Comics Disassembled: Ten Things of Note from the Past Week in Comics, Led by Deal Making!

You get a deal and you get a deal and you get a deal! Just imagine I put that Oprah Winfrey gif here, as that’s the theme of the week in Comics Disassembled. Let’s look at ten things I liked or didn’t like from the week of comics, led by deals for days!

1. Brian Michael Bendis, Making Deals

Brian Michael Bendis has had a fascinating path since he left Marvel. He signed a shocking exclusive at DC Comics, has touched on a number of that publisher’s biggest names, moved his creator-owned projects from Marvel’s Icon to DC and then to Dark Horse, and now he’s in a position where some I’ve talked to openly wondered, “What’s next for Bendis?” I’ve heard some things, none of which I’d commit to this column right now. But precisely zero of the things I heard were about him going the book publisher route, which is what his most recent move proved to be.

It’s in the form of a three-book deal with Abrams ComicArts — an increasingly common player in the conversation these days, I will note — and his artistic partner, the astonishing André Lima Araújo. The pair will be starting it all off with the graphic novel Phenomena: The Golden City of Eyes, a title that has an Amulet/5 Worlds vibe through the prism of Bendis and Araújo. It sounds great. It looks even better. I mean look at that double page spread above. It’s a staggering work by itself!

This isn’t one of those book market announcements that means we’ll have to wait years to see anything either. The first book is coming in September. The next arrives in Fall 2023, before the finale drops in Fall 2024 if all goes to plan. The team has clearly been working on this and are ready to roll.

There are a lot of interesting wrinkles to this. I know a lot of direct market creators have been eyeing the book market in a more direct sense. This is the biggest move in that direction yet, unless you call Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’ Reckless that kind of thing, which I wouldn’t given that they’re publishing through Image. There’s the graphic novel focus for a creator most commonly associated with single issues. Then there’s the Abrams ComicArts of it all, an imprint that’s making a lot of moves these days. The comic looks great. What it could mean will be even more interesting to watch, even if it kills me to say that about such an exquisitely drawn book.

2. 3W/3M…Also Making Deals!

In what was probably the most surprising news of the week, even if it makes sense, the team at 3 Worlds/3 Moons – meaning Mike Del Mundo, Jonathan Hickman, and Mike Huddleston’s Substack concept universe of comics – announced a partnership with the full-service comics crowdfunding platform, Zoop. I’d explain it, but I’ll let 3W/3M’s own words do it for me:

3W/3M is partnering with the team at Zoop, a comics-centric crowdfunding/pre-order platform, to print, fulfill, and ship (the [SYSTEMS] Graphic Novel Sourcebook) to you, as well as all other promised subscriber rewards (such as the First 500/Founders Ashcan/Print/Collector Card).

Zoop isn’t acting as a crowdfunding or pre-order platform in this relationship, as they usually do. Instead, what it will be doing as acting as the fulfillment arm of 3W/3M, taking the finished product the team creates and getting it to annual and founder subscribers. As noted before, this makes sense. Fulfilling orders is a ton of work, and the 3W/3M crew is undoubtedly focused on the act of making comics. They don’t have the time or bandwidth to pack hundreds, maybe even thousands of packages before ensuring each of those get to the right place. Presumably, they do have money thanks to that Substack Pro grant, so they’re converting that into a partner to deliver on all of this. That’s a logical fit, and not the first fulfillment partner we’ve seen on Substack, as James Tynion IV paired with retailer Third Eye Comics for his.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: it will be interesting to see how Substack’s infusion of cash into the hands of creators will affect support industries, including obvious ones like fulfillment and marketing but even podcast and video editing. These are not necessarily the small, focused projects we usually see in the comics space. They touch a lot of different worlds. These worlds are quite often ones comic creators are not used to. I expect to see more of this going forward.

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