Longtime sci-fi/fantasy comic anthology magazine/publisher Heavy Metal has announced a spin-off publishing imprint for creator-owned comic book titles, named - not coincidentally - VIRUS.
Described by SyFyWire, who helped announce the imprint, as a "new platform," the digital initiative will kick off on April 29 with eight creator-owned series.
"VIRUS was kind of birthed out of a viewpoint of the industry needing evolution, as well as us being like, 'How do we serve the Heavy Metal fan base more, with more stories and more content?'" Heavy Metal CEO Matt Medney told SyFyWire.
"When the pandemic hit, disrupting everything and everyone, it forced us to look at how we can continue to keep the industry alive and provide fans of comicdom with the medium we all love," Heavy Metal publisher David Erwin added. “Unfortunately, there will be casualties in the retail space and perhaps some publishers. But, we're fortunate to offer an alternative and ability to service all the fans, as well as talented creators of this wonderful medium, comic books.”
Known VIRUS launch titles include Garbage Factory Anthology by Jakofire and Danny Kim; Hymn of the Teada by Matt Medney, Morgan Rosenblum and more; Nomobots; The Red by Morgan Rosenblum, Matt Medney, and more; Dotty's Inferno by Bob Fingerman; and three more unnamed books including one by writer Ron Marz.
As for the imprint's name - VIRUS - it's no accident Heavy Metal picked that title to launch amidst the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
"When a virus pulls us apart, nothing brings us closer together than great stories," Medney explained of the choice of name. "And that's what we're trying there. We're trying to bring people together through great stories, find the silver lining of the pandemic through genre, and that's the message. So even though the name is kind of more on the dark side, the ethos is on the light side, and that sort of juxtaposition has always been Heavy Metal."
Heavy Metal also touted VIRUS' structure for paying creators, which is somewhat different from the industry standard for independent publishers, with Medney saying "the creator will make money, whether one or 10,000 books are sold."
SyFyWire states that VIRUS creators will receive 15% of the sale price for the comic books they create.
"VIRUS is going to be the first of many ideas that we have that are going to help push the narrative forward for storytelling and comics and graphic novels," Medney told SyFyWire, explaining that Heavy Metal has even been in touch with other publishers about bringing their stories on to VIRUS, described by SyFyWire as a "platform" akin to "an online bookstore."
VIRUS launches digitally on April 29, with new releases continuing weekly thereafter.