Just one day after the official launch of BlazeTV contributor Eric July's independent comic book company Rippaverse Comics, pre-order sales for its debut series, "Isom #1," have blown past expectations and put the comic book industry on notice.
With an initial pre-order campaign target of $100,000 in sales, total sales revenue for July's first comic series has already approached $1 million in just one day — and there are still 74 days left before the campaign ends.
It's an astounding success that July believes shows how many comic book fans are ready to support a "parallel economy" that will challenge the industry's "old guard."
In recent years, legacy publishers like Marvel Comics and DC Comics have taken a leftward turn that has alienated some readers. Controversies over sudden and dramatic changes to long-standing characters — like making Batman's sidekick Robin bisexual — have divided the fan base, with some embracing the push for diversity and others lamenting that good storytelling has been undermined by "woke" industry activists.
July, a content creator, musician, and lifelong comic book fan, is among those who do not like the direction the industry has taken.
"Between changing all of these characters and you have this ridiculous kind of push for social justice, insulting the audience and all of that — and I was like, you know what? I am going to be a solution to the problem," July told TheBlaze in an interview.
Supported by hundreds of thousands of followers on social media, July told TheBlaze he founded Rippaverse Comics to tell good stories. His company is guided by a code of ethics that prioritizes respect for the customer, a streamlined canon and continuity to avoid the excesses of other convoluted comics stories, and a comprehensive timeline that will "keep reboots to a minimum" and allow readers to easily grasp and enjoy the stories from the Rippaverse.
But at the heart of this endeavor is July's desire to tell stories about heroes who can serve as role models, who understand the difference between right and wrong, and who will entertain and inspire readers by being relatable.
"The Flash was a character that was my first favorite comic book character. Why? Because he ran fast and I was a fast kid. You know, you do the Field Day thing, and people that know me, I went all the way through the collegiate level as a track and field athlete. And that's why it resonated with me," July said. "But as I got older, it was like Batman and some of the experiences that he had, basically growing up without a father being present and all those sorts of things I resonated with as I got older."
"We're not writing down to the audience," he added. "I'm not in the business of lecturing people and telling people exactly how to live their lives. But there are universal truths that I will acknowledge and I think that's what's sort of missing, because people have, unfortunately, definitely in comic books these days, put other stuff at the forefront, and telling a good story is secondary. Acknowledging those universal truths are secondary, if they are ever acknowledged at all."
Rippaverse Comics' first series, "Isom," tells the story of Avery Silman, a common Texas rancher who gains superpowers and becomes the superhero Isom. After walking away from the superhero life, Silman is called back into action to confront an old friend who has since become one of the most feared men in his city.
The story was written by July, illustrations done by artist Cliff Richards, and the coloring done by Gabe Eltaeb, a former DC Comics colorist who quit last year after expressing disgust with out-of-character changes to Superman's character.
Pre-orders for the series launched on Monday, July 11, and by Tuesday afternoon, total revenue for Isom #1 was more than $984,000 and growing, with over 10,000 total purchasers. July said that initial plans to distribute about 12,000 graphic novels have changed after massive demand "destroyed expectations." He estimates Rippaverse will sell close to 100,000 graphic novels now.
July said that customers demoralized by the "old guard's" left-wing politics are flocking to Rippaverse Comics, whose innovative sales model was responsible for the series' unexpected success.
"These people that are demoralized want to believe that the old guard that stands right now, because they stand right now, they have to always be there. They've existed for years ... and I think that they underestimate the power that we have, even just with the internet," July said.
He explained that the internet and social media give Rippaverse Comics "a direct line of sight" to connect customers with "a project that people want to buy."
Rippaverse Comics will also be a place where content creators, artists, writers, and anyone else in the comic book industry who feels alienated by big corporations can come and tell their stories without fear of censorship or judgement, July said.
"There are a lot creative people that are in our space, on our side of the line of thinking, in support of the value of liberty. No matter whether you are conservative, libertarian, or whatever, and they're just undiscovered. They're in hiding because they have to work for the old guard," he said.
"What feels good is that I get to reach out to them first or that's the pool that we have to choose from. Before I start doing external stuff, I get to point to our community. I get to point to people that are in our space and say, 'Hey,' or put that call out at — 'Hey, we're looking for this. We're looking for that' — and give these guys well-paying jobs to be able to create or be part of something that is fresh, that is new, but also that they know doesn't hate them."
Pre-orders for Isom #1 are available now from Rippaverse Comics' website. Parents should be advised the series is appropriate for teens or older readers.