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    • CommentTimeFeb 13th 2009 edited
    Some of you remember i am comic book store owner, haven't posted in awhile.Been busy. I wanted to post this link to the latest installment of a column i have been writing over at

    From the Frontlines, 3 columns so far.The latest covered Announcements from NYCC

    They are a fairly new site but very professional in presentation and content with leanings toward independent and smaller publishers, but these guys seriously are very capable and driven to report on more diverse array of stories in the world of comic books. The interviews they do like a recent Mike Grell piece are top notch and the site has some great columns.

    anyway there is a quote included from a customer in the column about Freakangels so i placed it here, if its the wrong area Warren please let me know.

    I know a lot of folks here might not agree with some points made by me. This latest column is full of my opinions which i do fell to be well informed, just figured discussion is a good thing and like i said the site is a really nice site.

    Here are a few example of how well Warren's works sell in our store!


    WRITERS BLOC SHELF featuring ELLIS - We cal our subscription service The Collective and well Bloc fits with it, its done in mockery of collectivism

    Our Staff PICKS

    *BTW Warren Hotwire sold out of 35 copies last week here, the re-orders of 25 more almost gone, people love the Pugh cover.

  1.  (5031.2)
    One customer's experience is not all customers' experiences. As evidenced by the tens of thousands of people who read FREAKANGELS online every week, fairly obviously.
    • CommentTimeFeb 13th 2009 edited
    Warren, i know that. I figured many do and are reading regularly, didn't guess that high though. I did qualify the article in that those are my opinions.
    I hear a lot of this kind of talk though very frequently at the store, and we do have a huge customer base with a mailing list of over 1500 customers, and an average of 400-500 transactions weekly just offering a different perspective on the love of all things internets. Also i don't pretend to be a writer, and the numbers for this stuff are a huge unknown, alot of the numbers for online comics and web strip hits or views are not posted or discussed. Believe me i researched for weeks preparing for the column. The only rumors i hear from within the industry is that Marvel's and certain other's efforts to drive readers to online content are seemingly so far a failure considering the readership at torrent and scan sites. The column was partly just addressing how they were going to get people to pay for intangible content, since they can get most of it free. Just my opinions, and i thought including some customer's thoughts were a good idea.

    Re-reading the column now, i do see that it seems a little oddly placed, the quote that is. I never intended what i wrote to be a knock against the idea of the online chapters to be collected delivery method, though it sounds sorta that way. I am open to anything that promotes sequential art, although i do feel you could have sold a lot of units of FA in single issues from Avatar, If they were in standard or non-standard comic issues 1.99-3.99 cover prices and then collected into trade. I would have made more money, and i am guessing the publisher would have as well but i could be dead wrong and the ad revenue or exposure could be making up for any sales lost to the format exponentially. Not claiming to be right, just saying its fair as well for me to say that a lot of people that are pro-digital content over-estimate considerably how many folks are connected to the net and/or have access to a computer. Not factoring in the number of people who just plain don't want to read it that way that are connected. I know had there been a Freakangels comic we would have ordered based on your other works up to 50-60 copies of each issue and went from there to grow readership in our store, based on your previous series from Avatar it would have been a very strong seller. Of course its entirely up to you and your publisher how you present your art, you work online or printed. For me its a matter of the bottom line and feeding my family first and foremost.
  2.  (5031.4)
    Of course its entirely up to you and your publisher how you present your art, you work online or printed. For me its a matter of the bottom line and feeding my family first and foremost.

    You could work harder at making it sound less like I'm stealing food from the mouths of your children, too.
  3.  (5031.5)
    If I may enter into this knife fight...
    As a customer, I don't see digital/web/online comics as anything different than syndicated comic strips. Only on the internet. Do retailers complain that Garfield or Dilbert are being read by far more people than the average spandex guy (even with the death spiral sales of newspapers)? But you can still carry the book versions of those strips in a retail store.

    Having said all that, Freakangels is the only web based comic I devote time to read every week. Others I might check in on randomly. It is not any different than the fact that I read the "funnies" on occasion but don't buy the paper everyday just to read them. I do order collections of some webcomics, such as the few that Dark Horse has been doing. Mostly so I can read the whole thing without having to navigate.

    I was a retailer once, it does not bother me that someone presents comics in another form or fashion. Comics don't belong exclusivly to comic book stores. The mass readership of comics does not even exist in the fandom or Direct Market. Do your damnest to make good with the product you have, or go into a more lucrative business.
    • CommentTimeFeb 13th 2009 edited
    I didn't think i implied that you were stealing food from the mouths of my children Warren, in fact your affording me some luxuries with the way comics you write sell here in my store. I was only stating that me promoting the tangible printed format was a matter of feeding my family and staying in business, which has never been enough for me. I was never comfortable with just getting by, and feel it my responsibility to myself to strive for so much more than just making it like plenty of stores in the direct market do.

    I was just indicating that i thought i would have been able to sell the story as comic issues. Its stream of consciousness method when i am writing pretty much on the fly Warren, working very hard on writing, in high school writing was easy ..just plagiarize cliffs notes or wing it and get a B anyway. I just have passion for the printed comic book, and a vested interest in their survival. I have said that over and over again.

    Kamisami, fortunately for me, we do very well here and also i do my damndest and then some in this business working for 8 years up until a few months ago 7 days a week 60+ hours a week. Secondly, we are all allowed to have opinions. Like assholes, everybody's got one. My opinion is no more valid than yours or Warren's, i have a disdain for a lot of things much as any one does. The column is subjective, obviously. I never said i was right or might not be completely wrong about what i am writing about.
  4.  (5031.7)
    Randy, I very much see your point about missed opportunity for gains, but here are my thoughts:

    Yes, people like tangibility and interactivity, but any new property, even from an established top dog, wants fresh commitment first. You have to turn people on to the work before they want to possess it. You have to make them feel they already own it emotionally, and then it sells. Publishing the strip for free hooks thousands upon thousands of people because all they're asked to commit is their time, and if the work is any good, they happily give their investment in what happens next.

    Every store has its base of course, and certain writers or genres might sell better. But across the board, digital is a terrific recruiting tool for both creators and retailers. Sure, there's floppy money, but to continue the syndicated print comparison, how many more people buy GARFIELD books because they've been reading it free in the newspaper since the '70s compared to if Jim Davis had gone straight to collected cartoons?

    One of my duties at Wizard was to talk with retailers about what they were selling, and I'd very often hear that they'd be selling a bajillion copies of work by somebody on the Hot 10 list that month, but couldn't move their Avatar stuff, even though everyone agrees it's better than JET-SCREAMING X-MEN SUMMER SPECIAL. I mean, surely you've tried to put A SMALL KILLING in someone's hands after selling them a copy of WATCHMEN, right? Tough sell. The only creator-owned work that took off, in my recollection was, Millar's launch, where the numbers dip steep after WANTED (superheroes) and EX MACHINA (superheroes again).

    I went digital precisely because I couldn't get retailers to take my books; it's tough enough for a big name talent who's working at Marvel. I figured I might as well get it out there one way or another. If Warren's got tens of thousands of people reading his book every week, terrific, because you know if it went straight to print an issue would sell...what, 3,000 copies? What's a typical ICV2 # for that? The only way indie, creator-owned stuff is beating the monthly mutants is sustainability -- its sales hold up after the month has passed, and internet has that licked. Besides which, a lot of retailers don't want to have to hang long-term stock like that, waiting for the sale eight months down the line. They want to keep rotating in the new stuff, and who can blame them? So sure, not everybody's reading the page updates every day for my comics, but they'll come back for the collected chapters when life is no longer in the way.

    Finally: sorry, but there's no way comics were "meant" to be read, except, whatever way best rewards the people putting it out, be it money or artistic validation or the chance to sleep with large groups of drunken, knife-wielding fans. Numbers trump anecdotes and intuition.

    To summarize: I see your point, but respectfully disagree. It's only an initial stumbling block to getting eyes on the product, one overcome more every day.
    • CommentTimeFeb 13th 2009 edited
    Great response Brendan, of course its up to the artist or creator.
    I somewhat disagree though, with some of what you wrote. In my opinion, those most vocally supportive of comics online are creators who have had trouble breaking in or have fallen out of favor with the mainstream publishers, or the are new publishers trying to expose their comics online since they can't afford the conventional route via Diamond, which Diamond of course just made even harder. I just want to hear someone show me that it will be profitable for someone, creator or publisher. I know it's not about revenue for everyone but these numbers that trump (readership or views) paid for, id like to see figures other than what people are downloading or reading for FREE. Ultimately for those making their living in comics or wanting to, my feelings are that it will be from in-print comic book sales or some variation of that for a long time. Again i could be wrong, and something could act as a catalyst and propel the technology to a point where this happens sooner and acceptance of online comics as a replacement or viable alternative to in print comic books occurs. I guess i just get miffed when some people would prefer comics that way after comic books never really in my opinion realizing their full potential on the page. My personal feelings, nothing more.
    • CommentTimeFeb 13th 2009
    "Comics don't belong exclusivly to comic book stores."

    You can go over to the CBIA, the comics retailer semi-private forum, and see retailers saying that publishers who make product that is available in the direct-market first, before anywhere else, are exhibiting "good publisher behavior", like a dog that doesn't crap in the house or shred your bathmat.

    • CommentTimeFeb 13th 2009 edited
    Brian, i wish comic books were everywhere.
    I have always argued that comic books should be in all book stores, 7-11's which is where i bought my first comics. WalMart, Target, groceries....they should be at checkout counters and featured anywhere and everywhere. I think as a tool for promotion online comics are great, artistically as valid as their paper counterpart no doubt. I am not some technically challenged old man, that refuses to see the light. I have never said once comic books belong to comic stores, they belong to the creators, publsihers and i guess readers. It does kill me though that some writers and creators like to bite the hand that feeds them, take Boom Studios and launching issues of FREE complete issues of comics simultaneously on Myspace. A lot of folks read North Wind free, i sold exactly 10 or so copies of #1, and maybe 2 copies of 2-5 due to it being free. I tried to work with them and in that particular instance try and see if their promotion would work for us at my store, it didn't. Doesn't mean it didn't everywhere. The disdain for comic book retailer's is unwarranted and sort of amusing to me, we are not all The Comic Book guy from the Simpsons, some of us work very hard to sell the stuff you guys write and draw while enjoying much of it ourselves in the process. I know that a lot of why a lot of creators are very excited about online comics, is the notion that they can be more creative in every aspect, maybe even break the chains of corporate mastership and cut out the middleman through direct distribution from creator to reader ideally, not saying that is all bad. Hypothetically speaking if that were to happen, the worldwide web is a pretty big place and it would be much easier to get lost in the shuffle online with all of the options people have when surfing the web for free content than it would be in the current print industry. So what happens down the road, when people don't want to pay for comics online or in print any longer? Motion comics? I just hope that digital comics at best are a fad, like those clunky VR video games that popped up in arcades in the 1990's like in Lawnmower Man that everyone predicted would be the future of gaming. I think the future of comics is as yet, unwritten.
    • CommentAuthornilskidoo
    • CommentTimeFeb 13th 2009
    I do agree with you to some extent about web-based comix, but I would like to think that the comic medium is big enough to allow a bit of everything. I would NEVER want to see them replace the good stuff, as I freely admit I am a traditionalist; but I really worry sometimes that is the direction we are being pulled.
    Motion comics are still too new. I think alot of the people at the bigger companies are overestimating the number of persons with ready access to a computer, or could even afford an i-pod or blackberry. If the big guys treated motion comics as a marketing tool, like a teaser trailer for a movie to be used in viral marketing- then they might have some place. Right now, I am more interested in seeing how the little guys are using the tech for motion comix. It might blossom as a niche market, just as long as it stays just that- a niche market.

    After all is said and done, I think the media presentation really depends on the content itself. Would Youngblood work as a novel? Would the Satanic Verses work as a monthly funny book? Would anything from Eros work as a motion comic?
    (well...maybe that last one...)

    Obviously, these are lively times, and as such, ALL avenues MUST be explored.
    • CommentAuthormoheinous
    • CommentTimeFeb 13th 2009
    a few holes in your perspective. First after going through the same exact dellima with the recording industry you would think that everyone would have a clearer view of the way things will pan out.I come at this from a middle aged fans perspective, with plenty of discrectionary income to support the comics industry. I love comics and have been reading for 30+ years. digitial comics are not a fad. They are simply the way things are read in the present and moreso in the future. They problem most people have with digital delivery is the interface. I'm not buying the Kindle yet for $350, but in a few years we'll have cheap, lightweight, full size, HD color readers with room for hundreds of thousand of comics,with hyperlinks to annotations, dictionaries and wireless content delivery. I was a late adopter to MP3s too, until i realized i could cary my whole record collection for my entire life on my keychain. While so many people seem to love the idea of holding a comic in their hand, many of us could care less. Content is what matters. Art will transcend the form. Storage, resale issues, travel and enviromental reasons are for me a major impediment to buying lots of print copies.

    Unfortunately the print industry is already an anachronism. Marvel put the nail in it with the recent price raise.

    Whereas an intangible like digital comics just does not yet have the same perceived value. People expect to read FREE it would seem, if not just because of the torrent sites and piracy issues that have yet to be addressed since this initiative, or earlier attempts launched by Marvel.
    FREE being key, because with this massive worldwide web of news, entertainment, games and other online content people expect everything FREE.

    People don't expect everyting digital to be free. Look at itunes. What we expect is cost to reflect the abscene of physical media. The torrent sites exist and are successful because there is currently no way to legally download new weekly comics.
  5.  (5031.13)

    You remind me of the delusional newspaper execs who think the internet is just a fad and is not, in fact, here to stay and growing by leaps and bounds. I'M NOT KIDDING, there are newspaper companies around today that still operate under this assumption (hope).

    I agree with nilskidoo, ALL avenues will need to be explored. There's no right answer for selling content online just yet.

    For me its a matter of the bottom line and feeding my family first and foremost.

    What I want to know is whether you'd talk shit like this to Warren in person. Maybe you didn't mean to be insulting, all this talk of "the publisher would've made more money if Freakangels had been sold as single issues" and such. Maybe you're just sloppy with words.

    The real bottom line, Randy, is that people like Warren keep a roof over your head.

    I was only stating that me promoting the tangible printed format was a matter of feeding my family and staying in business, which has never been enough for me. I was never comfortable with just getting by, and feel it my responsibility to myself to strive for so much more than just making it like plenty of stores in the direct market do.

    What, were you particularly impressed with Atlas Shrugged in high school or something? Why does everything have to be about making money? And not only that, but making MORE than what's required to keep your head above water? Maybe I'm wrong here, but it seems to me that comic shop owners don't retire as millionaires. They run their shops because they love the industry, they want to promote sequential art (as you put it), and they love meeting and interacting with readers.

    If you're so concerned about making more money, get another fucking job. And how will you find the new job? Will you pick up a newspaper or will you go online? That's besides the point, but still.
    • CommentAuthornilskidoo
    • CommentTimeFeb 14th 2009
    One point I would really like to throw in here is that, for the time being (and hopefully for many, many years to come), the retailer IS and REMAINS a valid link in the chain. Whether it's comic shoppes or book stores, such institutions are still moving more of the tangible product than online distributions.
    Do not make the mistake that certain publishers and distributors seem to be increasingly unwilling to acknowledge- the fact that the shopkeeper has the streetside view of all sales. They are directly playing point for the industry. Of course their's is no road to riches, but that does not give people like DDC the right to give the process further complications.
    In the very same sense of all avenues deserving exploration for the health and well-being of the industry, so to do all links in the chain require and deserve support.

    Cut out a thighbone and the body will walk funny for life, no matter how strong the arms, no matter how true the eyesight.
  6.  (5031.15)
    It's my strong opinion that comics are hostage to their fans and have stagnated because of it. Creators and publishers need to be doing exactly the things that the fans don't want or haven't thought of, both to reach new audiences and to show existing fans that there's more than one way of doing things.
  7.  (5031.16)
    @Randy74 - Hey man, just a quick thanks for the huge amount of Avatar books you do move for us. Without retailers like you, we couldn't survive. I can see your point of view that you might make more off FA as a comic, but I believe that it is a long-term play. As the years go by, and you have a whole shelf of FA volumes to sell to fans, it will end up being a very powerful earner for you. In the meantime, certainly our commitment to monthly books and a healthy TPB program should give you quick monthly hits of cash. Thanks for all your support.
    • CommentTimeFeb 14th 2009
    @ William Christensen - Thank you for putting out great comics, a lot of customers here are looking forward to RawBone, including myself. Delano is a a really underrated writer in my opinion, i am sure he has some great stories to tell. Outlaw nation is one of the best comics i ever read, glad it was collected by Image eventually. I hope you guys have more in the work with Ennis to, Streets of Glory was a strong seller and Crossed is selling out every issue here.
    @ Paul I agree, pushing the limits of the medium and diversification are key to growth and the heath of the industry.
    @ Moheinois & tcatsnin - No holes, my perspective is mine alone. Its my perception and how i feel.I knew someone would come along and compare apples to oranges sooner or later.The music industry, suffered from stagnant and over saturated marketplace long before it was headed toward its current state. Music is intangible to begin with, you can't hold it in your hands regardless of seeing a band live or buying and CD and hearing it through a stereo or listening to your i pod. The comparison doesn't equate. I would love to see the hard data that you are basing you predictions on for print being an anachronism.It doesn't exist, i have researched. You would have to explain to me how these persons producing these comics for your kindle or i phone would be rewarded other than artistic validity and personal satisfaction. What i am saying is that until their is away to collect revenue that is equal to the printed format revenue or greater, digital comics will be experimental at best or a fad worst case scenario. Examples : Wowio, Marvel Digital, have not even shown promise for creators reaping the rewards both personally as far as getting their art into the hands of readers and financially are receiving from the printed format of a successful comic book series or graphic novel. Before i go on, i know Marvel Digital is still only a little over a year old..but how are creators of the work presented their being paid? are they? Also look at i tunes, then look at the hundreds of FREE legal and illegal music downloading sites that i pod users go to to circumvent paying for the downloads. Facts are, in a study conducted by the music industry itself 95% of music that is downloaded is downloaded illegally. Collating separate studies in 16 countries over a three-year period, IFPI (official study conducted on behalf and funded by the music industry) estimates over 40 billion files were illegally file-shared in 2008, giving a piracy (illegal) rate of around 95 per cent.' So if there is a comparison to be made, it is that the music industry for all their resources and money can't cauterize the rampant piracy,w hat makes you think for a second in theory that digital comic content would be any different. Yes, people absolutely expect intangible online content for free. Another fact, online newspapers and news distribution accounts for roughly 4% of media revenue. So i won't be looking for a job if digital comics are/were the future. I have been diversifying for years, selling pop culture items, dvds, posters, toys, collectibles and even other sideline items and if i ever thought that i wouldn't be able to make a living i would have the foresight to move on and into a better situation, without passing the buck or placing blame on someone else.
    tncats - I have had a decent amount of exchanges with Warren here on his board, he has put up with a lot considering this forum is his own. I respect that, i have always enjoyed the intelligent posts and cool information and things i would have otherwise not known about if not for this site. I would absolutely talk to Warren, i don't think i wrote anything disrespectful at all. Maybe using Freakangels was not a perfect example, but in my column it seemed to fit in. In context it was written, it was just an example of sequential art, comics online and one customers experience in reading it. I probably could have used the Boom studios model as a better example, Freakangels is great to me and i read most of it online myself, but again my only point was that it was free. I don't see any argument to make, that's his choice. He is one of the few writer that is really pushing the limits, CRECY was the best comic/GN i read last year. We sold tons of CRECY by the way even with the price pint of 6.99. So with all of that said, people are flocking to his comic works online & printed because he over a long period of time through his writing in printed format built up a strong following. Comic book store were integral in supporting and promoting his works, i don't feel that he owes any store anything including mine. I would never suggest that, or insult him. As far as being sloppy with words goes, seriously i have said i am not a writer, and what did that question have to do with the topic other than making a strained attempt at a personal attack?
    • CommentTimeFeb 14th 2009
    - The real bottom line - is that no one but me keeps a roof over my head and that at best the creator / store dynamic a two way street.
    If i didn't sell Ellis's works at all, i would still have very diverse and well stocked store. I would never not sell his works, for one he is one of my personal favorite writers. Two, that would be stupid to somehow assume that you speak for him since you, you know post on his forum. Three, customer are really into him as a writer, same with other unique talented writer like Morrison, Ennis, Wood, Moore. He has put a lot of time and effort into his work and it shows, long term we ware still selling Transmet and Planetary and no signs of it slowing down.
    • CommentTimeFeb 14th 2009 edited
    To answer you last paragraph :
    You Wrote "What, were you particularly impressed with Atlas Shrugged in high school or something? Why does everything have to be about making money? And not only that, but making MORE than what's required to keep your head above water? Maybe I'm wrong here, but it seems to me that comic shop owners don't retire as millionaires. They run their shops because they love the industry, they want to promote sequential art (as you put it), and they love meeting and interacting with readers."

    My response : Nope. Read Ayn Rand rabidly after reading about Ditko's supposed obsession with Rand & Objectivism when i was around 20 or so. I don't follow ism's and so whatever i interpreted and read from Rand had a profound effect on some of my views. It has gotten me this far in life, i make no apologies for reading and interpreting someones writings and applying those philosophies to life or business. In that same regard, i wouldn't judge someone whose outlook is not the same. That's just silly, and off topic. I want to do better so that everyone benefits, nothing wrong with that. I came from a blue collar family, have a high school education and a few community college courses, not the measure of someone's worth. The value placed on education is a societal apparatus. Never said i would retire a millionaire, and let me set you straight about something. I am more passionate about comics than just about anyone i have ever known. I have been reading them since i was 5 years old, so nearly 30 years.This comic book direct market business is one of the most unsure, unstable and cash intensive real time business ventures in this world. Also since i remind you of a newspaper salesman that doesn't recognize the existence of the internet, which is a really trite assessment of someone you don't know from what i wrote on this forum. Making it work and succeed, staying ahead of the curve and using the internet through facebook, Twitter, LJ, Myspace, Comicspace, Meet-up, Bebo, email mailing lists and other functions has helped me grow and nurture comic books within and out side of the community here. Trust me when i say, if there were more stores that were less clubhouse and more so business minded, the comics book industry would be much better off. We carry over 350+ titles in single issue format, we feature local artists and creators buying from them outright their works when most stores in our area only carry Marvel and Dc. We work with bands, local business, church groups, schools, librarians and more. I know hard work is somehow seen as a some kind of outdated concept occasionally here it seems, but we get back what we put into this.
    The best part about my job is getting to know my customers, kids to adults, men & women, doctors, lawyers, detectives, firefighters, policemen, soldiers, car salesmen all with one thing in common, they love comic books and i get to talk to them every day and form a relationship with each individual that sometimes may last years. There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to do well or better in life, never thought i would see the day when someone would expect someone to feel guilty for doing so. Its a shame really, i know an artist and self-proclaimed socialist that was really pissed of about Katrina and the government handling of that crisis but he didn't have a pot to piss in. I was so pissed off and saddened, that i sent three large contributions to a relief fund that was dispersed directly to victims of Katrina in no less than two weeks after the event. Why was i able to do so? Simple really, but i am not going to argue politics or of social issues here, no way.

    Your statement : "If you're so concerned about making more money, get another fucking job. And how will you find the new job? Will you pick up a newspaper or will you go online? That's besides the point, but still."

    My answer : That is not my primary concern, my primary concern is health and happiness, but i am a realist so unfortunately money plays a large role in those concerns for almost everyone these days including me. I plan on selling comic books for at least the next 20+ years, its too much fun recently hiring a manager i plan on spending a little more time with friends and family.

    I won't be looking for a job, worst case scenario i have many friends in a lot of different business's and have been looking into franchises and going to meetings and weighing options.

    Also if anyone is looking for a job i hear and are the sites to go to.

    In closing, this is Warren's forum. If anything i said was unreasonable to him or out of line he will do what he sees fit, I Have always enjoyed posting to him numbers, because i don't feel that a lot of stores are connected to creators in a street-side way and they might glean a little information that is helpful
  8.  (5031.20)
    I agree with you that there's no evidence for print being an anachronism. It won't be until screens are close to paper thin, and capable of displaying an image at 1200+dpi. Once we're there (or at least much closer), we'll see what happens, but until then screens are for the most part no replacement when you're dealing with artwork. I mean I can make out each individual pixel on the screen I'm currently using with my naked eye! As far as reproducing artwork is concerned, that's a primitive state for the technology to be in.