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Thread: Week 25-Welcome To The Future

  1. Cary Guest

    as someone who has not only been through the gauntlet of webcomics both traditional and new school, but is also a member of a Zuda winning team (Letterer of Extracurricular Activities) i'll tell you without a doubt that we're SO not there yet.

    i liken our current place in the history of webcomics to the winamp era of MP3s. most people are still having those "you mean they HAVE digital comics you can get online?" moments. you don't get Joe Q public going online with the intent of reading the newest issue of Killzone AD or downloading a PDF of the latest DC comic to hit the stands this Wednesday. you just don't. what you get is a relatively small community of online comic book fans who are willing to read and enjoy comics regardless of the format they have to endure.

    and that's really what it boils down to. endurance. because no one has found that "it" yet. there's not an iTunes out there. we haven't found the VCR or Blueray of online comic books. so many readers, so many formats, it's mind boggling. when we do finally weed everything down to that one format, trust me, print comics will die a quick death. advertising will skyrocket, costs will plummet, and the people you built it for will come.

    till then...we're offering a subscription!



  2. StevenForbes Guest

    We also have to realize that webcomics also mean that there are no barriers to entry anymore. This is a double-edged sword, and both edges are a single molecule thin.

    With no barriers, how are people supposed to separate the wheat from the chaff? Hell, how are they even supposed to FIND the wheat IN all the chaff? This is what worries me.

    I'm not a tech head, so I'll let others worry about format. What worries me is the market. If those 2500 stores go out of business, what happens to us then? If print comics die, how will we get seen?

    When I'm bored and online, I go looking for porn, or something to watch on Hulu. I don't go looking for webcomics. Perhaps I should. Actually, I know I should, since I'll be stepping into that arena shortly. Okay, I know what I'm doing on my next days off...



  3. harryd Guest

    Quote Originally Posted by StevenForbes View Post
    When I'm bored and online, I go looking for porn, or something to watch on Hulu. I don't go looking for webcomics.
    The lesson here being that, if you want to make money doing comics on the internet, they should be porn.



  4. StevenForbes Guest

    Porn always helps, unless you have writing to do.



  5. tylerjames Guest

    Related to both this topic of looking to the future and the recent Diamond Distribution discussions, is the recent news that Ka-Blam, one of the leading print-on-demand comics printers, is getting into the direct distribution game with P-O-D distribution to retail shops.

    Check out the article on Newsarama here, and the website for their new Comics Monkey site here.

    Steven, I'm interested in your thoughts on this news.


    Here are my initial reactions...

    Pro's to Using Ka-Blam's ComicsMonkey distribution site:

    - Obviously, the advantages they advertise: No benchmarks, no thresholds, no minimums, no fees. This changes the cost side of the equation tremendously for creators, as the cost of your comic is only what it costs to produce. Creators incur NO PRINTING COSTS.

    - No reason not to list. If you create a book, and have it printed on-demand through Ka-Blam, and include it in their Indyplanet online retail store, there's NO REASON not to also add it to the Comic Monkey distribution channel. It will cost you nothing, and could get you in stores nationwide.

    - It's a much more achievable method of getting your books distributed nationally than the now daunting threshold Diamond features.

    - Color books are NOT more expensive to the CREATOR than black and white. Steven recently explained how numbers work a lot better for creators trying to print a black and white book than a color book through diamond. But with this service, you aren't paying for printing, and your income is a function of your cover price, and the number of books you sell. Color and Black and white are treated equally here (I assume.)


    The Cons...

    - Remains to be seen if comic shops will take a chance on these books. The retailer's discount is only 35%. Most of the local shops that have been willing to carry the books I've self-published are only willing to buy the books at a 50% discount. Will they see a point in carrying them, with margins so small?

    - You're probably going to still have to sell roughly the same amount of books as you would through Diamond, just to break even on your book. Comic Monkey has advertised that it will pay creators 10% of their book's cover price. So, your $3.00 book will earn you $0.30. Compare this to the $1.17 or so you'd earn per book through Diamond. Now, granted, when selling through Diamond, you also have to pay for your printing costs, which is why you need to sell 4,000 or so before you'll break even. But, assuming you're producing professional level work (and not doing everything yourself) paying your art team for a full book would probably run at minimum $1200. Yup, you'd need to move 4,000 books to make that.

    - Because it's so easy to list your book through Comic Monkey, the level of quality is going to vary considerably. Granted, I'm sure that's already the case with Diamond. That massive phone book can't all be pure gold. But separating the wheat from the chaff at Comic Monkey will be even more difficult, and I wonder whether or not retailers will bother.

    - It's going to still be up to you to market your comic. I think only creators that are willing to bust their bums pimping their books to retailers, lighting a fire under them to order through Comic Monkey, and continuing to do all the other online marketing things to promote their product, are the only ones who could see any real financial returns from this.

    *************************

    Bottom Line: The Comic Monkey service offers a no-cost means of getting your comic book distributed to retail comic shops nationally. Whether that means your books will ever actually show up in shops, and whether or not it can be profitable for the creator, the retailer, or the Comic Monkey distributor, remains to be seen.



  6. Cary Guest

    Quote Originally Posted by tylerjames View Post
    - It's going to still be up to you to market your comic. I think only creators that are willing to bust their bums pimping their books to retailers, lighting a fire under them to order through Comic Monkey, and continuing to do all the other online marketing things to promote their product, are the only ones who could see any real financial returns from this.
    this right here is the crux of the entire thing. forget Diamond. Diamond is NOT the problem. it's like a marketing excersize i heard about years ago. a guy got the top 25 executives charged with advertising for Coca Cola in a room and asked them who their #1 competitor was. most of them said Pepsi at the time, but all of them named some other soda. the guy told them they were all morons. Water was their #1 enemy. if they could turn people to Coke over water, the cola wars were won. we're suffering from the same tunnel vision and it's strangling us as Indy creators and publishers.

    too many people doing this see Diamond as the end all be all. "if i get my book in Diamond, i have arrived!" that's bullshit. when you get your book in Diamond, your work hasn't even started yet. you have to pound the pavement. you have to work that book to death and make people so sick of hearing about it they pick it up just to shut you the hell up. you need to penetrate new avenues, get your word into places it wouldn't normally even be seen.

    you don't NEED Diamond because they're just the people who ship the damn book!

    read that again. they JUST SHIP THE BOOK. they don't do any advertising for you. they don't pimp that book on every forum and website they can find. they print 30 words or less, and maybe if you're lucky a tiny thumbnail sized cover image in the back of the book somewhere buried between the t-shirts and some other poor bonehead in the same boat as you. only his got printed in front of you because he has a studio name alphabetically superior to yours. give me a freakin break. i'm not naming my studio with an "A" based on getting it into the front half of that stupid catalog. it's not worth it in any sense of the word.

    Kablam and Haven seem to be legitimate alternative solutions to the vacuum left by Diamond's anti-Indy policies. at least so far. but neither of these places is the panacea people think they will be. neither one will be out there pimping your book. that's not their job.

    it's yours.



  7. StevenForbes Guest

    It's going to be a mess. That's my take on it.

    Others are throwing their hat in the ring, and still aren't offering a discount steep enough to make the purchase worthwhile to the retailer.

    I could start to crunch some numbers, but I think that goes a little beyond the scope of this column. Comics Are For People, or SEB-standard would be a better choice for number crunching.

    Basically, it's like this: the fewer companies Diamond has to distribute for, the more money they make. As long as Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, and Image stay where they are (and there's no reason for them to change), then Diamond can keep upping their benchmarks, driving out the indies, and make a killing on those 5 companies alone.

    Remember, Diamond is a privately owned company. Geppi is making money hand over fist, and when that slowed down because of the financial crisis, he saw a way to get more money out of his company by driving out the "little guy." Remember, Diamond isn't printing, they're distributing. Essentially, they're reselling what you sold to them.

    The problem with someone like Ka-Blam getting into distributing is that there is little to no quality control of their "catalog." They are paid to print comics, and they do you the favor of having a store where customers can buy on demand, having their own copy printed for them. With no quality control, picture a writer who's not ready teaming up with an artist who's nowhere near ready. They produce a comic that's craptacular in the extreme. As long as they pay the fee, Ka-Blam has to print it. If not, they're no longer doing what they're supposed to.

    Imagine going in to Burger King to order a Whopper, and being turned away because you're to short, tall, thin, fat, ugly, old, young, whatever. Sure, they have the right to refuse service, but their rights are limited. If you go in, money in hand, clean and dressed within the norms of society and are turned away, you have a lawsuit on your hands.

    This is the same thing. They can have a million served, but where's the quality?

    If they implement quality controls, I see that as a conflict of interest.

    The industry needs Marvel/DC. Marvel/DC needs Diamond, thus, the industry needs Diamond. Without quality control, basically, a barrier of entry, it's going to get really ugly really quickly.



  8. Cary Guest

    sure, Marvel DC and Image need Diamond. but then that's really only a relationship of convenience rather than any true need. those companies are going to sell the books, either directly or through other channels. Diamond is merely a means to an end.

    my point in all this is, we aren't really in the same industry. within comics you have mainstream, and you have Indy. Diamond has always catered to the mainstream companies because quite honestly that's where the sales are. can't blame them at all. it's simply smart business.

    it's the Indy community's fault for trying to lump ourselves in with the big three. (or four if you count Dark Horse) we simply are not in the same ballpark. the talent may be equivalent or even superior in many many cases. but the sales are nowhere near comparable. at least not these days post speculator crash.

    as a group we would be far better served ignoring Diamond completely and focusing on other avenues. if you're into becoming a mainstream creator, then sure Diamond matters. if not...screw em.



  9. CalvinCamp Guest

    For a Zuda submission, you have to cut down on your words something fierce in order to fit in the parameters of the screen.
    Why?

    Grab a comic book, turn it on it's side and compare it to a Zuda comic. The ratio isn't that much different. In fullscreen mode, the Zuda comic is bigger. It may take some rethinking of the panel layout, but it should hold anything a standard comic will.

    Calvin Camp
    Last edited by CalvinCamp; Saturday, February 14, 2009 at 02:14 AM.



  10. Join Date
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    Quote Originally Posted by StevenForbes View Post

    If they implement quality controls, I see that as a conflict of interest.

    The industry needs Marvel/DC. Marvel/DC needs Diamond, thus, the industry needs Diamond. Without quality control, basically, a barrier of entry, it's going to get really ugly really quickly.
    Yeah, they really CAN'T do quality control, as it will be hurting their own business to say "Oh, we'll print you for a fee, but we won't solicit you".

    And your right, a lot of lower quality to no quality books will be solicited here. BUT, it is still an entry into a comic store. It just falls that much more on the creator(s) to promote their book and convince people to buy it and retailers to order it.
    Just getting into PREVIEWS doesn't gurantee you a spot on shelves , but NOT getting into PREVIEWS pretty much guarantees you WON'T be on the shelves.
    This, for all it's flaws, at least provides the chance.

    At the very least, this will be an exercise that succeed or fail, other companies will take note of and be able to build on.
    You can bet, within the next few years, there will be several other Haven like distibutors, and Comics Monkey like printer/distribtors, and (hopefully) each will improve on their predecessor's designs.
    "Living Robert Venditti's Plan B!"

    CAT. 5



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