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German Technology Spotlight: Comicstars.de

By Siobhan O’Leary

Self-publishing may be gaining traction, but having a contract with a traditional publisher is still an alluring prospect for many aspiring authors. Comicstars.de is a Web 2.0 marketplace for digital comics that combines the best of both worlds. The company behind it, New Ground Publishing, was founded in 2008 as a joint venture between German publisher Droemer-Knaur and IT service provider Gorilla Concept.  New Ground embraces a “digital first” strategy, offering artists the opportunity to upload and sell their content online while providing traditional print publishers a low-risk opportunity to spot new artistic talent. In less than a year, over 1,100 comics and manga were uploaded to the site, which now receives about 60,000 hits per month.

To draw attention to its strategy, New Ground created a contest last year in which the winning author was awarded a €10,000 prize and a publishing contract with Droemer-Knaur. The print version of the winning comic, Winternacht (Winter Night) will hit shelves on September 10th and, in the meantime, it is being sold online chapter by chapter. Soon New Ground will also start including unique codes in some printed books, which can be used to access the e-book, iPhone, iPad, and other versions of the book for free.

Though New Ground does not currently have any international partners, it does foresee an expansion into other European markets and the US. The first step, according to CEO Steve Jones, is to build partnerships with established comic and manga publishers that are also willing to follow the “digital first” directive and publish books that have been tried and tested by the community.

Comic and manga publishers can contact Steve Jones at jones@comicstars.de to learn more about making their titles available on Comicstars.de, to advertise on the site or to inquire about New Ground’s digital distribution consulting services and customized software solutions.

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