Talking Comics with Tim | Lance Sells
Social media and e-commerce is ever-evolving as all of us can easily attest. In the past month or so, I became aware of Thwipster, an online enterprise with the slogan “Daily Deals for your Inner Geek.” The enterprise describes itself as follows: “At the core of Thwipster is a daily deal website that offers a little bit of everything for the person who loves their geek culture. Simply put, it is the daily deal site for your inner geek. We are striving to make Thwipster a destination that will make your quest to score the world’s finest graphic novels, toys, games and assorted geek culture items a more rewarding experience in a multitude of ways. We are also taking a very hands on approach to the selection of the materials we sell, so you can trust us to provide only the highest quality geek culture related items.” To better grasp the game plan for Thwipster, I recently caught up with Lance Sells, co-founder and director of Thwipster. In addition to discussing Thwipster, we also delve into his work in motion graphic novels (via Motherland).
Tim O’Shea: How did you initially conceive of Thwipster and how long was it in development before it launched?
Lance Sells: My brother Chad and I would talk on the phone and he would consistently bring up his thoughts about opening a comic store down in his area. He’s someone that goes to his local comic shop to hang out and talk where I’m someone who orders mainly online and have a pretty big interest in startups and technology. So from there we merged our interests, buying habits and tastes and came up with this idea to do a Daily Deal for geek stuff with a strong focus on graphic novels. As far as development time it was pretty fast from concept to launch. We talked mid-February and launched late April so it was about 10 weeks from idea to fruition.
O’Shea: What makes Thwipster unique?
Sells: The daily deal mechanism is definitely NOT unique but bringing that to comics/toys/etc. is. I think it actually works really well from a graphic novel perspective because we make it really, really simple to discover and buy a really, really good book. I live in NYC and we have amazing comic shops here but it’s just overload for me when I walk into a place and look for something. So what we try to do is say here’s 1 item a day that we think is great. If you have it or aren’t interested come back tomorrow and check out something else. It’s really more like curating than traditional retailing.
O’Shea: How often do you do trivia question giveaways (such as the recent “Guess the names of the final 3 DC Reboot Books” contest)?
Sells: As I write this we’re just beginning our 8th week since launching so it’s hard to say how often. We’ve done two contests on the site so far and a couple quick things on Twitter and Facebook with giveaways. We’re working on a couple new ideas that are hopefully a little more fun and a step above the traditional trivia questions.
O’Shea: You’re a man of many talents, in addition to Thwipster, you also are involved in the development of motion comics and other digital media. What lead you to this unique skillset?
Sells: A man of many talents but master of none. Haha. It’s been a long, weird road to what I do now, which is directing animation for Motherland and co-founding Thwipster. To compress 15 years in as few words as possible: High School, Penciller for Extreme Studios (thankfully books never published), CGI & Storyboards in LA, Advertising Art Director, Animation Director, Founder of Motherland, Co-Founder of Thwipster. By the way, I think the term motion comics isn’t nearly as classy as motion graphic novels.
O’Shea: Are you currently working on any motion comics projects?
Sells: We’re working with DC on this thing they are calling the DC Reboot. A couple of people have been talking about it in the last week but I’m not sure it’s really broken wide on the comic news circuit.
O’Shea: Has the comics industry transition to digital happened more quickly or more slowly than you had expected it to go?
Sells: It’s going about the speed that I thought it would. Kind of slow for my tastes but the publishing industries aren’t known for their speed.
O’Shea: Of the comics publishers, are there certain folks that you think understand the digital evolution (and how to navigate it) better than others?
Sells: I find it a bit crazy that comic publishers aren’t going balls out on digital. I love the DC digital day and date for all of the new books but I’m confused as to why they want to penalize people that want it digitally. Sell them for the same price and let the market sort itself out. Even as a person selling physical books I don’t think it’s Marvel, DC’s or any other publishers job to save my business or make it work. In summation: The iPad exists and is not going away. Alternative summation: Good news, they are years away from figuring out how to sell digital statues.
O’Shea: Any last thoughts or questions you would like to toss out to the Robot 6 reading audience?
Sells: I just want to say thanks to everyone that’s been kind enough to visit Thwipster and give us a spin. Even the people yelling at us for selling out too fast. Haha.
The only question I have for Robot6 readers is: “Hey, what would you like to see at Thwipster?”