Dstlry promo

The Beat:

DSTLRY is here.

Since Comixology was folded into Amazon last year, and founder David Steinberger left the company, many have seen him and former Comixology executive Chip Mosher hanging out together quite a bit. Many surmised they were working on a new thing and today we learned what that new thing is: DSTLRY, a new comics publisher that brings together an innovative relationship with creators, and a “StubHub-Style Resellable Digital Marketplace."

Announced today with a pretty glowing piece in The New York Times, the best breakdown of what and who DSTLRY is comes from The Beat, which is why I’m sourcing — and will be quoting — their article here.

On paper, DSTLRY is saying all of the right things, for example:

Each “Founding Creator" will hold an equity stake in the company, and an additional 3% of DSTLRY’s company equity will be distributed among all creators who release projects during the first three years of DSTLRY’s publishing slate, with money allocated based on title performance.

And the lineup of creators and talent is hard to ignore, e.g.:

The line-up of Founding Creators is loaded: Scott Snyder (Batman, Wytches), Tula Lotay (Barnstormers), James Tynion IV (Something Is Killing the Children, The Joker War), Junko Mizuno (Pure Trance, Ravina the Witch?), Ram V (Detective Comics, The Many Deaths of Laila Starr), Mirka Andolfo (Sweet Paprika, Mercy), JoÁ«lle Jones (Lady Killer, Catwoman), Jock (Batman: One Dark Knight, Wytches), Becky Cloonan (Wonder Woman, Batgirls), Brian Azzarello (100 Bullets, Joker), Elsa Charretier (Love Everlasting, November), Stephanie Phillips (Grim, Harley Quinn), Lee Garbett (Spider-Man, Skyward), Marc Bernardin (Adora and the Distance, Star Trek: Picard), Jamie McKelvie (The Wicked + The Divine, Captain Carter), and Founding Editor Will Dennis (Y: The Last Man, Snow Angels).

But it’s their business plan that has me scratching my head.

Unlike Comixology, DSTLRY will launch with oversized 48-page issues in both print and digital, distributed to comics shops in the usual way. Collected editions will be widely available in print and digital.

That much is like a traditional publisher. But DSTLRY is adding what they bill as “a Stub Hub for digital comics." Digital drops of individual issues will come with various benefits — special discounts, exclusive drops, and meetups with the creators — and while they are NOT NFTs they will be fully ownable and resellable. Owners will be able to resell their items on the DSTLRY marketplace. Although they can set their own price, a percentage of resale goes back to the creators. Physical issues will be limited-edition collectibles in the traditional sense.

So I’m glad that...

  1. This isn’t NFT-based.
  2. Collected editions will be wildely avialable in digital

As a trade-waiter with a massive collection on ComiXology, I feel like this is somewhat being catered to me, even though I’m pretty sure their books won’t be available on Amazon. (Maybe I’m wrong?) This marketplace idea, overall, sounds massively misguided and as if it’s trying to capture a part of the audience that just isn’t there. The idea behind selling digital content is the lack of overhead, the lack of rush, the ease of accessibility. Sure, you can’t “lend" in many traditional senses, or re-sell, but…that’s the compremise made.

This feels like a fools errand that, if the company gets acquired or goes belly up, you’re out the whole shebang.

I appreciate the effort to cut in the creators on the resale, but is that a massive concern? Please, creators, I know I know some of you, and you might be reading this…what does that mean to you? Is it a given of extra funding, or is it sort of a “nice if I get it, but I don’t expect it" scenario?

At the end of the day, like with any new comic company, the core business will rest on if the books are good. We can debate the rest. But right now? I’ve got a very raised eyebrow at their plans. Wish them the best just the same.