After two years in the business, the upstart publisher Kickstart Comics is still considered a small player in the broad spectrum of the American comics industry. Created back in 2010 by the film company Kickstart Entertainment that produced Wanted and the Wolverine & The X-Men animated TV series , Kickstart Comics has gone on to publish sixteen graphic novels, with over half in development as film and television projects and handful of new books scheduled to come out later this year. Two years in, this enterprising company well on their way to being a unique hybrid of comic publisher and film company.
“Kickstart has gone through a learning curve the past two years,” admits Kickstart’s Managing Editor, Samantha Shear. “Publishing is challenging but we’ve tried to adjust and adapt to the needs of the readers and distributors.”
Although they’ve been in the comics business for two years now, Kickstart is still better known in most circles for its movie company that’s produced big screen versions of Wanted and the recent television reboot of Voltron. When asked about why Kickstart got into comics in the first place, Shear was upfront about the synergy between comics and film.
“Comics and film have had a natural relationship for many years so it always made sense for our comics to be another development tool for storytelling. Comics are perhaps the closest storytelling medium to film and television,” Olsson tells Newsarama. “Our goal has always been to create comics for a wide audience that we could also use as a platform for film and television. Our initial released books have had some success. Bounty Killer, which drops later this summer, starts production as a feature film in June. Blacksmith was optioned as a film by MGM and Mirror, Mirror has been optioned and is slated to go into production in September as a 2 hour back door pilot.”
Kickstart first came to comics in 2010 after seeing an opening for a film company to take a more active role in the fostering, development and publishing of original stories in the comics medium. This new company partnered with comic creators and Hollywood writers to develop new, original creator-owned ideas as standalone graphic novels that might later have a shot for Hollywood. The upstart publisher pursued a graphic novel-only approach to publishing, bolstered by an envious deal with Walmart to have its books stocked in the retail giant’s 3,000+ United States locations.
“That agreement is ongoing through ARC Entertainment,” Shear tells Newsarama,” but our current focus has been to grow the direct retail market as well as launch into the digital space through Nooks, Kindles and more.”
Kickstart’s stood out on comic shelves for their strict graphic novel-only approach to publishing, although the graphic novels they produce are in the “prestige” 96 page format. During the first two years of publishing, Kickstart’s books were digest size, but the publisher recently decided to go more in line with the more popular dimensions for comics in America.
“Our books will still be 96 pages of graphic novel content,” Shear assures,” but we will be increasing the books size to a more traditional comic size. We will still be bringing the same great storytelling for the same price point of $8.99.”Earlier this month Kickstart began releasing a new wave of books in this new larger format, with books like Duplicate by Mark Sable and Andy Macdonald (previously titled Decoy), and Maximum High by Mark Haven Britt, Tomas Moron and Pushing Daisies writers Chad and Dara Creasey. Later this year the publisher plans to release the samurai versus mongo story Divine Wind by Jeff Amano and Julian Totino Tedesco, and two other projects titled Head Full of Noise and Space Gladiator.
Kickstart continues to push their ambition plans of bringing new, original creator-owned stories to comics and capitalizing on that creativity for movie and television deals. One of the unforeseen lessons Kickstart’s learn from comics publishing however is which titles seem to be the most popular, and why. Of the sixteen graphic novels Kickstart has released so far, their best-selling projects have predominantly been those with female leads, especially at Walmart, says Ollson.
“This has varied widely across our platforms,” says the managing editor. “Headache, Book Of Lilah and Witch have been very strong sellers for us across the board.”