It’s Business, It’s Business Time. Part 4: Make Room For Daddy

Shelf space.

Those are the two words that were the bane of the indie comic creator for many a year. Comic shops and spinner racks are only so big, and unless your comic is Spider-Man or Batman, well, you'd have to fight for space.

It doesn't help that running a comic shop is no fast track to fabulous wealth and their owners have to invest carefully, no matter how much they love the more progressive components of the industry.

Well, with the new indie community existing largely online, guess what? Shelf space isn't something you need to worry about any more, and that, friends, is a good thing. Here, look what I can do:

What is love? Baby don't hurt me, don't hurt me, no more!

And that total waste of your time was hugely important for a lot of reasons!

Firstly, it was free. If it wasn't Xaviar would likely be sending me nasty emails about how I'm spending his money reciting lyrics from that song from Night at the Roxbury, if this were a printed publication that would take up a part of a page and that page cost money to print. But it's not. Hell, I could do it again.

Don't worry, I won't.

Secondly, and more importantly, that throwback to the heyday of Chris Katan forced nothing else off of the internet to make room for it and that is a big deal.

Where I'm going here, and this relates back to my post from Monday, is that Big League comics are entering the web and while the reactions range from glee to scorn and everything in between, I'm here to tell you this is a good thing, or at the very least, nothing you need to care about.

Conventional wisdom may lead you to think that if, say, Joss Whedon was making a webcomic (hypothetically, of course) then he would be entering that comic into the same potential audience as me, and holy cow there are not girls walking around comic conventions with t-shirts that read: "Tim Demeter Is My Master Now" (though this type of behavior is encouraged) and oh crap, my comic is toast.

Guess what? That comic is out and I am not toast and neither are you, and it's because the internet has shifted the playing field. Sure, a big name is always going to have a competitive advantage, but you there's plenty of internet for everyone and you can longer be pushed away from your readers by someone with a hotter resume, and here is where the good part comes in:

That name has fans who have probably never read a webcomic before, and some of those fans will likely dig the reading experience and now they're out there in that potential audience, and that means you can grab them.

In terms of a self-indulgent example, Clickwheel is now beginning to host work from our sister company, 2000AD. The goals here are two-fold, on the one-hand to expose that material to a new audience, and on the other, to expose the audience that follows 2000AD to new work. This is a little easier in the context of a closed arena like Clickwheel where that work with a legacy audience is seated next independent work, but even in the grand scheme of the internet the theory still applies. When DC rallies it's legions of devoted fans to Zuda they'll be in play in your potential audience and while many will remain devoted to the brand name they were raised on, some will start poking around. Grab them! This can be as simple as appearing on associated forums with a fancy signature image to get attention. These people like comics, make them like yours.

Now for the bad news that you need to keep in mind: the web has enough shelf space for everyone, but your readers still only have so many leisure hours in a day, and while it's a more flexible amount than the square footage of a comic shop, it still has a ceiling, but the best way to weasel your way into those free hours is fairly simple, do great work.

As these established publishers come onto the web and make it look they invented webcomics, don't worry about what their marketing team says, look at how you can make it work for YOU.



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