Amazon Publishing has added another imprint, this one focused on comics and graphic novels. Jet City Comics starts today and by the end of 2013 will have new comics from George R.R. Martin, Hugh Howey, and Neal Stephenson. Its first release is of Symposium #1, the first original Foreworld comic from the series created by Stephenson, Greg Bear, Mark Teppo, Nicole Galland, Erik Bear, Joseph Brassey and Cooper Moo. Original adaptations of Martin’s short story, Meathouse Man, and Howey’s bestselling science fiction novel, Wool, will follow in October. Jet City issues will publish on Kindle as standalone comics, as serialized comics released over multiple episodes, and as bundled graphic novels, with print editions available at amazon.com and other comics retailers.
The imprint is being overseen by Alex Carr, senior editor of Jet City Comics who said Amazon “look[s] forward to opening up these iconic worlds to new audiences. We’re working with an incredible, hand-picked team of comics professionals, writers, artists, and translators, who have done an amazing job developing and expanding these inventive stories.”
"Comics and graphic novels, especially in digital format, represent a unique area for innovation,” said Jeff Belle, v-p of Amazon Publishing. “Our focus will be on adapting great books for this medium as a means of expanding the audience for our authors, pushing boundaries with new ideas that combine visual and narrative storytelling, and creating compelling new experiences for readers.”
Jet City Comics is Amazon’s newest publishing imprint and the company has announced, “that print editions available at amazon.com and other comics retailers.” But independent booksellers have long vowed not to carry Amazon titles in protest over the company’s business practices. In addition B&N, the country’s largest bookstore chain, has also refused to carry Amazon Publishing titles unless they are also able to sell Amazon Publishing e-books.
PW asked several New York City comics retailers if they would carry print titles from Jet City Comics. While the four retailers PW asked said they would consider selling Jet City Comics titles if approached by Amazon, they were also wary. Mitch Cutler, owner of St. Marks Comics in downtown Manhattan, said, “We’ve made a living by selling everything published for 29 years and there’s no reason for us to change that policy, assuming Amazon deals fairly with us.” Jeff Ayers, manager of Forbidden Planet, said “we would carry their titles if offered,” but also cautioned that many of Jet City Comics initial titles—among them adaptations of prose works by George R.R. Martin and Hugh Howey—were the kind of comics that did not sell well at Forbidden Planet. “We’re great with science-fiction and fantasy but these kinds of adaptations have had disappointing sales here. We’d like to see Jet City release books my more established comics authors, like Dan Clowes for instance.”
Gerry Gladston, coowner of Midtown Comics in Manhattan, told PW, "I understand retailers concerns due to Amazon’s business policies, but Jet City Comics is not much of an issue to Midtown, and our buyers will take everything into consideration when the time comes to place orders." And at the Strand, graphic novel buyer Carson Moss, said “while we’re not thrilled about some of Amazon’s practices, if our customers want their books we would consider carrying them. We’ve carried some New Harvest titles, but it has to be the right book for us.”