Image Comics, the company launched to give comic creators more publishing rights, will now give those creators the ability to enter the digital market with the launch today of a new Image Comics App for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.
The app is unique from other recent digital announcements because it gives independent creators direct access to digital distribution as part of their print publishing deals.
And just like apps for Marvel, DC and so many other major publishers, the Image app was developed by ComiXology, further establishing the company as a leader on Apple devices.
"The app itself looks and works great, especially on the iPad," Image Publisher Eric Stephenson told Newsarama. "And after speaking with [ComiXology CEO] David Steinberger about his long-term plans for ComiXology and what ComiXology could do for Image, it seemed like a good fit."
The Image app is available for free download from the iTunes App Store. Comics will be priced at $1.99, with several issues offered for free. Included in the launch of the Image app will be titles like Savage Dragon, Chew, Battle Pope, and Haunt.
The creator-owned space in digital became a little tumultuous recently when Zuda, the webcomics site run by DC, shut down operations. This move toward digital by Image Comics represents a major publisher giving creator-owned comics a presence in both print and the digital marketplace.
Stephenson said Image creators will retain ownership of their properties on the Image app in the same way they do in print. The outlet also offers them a chance to play as much of a role in their publishing as they want.
"The very nature of creator-owned comics means that the creators retain ownership of their properties, so they're as involved or uninvolved as they want to be," he said. "If a creator wants something to be fixed or changed for the digital version, then that's what we do. It's really not a lot different than repackaging material for a trade collection."
"Creators are compensated the same as they would be for a trade collection, meaning they retain the lion's share of the profits. Image takes a small percentage," Stephenson explained.
The publisher also confirmed that this move toward Apple readers is just the beginning of a bigger digital presence from Image Comics.
Steinberger said working with Image was a natural extension of the relationship the company already had with several independent creators, including exclusives with Image creators Rob Liefeld and Robert Kirkman.
"We had an existing working relationship with some of these guys," Steinberger said. "ComiXology has always welcomed independent creators. Our app gives them the opportunity to be a part of the digital marketplace. And this is the kind of stuff that does well on our app. These are the kind of titles that can find an audience digitally."
Stephenson confirmed that it helped having a few established Image creators already using ComiXology. "A number of Image creators were already working with ComiXology," he added, "and we liked what we saw."