Tom Spurgeon posts a spiteful missive from some unnamed comics exec. It is notable only for its ignorance:
“I’m sick of the complaints about Diamond’s new policy. … Are they obligated to keep laying off employees, so that they can continue to list shitty comics? … But more to my point, I’ve long longed for someone — anyone — to concept some new ways to get the indy comics / mini–comics out there, … Quit complaining, grow and evolve, or shut the hell up and go away.”
It’s the usual crap from someone who doesn’t realize the bandwagon has already passed them by. It’s this same kind of myopic attitude that allowed foreign imports to claim a huge portion of a new generation of comics readers. Nope, nobody will read anything except superheroes and then only in a monthly pamphlet format. And those will only sell in special stores we call “the direct market.”
Well guess what, gutless anonymous one. There already is a way to get the new comics in front of people – webcomics. And you know that artificial standard of art quality you think so highly of? Meet xkcd.com, one of the most popular comics out there right now. Yup, he makes a living off of stick figures.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – the best American comics today are on the web. They went there because industry people like you were too short-sighted in the eighties and nineties to develop talent here at home. To develop and educate a market for diverse readerships. For crying out loud, you already had the publishing industry putting out picture books for little kids. You couldn’t figure out how to build on that?
So here’s some advice for you Anonymous: “Quit complaining, grow and evolve, or shut the hell up and go away.”
Update: while I take issue with what the anonymous writer said, I have no problem with Tom publishing it – with or without a name attached.
I’ve got a short article over at webcomics.com on goals to set if you’re attempting a long-form webcomic.
UPDATE: Welcome Shirky fans! This is the home of the online mystery/webcomic Odd Jobs. Links to a whole bunch of free comic goodness on the left, so please look around. The third book in the series, “Cash & Carry,” was published by Echelon Press as their first graphic novel and optioned for television by Warner Bros.
Please note I have no ill feelings about Clay Shirky – agree with him about a lot. But his two blog posts, I believe, vastly understate the affect of the biggest recession in generations. I say this a lot, but This is what the worst recession in generations looks like. And when I say that, I mean we as a society should have laws to curb the irresponsible behavior that’s bringing the entire world’s economy to its knees. The newspaper industry isn’t hurting just because of the internet, it’s hurting because of greed and poor business decisions both inside but mostly outside of the industry.
Here’s a followup post to his followup post, and that’s pretty much all I have to say about that – I’d rather do comics!
Dirk – and in fairness everyone else – routinely links to bad news and analysis about the newspaper industry. Recently more newspaper folks have started to consider – horrors – making people pay for the content they produce. I was struck by a comment Dirk made:
Finally, T.J. Sullivan would like to see more people getting their news from CNN, NPR and the BBC’s websites — oh, wait a minute, I meant “At the stroke of midnight on Independence Day, Saturday July 4, all daily newspapers ought to switch off their Web sites until Friday, July 10.” Which is the same thing, mind you.
Now, I don’t think it’s a good idea to shut down websites – and in fairness to Shirky I don’t necessarily believe micropayments will work. But I do think an important point is being missed here – what’s happening is the growing realization that newspapers actually do more than distribute national and international wire copy and canned features.
They cover their local news, and that’s filling a niche that no one else can. Not consistently, not responsibly and not for a long period of time. At least, not without getting PAID for it. I have read and I continue to see all the arguments and fancy language some people use to argue for a new utopia of information, where people will turn to amateur sources of information rather than pay for it.
Gee, sounds like … doing a webcomic! Wow! Out of all the webcomics there have been, how many have been around – oh, 5 years on a consistent basis? You know, make their update schedule when promised. Very, very few – I know I haven’t.
Now, out of all the people attending council meetings in every suburb in every state, how many have not missed one in – oh, five years? And followed up on all the stories that come out of them. And analyzed data and investigated corruption. For free, while also holding down a day job to pay the bills?
That’s a niche. The Wall Street Journal figured it out. And quite a few organizations and trade publications have figured it out too – there are subscription walls everywhere, and people pay to get access. Because they figured out there’s no profit in feeding the social networking habits of someone who isn’t going click on ads or purchase merchandise. They want the product you produce – the niche product.
News gathering organizations will be smaller, but they’re not going away. And you’ll be paying for them directly, not just indirectly through advertising.
I plan to write more about the future – specifically comics – for an article at Comixtalk
All four of my David Diangelo/Odd Jobs stories stories going on at once:
It’s a great time to jump into the stories, so go read!
This is the second David Diangelo/Odd Jobs story that hasn’t been on the web for almost five years. Check out the latest page here.
I don’t what to say to Tom Spurgeon
The two great hopes for future reform don’t exactly encourage. That an entire generation of creators just now moving into their 60s may as a group be so spectacularly ill-prepared for the financial realities of old age that it somehow shames a movie- and licensing-wealthy industry into offering, say, greater health care options, that seems like the sort of thing that the bulk of younger working creators can be convinced doesn’t really apply to them and will be depressing as hell besides. That the industry itself will somehow have its spine shattered over the collective knee of a thousand website-riding barbarians and their hordes of fans that simply won’t respect the rules, that counts on an opportunistic creative class resisting efforts to co-opt long-term opportunities and a reliable profit structure that at least comes close to matching the one in place somehow taking hold. I’m not hopeful.
I guess the only observation I have is it’s not the fault of comics on the web. Just like newspapers and bloggers, I think people doing webcomics are simply moving into a niche abandoned by the establishment long ago. It’s not like anyone on the web WOULDN’T want to get a regular paycheck for doing their comics, it’s just that the system never seemed to have a place for them.
As Joey Manley said, who was going to offer a contract to XKCD, the guy who does a stick-figure webcomic?
I mean, what rules are we talking about here? Taking all rights away from a creator for the privilege of allowing them to publish it and make a lot of money?
I hate that small, respectable comics publishers are getting swept up in this whirlwind, but for how long were people supposed to wait before they got a realistic opportunity to do comics for a living?
Latest page is here
Latest page of Children of the Revolution is up! Go read!
I hate to talk about the no-hitter, but once again I have a new page up for Children of the Revolution.
My second story, Something to build upon, continues M-W-F right here.