Writer Scott Snyder has signed a deal with comiXology Originals that will see him and a set of collaborators both new and old publish eight titles on the platform ahead of physical releases from Dark Horse Comics.
That list of top-tier co-creators includes artists Greg Capullo, Rafael Albuquerque, Francesco Francavilla, Jamal Igle, Jock, Tula Lotay, Dan Panosian, and Francis Manapul. In press material announcing the deal Monday, Snyder and co. shared the titles of all the books, along with brief synopses and cover images:
BARNSTORMERS written by Scott Snyder with art by Tula Lotay and colors by Tula Lotay and Dee Cunniffe—A high flying adventure romance set just after the First World War.
THE BOOK OF EVIL written by Scott Snyder with illustrations by Jock—A prose story about four young friends growing up in a strange, near future where over 90% of the population are born as psychopaths.
CANARY written by Scott Snyder with art and colors by Dan Panosian—It’s 1891 and a mine collapses into itself. Find out what the dark substance found 666 feet underground is in this horror Western!
CLEAR written by Scott Snyder with art and colors by Francis Manapul—A sci-fi mystery thrill-ride into a strange dystopian future, where a neurological internet connection is transforming reality.
DUCK AND COVER written by Scott Snyder with art and colors by Rafael Albuquerque—A manga-influenced teen adventure set in the strange post-apocalyptic America… of 1955.
DUDLEY DATSON AND THE FOREVER MACHINE written by Scott Snyder with art by Jamal Igle and Juan Castro and colors by Chris Sotomayor—A rollicking adventure story about a boy, his dog and a machine that controls time and space! What could go wrong?
NIGHT OF THE GHOUL written by Scott Snyder with art and colors by Francesco Francavilla—A dazzling work of horror, intercutting between the present day narrative and the story of a lost horror film.
WE HAVE DEMONS written by Scott Snyder with art by Greg Capullo and Jonathan Glapion and colors by Dave McCaig—The conflict between good and evil is about to come to a head when a teenage hero embarks on a journey that unveils a secret society, monsters, and mayhem.
Snyder will do all of this through his creator-owned Best Jackett Press imprint, which launched earlier this year with Nocterra, a title published through Image Comics.
The announcement did not include precise release dates for the new books, noting only that the first of the eight projects would see publication in October, with additional details to come closer to release.
A YouTube trailer is online now with the logo for each book…
Also, in advance of the announcement, The Beat caught up with Snyder for a quick conversation about the new deal with comiXology Originals. You can check out what he had to say, plus more preview art from each of the new series, below.
ZACK QUAINTANCE: Congrats on the announcement, this seems absolutely huge. Can you talk about how it’s been on your end prepping eight titles, and what drew you to comiXology Originals for them?
SCOTT SNYDER: They’re all books I’ve been working on for a while with these creators. We wanted to start them, work on them at our own pace, and then find a home for them. The pandemic really expedited everything, where it became about how do we keep focus on the things that are really important to us about these books, like retaining the ancillary rights together so that we own the books. We own the TV rights, the film rights, the merchandising rights, and how do I make a move where these co-creators don’t have to scramble to find work elsewhere to make ends meet, and also we don’t end up doing the book over three years or four years.
Initially, the schedule was always tough but manageable. They’re staggered, so some of the books are already done and some are about to start. None of it is an impossible crunch. It’s all been laid out over a long period of time. But again, what really happened was that, March of last year, we were beginning the first few books in earnest. Then when the pandemic hit, it really became about how do we find a way of doing these books that keeps the most important priorities intact.
When Will Dennis — who greenlit American Vampire over Mark Doyle back at Vertigo — suggested going over to talk to Chip Mosher over at comiXology, I was excited. Chip has been a staple in the industry and a good friend to a lot of creators I know. I went over, and Chip was like, ‘Look, at comiXology we’re really trying to find a way of showing we’re operating in good faith when it comes to the direct market, and when it comes to the community at large.’
ComiXology had sponsored a bunch of conventions that I’m incredibly fond of, from Thought Bubble to artists alleys all over the place, multiple cons, Eisners, everything. I was aware of some of the good work they’d been doing, but when I did a deep dive and started looking at the books they’d been publishing from a lot of different emerging creators — and they also paid really strong rates, often stronger than The Big Two, while allowing creators to retain their ancillary rights — it started to fall into place. I said to Chip, ‘If we can do these books in a way that supports the direct market and shows how digital and print can work together so that digital is a different experience — immersive and immediate — while print is experiential and collectable, then we can have something special.’
We started going ahead, and he eventually asked what books we were working on. I showed him all of these, and he said, ‘Great, we’ll take them.’ I talked to all the creators, and everybody had an option. Everybody was on board. It was a joint effort between everybody involved — between all my partners and co-creators, everybody is 50-50 with me on everything — and between Chip and comiXology. We’re really thrilled. Best Jackett is about trying new things and taking on new challenges, finding ways of being a better member of your community.
I hope that what this deal does is show the ways that digital and print don’t need to be competitive, and on top of that, it also emphasizes the ways in which right now it’s a moment of creator empowerment. I love the Big Two. I love DC. I love Marvel. But with so much interest from streaming and so many platforms looking for IP, it’s important to be able to protect the ownership of your properties by going out there and finding places that are going to allow you to do that.
The last thing I’ll say is that, again, the affordability factor was a big deal. The plusses of comiXology for me were: 1. they were going to allow us to do the books the way we wanted, they were going to secure strong rates for my partners so they would be able to work on the books consistently, and they would allow us to retain all rights; 2. they were already operating in good faith with a lot of different aspects of the comic industry; and 3. the affordability factor. For me, the pandemic — seeing what happened to comics, to fans, to all of us — its rough.
One of my worries was going out there with all these books in print in a way that would demand a tremendous amount of buy-in. This way, the fun is you can get a subscription to comiXology [Unlimited] for $5.99 a month, and read everything we’re doing, and you can discover all these new writers — some of whom are my former students, and some of whom are pushing the industry forward in really cool ways — and not break your bank. Then when you decide what you’re going to collect in print, you can go do that. It’s a second bite of the apple. That’s the hope: that this methodology we came up with here is a benefit on all fronts.
QUAINTANCE: It seems like a forward-thinking move that’s in lock-step with industry trends, especially as the creator-owned space has started to move toward serialized graphic novel releases, cutting out periodicals. Is this a different approach aimed at meeting people with the formats they’re already moving toward?
SNYDER: Exactly. My kids — one of the things that’s so interesting is how primed they are to love different formats and to read in different formats all at once. My 14-year-old, him and his friends cultivate their own geek culture libraries. They came up under this whole umbrella and tent pole of big superhero movies. There’s no more shame about being a big comic fan or big geek in any way. It’s just ubiquitous throughout culture, but they like finding their own things.
They’re used to reading manga in one format, to reading periodicals through the direct market this way, to reading digital through Webtoons. One of the big benefits through comiXology Originals in terms of this deal that’s unprecedented and new, is they’re allowing us to kind of be flexible and fluid with the formats with which we publish the books in print.
Dark Horse has been a great partner — Mike Richardson and Dan Chabon and the people there — we’ve been in really close contact with the people there, like, ‘Hey listen, this book with Greg Capullo, would this work better in the direct market with single issues or trade?’ And that one is pretty obvious.
This book with Tula Lotay, though, it’s a really different kind of book for me and her, too. We’re doing it digitally, serialized in these small chapters like an old comic strip, and it’s about barnstorming in the early 1900s. It’s a totally different kind of book. There’s no monsters, there’s no Batman, there’s nothing you’re used to seeing from me, but it goes back to the things I love writing about. That one might work better as an OGN, as a hardcover like a real art book.
One of the things I love about this deal is it’s allowing us some flexibility and adaptability to how we publish these books in print. We’re still figuring a lot of that out in terms of how each book is going to go, and that’s an ongoing conversation with Dark Horse. They’ve been great partners, and we’re really thrilled about the idea of being able to do things that fit digital in a way that makes people excited about digital. It’s not just only monthly releases, it’s not just ‘buy something the same way you buy print.’ It’s ‘do it in a way that fits digital with different content, and then go over to print and ask how does this book work best for retailers, and do it that way.’
That whole math and calculus is something that’s really exciting. Again, it’s a moment of tremendous creator empowerment. I think you’ll see a lot of creators in the next six months — because of the strength of the independent market on all fronts, from digital to Kickstarter to direct market — start making moves in a way to take ownership of their own product.
QUAINTANCE: I did notice that when looking at the previews for these books. You can fit them into different formats. You have a manga-influenced book and a prose-heavy book, and I was wondering if the idea was to enable more variety with your formats?
SNYDER: Yes, that’s the whole thought. We’re an expanding industry right now. As much as people talk about troubles at one moment or another moment, the fact is more people are involved in geek culture, whether it’s tabletop role-playing games or comic books or TV shows or cosplay…it’s all expanding. The idea is to invite more people in in exciting ways and become a stronger geek culture.
One thing doesn’t compete with another; that’s the message of the whole thing. I named it Best Jackett after sons Jack and Emmett, for Jackett, but then we had a surprise third, Quinn, so I have to figure out a way to get a Q in that name somewhere…but the idea is to try and take the platform, the good will, the capital I’ve built up over the years, and take some risks. This is me saying this is what I believe in my heart will move the industry in a direction that expands. Digital and print aren’t in competition. There’s a way they can compliment each other.
We’re doing a full range of books, from the book with Jamal Igle that’s directed at younger audiences with my son giving ideas for that book, to the historical fiction to the western with Dan Panosian, to the prose book with Jock, to the right up the middle blockbuster with Greg Capullo — the whole idea is really stretching, is to make me at least the best writer I can be. It’s to challenge me to take some risks to fall on my face, and all of it is of one mission statement — put on your best jacket, try your best to do things you believe in in the industry, be a better creator, be a better partner. All of those things.
The other thing it allows us to do — and I’ll say more about this online once we announce — is being able to have a secure financial backing from comiXology this way. When you know you get a strong rate and ancillary rights, it allows me to set up a really important aspect of Best Jackett we’ve been talking about for a while: a program where we can help realize the worth of emerging writers without any strings attached.
I’ve been very lucky in comics, and this kind of a deal allows me and Will to go out there and help fund other people to make their books as well. That’s the hope — all of it is of one circuit, to show the ways you can use opportunities in comics that are sudden and modern and of this moment to both make new things and push the industry forward, and to hopefully be a new player as well.
QUAINTANCE: Anything else you want to add before we wrap up?
SNYDER: The last thing — that Capullo book? We’ve been waiting 10 years to do a creator-owned book, and that one is going to blow people out of the water. It’s everything we love to do in one place. It’s part Spawn, part Batman, part all of it in one new package.
QUAINTANCE: Is that a superhero book?
SNYDER: No, it’s literally about what if all these UFO sightings lately that have been going on forever are actually these meteors that hit the earth and are two competing minerals. One devolves the most dominant species on the planet into something awful, demons, while the other is used to make weapons to fight these things.
So, there’s an organization that’s been using these weapons to fight these demons forever, and it’s about a girl in her early 20s who realizes her father has been part of this for a long time. She has to take up with his demon partner to fight what’s coming. It’s very Appleseed meets Gargoyles meets yeah. It’s great.
Look for the first titles from Scott Snyder and Comixology Originals to arrive this October.