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Is DSTLRY the new Image Comics, or something altogether new in the world of creator owned comics?

Co-founder David Steinberger talks about the new publisher's approach to creator relations


New comic book publisher DSTLRY has grand ambitions both for its creators and the comic book industry as a whole. In a new interview with Popverse, co-founder David Steinberger explained just what that meant when it came to standing out from other publishers out there — especially others that offer full ownership of stories and characters to their creators.

“We’re not a printing service,” Steinberger told Popverse. “We definitely have a brand ethos, and some things fit into that ethos and some don’t, even from just the creator standpoint.”

When asked to define the brand ethos, Steinberger explained, "this is creator-owned, so the minute it becomes not a creator-owned book that somebody wants to do who’s one of the people we work with, the answer is no. You know, it’s a bigger format, bigger stories, broader scope, widescreen storytelling.”

Beyond that, he said, the sky’s the limit: “I think the more you get prescriptive about what you’re doing, the less people feel comfortable pitching you crazy ideas. And we don’t want to ever stop anyone from telling us their crazy ideas, because it might be something that we think is genius.”

And why would creators want to share their genius with the new upstart company? To hear Steinberger tell it, it’s because the deal offered by DSTLRY is one of the best in comics — because DSTLRY started with the intent to offer some of the best deals in comics.

“We just felt like, creating a new company, we could reimagine it entirely,” he said. “Because we’re starting from scratch, and being able to put aside a pool of equity in the company, options in the company to just give out to every creator that works with us in the first three years as a ratio of what they bring to the company. It's hard to do once you’re deep into it, but it’s easy to do when you’re beginning. Because we’re all making something together, and we’ll be able to continue to do that after three years, as well, because it’s the ethos of the company.”

The word of the day is “ethos” — but if it leads to a publisher that leads the way in treating comic book creators better, almost any word is fair game.

The complete interview with Steinberger and co-founder Chip Mosher, which also includes discussion of DSTLRY’s print and digital formats, can be read here.

Will DSTLRY redefine the digital marketplace? While you ponder that, remind yourself of the current reality.

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About the Author
Graeme McMillan avatar

Graeme McMillan

Staff Writer

Popverse staff writer Graeme McMillan (he/him) has been writing about comics, culture, and comics culture on the internet for close to two decades at this point, which is terrifying to admit. He completely understands if you have problems understanding his accent.

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