As ubiquitous as the fundraising site Kickstarter has become in the world of indie comics, I admit it always takes me a few seconds to fully identify Jason Netter's new publishing arm of Kickstart Entertainment, Kickstart Comics. New developments at Kickstart, however, are striking enough to remedy my personal shortcoming. The "Wanted" producer's venture got its feet wet in '08 and '09 publishing Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray's "Splatterman" along with Palmiotti and Garth Ennis' "Back to Brooklyn" at Image, but according to Variety, Netter is now taking his operation one step further as a full-fledged publisher of its own. The twist? Kickstart's going well beyond the direct market with distribution through major retailers including Walmart.

Palmiotti and AIT/Planet Lar owner Larry Young will initially run the show when publishing gets rolling this fall. Kickstart aims go roll out 24 titles in 2011, with at least four books per month in its first six months of operation. While Netter's notes the project is a labor of love, Kickstart's projects are unabashedly designed for upstreaming profitability in Hollywood:

"The financial model (of publishing comicbooks) isn't great," Netter admitted, with many books lucky to sell around 5,000 copies. The real money comes when they're turned into movies, TV shows and videogames. "Breaking even isn't even in the cards with the initial release. You definitely have to love it."

Variety lists Kickstart Comics' October offerings as "Bad Guys," a series from the supervillain point-of-view by Phil Eisner, "Rift Raiders," a "Goonies"-like time travel story by Mark Sable, Adam Freeman and Marc Bernardin's "Hero Complex," which follows a hero who moves back in with his parents, and a supernatural coming-of-age tale "Witch," by Terry Matalas and Travis Fickett.
Kickstart Comics' November release schedule is even more robust than October's with multiple debut releases including "Heavy Water," by Jonathan W.C. Mills and Alberto Muriel, "Bombhead" by B. Clay Moore and Kevin Mellon, "Mirror, Mirror," by Joshua Williamson & Lee Moder, "Ward 6" by Kevin Fox and Salvador Navarro, "Headache" by Lisa Joy and Tim Fern, "Maximum High" by Mark Haven Britt and Chad and Dara Creasey, and "Endangered" by Josh Williamson and Juan Santacruz.

Given that Netter's success has come from relatively established properties by established creators in the past, this new model of effectively raising his own comic book tentpoles seems a bit riskier than developing content by other publishers. At any rate, the company's expansion of comics past the direct market should be very interesting to watch this fall. The last time I saw comics at a Walmart I had a bowl cut parted down the center and a flannel shirt wrapped around my waist.

[Via Variety]