Defunct manga publisher Go! Comi has suddenly returned on the scene, but not exactly in the best way possible. Amid claims of scamming due to the new website’s appeal for donations, the domain name has been posted for sale at a domain auction house. The new owner spoke exclusively with me to tell his side.
As reported by Anime News Network last week, the publisher’s former creative director Audry Taylor posted on her Twitter and Facebook pages last week that the new website at GoComi.com asking for donations to help finance the publisher’s return is a hoax. Last Wednesday she tweeted, “WARNING: MY FORMER GOCOMI.COM WEBSITE HAS BEEN TURNED INTO A SCAM. IT IS NOT REAL. DO NOT DONATE. GONNA SICK MY LAWYERS ON THEM.” The same day she posted on Facebook, “WARNING: THE FORMER GOCOMI.COM WEBSITE THAT I USED TO RUN HAS BEEN TURNED INTO A SCAM BY UNIDENTIFIED CRIMINALS UNRELATED TO GO! COMI, A COMPANY WHICH NO LONGER EXISTS. IT IS NOT REAL. DO NOT DONATE. GONNA SICK MY LAWYERS ON THEM. PLEASE SHARE THIS POST WITH MANGA FANS AND READERS.”
The website uses language from the previous authentic GoComi.com website, and now includes a notice requesting help in relaunching.
Go! Comi needs your Help!
Go! Comi is coming back! We take great efforts to rebuilt Go! Comi as a publisher for Manga & Comics.
Help us rebuilding Go! Comi.
This is followed by a PayPal link to donate any amount.
Also on the site is a contact form for comics and manga creators to submit their work for review with the hopes of future publication. The Contact Us page uses a similar contact form.
The site’s blogroll, links to other sites, is decidedly unrelated to comics or manga: BigBrotherWeb.com, CarInsuranceQuoteQuote.info, KleinerPreis.info, and LoansBadCreditLoans.info.
So just who is behind this? Down the rabbit hole we go:
Public Whois records state that the owner of the domain name is one Claudia Vybiral of Wien, Austria, and the domain name is registered at the registrar FastDomain.com and uses Bluehost.com hosting services. Anime News Network theorized that some or all of this information could be falsified. While Internet regulations prohibit this, there is little actual enforcement; so ANN’s theory could be right. But let’s see what we find out.
Looking back through time, GoComi.com was initially registered to a Martin Schwaller, also of Wien, Austria, immediately following the original Go Comi losing the domain some time between June 14 and June 21, 2010. Both Martin Schwaller and Claudia Vybiral share the same phone number, although not the same street address or email address. According to Google Maps, the two street addresses are less than 20 minutes away from each other. When Martin Schwaller was the owner, the domain name was registered at GoDaddy, the same registrar used by CarInsuranceQuoteQuote.info and LoansBadCreditLoans.info. (Considering GoDaddy’s position as the largest registrar in the world, this connection could mean little or nothing.) Then between March 1 and April 17, 2011, the domain transferred to Claudia Vybiral, and the registrar FastDomain. Claudia Vybiral also appears to be the owner of BigBrotherWeb.com, which has a similar design and layout as GoComi.com.
As Accidental Domainer points out, Claudia Vybiral owns or has owned over 800 domain names. Martin Schwaller currently has nearly 300 domain names registered to his name, and has previously owned over 1,100.
It’s also worth noting the owner appears to be selling the domain name. The domain auction house Flippa.com lists the domain with a $6,500 price to buy it now. $1,500 is the minimum bid price. No bids have been made on the auction. From the auction’s description:
Strong TypeIn Domain of a former publishing company
In this Auction we sell more than just a Domain Name, we sell a great and unique business opportunity!
Go Comi was a company specializing in publishing Japanese comics for the American market, and in creating new manga and manga-oriented properties for both the Japanese and American markets, under the Go! Comi imprint.
Go Comi has terminate their services put they have still many many Fans out there!!
Since we own the Domain Name gocomi.com we receive daily messages from comic artists who submitted their work for publishing. Those contacts is worth its weight in gold!
And last but not least, the domain still receive many many hits! Usually around 90-100 Vistors a day.
Don’t lose this wonderful opportunity!
1’385 Visits (within the last 28 days)
3’950 Pageviews (within the last 28 days)
2,85 Pages/visit (within the last 28 days)
1 Minute 23 seconds Avg. Time on Site (within the last 28 days)
Traffic Sources Overview (within the last 28 days)
35,19% Referring Sites
34,68% Direct Traffic
29,41% Search Engines
882 Visitors from United States (within the last 28 days)
106 Visitors from Canada (within the last 28 days)
40 Visitors from United Kingdom (within the last 28 days)
The Domain is now hosted from bluehost.com, we will push the domain to any other bluehost.com Account! The Domain cannot be moved away from bluehost till the 1. July 2011
We will help the buyer transferring the domain into his bluehost Account, and we also offer a free install service for all the current content from gocomi.com (WordPress)
We only have AdSense on the site and a Amazon Affili.
We recommend to rebuild the site to a publishing company (as it was in the past)
To generate a high income we recommend a member area
Most registrars impose a 60-day lock on newly registered or transferred domain names, which is why they can’t transfer the domain name until July 1. The auction was posted on May 13.
With the intent of selling GoComi.com revealed, it appears plans to bring back the manga publisher may be overstated. The listing makes no mention of what would be done with any donations received.
Emails to both Claudia Vybiral and Martin Schwaller requesting a statement resulted in a response from David (no surname given). I will reproduce his statement in its entirety without comment.
We have bought the domain gocomi.com on a official godaddy auction.
It is quite normal that domain names which drops or expire
are grabbed/snaped again from Domainers.
Normaly domainers just park this domains. And make some income with
We made the same with the domain for a couple of month – nothing about that is tort!
(A hole industry lives from domain parking)
Two or three month ago, we tought it’s maybe a good idea
to start or to try a relaunch of the Go Comi Website.
Unfortunately nobody was willing to spend or help bringing
the procject back to life.
That’s why we are now selling the domain on flippa.
I would insist, therefore, that NOBODY was making a donation
and that the domain was not used to scam somebody!
This was not in our interests! NEVER!
Maybe it was not explained correctly on the site;
But we would like to rebuild gocomi.com for their fans
Any maybe relaunch under a new company name.
For now we decided against a relaunch and
the domain will be sold soon.
UPDATE: Approximately two hours after I received the above, the statement was posted to the Anime Network News forum thread by someone with the username DavidMende.