That Brian K. Vaughan is a pretty popular guy right now. He’s got one of the most popular comic books on the stands in Saga from Image Comics, and the film version of his Y: The Last Man series seems to be moving forward again. Vaughan launched a new project this week at panelsyndicate.com titled The Private Eye. The series is written by Vaughan with art by Marcos Martin (The Amazing Spider-Man, Daredevil) and colors by Muntsa Vicente. The plan is for the series to run 10 issues and is available digitally. Now here’s the big deal about it: readers can download the issues for any price they want, starting with the 32-page issue #1 available now.
We’ve seen this done before, most notably when the band Radiohead released their 2007 album In Rainbows with the same “pay what you like” model. And there are other comics that have been released digitally outside of the major publishers, perhaps most notably Mark Waid’s Thrillbent webpage. The Private Eye seems to be a unique pairing of digital publishing and a new way to make money off comics.
The story for The Private Eye is summed up as “Set in a future where privacy is considered a sacred right and everyone has a secret identity, The Private Eye is a serialized sci-fi detective story for mature readers.” Sounds pretty intriguing to me. Between, Y: The Last Man and Saga, we know that Vaughan can handle sci-fi, so I’m curious to read this and see exactly what the story is.
Now, the good news for Vaughan and Martin is that they have a very loyal fanbase who should be willing to pay a certain amount to gain access to the story, and I certainly hope they are successful and can continue to create this series, along with whatever else they have in their heads. Marcos Martin is one of the more unique and interesting artists working in comics today, and I’ll gladly pay a certain amount to see his work. I haven’t had a chance to read the issue yet, so I can’t say for sure if it’s worth your money, but there’s very little reason to doubt that it will at least be interesting.
Basically every aspect of the comics publishing world is trying to grip on the emerging digital comics landscape. Whether it is companies like Comixology trying to gain a niche as the go-to digital distributor, local comic shops trying to find a way to keep readers from abandoning their stores, or the publishers themselves struggling to figure out how to monetize the whole thing. Creators are also struggling with these factors as well, especially in terms of how to get as much money into their own pockets so they can keep to making comics. This is an interesting model, and I’ll be curious to see how it goes. Will enough readers be willing to pay enough money to keep the project going, or will cheapskates rule the day and make the project financial infeasible? We’ll have to wait and see on that. Like I said, I hope this project is successful, and I hope that it is a way that other creators can tell their stories and make enough money to keep making the stories they are passionate about. Check out the first issue, let us know what you think about it, and if you feel like it, let us know what you paid for it.