Netflix is going to test new ideas by publishing comic books

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Netflix’s first acquisition—the Scottish comic-book publisher Millarworld—is a becoming a breeding ground for stories that could hit the service.

When the online-streaming giant brought the publisher in August, it seemed like a clear move to acquire a mini-Marvel of sorts with popular properties that Netflix could use in its TV series and movies, as it does now with Marvel characters like Daredevil and Jessica Jones. Millarworld founder and iconic comic creator Mark Millar has an excellent track record having his creations, such as Kick-Ass, Wanted, and Kingsman, spawn successful films. His “Old Man Logan” comic series at Marvel was the inspiration for the much-praised smash-hit 2017 movie, Logan.

This week, after some speculation, Netflix announced that Millarworld would continue publishing comic books, too. Millar has a new series due out in spring 2018 called “The Magic Order” that Netflix describes as “magic meets the mob.” It follows five families of wizards living among us who have sworn to protect the world from evil. The six-issue story will be sold in print in comic-book stores and digitally.

It’s Millar’s first new “franchise” since the acquisition, Netflix said. Franchise, indeed.

Millar is now thinking about stories as movies and TV shows first, and comic books second. “If something was turned into a movie, that was a lovely novelty in the past, whereas now when I’m creating stories as a member of staff, I need to keep my eye on the whole picture,” Millar told Entertainment Weekly. “We’re thinking of these as movies and TV shows, and the ones we feel would be great for comics will also appear as comic books.”

Netflix hasn’t announced plans for a show or movie based on the comic. But, presumably, if “The Magic Order” finds fans, it could become the next Netflix original movie or series. It’s a novel way for the streaming service to build fandoms from the ground up, and test concepts before putting a big budget behind them.

And it won’t be Netflix’s only physical product. Lest we forget, Netflix in the US still has millions of DVD subscribers because rural broadband is terrible.

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