print comics—as much as anyone, and we will be working to make each of our books available to retailers moving forward,” Goff continued, “but as we launch, our focus will be on digital distribution and the team at iVerse has shown amazing support for not only what we’re doing, but also creator-owned content as a whole. I don’t think we could’ve found a better home.”

Michael Murphey, CEO of iVerse Media, offered, “I’ve been fans of the guys at Contraband for years now. They’re producing exciting, action packed comics that I can’t wait to read. We’re proud to have them exclusively in Comics Plus.”

The first wave of Contraband titles consists of…

• BLINDSIDE by Marat Mychaels (creator/illustrator) and Jon Goff (writer) – The worlds of superheroics and espionage merge head-on in an all-out, bullet-riddled, adrenaline rush blockbuster!
Debuts August 22nd exclusively on Comics Plus.

• BIG HITTERS by Travis Sengaus (co-creator/illustrator) and Jon Goff (co-creator/writer) – This science-fiction action/adventure follows the exploits of a pair of sanctioned hitmen – called “Hitters” – as they navigate the seedy underbelly of an advanced post-war universe.
Debuts September 5th exclusively on Comics Plus.

• JACK RABBIT by Jim Hanna (co-creator/illustrator) and Jon Goff (co-creator/writer) – A supernatural crime-noir thriller that follows an ex-boxer-turned-private detective as he investigates the darker corners of 1930’s Los Angeles, where truth and myth merge in a surreal mixture of violence and hope.
Debuts September 19th exclusively on Comics Plus.


  1. I don’t have a problem with exclusivity. It just looks like both iVerse and Comixology are trying to offer content that the other one doesn’t have. I have both apps on my mobile devices and use them about the same amount of time.
    The Contraband stuff looks great and I can’t wait to read it.

  2. As a creator, I don’t like exclusive deals either, but when Comixology announces at Comic Con that they are no longer accepting submissions, places like iVerse may be the only way for me to get my comics out in the digital market.
    I say congrats to the guys at Contraband and I hope they do well!

  3. Kudos to Contraband. At least they got through to iVerse. Been trying to figure out why ComicsAccelerator hasn’t been updated since I signed on. Don’t know if it’s a dead site or …

    ComicsAccelerator is a black hole where messages I send go and nothing (but autoresponders) comes out.

  4. @Michael, we’re currently beta testing some projects on the Comics Accelerator site and that has taken a bit longer than we expected. Based on early feedback, we’re also adding some additional features to the site. We should have an updated announcement about the program very soon. Thanks for your patience.
    Regarding Contraband Comics, we’re very excited to be offering their books via our ComicsPlus app. We’ve seen completed issues and they look fantastic!

  5. I just want to add, that we’re with Iverse for our digital books, first one Watson and Holmes will be available at the end of the month. I applaud Iverse, as they are creator friendly, especially to self-publishers. Unfortunately if your not picked up by Image, Dark Horse, or another publisher that is on Comixology, you probably wont get on there . They have become the Diamond of the digital realm, and they admit to that. If you want to see more independent work, then support the creators on Iverse. Im looking forward to reading Contraband’s work as well/

  6. Michael –

    I’m heading up the ComicsAccelerator project over at iVerse. As Steve May said above, we moved ComicsAccelerator into beta because we wanted to add more features prior to launch. Those changes introduced some bugs into the messaging service so that our replies to you and other creators only went through the service and didn’t ping you directly via email.

    We apologize for that mix-up, and our dev team is fixing it as we speak. In the meantime, feel free to reach out to me directly at [email protected], and I’ll personally get you squared away.


    Josh Elder
    Account Director/iVerse Media

  7. “there are enough proprietary formats, it makes you ask the consumer to choose when you pick an exclusive.”

    All that exclusivity means is that someone who might have bought a digital copy rather than move outside of their current digital platform will download a pirated CBR copy.

  8. This is all very interesting, but it has to be said, the Contraband Comics launch press release is apalling. If they want to achieve any success at all they are going to need better PR people.

  9. Thanks Josh.

    @ Mark Fuller, give Contraband a break. They probably wrote it themselves and are learning about PR and such on the job. It’s not like it’s an obit that reads more like a sales pitch. I do think that the press release is too long and almost deflects attention away from the actual event. Hopefully the next release will read better.

    @ Charles Knight — it’s the DRM in those proprietary format that encourages piracy. If there could be a standardized format for comics, like what ePub is to books, and if the digital distributors could (if the main comics publishers would allow it) allow the user to “detach” the comic and read it using the app and platform of choice, I think that one of the inducements to piracy would be down. It’s like I have some “Brand X” comics that I got through 2 different digital distributors and in order to re-read the comics, I have to switch to apps half-way through the story arc. That, right there, is one helluva reason to try to find some CBR’s of the series, just to have a smooth reading experience.

    Digital Rights Management only serves the Owner/publisher of the material, no the end consumer. DRM just assumes that the consumer cannot be trusted. And that’s just wrong.

    Getting off the soapbox, now.

  10. Mark, it’s hard to even get posted by the comics/entertainment news websites. You can’t always make perfect press releases, because sometimes thats not in the budget. I have experienced and known people working on my book, and I can’t get Heidi or CBR to give me a blurb. At least Rich Johnston gave me the time of day.

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