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Joey Manley Launches Webcomics Nation

Joey Manley, publisher of the leading commercial webcomics site, Modern Tales, announced today that WebcomicsNation.com, a premier hosting and automation service for online cartoonists, has launched today.


BUSINESS STRATEGY SHIFT

“Webcomics Nation is meant to do for online comics what services like Blogger have done for personal journals, or Flickr for photo-sharing: enable anybody and everybody to reach a large audience with his/her ideas and creations — in this case, in comics form,” said Manley. “WCN tames the latest and most complex online technologies (like, say, XML, RSS, and ‘web services’) and puts them to work for you, easily, invisibly, and in an automated way.”

Webcomics Nation represents a major turning point in the company’s strategy, said Manley. In the past, Manley has acted more as a traditional editor/publisher, pulling together online ‘publications’ which he sold to readers. That business is still viable, and Manley says he has no intention of abandoning it. “The problem,” he said, “is that we can’t grow fast enough, that way. We can’t grow as fast as the web demands.” The idea was, he said, to get himself out of the “middleman” position for this project. “With the Modern Tales model, I’m more like Stan Lee or J. Jonah Jameson than I’d like to be,” says
Manley. “It’s unsustainable — there are too many cartoonists coming onto the webcomics train every day, and the readership is growing exponentially. The ‘middleman’ structure can’t bear the strain of that kind of growth. There’s got to be this guy in there who touches everything. It slows you down. That’s not the way the web works.”

WCN takes all the daily hassle of running a successful webcomics service and automates it completely, so that any individual cartoonist can easily and quickly run a top-of-the-line commercial webcomics site. “The idea is that cartoonists will purchase Webcomics Nation accounts — which cost roughly the same amount as the average web hosting account — and use them to build their own online businesses. And I’m not in their way, slowing them down.”

“With Webcomics Nation, I become more like Kinko’s, or Quebecor, or the Post Office, or whatever — I provide the services that cartoonists need to reach their own goals, rather than enlisting them to help me reach mine.” He quickly added, “Um. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.”

FEATURES

This service has been in development for two years, and has been beta-tested by approximately 200 leading cartoonists from the Modern Tales network of websites, including indie icons from the print world like James Kochalka, Lea Hernandez, Roger Langridge and Tom Hart, as well as cartoonists whose reputations have been made mostly online, like cayetano garza jr., Daniel Merlin Goodbrey, and Spike. “This is not a plaything for children,” said Manley. “It’s a serious tool for real cartoonists.

FEATURE LIST

# Post an unlimited number of webcomics series, or one-shots. No need to juggle multiple accounts for multiple comics!

# Take advantage of unmetered bandwidth and unlimited disk storage for your account. We just keep adding servers and hard drives as needed, and the risks are spread out across the entire community, so there’s no need to worry about paying the “success tax” if you get unexpectedly popular!

# Promote your comics with complimentary banner ads on the Modern Tales network, which includes TalkAboutComics.com, GraphicNovelReview.com, AdventureStrips.com, and many other popular sites!

# Take advantage of all the very latest technological tricks to build and keep an audience, including automatically-generated RSS feeds for every comic on your site, and xml-rpc update pings to 12 major search engines and aggregators every time you post something new, including Yahoo! and Technorati!

# It should go without saying, but due to the sometimes predatory nature of certain sort-of half-way similar services (like, you know, the one owned by a big established newspaper syndicate), you retain all rights to your work, online, in print, and otherwise. I mean: obviously. Puh-leeze.

# Create your own webcomics subscription service, and lock some or all of your comics behind a subscription wall, collecting money directly from your subscribers (using PayPal or any other payment method).

# Sell ads on your own pages, and keep all the money for yourself!

# Sell your print comics and other real-world merchandise on Modern Tales’ popular Small Press Swapmeet website!

# Make your webcomics available as Playstation Portable Download Packs!

# Use our “Tooncasting” feature to allow other websites to present the latest strip from your series — readers will have to click through to your site to get to the full story. It’s a great way to build your audience!

# Run an automated email list that lets your readers know when your comic has updated — you don’t have to remember to send it out! It just works!

# Schedule your comics pages in advance, with no worries about your readers “peeking ahead” by figuring out your file naming system (you can name your files any old random name you want).

# Let our archive management system handle the linking and cross-linking for you — no more bewilderment over connecting hundreds and hundreds of past comic strips together in a manageable and navigable archive!

# Use our automated systems for fan-art, artist sketchbooks, cast and character pages, and more — the kinds of goodies that help build interest and fan loyalty in your work among the most dedicated kinds of readers.

“WCN is, without doubt, the most powerful webcomics hosting and automation service around,” Manley said, “but hosting and automation only represent a fraction of what WCN is all about. Hosting and Automation? That’s where the other services stop. But it’s where we get started. No other webcomics service offers the kinds of marketing and business tools that WCN provides (like the ability to launch your own subscription service, or the ability to sell your own ads); no other webcomics service automates as many aspects of running a
webcomics site as WCN does (like the modules for fan-art, Playstation Portable Download Packs, etc), no other webcomics service can give you complimentary banner ads on the Modern Tales network of websites, and no other webcomics service is as close to the cutting edge of next-generation web technology as WCN, with its RSS and XML-based ‘web services’ functionality. Most importantly, no other webcomics service is as easy to use. All you have to know how to do is make comics.”

“Whether you’ve never posted a webcomic, or you’re an old hand with other, first-generation automation services, or even if you’re a tech-savvy ‘webcomics auteur’ with a mastery of all that it takes to build a webcomics site — give us a try. After one month using the service, you’ll never want to go back to the “old way” of doing things (whatever your own individual “old way” happens to be). … Join us!”

Re: Joey Manley Launches Webcomics Nation

Brian's picture

I'm one of many cartoonists Joey gave a Webcomics Nation account to for being involved in Modern Tales, and having used the service in its test phase for over a month now, I can say without a doubt it is the most convenient webhost I've ever used for a webcomic. It's easier to set up and use than a keenspace(Comic Genesis- whatever) account, and I haven't even tapped all of the features yet. It has eliminated the need for using FTP to upload material, which allowed me to set up both the website and the subsequent updates in half the usual time. It's a quality service for people willing to pay for quality.

http://www.survivingmars.com/

Re: Joey Manley Launches Webcomics Nation

apfurtado's picture

I'll second what Brian just said, and add, that this is one sweet tool for webcomic creators, and this is only the begining!

http://www.webcomicsnation.com/apfurtado/

Re: Joey Manley Launches Webcomics Nation

I don't know. Honestly? I don't know anyone who's trying to sell subscriptions to comics except the big webcomic publishers like MT, Keen, etc. They've got a huge number of comics that they're publishing making whatever price they're asking worth the money. How is the little unknown webcomic guys/gals with their individual comics going to compete? How little could they possibly charge for their comics in comparison to MT, Keen, etc, to make the price worth
paying? And if too little a price, is WCN really worth the price to begin with? Especially when keenspace (or whatever the help it's called now), Drunkduck, etc, are free.

And if you haven't noticed, it's a "buddy can you spare a dime" kinda world out there now, why every other webcomic having a Paypal donation button on their sites to make money. If not doing outright Jerry Lewis style donation drives with weekly, monthly, and yearly goals. Now ask yourself, if you can get a free (or cheap) website on Keenspace(?) or Drunkduck for your comic and slap a Paypal donation button on it to make money from it, why do you need WCN? If the only answer you can come up with is to have the MT label on your ass, then the real answer is--You don't.

I'm afraid that, in the two years it took between the announcement of WCN and it's launch, the webcomic world has changed. And WCN arrives two years out of date.

Dee

G.A.A.K: Groovy Ass Alien Kreatures It's like The Goonies meets The Invaders from Mars. Updates on Mondays.

Re: Joey Manley Launches Webcomics Nation

Brian's picture

No offense, but I feel you've missed the point here. WCN is an easier to use and much more dependable host than Keenspace or Drunk Duck. You'd don't have to wait over a month to get your website with WCN, it'll take a few hours at most to set up your website and get it started, and as I said before, setting up your updates takes only about two or three minutes and eliminates the need for an FTP program. The subscription model is an option for a WCN user, not a requirement, your comics can be free to read or subscription based. What WCN offers is a complete package that neither Keenspace or Drunkduck has. You'd have to do a lot more than slap a paypal button on a keenspace or drunkduck site to make them the equivelent of WCN. I've used all three services, and I can say without a doubt WCN is the best of them.

http://www.survivingmars.com/

Re: Joey Manley Launches Webcomics Nation

No offense taken. :)

Other than the subscription option and the possibility of making money from your comic without having to know all the coding end of it, what real use is WCN, other than just another pay webhost?

Now I'm no fan of these paypal buttons, but they are seen as different then subscriptions by the folks who donate to the comics how use them. Donaters see themselves as supporting comics they enjoy. Subscriptions are seen as paying to read a comic. And folks still can't wrap their collective heads around that en masse for HUGE sites like MT, keen, etc, what chance does "joe's homemade webcomic" have to compete realistically?

More dependable host? Hmm, that would suggest the Modern Tales was somehow magically less likely to crash or be hacked than Drunkduck or Keen. And we know from recent months that that's not so.

But I think you've missed my point. Like I said, the trend in webcomics today seems to have moved await from expensive webcomic hosting like WCN, away from selling subscriptions, etc, and toward free web hosting, Paypal buttons, etc. If you don't think so, you've got eyes--Look around you.

And I you misspoke about drunkduck? I can't speak for keenspace(?), but you can be set up on DD in a matter of minutes--AND without any cost.

Don't get me wrong, I wish Joey nothing but the best with WCN, as I've told him before. But, as I've told him before, I think webcomics are moving in a different direction. Unfortunately, it seems that different direction is away from services like WCN. While he spent 2 years figuring out how to do it all for webcomic creators with WCN, webcomic creators spent that same 2 years figuring out how to do it for themselves.

Ultimately we'll all just have to wait and see.

Dee

G.A.A.K: Groovy Ass Alien Kreatures It's like The Goonies meets The Invaders from Mars. Updates on Mondays.