Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
DEAL: For $25 - Add A Second Phone Number To Your Smartphone for life! Use promo code SLASHDOT25. Also, Slashdot's Facebook page has a chat bot now. Message it for stories and more. Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! ×
Entertainment

Comics On The Net - A Business Primer 176

Snotty Pippen writes "There's a new article/report/white paper called Comics on the Internet: A Primer in 7 Parts that's showing up in all the right places. It's currently being cited over at Heath Row's Media Diet and The Comics Journal's Journalista blog. Media Diet says thinks it's the first report of its kind. The Comics Journal says it's how to migrate comic books from print to web and make it work. I think it's a somewhat comprehensive overview, and the bit about print-on-demand comics is interesting."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Comics On The Net - A Business Primer

Comments Filter:
  • Speaking of which (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mao che minh ( 611166 ) * on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @05:55PM (#6298085) Journal
    I got a subscription to Comics on the Web [comicsontheweb.com]. It is all Crossgen comics, a pretty good publisher with a lot of good ex-Marvel and DC talent. They have a lot of free comics there with some pretty nifty image and veiwing controls. Check out "The Way of the Rat" - righteous oriental-myth inspired stuff.
    • WICKED (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Wow, that's damned cool. I put the comic resolution to high and then tweaked the way the dialogue balloons work. This is some amazing stuff - some even have voice acting (it was pretty terrible, but still) if you dont feel like reading. Thanks for the link!
  • Personal Whine (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Torinaga-Sama ( 189890 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @05:56PM (#6298094) Homepage
    How can it be comprhensive if it mentions neither Penny Arcade or Megatokyo?

    Bitter, party of one.

    • Re:Personal Whine (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Kallahar ( 227430 ) <kallahar@quickwired.com> on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @06:30PM (#6298321) Homepage
      I agree with your sentiment, but the article is about moving established print comics to the web. I believe that both MT and PA started out as web-comics.

      Kallahar
    • Re:Personal Whine (Score:5, Informative)

      by Freeptop ( 123103 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @07:33PM (#6298737)
      The article left a lot of big-name webcomics, actually. On the other hand, all the webcomics it specifically mentioned offer "exclusive content" if you pay for their "on-line subscriptions." Neither Penny Arcade, nor Megatokyo do this. I'm not sure if the author didn't understand that these sites and ones like them (such as Sluggy Freelance) make money by using their web-presence and fanbase to generate revenue via merchandising, or if he wanted to focus on making money specifically on the comics themselves, and therefore they did not really fall into the same
      category as the comics he mentioned.

      It was an interesting read, but I did note that the author had a number of errors in his article. (Keenspot is not a paper publisher, though he basically said they were, for instance. It just happens that most of the webcomics on Keenspot that do get books published do so through the same publisher: Plan 9 Books).
      • Re:Personal Whine (Score:4, Informative)

        by Osty ( 16825 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @08:02PM (#6298927)

        On the other hand, all the webcomics it specifically mentioned offer "exclusive content" if you pay for their "on-line subscriptions." Neither Penny Arcade, nor Megatokyo do this.

        You're right that Megatokyo doesn't do this (Piro makes his money off of merchandising, not subscriptions), but Penny Arcade offers exclusive content through the Penny Arcade Club (subscription). You get lots of stuff, like the Over Easy comic, desktop wallpapers, original art, etc. I guess Penny Arcade could even provide exclusive comic strips since they tend to have an aversion to continuity, but a story-based web comic really shouldn't offer story-related strips on a subscriber-only basis if they offer free strips as well. Either make it all subscriber-only, or don't do any of the story exclusively to subscribers.

        • Re:Personal Whine (Score:2, Informative)

          by alfedenzo ( 233177 )

          I guess Penny Arcade could even provide exclusive comic strips since they tend to have an aversion to continuity, but a story-based web comic really shouldn't offer story-related strips on a subscriber-only basis if they offer free strips as well. Either make it all subscriber-only, or don't do any of the story exclusively to subscribers.

          Keenspot has a subscription system that means that you don't have to look at their ads, get to use their the 'weekly' view when reading the archives and get to view all

      • I thought it said Keenspot stood to lose money if other people were printing paper versions of its strips.
    • And speaking of whining, 8-bit Theater runs its 300th comic tomorrow....
    • Don't forget about Stile Sux: The Comic [stilesux.com]

      You aren't fit to troll unless you read it.
  • Question... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MMaestro ( 585010 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @05:56PM (#6298095)
    If a comic was, presumably, successful to become a comic book in the first place, why would it turn into a web comic later on? Usually its the other way around, web comics doing well and then making the slow change to real life comic. Unless the real life comic wasn't making a profit, different area of discussion, then I can't see the logic of making a move like this.
    • Re:Question... (Score:2, Insightful)

      Wider distribution? Lower costs?
    • Re:Question... (Score:3, Informative)

      by johnstein ( 602156 )
      I agree. Especially these days. You can almost compare it to the music industry. Imagine a guide on how to migrate from producing music the "old-fashioned" way (i.e. using a greedy record label etc)to self-publishing via the web.

      This is aimed for the "professionals" or at least those who already have published in print.

      These days its more common for the average person to try to use web comics as a way to get their stories out. Some even manage to sell printed compilations of their work to their fan
    • Re:Question... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Angerson ( 121904 )
      I agree 100%. In my experience it's the goal of nearly every "professional" online comic strip/book artist to break into the print world -not the other way around.

      Why the heck would an established, published title want to come here? Very few, if any, online comics have found a way to be even remotely profitable. I'd say that's even doubly so for those who have attempted online comic books (which tend to suffer from readability & format issues).

      In my opinion, any venture from the print world to the
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @05:57PM (#6298101)
    Is an increase in comics piracy, in particular over BitTorrent. Maybe I wasn't looking in the right places before, but you can download scans of most the major books.
    • by EnderWiggnz ( 39214 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @06:14PM (#6298232)
      hey man, i got a mint copy of XMen-1, and since i cant remove it from its hyper-baric chamber, i had to read the comic somehow...
  • Online comics (Score:3, Informative)

    by isaradin ( 683558 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @06:02PM (#6298134) Homepage
    From the article: In summary, I see a lot of untapped potential. Assuming you could cover costs with advertising, until you could show me the online audience strongly mapped to the current retail audience, I would advocate print publishers showcasing their titles online, a few months behind the most recent issue and pushing the reader towards either a trade paperback compilation or a subscription. The hobbyists will seek out the specialty retailers on their own. As a bonus, if the advertising revenue was to pan out, at a certain level of traffic your online ad revenue is capable of exceeding the revenue of todayâ(TM)s depressed print circulation. More quickly if online subscriptions work. I guess my major question with this is why does the newest stuff have to be in print only, and have the online run stuff that's "a few months old"? Looking at something like, say, megatokyo [megatokyo.com] [megatokyo.com], it seems that they opt more for the stance of having the original content posted webside, and then providing print for the people who would like to purchase it. Of course, this does tend to lean a lot more toward the free side rather than the profit side (and I can see why that would be a factor, big business in comics). I think that megatokyo is onto something, though, because the whole idea of it being free opens up (imo) a bigger audience to sell merchandise to. I imagine they wouldn't have an online store or even a demand for it if it was all about pushing people into buying if they want to stay current. I bought megatokyo vol. 1, and I thought it was worth the investment to give something back. Am I just the minority?
    • I think the concept of an online comic--especially an online comic strip--is still not completely viable just yet.

      Sure, you can do long, long story arcs and be a bit more adult in material presentation, but I still wonder are long-time online comic strips like Kevin and Kell, User Friendly, Sluggy Freelance and Megatokyo actually profitable for their creators. I wonder how much money are the creators of these online strips make from online ads and book reprints of the comic. Also, production deadline issue
    • I don't think you can compare the success of MT to something like what Marvel or DC need in terms of generating revenue. 2 or 3 people with no overhead can do well with a wildly popular web comic- if enough people buy merchandise and printed material.

      But how can that format replace printed issues that have a low cost and generate income on volume? You bought the MT book but I don't know if anyone would make money selling monthly MT episodes. It probably would not be cost effective.

      These companies are l
  • Not even with Daryl Hanna in lingere.

    It would be cool to see a format for the computer screen, but if you're gonna do that it seems a lot more logical to go the Broken Saints route and do something beyond duplicating the paper model.

  • by psxndc ( 105904 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @06:04PM (#6298149) Journal
    I realize the article talks about moving comic books onto the internet, but it touches on an interesting topic: the state of the modern day comic store.

    When I retire, I think I'd like to own a comic book store (I fall into the hobbyist subsidizng their habit group). But what will be the state of comic books and stores in 30+ years? Will we still have them as they are (but at $10 a pop at the current rate of comic inflation) plus internet distribution? Will they be only downloadable issues that go into an eBook-like device? Straight into your head? What is the future of the modern day comic book and thus the comic book store? On top of that, what happens to the collectibility of the digital comic book? Comments, please.

    psxndc

    • This is something I've thought about before as well. The obvious conclusion that I came to is that all printed media is a dying breed. We're seeing it now with the industry decline in newspapers and comics. It would not shock me in the least to see the death of those two formats, and the novel/text book well on the way to joining them, in 10 years.

      As soon as we see a good, cheap e-reader that's easy to use and has widespread connectivity to the Internet, printed media is in trouble.
      • Well I suppose you're right and some print matter will disappear as a viable (mass-market) business, but I predict that the `replacement' will be quite inadequate and will suck in many ways that people won't entirely appreciate until it's too late -- that's the way it always seems to happen.


        Curling up in bed with the sunday edition on your ereader? GAh.

    • On top of that, what happens to the collectibility of the digital comic book?

      its a bit less! hahahahahahhaha

      ill be here all week....
    • I've spoken a fair bit with the dude who co-owns the better of two local shops. In short, unless you dearly, dearly love comics, don't plan on doing much better than breaking even. I think all successful shops are highly into various gaming activities as well. Hope you like 'em. Shrinkage is a major issue. And it seems to be a fairly cutthroat business.

      But, I wish you well. If I were a bit more into anything other than DC, it might make for a bit of fun.
      • In short, unless you dearly, dearly love comics, don't plan on doing much better than breaking even

        That's what I've heard too. That's why I'm thinking about it as a retirement gig, not a making-money-earning-a-living gig. And I do love comics. Finding that new title that you haven't read before and really enjoying it's arc is just a really great feeling. On the flipside, no longer enjoying a title's story (GL *sniff*) can be really heartbreaking.

        psxndc

    • by Anonymous Coward
      I've talked about this with my friends. I think a lot of geeks have imagined owning a comic shop of their own at one point or another.

      Will we still have them as they are (but at $10 a pop at the current rate of comic inflation)...?

      The comics industry needs to provide more for less. Most comics are between $3 and $5 an issue on the newsstand today, and are less than 30 pages. Why is there such a major price difference between comic books and magazines? I can buy an issue of WIRED for $5 that gives me aro
  • http://www.penny-arcade.com/view.php3?date=2001-06 -22&res=l

    Penny arcade's finest ever.

    A perfect example of dialog between artists becoming an art form in itself.
  • http://underpower.non-essential.com/

    go at once and then send the artist some money...

    and remember: it's satire.
  • There is some pretty funny stuff out there, if you browse long enough to stumble across it. I came across this site [geocities.com] the other day and thought there were some pretty funny panel comics there.

    Check it out while it lasts...

  • The author of this link has met some very famous people:

    Todd once appeared on MTV in a futile attempt to explain computers to Pauly Shore.

    WOW!!! He actually met the weasel!!

  • Migration? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mgcsinc ( 681597 )
    Comics on the web are just great, but I don't think we should make too much of an effort making connections between them and their print counterparts... There is just something about reading comics out of a newspaper, and I dont think that can really be reproduced on the screen - I think the comics which really make it on the web wouldn't nessecarily make it in newspapers and vica-versa.
    • dunno, I'm to the point of preferring them on my screen rather than in print. with a nice hi res lcd, it can be quite nice!! it also depends on the quality of the scans of course.
    • Comics on the web are just great, but I don't think we should make too much of an effort making connections between them and their print counterparts...
      Indeed ... I'm a big comics fan myself, but all this talk we've heard about moving comics to the Internet always smacks me a little bit like radio drama fans concocting schemes to move radio drama over to television.
  • What of... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Alaren ( 682568 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @06:21PM (#6298264)
    Seems to be a consensus thus far, but I'll add my two bits...this is an interesting "Primer" but it fails to give adequate recognition (or analysis) of such places as 8-Bit Theater [nuklearpower.com] and makes only a passing mention of (the comic guru himself) Scott McCloud's site [scottmccloud.com] that has been discussing things like online comics for a long time. In fact, Scott McCloud has published an entire book on this entitled Reinventing Comics [amazon.com].

    So now that we've established that Media Row is exagerrating (or just not well-researched), what of it? Irritating pop-ups aside, I'm really doubting both the originality and the usefulness of this so-called primer.

    • Scott McCloud is an idiot whose main premise is that it doesn't matter that consumers don't want micropayments, they're good for content suppliers and that ought to be enough. All evidence to the contrary be damned.
  • by Rosco P. Coltrane ( 209368 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @06:23PM (#6298274)
    how to migrate comic books from print to web and make it work

    I used to read comic books. I still do on occasion, as well as comics on the web. I notice one thing : comics that work well on the web are shorter, simpler in drawing and text and quicker-paced than paper comics. In short, web comics have their own style, quite distinguishable from paper comics. I reckon that's merely due to current screen resolutions : 75dpi, even 100 dpi isn't much to display nice graphics, complex actions or texts, while paper can bear (near-)infinitely complex details.

    Once, I started to scan my old paper copy of Art Spiegelman's Maus [virginia.edu], which is my all-time favorite comic, because the poor book was getting worn out and I wanted to preserve it. Well, after 2 or 3 pages, the digital result turned out to be awful and I reckon took away much of the atmosphere of the book, so I gave up and ended up buying another, recent hardback.

    So is it such a good idea to migrate printed comics to the web ? I'm not that sure. It would certainly give an idea of what the original work is, but I think many comics deserve to be read on the media they were designed for originally. Maybe web comics could be considered as a wholly separate subform of comics in general, with its own style and talented authors ?

    Finally, as a side note, there's another reason to prefer printed comics over web ones : have you noticed, on cheap comics, that sometimes you can see through the paper and have a look at what's on the next page, in reverse ? if that next page is colorful, or packed in action, you can see something's going to happen in the story and it makes you anticipate the rest with great pleasure. Web-based comics don't do that, and in a way that can take some of the reading experience away.
    • From a hardcore manga addict, migrating to the web is a GREAT thing. I've got around 20 gigs of translated comics, and carry all of it with me on my laptop. I can transfer whole shelves of my favorite manga to friends at anime conventions. There are huge advantages to having an all digital collection.
    • ": comics that work well on the web are shorter, simpler in drawing and text and quicker-paced than paper comics.
      "

      could it be that most web drawing are by people who aren't as ,shall we say, experienced as paper comics. Not only not as experienced, they had no need to rise to the level paper comics because they are not in competition with them.
    • Another thing that comics on the web can do well that just doesn't work well on paper (or, at least, I've never seen work well) is exploit their digital nature.

      For instance, I do a comic strip at qwantz.com [qwantz.com] where the exact same images are used, without modification, every day. Put that in a print book and you can be a little put off, because it does look so computer-generated. But on a computer screen, it's natural.

      Remember how ugly Frank Millers Dark Knight sequel was? He and his colourist Lynn decid

  • What... (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    ...no Sluggy Freelance [sluggy.com] reference? Philistines!

    (Note: Bad time to link as Pete is on holiday, but fill-in artist is doing a pretty good job. Oh well.)
    • Not really a bad time. The guest artist is Phil Foglio. You might remember this artist from such games as Magic: The Gathering and XXXenophile.
  • I have to wonder how much of it is the economy, but still this post [penny-arcade.com] on PA (scroll down) today is pretty cool:

    "American Greetings Profits Dip 55.7 Pct.

    CLEVELAND (AP) American Greetings Corp., hurt by lower sales and pretax items, reported a 55.7 percent drop in earnings for the first quarter that ended May 31."
  • Provided that you are able to order printed versions of the online works directly from the websites, I'd say there is great scope to cut some of the middlemen out of the current equation. Business savvy illustrators and colourists can get more of the money. I actually started doing an online comic with a group of friends (for fun, not profit) about 5 years ago. It takes a lot of work, consequentially people lost interest after a couple of issues.
  • manga scanlations (Score:5, Informative)

    by nagashi ( 684628 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @06:56PM (#6298479) Homepage
    One thing that this article didn't really go into is the already existing and very developed communities devoted to translating and distributing japanese comics on the web. Every day hundreds of pages of japanese comics, or manga are scanned, translated, and then edited (japanese taken out, english put in) and then distributed via irc, http, and bittorrent. If you're interested in dling, check out this site for a list of daily/past releases: http://www.dailymanga.fr.st/ There are hundreds of people working on this accross the world (including myself), and thousands of people already relying COMPLETELY on the web for their daily manga fix. The industry is way behind :)
    • I don't suppose those thousands of people might send a couple bucks to the authors of those manga who worked 15 hour days for years to get them drawn and written?
      • Many of these manga have already made their authors very wealthy in japan. The long term goal of any scanlator is to get a manga noticed/licensed such that company legally releases it in english for people to buy, thusly getting money to the author. Think of us as free advertising :)
      • Old Slashdot Article [slashdot.org]

        Not too long ago, /. posted an article by Lessig regarding japanese dojinshi.

        If you read that article, you might understand that the Japanese don't really have a problem with fansubbers and scanslators here in the US because we are actually doing them a favor by building interest for their works. Japanese manga and anime would not be nearly as popular as it is now if it weren't for the work of the fans that have been translating stuff for years.

        Basically, there is an unwritten rule
    • I was browsing around like usually and I was just surprised to find this here! Scanlations being mentioned! As a scanlator myself, I think that more people should really start reading our stuff~ Another good place you could go to is http://www.manganews.net/
    • Hmm...it's hard to post a decent reply to such an article. Especially since I haven't read the article thoroughly I can only make small assesments based on my limited knowledge ( biased by the way ). I agree on nagashi on one thing though. The Industry is WAY behind. No denything that. Another thing i would like to add to that ( again in reference to the manga industry ) is the buisness attitude of most ( not all ) of the major companies ie, tokyopop for instance in obtaining the license for a certain titl
      • It IS NOT technically legal according to US law. It just requires a company to sue. Most of the distributers do not care unless it's licensed.

        I also don't quite understand some of your other assertions. I have not heard of Viz or Tokyopop trying to stop people unless a title was licensed, at which point the groups should not dispute it since that is the goal of fansubbing/scanslating.

        Also, while I might agree with you that the quality is sometimes lacking in some cases, that does not really justify con
        • Tokyo pop and viz see scanlations as dangerous to their business model, as many fans would rather dl manga for free than buy it from them. And to back infornography up, if anyone would know about tokyo pop and viz in the community, he would. He founded 2 scanlation teams and maintains contact with their reps at conventions, as do I.
          • I don't doubt that some of the representatives would want all fansubbing to stop, but I generally think that those people are ignorant to its value.

            Would it help if I said I worked with Toriyamaworld? As far as I know, the only time they've been bothered was when something got licensed. They were even an affiliate to Viz temporarily when Shonen Jump was first coming out.

            While I'm sure there are some people that don't like fansubbers in general, most of the time they tolerate us as long as we're not mess
    • Unfortunately, manga is way behind of anime in terms of US Lisences. I'm fortunate enough that I can drive down to a Japanese bookstore and buy manga if I wanted, but not many people are. Scanlations are often the only way to go, especially if you want it in English.
      • If anyone is interested in ordering manga online, I really recomend ordering from Sasuga: http://www.sasugabooks.com/store/manga.html They have a LOT of manga at very very reasonable prices. If you're lucky enough to live near one of their stores (boston), definitely stop by! it's a pretty amazing place. if you can get to nyc, another great place is Kinokuniya: http://www.kinokuniya.com/newyork/ , or Book Off right around the corner from them. For online ordering tho, Sasuga is the place to go.
        • Another great store in NYC for manga is Asashiya-- they're on Vanderbilt Ave. directly across from Grand Central Station. It doesn't cater to otaku as thoroughly as Kinokuniya does, but their selection of manga is vast and reasonably priced.

          Also, I wouldn't say that Book-Off is "right around the corner" from Kinokuniya... more like six blocks from them ^_^ Book-Off's on 41st Street, across from the New York Public Library; Kinokuniya's near Rockefeller Center.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    If you ever miss them, or have no idea what they are you got to check out She's a Nightmare [highaims.com]. It's high quality, fully colored comic that's updated 3 times a week. It's completely free to read.
  • Interesting but. . . (Score:3, Informative)

    by astrobabe ( 533099 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @07:22PM (#6298664) Homepage
    This guy seems to leave out other sources of publishing such as Plan 9. I just recently shelled out over $100 for copies of Sluggy Freelance [sluggy.org] for my boyfriend's upcoming birthday. They seem to work directly with the artists and cut them a fairly significant fraction of the proce (mind you that's provided the readers buy directly from Plan 9 and not Amazon).
  • by bobbozzo ( 622815 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @07:40PM (#6298790)
    I got an email from Scott Adams yesterday that the Comics.com emails such as "Daily Dilbert" will no longer be free. They are going to announce subscription pricing soon.

    I think I'll just replace it with a cron job that sends me an email linking to dilbert.com.
  • Both Todd Allen and Scott McCloud have so far overlooked the potential for using web-based syndication (RSS, SOAP, etc.) and weblogs as an important, rapidly growing method for promoting comics.

    Almost all major weblogs and newspapers feature an RSS feed nowadays, but they are also important for online comic strips too. Eight of the ten most popular RSS feeds read by LiveJournal users are for comic strips, with a "scraped" feed of Calvin in Hobbes coming in as the most popular feed. Currently, it only has a
  • by jasko ( 684642 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @08:06PM (#6298948)
    I am a co-creator of an original indie comic. When we were first getting started, the idea of web publishing was very attractive, and we gave it a lot of thought and discussion. We rejected it because primarily, we wanted to make comics. It was my opinion that what we are selling is more than content, it is an experience. Seriously. There's a lot that goes on in your head about paper. Just think about how the act of turning pages controls pacing. We set the reader up with something exciting, the page gets turned quickly. Something dreadful, the page gets dragged over slowly. That's just one example, there are others.

    Our decision has largely been vindicated. Nobody we've ever spoken to wants to read comic books on a computer. Strips are another matter, they fit neatly on a screen and once one has loaded you can decide whether you want to read the rest or not. They're like M&Ms. But a comic book is different. Even if you reformatted the standard page to fit a monitor's aspect ratio, you still have problems. No 2 page spreads, for example.

    The lack of micropayments is another problem. And yes, I'm on Peppercoin's mailing list. Not a peep since the announcement.

    We've got a website [thewonderverse.com] obviously, where we try to keep in touch with our readers, promote ourselves to the unsupecting masses, and allow people who don't live where we do to buy our books. We've tried both online pictures [thewonderverse.com] and downloadable samples in PDF [thewonderverse.com]. Neither one has exactly gone gangbusters.

    I'd love to know what you guys think -- would anyone pay to read these (or other comic books) online? How many subscribers does Crossgen have? Try to keep in mind that we have four people who work at other jobs and that we lack Crossgen's millionaire benefactor before comparing us.

    Thanks.
    • I personally wouldn't mind reading comics on a monitor. I would certainly be willing to pay a micropayment for a good comic. Certainly, I'm not going to pay as much for a print comic, because I don't get to keep the online version. But at the same time bandwidth is probably still cheaper than paying for a printing run.

      I don't mind, but I think as Scott McCloud said (I think he said it once), you'd probably need to altar the presentation for a book style to make it look good on the web. Of course, you'v
    • by sleeplesseye ( 113792 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @10:41PM (#6299770) Homepage Journal
      I would qualify that statement to the following...

      "Hardly anyone wants to read comic *books* on a monitor."

      This is an important distinction, because it's worth pointing out that millions of people read comics (strips or single panels) every day through visiting websites, email, web-based syndication, etc. Also, millions of people view Flash animations, which are in many cases just another form of comics, made appropriate for the media.

      The fact of the matter is that standard sized "pages" do not translate well onto the web, and people resist reading documents presented in such a manner. You'd think that PDFs would fix this problem, but unfortunately not. We can talk all day about how PDFs allow people to put up photo-quality artwork on the web, but the basic fact is that half the time, PDFs crash my browser, and even when they don't, they don't feel like a "normal" reading experience. I understand why they're used sometime, but more often than not, I just think of PDFs as "the lazy man's way to put print content on the web". I get a bit resentful that they didn't create the content for the web, thereby making it far more useful (and usable) for me.

      If you want to get readers on the web, you need to make sure your content fits the media. In other words, design for the web or scale the size of your creations so that they fix in a browser better... not much compromise is needed.

      A good case in point here is MegaTokyo [megatokyo.com]. They are getting plenty of regular readers, feeding people a page at a time, and producing what is effectively a comic book, without the book. Of course, they also benefit by having a storyline that works very well on the Internet, too.

      Also, there are creations by Scott McCloud and friends which are designed specifically for the web and make use of scrolling, etc. These are also good, and also tend to get a fair amount of readers.

      Now, assuming you have a comic that is well-suited for the web, you have to deal with the issue of how you distribute it. Frankly, when it comes to the internet, the widest audience is always the audience who wants something for free... and why shouldn't they? After all, if you won't give them something for free, someone else will.

      Free is actually not a bad business model, however... there are lots of people who give something away for free (Sinfest, Red Meat, Megatokyo, etc.) who get a lot of readers, a dedicated fan base, and who use that as a platform for making and selling books, merchandise, collecting donations, etc.

      Sure, you can try to lock up your creations and sell them, but you have to realize that if you do that, your work will be exposed to fewer people overall. So, if you are trying to make a name for yourself, locking up your creation isn't the best way to do it.

      The ultimate truth, however, is that you have to give the people what they want (or didn't know that they wanted...), in the way they want it. Do that, and you should do fine. Just don't expect fame and riches overnight, because it can take years of hard work to build an audience for anything, and once you have an audience, you have to maintain a "relationship" with them and keep them coming back.

      Some people, like the Bill Wattersons and the Charles Schultzes of this world, can create that simple, humanistic bond with their audience in four panels. You, however, might have to work harder...
  • Great gaming comic-strip! Contains the great trolling laughter you see her on slashdot. Check it out here [warbucket.com]
  • by Sabalon ( 1684 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2003 @10:33PM (#6299732)
    Greed.

    There is probably a reason that the bottom dropped out in the mid 90s. I know that's when I left. Both DC and Marvel were going nuts. Every other issue had some special cover. Every story line was a cross-over event that you couldn't follow without buying into 12 titles. Every other page was a splash page - one big ass graphic.

    The problem is they stopped the story telling in favor of gimmicks. Even now, while the art is amazing in the current books, you still have tons of pages that are half taken up with one image "for effect", and it seems every female is a victoria secret model.

    I'll admit I have a lot of the old (nigh unobtainable) X-men commics in cbr/cbz format (ie. scanned pages in a rar/zip) and read them with CDisplay. I don't mind reading them on the monitor - why? Because the stories are good. The only thing I've bought recently was the latest Frank Miller Dark Knight Strikes Again...a good self-containted story spread over a few issues - just like the older comics were.

    Of course, just like music, you don't have to buy the mainstream stuff. And just like music - just because it's indie doesn't automatically mean that it is good. Some of it is, a lot is crap. Cerebus is probably the only thing that is REALLY worth following :)

    So if they think that comics on the web will save the industry, they'll need to correct the underlying problems first. They'll probably wanna charge for this, so they need to stop making you need to follow tons of titles for one story. Can you imagine if they had the ability to use flash or something to make an issue - tits would be flying around like crazy and splash screens would scroll for five minutes.

    Until they fix the greed they are fucked and will continue to spiral down.
  • Have you ever fancied reading a comic, then suddenly someone makes a film based on it and all the back issues sell out? There's quite a few commercial services where you can read back issues to your heart's content.

    I wrote an article [kimei.org] a few months back that discussed commercial web-based comics, inspired by the release of Crossgen's online service [comicsontheweb.com]. Although reading comics on a screen is obviously not the same as collecting real comics, it's a pretty good way to find something amusing to do during work/un

  • ...is right here [penny-arcade.com].

    But seriously, props to Scott McCloud [scottmccloud.com].

The absence of labels [in ECL] is probably a good thing. -- T. Cheatham

Working...