2009-02-01 09:17 pm (UTC)
For this post you will be credited 5,000 BULLSHIT ARTISTIC CREDIBILITY DOLLARS on your sales report for this week redeemable for 250 free hugs at your next anime con.
they are called "glomps"
She's not a comics artist, but alexandraerin
has made it work on donations, sponsorships (which she made recently available) and advertising for her stuff. She keeps merch around but it's not the revenue stream. Of course, she's a serial fictionist and not a webcomics artist, but it's still there...I think people are more inclined to want to get merch from a visual medium, and they feel okay with sending her a few bucks each month in exchange for the "free" story.
See this is something I did not know about!
Serial fiction on the internet as a business is FASCINATING to me. I really need to learn more about it.
If anything, Penny Arcade is a really good example of adapting to a medium and its audience of thousands of gamers.
Child's Play, anyone?
Penny Arcade is ALSO the perfect example of two guys who knew nothing about business hiring someone who did (Robert Khoo) and becoming fucking millionaires because of it. The epitome of savvy delegation.
You are damn right and I agree with you in every point you posted in this topic.
I dunno. I kinda dig the "sell T shirts, sell prints" school of comic commerce. I like the ability to have something like that on my wall. I mean...it's not commissioned work, but it's along the same lines, isn't it Jeph? SOmeone likes your work, wants a piece of it for their own, and buys it? Why is there a problem with this?
For the same reason that Wikipedia has a hate-on for webcomics authors and their articles but doesn't see anything wrong with having good articles for published strips. ~*~~*Notability*~*~*~
I think the cat you mentioned has been having babies under my neighbor's porch. The pigeons are terrified, and the bag the cat came from is nowhere to be found. Won't somebody think of the pigeons?
I have never read something like this.
I'm a long time reader of QC, and I've read the whole thing. What got me addicted to your comic and the other webcomics I've read was the fact that the archives were free. Just one comic - of anyone's! - isn't enough to get someone hooked enough to come back. The comics I've gotten really hooked on were the ones that I could check out a couple of strips of to see if I was really that interested, and then start at the beginning and read the whole thing. The guy you're quoting is sadly mistaken if he thinks he can put the archives behind a pay gate and gain any new readers online.
Another comment in support of your points - I like your merchandise because it's connected to your comic. I do like it on its own (most of it, anyways), but really what makes me like it enough to want to buy it is the connection it has to your narrative and art. The person you are quoting who seems to think that tshirt sales are somehow not artistic in the magical fairy ethical pure "artiste" kinda way is totally wrong. Your merchandise is a way that I get to feel a part of your art; it's a sort of interactivity. Creating a cult of followers who want to be part of your creation is the dream of most artists, you and a few other webcomics artists have been lucky and awesome enough to inspire that.
My two intended points exactly.
I first found QC a few months ago and ended up reading the entire thing in a few days. There is no way I would have gotten hooked without free archives. You can't get involved with the characters solely based on the most recent strip--interested, yeah, but not INVOLVED. I would venture to say that a free archive is the most potent method of drawing in new readers, and a non-free archive could easily be a terrific way of turning them off.
Merch is fun because you saw it in the comic, not the other way around. Most of your shirts have been based on very specific strips; why would anyone want the Deathmole design if they didn't know the story behind it? I mean, yeah, the art is kind of weird and cool, but cool art isn't enough to get enough people to buy a shirt to make it worthwhile. The beauty of QC merch is that it's esoteric enough to please the readers, yet generally awesome enough for my little sister, who's never read QC, to love the LGBTerrific shirt I got her. Although, if an artist didn't have a strong fan base, they might end up using the comic to promote merchandise, I suppose.
Incidentally, you have seen http://www.someecards.com/
What a cool analysis. There are similar industries struggling with the same thing, from newspapers online to fine art and music sites. Banner ads may or may not ever take off, and I doubt the New York Times is going to sell a lot of T-Shirts (though cnn.com is selling T-shirts of their headlines!)
Just out of curiosity, how do you feel about product placement in webcomics? If a comic character "happens" to have a Diet Coke can in front of them, or a Ford "happens" to drive by? Movies have been doing it for years, sometimes annoyingly obviously, but then there's also that whole artistic integrity thing again.
Alexandra Erin, who I mentioned previously, has done voluntary, unpaid product placement (only in a particular unit of her story where gift-giving was happening) as a thank-you to a few independent creators that had advertised their merchandise with her. It was really cool, and not invasive at all, although I can't say I would like it if it always happened.
oh wow you are absolutely right, I should add that to the post!
"BULLSHIT ARTISTIC CREDIBILITY DOLLARS" is now my favorite form of currency, and I'm so linking to this entry from my LJ.
is... is this what indie bands start earning less of after they SELL OUT?
It sounds like hes just whining about it really, being dragged kicking and screaming into the world of webcomics so hes going to be a dick while he does it.
I love QC and I will support you and (many) other webcomics as best I can because you guys are freaking awesome :)
I don't think he's whining, I think he's genuinely (and justifiably) scared of his business model no longer being workable. I'd be terrified too if it suddenly looked like I wasn't gonna be able to make a living off my comic anymore. The trouble is, when you're scared you tend to make poor decisions.
"Ted Rall is a big fan of this idea too,
but unfortunately therefore it is completely unworkable and unrealistic."
"Webcomics readers are the best readers in the entire fucking world. We are all incredibly, incredibly fortunate to have you guys supporting us, either monetarily or simply by looking at our websites and enjoying them."
You're adorable when you're self-righteous.
Also: yes, yes and yes.
Ha... as popelizbet
alluded to above, so much of this post echoes my thoughts about what I do as a writer. I recently had somebody quote Ryan Sohmer at me, saying something like "Real artists don't beg." (Referring to donations.)
To me, that's like saying "Real merchants don't haggle." Sure, if you go into Wal-Mart the whole process of buying and selling has been reduced to barcodes and set numbers... the process of bargaining has become collective. But that doesn't mean the person who runs a stall at the flea market selling comics and collectibles doesn't have a real
business. The scanners and cash registers are how Wal-Mart does business, that doesn't mean they're the only way.
It's like I said in the post, ultimately money is money. If you can make a living off of donations that is COMPLETELY AWESOME. It just hasn't proven to be workable in the long term in webcomics yet.
The only way to not be a "real" artist is not to produce art.
You're a pretty awesome guy. Fact.
Yeah but people don't have to PAY to interact with MSPA. What he is talking about is "to suggest where the story should go next, please donate 99 cents."
Donating to MS Paint Adventures is the equivalent of purchasing a custom drawing from, say, Rene Engstrom.
I've not read the whole thing coz I'm in the middle of something, but people having a stick up their arse about webcomic merch as a source of income obviously know nothing about real life. To use a very specific example (that you may not be familiar with, but it's one very recent that I can think of), the comedy duo (troupe?) The Mighty Boosh did a 5-6 month tour recently, and people were bitching about them selling merchandise. They said themselves that, because of the size of most of the venues they play (moderate - small) versus the cost of getting them, their crew, and all their equipment around, paying everyone, hiring the venue, etc, they actually make a loss overall. The only way for them to break even is through merchandise and an eventual live DVD. That said, they are very involved in their merchandise and that, so it's not like they're sticking their names to just anything.
Basically, whoever is shiting on about you and other webcomic artists as being "salespeople first, artists second" is talking a pile of bollocks.
Hope that makes some sense...
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I would much rather take something home at the end of the day then just give you my money. Either way, you're going to keep making the comics (should you make the money), and if I'm wearing the funny T-shirt and someone says "Hey, where'd you get that/what's it from?" I can say "go here [insert url here]" you get a new reader and maybe another purchase. Why settle for donations to keep the comic going when you can sell things that people want and make money, not just get by (that's the ideal, at least)?
Personally, I remember when a certain webcomic artist from Ann Arbor, MI put out the first volume of his comics in print. Back then, I still read and enjoyed his work, so I bought a copy of the book and a blanket with one of the characters on it. He made money, I got something cool.
Why do you have to sell the idea (the comic)? You don't have to pay to watch a TV show when it's being broadcast (cable, premium channels, etc don't count...it isn't pay-per-view episodes), you pay for the DVD's, the memorabilia, and the (OMG) T-Shirts, etc. You have to deal with the commercials, but those keep the show going, so you deal with them. CBS doesn't ask for a donation when I watch How I Met Your Mother.
Although, yes, I do realize TV shows and networks have sponsors. My point still stands.
I must say that I largely agrees with what you're saing. Having not read the blog you're quoting I can't really say if its entirely justified to hack it apart in that way, but from the quotes you display I agree.
Another factor that has to be considered is that from my point of view, it would seem that a very large group of people are seeing this "crisis"* as something completely unexpected freak occurence of economic failure on a world wide basis. It. Is. Not.
The economics on a world wide basis has always been subject to extreme change, often largely unforseen. This is however something that should be forseen. No matter how well we construct our western world and economic powerhouse, we cannot keep the world stagnated and just stay happy. We have to evolve and go with the flow.
Of course the crisis affects newspapers who in turn cuts comics off.
But there is no guaranty that this is how it will be continuing to be for the next many years. The ability to adabt quickly and efficiently to change is instead what I beleive small largly indepented firms in any areas should bet their money on. If the market change, change with it.
Webcomics have a short history, and by now I beleive it its still to early to come with that kind of extreme generalisation that Swaab dishes out.
* "Crisis" instead of crisis, as I beleive it to be to much of a "natural" economic occurence to seriously be seen as a crisis. It is more in nature with a natural disaster that anything else, when considering the history of western economics.
I wasn't trying to "hack it apart" in the sense that THIS GUY IS JUST AN IDIOT AND A JERK AND HE SMELLS TOO, because I think Mr. Swaab is a totally nice guy and worthy of respect. I just don't think his ideas about makin' money on the web are right, is all! It is absolutely nothing personal about the man behind them.
Well said, sir. I think of it like this: You run a Grocery Store, and right next door is an Italian restaurant. The Restaurant Owner's business isn't doing great, but you're still coming out in the black, so he decides he's going to convert over and sell groceries. But when he makes the switch, he's still trying to run it like the restaurant. It's all food, right? It has to work! So you try to explain to him, here, this is how the Grocery Store Business works. Been doing it for years, you say. But HE ran the hottest restaurant in town, he was respectable! He's WAY smarter than you and he'll figure it out on his own. And then he puts himself out of business because he's trying to charge people to walk up and down the aisles, and can't understand why nobody comes to shop.
It's Apples and Potatoes, man. If your nose is stopped up enough you might not be able to tell, but they're barely similar.
hah, that's a pretty good analogy!
I know there are plenty of web comic artists who are able to subsist on the income they make from their website, but they aren't making money from their comics; they're making money from merchandise.
Somebody pointed out to Neil that money for comics artists in the papers comes from Old Navy* purchasing ad space in the papers because evidence suggests that this will result in increased sales at Old Navy stores, right? In other words, the money that comics artists in the papers get comes from sales of merchandise, it's just that webcomics folks don't have quite as many layers of indirection.
*I think there might be one or two other advertisers out there; based on the TV I watch, I don't think Old Navy represents more than about 80% of the advertising revenue that can be had in the world.
YES. This is the point I wanted to make, too.
Many musicians don't make money from ticket sales - the cost of getting to the venue, paying the staff (technicians), etc eats any profit out of ticket sales. So, instead, they make the majority of their money from t-shirt and other merchandise sales.
No one seems to have a problem with this - why is it a big deal for merchandise to be a money maker for other artists?
you're not a "real musician" unless people pay five cents to hear every individual note you make
Another option might be to produce supplementary material, like books. Maybe a fluffy mostly-irrelevant story arc, or something focusing on the perspective of a minor character... stuff that's not necessary in order for readers to enjoy the basic story of the comic, but is just a little bonus for those who want to throw down a few bucks for their favorite comic. I would definitely buy a QC book! :)
Octopus Pie releases books that are mostly the main comic with additional material. So does Jesus and Mo.
I have my OP#1 on the shelf over there. Meredith even drew me an aggravated hipster Cthulhu inside the front, since I bought on pre-order. :D
seems to be making the 'donation drive' model work, with the clever gimmick of doing extra side stories
and having the story directly influenced by the amount of money he gets in donations. So there's that example.
Yes, I was going to post about Goblins. Possibly the best donation-based income I've seen for a webcomic, because it also offers a tiny bit of interactivity (don't donate enough, Tempts Fate dies). And the goal is always exceeded three- or five-fold.
There are two interesting supplemental income revenues I'm seeing from Meredith of Octopus Pie, and Joel of Hijinks Ensue, in addition to selling t-shirts.
Meredith sells the original inked pages when her comic goes up. Going at 150 a pop, that's a pretty penny if she's updating 3 times a week. Joel has a podcast with his friends that he releases for free, but he records an additional segment that usually runs for about 30 minutes. This segment is only available on "The Vault", along wit hhi-res wallpapers and concept sketches, all of which is accessible for a month with a donation.
That said, the t-shirt model isn't going away anytime soon, and to decry it's artistic merit is to decry any creative act that isn't the creator's primary medium. You may as well decry Marilyn Manson's paintings, Leonard Nimoy's photography, and Jeph's music.
Although, Nimoy's photos do suck, in my opinion, but that doesn't decrease it's status as art.