Robot 6

Jamie Gambell’s digital experiment


Jamie Gambell’s comic Omnitarium came out a couple of years ago—we ran a five-page preview of the first issue right here at Robot 6 at the time.

Two weeks ago, he put up offered a free download of the comic through a link on his site, making it as easy as possible for people to get it. He promoted it via a variety of social media and invited people to both spread the word and express their appreciation with a tip.

Last week he reported the results, and while it’s clear that giving away free indy comics is not the path to fame and riches, he is happy with the numbers. The page got 478 views in a week, making it his highest-viewed post ever, and 61 people downloaded the comic. He got two donations via PayPal and is pleased with that. Twitter brought in the most views, in part because he posted multiple times and got into conversations with people on Twitter. (That’s where I first saw it, come to think of it.) Deviantart was the least powerful of his social media channels. And surprisingly, given the generally opinionated nature of the comics blogosphere, no one has given him any feedback.

Gambell drew three lessons from this.

Not everybody wants something for free.

Twitter can be a very effective tool for spreading news.

Even with free things, creating can be a vacuum.

The second one comes as no surprise, especially since Gambell obviously put some effort into it, but the other two give me pause. Gambell’s comic looks interesting and the art is nice—I’d pay money for it—and usually people who download a comic have something to say about it. Anyway, it’s always interesting to see someone try this experiment, and props to Gambell for attaching actual numbers to it.



There is an element of consumerism that makes people suspicious of free stuff. It’s like if you went to the grocery store and there was a huge bin in the front saying “Free Bananas!”

My first thought is… what’s wrong with them?

I downloaded it and thought it was a great read… I’m looking forward to the next issue of the new series he’s working on.

Free makes it easier to sample. Whether it’s the first issue or just 8 pages, being able to flip through a few pages of story will make it stick in my mind. Even if I don’t download an entire series right away, the next time I’m in my LCS or at a convention, if I a comic that had a good preview, I’m much more likely to pick it up… Especially if the creator is at the con and I can talk with them about their work.

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