Amazon said on Wednesday that it's dipping its toes into the digital comic book sector with the release of Blackburn Burrow. The comic is offered by the company's original content arm, Amazon Studios, and was originally drafted as a feature film screenplay by Jay Levy. It's available now for free through a variety of sites and platforms including Graphicly, AmazonStudios.com, the Amazon Studios Facebook page and the Kindle Store.
According to the company, the movie script turned into a digital comic thanks to community feedback gathered from Amazon Studios’ crowdsourcing model. The idea is to share the story and dialogue on a visual level with audiences for feedback, and to test the concept for viability as a major motion picture. Think of it as a highly-detailed storyboard that Amazon is shopping around to see if it will fly as an actual movie.
But don't shrug off the effort just yet because it's coming from an online retailer. The company said Blackburn Burrow is produced by 12 Gauge Comics, which teamed with renowned comics writer Ron Marz (Silver Surfer, Green Lantern, Marvel vs. DC, Batman/Aliens) and veteran illustrator Matthew Dow Smith (Doctor Who, X-Men Icons, Mirror’s Edge, Day of Judgment) 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. "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."
Like Amazon's movie and episodic series projects, the company will release portions of the comic over a period of four months, with new issues being distributed every four weeks. Each release will be accompanied by a poll (www.blackburnburrowsurvey.com) related to content in that issue that encourages readers to give feedback and provide comments. Who knows – maybe you'll help shape the next blockbuster zombie movie!
"In Blackburn Burrow, Mister is a legendary fighter rumored to take on the strange and supernatural," reads the comic's description. "When a Union general requests his help in investigating the disappearance of a group of his soldiers from a small town in the South, Mister initially declines, refusing to get involved in the politics between the North and the South. Mister’s interest, however, is piqued when the last contact with these soldiers referenced the walking dead and a man Mister has been tracking all his life, the man who brought him into this world. Mister teams with Merrin, a young female survivor, to stop an ancient uprising and discover the family secret that connects his past to the small town of Blackburn Burrow."
To get started, you can check out the first issue of Blackburn Burrow here.