Amazon is about to take on Marvel and DC with a new publishing imprint for comics, the company announced today via press release. The new publishing brand is called “Jet City Comics,” and will begin with a series penned by Neal Stephenson called Symposium. Later this year, it’ll get a George R. R. Martin story adaptation, and then in 2014 it’s going to turn dystopian novel, Wool, into a serialized graphic novel.
Amazon will be treading mostly existing territory in the science fiction and fantasy genres with its new imprint launch, which is likely a way for it to ease into a tricky market with properties that have proven their ability to be commercial successes. It isn’t exactly a direct charge at publishers like Marvel and DC who dominate with their own original properties, but it is an opening salvo in what could become a much broader ambition.
For Amazon, the Jet City imprint joints its others in the Amazon publishing family, which include Montlake Romance, Day One, Skyscape and more, and which offer romance novels, science fiction, mystery, literary fiction and much more. Amazon is throwing the kitchen sink at its publishing range, and Jet City, while it’s starting with established sci-fi authors and properties, could easily and quickly expand to original titles (perhaps culling from Amazon’s self-publishing efforts) and beyond.
The bigger picture is also that Amazon can use this new publishing arm as another funnel in its content engine, with tie-ins possible between its original video series, books, and now comics, too. Amazon is essentially building itself into a microcosm of the general media landscape; it’ll own every part of the creative process once its through, simplifying licensing arrangement and keeping revenues at home.
These are Kindle comics, too, so they help boost the Kindle Fire hardware ecosystem, as well as Amazon’s digital publishing efforts on outside platforms. Digital comics are a growing business, with companies like comiXology taking the lead. Amazon can probably steal some thunder, but we’ll have to wait and see what kind of product they put out.