When I met Bruno Steppuhn to chat about his new Venture, The Fabler, he started out by describing the site as “Youtube meets Threadless” for the Comic book Industry. Talk about a great elevator pitch…my interest was peaked! At its heart, The Fabler is an online community for Comic book Enthusiasts. Artists can upload and share their works directly with customers. Content can be searched, rated and purchased by people within the community which in turn drives the hottest content to the top of Fabler’s landing page. Customers can even order a hard-copy of the comic through the site’s print on demand services…allowing hardcore enthusiasts to still enjoy that fresh ink smell and un-creased goodness of a virgin comic book.
Bruno isn’t new to the Calgary Entrepreneurial Scene. He is the founder of Zensoft Studios, a Calgary based interactive software and serious game development studio. He teamed up with Medium Rare, owned by Mike Tighe and Bryan Maniotakis to develop the current Fabler platform. Bruno has been successfully running his company for over 7 years now, so the first words out of my mouth were “why comics?”. He explained that ever since he picked up his first comic and put down the 300 page novels that take forever to read he was hooked. Comics are easy to pick up and get into, don’t require a huge investment of time, and quite simply are more fun to read. You can’t argue with that!
So why The Fabler? Bruno’s desire to bring together a community of artists and promote indie exposure…that’s why. The fact that major distributor publishers like DC, Darkhorse, and Marvel dominate the industry through a single source, Diamond Distribution, and act as barriers for indie artists to gain success played a part also I’m sure. The Fabler offers a new way for artists to get their work online and in front of the masses. They have the ability to produce their own work and distribute it directly to the customer. In short, The Fabler has the potential to change the way people will purchase comics in the future.
It’s interesting to note that while comics are being read and purchased online today, those sales appear independent from actual print sales. It’s too early to tell if this is a stark contrast to the newspaper industry or if there simply hasn’t been a good option like The Fabler available. Bruno is quick to point out that the print on demand services are a key service that is lacking in the indie comic scene…but don’t worry…if you prefer soft copy there is an iPhone App coming soon as well!
For those of you who visited the Calgary Comic Expo this past weekend you had sneak peek of what The Fabler platform looks like. (Bruno just demo’d at Democamp Calgary also.) Don’t worry if you missed him though, as you’ll find The Fabler at Comic Con’s across North America starting later this year!