Robot 6

Quote of the Day | Mark Waid on print vs. digital

I’m not positing that print should just die or go away. I am saying, as I have been for over a year, that unless you’re, say, Brian Vaughan or Bendis or someone else who’s already proven to comics shops that you can move non-superhero fare, print-first creator-owned floppies and graphic novels are a huge risk. Printing prices are a gargantuan bite of your budget at typical direct-market print-runs, even for big name creators. Even to print through Image, as a creator, you have to be willing to work for back-end money or to fund STAGGERING initial costs. There’s no WAY for me — or anyone with less of a track record than I have — to launch two or three new creator-owned books into the marketplace as it is right now, especially non-cape material, and not go bankrupt by issue three.

That’s part of Mark Waid’s response to Chris Sims, who asked Waid why he is choosing to make digital comics. Waid announced his new line of creator-owned digital comics at WonderCon, and he kicked it off with Luther, which is available as a free download. Sims’ post is well worth reading for his analysis of what Waid is up to in this comic, but aside from the formal analysis, it all comes down to money, and if a creator of Waid’s stature can’t make a print comic that will pay for itself, well, it’s time to shift the paradigm.

Later in his response, Waid says that he plans to publish collected editions of the digital comics in print form, but only after he monetizes the digital versions, which is one of the great struggles of the modern comics market.

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14 Comments

“and if a creator of Waid’s stature can’t make a print comic that will pay for itself, well, it’s time to shift the paradigm.”

Wait… why?

The market wants what the market wants; Waid hasn’t produced many comics lately that the market wants, therefore his “value” on the market decreases. That’s how commercial art works… in EVERY field.

Here’s the other thing: writers generally have a hard time of going it ALONE — look at writers like Bendis or Millar, they primarily work with “star” artists and it is that PAIRING which makes the sale. Waid has spent his lat few years working with relatively unknown artists, or those without any “heat”. That impacts WAID’s brand as well.

BKV is an interesting example, I think, because although Fiona Staples on Saga isn’t a “hot” choice, there’s market demand for his work because he WENT AWAY for a long time.

Career management is at least as important as anything else in the economy of comics.

-B

It’s the FreakAngels model (digital, then print later) which I can imagine has worked well for Ellis.

Just lost some more respect for Waid. What a whiner.

Linda, you’re obviously trolling but Waid is talking about real life business realities, not “whining.”

“Publishing in market X isn’t profitable because of the huge initial costs and high risk, therefore I’m going to focus on market Y where the barriers to entry are lower and I have a better chance of succeeding.”

This is whining?

@Linda B has it never been a problem for you to sample comics? I sure as hell can’t because of these ridiculous prices. Waid could support himself on comics, better than most, but how do you expand the market when the average consumer sees 5-6 dollar 100+ page magazines and a 3-4 dollar comic. Yeah we get it’s different because we know comics, but most people don’t understand it. Especially considering when I was a kid magazines were $5-$6 and comics were a $1.25-$1.50. Now comics are 3$-$4 and my mags are still $5-$6.

I understand what Waid it is saying (and contrary to what Linda B’s “trolling” wants us to think, it is not him whining), and I sympathize. However, if/when comics go completely digital, then that is when I, for one, will be giving up reading ‘em. Comics, just like books, for me need to be in printed format – if not, then they have no need to be in my life. I don’t own a Nook/Kindle, either. Again, just my opinion..

This whole digital v print ipricing is a lot more seriouse than people are taking it. Right now major publisher prices on comics are not going to greatly expand the market

There are a lot of successful creators that create comics for the web. Most of them have never worked for any comic publishing company, nor is any of their work in comic shops and they’re getting more people to see their work than the “hottest” comic book on the stands. They are able to make a comfortable living and when they decide to publish hardcopies of their work, they can do Kickstarter or pre-orders through their websites.

Publishers and comic shops aren’t necessary for the health of the industry, creators and innovation are.

@LT

You’re exactly right. If companies are just trying to serve the existing market, their current prices are fine. But if they’re trying to attract new readers, $2.99 and even $1.99 is too expensive.

Its not the Freakangles model, but every webcomic model.

I’m curious, have the people here who said they’ll drop comics if they goes completely digital SEEN Mark Waid’s sample webcomic? It’s quite good. And he’s doing things with it that you can’t really do with print… you can, it’ll just lose some of that impacrt. It’s well worth checking out. And a promising look of what the future of this medium can be.

@ ted: I have not seen Mark Waid’s webcomic, but while it may be good (and there a couple of webcomics I follow, like Dawn Griffin’s ‘Zorphbert & Fred’, just b/c a) it’s too damn funny, b) it has dogs, sort of, in it, and c) I met her @ Wizard World East 3 or 4 yrs ago and she was really nice/cool), I prefer my books/comics to be printed. I can’t get into reading anything more than a panel or so on my screen. Same thing w/my cellphone (all I want it to do is take/make calls and txt – simple phone, that’s it). Again, I know I am the minority here, but hey, fella’s gotta stick by what he believes in. :)

It’s kinda sad that most of talk centering around digital comics turns to either/ or, Avengers v. X Men, who side are YOU on debate.

How about digital AND single issue print AND trade paperback/ hardcover working in concert to sell comics, however someone wants to buy them, whatever format.

PS – The market wants what the market wants but the market but it’s too small a niche to sustain as it is.

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