The following is an interview with Felix Kiner, CEO of ComicsFix, a new subscription-based digital platform for comic books. In this interview, Fanboy Comics Managing Editor Barbra Dillon chats with Kiner about the importance of digital comics to the comic book industry, the inspiration for this new digital platform, and how creators and readers alike can get involved.
This interview was conducted on November 18, 2013.
Barbra J. Dillon, Fanboy Comics Managing Editor: ComicsFix is a subscription-based digital platform for comic books that connects writers and artists with their readers. What was the inspiration for this organization?
Felix Kiner: Our inspiration has always been the creators. Writers, artists, publishers who go from convention to convention, just to bring their books to people. They work day jobs to support their art. Between printing, travel, and convention expanses, many aren’t breaking even. They are true heroes of the comics world.
We wanted to bring them together and give their work a permanent space where it is easy to take a chance on new material. At ComicsFix our readers can enjoy the simplicity of getting intrigued by the name and the cover of the book and start reading right away. Not one single thought is devoted to how to spend their money. Now, it is all about entering a new world, new story and just read. We wanted something like that for ourselves, so we started it.
BD: ComicsFix provides an outlet for promotional assistance in addition to a digital marketplace. What is the best process for indie creators to take advantage of these opportunities, and how would you describe fan reaction thus far?
FK: When we had a booth at Stan Lee’s Comikaze Expo, there were many occasions when we had a line of people trying to sign up. Reactions are unanimous: people want it! It was very enticing to see this. Until then, we had only ourselves rooting for an idea of unlimited comics and graphic novels for a monthly fee. This experience provided confirmation that we have an audience.
Once ComicsFix reaches its potential size in terms of membership, a creator who made ComicsFix home for their work will see a constant wave of readers coming to explore their work. When a sizable audience meets a large and diverse pool of books, the search for what to read becomes part of the fun, no less fun then reading the books.
That being the case, the best promotion for a creator is simply to produce more work. Our readers will binge read all you have to offer to them if they love it.
BD: What makes the subscription-based model enticing for comic book readers, and what kinds of titles are available?
FK: ComicsFix is a “no sale zone.” There are no seasonal deals, no sales pitch to buy one book over another. We sell you the entire library, and we sell it only once. From the moment you are with us, it becomes about exploring the depth of human creativity, about the transformation that happened each time you finish a book. Growth, change, falling in love, connecting to the art, to written word. ComicsFix is about taking a break, kicking back, laughing out loud, making everyone in the room or on the bus look at you strange, while you are wrapped in your own world.
It is also perfect if you have a family. Our parental control makes it safe for your kids to read comics. Everyone in the family can find something to read. Parents can read with their kids, together.
Our most coveted audience is people who are new to comic books. They don’t know how to enter this world. How many books they will pay for before the one that jump starts their interest lands in their lap? Will they give up before finding it? With ComicsFix, they can go book by book until they form a familiarity with the media, and grow accustomed to the language of comics.
We get new books non stop. Every day we see something different. We read the books and often get silly: “Wow! Our members will get to read that!”
What came to us as a surprise is the that most, yes most of the books that get submitted to us aren’t 24-page single issues, but fully realized graphic novels, 120, 160, 250 pages long. Books that probably took years to produce. Many of them are exclusive to ComicsFix.
BD: How did the creative team behind your organization come together, and how would you describe the creative process involved with maintaining the company?
FK: We are a mixed bag. All comic lovers, creators, artists. I am the founder of ComicsFix. An artist and a writer, who started doing comics and publishing with the help of Kickstarter not very long ago. I formed a team and brought in investors. I am known as an indie creator, and ComicsFix is reflecting this fact very well. We love working together very much. We strongly believe in the ideas behind ComicsFix and it gives us a mission.
Our work today is to build a strong library and let people know who we are. We go to conventions to talk to creators and sign them up. We travel a lot. While one of us is at New York Comic-Con, another is in San Francisco at APE Expo. This week we split again. You can find us at Long Beach Comic Con and Thought Bubble in Leeds, England. We travel far and wide to find creators and build relationships that will last.
We knew how many people created comics, but we couldn’t imagine that many. We scout the corners of the internet, spreading our gospel. And, people’s responses have been amazing. They see potential, and they want to be part of ComicsFix from day one.
BD: Many independent creators have viewed web and digital comics as a revolutionary way to make their leap into the comic book industry. What are your thoughts on digital comics and their presence in the industry?
FK: Digital comics are an acceptable media for many by now, especially for the younger audience. Many books never get printed; creators chooses to skip this step and go directly digital. The money saved on printing and shipping can be channeled instead to marketing. Digital comics is the future and a good companion to printed products.
ComicsFix will allow readers to buy prints of the books they loved, be it print on demand or selling print copies that our publishers have in stock.
BD: What is the most important piece of advice that you can offer to independent creators who aspire to work in the comic book industry?
FK: Here are a few and they work in combination: Start new work often, finish always, explore new ideas at every step, collaborate, let people read it – count readers, not dollars. And, get your books to ComicsFix (comicsfix.com/publish).
BD: Are there any exciting updates or plans in the works for ComicsFix that you would like to share with our readers?
FK: We plan on sending the first wave of invites to people who signed up for it in January. By then we will have our beta platform ready and books neatly lined up for many of you to read. If you want to be among the first to try us out go now and sign up for an invite at comicsfix.com
We hope that within a month or two, we will be open for a wider audience. But then our work only begins. We need to be alert to users feedback, quickly responding to issues that they might bring up. We need to bring new books all the time. That means bringing new publishers on board, striking partnerships and even creating our own original material.
This is a very exciting part. We want to work with talented people in creating books that are exclusive to ComicsFix. Our members will have access to work that no one else has. Also we want to reward the creators who bring their books to us today, before we have brand recognition, by rewarding them with such commissions.
Also since we do no need to sell you book after book to keep the profits up, we can concentrate on developing our platform to make it better and more enjoyable. One of the parts we want to develop has to do with joint reading. Imagine reading with your child while you are away on business or in the service overseas. Flip a page on your tablet and a page on your child’s tablet flips too. He can even hear your voice reading to him. It will not be here tomorrow, but this is the type of platform we want to build.
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell fans who want to learn more about ComicsFix?
FK: We are building it for you and your family in mind. We will never stop improving. We will never stop expanding your library. You will always have our ear. And, lastly, it’s going to be so much fun.