ComicBlitz, a subscription-based digital comics service offering unrestricted access to every title in its inventory for $7.99 per month, debuted in October 2015 and recently announced the addition of titles from IDW Publishing to its catalog of about 4000 issues. The company also recently introduced a mobile/web version of its site (it had previously only been an iOS app), making it available to users of Android devices and desktop computers via a browser.
As with most other subscription-based digital services, ComicBlitz offers backlist titles at least six months to a year old, not current issues. Standouts from the company’s inventory include Valiant (both recent and “classic” 1990s versions), Dynamite Entertainment, Arcana, Top Cow and Abrams ComicArts, along with a handful of others, though new announcements are promised soon.
Last week I spoke with ComicBlitz founder and CEO Jordan Plosky about recent developments with the company, his view of the digital comics landscape, and the potential of the subscription-based model going forward.
Rob Salkowitz, ICv2: How have things progressed for ComicBlitz since you launched?
Jordan Plosky, Comic Blitz. We launched in October 2015 at NYCC for iPad only. In February of this year, we added an iPhone app. Over the summer, we debuted a mobile-responsive web reader
RS: Other publishers offer subscriptions through their apps, and other platforms have subscription offerings in addition to single issues, and other subscription services offer comics along with ebooks, and other services offer digital manga by subscription, but as far as I can tell, ComicBlitz is the only pure-play digital comics subscription service for Western-style comics. What advantages does this focus give you over others in the space?
JP: We’re the only service that’s fully unlimited. We’re not a sampling service. All the content in the catalog is available to readers anytime. People want the all-you-can-eat model, and that’s what we’re providing. We’re not trying to upsell. People come, read, discover, and that’s it.
RS: Is there enough room in that niche for you to succeed?
JP: Yes, there is a plan moving forward. Our margins are great and we have lots of room to grow. We’re planning new enhancements to the app that will add to the reader experience. This is definitely a scalable, growth business.
RS: What’s the state of your inventory right now?
JP: We currently carry over 4000 comics, representing over 600 series and graphic novels from more than 20 publishers. That’s over 100,000 pages of reading material, give or take. We’re very excited to now include IDW content, which we’ll be rolling out further in coming months.
RS: About how many subscribers do you have total?
JP: We have thousands of users on the platform.
RS: Have you been seeing growth?
JP: Yes. When people hear about us or something raises awareness, it creates a big spike in sign-ups. So it’s all about attracting attention.
RS: How’s your user retention? How long does the average subscriber stick around?
JP: I’d prefer not to get too deep into our site metrics. But generally, our user satisfaction is overwhelmingly positive.
RS: Subscription plans don’t generate as much revenue per title as single issue sales. What’s the benefit for publishers and creators for this model?
JP: We’re an after-market product. For us, it’s about creating a syndication-style revenue stream for publishers. Publishers and creators don’t get anything from back issue sales at stores and cons. This way, they get something. Also, it exposes readers to other titles and creates fans for new titles that they wouldn’t see. Then they become buyers of trades, new issues, merchandise. For publishers, it’s a promotional tool, like Free Comic Book Day, but without the expense of printing up books and with some revenue attached.
RS: Do you think the monthly pricing model will be prevalent for new books or is it just for back catalog monetization?
JP: Maybe in the future. I would love to see it. As far as the industry is concerned… well, I’d like that to be the case, but I can’t say when it would happen.
For the state of the industry in digital comics subscriptions, see “Digital Comics Subscriptions: State of the Industry”).
The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of ICv2.com.