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Webcomics site shifts from paid to free model

The comics website DarkBrain (warning: music and spoken dialogue) has shifted from a paid to a free model, with the option to upgrade for more adult content.

The website launched in February with 12 series of fantasy, sci-fi, action, and horror comics. There are two gimmicks: One is that it allows readers to choose PG-13 or R settings for each comic. From poking around the site, it looks like R gets you the same comic but with more blood and cussin'. The other is that the comics feature music and voice acting, and the text boxes and word balloons appear one at a time as the actors say the lines. Their PR claims that users can also customize the story itself, although it's not clear how.

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From the initial press release, it appears that some comics were offered for free while others were packaged into an online magazine called Cortex, which was priced at $4.99 per issue.

Under the new model, all comics are free at the PG level, but for a subscription fee of $4.99 per month ($24.95 for a 6-month membership), readers can access the R-rated content as well as some members-only content. The other change is that the website is now selling ads, which are only seen in the free version; members get an ad-free environment.

According one of to the site's information pages, half of all sales goes directly back to the artists. It's not clear how that will work under the new model.

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