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Webcomics are serious business

Entrepreneur magazine recently ran an article about the business of webcomics: Funny Business

It’s a very short article, and I wish it had gotten into more detail. The article goes over the successes of Chris Onstad (Achewood) and Jeff Rowland (Overcompensating and Topatoco). By the end, I still had a sense that webcomics were still a growing business: $1 million in sales is a lot, especially considering that webcomics are hardly mainstream. Yet, considering that TopatoCo deals in merchandise from a relatively small number of titles — which include strong titles such as Kate Beaton, Dresden Codak, and Dr. McNinja (of which I am the proud owner of a shirt featuring Ben Franklin and the zombie Presidents dancing the Thriller, which went over extremely well at the school open house I went to last week) — I can’t shake the sense that there’s a whole field of untapped profit potential out there for starry-eyed entrepreneurs.

What if someone could reach out to the audience beyond the “young, hip readers”? Have webcomics ever really reached the point where “where traditional print comic books and newspaper strips have left off”? And while the advertising is mostly “word-of-mouth”, not “the traditional online model of SEO tactics and advertising”, what if an advertising model could be developed to better spread the word about certain titles? (Example: Marvel and DC tend to spread the word about lesser titles through massive cross-overs. Kris Straub tried to do the same in Starslip Crisis. Is this a viable business model?)

Argh, but that’s just my crazy inner businessman talking. Don’t listen to him. I’d be like a multi-kazillionaire if he was ever right. Back in the closet you go, you flighty chatterbox!