Ambitious in scope, but long on smarts, Niles, Pizzolo, and Gurewitz represent the pinnacle of the DIY movement. The promise of this alternative publishing approach to making comics makes Black Mask Studios an interesting litmus test to determine the sustainability of low-rent/high impact transmedia campaigns Pizzolo is known for.
Black Mask Studios also adds the dimension of stronger creator rights regarding storytelling and compensation. Niles, Pizzolo, and Gurewitz have long championed these creator rights in their respective areas of expertise.
Pizzolo says, “Groundbreaking art thrives when the relationship between artist and label is built on integrity, respect, and a team effort. Comics has a troubled history with its treatment of creators, our goal is to bring the supportive ethic of record labels like Epitaph, Dischord, and Revelation to comics.”
While Black Mask Studios will distribute their comics through Diamond Comic Distributors, they will also have physical/digital hybrid bundles of their comics ready for purchase through their website and offer a subscription service that allows fans to get bonuses like limited edition t-shirts and comic mix tapes.
“We experimented with the direct-to-fan digital-physical-hybrid subscription model for Godkiller at Halo-8,” says Pizzolo. “Basically you get the digital issues every month and then the collected trade paperback when it’s all done. The audience loved it and we think it’s a great way to reach new audiences with Black Mask.”
They’re first planned release will be May 1st with the Occupy Comics Anthology with work ranging from the first shared project between Alan Moore, and David Lloyd since V For Vendetta to Pulitzer prize-winning cartoonist and writer Art Spiegelman.
May 29th will bring Wu Tang Clan’s RZA and Ghostface Killah’s hip hop influenced 12 Reasons To Die, a horror/crime hybrid, with art from artists such as Riley Rossmo, Tim Seeley, and Christopher Mitten.
The June releases for Black Mask Studios include Ballistic from Darick Robertson and Adam Egypt Mortimer, which tells the story of a wanna-be bank robber and his psychotic, drug-addicted living gun. Following that is Matt Miner and Joel Gomez’s animals rights influenced Liberator, whose Kickstarter campaign for this limited series was covered here.
Needless to say, Black Mask Studios has an interesting slate of titles to launch with while finding new territory in the comic book industry for different voices. Keep an eye out for these guys.