And boy, have a LOT of people already talked about this one!
After writing the previous post about the Eisner’s and whether or not Digital Comics includes Webcomics (it doesn’t), I did some backtracking and found several recent discussions and mentions about the long-form comics on the Web and whether or not they can be successful.
Seems everyone agreed that some degree of success can be achieved online and have moved on to specific venues in which that success can be found.
First up, I’ll give the floor to the Panel and Pixel forums, where this whole things started. Forum member Steve Horton kicks things off:
I started a new thread about it. Here’s where we talk about how to use the web as a resource for long-form comic books (as opposed to panel or single-page strips).
Most of the discussion about webcomics thus far has centered on the newspaper-style strip format, and admittedly the greatest monetary success has been found in that style. But that’s not the whole picture, as there are a number of webcomics who take their roots from comic books rather than comic strips, and a number of these have found an audience.
How do you use the web as a resource for your comics? Is it the primary venue, supported by print collections? Are you still a print person that uses the web strictly as a promotional opportunity?
Or are you like me, with a foot in both worlds?
Well, are you? The forum thread is still open, and you know there’s always more to be said (i.e. you haven’t said your piece yet) so jump in and let you voice be heard!
If that’s not enough, Fleen has picked up on the story and a podcast by Greg Carter (pictured, right), founder of UpDown Comics (and the guy who sent this story to us, thanks, Gary!) and Gina Biggs(also pictured, also right) of Strawberry Comics, at Sidebar delves a bit deeper into the matter (though it tends to harp more on the usual “How do we make money off this thing?” than anything specific about long-form).
I’m sure this whole thing will go round and round and round and round… *sigh* And round and round, until every comic is online and paper has gotten so scarce, a 22-page comic book fetches a starting price of $199.99. But a comment on the previous post by Rachel Keslensky helped me to realize there should be an outcry as to why we are seen as so juvenile and just a silly alternative to the tried-and-true print form.
<Editorial outcry> I can’t be bothered to read a long-form comic online unless one of two criteria are met:
- The work has just begun and is promised to have a very clear, pre-scripted ending
- Each panel is fed to me regularly in a single-bite-per-update cycle, preferrably on a daily basis
The guys at Act-I-Vate and Transmission X have my attention purely because they follow these guidelines. Phil Foglio of Girl Genius is present in the P&P thread, and he spreads his experience around by suggesting yet another path, where providing the online taste is enough to get readers to buy the whole meal.
Now I sell at a lot of conventions, so I talk to readers all the time. Not just established readers, but people who have never read it, have heard about us from their friends (or whatever) or people who know nothing about Girl Genius at all. They see this row of books, and they hesitate, because getting into Girl Genius could turn into a serious financial commitment, and being a long-form comic, you might be financially committing to a load of suck.
They’re always kind of surprised when I don’t act like I’m eager to sell these books. In fact, I go out of my way to tell them that they don’t have to buy them at all. It’s all free online, here, have a postcard with the url on it and check it out.
This really works. We get a lot of e-mail from these people after conventions (buying books), I get people who come back the next day, having checked out the site at home and they buy books, I get a significant number of people who are so impressed by my confidence that they buy a book right then and there.
Overall, our sales are way up, and I attribute it to the fact that people can examine the product completely before they have to make that financial commitment.
I could also see where this might be viable and, if I were given a significant enough portion that tantalized and titilated my taste buds, I would certainly look into continuing that experience wherever necessary. But simply posting something because the quality is too low to be published or trying to gain attention for pages upon pages of online work with no primer is just no go in my book. </Editorial outcry>
Any thoughts on this, Digital Strippers? … Ok, I’ll think of a better nickname for you all.