Originally published on artsHub.

Game of Thrones writer on board for clash with Marvel and DC.

Landing just after the announcement last week of Kindle Worlds, Amazon is now launching comic and graphic novel imprint Jet City Comics.

Unlike their commercial fan-fiction endeavour, Jet City Comics will be print and digital. While Amazon has quickly carved itself the biggest slice of the e-book pie (around 60% of the market), printing comics is new and will put the juggernaut on a collision course with Marvel and DC, as well as smaller graphic novel and comic publishers.

Hoisting their banner into battle is Game of Thrones writer George R. R. Martin. Considering the popularity of the TV show based on his A Song of Ice and Fire series of fantasy novels, he’ll no doubt be leading a legion of fans right into the jaws of Amazon.

Martin’s short story Meathouse Man is being adapted into a graphic novel for release by Jet City Comics this October and will be followed by new digital editions of out-of-print graphic novels based on his stories The Hedge Knight (November) and The Sworn Sword (early 2014). The Hedge Knight is the prequel to A Song of Ice and Fire, so it’ll be more popular than Joffrey’s head on a pike.

‘My fans have been clamoring for the return of Dunk & Egg ever since the graphic novels of The Hedge Knight and The Sworn Sword went out of print several years ago, so I am delighted to announce that Jet City Comics is bringing them back—newly formatted for digital readers, and in paper for those who still prefer the traditional formats,’ Martin said in a press release.

‘I’m pleased and excited to be a part of Jet City’s takeoff. May they fly high.’

Joining Martin is science fiction author Neal Stephenson and self-publishing sensation Hugh Howey, whose novellas have been one of the shining jewels in Kindle Direct Publishing’s crown. Howey has also licensed his stories to Amazon Worlds.

‘It’s a dream to work with superstar authors like George, Hugh and Neal on the launch of a new imprint,’ said Alex Carr, Senior Editor of Jet City Comics. ‘Millions of fans have read and loved their novels, and with Jet City we look forward to opening up these iconic worlds to new audiences. We’re working with an incredible, hand-picked team of comics professionals, writers, artists, and translators, who have done an amazing job developing and expanding these inventive stories. I’m looking forward to the response from comics readers and fans.’

The first comic offering from Amazon is Symposium #1, which is set in The Foreworld Sage universe, an epic alternative history series that spans centuries and continents.

Jet City Comics will be available through Amazon’s Kindle store in standalone and serialised form alongside print editions.

‘Comics and graphic novels, especially in digital format, represent a unique area for innovation,’ said Amazon Publishing vice president Jeff Belle in a statement.

‘Our focus will be on adapting great books for this medium as a means of expanding the audience for our authors, pushing boundaries with new ideas that combine visual and narrative storytelling, and creating compelling new experiences for readers.’

Their focus will also likely be on clawing market share from comic big guns Marvel and DC. In 2011 Amazon secured exclusive access to the digital editions of 100 of DC’s graphic novels, a sweetener to coincide with the launch of the Kindle Fire tablet. This deal gave Amazon access to revered graphic novels, including Watchmen, The Sandman, Y the Last Man, and Superman: Earth One.

With the announcement of Jet City Books, Amazon will now be competing with the comic book companies whose titles they already sell. Selling your own books and your competitions seems a little sketchy, but for Amazon it’s probably win-win.

Still, it’s not going to be that easy to loosen the lasso Marvel and DC have knotted around the comic industry. Marvel currently has 39.05% of comic book sales, with DC trailing behind at a respectable 26.38%.

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