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Joey Manley

Growing Comics

Some interesting articles recently on the biz of comics. First Journalista! points out that the website ICv2 recently estimated the entire Direct Market has retail sales of about $650 million last year (ICv2 is a pretty reliable source for numbers on comic book and graphic novel sales). Joey Manley writes "$650 million? Sorry. I’m just not that impressed." Compared to the total market for books it is a pretty small number.

Tom Spurgeon has a short post musing on the issues confronting the different facets of the comics-on-print publishing business. And at CBR, Todd Allen has a column which compares different sales channels for comics: Direct Market, Bookstores, Online Stories, Direct-To-Consumer.

Not a lot to add myself today except some speculation. I'd guess that a large percentage of the $650 million number for Direct Market retail sales is of the superhero genre. I'd find it hard to believe that there's much, if any, room for growth in that genre in comics as it's been so completely exploited by DC and Marvel over the years, so let's guess $500 million in sales as a ceiling for what is still often referred to as "mainstream" comic books. That's only one genre though - if publishers of comic books could develop other genres into at least $100 million plus categories, well, then you'd have a roadmap for the overall growth of comics. Start with popular genres in terms of sales of books and movies that have not been exploited by comics. You're not going to sell these new genre comics through the Direct Market (at least not primarily) but smart, innovative publishers could do it through a combination of bookstores and digital sales.

Developers, Look: Webcomics Nation API

The Webcomics Nation API will allow, among other things:

  1. Posting comics, blogs, etc., to any WCN-engine powered site from any CMS or blogging tool with WCN API support.
  2. Delivering certain public data (comics or blog posts, traffic numbers for individual comics, favorites lists, etc.) to robots, spiders, and other CMS's who know how to ask for it and have permission to do so.

So there's that!

News & Views for May 4, 2007 UPDATED







  • Joey Manley ponders the nomenclature of "webcomics""versus "comics", prompted by someone's description of Dilbert as a webcomic. It's best not to get too hung up on nomenclature. As comics as a medium (not as a genre/format) have gotten (slightly) more visibility in America we can all talk about "comics" at that level. But that doesn't mean the term "webcomic" won't continue to be useful, just as "comic book" and "comic strip" (and more recently "graphic novel") have been used and useful for many years. Given the growth of comics on the web versus every other format though I won't be surprised if most people will begin to use comic and webcomic much more interchangeably. (Manley also links to a Google trends graph of the use of the word "webcomic(s)".)



Free Scott McCloud!

Interubes pundit Clay Shirky posted about Scott McCloud's decision to re-release The Right Number for free (formerly it had been available for purchase via the just recently discontinued Bitpass payments system).

News & Views for Thursday, April 26, 2007









Unknown Webcomic Cavalcade: Flipside

This is a review of Flipside by Brion Foulke.


The blog Techdirt notes the little-remarked upon sale of micropayments company Peppercoin. It certainly wasn't a lack of investment that caused the last big burst of micro-payment companies to fail but given the seemingly short-term memory of VCs and other investors, I wonder how long it will be until micro-payments are "hot" again?

UPDATE: Joey Manley also commented on the end of Peppercoin which he notes launched at the same time as another no-longer-with-us micropayments company Bitpass.

Tuesday Mixed Links



  • The Daily Crosshatch has put up the second part of their interview with Raina Telgemeier.
  • The Comics Reporter interviews K Thor Jensen about the completion of his autobiographical comic Red Eye, Black Eye, which was originally serialized at



Will There Be A YouComic?

Joey Manley, webcomics entrepreneur, posts about "analyzing the market" which he defines as webcomics portals, aggregators and technology providers. (Which as Manley notes is a bit different than the questions an individual creator asks themselves when working on a comic) In the comments there's some talk of Web 2.0 as well which I'll tie into things later on.

Making Comics "Legitimate": Is That What The Community Actually Wants?

Joey Manley, over here, is talking about a post he made over here, about this book here. And having read all three of these things, I have come to an important realization about comics and why they are not in the "mainstream" even though people are working so hard to legitimize them.