Monday, October 19, 2009

Joining the 21st Century...

And yes, in many cases they are joining while kicking and screaming, but it is happening.
From 2 weeks ago at LBCC (courtesy CBR):

Stephen Christy, Director of Development for Archaia Comics, moderated an in-depth discussion of the future of digital distribution for comics, at the first annual Long Beach Comic Con. Populating the panel were various digital comic creators, including: Rantz Hoseley, the editor of "Comic Book Tattoo" and CEO and Founder of LongBox Inc., Joshua Hale Fialkov, the creator of "Tumor," the first digital graphic novel developed for the Amazon Kindle; David Gallaher, creator of "High Moon," a digital webcomic that runs on, and "Box 13," an exclusive iPhone comic; and Matt Maxwell, the creator of 'Strangeways,' a webcomic running on CBR's Robot 6.

Christy focused primarily on the theme of reaching out to the larger potential audience for comic books, outside of the comic book stores, through digital distribution. He described the theory behind LongBox Digital as it being a one stop shop for digital comics. He then announced that all of Archaia's titles will be available on Longbox, eventually.

Zeroing in specifically on Archaia's success with the digital comic, "Tumor," Christy said "'Tumor' has been the number one selling comic on the Kindle for eight weeks, beating comics such as 'Star Trek,' popular mangas, 'Indiana Jones,' and other major licensed projects."

Christy said that Archaia is focusing on new ways to get comics out in front of the public, by looking at Kindle, Longbox, "or through other devices, who we are talking to, which we have not announced yet. The biggest goal is to try and find an audience. How do you find an audience in new ways?"

Regarding "Comic Book Tattoo," Hoseley said "It's a best seller by real book industry standards and comic industry standards. However, on the ICV2 numbers, which are the commonly held tracking numbers for sales and stuff, it would not appear anywhere on the top 500. That's largely because, for all the thousands of copies sold, less than 10% of the copies sold went through the direct market shops. We've sold thousands and thousands and thousands of copies through places like Barnes and Noble, Borders, Amazon, and other direct sales outlets."

Archaia's "Tumor," developed with the Kindle in mind

Christy spoke about the similar case of "Gunnerkrigg Court." "We have a book called 'Gunnerkrigg Court' that is a webcomic that we have a hardcopy of. We sold 10,000 copies of the first edition, which is a $27.00 hard cover, through the book market. And we've sold like 800 through the direct market. 'Gunnerkrigg Court' is like Harry Potter for girls, and I don't know many 8 year old girls that go into regular comic book shops. When we can get a book like 'Gunnerkrigg' out to those 8 year old girls that should be reading it, and they can walk into any Borders or Barnes & Noble or Amazon or just order it online…that's an amazing thing.

"Those are people that wouldn't be reading comics otherwise. They would never be able to find 'Gunnerkrigg Court' if they had to go between issues of Spider-Man and X-Men to do it. This is a new age, a completely new age. And it's something to be happy about, because the audience is limitless. You can only go up from where you are right now, essentially," explained Christy.

(Color highlights mine)

Now every time they say "comics" in the above piece also add "movies, games, books, TV shows and music/audio" (and I'm sure there will be other things to add soon as well). I was lured into a discussion on Sunday regarding new media and gained some insights into the world of financing and how banks and financing institutions "see things" when it comes to loaning producers or entrepreneurs financing.

It really opened my eyes on a few things and how we as media makers have to change their perceptions with solid work that can work on the scale they loan money at (in other words, it doesn't make sense for them to loan money for anything less than $5m because the return on investment is so small. Banks also get nervous when you flip flop the distribution windows and release a DVD yourself without trying for a theatrical release -- even though THEY KNOW the theatrical release will lose money in most cases). They are looking to protect their back end return and the business model they know and have been working under says "Theatrical first."

But that's not the 21st century is it?

That's not a world with more laptops/computers and Iphones than actual televisions. That's not a world where Google - IF it is successful with its Android phone platform - will seriously compete with IPhone but with an open source coding framework for building phone applications.

It is conceivable - in this bastard's twisted mind anyway - that we will be making programs for that phone and laptop with story connections elsewhere on the web accessible via that mobile device. So not only will you be able to watch that KNIGHTMARE web serial/TV/Movie hybrid show -- but you will be able to listen to the classic radio shows too -- and read the pulp novel (pending) -- and play the game -- and read the webcomic -- and discuss all of the above in the forum -- or buy the t-shirt -- or dozens of other world dominating plots I haven't even concocted yet.

But if the response on this little experiment of mine is any indication - there's an audience there that wants to not only watch - but use - their media. If you hook them, and feed them regularly then the rewards will be there.

But I can't use my media in a theater (or at a comic book shop). I can share the experience with a limited number of people... but that's so 20th century.

I'm living in the 21st. Things are faster, wider and more involved. They're also cheaper and that's something any business lender can get behind.

More (rants) as this develops.

(And for those of you thinking that digital will replace print, I have to say "yes and no". It will replace certain aspects of print - floppies - but will reinforce the collectible print editions. One only has to look at the Japanese manga industry to see how this is working. It is a model that can be used for a variety of media)

1 comment:

Clockworkjoe said...

Interesting discussion on this very story here by the creators of Gunnerkrigg Court (Tea-San) and Atomic Robo (Hyperactive)

Tea-San hasn't gotten paid yet from Arachia Press nor did they even tell him their sales.

Atomic Robo on iphone is vastly outselling Atomic Robo print edition.