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12/31/2006

Hits Do Fade

Filed under: — Joey Manley @ 12:55 pm

Homestar Runner was, for a long time, the poster child of outrageous success for homegrown media. You don’t hear so much about it anymore. It was a massive, unexpected hit — and made a lot more money for its creators than they probably ever expected. But hits tend to fade over time (this has always been true; even the most evergreen properties — say, The Beatles’ White Album — don’t stay at the very top of the charts forever). Here’s the picture of Homestar Runner’s rise and fall over the past few years, per Alexa:

Their traffic is still respectable — don’t get me wrong! But it’s not what it was. It is likely that at least some of the current hits in the webcomics field will see a similar fading over time. The smartest thing to do, given that reality, would be to use the brand name from the hit comic to launch something related-but-independent with a high revenue potential — like a consumer videogame conference for example — which would be able to continue growing even if the original hit comic has faded.


12/30/2006

My Webcomics Predictions for 2007

Filed under: — Joey Manley @ 2:22 pm

10. Further entrenchment of the “A List”: in 2007, the six to twenty outrageously popular webcomics (you all know who they are) will get even more popular than they were before. This popularity will not trickle down to the rest of the field — or, if it does, not in any meaningful way, because audiences will quickly atomize as they spread out to the thousands of second-tier webcomics (that is, all the great stuff that isn’t outrageously popular), not to mention the tens of thousands of third- and fourth- tier webcomics.

9. Despite this fact, the number of people making a living from webcomics will go from the one or two dozen to the three or five dozen range. Many more — possibly hundreds — will claim to be making a living from their comics, but most of them will be lying.

8. Three or four webcomics businesses will emerge that have significant outside investor backing — these will either be currently-existing businesses growing larger, or completely new efforts. Some of these will get their backing from the comic book industry or Hollywood. Some will get their backing from Silicon Valley. The strategies employed by the former group will be in line with fairly traditional comic book publisher’s strategies — owning intellectual property rights to characters, stories and “worlds,” and monetizing those rights online, in print, and via licensing deals to other media. The emphasis in the latter group will be on providing services, technology, and platforms for entrepreneurial creators to be their own publishers. The latter group will probably do better than the former group, unless one of the traditional publishers accidentally happens on a huge hit, in which case all bets are off, by definition. Interestingly, the comic book industry types and the Silicon Valley types will not compete directly with one another — in fact, the comic book industry types are likely to look to the Silicon Valley types to provide them with the technology they need to get up to speed. Note: this prediction may take four to five years to come to full fruition. Also note: most of these businesses will fail miserably.

7. The trend of experienced creators from the various print industries (mainstream comic books, “alternative” comics, manga, alternative newsweeklies and daily newspapers) launching webcomics of their own will speed up.

6. Marvel and/or DC will do something interesting and meaningful in the webcomics space which will not be very exciting to webcomics insiders — their projects will probably be fairly analogous to what the leaders from that other “comics industry,” King Features and United, are doing with their sites.

5. Rocket Pirates will actually launch and will be quite popular. The webcomics world as we know it will not end because of this fact.

4. Project Wonderful will be purchased by Google or some other similar company.

3. I will, at some point — possibly even in a response to this very post — be called an “asshat” by an asshat.

2. There will be ten times more webcomics at the end of 2007 than there are at the beginning of it.

1. At least 8, maybe 9, of these predictions will not come true, at which point I will depublish this post.


A Cautionary Note for Webcomics Businesses

Filed under: — Joey Manley @ 12:43 pm

Over the past couple of months we’ve seen a lot of new webcomics and comics-related businesses spring up trying to position themselves in the “Web 2.0″ space (we’ve also seen at least one existing business reinventing and reimagining itself in this vein), very probably in an attempt to pull in investment capital from angels and VC’s hopping on the new consumer-web bandwagon. Yes — that’s exactly what I’ve been trying to do. And still am. There are moneyed suitors aplenty, and now is the time to do this, surely. Those of us who lived through the first dotcom boom have been able to convince ourselves that this time, it’s different. I’d be surprised if others aren’t thinking along these lines as well. I still believe that it’s the right strategy for my own business, and the right time to implement it … but this splash of cold water from Paul Kedrosky makes a lot of sense to me, too:

Because the main difference between Web 2.0 and Web 1.0 is that we have higher risks with lower payoffs. It is the concentration of risk, the narrowness of the exits, the low cost of market entry, and the ephemeral nature of consumer markets that makes this a more perilous time.

In other words: this new web boom may be different from the first one not because it’s less dangerous — but because it’s more. Anybody entering into a conversation with any investor, where significant parts of his/her company are on the table to be exchanged, should take this into strong consideration. Building cool things is fun. Losing them in a market collapse is not. In a worst case scenario, one is more likely to lose things if investors are attached than otherwise. No?

I know a lot of you are cartoonists, so here’s an analogy to illustrate my current predicament.

Let’s say you’ve created a comic. If you own it and are self-publishing, you can probably do so, in one form or another, for the rest of your life, regardless of what happens in the larger marketplace — but your chances of success are very slim. If you sell all or part of your work to a publisher, you gain his/her/its muscle and power and money, which may improve your chances of success (though, to be honest, success is always difficult), but the publisher will be more vulnerable to bad market conditions than you, personally, are. You can publish at a loss, or at a slim profit, because it’s your baby. The publisher is only publishing to make money, and will have to do so — and do so significantly well — in order to justify continued effort.

So if you are a pessimist, and always expect the market to collapse, it’s best to hang onto what you’ve created.

But if you’re an optimist, and always expect the market to grow, there’s no reason not to sell some or all of the underlying ownership of your work to a publisher, who can help you grow even faster, and position yourself for your next big move or big project.

Now replace “publisher” with “investor” and replace the idea of a comic you’ve created with the idea of the thing that I’ve created, webcomicsnation.com and etc. That’s the predicament I’m in. Do I give up significant amounts of ownership right now, in the hopes that the market doesn’t collapse, and take my investor and my business with it, or do I maintain full ownership, with the understanding that I’ll therefore be pretty much guaranteed to keep my job — and my project — for the rest of my life?

Advice appreciated.


12/27/2006

The Geekification of America

Filed under: — Joey Manley @ 10:21 am

Last night I went to see A Night at the Museum with my extended family (it was okay — not great, but okay; better than Dreamgirls, yerg).

Before the film, they played the trailer for the next Fantastic Four movie, which features the Silver Surfer, apparently, as its primary villain. While we were leaving the theater, I overheard some 50-something super-made-up-in-the-Southern-style-of-old-school-ladies (think Steel Magnolias) middle-class mother asking her college-aged son, “Do you think Galactus is going to be in this one?”


12/26/2006

Globe-Trotting with Steve Bryant

Filed under: — Joey Manley @ 2:11 pm

John Siuntres of the WordBalloon podcast has just posted an interview with Steve Bryant, creator of Athena Voltaire. Steve’s a consummate pro — a former member and longtime friend of the Modern Tales family, and always has interesting things to say.

Go, listen!


Another Digg Clone

Filed under: — Joey Manley @ 10:29 am

Plugg.us describes itself as a social networking site for artists and webcomics, which gives it a slightly different feeling from the also-recently-launched ComicNe.ws, whose focus seems to be more on Direct Market/print comics (though webcomics news bits are clearly welcome).

There are public domain scripts aplenty out there now for creating digg-like functionality. Would there be value at this point in implementing this kind of thing here on TAC (as a fourth new section, to go along with the forums, blog, and podcast), or maybe on WCN (tied to account profiles, maybe)? Or would that just look like bandwagon-jumping? You tell me … in the comments!


SmackJeeves Resurgent

Filed under: — Joey Manley @ 9:35 am

Lately, SmackJeeves seems to be doing a lot better than it used to, per Alexa anyway (yes, yes, I know all about Alexa’s flaws — but this is the kind of thing Alexa is good for — vague general trends).


I seem to remember that I myself first learned about SmackJeeves from OnlineComics.net, which, of course, is connected via ownership to the recently-launched and wildly popular ComicSpace, which has, in turn, promised to soon start offering webcomics hosting. Maybe there’s a connection there? Or has something else caused it? Either way, congrats to SmackJeeves on its recent uptick in Alexa rankings. They’re a fine community, well worth anybody’s support.

Note: I left Comic Genesis, the largest webcomics community around, off of this chart because they’re so much more popular than any of the rest that the SmackJeeves resurgence would have been difficult to see.


12/24/2006

Minus World

Filed under: — Joey Manley @ 12:39 pm

“Welcome to Minus World Game Studios, Inc. - where misanthropic, heartbrokwn bastards from all over the world have gathered to create overpriced gaming software for millions of whiny, emotionally-stunted morons with cash to burn. Have fun! ”

http://www.webcomicsnation.com/mudron/minusworld/

Too early to tell exactly where this is going, but with a creative team like Bill Mudron and Anne Maloney, here’s your chance to get in on something really, really good as it’s just starting up!


Project Wonderful Outage

Filed under: — Joey Manley @ 12:01 pm

Pages on all my websites were loading very, very slowly this morning — so slowly that I thought we were having another DDOS attack or something. Turns out that our ad provider, Project Wonderful, is down, and the Javascript that tries to connect to their server is hosing up the process, especially where the PW ads are at the tops of pages. I’ve temporarily removed PW ads from most of the pages on most of my sites until the problem goes away (I’ve left the ads in a few places for testing purposes). If you’re one of the people buying ads from me through PW, please accept my apology for the inconvenience. It’s not something I have any direct control over. I know that Ryan is a great guy and a hard worker, as is his hosting provider, whom I also know from a few contacts I’ve had with him online, so I expect that the problem will be taken care of sooner rather than later.

[EDIT — as predicted, the problem is already sorted, and I have replaced the ad tags.]


12/22/2006

GARRITY’S GLEE AT THE MARVEL HOLIDAY SPECIAL

Filed under: — Eric Millikin @ 12:32 pm

Jen Contino over at The Pulse has a brief interview with Shaenon Garrity about the story she co-wrote with her husband Andrew Farago. There are wonderful Ron Lim drawn pages to look at.

I’m not sure which emotion to feel after realizing that I can still pick MODOK, Arnim Zola and the Super Adaptoid out of a crowd but can’t be bothered to learn the names of my next door neighbors beyond “Dude who plays airdrums in his car to Phil Collins songs” and “Chick with lots of festive blinky shit in yard.”

- Eric


12/21/2006

Women’s Work Creator’s Collective

Filed under: — L_Jonte @ 2:33 am

Women’s Work Creator’s Collective

Filed under: — L_Jonte @ 2:31 am

Because a woman’s work is never done, we are pleased to announce…

Women’s Work: a brand-new website for a brand-new collective of women who work in and around the visual and literary industries.

Leigh Dragoon
Shaenon Garrity
Rachel Hartman
Lea Hernandez
Lisa Jonté
Karen Krajenbrink
Layla Lawlor
Karen Luk
Carla Speed McNeil
Rachel Nabors
Leia Weathington
Stevie Wilson

We are creators and storytellers. We’ve banded together and built ourselves a fort in our internet back yard and we invite you to come see. We have a database in which all creative types might take part, and a forum in which anyone might join the conversation.

Art before housework. In a hundred years, no one’s going to care how clean your floors were.


12/20/2006

Falafel Man, here to save the day

Filed under: — Eric Millikin @ 9:36 pm

Haaretz Daily: “… when one of her teachers asked the students to invent a superhero, Maya-Gur knew exactly who her hero would be. At that moment Falafel Man was born. He is the protagonist of her new comic book, which will premiere today at the Ka-Boom! 3 annual comics convention in Tel Aviv (see box).

Like his American colleagues, Falafel Man gained his superpowers in the wake of a strange laboratory accident involving falafel. To his credit, he is far from perfect, and has a sense of humor. He has a glorious beer belly, an uncontrollable affection for falafel and a picture of Schwarzenegger hanging on a wall in his house. Is this loser capable of saving the citizens of Israel from all the criminals and bad guys?”

Eric says: Presumably Bill O’Reilly will sue Falafel Man for identity theft.


On Professional Behavior

Filed under: — Joey Manley @ 2:12 pm

If there’s a prominent, well-respected, and popular comics journalist, who also happens to be gay, and he criticizes the owner of the company you work for in one of his posts, no matter how harshly, it’s probably not a good idea to call that journalist a turd-burglar on your website, even if it’s buried in a comment thread. Most employers frown on prejudice, gay-baiting, alienating the press, public meltdowns, and so on. Maybe not. I dunno. Just a thought. Or maybe Platinum’s attitude toward gays is reflected in DJ’s posts? That would be a shame. The Direct Market has already flushed one openly homophobic publisher down the drain, not too long ago.

[CORRECTION: the actual slur was turdmonger. I’ve screencapped it, since it’ll probably go away soon.]

[DECEMBER 24: apparently the post has been removed from DJ’s website, as has his follow-up post responding to my post above.]


Attitude Books reviewed in The Comics Journal

Filed under: — Eric Millikin @ 12:57 pm

It’s actually in some ways more of an essay on the current state of alternative comics using all three Attitude books as a jumping off point than it is a traditional review. Above is the part where The Comics Journal talks about what a misunderstood genius I am. That’s right, I’m gonna knock your eye out, kids.

You can also find all of the Attitude books on this Amazon page called “So you’d like to… beat your family to death“:

“Does your family understand you ? No ? Then you should put them out of their misery. … Read some Ted Rall. Better yet, read some of the new, provocative [Attitude] cartoonists being published today. They’ll get you nice and angry, so you can burn down the government after beating your family to death.”

Thanks to Ted for the TCJ tip-off — my copy has been sitting on my coffee table for weeks, under stacks of mail I haven’t read. Busy, busy, busy …

Now that I crack it open, I see the TCJ Attitude review is right in front of their American Born Chinese review. For some reason I missed this under the twenty copies of the Frederick’s of Hollywood holiday catalog.

- Eric


12/19/2006

New Serializer artists on the way, maybe you can join us too

Filed under: — Eric Millikin @ 6:30 pm

There are about a dozen new artists set to join serializer over the course of the next month. The artists are a mix of new faces as well as those who will be quite familiar to long-time serializer readers. So, starting right about now, you’ll be seeing new comics in the list of “All serializer comics.”

The first two which are still “coming soon” are “dot dot dot” by original serializerist Marcel Guldemond and ‘Insekt” by new serializer artist Sascha Hommer from Germany. Samples of their art is above, with Guldemond’s in black and white and Hommer’s in color. You can see more of Marcel’s work at http://aporia.brainmade.com/ and more of Sascha’s at http://www.butterbiene.de/

Also, I am now accepting pitches for serializer comics. You can send a concise description of your comic and why I’d want to run it along with links to samples to serializerpitches@gmail.com


Gil Thorp dropping names

Filed under: — Eric Millikin @ 1:14 pm

Courier Journal: “[Gil Thorp writer Neal] Rubin often uses the names of real people in the strip, which appears in about 50 newspapers. Young Rick’s co-editor on the Milford High paper is ‘Helen Marzano,’ named for the wife of Terry Frei, who writes columns for the Denver Post. Rubin once named a character ‘Ken Burger’ for a sports columnist in Charleston, S.C. ‘I need to use names,” he said, ‘and I figure I might as well use names that people get a kick out of. For some people, it might be as close as they ever get to being on a baseball card …”


Lesbian Web comic strip wins grant for print version

Filed under: — Eric Millikin @ 1:05 pm

The Advocate: “The artist of “YU+ME,” a lesbian-themed manga Web comic strip, has recently won a grant to produce a print version. Megan Gedris will receive a $1,000 Queer Press Grant, which was funded by out “Jane’s World” creator Paige Braddock, with a matching amount from Prism Comics.”


Why I Hate Anthony By Shaenon K. Garrity

Filed under: — Eric Millikin @ 12:44 pm

How do I hate thee? Let Shaenon count the ways. Over in her Livejournal, Shaenon Garrity breaks down her nine reasons for hating Anthony from For Better or For Worse.


12/18/2006

Submitted Without Comment

Filed under: — Joey Manley @ 1:28 pm

From a Platinum Studios press release for December 6, 2006 (emphasis mine):

“Top Cow putting Witchblade on DrunkDuck means that the largest webcomics community around is now being exposed to a comic book that is legendary in the print world,” said William Widmaier, Senior Vice President and Head of the New Media Group at Platinum Studios”

From Alexa, December 18, 2006:





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