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TKO Studios succeeds big time in attempting to modernize comic book reading

As a big comic aficionado, when I’m trying to recommend a series to someone, the choice in format is one of the trickiest questions. Should they start with single issues? A collection of issues in graphic novels? How about reading digitally? There are tons of options and the comic industry is still working on a fix to appease all readers. One potential solution is now being offered by TKO Studios, who are attempting to modernize the industry as we currently know it.

TKO Studios was created by Salvatore Simeone and Gotham producer/writer Tze Chun with the aim of distributing comics in an all-new way. Instead of producing serialized stories on a weekly, bi-monthly, or monthly basis, they’re publishing comics like a Netflix binge. TKO offers an immediate six-issue collected edition up front with no waiting. If you don’t like floppies, the trade paperback is also out upon the book’s release. If you prefer digital, there are multiple ways to read it online. For an industry which has more or less stayed the same in recent memory, TKO Studios is giving readers the chance to consume their books in a format they want. There’s no waiting on trades. There’s no missing out on issues. It’s all available right away.

The collected editions are beautiful. Printed on high quality, slightly oversized (compared to modern books) paper, the collected editions slipcover is designed to make single comics shelf material.

Inside the box

While the packaging is all fine and dandy, the real meat and potatoes of making a good comic book comes down to which creators are working on books. TKO Studios launched with an enviable lineup of comic A-Listers including Garth Ennis (Preacher), Steve Epting (The Avengers), Jeff Lemire (Descender), Roxanne Gay (World of Wakanda) and Gabriel H. Walta (The Vision) among the talented crop. For a new publisher, getting so many big names to write and draw books makes them more than a gimmick. Lemire told the New York Times the company’s ambitious release model drew him to work alongside TKO.

So far, TKO has released four comics to date spanning multiple genres and time periods.

Sarah tells the story of Russian Snipers going up against Nazi invaders during WW2. The Fearsome Doctor Fang is described as a globe-trotting adventure starring a cop and a treasure hunter. 7 Deadly Sins is about a group of death row criminals who join a Mexican priest in a suicide mission in the mid-1800s. Goodnight Paradise is about a homeless man finding justice for a murdered teenage girl. You can read each first issue of the publisher’s first four books online for free.

Frankly, it’s cool to see a publisher trying something different. Whether TKO succeeds long-term comes down to the quality of books they release. Considering who they’re working with, I’d bet this is more than a short-lived trend. TKO’s innovative format is a breath of fresh air in a medium that’s often bogged down by its own self.  Turning physical comics into something that can be binged from the getgo is incredibly forward thinking, and TKO Studios is shaking things up for the better.

Note: TKO Studios sent me four books for review purposes.

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