Much of the attention of comics-related media is given to the big publishers – Marvel, DC, Image and Dark Horse. However, there is another publisher that has been making waves since its inception in 2012. Thrillbent, the publisher spawned from the mind of industry titan Mark Waid, is a true game-changer. With an arsenal of top talent, the little-publisher-that-could is altering is turning heads with its innovative storytelling and non-traditional business model.
Thrillbent’s creation stems from Mark Waid’s own passion for the industry and a desire to see it continue to thrive. Part of that thriving industry includes proper compensation for creators, which Waid believes in not feasible under the current direct market model. He does make a compelling case, when considering that the creative team of a $3.99 title may receive less than a fifth of the cover price after paying distributor (Diamond) and printing costs. Splitting approximately 60 cents between the writer, penciler, inker, colorist, letterer and publisher expenses for a comic that sells 20,000 copies does not amount to a prosperous lifestyle.
Many creators, specifically on the writing side, supplement their income with other jobs. While artists can survive via commissions and sales of original pages, writers do not have the same opportunity. Batman writer Scott Snyder teaches at Sarah Lawrence University. Charles Soule, currently writing a few thousand titles (slight exaggeration), runs his own law practice. Like Image Comics, Thrillbent offers the creators ownership of their properties, albeit is co-ownership compared to full ownership as offered by Image. However, being a digital publishers affords the creators at Thrillbent a larger slice of the pie.
The company’s increasing catalog of titles is among the most varied in the industry. Waid’s own contributions include the dramedy superhero saga Insufferable, the zombie comedy Luther, and the mathematician confessions of In the Pi of the Beholder. Other series include Varney the Vampire, The Eighth Seal, and Aw Yeah! Comics and more, featuring talented creators such as James Tynion IV, Art & Franco, and Christina Blanch. These creators have not only been able to tell great stories through Thrillbent, but they have also become ambassadors for the medium. The aforementioned Blanch, when she is not writing The Damnation of Charlie Wormwood, is using comics as a tool in her day job as an educator. This can only improve as Thrillbent attracts more and more creative talent.
Thrillbent’s greatest (and continuously evolving) contribution to the industry is the use of digital formats in sequential art-based storytelling. Enjoy Marvel’s Infinite Comics or DC’s “DC2” digital first series? Thrillbent did it first. Like the fact that you can buy DRM-free comics from Image? Thrillbent did it first. Much like the music industry was forced to evolve and embrace digital content, the comics industry will be forced to undergo a similar evolution – one that is unfolding before our eyes today. And hopefully, Thrillbent will be given the credit it deserves for its contributions to the industry. Head to their website to enjoy some of the best and most creative works available.