By Sahil Patel
Black Mask Studios, an independent comic-book publisher and production company, has launched a YouTube multi-channel network to bring more attention to its titles.
Called Blackmask.tv, the network will primarily distribute an animation format that Black Mask is referring to as “tubecomics,” which essentially replicate the panel-by-panel style of comics as a video format that includes voice narration and music. This is different from most motion comics, as “tubecomics” don’t add animation, according to Black Mask.
Black Mask said it wants to maintain the “structural integrity” and storytelling style of the original comics. By bringing them to the wide world of YouTube, the company hopes to introduce these stories to people who otherwise might have never seen them — and maybe even get them out to comic shops to buy more printed versions.
“The quality of story and craft in comics is really at an amazing level right now, but it’s still very difficult to get readers to take chances on new stories and new characters and new creators,” said Black Mask co-founder Matt Pizzolo. “Meanwhile, there’s a billion people watching YouTube and, while there’s a ton of really cool stuff happening there, no one’s quite cracked how to do longform, dramatic, narrative storytelling on YouTube… which is a shame because the audience and DIY accessibility of YouTube is unparalleled.”
Pizzolo is encouraged by the success he saw with “Godkiller,” a series he posted on YouTube with no fanfare that ended up getting more than 100,000 views. “As a kid, I discovered Spider-Man from the ‘Spider-Man & His Amazing Friends’ cartoon and that led me to the comics. We think tubecomics can serve a similar role for indie comics and emerging creators: they’re a discovery-engine,” he added.
At launch, Blackmask.tv features five adaptations: the sci-fi actioner “Ballistic,” Wu Tang members Ghostface Killah and RZA’s horror series “12 Reasons to Die,” supernatural pulp adventure “Five Ghosts,” monster-hunter superheroine series “Hack/Slash,” and animal-rescue vigilante tale “Liberator.” New episodes of the series will post weekly on YouTube. Additional series will be added on a monthly basis, the company said.