On Tuesday, Amazon.com (NASDAQ: AMZN ) stock set a new 52-week-high after Amazon Publishing announced the launch of Jet City Comics, through which it will publish new original comics and graphic novels.
In conjunction with the announcement, Amazon offered Symposium #1 as the very first comic released with the Jet City Comics imprint, based on the popular Foreworld saga. What's more, Symposium #1 will be followed in October by original adaptations of Meathouse Man, written by Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin, as well as Hugh Howey's best-selling science fiction novel, Wool.
Of course, I suggested in May that Amazon would be brilliant to include comic-book storylines as part of its fan fiction-driven Kindle Worlds platform, and I was especially excited when the Web giant followed through last month with a license for fans to envision new plots based on content from comics publisher Valiant Entertainment.
That said, I certainly didn't expect Amazon.com to launch its own brand.
Sure, Valiant's characters don't exactly boast the star power of big names from DC Comics or Disney's (NYSE: DIS ) Marvel Entertainment -- but hey, Valiant did win a Diamond Gem award last year for Best Comic Book Publisher of the Year for companies with less than 4% total market share. With a universe of more than 1,500 characters, Valiant has also managed to sell more than 80 million comic books since it was founded in 1989.
Of course, DC, for its part, has more than 10,000 characters to choose from, including the likes of Superman and Batman, which have both proved themselves as multibillion-dollar properties thanks to their box office and merchandising prowess.
Then there's the 9,000-character-strong Marvel, for which Disney paid $4 billion to acquire in 2009. Given the runaway success of Disney's Marvel Studios films since then, including the last two Iron Man films, Thor, Captain America, and The Avengers (and with plenty more on the way), I'd say that was a fantastic investment on Disney's part.
Of course, many of those big-name properties have also been around for longer than many of us have been alive and have had time to build up massive numbers of adoring fans -- heck, Iron Man made his debut in Tales of Suspense #39 in March, 1963, and Superman first appeared in Action Comics #1 in June 1938:
But, really, while this demonstrates the pure, raw entertainment potential possessed by comic books and graphic novels, does Amazon's Jet City Comics stand a chance of actually competing with the big boys and forming its own deeply loyal group of admirers?
To be honest, even with a few big-name authors on board, it's doubtful we'll see the Jet City comics imprint making a notable impact in the entertainment world anytime in the near future, let alone a significant positive impact on Amazon stock.
That said, what's the worst that could happen? On one hand, similar to Amazon's other digital publishing platforms, I can't imagine launching and maintaining Jet City Comics represents any sort of huge financial outlay for the company, so the effort certainly won't drag down Amazon stock if it fails.
On the other hand, remember Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has never been particularly keen on running the business with a short-term mind-set, which is why I'm convinced Jet City Comics could simply be another effective, low-overhead way of slowly pulling in new readers, with big long-term revenue-generating potential as the base grows.
In fact, between Amazon's core publishing platforms, Kindle Worlds, and Jet City Comics, I'd venture to say Amazon Studios is doing a pretty darned good job of planting seeds to maximize its chances of finding the next great original content to produce movies and television shows for its Prime video streaming service down the road.