Micah Baldwin Talks Graphicly and the Future of Digital Comics

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They removed the dot from their name, refurbished their website and iPad app a bit, and recently were able to raise an extra three million dollars in funding capital to expand their business. The company we’re talking about, of course, is Graphicly.

Following up on the news of the newfound finances, we talked to Graphicly CEO Micah Baldwin for a quick word on his future plans and his thoughts on the digital comics market in 2011.

BROKEN FRONTIER: Graphicly recently got a new financial injection, to the tune of $3 million. How are you going to put all that money to good use?

We are focused on hiring new people and building innovative technology. It was important for our team to get the support they needed, plus allow us to focus on building the business.

BF: This fresh capital comes just a year after the first big raise last January. You’re making it look easy! What’s your secret?

Ha! Its really not easy at all! There are three things a company needs to be able to get financing: vision, team and traction. Luckily, we have shown significant progress on all three areas.

BF: You’ve said you want to  expand the Graphicly brand beyond that of a big online comics store by building an immersive social experience. What does that term encompass exactly?

There are plenty of places online for people to buy digital or paper comics. We will always be one such place. But, our users and most of the people we have talked to want something more. They want the ability to participate in the story immersively and socially. We plan to give them what they want.

BF: 2010 is unanimously regarded as the year that digital comics were put on the map, and Graphicly can definitely stake a claim to having a big say in that. Were you astounded by how quickly you reached 600,000 downloads?

It was great validation for us to reach that level of downloads that quickly. I always wish it were more, and when you look at the success of publisher mobile apps, I think it’s actually low. We have a lot of work to do in 2011.

BF: Marvel and DC have long been playing a game where they both want to catch the other’s tail. With Graphicly and comiXology clearly defined as the top players in the field, are you entering in a Big Two war of your own, so to speak?

I am a big fan of Comixology and what they have brought to the table in terms of a digital store front. I think if you were to talk to David (Steinberger, comiXology CEO –ed.), he would be equally complimentary about us. So, a war? No.

BF: How do you think the digital comics market will evolve in 2011?

In terms of digital store front, the only innovation that will be brought to the marketplace will be day and date. I hope that 2011 is the year that creators are able to be successful without having to have jobs at Marvel and DC, because of the innovation that digital brings to the table.

BF: What do you consider some of the key areas for improvement of the digital comics spectrum as a whole?

BALDWIN: What an interesting question. I have often said that once people stopped thinking of digital comics as a reproduction of print, we would begin to really see the industry flourish. I guess that mentality needs to change before the next phase of digital can occur.

BF: How big of a factor is ‘day and date’ to the expansion of your success? Is it a necessity?

For our success. Nearly zero. 'Day and date' really only matters to the hardcore comic collector, and well, digital comics just aren’t collectable.

BF: Leading out of that, and I know this is a tricky question, but how do you look at the brick & mortar vs. digital debate? Fewer floppies going over the counter potentially implies higher sales of digital comics…

Comic book stores that are simply four walls, a roof and some long boxes will find digital creeping more and more into their profits, and unfortunately, will find the going tough over time. Stores that are innovative in their layouts and selections, and, most importantly, understand that they are part of a community, will thrive. It’s truly as simple as that.

Graphicly’s digital comics library for your desktop, mobile and tablet can be accessed at www.graphic.ly.

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