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A Status Check on the Keenspot Empire

Roughly 18 months ago, Comixpedia held a community interview with Chris Crosby and Darren Bleuel of Keenspot. I'm not going to systematically revisit that interview today but I thought I'd point out some interesting changes since then.

In the interview, you asked who Keenspot's competitors were and Crosby responded "We're competing with anybody and everybody. O­n the web our goal is to continue to be the top webcomic publisher, and in print our goal is to become a top graphic novel publisher." Keenspot has continued to roll on and despite the further diversification of webcomics publishing (small collectives, WebcomicsNation, subscription sites, etc.) Keenspot still has as much a claim on being the top publisher of webcomics as anybody does.

But back then Crosby pointed to Keenspot Premium as a lifeline during the online ad market slump. Although Premium is still offered by Keenspot, it's hard to shake the impression that it remains little more than an afterthought for Keenspot. Keenspot has also shut down it's Keenprime fee-based hosting service since the interview. Keenspot really does seem to be defined by "free" (i.e., advertiser-supported) services in contrast to other entities such as Modern Tales that continue to experiment with a mix of free and subscription approaches.

A second point of interest is that even at that point in time, Keenspot had already transitioned away from publishing in the "comic book" format and was moving into more of a "graphic novel" format for print versions of Keenspot webcomics. With the presence of on-demand publishers like Lulu, an open question is how successful does Keenspot's print operation remain for Keenspot and its creators.

And although not mentioned in the interview there has always been Keenspot's continuing efforts to license it's creator members' properties to Hollywood in which there was a success story this year with Owen Dunne's You Damn Kid. Given the niche that comics as a whole occupies in the American pop culture landscape, it will be interesting to see how the press reports on Dunne's creation if it makes it to the living room screen (and of course we are hopeful that it does!). Will webcomics share in some reflected glory or will the press ignore that angle?