If the future of comics is digital, then iVerse Media is making a good case for being a very big player in the world that's coming, especially for independent creators: Not only has the company announced plans to release new digital publishing tools for creators, but it's also launching a crowdfunding tool for creators to use to pay for projects.Although the company has been around since 2008, iVerse Media has tended to be one of the lesser known digital comic distributors, with ComiXology managing to snag exclusive digital rights to publishers from DC Comics to Monkeybrain. That might change with the announcement of Comics Accelerator, the comics-exclusive alternative to Kickstarter, as well as new tools to help creators publish digitally - and DRM-free, as well.

Previewed at San Diego Comic-Con, the company's new publishing tools "make it possible for creators and publishers of any size to get their work onto our platform in just a few minutes," according to Director of Business Development, Steve May. The web-based tools, which are promised to be available in "the third quarter of 2012" (which is actually now; I'm unsure whether that means we'll see them in a few weeks, or whether iVerse meant the fourth quarter), will allow creators to covert PDFs, ZIP files and other formats into digital comics easily and quickly, said the company. They'll also offer creators the chance to offer said comics without any Digital Rights Management restrictions.

"By no means do we expect every title to be available DRM-Free," explained May, "but for creators and publishers that want to get their work out there this way, we're excited to offer this type of solution." That excitement is shared by CEO Michael Murphey, who explained that, while he can understand why some creators and publishers want DRM in their digital releases, "there is also a growing number of creators and publishers that want to release their work without DRM restrictions. We believe it's essential to give them, and the consumer, the option."

Both of these changes may pale in comparison to Comics Accelerator, the company's new crowdfunding engine. Calling it "an innovative crowdsourcing initiative designed to bring more new projects to market more quickly, while providing comics creators, publishing partners and related content producers opportunities to retain a greater percentage of monies raised," iVerse points out that Comics Accelerator will cap its 5% fee at $2,500 regardless of how much money each project manages to raise. "We saw how successful some projects had been on other sites, and then saw how big a chunk the site was taking," Murphey said, explaining the decision. "I couldn't help but think that all those contributors thought they were actually contributing to the project – not the site. Sure, we've got costs, but we're looking to grow this industry fairly and responsibly."

Comics Accelerator will also offer "publisher hubs" to allow users one single destination to check up on a particular publisher's projects and updates, as well as an immediate delivery mechanism for digital rewards if a project is successfully funded.

Comics Accelerator is already open for pre-registration of projects, with the first projects going live on July 23.

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