At the tail end of February Chris Crosby announced that he had closed a deal to buy out the shares of Darren "Gav" Bleuel and Nate Stone in Keenspot Entertainment. Although Bleuel and Stone are to provide technical support to Keenspot through the summer, from now on Keenspot will be strictly the Crosby show. And following on the heels of this announcement, Keenspot has moved to offer to its roster of creators a new advertising split. In this brief interview we catch up with Crosby on these recent announcements, the 8th anniversary of Keenspot itself, and the 9th anniversary of Crosby's webcomic Superosity.
You recently announced that you and your mom, Teri Crosby had bought out Darren "Gav" Bleuel and Nate Stone. I assume that means that you and Teri now own 100% of Keenspot Entertainment through Crosby Comics. Why was now the right time to buy out your longtime partners?
We've wanted more control over Keenspot for a long, long time, and a buy-out is something we've discussed on-and-off with Darren and Nate for the past few years. I can't really say for sure why now was the right time, but I think it had a lot to do with the internal discussions about introducing a new system for our creators that could drastically lessen the ad revenue generated by Keenspot. We were the biggest cheerleaders for that system despite its risky nature, while Darren and Nate are more conservative and logically preferred to avoid the risk involved. Thankfully, they've made the buy-out a relatively easy and stress-free process.
How long have you been negotiating with Bleuel and Stone on this deal?
Since late last year.
I think the press release also notes that it's the 8 year anniversary of Keenspot this month. Is that right? Wow.
What is the "start date" for Keenspot?
I don't know if we have an official "start date," but we've always considered March the launch month.
What does 8 years of Keenspot mean to you? What are the highlights of those 8 years for you?
It's been a bit of a blur. There were good times and bad times, but for the most part I think there was a lot of wasted time. Eight years later, we failed to reach most of our goals. I'm hoping to turn that around, so that five or ten years later I can look back and be a little prouder of what Keenspot is. We'll see.
Since the announcement of the change in ownership Keenspot has also announced a change in how it shares advertising revenues with creators on its roster. Apparently you're giving creators at Keenspot the option to move from a fifty/fifty split with Keenspot to one where the creator gets 100% of the ad revenues from their site? I take it the trade-off is that under the old fifty/fifty split Keenspot sold all the ads on a creator's site but under the new 100% share, the creator is responsible for selling his or her own ads but whatever inventory they don't sell Keenspot gets to sell. Does Keenspot keep 100% of that "left-over" ad inventory?
You told me you didn't want to talk about future plans you haven't announced yet… but is there anything you want to announce? I have to ask or they'll suspend my cub reporter badge…
Sorry, no can do.
As Keenspot Entertainment has evolved over the years I have to admit I have lost track of what's a live project and what's not (dead or suspended). I'd imagine you'd describe your current big three efforts as Keenspot.com, ComicGenesis.com and Keentoons.com. Is that right or am I missing another big piece of the Keenspot puzzle?
That's pretty accurate.
So how would you describe Keenspot at this point? I count almost 50 updating webcomics — how many creators are involved with comics hosted by Keenspot right now?
About 50. It seems to always be about 50 at any given time. 🙂
What is Keenspot's competition in your mind?
I don't see us as having any direct competition.
ComicGenesis is described by your recent press release as the "#1 user-generated comics site" which I'm assuming is based on the claim that it hosts over 10,000 webcomics. That's a really big number. Are any of the other webcomic hosting sites like DrunkDuck.com and WebcomicsNation.com even close to those numbers?
Some are starting to come close, it seems. DrunkDuck.com in particular is growing rapidly, fueled by the attention Platinum Studios is putting into it.
Do you feel like ComicGenesis.com continues to offer features and service that is the best out there or do you look at some of these other newer sites and see things they're doing you want to bring to ComicGenesis?
ComicGenesis.com is great for what it is, but I'd definitely like to see a little more Web 2.0 magic applied to it. That's something we're planning.
Do you look to ComicGenesis for potential comics to put on Keenspot?
We look to every website for potential Keenspot comics.
How successful has Keentoons.com been?
Like Keenspot itself, I don't think Keentoons has come close to reaching its full potential. We're going to be experimenting with it a lot. There are some aspects of Keentoons that seem to be paying off, in particular the deal we made last year with ThunderSquid to distribute dozens of Keentoons shorts to mobile phone networks worldwide. Right now you can flip on your Verizon phone and watch Keentoons on V-CAST's Zapper TV channel, which is awesome. All reports thus far are that those have been very successful. The Keentoons properties are the #1 downloaded shows for ThunderSquid, and a spin-off of SPACE TREE that we developed specifically for mobile called FORESCORE JONES: ZOMBIE HUNTER was on the Top Downloaded Mobile Video charts for over a month, outselling famous names like Aardman and Cartoon Network. So we seem to be heading in the direction of producing Keentoons specifically for mobile phones.
What do you consider its competition?
Anyone who produces cartoons.
What's Keenspot Entertainment's print strategy going forward? It seems like there have been a number of experiments in this area from comic books to comic strips for the newspaper.
Too early to say.
Also, congratulations on nine years of your webcomic, Superosity.
You've been drawing the Superosity characters forever right? How old were you when you drew the first incarnations of the Chris, Bobby and Boardy?
I was about 10 years old when I started drawing those three characters, and twenty years later I'm still doing it!
I'm quite insane.