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  1.  (8975.21)
    Just finished drawing a comic with motion-comic aspirations -- was a bit of a pain and I think I interfered with my own layout ability to satisfy the needs of the animation. I hope people give up on motion comics in tha same way people gave up on colorizing old films; it's pointless and unnecessary.

    A screen of comics reads as well as a page, so I see no need for added bells and whistles that actually interfere with the strengths of the medium.

    Talking about this over the years I've decided there's no real worthwhile difference between the digital and floppy formats -- both feel disposable and have bad commerce structures. Historically, when digital comics charge they fail, and the floppies are creaking along worse than the Titanic after kissing the iceberg; there's not enough there to justify the 4.00 for 22-pages and cover (or four). The slide toward a hybrid economy is interesting and I think Warren's Isubscribe app idea is worth exploring as well.

    While developing something for the current market I think creators have to go in knowing the floppies aren't a viable source for capital, they're promotional materials for trade collection that can potentially cover their own production costs. If that mental step is taken, then free web distribution isn't the bogeyman so many people think it is as it's also essentially promotional material for a trade collection. As promotional material the goal is to hit as wide an audience as possible towards your actual profit-generating material -- a physical book. Anyone developing a new story would be wise to prepare the web promotion and have it start well in advance (a year?) of any floppy edition (if that's a route desired) and price the floppy to break even.

    I'm not particularly impressed with most trade collections today -- there's an overwhelming sameness which makes them feel cheap. The physical object has to be desirable and feel like it's unique to the contents. If the comics are readily available for free, then these are really crafted for the collector market, but not the sort hoping the product would go up in value. The physical book should be made so that a fan of the work wants to collect it out of affection for its personal value to them.
    • CommentAuthormushi
    • CommentTimeSep 28th 2010
     (8975.22)
    I wouldn't say that Freakangels is that much of a Pioneer, there's the Foglios doing their Girl genious thing since 2001, and stuff like megatokyo and the like, where those authors have gone on to make it their only source of revenue (yes, I also think they must be some kind of itinerant squatters). Freakangels is new, as far as I understand in that it's an actual publishing house supporting the authors. so yeah, there are pretty of examples that you can actually make a living out of a free webcomic, namely from the merchandising.
  2.  (8975.23)
    Before I got my iPad I was in the school of thought that there was no way a webcomic creator could sell their book via an app when people could just read it for free in the browser. I now realize that the added value of an app is the superior, convenient and comfortable reading experience. I'd gladly pay for an app for a longform webcomic because it would allow me to dip in and read it at my convenience without having to zoom in and fit each page on the screen and without having to manually bookmark where I left off if I need to stop and go do something else. Plus it would hopefully push new pages automatically and maybe notify me when it does.

    Another possible option for even more added value to the digital version: I was listening to a novelist (whose name I can't remember) on one of Mur Laferty's podcasts talk about a brilliant idea he had for serializing his novels through e-book installments. His theory was that a physical book is a "souvenir" of your reading experience. You don't necessarily need to read the story that way but you like to have it up on your shelf to show off that you read it. What he was doing was giving his readers the opportunity to pay to subscribe for his e-book installments and in the end they would get a hardcover copy of the finished novel.
  3.  (8975.24)
    "I wonder if people would pay for an iPad app (as you described) if the comic was still freely available online?

    I strongly doubt it. "

    I don't know - JA Konrath is making a pretty good chunk opf change selling ebooks (he's recently crested over 100,000 sold) and his best selling ebooks are available for free at his website, and were available there before he started selling them. So it may well depend on format and where you're selling them.
    •  
      CommentAuthorjamaicad
    • CommentTimeSep 28th 2010
     (8975.25)
    I was fascinated when Warren posted about this last week, and it's caused me to think about my own webcomic and how to change its format in the upcoming months. I put together a Comicpress website almost 3 years ago, and by now I have a couple hundred pages up there, available to read, for free. By now I absolutely hate the format, but I'm terrified to mess with it because I'm pretty sure the whole archiving system will come down like a pack of cards. The weekly distribution system just doesn't work for a longform story like mine, dealing out single pages makes it pretty much unreadable, so I'm very excited to try putting out mini issues for a few cents each.

    What I would like, as an artist, is an easy way to do this. I barely have time to write and draw the damn thing, I don't want to have to learn programming to release an app for it. Have your creators sign up for an account, and makean easily downloadable program like flickr to batch together your comic images along with a cover and some extra content and at a push of a button send them off to subscribers, and you've got something beautiful.

    I love the .99 cents model. But about free content, by putting up my work for free, I've noticed that every convention I've done since then, I'm approached by new readers who recognize my comic, feel like they know me, and buy my graphic novel on the spot. That feeling is awesome. And I sell out of my books pretty consistently at shows, as well.
  4.  (8975.26)
    @jamaicad Yeah, I've been wondering if we will get ourselves a Comicpress-type company for app development. Not that it isn't possible to get small press and webcomics onto Comixology or Graphic.ly. There's also a newish company called Oxicomics but I don't know how their deal works.

    Then there's e-books which I've been starting to look into a little. Much more attainable than apps from a technical perspective. Right now it seems like barely tread ground for comic creators probably because right now the format is mostly friendly to art that will look good on a black and white Kindle screen. But that's changing really quick.
    •  
      CommentAuthorFinagle
    • CommentTimeSep 28th 2010
     (8975.27)
    @RichBarrett - yep, that's it exactly. Aside from the actual motion comic idea and the "DVD Extras", having the actual advantages of the platform exploited well without simply making an ebook out of the TPB is what I'd pay for. That's going to go for the tablet space in general, and it doesn't seem far out that someone will eventually release a general-purpose markup app/reader/library for enhanced comics, so you can just mark up your content and release. And I'd be very into combining it with a Kickstarter or pay as you go model to get new pages pushed to the app as they are released.
    • CommentAuthorTom Akel
    • CommentTimeOct 1st 2010
     (8975.28)
    @mushi Did the Foglios make money off printed editions of the comic or merch? I don't know so I'm asking. If its merch, then its a very different thing. There are tons of site with great IP, I can name 10, that make money off t-shirts and stickers, but not on collected editions of comics. That's the business model I'm referring to.
    • CommentAuthormushi
    • CommentTimeOct 1st 2010 edited
     (8975.29)
    both, same thing with megatokyo and I guess now applegeeks.
  5.  (8975.30)
    Resistance to a 3.99 print comic stuffed with ads and existing is one chapter of six required to read a complete story has very little to do with whether or not people would pay .99 for a digital comic.

    If I told you you could buy next month's Wolverine for under a buck and read it whenever you want, day or night, you'd go for it if the only change was when you weren't reading it, it wasn't cluttering up your house. If you really loved the story, you might want to own the trade, to possess the Thing Being rather than its transient cousin, but as it unfolded, you'd probably go for it.

    Hell, you could even offer coupon off the trade based on the number of digital issues purchased, and guarantee yourself another $10 gross profit off a story that someone loved enough to have to own.

    And bear in mind, today's Marvel or DC reader is very rarely a teen or pre-teen kid hording precious comics to treasure and re-read. He's 20s to 40s, and to him, these aren't hard-won prizes, the sole victors of a scant allowance. The possession isn't the same as it is for a kid.

    Or maybe I'm projecting at the end there.
  6.  (8975.31)
    I'm having a time out until I can learn some manners.
    @ jamaicad

    an option for distributing you e comic is <a href="http://comicrack.cyolito.com/">comic rack</a> which I use a lot its real simple. You put your pages (named in order) in a zip file or rar file and rename them from comic01.rar to comic01.cbr or comic01.zip to comic01.cbz and upload it somewhere for ppl to get. its a free application that you can make a donation too if you like. You will need winzip or some other thing like that to work with it.
  7.  (8975.32)
    This is mostly in reply to Brendan McGinley, but it has wider relevance.

    One thing that seems to make a tremendous amount of difference in all of these discussions is the value of advertising in each medium. If there's no ads in digital comics, then print is going to have a source of revenue that digital comics don't have. I think that's been a killer for some time now.

    However, digital comics and dead tree trades have always held more utility for me than dead tree comics because I don't have to take regular time out of my life just to acquire them. I try to be making things or consuming content with almost all waking moments I have. Going to stores is a huge pain when you've got 12 hours of experiments to do, the coffeeshop is closing soon and you have some writing that needs to be finished, etc. etc. So I see more utility in the digital comic, and I think that utility might be enough to overcome the ad thing.

    However, I think ads are an eventuality in digital comics, and then the battle is going to come down to the elephant in the room for all print vs. digital debates. "What is the relative value in terms of new sales generated of a print ad versus a digital ad?"

    I ask myself this question every time I hear a newspaper is struggling, because I think if you studied it with Science, you'd see that the print ad actually generates more per capita sales for the advertiser. But I'm just guessing.
    •  
      CommentAuthorVornaskotti
    • CommentTimeOct 4th 2010 edited
     (8975.33)
    (sorry if this goes a bit here and there - sleep deprivation is a bitch)

    Hmm, I'll also have to disagree with people not paying for an app if the content was freely available. Surprising amount of people are willing to pay for stuff they really wouldn't need to pay for, if it's made really easy for them. I'm currently working in movies, in a multi million euro budget movie that relies heavily on crowd financing, and people are happy to pay us in a several ways even though the film isn't even filmed yet. Movies and comics are totally different business models of course, but what I think I can take from that side to this conversation is the fact that if people find something cool, they are willing to support it financially. If this works for a movie that's not even made yet, I can't see why they wouldn't pay for an ongoing comic series that produces new material every week.

    I think people are happy to pay to support stuff, but also for comfort. All the music you can think of is available for free online, but still people subscribe to Spotify, because it's just so much easier. For me a handy app for following comics would be added value I'd be happy to pay for. Even better, if the app would work for both on my computers and mobile devices. My ideal situation would resemble something like how iTunes and similar programs handle podcasts, which just automagically appear in your library once they are published. I'd be happy to pay for that, and for the content in there.

    Also, I strongly believe that people would pay for free net content if it was voluntary and easy enough - just to support stuff they like. If there was a "pay an euro for every Freakangels installment" type of thing available, I'd subscribe to it. Especially if it included some kind of extra content, like creators' commentary or something nifty yet not hard to do (I think in many countries you can't just accept donations for art for legal reasons, you'll have to actually sell something). The thing is, setting up a system like this is easy from the technical side, and when it's up, it practically runs itself and creates free money. I'd like to a voluntary subscription system in more of the free online comics I read - I would like to give the creators some money, without having to order stuff I don't really want or need.

    I spend a considerable amount of money in entertainment monthly, even if I could get it all free online. My problem is that I despise and detest having to buy plastic or wood pulp with my entertainment, or having to go and see if an easily copyable thing is available. This is my reason for reading relatively few comics: I just don't want to order them as paper copies, but I find it morally icky to download unlicensed pdf's from torrent sites either. I end up borrowing them from pals, which isn't wholly satisfactory since I'm still not supporting the creators. I for example enjoyed the Transmetropolitan series immensely, having borrowed it from a pal, but I still haven't found a way to thank about it financially (apart from buying the albums, which I don't want to do, because ugh, more stuff on the shelves).

    I recognize that by actively shunning all physical copies and wanting to pay for all the stuff I read/watch/listen to I'm not the most typical variety of customers (YET), but just a reminder that people like me exist, waving wads of money and waiting for the entertainment business to let them pay for stuff.

    One idea I've been tinkering with is the creators selling a kind of license to their products: you buy a license to an album, a book, a game or whatever, and you are free to get the media in any way you see fit, like downloading it as a torrent, copying it from your friend, etc. So, essentially, you would be buying a clear conscience for downloading stuff and the publisher would be "outsourcing" the actual distribution. Nowadays I'm thinking that the financial structure of the movie business is far too difficult to make it ever work there in foreseeable future, but I'm not sure how this would work in the comics business.

    So, would something like this work in the comics business, do you think? On a bureaucractic/technical side, that is. Obviously this could be seen as condoning piracy, which is a windmill the traditional business is still trying to fight, so accepting it might be a rocky road.

    1) The publisher offers licenses for albums, with a reasonable price (cheaper than a new, physical album).
    2) I buy the license, maybe get something in the mail that says "Yay, you paid for Transmetropolitan vol 1, have fun reading it from where-ever".
    3) I go to a torrent site and download the album as pdf's with a clear conscience. If the copyright cops raid my house, I can show them the license: I paid for this stuff, never mind I got it from a torrent.

    This would again be essentially free money for the publisher. The interesting questions is how much this would eat the sales of the physical copies and would the new income stream offset the effect. I'm not so sure it would cannibalize the traditional sales too much, because in my experience people who buy albums are collectors, who want massive walls of comics. If anything, it would bring money from the casual crowd.
    • CommentAuthorgzapata
    • CommentTimeOct 4th 2010
     (8975.34)
    See the confusing thing I have with digital and physical media is that from my understanding don't we have a right to have a copy of something we own? Like a movie can be copied if we own the original, same for music. Is the same for comics though? If I own for instance Hellboy volume 5 am I allowed to have a digital copy of it?
  8.  (8975.35)
    gzapata:

    It's down to each country's copyright laws. Here in Commie Reindeerland you are allowed to copy stuff you own for your own use provided you don't crack any DRM while doing it, but downloading it from a torrent is illegal. No clue how it goes under US law, but I'd suspect downloading it from an unauthorized source is illegal in there too. How stuff like this goes is by no means intuitive.
    • CommentAuthorgzapata
    • CommentTimeOct 4th 2010
     (8975.36)
    @Vornaskotti- Yeah I'd forgotten to add in that it must be for personal use only. I don't know about cracking the DRM though or whether downloading a torrent rather than copying directly from your copy would be illegally. I suspect it might be similar in the US with those 2 issues though.
  9.  (8975.37)
    gzapata: Well, DMCA forbids cracking DRM. But now we are straying from the actual subject, so let's continue this elsewhere if needed.
    •  
      CommentAuthormister hex
    • CommentTimeOct 4th 2010
     (8975.38)
    Reading this article on iFanboy helped me coalesce some thoughts : http://www.ifanboy.com/content/articles/Format_Wars

    "Paper's secret weapon" is that you don't need anything special to read it. No fancy gizmo that's going to be obsolete in a few years, no software that's going to be unusable before you know it. In the digital age, things aren't meant to last and if you don't keep up with the tech, you're going to lose out and people will laugh at you.

    I am very much not a tech person. I'm one of those people who can barely turn a computer on, much less monkey with code or fix something if it's broken. I just learned how to cut and paste not long ago. I'm a Luddite and I like it. I still have casette tapes that make me cry with a mixture of joy, nostalgia and sadness and I still listen to them. I have twenty-odd year old VHS tapes that are still watchable, still playable. I have lots and lots of comics, on paper, stuff that isn't available in a digital format because a) they're rare/scarce/"an acquired taste", shall we say and b) no whiz-kid techlord has ever seen them/scanned them.

    I remember when vinyl went "out" and cd's came "in". Now cd's are "gone", vinyl's "back" and it's all about MP3s. Until they change the format AGAIN. I have Microsoft documents that open up as gibberish because Microsoft's new software can't read them.

    So yes, by all means, digital comics. Just don't come crying to me when you drop your collection in the toilet and it's wiped out. Or when you have to buy a new reader every two years. Or when that cherished comic you downloaded is nothing but a random string of numbers and some color bars.

    In the immortal words of Granpa Simpson "I used to be 'with it'. But then they changed what 'it' was. Now, what I'm 'with' isn't 'it' and what's 'it' seems weird and scary to me. It'll happen to you, too."
    • CommentAuthorTom Akel
    • CommentTimeOct 4th 2010
     (8975.39)
    @John Skylar

    Agreed, ads are the future biz model of comics. I think we'll see that shift happen over the next 5 years. It will start with 99% of rev generated through DTO, but there are and will be more, ad-supported free comics online, and once the traffic and CPM values reach certain numbers, you'll probably see much more investment in that model.
  10.  (8975.40)
    Okay, partly spurred by this thread, in the weekend I finally checked out Comixology. Today I realized that in three days I've bought more comics than in the previous decade - really.

    I have now found a distribution model that makes me a happy paying customer, instead of a "borrow from a pal and feel vaguely guilty" freeloader. The Comixology site usability is horrible, but the iPhone app is great and the reader on the site is good. I don't care about having a shelf full of albums, or amassing a comic collection - I just want an easy way to go browse for something interesting to read, pay with it with a couple of taps, download the comic on the go and spend the train/bus/plane trip, lunch break or a boring evening in a hotel room comfortably reading the comic I just bought. I talked about this online with other 30-something pals and got more than one "yeah, Comixology + the app really has saved my sanity on my work trips" type of comments.

    Interest in comics: rebooted. I really hope there will be a larger selection of digital comic shops available soon.