Digital Comics Platform Thrillbent Launches iPad App, Subscriptions

"We can't afford to give it all away for free in the same way we've been doing," says company founder Mark Waid about Thrillbent's new $3.99-per-month subscription model.
Barry Kitson/Mark Waid

With a new iPad app, subscription model and announcement of the return of a fan-favorite series, digital comics publisher Thrillbent is preparing for its second anniversary with the launch of what it’s calling “Thrillbent 3.0.”

Launched in May 2012, Thrillbent was created by writers Mark Waid and John Rogers as a platform through which to explore the potential of the digital comic format and medium. Following the first series offered through the service, Waid’s Insufferable (illustrated by Peter Krause), new creators and series have been added, including The Damnation of Charlie Wormwood, Valentine and Tim Gibson’s Moth City.

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Waid likens the new $3.99-per-month subscription to Hulu Plus. “There will still be free content on Thrillbent, there always will be,” he explained in a blog post announcing the new subscription model. “We’re big believers in the marketing power of free.” The benefits of subscription will include immediate access to new content, as well as tracking where you are in each individual series across multiple devices, including the just-launched iPad app.

Subscribers also will receive a DRM-free PDF download of Empire, Waid’s fan-favorite creator-owned series with artist Barry Kitson, ahead of its planned return as a digital series on the site. “This is the only way you can get it if you’ve never read it, because it’s been out of print for years,” Waid wrote.

Waid explained that the decision was made to support the creators of the material the publisher offers. “To make sure our artists, colorists and letterers are compensated fairly, and to continue to build a base for other creators to redefine this medium in new and exciting ways, we can’t afford to give it all away for free the same way we’ve been doing,” he explained. “We honestly think that $3.99 (again, the price of one print comic) is a really, really good deal for what you’re getting (several new comics a month from award-winning creators, plus full access to the entire back catalog of over 250 existing comics).”