Earlier this month, Black Mask Studios announced a new initiative to bring comics to potential fans who aren't necessarily going into comic shops. This new initiative is a products they call 'Tubecomics', which you can find, unsurprisingly, on YouTube, as well as the Black Mask Tubecomic site. With voice over and camera movement on many of the panels, they're not just videos of still comics. They're also not quite motion comics, not quite animation, not quite guided view... but they're a bit of a hybrid of all of the above. It's an interesting endeavor that's worth a closer look.

Right now, Black Mask is offering tubecomicsTof BallisticGodkiller, Five GhostsHack/Slash12 Reasons to DieLiberatorCritical Hit, and Last Born. The comics are free to watch, but they can still produce ad revenue for the creators, so the more they're watched, the more lucrative it gets --- though probably not as lucrative as people buying the actual issues. Black Mask answers some other FAQs on its announcement, including:


Q. Why are you trying to replace paper comics with this video crap?

A. We’re totally not (in fact, theses are free so they better not replace paper comics or we’re out of business). We believe that people who casually watch a tubecomic and fall in love with the story & art will ultimately become readers of the paper comic. Tubecomics aren’t “the new version of comics,” they’re just cool in their own way and we hope they’ll introduce new audiences to the power of sequential art storytelling.


This is actually a really interesting idea, in that it's true that the crossover between regular YouTube viewers and comics fans is probably pretty minimal. It's unclear just how much traffic something like this will drive, compared to how many people are buying the comics themselves.

Ballistic episode 1.1 has less than a thousand views at the time of this writing, but it could be driving traffic to comic shops or digital distribution to buy the comics, and the numbers can only climb.

Any new approach to getting the gospel of comics out there is something we're keen to support. This is an especially interesting attempt, and we'll be curious to see how it works out.