A New Comics Publisher Aims to Shake Things Up

A new comics publisher, TKO Studios, burst onto Twitter last week with an unusual mission statement: “We’ll be doing things a bit differently.”

In an industry where buying monthly, serialized stories is the norm, TKO is presenting an alternative: binge releasing its mini-series; simultaneously selling collected editions of those stories; and offering the first issue of each comic free. TKO is also selling directly to readers and retailers from its website, not through normal distribution channels.

TKO’s comics are also slightly taller and wider than usual and their six-issue bundle for $14.99 works out to about $2.50 per issue, which is less than the $3.99 price per issue of most comic book series today.

“I understand why they want to try something different because it is very tough for a new comics publisher,” Milton Griepp, the chief executive of ICv2, an online trade publication that covers the comic-book industry, said of the move by TKO.

But a new stand-alone publisher would add some burdens to comic store owners. “Comic retailers are the busiest retailers in the world,” Griepp said. “One more account to open, one more shipment to place, one more bill to pay — that’s an area that causes friction and will slow down the rate of retailers stocking the product.”

The traditional mode of operation is for stores and publishers to work through Diamond Comic Distributors, which centralizes orders and shipments. Six-issue series, like those that TKO is offering, typically arrive in installments in stores weekly (on occasion) or monthly (which is the norm), with collected editions following months later.

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