Amazon launches first digital comic Blackburn Burrow

Steven Loeb · September 12, 2012 · Short URL:

Amazon now producing original comics, television series and games

Every company, it seems, is getting into the original content game these days. It used to be enough to just provide people with content, now companies like Netflix, YouTube and Amazon have all decided they would be better off making it themselves.

Amazon is creating its first digital comic, called Blackburn Burrow, it was announced Wednesday.

Described as, “a story set in Civil War America where supernatural horrors are infesting a small Appalachian town in Northern Georgia,” Blackburn Barrow was first submitted to Amazon Studios from writer Jay Levy in 2010.

While Levy originally intended for the story be made into a feature film, Amazon instead crowdsourced the project, and came up with the idea to make it into a comic based on community feedback. Amazon will determine whether or not to turn the project into an actual movie based on further feedback from its users.

The comic is being produced by 12 Gauge Comics, which has partnered with comics writer Ron Marz, who has worked on such comics as Silver Surfer, Green Lantern, Marvel vs. DC and Batman/Aliens, as well as illustrator Matthew Dow Smith, who has worked on Doctor Who, X-Men Icons, Mirror’s Edge and Day of Judgment. They are helping to shape the story and look of the comic.

“This is a very exciting new venture for Amazon Studios. Beyond entertaining lots of comic fans, we see value in digital comics as a new way to test screenplays and learn more about fan engagement,” said Roy Price, Director of Amazon Studios, in a statement.

“The 12 Gauge team has done beautiful work on the Blackburn Burrow digital comic and we are thrilled to share it with audiences to see how they react to the story of Blackburn Burrow.”

The comic will be released in four parts, one every four weeks.

So much original content!

Amazon Studios was originally launched as a content development division. Since 2010, it has seen over 10,000 movie scripts, and 1,800 television pilots, submitted. There are currently 17 films and nine television series in development from deals made through the service.

It is only in the last few months, though, that Amazon has begun the process of producing its own content.

In May, Amazon announced that it would be developing original comedy and children’s series for Instant Video, allowing anyone with an idea to submit a pitch.

It said that each month the company would pick one project, which would then be tested with an audience. If the series was picked up for a full series, the creator would receive a payment of $55,000 and up to 5% of the money made from licensing. So far, Amazon has chosen seven projects: four comedies and three children’s series.

Last month, Amazon launched Amazon Game Studios, as well as its first social game called Living Classics. The game features a family of foxes have to be reunited after wandering into scenes from classic literature, such as Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, and King Arthur.

Amazon is far from the only media website to try its hand at original content. Many of its competitors, including Hulu, Netflix and YouTube have also recently delved into the original content game.

YouTube spent $100 million to create channels with original content. In an interview with Vator CEO Bambi Francisco back in May, Tom Sly, head of original programming at Google's YouTube, said that part of the reason for YouTube developing its own content was to increase the amount of time people spent on the site, since the average YouTube video is only 4 minutes and the average user is on the site five hours a month.

In January, Netflix debuted its first series, Lilyhammer, executive produced and starring Steven Van Zandt from The Sopranos. Netflix also succeeded in getting the rights to produce new episodes of Arrested Development, which will debut next year.

Hulu announced its first original series, called Battleground, a political comedy following a candidate for the Wisconsin Senate seat, that aired in February. In May, Hulu layed out a host of original series it would be producing during the summer, with shows ranging from comedy and sci-fi to travel and reality, including Spoilers, a movie talks show hosted by director Kevin Smith.

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