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Webcomic Beacon Newscast: Comic News & Discussion for October 15th, 2012

Ben Carver (Animation Aficionados) makes an appearance and John Lotshaw (Accidental Centaurs) joins us in this week’s webcomic and comic news discussion. We mostly talk about Comixology opening up to self-publishers, and much about Reddit and free speech vs decency online, a webcomic “think tank”; and more! Thom Revor heads the show this week; and thanks to all of our news team: Thom Revor, Dean Esmay, Marie Tary, Jason Strawsburg, and Eric Kimball.

Farewell to Alex Heberling, who is stepping down from The Webcomic Beacon Newscast. Thanks your for your years of service!

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Promo: Animation Aficionados

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Top Stories

Comixology is opening to self publishers
Original Source: Comic Book Resources

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Obituary

Aisaku passes away
Original Source: 910 Comics
Additionally: Discordia

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Buzz

Pearls beyond Swine creator Stephan Pastis talks future of comics
Original Source: Indy Week

Perazza and Govar launch new Think Tank website
Original Source: The Beat
Additionally: Robot 6

Ryan North and Chris Hasting to create Galaga comic
Original Source: The Beat

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Business

Internet advertising growing slowly
Original Source: GiGaOM

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Education

The time to comprehend a comic panel
Found via: Kleefeld on Comics
Original Source: Emaki Productions

On naming comics
Original Source: Mtv Geek

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Legal

Reditt’s free speech vs decency debate
Found via: GiGaOM
Original Source: New Statesmen

UK jailing internet trolls
Original Source: GiGaOM

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Tidbits

The Power of a Deadline
Original Source: Feld

My Little Ponies sell 90K copies
Original Source: Bleeding Cool

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Oddities

Demographics of Lord of the rings
Found via: SlashDot
Original Source: LOTR Project

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Comments

It’s been a while since the last time I listened to a WB podcast, but I’m glad I started up my subscription again. Even though it may be a case of “the more things change, the more they stay the same”, I do love a good discussion on the state of the webcomics industry. :-)

On the topic of where to find the money in webcomics, I noticed the non-superhero publishers were not discussed. I seem to see a lot of former webcomickers moving to publishers like First Second, Scholastic, and Dark Horse, to name a few. Do you all think this likely to be a viable option?

The real problem becomes where do you sell the books. The comic books stores are dying and comics are not a core business of book stores. With digital markets like amazon and the app store it’s really more lucrative for a comic creator to go on their own. So the question becomes what does the publisher bring to the table. Right now the answer is not much. Once your big enough for a publisher to notice you, you are also big enough to not need them.

So if that’s the case then it’s all about that linking, advertising and grouping together. I think a real program of pay it forward, using whatever voice, audience you already have to help those who have less is one of the best bets for everyone doing better.

I think if you pick the right publisher, there can be a lot they’ll bring to the table. Getting your books distributed, for one thing, both into comic shops and into the wider world of bookstores. Also, because of the lack of “gatekeepers” in webcomics, as was mentioned in the podcast, having been published still lends some weight of respectability and professionalism.

But you can’t wait for publishers to “notice” you. If you want it, you have to go after it. And just like a novelist trying to pitch that first book, you have to expect a lot of rejection.

Both comic shops and book stores have steadily decreasing value as the market shifts to online. I honestly can’t see most comic shops existing 5 years from now. Book stores have never made comics a priority. every conversation I have had with people who have books in book stores the tell me the profits are minimal compared to online business.

The point is if you are selling your book online then a publisher has to offer something different than distribution as a reason to sign up. This is the problem that publishers have. They want to stick to a model where they had exclusive access to a market so creators had to deal with them just to get to the customer. With the net this paradigm of signing over right to you work in exchange for an exclusive market no longer holds water. The last few years have been a story of publisher desperately trying to create and closed market on the open system of the web with questionable success

As for prestige. That only works if the publishers houses the best comics in there catalog. If the best comics can make more money without you them then they will leave and take the prestige with them. Look at what happened to Keenspot when all the core comics left.

True you have to really want to get on with a publisher and actively work to get one. The question is why would one do this work? What’s in it for the creator? The publisher has to offer something in exchange. This offer can’t just be distribution and prestige. The publishers need to shift into models of marketing and vertical integration to justify their existence. There is a place for them it’s just a different place.

Drowemos, part of me totally agrees with you, but another part of me remembers that I’ve been following the cult of self-publishing since I started this thing back in the early ’90s, and I’m still struggling to get Galaxion noticed. I’m thinking that maybe I should be altering my strategy, because the webcomics model doesn’t work well for someone like me. Is following in the footsteps of the Faith Erin Hicks and Raina Telgemeiers of this business really any crazier than trying to be the next Danielle Corsetto? ;-)

I’m watching with interest to see how the publishers, big and small, cope with the changing marketplace.

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