David Steinberger unveils comiXology Unlimited: Endless Access to Digital Comics, Graphic Novels & Manga for just $5.99 a month on any device!
This is a game changer geek nation!
Today, CEO David Steinberger debuts ComiXology Unlimited- Read freely from thousands of digital comics — available on any device anytime for $5.99! It’s only subscription service featuring titles from Image Comics & Dark Horse Comics!
Hit the link below for a 30-day trial today!
In my exclusive interview below, I had the distinct pleasure to learn more about this incredibly talented and passionate comic book lover and innovator of digital comic media.
Alex Yarde (AY): So David. Tell me why you love comics so much?
David Steinbereger (DS): I got this Marvel role playing game. That’s what led me to comic books. Like a lot of young people who don’t quite fit in 100% where they are, superheroes and comic book escapism really spoke to me.
Like Peter Parker I guess, here are these outcasts that wanted to feel special and have something important to give the world. I wanted to feel that was possible for me, so very traditional.
One of my first two comic books was Mage: The Hero Discovered by Matt Wagner. It was very very different from other books of the time, it was very early create your own, pre-IMAGE. I was intrigued by the artwork and story and at that point it wasn’t the beginning of the run and he had stopped using thought bubbles. You know at the time Marvel & DC comics were still using thought bubbles.
Sorry for the huge divergence, but I found that his storytelling was so good. I didn’t realize at the time but you look back at that now you almost never see regular thought bubbles anymore. You see some strap boxes, sinking boxes but for the most part his art, writing & the dialogue conbined Matt Wagner didn’t fill in every little gap in the story. You weren’t in on every though. It sparked my imagination in a way that was very different than anything else.
I enjoyed “the hunt” discovering new books. I read the same books over and over and when I got new ones I’d go back a few issues and re read all the way through. There was something about the sequential nature, the space between the panels the reveal of turning the pages exciting moments it really appealed to me!
When we started thinking about the business in the early 2000’s I kept reading but I kinda dropped out in the 90’s like a lot of us.
DS: When I got back to thinking about comics in 2006, I started to realize how much incredible stuff was being made! I think we were still a couple of years away from IMAGE doing as well with the incredible diversity of work they have in the last couple of years. DARK HORSE was doing remarkable stuff. I felt like I couldn’t understand what happened between 1999 and 2006 when there wasn’t a huge amount of growth in the market.
Today we’ve got terrific storytelling in a lot of different genres to appeal to a wide variety, more titles targeting women, there’s more lgbt, greater diversity, perhaps not more titles, but they are easier to find today.
Digital helps more obscure books surface than they could in smaller stores with physical books where lack of shelf space is an issue.
I think I love (comics) more now than I did as a kid, I love them more now than when I started the company.
I appreciate all the creators out there, it’s an odd market, but there is such an amazing amount of great content out there our mission was to make everyone on the planet comic book or manga fans, it seems that there’s enough content out there to connect just about everybody with something they’ll love.
AY: That’s awesome! I’ve heard you’ve a passion for singing. Tell me about that.
DS: Yeah, I was an undergrad art major and I had always been singing in choirs throughout high school. I really connected with, for lack of a better term, the “live storytelling of singing”. Connecting with an audience. The rich history, amazing songs and great operas. I wasn’t a very good artist, so I switched my major to music as an undergrad, moved to New York to go to grad school at The Manhattan School of Music and took a Masters Performance Degree at Juliard.
Like a lot of people in any creative endeavor, unless you’re gifted or a genius level talent you don’t come out of the gate at a high payed professional level. It takes many years of very hard work, running around internationally, taking low paying jobs keeping your apartment in the summer, strained relationships because you’re always traveling somewhere. I found I didn’t want to do it that badly. After taking all those student loans! (chuckles) An undergrad teacher told us-
“You have to want this (performing) more than anything else in your life, or you will not make it.”
As a young man I was cynical, but now I believe he was right. Most of my friends went on pursing music or teaching and I just pursued something else.
I fell into something again that I’m passionate about! I’ve got to believe this is also true of comic book creators who hit it big and get rich off of this thing. The love of storytelling and the love of creation and on that level I can relate to them.
Like I said before connecting with an audience is what singing is about and that’s what comics are about as well.
AY: David, you sound like a native New Yorker. What do you love about living in NYC?
DS: I think I should preface this, I don’t have children, I’m married, for those of us that are married, don’t have children, become adults and make a certain amount of money, It’s just an incredible place to live!
I love the pace. I even love the noise, I love the action, I love the diversity of people! I think anyplace in the country where there’s a lack of diversity is robbed of understanding what other people are like, that think differently or speak different languages and that we’re all in the human condition together in a way and New York provides that at a very high level.
I love going to Broadway shows, I go to a couple of Operas a year, I’m still connected to singing, I sing at a church a few times a year and at Christmas which I really enjoy!
I can go to a Broadway show with the most incredible performers in the world and be home in fifteen minutes. There’s just nothing like that!
So that’s what I love, the concentration of people, professionals and art. That’s probably the most sussinct way I could put it.
AY: So comicxology started ten years ago, the format it’s in is about seven years old. How has it evolved over the years? Do you think digital ever replace the floppies we thumb through physically in the comic book stores?
DS: When we started the company we always wanted to do digital, but the I phone hadn’t even been announced. The I phone came out June 2007. The App Store came out the fall of 2008. Everyone was hacking it, jail breaking it side loading apps. You have to remember there were very few of us who could imagine a device like that a piece of glass that could show you graphics and handle media like the first i Phone. It was mind blowing! But it became very clear very quickly this is where we’re going. That it wouldn’t be desk tops. Android didn’t even exist. When the App Store went live in 2008 we put our heads down and asked –
“How do we make reading a comic really fun?”
And better than the slideshow on that small device.
We launched in July 2009 with 102 comics in our “store”, it was also the first store so you could buy and read comics in one app. The second of course was the i Pad, in 2010. The third was DC joining up as an exclusive partner, Marvel had already joined. When DC joined we also launched our web. Where you could buy in two different places and read in two different places. That was a really big deal for us. Android later that year, so now you’re talking about many different devices.
And then it was really about refining the experience, making it faster, of course adding content. A big milestone was DC NEW 52 (digital) same day as print then six months later everyone was same day as print. Simultaneous publication with Japan was huge! Same day English chapters of the Japanese Manga magazine chapters I feel that hasn’t noise hasn’t been made loud enough. We have ATTACK ON TITAN for instance the same day as Japan in English!
And of course today is the Comixology Unlimited program.
I’ve described it to folks here as the biggest thing we’ve done since we started. Since we went digital in 2009. I think 2009 as digital being the new distribution method for comics was a big deal. Making titles more available, infinite shelf space, you don’t have to be near a store collect every single issue of your trades same day, digitally, wherever you are!
Now this is the way to explore the incredibly expansive content for any type of device!
AY: And the second part of my question, do you feel digital comics will ever replace floppies at a physical comic book store?
DS: I think it’s a very different experience. The comic shop provides a camaraderie, and excitement that’s personal and physical. I think you see digital effect publication in different ways, DC’s digital firsts books, they actually get them into digital first and then single issues and then into books.
Do I think they will replace print? No. Do I think there are other ways to do it besides periodicals and then trade paperbacks and graphic novels? Probably, I don’t know.
I’m looking at my shelf here and I’ve got this Richard Stark Parker Hardcover on it, that’s an amazing archival thing I want on my shelf! It also happens to be a book that’s in this program you can read.
I think there’s room for all of it!
AY: ComiXology started around the same time as this current “Golden Age” of CBM 10 years ago, what’s your prediction on the next ten years? Any synergy between print, digital, TV & film?
DS: I’m not much of a futurist, but I’ll say this, if the media that is inspired by comic books and the comic books inspired by media leads to more people being interested in reading comic books? It’s a HUGE win!
It’s a little bit of what we’ve gotten over the last few years, we’ve gotten some growth in the comic book industry. Because of digital distribution and people getting a hold of the comics for the first time, even if they’re not near a comic shop or they don’t have someone in their life that introduces them to comics. I fell as long as the media (focus) is great storytelling it’s going to continue to benefit us as an industry.
I’m very hopeful that Marvel, DC and other companies continue to create compelling TV and Movies based on comics and that more comics get discovered as vehicles for episodic TV or Movies as well. There’s a lot of content out there, if you look at PREACHER that debuted last night, I know someone who’s into comics that didn’t know that show was based on a comic book. It’s a great thing to get introduced to it! We have a lot of that in our new ComiXology Unlimited program. The Walking Dead, OUTCAST, Buffy, Serenity, AOT, there’s all sorts of Media /Comics/ Manga tie ins there. We’re going in both directions right? TV shows first that then became comics and manga that became anime & movies or TV shows.
I hope they (comics) continue to be great sources of inspiration for movies and bring new people into comics as well.
AY: With this huge announcement of ComiXology Unlimited for only $5.99 a month you can read thousands of titles explore entirely new genres of comics. My kids love discovering new comics on their Kindle & iPad building their own digital collections. It’s a great family activity!
DS: Oh I agree with that, in fact hooking your laptop or iPad to your big screen TV can be really fun!
AY: Oh really? I never even realized that!
DS: Yeah, you just mirror your iPad to it, it looks really good!
AY: COOL! Well I just learned something, that’s fabulous! (all laugh)
DS: But I agree, I think you put it really succinctly, I’m glad the message were putting out there is connecting in that way. You described it exactly the way we think of it and how we think it should work.
AY: So each ComiXology profile is unique?
DS: Yeah, there isn’t a family sharing option.
AY: ComiXology Unlimited looks like a game changer, is there anything else you’d like folks to know? Why is ComiXology Unlimited the best way to consume digital comic media?
DS: I think what’s really important is we’ve got a huge amount of great content from a lot of amazing publishers crossing licensed material and original material. It’s almost exactly as you put it. It’s only $5.99. A monthly price that most people can afford and still buy their Wednesday pull list, inexpensive enough that they can open up a whole new world and say “Oh, I’ve been meaning to read HELLBOY, why don’t I try it out?” And that could lead them to Lone Wolf & Cub or Umbrella Academy or some of the other publishers. Or it becomes another habit or book on the shelf.
The hope is that for people who are not into comics yet but have an inkling they want to, or have a friend that wants to get them to get into comics and they see something great in the program, it’s easy to do, easy on the wallet.
And for the core fans it’s about expanding their knowledge base and experience content they may never had otherwise.
AY: That’s terrific David! So would you suggest it would make a good Father’s Day Gift?
DS: We don’t have gifting features yet, as soon as we do YES! 100%! We won’t have it for launch we’ll be working on it, but in the meantime you can tell your father or father in law they can try ComiXology Unlimited free for 30 days!
AY: Well! There you go! David, it’s been great talking with you, thank you for your time! Good luck!
DS: Likewise! Thank you!
all art – Comixology