Netflix’s new territory: The world of comics

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Published: November 19, 2017 1:47:43 AM

Netflix has also announced that Millarworld would continue publishing comic books too. Millar has a new series due out in spring 2018 called The Magic Order that Netflix describes as “magic meets the mob.”

Marvel and DC titles rule films and TV, and those giants have, in turn, charged streaming services to host their superhero content. But Netflix gets to keep whatever income Millarworld IPs make in whichever medium.

Netflix, an online streaming service, recently acquired Scottish comic book publisher Millarworld. This looks like a clear move to acquire a mini-Marvel of sorts with popular properties that Netflix could use in its TV series and movies, as it does now with Marvel characters like Daredevil and Jessica Jones. Millarworld founder and iconic comic creator Mark Millar brings with him a formidable track record of having his creations, such as Kick-Ass, Wanted and Kingsman, spawn successful films. His Old Man Logan comic series at Marvel was the inspiration for the much-praised smash hit 2017 movie Logan. Netflix has also announced that Millarworld would continue publishing comic books too. Millar has a new series due out in spring 2018 called The Magic Order that Netflix describes as “magic meets the mob.” It follows five families of wizards living among common folk who have sworn to protect the world from evil. The six-issue story will be sold in print in comic book stores and digitally. Netflix has been slowly and steadily growing as a content king.

It has amassed an impressive content library, including thousands of movies and series titles, as well as an increasing amount of quality original programming available exclusively on its platform. It is introducing an increasing amount of international-based content and it appears to be paying off, as non-US subscriptions have skyrocketed by 44% year-on-year in the latest quarter. While many of Netflix’s competitors struggle and stagnate, the company enjoys a massive lead in engagement time spent streaming, with 46% of total time spent streaming on any platform. Millar is no ordinary comic creator. There are a number of titles that have already been farmed out to others and will be off the table for Netflix. Millar friend and frequent collaborator Matthew Vaughn owns the rights to Kingsman and Kick-Ass after directing and self-financing big-screen adaptations of those properties. Fox has the rights to the Flash Gordon-inspired Starlight, as well as superhero series Superior and Kindergarten Heroes. Universal has Wanted, which it adapted as an Angelina Jolie film in 2008, as well as Chrononauts.

Marvel and DC titles rule films and TV, and those giants have, in turn, charged streaming services to host their superhero content. But Netflix gets to keep whatever income Millarworld IPs make in whichever medium. Perhaps the company could convince other creators to publish comics under Netflix’s brand, which would be even more attractive, given the wide open pipeline to TV and film adaptations made by the streaming service. Millar himself could be a lightning rod to attract creators, given his savvy business reputation in the industry.

Netflix is opening doors into the way comic books can be adapted for shows. Independent creators can vouch for how much more money films make than the comic books they are based on. Comic books, by any stretch of imagination, won’t be raking in more than $3,00,000-$5,00,000 a month if they sell around 1,00,000 copies. Compare that with Thor Ragnarok—the film has raked in $430 million worldwide in less than a week. It’s unlikely Netflix wants to beat comic publishers at their own game. Instead, it’s an opportunity to showcase Millar’s talent and maybe attract other creators to the fold. Netflix’s first comic, Millar’s The Magic Order, follows families of world-protecting magicians who are being hunted down one by one. Crucially, it’s referred to as Millar’s “first franchise” for the streaming network—he called this his “first book” for Netflix. In short, we can expect more comics to be published under the Netflix aegis. The question is whether Millar’s current and future work will generate enough successful material to adapt, but Netflix has gambled on a creator with an impressive volume of work that’s made it to the big screen. Netflix’s idea of picking up Millar has led to wide speculation. That Netflix chose Millarworld, run by a creator whose storylines show up in a lot of recent films, is not without reason. Millar established Millarworld in 2004 to make his own comics with all-new characters. He intentionally designed them to be cinematic and his company fast-tracked his creations into successful screen deals.

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