The online retail giant Amazon, which already has a publishing arm of its own, has added digital comics to its portfolio with the release of Blackburn Burrow, a comic that is — they make no bones about it — a movie pitch. In fact, the comic originated as a screenplay in Amazon Studios, which is a sort of crowdsourcing commons where people can upload scripts, videos and other projects, and those with the best feedback rise to the top of the heap, apparently. Amazon has a number of projects from Amazon Studios in development, although none are in actual production yet, but it’s early days for them.
Blackburn Burrow was produced by 12 Gauge Comics, an actual comics publisher, and the creative team of writer Ron Marz and artist Matthew Dow Smith has some serious comics cred. I actually read the comic: It’s not bad, but it doesn’t really rise above its genre. It’s a horror comic set during the Civil War, featuring a blind ex-soldier who starts off killing some kind of a witch and then gets sent by the War Department to investigate mysterious doings in a small Georgia town. The art is serviceable — honestly, it looks like it was done in a hurry, but Smith has a deft style and it’s very readable. A lot of horror comics load up the panels with details and gore, but his restrained hand suggests he is going for story over effects. So far, the comic hasn’t broken any new ground, but it’s entertaining enough.
At the end of the comic (which is hosted on Graphicly and can also be read on the Kindle) there’s a link to an online survey, and if you complete the survey, Amazon will send you a $5 gift card. The survey is pretty painless, but there are a lot of questions about the comic so don’t try to cheat and skip the required reading.