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SDCC 2019: comiXology hosts star-studded press event; books from Bernardin / Kristantina and Zdarsky / Loo announced for Originals

The crowds had barely started to swarm the sun-kissed streets of San Diego and already exciting news was pouring out of Preview Night of the Fiftieth Anniversary edition of San Diego Comic-Con (Thursday 18th-Sunday 21st July, Preview Night, Wednesday 17th July 2019). At a press and industry event held in the Grand Ballroom of the Marriott Marquis & Marina Hotel, digital comics platform comiXology hosted a presentation where they showcased some of the creative teams behind exciting new titles they’re adding to their comiXology Originals line, as well as confirming the continuation of some of their more popular titles.

Our man Dan Berry was on the scene and caught the full presentation of new titles, expanding storylines and galvanising industry insight:

comiXology CEO David Steinberger and Head Of Content Chip Mosher took to the stage to talk about the challenges the comics industry is facing at the moment, where new comics readers are coming from and where platforms like theirs still need to improve and galvanise readers, most excitingly, two new books that they feel will do just that: ADORA AND THE DISTANCE from Marc Bernardin (CASTLE ROCK) and Ariela Kristantina (INSEXTS), and AFTERLIFT by Eisner-nominated writer Chip Zdarsky (SEX CRIMINALS) and acclaimed artist Jason Loo (FAR FROM LEGENDARY).

ADORA AND THE DISTANCE (Bernardin / Kristantina)

Inspired by writer Marc Bernardin’s daughter, who was diagnosed with autism at four years old, Adora and the Distance is a YA fantasy graphic novel following the epic adventures of Adora, a brave young woman of color who lives in a fantastical world with underground pirates, ghosts, and a mysterious force called “The Distance” which threatens to destroy it all.

“There are millions of parents of kids on the autism spectrum and there are millions of children with siblings on the spectrum,” says writer Marc Bernardin. “This isn’t a book about how hard it is to be a parent or a sibling, it’s one that imagines the unknowable: What’s going on inside the mind of a loved one who has never been able to tell us?”

“What immediately hooked me about this series was Marc’s story and I was floored at how it was both an exciting YA adventure and a touching love letter to his daughter for whom the series is inspired by and dedicated to,” said Chip Mosher, comiXology’s Head of Content. “Marc’s story paired with Ariela’s stunning art effortlessly builds a vast world that feels both familiar and beautifully new. Adora is simply amazing and I can’t wait for everyone to read this tale later this year!”

Artist Ariela Kristantina and colorist Jessica Kholinne bring the world of Adora and the Distance to life with dazzling designs and amazing artwork. Known for her art on InSeXts from Aftershock Comics, Adora and the Distance is Kristantina’s first YA graphic novel. “This book is the culmination of a parent’s love for their children,” said Kristantina. “It’s deeply personal, but universal and deeply moving. I’m honored that Marc trusts me to visualize this story.”

“Being a parent of any child, autistic or not, is not about you,” said Bernardin. “It’s about them. We‘re just the supporting characters in their stories. Hopefully, we’re there not to hinder them, as we all too often fear, but to help them on their quest.”

Debuting in winter 2019 as part of the comiXology Originals line of exclusive digital content, Adora and the Distance will be available for members of Amazon Prime via their Prime Reading benefit, Kindle Unlimited, and comiXology Unlimited at no additional cost and for purchase on Kindle and comiXology, including a full color print edition exclusively on Amazon.com.

comiXology - Adora & The Distance #1 (preview page 01)
comiXology - Adora & The Distance #1 (preview page 02)
comiXology - Adora & The Distance #1 (preview page 03)
comiXology - Adora & The Distance #1 (preview page 04)

AFTERLIFT (Zdarsky / Loo)

In Afterlift, Janice Chen is adrift. She quits her day job in finance and signs up to be a driver on a ride-sharing app. But what was at first a mundane but enjoyable way to pass the time takes a terrible turn when a mysterious passenger updates his ride with a new final destination: Hell.

“This is an epic story about guilt, responsibility and breaking rules,” said Chip Mosher, comiXology’s Head of Content, who oversees the comiXology Originals program. “Fans are going to be blown away by the scope of Afterlift, which stretches through the byways of the afterlife, through hell, and beyond.” 

“When Chip Zdarsky asked me if I wanted to be part of his next award-winning comic work, I was like ‘HELL YES!’ and he was like ‘Exactly!’ I didn’t know what to say after that so he showed me the script and pointed out my pun,” said Loo. “Anyway, I’m really excited to work on the most ambitious comic of both of our careers.”

“This is our brave, unrelenting portrait of a modern Hell,” said Zdarsky. “People will read it and ask themselves: ‘Did they relent?’ No, they did not. ‘Were they brave?’ Yeah, probably.”

“Join us,“ said Loo. “In Hell.”

The 5-issue series is set to debut later this year, as part of the comiXology Originals line of exclusive digital content, Afterlift will be available to read on release at no additional cost to members of comiXology Unlimited, Kindle Unlimited and Prime through Prime Reading, and for purchase on Kindle and comiXology, including a full color print edition exclusively on Amazon.com. 

At the event, Mosher also announced that a number of comiXology titles would be extending their run under the banner of their Originals line – the hugely popular DELVER and STONE STAR will be joining the likes of ELEPHANTMEN, ASK FOR MERCY and THE PRIDE with more issues to come in what they’re calling ‘Season Two’.

The RPG inspired series Delver gets picked up for another season! Co-written by C. Spike Trotman and MK Reed with art by Clive Hawken will continue with Delver Season Two. A new twist on the classic fantasy story, Delver examines modern social issues through the eyes and actions of a young and tenacious teen Merit from a small village who must navigate the uncertain world around her.

Coming later this year, Merit and Clem are back on the surface world in Oddgoat, but it’s looking less and less like the village Merit grew up in. There’s more strange looking Dungeon delvers arriving by the day, hacking and slashing involves a terrifying amount of paperwork, and an above-ground underground market for magic and monster parts quietly makes itself known. Meanwhile, the new magic academy wants to recruit Clem for completely non-nefarious purposes, they swear. Merit survived Dungeon, but surviving the workforce may be a lot trickier.

The Sci-Fi adventure series Stone Star gets picked up for another season! Written by Jim Zub with art by Max Dunbar will continue with Stone Star Season Two. The nomadic space station called Stone Star brings gladiatorial entertainment to ports across the galaxy. Inside this gargantuan vessel of tournaments and temptations, foragers and fighters struggle to survive.

Stay tuned for more next year, as the young warrior named Dail has been drawn into the ring and is trying to prove himself in the Grand Arena, but there are forces on the station determined to see him destroyed as revenge for his father’s fighting legacy.

Written and lettered by Richard Starkings with art by Abigail Jill Harding. Set more than a hundred years before the “incredibly mesmerizing and… haunting” events of Season One, Kasa takes Mercy, Ratmir and Budgie into the Black Hills of North America, 1876 where the course of history is at stake!

Written by Joe Glass with art by Cem Iroz, colors by Mark Dale, and lettering by Mike Stock. The LGBTQ+ superhero series The Pride continues. The team faces obstacles and the addition of new members, all while working to solve the mysterious attacks on the world’s biggest pop star.

Written and lettered by Richard Starkings with art by Axel Medellin and covers by Boo Cook. The countdown to the 100th issue of ELEPHANTMEN continues as Hip Flask takes the controls of a Pentalion and pits himself against Burba and his cohorts!

comiXology Co-Founder and CEO David Steinberger presented a keynote speech which was, on one hand, quite sobering for the state of the comics industry and where it’s currently finding its audience and, on the other, incredibly optimistic about where it’s finding its strengths.

“We all love comics,” he said, “they’re full of sturm and drang, melodrama, big emotional swings, clear good and evil and all that. As fans of the form, we love the drama, we do! The talk about the industry swings like that: it’s feast or famine. I’m not saying there aren’t some clouds out there, and I said, certainly we’re facing competition from lots of other entertainment, but there are actually some really bright trends to focus on. Not only is the industry seeing incredible sales for young readers – which dominated 2018’s Bookscan’s top ten last year and are creating a generation of lifelong comics readers, but manga is making a resurgence – I’m happy to report that our manga business is up significantly in the last five years.

And we’re in full-on mission mode, trying to contribute to the next big gains for comics, graphic novels, and manga. So, I’m going to talk a little about what we’re seeing. We’ve told publishers that we’re seeing a multi-year change in consumer behavior, from single issues to trade paperbacks and graphic novels, to discount-oriented sales, to subscriptions.“

Leonard Sultana
Leonard Sultana
Leonard Sultana is a full-time DJ / part-time nerd and is doing his damnedest to swap those around. He is the creator of An Englishman In San Diego, The Convention Collective and a rather nice cocktail involving Dandelion & Burdock.

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