The rise of
Marvel's Comixology has meant that DRM — Digital Rights Management — has become the norm for comics, meaning that your collection is forever locked to Comixology's platform, and it is illegal for anyone except Comixology (and not the artists and writers who created the comics!) to unlock them so that they can be viewed on non-Comixology players.
It's as though Comixology had come up with a scheme to get us to buy our comics in a form that could only be put into special longboxes that they alone can sell — longboxes that can only be stacked on the shelves they choose, and comics that can only be read under the lightbulbs they authorize, in the chair they approve. Every penny you spend on Comixology increases the cost of your switching away from it — and increases the extent to which a single company
(now owned by Disney) controls and sets the rules for making, publishing, retailing and reading comics.
Some comics creators are pushing back. Image Comics, publishers of The Walking Dead, announced its DRM-free comics store in July (Image is also noteworthy for its creator-friendly contracts, which are among the best in the industry). Last week, Image put on a one-day comics expo in San Francisco where it featured the new DRM-free titles coming to its store, and Wired rounded up seven amazing-looking stories that you'll be able to buy without selling your soul.
Image's creator-friendly policies have attracted some pretty amazing talent, like Grant Morrison, Jamie McKelvie, Michael Chabon, and many others. But the one I'm most intrigued by is Bitch Planet, from Kelly Sue Deconnick:
A feminist, sci-fi take on women-in-prison sexploitation by Captain Marvel and Pretty Deadly writer Kelly Sue Deconnick? Yes, please. Illustrated by Valentine De Landro, the series follows five convicts on an all-female penal planet trying to make their escape by way of gladiatorial combat. It's worth noting that, at least in premise, Bitch Planet bears a striking resemblance to the "Prison Ship Antares" arc of Alex de Campi's Grindhouse, likewise a prison sexploitation homage set in space. I tend to think this is a genre mash-up that makes intuitive sense and is thus more zeitgeist than swipe, but I'm still crossing my fingers for the crossover de Campi proposed when she mentioned the similarity on Facebook). —Rachel Edidin