Image Imprint Shadowline Launches Webcomics

For years, Image Comics has posted free online preview issues of its comic series. Now, Jim Valentino’s imprint Shadowline is publishing webcomics designed for the “online world” and the “digital comics revolution”. However, their opening lineup has some interesting history.

Shadowline logo

Shadowline Webcomics launched with the following titles:

  • Action, Ohio by Neil Kleid and Paul Salvi — Zuda competitor that came in second in May. Kleid has also written print comics for Shadowline.
  • Hannibal Goes to Rome by Brendan McGinley and Mauro Vargas — Another Zuda competitor, the same month, came in fourth. Now with added color. (Why not? It’s the web.)
  • Finder by Carla Speed McNeil — Much-praised graphic novel series, has been running online for years. Still formatted in proportions for print. I have no idea how what’s running at Shadowline relates to what’s running at its home site. I couldn’t find any information on the Shadowline site where I could find out more about the strip, the creators, or most importantly, where to buy material if it’s available.
  • Platinum Grit by Trudy Cooper and Danny Murphy — Had ten issues published in print during the 90s. Also has a home site with comics to read.
  • Yenny by David Alvarez — Had eight issues published by Alias from 2005-2007. Has been appearing online at United Press Syndicate’s GoComics site for the past few years.
  • Brat-halla by Jeffery Stevenson and Seth Damoose — Long-running webcomic at Graphic Smash.
  • Chicago 1968 by Len Cody and Jenny Frison — This one does seem relatively new, with a very interesting premise.

Is Shadowline Webcomics just an aggregator, or does it provide other benefits I’m not seeing?

On the one hand, using creators with some experience means the publisher and readers can have faith that they know how to meet promised deadlines and their work will have a certain level of quality. On the other, this looks kind of like leftovers. But then again, why shouldn’t they reuse the material if it means reaching a new audience? Maybe because it diverts traffic and Google juice between two sites? I dunno. I have to wonder if this Shadowline initiative is going to end up like many of the others: dead from lack of interest in less than a year.

Similar Posts: Zuda Invitational § Zuda Announces First Winner, Competitors § Whatever Happened To… § In Maps & Legends Wants to Sell Digital Copies Everywhere § How to Make Webcomics Sequel on Kickstarter


14 Responses to “Image Imprint Shadowline Launches Webcomics”

  1. Kevin Huxford Says:

    From my perspective, it doesn’t seem any different than Drunkduck.com (other than hopefully less copyright infringement), in as much as people from both have placed Project Wonderful ads on my blog.

    Now, I like my blog…but it’s not nearly the best place to advertise a webcomic available on Project Wonderful. It is, however, cheap as heck to advertise on.

    There are actual webcomic sites on Project Wonderful with over 100k hits per day at a cost of anywhere from $4-50/day. Places where there ad dollar would probably generate many more motivated hits for a webcomic than mine.

    Which leads me to the feeling that there probably aren’t a great many benefits other than the Image/Shadowline name.

  2. Kevin Huxford Says:

    Ugh…could have phrased things a bit better and made there = their instead.

  3. Johanna Says:

    Upon further reflection, I wonder what the point is. There aren’t any ads, so no money from increasing traffic levels. There’s absolutely no additional information, so no potential book or merchandise sales. The first batch, at least, are mostly known quantities with previously created material, so no developing young talents or benefits from exposure. So why do this?

  4. Kevin Huxford Says:

    It’s early. Maybe known properties are meant to help build web traffic and the advertising is on hold until they get the traffic number they want to use for establishing rates.

    But the lack of additional information? Yeah…I got nothing. :)

  5. Dave White Says:

    With regards to finder, the Shadowline stuff seems to be the same as the story that’s running on the Lightspeed Press site, except that there’s much less of it. I’m guessing the Platinum Grit stuff will wind up being the same thing, once they actually start running comics.

  6. Kris Simon Says:

    Hi, I’m the editor at Shadowline. Currently, there is no ulterior motive to putting these webcomics up online other than to help the creators reach a new audience (as stated in the PR), and provide some enjoyable entertainment on the Shadowline website–repeat traffic in the hopes that folks poke around and check out our other fare. We don’t require exclusivity (which means the creators can run them on their own sites, where they can run ads if they like), and we’ve agreed to run each one for one year. If they prove popular, perhaps collect them and publish them. Putting up these webcomics costs us nothing…not even our time. And they’re free for everyone to enjoy and the creators just want people to read them. So I’m not sure where the skepticism comes from! As far as additional information, I don’t know what else people need to know besides to start at page 1 and read forward–and to stop reading if it doesn’t interest you, but there is a contact page for sending questions, and there are also forums where each webcomic is featured and the creators are available to answer any questions. If there are any more questions that are stumping you…please just ask. :)

  7. Johanna Says:

    Thanks for posting! I appreciate your generosity to these creators. I’m unclear, though, how they’re going to “reach a new audience” without a lot more links and promotion than I’ve seen… and I think, in terms of additional information, it would be nice if the creators’ names appeared somewhere on the site. (I didn’t see the press release posted anywhere near the comics it’s describing.)

    I saw the contact page, but since it’s just a form with no info as to where it’s going or whether/when one might expect a response, I ignored it. And there’s no link to the forums on the webcomics site itself. If you’re thinking of the main site as “shadowlinecomics.com” and the webcomics as just an adjunct, that might explain it, but people who start at the webcomics site don’t even see a link to the base/home.

    I guess I’m skeptical because there are plenty of webcomic collectives/ aggregators out there, so I was looking for what set this one apart. And when I noticed some of the basics — like creative credits — were missing, it just seemed to me like maybe it wasn’t 100% thought through before being released.

  8. Johanna Says:

    Dave, yes, Carla confirmed for me at SPX yesterday that her pages are the same as the ones at her site.

  9. Kris Simon Says:

    Well, the creator’s names are on every page of the webcomics, right at the top. We selected these particular ones very carefully, and we hope the work stands on its own merits (diversity in our webcomics as we have diversity in our print comics). The press release was on the home page of the Shadowline site for 2 weeks after it went out, and it’s still there if you scroll down the “news” section, below the latest PR. If you click on the link to leave a comment, it brings you back to the main site. We’re primarily a print publisher, and our hope is to bring in people who already read our books and introduce them to something new. If folks are already reading them, then they can continue to go to the creator’s websites, so the creators can make money through their advertisers. This isn’t really for them, this is more for people who haven’t seen them, and we can introduce them to a variety of good webcomics all in one place. I guess the bottom line is that we’re releasing these for nothing, it costs us and the creators nothing to provide them, so what else is there? It’s pretty much a win/win for everyone from the creators to the readers to Shadowline, right? Since we are a print publisher as I said, this is really a new venture for us, and it IS a work in progress. We hope to perfect things as we go along, and we appreciate any comments or feedback, which is why we gave a link to the contact page. All comments arrive directly in my inbox, and I DO answer them very promptly (within 24 hours, typically). If readers/browsers choose to ignore the contact page…well, there is really nothing we can do about that! As I mentioned before, at the top of the contact page, there are two forums you can go to that all the creators visit daily, as well as Jim and myself. We’re very much available and easy to get a hold of. Thank you for your feedback, it’s been very helpful, and I do appreciate it very much.

  10. Johanna Says:

    Oh, wow! The creators’ names *are* up there in the toolbar. This is the first time I’ve noticed that in my four visits to the site. Thanks for pointing that out!

    I think this is just a difference in perspective. I’m guessing that the readership of those webcomics, in total, is already bigger than the readership of your print publications, so I was looking at this as “how do they benefit you” instead of how you benefit them. But I hope it benefits everyone, and I wish you good luck.

  11. Neil Kleid Says:

    Well, speaking for myself… after the Zuda competition, Paul and I had considered a number of options for where to offer more ACTION, OHIO and then shortly after, Shadowline had announced the first webcomics offering at shadowlinecomics.com. I’d worked with Jim and Kris on the INTIMIDATORS and had always looked to get back working with them on something and after seeing the excellent presentation they were doing on my friend Carla’s comic, FINDER, I knew that this was the place I wanted ACTION to land.

    I approached Jim and Kris with the idea at this year’s SDCC, they were very receptive to bringing ACTION, OHIO to the Shadowline site and Paul and I were thrilled to have the comic continue with a well-respected publisher at their well-designed website. We get our name and decent comic out to a load of receptive new readers, Shadowline gets a decent comic for nothing, the readers get to read a decent comic for nothing. No motive other than that. Everyone wins, no?

    That being said… the ACTION, OHIO prologue ends tomorrow with all-new pages beginning next Monday, October 13th! Check us out at http://www.shadowlinecomics.com/webcomics

  12. Brendan McGinley Says:

    It’s certainly a boon to the HANNIBAL team. I’d been bashing my head to devise an easy interface on my own site when I got the invitation from Jim and Kris. Shadowline obviously affords us a lot more notoriety, and summarily lends credence to my print project DOSE and any other projects I put forth.

    Plus they’re swell folks who love comics. I like the treatment. I don’t think too many indie creators would turn away a right of first refusal from an Image founding studio.

  13. Johanna Says:

    I really appreciate hearing from both of you as participating creators. Thank you, Brendan and Neil. It’s good to know more about the decision-making process here. Sounds like it’s working out well for you.

  14. Digital Strips: The Webcomics Podcast Says:

    [...] page, and I visited it with great curiousity. At Comics Worth Reading, Johanna Draper Carlson commented that there wasn’t a lot of novelty to it: On the one hand, using creators with some [...]

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