With the recent announcement of the demise of Modern Tales’ AdventureStrips line, Interviews Editor Leah Fitzgerald tracked down Christopher Mills — the driving force behind the shortlived subsidiary. In the interview that ensued, Mills offers his thoughts on what happened, on the fate of comics that were hosted on AS, and what is slated in his own future.
COMIXPEDIA: Adventure Strips closed because it wasn’t getting an audience of subscribers. What audience were you looking for? Why do you think you couldn’t get enough subscribers?
CHRIS MILLS: I’m a fan of well-drawn, well-written adventure comics. At various times in the past there were a lot more of them available to consumers. I’m not just talking about Silver Age comics, or newspaper comic strips, but comics that spanned a variety of genres and told exciting, action-filled tales. I happened to know a lot of creators who wanted to do those types of comics, and I assumed that if there were a lot of creators who wanted to tell those stories, there must be lots of people who wanted to read them.
If so, they never found the site.
I don’t know why. I have some theories, but they’re really just guesses.
Each person you ask will give a different reason. I insisted on a certain format, and perhaps that was part of the problem. I wasn’t able to add new strips and other features as rapidly as I hoped. Perhaps there was a perception that there wasn’t enough value for the subscription price because we had fewer strips (although around the same number of creative people – we had more teams) than Modern Tales. I don’t know.
I’ve worked in publishing for around twenty years. Ultimately, even with expensive and extensive research, nobody knows with utmost certainty why some publications don’t find an audience. I’m just very disappointed that AS didn’t.
CP: Joey has mentioned he’s willing to take some of the comics to Modern Tales. Have any confirmed yet?
CM: I really don’t have that information; I’m not involved in that. But I believe that quite a number of the strips will continue to be published by Joey Manley under the Modern Tales umbrella…. and I’m very glad of that. I’d like to keep reading them.
CP: What do you think makes the difference for Modern Tales and its sister sites (which seem to be more or less successful, including American Elf) and Adventure Strips?
CM: For whatever reason, the paying webcomics audience just prefers those comics. I like a lot of them myself. Kolchaka’s diary strip is brilliant.
CP: Do you think other subscription and pay for content comic sites can survive (i.e., Evolution Comics and the soon to be launched Creature Features)? Why or why not?
CM: Any subscription or pay comics site will have to have the full commitment of the creators, editors and publisher. Everyone involved has to give 110% and expect very little in immediate returns. Patience is important. It also helps if they have enthusiastic fans to spread the word. And they may still not succeed.
As to the sites you specifically mention, I haven’t seen their material, and even if I had, I wouldn’t be able to say. After all, I thought AdventureStrips was going to set the webcomics world on its ear. I do wish them success (and luck), however.
CP: What plans do you have for the future?
CM: I expect to remain the hardest-working unknown in comics. I have a website of my own, www.supernaturalcrime.com, where I’ve been publishing an online strip called Femme Noir for two years with Joe Staton. Joe and I currently have a proposal for a comic book miniseries featuring the character doing the rounds. There’s been some Hollywood interest. I’m also hoping to get back to writing some prose fiction; I had a couple short detective stories published a few years ago, and I’ve been itching to do more. I may even do some more Gravedigger comics, either with Rick Burchett or some other artist. I’ll be busy.
Leah Fitzgerald is the Executive Editor for Interviews. More Details.