It must be hard work keeping these group sketch blogs going. While some keep ticking along like clockwork (Eclectic Micks, Scotch Corner), some other favorites have been on lengthy, near catatonic, hiatuses (What Not, Comic Twart). David LaFuente has posted an announcement on The Sindiecate that, after one year of regularly promoting indie comics through character sketches, they’ve decided to call it a day:
Lafuente here with a final report.
THE SINDIECATE is closing down its doors. This month marks the first year of the collective authors and initiative to pay tribute to independent comics. And it’s a good moment to call it a day.
Thanks to Jorge Muñoz, James Harren, Mike Choi, Ryan Ottley, Colleen Coover, Matteo Scalera for joining me on this project. It’s great to look back on that idea I had for the website and see what has become thanks to them.
And thanks to the people who liked our homages, helped spread the word and maybe make some new readers for the indie authors behind the books.
Adios! : )
Perhaps their mission has been accomplished: certainly, Indie comics do seem to be in a healthier state now than even a year ago. High profile writers and artists seem to be flocking back in that direction, and with the massive sales numbers of The Walking Dead #100, the zeitgeist’s pendulum seems to swung further to the side of creator-owned than anytime since the early 1990s.
The headline on Darrell Etherington’s article says it all: “Comics Should Jump on the iOS Subscription Bandwagon.” His argument is a consumer-based one: He has the apps, but at $1 to $3 a pop, comics are too expensive a habit for him, so he proposes a subscription model that basically gives the reader a 50% discount for paying up front—$25 for 12 issues, say. Etherington thinks that would boost readership, but it could also carry some risks. For one thing, readers who are accustomed to getting print magazine subscriptions for $10 or less per year won’t find that price point attractive (although magazine subscriptions do seem to be more expensive on the iPad, so the price is getting pushed up anyway). And in an industry notorious for delays, 12 issues does not necessarily equal a year’s worth of comics. And for superhero comics (which I think is what Etherington is talking about here), following a single series won’t necessarily give the reader a satisfying experience. Dropping three dollars here and four bucks there for you weekly comics is one thing; lining up $200 worth of annual subscriptions (even though that includes a hefty discount) just to be able to follow the events in a fictional universe could prove to be a troubling reality check to some readers.
Etherington quotes Jesus Hates Zombies creator Stephen Lindsay, who divides the comics audience into three groups: “those inside the industry who buy comics to support one another, the casual reader, and the collector.” I’m impressed that he sees creators as a large enough group to merit a mention. Collectors will always want to have the physical comic, but Lindsay sees the casual readers as a potential market. I’m not sure how well that works with complicated superhero universes, because it takes us back to the problem of accessibility: How will the reader know which Thor comic, say, to subscribe to? I’m not sure it’s possible to be a “casual reader” of superhero comics any more. (For those who want to get on the bandwagon, though, I like the feature that the New Yorker magazine subscription has: Your subscription allows you access to back issues as well. That could be a real boon for new readers.)
On the other hand, creators of self-contained indie series who are good at promoting their work could do very well with this model. Continue Reading »
Peter Simeti, the president and publisher of Alterna Comics, sent out a mass e-mail this weekend saying “Alterna has had a rough two years” and directing readers to the company’s fund-raising page at Indie GoGo. It sounds like they have a cash flow problem:
Sales don’t come in quick enough (book distribution takes up to 6 months to pay us) and we end up accumulating over $4,000 worth of interest ever year, even though we’ve maintained a small profit for the past 3 years, that profit has been quickly eaten up by the bills we have. The worst part is, our company debt is around $28,000 – which isn’t even a lot for most small companies. But due to the fact that we can’t even make new books to spur new income – the debt has become stifling and will eventually take its toll on us within 1 to 2 years.
So unless they can raise some money pronto, they are going to go into a death spiral of debt. The amount they are trying to raise seems laughably small—$1,000, much less than most Kickstarter drives—but apparently that will keep the wolf from the door for a while. Interestingly, the lowest level of the drive consists simply of buying their books—you fork over $10, you get a $10 book as a “reward”—although a few of the listed books cost more than $10 and at least one costs less. Of course, the indie page cuts out the distributor and thus the distributor’s cut and the time lag in payment. This really goes to Simeti’s point: Alterna’s books are selling well, they just can’t get paid for them, and in a way, the Indie GoGo page is just a direct sales channel that will get a bit of juice from the added publicity of Simeti’s plea. What’s more, it’s a sales channel with some good incentives, as the rewards escalate quickly, and you can get some original art for short money. A plea for funds isn’t really a marketing plan, but maybe this is just what Alterna needs—to sell fewer books through Diamond and Amazon and more on their own.
The third and final issue of Marvel’s Strange Tales II arrives in shops Dec. 8, and will feature stories by James Stokoe, Michael DeForge, Toby Cypress, Harvey Pekar and Ty Templeton, Nick Gurewitch with Kate Beaton, Eduardo Medeiros and Benjamin Marra, among others.
And thanks to our friends over at Marvel, we’re pleased to present two preview pages from the anthology today, featuring Stokoe’s Silver Surfer tale (who we alreayd know draws a jaw-dropping awesome Galactus), and DeForge’s Spider-Man, Jubilee and Iceman.
Check’em out after the jump.
Scary Go Round, Bad Machinery, and Giant Days webcomics impresario John Allison is throwing down the gauntlet. In his “Manifesto for UK Indie Comics in 2010″, the cartoonist offers some very blunt advice for aspiring comics creators, on everything from content to format to fandom to your personal demeanor as a creator. As is the case with most comics manifestos, there’s stuff in it I applaud, stuff in it that’s somewhere between a nasty rude awakening and a much-needed kick in the pants, and stuff that makes my skin crawl.
For example, I am generally speaking a diary-comics skeptic, and thus point #7, “Diary comics: stop it,” strikes me as advice potentially worth heeding, especially for new cartoonists looking for a way to channel their energies. On the other hand, point #3, “Make comics for people who don’t make comics,” though it sounds like a good enough idea, basically writes off vast swathes of the medium’s best work:
Why is anyone other than your comic making friends and a few select interested parties going to read an art-damaged visual tone-poem about the inside of your psyche? Learn how to engage and entertain people. It’s a profoundly useful skill.
When she set out for Israel, Sarah Glidden was carrying some baggage — strong opinions about the country and some suspicion about the sponsor of her tour, Birthright, which provides all-expenses-paid trips to Israel for young Jewish people. “How shall I put it? … When there is an expensive trip offered for free, there is always bound to be a downside to it,” she told the magazine Haaretz.
To keep her skeptical eye, Glidden decided to make a graphic novel about her trip, and the result is How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less, which came out this week. Glidden shares her experiences in Israel, and discusses how she turned that into a graphic novel, in the Haaretz article, which is well worth a read. But this Horatio Alger aspect is what caught my eye:
Courtesy of our friends at Marvel Comics, we’ve got not one, not two, but three exclusive looks at next week’s Strange Tales II #2. First up, after the jump, check out a page from a Power Pack/Wolverine team-up story by David Heatley (My Brain Is Hanging Upside Down). Then come back at 9 a.m. Pacific for another one!
The Alternative Press Expo, or APE, is coming up this weekend in San Francisco. The show runs this Saturday and Sunday at the Concourse on 8th Street. This year’s special guests include Daniel Clowes, Lynda Barry, Tony Millionaire, Renee French, Rich Koslowski, Megan Kelso and Tommy Kovac. In addition to an exhibitor’s room packed with comics of all shapes and sizes, they also have panels, workshops and even a “speed dating” event to help pair up writers and artists.
Here’s one more round of stuff to do/buy at the show. I’ll be there both days and will hopefully get a chance to blog from the floor.
The Alternative Press Expo, or APE, is coming up this weekend in San Francisco. The show runs Saturday and Sunday at the Concourse on 8th Street. This year’s special guests include Daniel Clowes, Lynda Barry, Tony Millionaire, Renee French, Rich Koslowski, Megan Kelso and Tommy Kovac. In addition to an exhibitor’s room packed with comics of all shapes and sizes, they also have all sorts of panels and even a “speed dating” event to help writers find artists (and vice versa).
One thing I don’t think I’ve mentioned yet is that this year they’ve added a full slate of creator workshops, where you can learn how to draw facial expressions with Raina Telgemeier and market a comic that’s easier to read than to describe with Larry Marder, among many others. In other words, APE isn’t just about talking about and buying comics, it’s also about learning to create and sell them yourself.
Prior to the show, I’ll be posting what various companies and creators have planned for APE. If you’d like to be included, email me the details on where you’ll be, what you’ll be selling and all that good stuff. (I’d send them quickly, though, since the show starts on Saturday and I’ll likely just do one more round-up tomorrow).
And now let’s see what folks have planned …
As is my wont, I made the one-day (the one day being Saturday) trek to Bethesda, Md., along with Joe “Jog” McCulloch for the annual Small Press Expo. Perhaps the Earth’s rotation is spinning ever faster, but this year’s show seemed a bit of a blur to me, even by previous years’ standards. Before I had a chance to say “Sorry, I’m tapped out and can’t buy your mini-comic,” it was after 6 p.m. and time to go home. Fortunately I took some pictures to help my fading memory keep the show alive in my tumescent brain. Or at least, I tried to take some pictures.
Welcome to another round of What Are You Reading. With JK Parkin in the midst of San Diego Comic-Con madness, I’m taking over the WAYR duties for this week. Our guest this week is blogger, noteworthy critic and Newsarama contributor Matt Seneca.
Find out what Matt’s been reading (he’s got a long list), and be sure to include your own current reading list, after the jump …
At the Prism Comics website, Charles “Zan” Christensen takes a look at the maybe-we-will-maybe-we-won’t world of the Apple app store.
The iPad has been getting plenty of raves as a comics reader, and yet, as Jason Snell points out in his recent exhaustive look at the device’s comics capabilities, the technology may be great but the content is spotty, with some comics available for in-app purchases, others available only as single apps, and quite a few unavailable altogether.
Christensen’s story explores why that is, and it’s an important question. Remember, print comic distribution is already a near-monopoly, at least when it comes to comics stores, and with Diamond refusing to carry books that don’t reach a minimum number of orders, the market has become bleak indeed for new and niche publishers. Webcomics seemed like the logical alternative, but no one wants to pay for webcomics. But iPod/iPhone/iPad users have been trained from the beginning to pay for their content, so these are logical outlets, and Apple’s terms are actually quite good for publishers.
Except that Apple is being very selective about which comics it will carry, and that selectiveness seems to go not only to content but also to how large and established the publisher is. As Christensen points out, Apple shut down a swimsuit catalog app because it had pictures of women clad only in bathing suits but left Sports Illustrated alone.
Welcome to another edition of What Are You Reading. Our guest this week is blogger and critic David Uzumeri, who can be frequently found at Funnybook Babylon, Savage Critics or Comics Alliance. Guy gets around.
And now we have him here as our special WAYR guest! To find out what David and everyone else at the mighty Robot 6 is reading this week, simply click on the link below.
AdHouse publisher Chris Pitzer has put up a Flickr set of his Alternative Artist Trading Card Series. What exactly is that you ask? I’ll let Pitzer explain:
Back in the mid-90′s, before AdHouse, I was a grade-A fanboy. As such, I thought up a project where I would send my favorite artists a blank trading card for them to illustrate. I created the back, which had a brief bio, sample art, and more than likely typos. There were three volumes of these cards. And by “volumes” what I would do is make a mini-book of each series that I would then send out to each participant of that volume.
It’s an impressive who’s who of the then-burgeoning alt-comics scene, including folks like Joe Matt, Xaime Hernandez, Jim Woodring, Evan Dorkin, Jeff Smith and many, many more. The art’s rather spiffy too. Chris Ware’s in particular is rather eloquent. (via Tom)
My official report on this year’s Small Press Expo is up on the main CBR site, but I thought I’d take a few extra minutes and share some additional, hopefully more in-depth impressions of this year’s show.
1. Man it was crowded. Maybe it was because it was in a different ballroom this year (although only just one room over). Maybe there were more artists and tables than in previous years. Whatever the reason, SPX 2009 was packed, easily the most crowded I’ve seen it in a while, at least on Saturday, when I attended. I found myself frequently having to apologize as I attempted to make my way through the aisles, my increasingly heavy burlap bags slugging innocent folk left and right.
Many of the attendees and exhibitors I talked to agreed that it seemed like a busier Saturday as usual and most said that they were doing well sales-wise. I take that as a good sign, not only for the show, but for the indie comics scene in general. Obviously the show still provides a good opportunity for fans of inide comics to get out and revel in them.
2. People really love Kate Beaton. If you needed any further signs that the comics world is moving from print to digital (and perhaps back again) then you should have tried to make your way past the Webcomics side of the room, where Kate Beaton took on her appointed role as Queen of All She Surveyed, with a long line of the faithful anxiously waiting to purchase a sketch or book from her. She wasn’t the only Webcomics artist that seemed to be pulling in customers — Girls With Slingshots creator Danielle Corsetto seemed to have a steady throng of admirers — but Beaton was by far the most popular person in the room. I have no idea what larger significance that holds other than Beaton makes cool, funny comics that people like.