MonkeyBrain Comics Steps Into Digital Comics Distribution

Earlier today, writer Chris Roberson and his wife Allison Baker, officially launched their digital comics imprint, MonkeyBrain Comics. They’ve got a lineup of comics on their roster by a whole bunch of names you’ll recognize, all launching on ComiXology on July 4. They launched early. Get reading.

Bandette by Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover
Aesop’s Ark by J. Torres and Jennifer L. Meyer
Amelia Cole and the Unknown World by Adam P. Knave, DJ Kirkbride and Nick Brokenshire
Edison Rex by Chris Roberson and Dennis Culver
The October Girl by Matthew Dow Smith

Many more will follow, like it says in their press release:

Joining New York Times bestselling author Chris Roberson (iZombie, Memorial, Cinderella) under the Monkeybrain Comics umbrella with their own independent titles will be a who’s who line up of creators, including; Grace Allison, Nick Brokenshire, J. Bone, Chad Bowers, Wook-Jin Clark, Colleen Coover, Kevin Church, Dennis Culver, Matt Digges, Ming Doyle, Curt O. Franklin, Ken Garing, Chris Haley, David Hahn, Phil Hester, Joe Keatinge, D.J. Kirkbride, Adam Knave, Axel Medellin, Jennifer L. Meyer, Michael Montenat, Ananth Panagariya, Thomas Perkins, Adam Rosenlund, Chris Schweitzer, Brandon Seifert, Chris Sims, Matthew Dow Smith, Paul Tobin, J. Torres, Josh Williamson and Bill Willingham, among others.

You might remember that Chris Roberson recently left working for DC Comics in light of what he sees as unfair business practices involving creators’ rights, and projects like Before Watchmen.

So what is MonkeyBrain, you might be asking? They’ll be distributing and marketing comics through an exclusive deal with ComiXology, who don’t have an open submission policy currently. In exchange for access to that portal, they’ll be handling marketing duties and attempting to bring the comics to the attention of readers outside the traditional comics market. MonkeyBrain will receive a portion of profits from the proceeds, but take no ownership. Additionally, print rights remain with the creators, who can set up print deals with whomever they wish. The future could hold a publishing deal with MonkeyBrain to go hand in hand with the digital deal, but as yet, that doesn’t exist.

One interesting caveat to working with MonkeyBrain is that the comics must be creator owned, and the creators must have a stake, while the details of the copyright splits remain up to them.

Additionally, the size, pricing, and release schedule is up to the creators as well, possibly opening the field up a little to comics that don’t adhere so strictly to the traditional, monthly format.

As I see it, a creator is going to have to weigh the benefits of this arrangement. Right now, MonkeyBrain doesn’t specifically have an open submissions policy, and many of the creators involved are fellow industry professionals looking for a place to park their projects. It can be very difficult to get enough people to notice an independent comic in a field crowded with competition from every side. If you make a book digital only, then you’re making your potential audience bigger, but your realistic audience smaller. Further, by remaining exclusive to the store, apps, and format of ComiXology, a creator isn’t able to take advantage of the eBookstores, offering a DRM free version, or any other digital avenues. They’re only going to have comics in the single digital comic book store. It’s good for the initiated, but not so much for giving your readers a choice. The marketing and products will have to be very good indeed to garner enough sales to make a significant profit for both “publisher” and creator in this instance, as MonkeyBrain is, in effect a digital publisher, and ComiXology is the one store. For some creators, that might be worth it, but for others, it could be too restrictive. In short, it seems like this is one way to get into Comixology where there is no other way. The marketing and PR aspect remains to be seen, but it’s definitely certain that a good number of creator owned projects could use help in the marketing department.

There will be more titles announced in the future from MonkeyBrain, and you can check on their website for updates.

Here are a bunch of preview images for the initial run of books!

Disclaimer: iFanboy is part of Graphicly, a digital comics company.


  1. Oooo… now this is exciting stuff. BRING IT!

  2. its certainly interesting to see an all digital publisher jump onto the scene. You raise some interesting arguments on the business side and the exclusivity of the distribution and so on.

    One observation, all of these pages look like they were just designed for print and output as single pages. Just looking at the page layouts, panels etc, they look like traditional pages. I wonder if these projects were always intended to be digital comics, or if they were just pitches that are trying to take another stab at getting into print with a bit of curation from a digital publisher?

    Some of this stuff looks really cool, but part of me feels like print is still the end goal with these, and that’s a missed opportunity to do something really unique for a different platform.

    I think some sort of a submissions policy would be really important for phase 2.

    • I gotta admit, everything looking like its formatted for print does strike me as a bit of a misstep. Should have taken a page out of Mark Waid’s Thrillbent playbook for this.

    • yeah i mean, i’m not even arguing that they should take it that far with the sequential progressions and all that, but a wise person could look at the fact that there will be close to 60+ million iPads in the world by the end of this year…and we know what the size and proportions of those screens i dunno. Do something that fits that screen easily….or turn the page horizontally since its incredibly rare to have a computer vert monitor…

    • Don’t you guys get that almost no comics people get it yet? :-\

    • If you listen to the DC Publishers on WordBalloon it’s like a couple of cavemen with a bic lighter. Every once in a while it will create a spark but they have no idea how to make fire.

    • @ressurrectionflan- yeah totally…i’ve listened to a few recent interviews with creators and publishers who sometimes talk about the technology and the market like its 10 years away…i chuckle, but then get sad.

    • MonkeyBrain is 100% creator-owned and 100% creator-controlled — which means that the creators themselves are the ones determining how they’re going to format their stories.

      I also found it interesting that everyone in the launch group did stories in a standard comics format — but that’s not going to be the case in every story. For instance, the stories I’m writing for MB are specifically written to take advantage of the dimensions of monitors and the kind of storytelling effects you can do in digital that you can’t do it print.

      (The complicating factor here is that most or all of the people doing stories for MonkeyBrain are trying to produce work that can potentially later be collected in print, which limits the flexibility of format.)

    • @brandonseifert–that sounds really cool. Taking advantage of the fact that you have a screen interface, gestures and all that could be really cool. I think its always wise to design for your first format and then adapt it later. Meaning, if you know its going to live as a digital first, do it that way, and then figure out a way to reformat it for print if it ever goes there.

      Kinda like designing a website for desktop, and then a mobile version that has different functionality but the same content. It could be a unique opportunity to take advantage of each formats strengths. Theoretically you could even increase the “double dip” factor this way by creating two unique interpretations and presentations of the same story.

      Thanks for giving more insight….I’ll be really interested in checking out what you have planned!

  3. Bandette looks pretty good though, I always like Coover Comics.