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New publishing platform helps comic book artists

Shishkaboom-WebsiteTwo entrepreneurs in Portland say their comic book publishing platform will predict and deliver content fans want to buy and read. The magic principle behind the platform: democracy.

Shishkaboom-WebsiteWouldn’t it be valuable for publishers to know exactly what titles will sell before they commit capital to a project? Two entrepreneurs in Portland say their comic book publishing platform will predict and deliver content fans want to buy and read. The magic principle behind the platform: democracy.

Co-founders Scott Davis and Chris King say there is a barrier between comic creators and readers/fans. But they think the solution is their new publishing platform called ShishKaboom, which uses crowd-sourcing to identify titles, artists and eventually franchises with the most potential.

Davis, ShishKaboom’s CEO, says ideas for comics and graphic novels are “growing exponentially,” but publishers won’t touch them unless they are guaranteed to be overnight successes.

“Locally I met artists with phenomenal talent having trouble breaking into the industry,” he says. ShishKaboom will be a stage for unknown or lesser-known artists to show their talent and compete for publishing deals, he says.

Here’s how it works: Creators submit their work with no fee, Shishkaboom displays eight pages, and the community votes on them, free of charge. Winners receive a cash prize, and a percentage of sales of the complete winning comic sold on the website.

The model has been tried before with DC Comics’ Zuda Comics, but Davis says the understood purpose of those contests is to audition potential new employees for established superhero franchises. Promotional material for ShishKaboom describes itself as similar to Zuda, but “without the superhero baggage.” Their site will instead develop, showcase and publish the artists’ own creations.

“The brilliance of the process is you publish on community feedback,” says Davis, who set his idea in motion last April.

Targeting “rabid fans” who spend more than $1,200 a year on comics, ShishKaboom will generate profits from printed comics, subscriptions, mobile downloads, merchandise and eventually movies.

“We will do traditional publishing but it will be small press print runs of 500 to 2,500,” says Davis. “But the real scale comes with the digital platforms.”

Davis says the company will self-finance for the next six months while looking for angel funding. Eventually, Davis plans to hire an editor and production manager in their North Portland headquarters. “We want the model to be empowering to creators,” he says. “We need to assure them that an independent like us can deliver an audience.”

WILLIAM E. CRAWFORD

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