Hindsight is an exact science.
Submitted by Erik Melander on September 30, 2004 - 18:47
As the end of September approaches it might be interesting to look back at what webcomic events made the headlines.
September saw two webcomic creators take the leap and try to turn their hobby into professional careers. In truth I suppose it would be more correct to say that Howard Tayler, creator of Schlock Mercenary, took the leap and Jeff Rowland, creator of Wigu, was pushed. While Taylor assures his readers that he and his family is in no critical financial situation as a result of his career change, Rowland notes that he needs the support of his readers.
I will need your support, however, in the coming weeks. As bad as I despise the entire "donations" aspect of Inter-Net art, I am going to ask for your help in a fund-raiser of sorts, if only to secure my habitation.
Will draw for food
Rowland is not the only webcomic creator that found himself forced to make a career change. Jamie Robertson also found himself out of a job and announced that Clan of the Cats would end at christmas without finishing the current Dracula story line. Robertson also has a fund-raiser of sorts as a possibility for continuing COTC, Sebo's kitty klub. I'm not sure how well that has worked, the only figure I heard was that he needed 250 subscribers and at the time of the announcement he had 16.
This was, however, not the last creator to turn to his readers in attempts to build a bussiness model in September. Michael Jantze, creator of The Norm, did the opposite of what many webcomicers aspire to and left syndication after finally becomming fed up with it. His wife apparently conviced him to try the webcomic route and he agreed IF she could get enough subscribers by November 1st.
How many subscribers do they need?
As previously noted Jamie Robertson needed at least 250 each paying 2,50 USD to keep doing his comic. Jantze needs 4000 subscribers to keep going, each paying at least 25 USD. Some swift calculations bring the sum of money to a minimum of 100 000 USD unless I'm mistaken... They currently have 661 subscribers. As an extra incentive they give away one ipod mini to a subscriber as they reach each 1000 subscriber plateau.
This made some ripples in the blog-pond as several people gave their opinion on these events. Most seemed to agree that 25 dollars was somewhat expensive. I'm reminded of the sister of a friend of mine who made a living as an artist. She an exhibit where she showed her latest works that were sheets of photopaper that had been run through an x-ray machine at the airport (or something like that). The pricetags on these artworks were, in my uneducated opinion, rather high and when I asked her about it she explained to me, much in the same way one explains something to a child, that if they were cheap no one would buy them.
Anyways, it is interesting that The Guardian online also had a story about online charity, or cyber-begging, including a couple of paragraphs on Randy Milholland. But perhaps the most interesting entry was by Eric Burns of websnark entitled "On supporting webcomics and the survival of the fittest fandoms".
The question is, how many fandoms is the average webcomic reader a part of, and how many of them can they afford to support
Who snarks the snark
Websnark is no doubt one of Septembers success stories. The quality and quantity of its entries propelled Websnark onto most "Must read"-lists. This quote from Joey Manley's blog pretty much sums it up.
Websnark.com is the talk of webcomicsland right now. Everybody who's anybody (yes, I'm an elitist -- and so are you, actually) is reading it.
Speaking of Joey Manley ofcourse brings us to the topic of Modern tales. That Modern tales and its sister sites have relied on subscription sales as a bussiness model has probably noone missed, but now they also sell adspace.
Subscription support will continue to bear the most weight in our business model, but we have decided to try to mix it up a bit, especially now that banner advertising seems to be coming out of the post-dotcom-crash doldrums.
The Webcomic examiner
The webcomic examiner will be allowed to wrap up this little trip down memory lane. Septembers issue had a great cover by Chris Watkins as well as a focus on the work of Derek Kirk Kim. Some really good stuff and I do believe that they are starting to find "their voice". There was also a "guest editorial" of sorts by Barb Lien-Cooper entitled "Webcomics have rights".
While I'm the last person in the world who wants to cause trouble, something about comic book review sites on the web is starting to bother me. It's the fact that many web sites dedicated to comic book journalism simply refuse -- often without explanation -- to review web comics.
Well that ends Septembers round up of things. Got an opinion on this, I'm itching to hear it. Perhaps I'll try to add some actuall analysis of events for next months roundup (if I do one that is).