Comics are at the forefront of pop culture right now, thanks to the ascendancy of superhero movies and the blockbuster success of adaptations like The Walking Dead. Unfortunately, the world of comic books can seem impenetrable even to fans of such adaptations. Where do you even start in a comic store covered wall to wall in stacks of issues, graphic novels, and deluxe hardcover collections? David Steinberger, CEO of the digital comic service Comixology, is hoping the website’s new subscription platform, Comixology Unlimited, can help with that.
“It sounds silly but our mission is to make everyone on the planet a comics fan. That’s really hard to do by just throwing them into the middle of 100,000 comic books,” Steinberger tells EW. “It’s a lot easier if people have a very low risk opportunity to discover comics for themselves and just really take their time with the catalog.”
Think of Comixology Unlimited, which went live this morning, like a “Netflix for comic books.” For $5.99 a month (after a 30-day free trial), users gain unlimited access to a trove of hot comics titles from The Walking Dead to Hellboy. Instead of the superhero titles of Marvel or DC, Comixology Unlimited’s catalog is drawn from more independent publishers like Dark Horse and Image (though Marvel offers its own service, Marvel Unlimited). Like Netflix, Comixology Unlimited will eventually cycle titles in and off its catalog in the future, though it already starts off with thousands of issues from dozens of different series. This could allow users drawn to a flashy name — such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the comic book continuation of the beloved TV show — to eventually find their way to lesser-known comics like Umbrella Academy, My Chemical Romance singer Gerard Way’s surreal twist on the superhero tale.
“I’m excited to be part of this service that’ll allow more people to try out Umbrella Academy,” Way said in a statement to EW. “The Umbrella team really cares about our book and wants everyone to have an easy way to get started. As someone who has now introduced digital comics into my life, being able to sample comics to decide which books to follow is going to be a big help in finding new things.”
To help readers find new titles, Comixology Unlimited will offer recommendation tools, including search filters, home page curation, introductions to various publishers, and even editorial guides. All the previous aspects of Comixology will remain intact — users can still purchase comics from Marvel or DC, for example. Comixology Unlimited will exist within the site and mobile apps as a new tab. When searching the site, users can filter the catalog to what’s available on Unlimited. The service is live now on Comixology’s website, and available in an upgrade to the mobile app.
“This program takes advantage of Comixology: download wherever you want, read offline, all the stuff you love about it,” Steinberger says. “I hope that people who love comics take this as a tool to introduce their friends to specific content, and then because this is the inexpensive way to get to that content, help them explore even more.”