Longtime DC exclusive writer Scott Snyder has decided to be exclusive to himself, and the first major sign of that was a monumental eight-book deal with Amazon's Comixology Originals line and Dark Horse Comics. And while this will sew Snyder up for the next few years, he's doing it all through his recently-launched company Best Jackett Press
As Snyder told Newsarama nearly one year ago to the day, the writer wants to "start working on more of his own stuff."
Fast-forward a year, and he is - a lot. In addition to the eight books announced for Amazon's Comixology Originals/Dark Horse, there's also the current ongoings Nocterra and Undiscovered Country, the previously teased Chains with Ariel Kristantina, and a teased project with artist/writer Becky Cloonan.
(Don't worry DC fans, he's still involved there - such as writing the upcoming Batman/Fornite One Shot.)
But what makes these recently-announced eight books stand out is that Snyder, along with his collaborators, is aiming to create comics for digital readers as thoughtfully as they have been for years with print readers.
"The real excitement is about trying something new. What all of us involved want to actualize is that digital comics aren't an arm of print where it has to be the same price point, the same size, etc. Instead, we're customizing it for the platform," Snyder tells Newsarama. "For example, what we're doing with Tula - Barnstormers - we're looking to be more serialized like a comic strip for digital. For the print edition, it might work better as a hardcover graphic novel."(opens in new tab)
We Have Demons with Snyder's longtime Batman/Metal partner Greg Capullo will go the more traditional route when it goes to print, with "single issues, variant covers, and all that."
"This is all something Chip and Comixology are amenable to," Snyder explains. "Everything is about how to look at each book and determine how it would work best for digital, and then how it would work best for print - independent of one another. That's what really got me in the door with Comixology, and by extension Dark Horse."
Snyder said he first talked with Comixology and Dark Horse about this project 15 months ago - just as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold. The pandemic, and how it constricted comic shop distribution and led to major publishers tightening their fiscal belts, became a big factor in how Snyder and his creator-owned plans would proceed.
"We were working on the books and then the pandemic hit, so Will [Dennis, Best Jacket Press' editor] and I began talking about how to keep it going without any of the creators having to disappear into DC and Marvel," Snyder says. "We didn't want to compromise on the things that are important to us. And Comixology has been great."(opens in new tab)
This eight-book deal with Comixology and Dark Horse provides what Snyder tell us is "strong, competitive rates with what we'd get at DC or Marvel" for him and his co-creators, along with allowing them to keep ancillary rights - meaning deals for any movies, TV shows, video games, etc.
"Best Jackett Press is totally independent," says Snyder. "Comixology pays us, and leaves the distribution of it to us."
Snyder came into this deal with a concern about the money - not just to pay him and his creators, but also for the readers that would buy the comics. With this deal with Comixology, all of these Best Jackett Press comics will be available as part of the $5.99/month Comixology Unlimited service, as well as available to those that subscribe to Amazon Prime and Kindle Unlimited.
Snyder's vision is that Best Jackett Press won't be a vanity press, as he's opening the doors to work with other creators on their books.
"The idea of now being able to do something - to fund and help realize up-and-coming creators' goals - is great," Snyder says. "All we're asking is to recoup our investment, and a small percentage if it becomes the next Star Wars or something… but nothing predatory. I want to be able to pay it forward, and that's a big part of what we're doing at Best Jackett Press. We want to be good players in comics, and do things to push things forward and take risks."
While Snyder's comics will be available on Amazon Prime, he may not have much time to use Amazon Prime (well, at least the comics and video streaming) as this cements him as not just a comics writer, but as a publisher and bonafide businessman. When asked about taking on those responsibilities, Snyder is still getting used to it.(opens in new tab)
"It's overwhelming," Snyder says with a laugh. "When I got married to my wife, I told her I'd always be the 'poor tramp' who never makes money while she's the doctor. 'You'll have the real job, and I'll do whatever I can to take care of the kids.'"
"Suddenly, I'm responsible for a business that employs a lot of creators I love and respect," he continues. "I go to work excited about us making cool shit together, and how we can own it together, and protect each other from market forces that might hurt us. But yeah, this is very new to me."
Snyder has ambitious plans for Best Jackett Press, beyond just publishing comics and prose novels; he's also planning to utilize it to resume his writing classes he's done with NYU, Sarah Lawrence College, and DC. And while he's held those in the past in-person, lately he's done a number of one-off classes online - because like the Comixology deal underlines, Snyder sees the digital experience not as ancillary to something else - but something all its own, whether as a class or as a comic.
"I've always believed the argument that digital is in opposition to print to be completely ridiculous," Snyder says. "It's like vinyl and streaming; you have to figure out how these work together."(opens in new tab)
"Digital is immediate and immersive. It's how many new comics readers find their first comics, be it through Webtoon, Crunchyroll, DC Universe Infinite, etc," he continues. "In some cases they have a subscription to something like the latter, or Comixology Unlimited. To deny this kind of trajectory for readers is silly. Instead, we wanted to be able to embrace it, and make comics digital for digital readers. And then later, make print versions for print readers."
In talking about the format, the price point, the contracts with creators, and the collaboration between all involved, Snyder has repeated a phrase to us that appears to be the core drive of Snyder's work going forward: being a "good player" in comics, as an individual and now as a company.
If you're reading this, you already are familiar with digital reading - but when it comes to the best way to read digital comics, there's a lot to understand. WIth that in mind, check out our recommend best digital comics readers.