Comic Blitz is a new all-you-can-read digital comic subscription service founded by entrepreneur and comic lover Jordan Plosky. He took time out of his busy schedule to talk to us about the new service.
Subscription Insider: Who founded Comic Blitz? Can you tell us more about the founders?
Jordan Plosky: I’m the CEO and Gregory Weiss, our CTO, is the co-founder. I was a drummer in a former life before becoming an entrepreneur. I was a touring musician for 9 years for Miley Cyrus and Everclear, but with a young daughter, I wanted to be home instead of touring. I worked for another start-up doing the same thing, but I learned I could do this on my own. I’m not a tech guy though, and I needed one. I met Greg and he loved the idea of Comic Blitz. He has the background to operate the tech side of the business.
Comic Blitz is really a team of 6 people. We have two marketing team members, a CFO, and a visual designer who handles all our graphics, branding, UI/UX and more.
SI: What motivated you to offer an all-you-can-read subscription service? Did you see an opportunity or a gap in current offerings?
JP: I’ve loved comics since before I could read. I would read Archie Digest with my older brother. When I was around 11 or 12, I got into superheroes like Spider-Man, New Warriors – which totally sucked me in – and Valiant Comics, which is really cool because they are a part of our service now. I was always a comics fan and a big fan of superhero movies.
Also, subscriptions are hot right now. Everyone gets it. When you say you’re the “Netflix for…,” people respond right away, always in the positive.
SI: Which comics are your personal favorites?
JP: In the early 90s, there was a huge bubble for comics. It was all about superstar artists, and as a kid, it was very visual for me. I followed Jim Lee and Todd McFarlane. Now though it is more about the story. My favorites now are Josh Dysart, and Valiant was a favorite as a kid but also now. I’ve gotten away from traditional superheroes, and I’m more into independent comics like Dynamite, Aspen Comics, Zenescope and Action Lab. I like some of the Top 10 and Top 20 publishers that aren’t household names.
SI: When did Comic Blitz officially launch?
JP: The official launch was October 6, 2015. Starting your own business is no joke; it has taken a long time to get to launch! A couple of things either threw us off our schedule or took longer than expected.
We had our first CTO basically not do a single thing which cost us four months of time. However, that turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because it led me to our current CTO Gregory Weiss, who’s been the best partner I could ever ask for. And raising money always takes longer than you think! Building the tech is tricky too, because there needs to be balance of knowing when to launch a V1 product, and knowing it’s good enough to go to market, but isn’t EVERYTHING you want in your product.
The site has been live for less than two months. We did a beta test in late June/early July, so it was available to a select group then. iPads are the first platform. It will be on iPhone soon, and next year, we’ll add Comic Blitz to Android and the web.
SI: Did you do any product, price or marketing testing? Tell us what you learned.
JP: Getting to our price point was not an easy task. We debated everything from tiered pricing, limiting content, raising the price, lowering the price, and every other way you can think to set a consumer model. We landed right back where we started though, at our initial thought of $9.99 a month. We feel that’s the magic number, easiest to understand and, whether we lowered or raised our price point, the messaging would still be the same. “For one low monthly price ”
SI: Which publishers does Comic Blitz offer?
JP: Valiant, Dynamite, Aspen, Zenoscope, Action Lab, children’s book publishers Lerner Books (kids and early teen, young adult books), and a new publisher Capstone which has over 500 comics and graphic novels will be released Monday or Tuesday of next week (Dec. 7-8). We started with comics to get new, young readers. I want to imprint comics on them the way they were imprinted on me as a kid. Lerner Books and Capstone distribute a lot through schools and libraries so their main target is younger kids, ages 8 to 12. That’s right in line with part of our target audience.
SI: How many comics do you currently offer?
JP: We have 2,500 comics and graphic novels now and will be over 3,000 by the end of December.
SI: Will you add more publishers them over time?
JP: Since we launched, we’ve added new publishers every month, and we see more coming on in 2016. We’re talking to a lot of Top 10 and Top 20 publishers now. Our goal is to add new content monthly.
SI: How does the subscription work?
JP: After a free one-month trial, the digital comic subscription service is $9.99 per month on auto-renewal. Subscribers can access content through the Comic Blitz app, but they can also download up to 1 GB of content to read offline, enough content to read on a cross-country flight. At some point, we hope to offer an annual plan, but for now, we are focused on adding features within the app – a lot of fun, engaging things that will make people want to read more.
SI: When do you anticipate launching the iPhone and Android apps?
JP: Our iPhone app will be next, and we’re aiming for early 2016. The Android and web versions will be later in 2016.
SI: How are you funded?
JP: We are privately funded.
SI: What’s your vision for the subscription service over the next year?
JP: During the next year, we want to grow our subscriber base, and add new content and publishers. We’d like to structure deals will all of the bigger publishers. I think we have a good shot at getting all of the independent publishers, but companies like Marvel are a wild card. We also want to launch the iPhone, Android and web apps next year.
SI: There are already a few digital comic services – Marvel and Archie Comics – that offer a subscription service. Aside from content, how do you differ from them?
JP: The only similar publisher is Scribd which offers unlimited ebooks and comics. We’re a niche player, and our technology reflects that.
SI: How are you marketing Comic Blitz?
JP: Mostly through press and PR, with a little social media marketing. We’re in the process of doing a complete overhaul to our marketing efforts at the moment.
SI: What lessons have you learned along the way?
JP: We’ve learned lessons on everything from properly vetting team members, to how to procure content, to which technology to create and in what order.
SI: Any advice for someone wanting to start their own subscription company? Maybe something you know now that you wish you’d known when you first started.
JP: It will take longer than you thought, and it will be harder than you thought. If it’s something you’d pay for a subscription for, chances are there are others who would too. Be passionate about it, otherwise, it becomes work!
SI: What do you want potential subscribers to know about Comic Blitz?
JP: I’m one of them. I wanted to be in the comic industry, but I can’t draw and I don’t write. I wanted to contribute, and I wanted to be a part of it and I found my way in. There’s a saying, “Find what you love and figure out a way to make money doing it,” and that’s what I did. I love comics, and I’m not someone who can go work for a company I don’t care about and put in my 9-to-5. I’m trying to contribute to the industry that helped shape who I am as a person today.
SI: Are you exposing your daughter to the comic world yet?
JP: She’s already been to Comic Cons with me, and we live in Southern California, so there’s a lot of opportunities here. She loves dressing up and taking pictures with all the people in costumes, and she does comics too, like My Little Pony.
SI: What else do you want readers to know about Comic Blitz?
Dana Neuts is a contributor to Subscription Insider. Comic Blitz can be found at www.comicblitz.com.