30 Days of Night writer Steve Niles and Epitaph Records CEO/Bad Religion guitarist Brett Gurewitz are joining Halo-8 president/Godkiller writer Matt Pizzolo to form new comics outfit Black Mask Studios with the aim of disrupting the comics market.
From the Press Release:
Niles (pictured) will serve as creative director with Pizzolo as president, and Gurewitz’s Epitaph Records will power the operation.
“Comics have become this monopolized walled garden where you’re only allowed to grow two things: superheroes and movie treatments,” said Pizzolo. “We’re going to open a new space outside the entrenched market where we can cultivate more subversive, experimental, and literary comics to reach broader audiences.”
“With both Godkiller and 30 Days of Night, we discovered a large community of readers outside the comic market who really had no idea how to get comics,” said Niles. “This is a way to reach those people again and expand the comic reading audience.”
“Comics and punk have a lot in common, being transgressive art forms with under-appreciated potential for social influence,” Gurewitz added.
Black Mask will launch by distributing Pizzolo’s Occupy Comics without taking a fee from the charity-based anthology project, which features an eclectic roster of over 50 comics creators including Alan Moore (Watchmen, V For Vendetta), David Lloyd (V For Vendetta), Amanda Palmer (Dresden Dolls), Charlie Adlard (The Walking Dead), Ben Templesmith (30 Days of Night), Molly Crabapple (Shell Game), Darick Robertson (Transmetropolitan), Michael Allred (Madman), and many more; but Niles and Gurewitz recognized the model could be expanded to support other creators in the comics market.
“I’m really excited about this project,” Niles elaborated. “Since the advent of the direct market and the disappearance of the spinner rack, I’ve watched comics sales fall due to lack of exposure.”
“Leveraging Matt’s brilliant Occupy Comics model with Black Mask Studios might be disruptive, in a really good way, for both artists and fans,” Gurewitz added.
Black Mask Studios will focus on a hybrid digital/physical release model distributed through multiple pipelines including mass market and direct-to-fan as well as the existing comics market. The company will borrow successful elements from music and film’s transition to digital (which Gurewitz’s and Pizzolo’s companies have weathered) such as leveraging devalued/pirated digital content into larger audiences for branded merchandise, events, special editions, and transmedia world-building.
Pizzolo and Niles further developed what would become the Black Mask Studios model during a heated time in the history of comics. Within a single week Ghost Rider co-creator Gary Friedrich lost his lawsuit for a share of the character’s film revenue and was countersued by Marvel Comics to the brink of bankruptcy (Niles led a fundraiser to save Friedrich’s home), and DC Comics launched a Before Watchmen prequel series against the wishes of co-creator Alan Moore (who also happens to be an Occupy Comics contributor). Against this backdrop Pizzolo and Niles sought to craft the new company in a way that protects creators’ rights.
“We designed the company to be more creator-friendly than the majors but less winner-take-all than the indies,” Pizzolo concluded. “We want to build a coalition where everyone can do their own thing but interests are aligned so we’re all in it together.”
Look for more soon as future Black Mask Studios projects are announced.
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