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Comixology launches 'unlimited' subscription service, creators unpleasantly surprised

The new service will come in at $5.99 per month and is only available to customers in the US.


Digital comics platform Comixology has launched a new subscription service. Called Comixology Unlimited, it offers readers what Comixology has described as "endless access to "digital comics, graphic novels and manga" for $5.99 per month.

The "Netflix for comics" is available now, but only to customers in the US for the time being. Comixology has not yet revealed when the rest of the world might receive the service, although Comixology senior director of communications Chip Mosher said in an email that the company was "excited to share our love of comics worldwide and we plan to expand Comixology Unlimited in other regions in the future."

Readers have to merge their Comixology and Amazon accounts to sign up, and signing up a gets the reader 30-day free trial on desktop and a seven-day free trial on tablet.

There are no DC Comics or Marvel titles. (Marvel has its own subscription service, and DC seems uninterested in the idea.) Instead, the subscription consists of works published independently, through publishers such as Image Comics, Dark Horse, Oni Press, IDW, Fantagraphics, Archie Comics, BOOM! Studios and others (you can see a list of highlighted publishers and books here).

And the service seems to belie the name: Only one or two issues or volumes of each book are available through the Comixology Unlimited. These will be changed on a monthly basis and could serve, in the long run, to help drive up sales.

"Comixology Unlimited has endless access to the content in the service," Mosher explained. "Customers have the ability to borrow up to 50 comics, graphic novels and manga from a selection of thousands. Once the they hit 50 all they need to do is return some to borrow more. The books download to your device for offline reading, too."

Even so, independent creators are not pleased. Comixology only approached publishers, not individual creators, and many did not pass the information on or give their creators the option to participate or not.

Cameron Stewart, for instance, who formerly wrote "Batgirl" for DC Comics and is now writing "Motor Crush" for Image Comics:

Jamie McKelvie, who writes "The Wicked + The Divine" for Image Comics (included in Comixology Unlimited):

Comics legend Ed Brubaker, who wrote "The Fade Out" for Image Comics:

And Comics legend Dan Jurgens, who has been working in comics since the 1980s, most famously on DC Comics' "Superman", also weighed in:

It's important to note, however, that the fault does seem to lie with the publishers. As noted by "Aliens: Defiance" writer Brian Wood:

Comixology would not reveal whether creators whose works were being offered on the service would get paid, but indicated that by offering, only samples of comics, the service would hopefully drive up book sales.

"We don't discuss our business terms, but please know that every comic, graphic novel and manga appearing in the service was approved by the publishers to be in our subscription program," Mosher said.

"Comixology Unlimited is designed to spur sampling and the discovery of new series, which spreads the love of comics and increases revenue for all publishers and creators on comiXology. Everyone -- the creators, the publishers and Comixology -- all benefit when more people are reading and buying more comics."

Updated May 26, 2016, 8:11 a.m AEST: Added Comixology's comments.