Scott Pilgrim has gone digital, and ComiXology is the company taking it there.
Launched Tuesday evening on the Apple App Store for devices like the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch, the free Scott Pilgrim app gives digital readers the opportunity to purchase all six volumes of the Eisner Award-winning series by Bryan Lee O'Malley. And the release comes just in time for the Scott Pilgrim vs. the World film adaptation opening this weekend.
"Scott Pilgrim is exactly the type of comic that is ideal for reaching out to a broader audience through digital, especially with the movie coming out this weekend," ComiXology CEO David Steinberger told Newsarama.
"It's just a different audience that is outside our usual consumer base," added Cory Casoni, director of sales and marketing for Oni Press, which publishes the Scott Pilgrim books. "And with the consumer awareness of Scott Pilgrim at its peak, it was the right time."
The digital comic is available on the Scott Pilgrim App, but is also available on the Comics by ComiXology App and its website. The first five volumes are priced at $6.99 each, and the final 200-page volume, which was just released in print, is $11.99. All bonus content from the print versions will be included, and the Scott Pilgrim App will also include O'Malley's Free Comic Book Day issue, Free Scott Pilgrim.
Once readers purchase the comic through the Scott Pilgrim App, they'll also have access to the title through Comics by ComiXology's web and mobile apps.
Digital comics have sparked a bit of controversy, as some have predicted they mark the end of comic book stores. But digital distribution has been approached by most publishers as an add-on to their existing fan base.
In the case of Scott Pilgrim, Oni is anticipating a new audience anyway, because of the movies, so the publisher is utilizing digital as an additional outlet for letting movie-goers know there's comic that inspired the movie.
"I think portable devices also offer a bigger opportunity for impulse purchases," Casoni said. "Your flight gets delayed and you need something to read? Download a comic."
Steinberger said he believes Scott Pilgrim will catch the attention of female and teen audiences who might not be current comic book readers. "The movie looks incredible and fun, and it's getting a lot of attention from all different kinds of age groups," he said. "I think there's a huge female audience for it. This is a great opportunity to get the comic in the hands of the people who are seeing the movie and show them that there are other comics they might like too."
In fact, ComiXology has a lot of other comics and has emerged as an industry leader. Oni is just the latest publisher to jump on board with ComiXology, adding itself to a list that includes Marvel and DC. Although it only launched its first App in July 2009, ComiXology now works with more than 30 publishers and offers more than 2,500 titles, with 200 of them free downloads.
Steinberger believes this variety puts the company in a good position to attract new readers to comics -- a goal for most publishers, since they don't want digital to cut into their existing print customers.
"There's just a huge range of comics now in the app in all these different genres that can attract more than just the usual comic book reader," Steinberger said. "There's just a rich variety of content in there, with all our independent titles and Vertigo and everything. It's not just superhero titles."
Other comics that have been featured in other media do well digitally, Steinberger said. "Like any of the comics that we see in our app that are movies or multimedia stories, the audience really picks up on that," Steinberger said. "I just looked at our top 10 on the iTunes store, and right now it's almost all Kick-Ass, and a couple of days ago it was all Wanted. So these brands really reach out to a new audience."
Casoni said ComiXology won his company's business because it was able to execute and promote apps targeted at specific content. "They also did a really outstanding job on the sample pages of formatting the artwork and setting up the flow of the story," he said.
The Scott Pilgrim App is just the beginning of Oni's digital marketing plan, Casoni said. "I think the devices have caught up to the quality needs and there is a distribution system for micropays. So we feel now is the appropriate time to look at more opportunities for digital distribution," he said.