WARDOGS INC. Episode 17: Drone Channel Zero
ENTER: NIGHT Episode 13: Missing Person
BOB Episode 107: Victims
VEGFOLK FABLES Episode 184: Grade A
CHUCK DIXON’S AVALON Episode 91: Broken Rules
BEN GARRISON Episode 89: WEF Class
FAIRY DOOR Episode 4: A Midnight Exchange
FULL OF EYES Episode 20: Anastasiform Presence
CHATEAU GRIEF Episode 195: It’s A Bluff
THE BLOODSTAINED DEFILE Episode 3: Mark of the Black Lancers
EVIL MONKEY MEMES Episode 74: But I’m Not Tired
DEUS VULT Episode 23: Worry Not and Have Faith
As you can see, even when some of our flagship comics are taking a break as we finish the production process for the next run of episodes, the number of series on Arktoons keeps growing. Meanwhile, the rest of the industry is rapidly approaching full collapse, as the fate of Amazon-owned Comixology demonstrates.
Comixology was always a bad idea. Although, it was an understandable one.
It started life in 2007 as a fansite, it had articles on shared interests, upcoming issues, cover art and artists, in short it was fulfilling the functions that old Wizard Magazine used to provide. It also had tools for brick and mortar comics shops.
Finally it launched an online comic book reader.
In 2013 Amazon tried to get into comic books by publishing their own line called Jet City Comics. And they got it wrong.
Amazon tried to approach comics like a book publisher instead of comics publisher. It launched several titles with NY Times best-selling authors like George RR Martin and Neal Stephenson plus a few of their in-house self published writers like Hugh Howie and Marko Kloos.
Jet City failed to launch. Trad pub writers as comic book stars was a marketing plan that didn’t move the needle.
So, the next year Amazon bought up Comixology, apparently in the hope of conquering the comic book world that way. Like I said it was a bad idea. Comic Books had done nothing to future proof themselves and attract Zoomer readers. It had become a middleaged man’s market. Putting current comic books in a new electronic format didn’t excite any interest in young boys and this was just before trying to serve the boys’ tastes in any way became a crime against humanity.
ComiXology’s second biggest problem was its Guided View system. If you never used, I envy you. It only worked well on large format touch screens like an iPad or and iPad Pro, it didn’t really look good on smart phones. How Guided View works is, you flip to the page and then double tap on the panel you want to see. In theory it’s fine but in practice half the time you are flipping to another page when you wanted to look at a panel, and glancing back at another panel is a pain. It works but not without some degree of frustration and nowhere near as well as the simple up and down swipe of an Arktoon.
But ComiXology’s primary problem was its owner.
Do you think the Dark Herald is too biased and pro-Arktoons to be relied upon on this subject? Very well, consider a neutral party’s assessment. At some point, Bleeding Cool is going to have to either a) stop ignoring Arktoons and Tapas and Webtoons or b) stop covering non-manga comics.
Comixology was once heralded as the place to purchase digital comic books, thanks to its worthwhile discovery, awesome sales, and easy navigability for perusing decades of books from a large assortment of publishers. While Amazon bought the company back in 2013, it wasn’t until 2022 that Amazon started tossing its weight around, completely replacing the user experience on the web and app with something much closer to the Kindle interface, and it was nowhere near ready. This rushed and poorly thought-out move left the Comixology team scrambling to fix all the things Amazon broke with the switch, and now Amazon is laying many of them off.
In the great wave of 2023 layoffs happening right now, on the Amazon side of things the Comixology crew is getting hit hard, with many questions left unanswered about what will ultimately happen with the service. As it stands, it’s looking more and more like Amazon has killed the digital comic industry in one move, and now it’s doubling down with layoffs instead of making things right with its customers.
The comic book news site Bleeding Cool recently reported about a series of Facebook posts and tweets from Comixology employees discussing the current layoffs at the company. You can read the Technical Account Manager’s post above, which mentions he’s now part of a skeleton crew, one of the few left at Comixolgy, which is not something that’s good to hear about a service that in the last year ruined the libraries of its users, decimating book discovery while also eradicating any chance of convenient checkouts or lucrative sales. Basically, everything that made Comixology great was wiped out when Amazon moved to the 4.0 release based on its own Kindle app. This includes the web experience, as the store was moved to Amazon.com, which is missing an incredible amount of features that more than likely are now gone forever despite promises things will be fixed. Well, how will that happen if there’s only a skeleton crew running the service?
UPDATE: 11 million views…