Robot 6

Warren Ellis has a thought …

… and it’s a good one:

When creators who matter to me start really thinking about the in-app or cliented digital comics form of Comixology or, and start doing, say, 10 or 12 page comics (with whatever notational stuff shoved in the back that they feel like adding) and releasing them for 99 US cents every two weeks or so, I’m going to get interested really fast. And so will you. Particularly when these services perfect series-specific subscriptions that sideload the books automagically into your client locker or push an alert to your device.

I like this because it’s an attempt to treat digital comics as actual digital comics, rather than print comics rendered in another format. Ten or twelve pages is about what I’m comfortable reading digitally, and an issue every week or two would be great. Then it becomes part of my regular routine.

The problem with long-form webcomics, even ones that update three or five times a week, is that it’s hard to read a continuing story one page at a time. But a chapter at a time works pretty well, and having it automatically appear, without my having to remember to get it, would definitely get me hooked.



This is what I’ve been thinking about for my own comic. I do a gag strip – three per week.

Basically, with the comic apps right now, you get the app for free and have to pay for single issues, which is eventually going to add up. That might work fine for some things, the big guns, certainly, who want their money money money! – but think about what would happen if you reverse that.

Pay for the app, get the comics for free.

With a 1.99 price tag, you get a subscription to a comic for its natural run. For something like mine that updates three times a week for, hopefully, ever, that’s a deal, right? And it is for me too, because I’d rather have millions of readers than a few thousand. And the money you get from the subscribers, pays for your first book, and the cycle never ends. I’ve not actually crunched any numbers, but at face value, it just makes sense to me.

That’s an interesting idea, Caanan. Although you might want to also do a free version of the app as a sampler for the paid version. I’m probably an anomaly but I know it takes some convincing to get myself to actually pay for an app (or even an in-app purchase).

I wonder which creators “matter” to Warren Ellis. I mean, could we have a list so we can follow along at home?

I just can’t catch on to digital comics. I want to, but I do not like to read at length from a screen–messes with my sight. For this reason I will likely never jump on board.

Just a thought…

I wonder, if comics go full blown digital, now or in the future, what does that do for the back issue market?

Will making comics so affordable and available at the press of a button now make the concept and value of back issues now moot?

And what would that mean for the future of comic conventions?

Back issue dealers have always been the backbone of every convention. If comics go digital, it won’t be long before publishers make their entire catalogs available the same way. Would this put back issue dealers and the need for back issues a thing of the past?

What does that mean for the future of comic conventions?

I agree with that as well. Although I don’t have a “burn out” period, a 12-page bi-weekly would eb great my be, and beneficial to creators trying to get more exposure. The more material that get’s push notifications, the more I see of their work.

I wish someone would give me a sack of money so I could have an iPad for better digital comics reading.

Collectors/speculators are never going to go away, and print never will either. The two will leech off each other as long as necessary.

As far as digital goes… eh. Even when I was doing online comics, I never really liked them or got into them. I certainly don’t own any of the platforms that would make them convenient to me, either.

Maybe when the cost of hardware declines…

I’ll also say that Warren Ellis certainly has had a lot of good theories and thoughts on comics in the past, and very few of them have come to light, or have had a very slow start.

I don’t think people are actually paying for digital comics, or if they are, they pale in comparison to people who bit torrent. You already bought the computer or hand-held device for a few hundred dollars. Practically any software or media offtered on the web for a fee is available somewhere else for free. People feel entitled to information and entertainment, they don’t want to be nickeled-and-dimed for 10 pages or so of content here and there. Pricing the apps at 3 bucks is probably the best compromise I have heard, but this model is for the younger generation of people who are growing up with apps, not generation X.

The only reason for digital comics is so you can bit torrent and read Flex Mentallo and other comics that are out of print or wont be available as graphic novels anytime soon. You can either borrow your friend’s comic from down the street, or share a digital file from a friend over the net. I recently read about 70 issues of a zombie comic over a weekend, and while i found it entertaining, it is hard to fathom that people actually spent over 200 dollars on singles. I mean it is hard to measure the value of what the work is worth. When it comes out as a T.V series, people already paid for their t.v., they are not gonna want to subscribe to a single program.

Ultimates and Ultimates 2 were the last graphic novels that I purchased that I felt were actually worth the money. As in, gripping story and art that demands your attention, taking time going over every detail on each page, appreciating the Craftsmanship. That is 60 dollars for 4 books, whereas the Avengers movie and it’s sequel, will be 12 bucks at the theatre and will hold me captive for 90 mintues.

Until print media becomes more affordable, more people will just wait and read the collection at big chain book stores who let you sit there all day and read for free. Thats what half the people who came into the comic book store I used to work at would tell me. It was either “I read that at the bookstore,” or “I bit-torrented it.”

Since I bought my iPad a couple of weeks ago I’ve been reading a ton of stuff on it — ebooks, newspapers, magazines, comics and now I’m starting to read some of the longform webcomics I’ve been meaning to get to but never feel comfortable sitting at my desk reading on the computer. The iPad is a great new platform for webcomics though a lot of them are not formatted to be experienced in the best possible way by reading them through the browser.

As a longform webcomic creator myself I would jump at the opportunity to sell chunks of my comic the way Warren suggest here. Of course, the digital comics platform is moving so quickly that it took only a year for Comixology to go from being webcomic and indie friendly to basically closing their doors to anyone but the mainstream publishers (not officially but I’m hearing that is the case). I don’t know if or Panelfly are open to dealing with webcomic creators or not. If not, we really need a new player like Comicpress to come along and develop an entry point for the little guys into this new way to publish your books.

I’m actually more excited that he used the term “automagically”.

i do think it is time for a change seeing as how no comic broke the 100K mark in sales last month.

too bad none of the creators Ellis is referring to will stop churning out Avengers garbage long enough to care.

Leave a Comment


Browse the Robot 6 Archives