2010
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stevescott's avatar
By stevescott   |   Watch
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Published: January 21, 2010
For anyone checking out this Journal, I have an interesting idea. Most of you are probably involved in the comics industry or looking to get into it if you are checking out my site. What are your thoughts for this coming year and beyond when it comes to our industry? Do we think that the direct sales market, as it exists is going to sustain the ones of us looking to produce these work for hire jobs or these creator owned properties or are we looking to the future and how to get through the changes while earning a living for our families while we are doing so.

So far I have not seen even the free web comics as a way of earning substantial money at this time. Are there ways that this can become a substantial way to bring in money to do what we do? I was even thinking about the video game industry an would love to share my thoughts on that if anyone seems to even be interested in adding to this discussion.

Point is, I am working for and have worked with the larger companies in this industry having drawn X-Men, Hulk, Batman, Green Lantern, JLA, etc..etc..and I have been seeing what seems to be a declining market for what should be very stable properties.

What are your thoughts everyone? Put away the artist in you for a moment and think business. The days of comics being at every corner convenience store accross the country are long gone and that is where we NEED to be. People ran into comics every day when buying gas, milk or going to the local drug store to pick up a perscription. Not any more. Even if it is an internet comic, the person that finds you has to type in a search for"COMICS" in order to even have a chance of your property popping up.

Most Americans remember that Batman and Spiderman used to be a comic that they would pick up every now and then when their dad would take them to the grocery store.Now they are just movies and video games. They wonder whatever happened to comics. Why are they not being made anymore? That is, if they wonder at all.

Thoughts?
Comments35
anonymous's avatar
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stevescott's avatar
stevescottProfessional Digital Artist
Well, to add to all of this little bit of info, I did some more research and found a site that links to 15,200 plus web comics out there. Inquisitively, I start clicking away to check some out. Just doing what others would do trying to find some "quality" entertainment.

I would love to say that all of what I found was on a standard of quality that measured up, but I can't. I would love to say that I was excited enough to keep browsing, but I wasn't. Lots and lots of sites to go through to have to, hopefully, find a competent production.

When I was twelve years old and drawing comics with my friends, it was a lot of fun and I learned a lot from it. Now, what reason was it not on the comics spinner rack with Marvel, DC, Charlton, Archie and others.....OH, because there needed to be some kind of quality managing going on. Argh!!!!!
FindingOx's avatar
this is an amazing thread, Steve, I really enjoyed reading it. Thanks for starting it, and thanks to all who posted -- I really learned a lot (have been thinking a lot about this recently... artists' and creators' futures...)

awesome :thumbsup:
stevescott's avatar
stevescottProfessional Digital Artist
Well, it does not have to be rim in any way. The point is that we have to figure a business plan that works. Also, there should be a consistency of quality to be offered out there. All will work out fine. :)
stevescott's avatar
stevescottProfessional Digital Artist
Found this for all those interested.

[link]

The link is of sales charts, Market shares and the like for the month of December. Really gives the number figures on where our publishers rank in the market and these numbers are very important to advertisers. They are very relevant to us as well for various reasons.

The numbers are really low, overall.
NeoKing07's avatar
Very disturbing.... I'm think maybe I'll heading over to Steven McCalls to help him with the face-book apps game he is working on.
stevescott's avatar
stevescottProfessional Digital Artist
You hit on a key point. "where the public goes". Hell, I love the idea of the restaurant bathroom urinal wall, but, unfortunately, in today's economy, most of those places may go under soon. Most everyone, no matter the state of economy will have to walk into a grocery store or a Wal-Mart super store (groceries). Also, your gas stations and truck stops.

The idea is get however million people who have never picked up a comic before, to see and purchase your product. Top selling comic in America for the month of December sold just over 100,000.

Now, if digital is the way to go, for instance, no one has showed me how, exactly, do you get the general consumer to your site to begin with. Is there a digital version of a spinner rack that would work on the web to alert someone just shopping for some head ache medicine that they can also pick up an exciting new issue of Daredevil or Veronica or Mighty Mouse.
VileSithKnight's avatar
VileSithKnightProfessional General Artist
Marvel and DC appear to be changing rapidly, and are becoming more of jack of all trade companies that deal in all of pop culture. Comics is just one piece of the much larger puzzle. I fear Image and Dark Horse and the like will follow. Their main focus is no longer comics, and therefor quality suffers, people stop buying them, they stop distributing them at as many places, the whole downward spiral effect. But it's okay, because latest superhero movie made a killjillion dollars. There is no incentive for executives to improve the product. The people who work on comics care deeply about them, but the people above their heads view it as just another product. For all intents and purposes the comic book era that we so fondly remember is dead. We can long for the good old days but it's over.

Thanks to Maus and pretty much Alan Moore's entire body of work, graphic novels have been legitimized as literature. I see a future where creators as we know them create and publish their books in much the same way as traditional authors. I see graphic novels on the shelves in bookstores alongside other fiction and whatnot. No longer a special section for graphic art. If you want to be an old school penciler, inker, writer, etc, I believe this is the future to embrace.
stevescott's avatar
stevescottProfessional Digital Artist
I agree with the Graphic novel being the future printed format. What you have to understand, though, is that how it normally works, say, in Europe, the writer/artist submits to a publisher seven to eight pages of the book and springboard or plot. Publisher agrees to publish it and owns publishing rights to it for whatever period is agreed upon. The publisher then pays the creator half up front to produce the full graphic novel with the remaining half paid on completion. Now remember, we are not talking about some tossed together low quality stuff here but rather some very high quality story and art.

I thank Wil Eisner for the success of the graphic novel.

As for American comics having a suffering quality, I haven't really seen that. I have, however, seen a suffering marketing of the product. There are probably some of the best written and illustrated comics being produced right now then have been produced in years. Also, right now, the publishers are producing these for an audience of an average age of say, thirty years old, where for decades the age would have been, say, nine. Nothing wrong either way, for me. I love a good story no matter the target age.

Now, the difference I would see concerning our creating the comics like traditional authors, for me at least, is that a graphic novel would take nearly a year, working full time, to produce. Writing, penciling, inking, colors, letters, production work...etc.. To do it all with attention paid to quality, at least a year. In todays economy, quality will be all that makes it. So, how does one take a year to do all that? Good idea, I'm just still getting back to my main point. Show me the numbers. The business plan. Thats what we get away from in all of this. It has to be a business in order for us to be able to do it. Hobby comics is just a lot of work and quality can diminish as well.
MichaelWatkins's avatar
MichaelWatkinsProfessional Artist
Oh I meant back issue bin not BEEN. Sorry
MichaelWatkins's avatar
MichaelWatkinsProfessional Artist
Well DelHewitt, not to break your stride, but the MAJORITY of comic professionals work day jobs. If we didn't we'd be broke. I work a day job and then some and still have deadlines to meet when I get home. Comics have become more of a labor of love for us than a steady job. Sad as it may be. Will that stop me...no, I've worked with some industry greats, some industry legends, and most of the main publishers in this industry.

The days of the spinner rack are gone. Really the day of the "superstar" artist is now much like a shooting star. You can see them once in awhile, but they burn out fast and disappear. Comics, have made the unfortunate decision to become a niche market commodity. So unless you seek out comics, you will not find them. Do I agree that we need cheaper comics back out on spinner racks...yes. Wal-Mart, Target, any place where the public goes...hell I'd settle for the urinal wall at a Taco Bell. People are now geared towared a want it now, want it fast, in your face mentality. So if you are out of sight or out of mind you are forgotten. Marylin Manson had a great line with "They love you when you are on all of the covers when you are not, they love another." This holds true for artists, markets,comics, even video games. Internet adds are great but why don't publishers use them to the effect movie studios do? I'd love to see some great art on myyahootwitterspacebook page.

As for the retcons...you know most writers, artists, and editors grew up on the stories of the 70's and 80's...they take us back to a simpler time, or a great memory, so we hold on to it, recycle it and try to feed it to the new generation. Sadly the new generation can get the old stories from a back issue been, so WHY BUY THE RECYCLED STORY? Anyone? Companies use the tired cliche that they are re-imagining it for a new audience, or a jump on point for new followers. That's crap, it's really just a lack of imagination or maybe just a lack of caring. Comics once did a retelling of an origin every 50 issues or so for readers to catch on, otherwise we would be on Spider-man 1 every two years.

Can we fix comics..yes, but it will be a bitter pill to swallow for everyone. In a crumbling economy people are going to want quality over quantity. Yes I know recylcing is in, and going green is trendy...but not when it comes to the ART of story telling. I think most of us have lost touch with the ART of comics.
DelHewittJr's avatar
DelHewittJrProfessional Traditional Artist
wow what a thread great stuff guys! my opinion is if your good you will do great if given the chance. Steve your a great example your work is awesome but if no one see's it no one will support or even hire you. If you are given a chance like many others before you. Success will come. These days because money is tight and people are spending less on comics you have find other avenues like video games movies ect. The reality is you have to feed your family and you as an individual have to find ways to make that happen! I have my 9-5 and do comics on the side that works for me. Until i can break into the main stream like you I have to feed my family. If you are wise enough or lucky enough to blow up like mike of hellboy fame or jim lee a legend in the game, you have to find your place.
stevescott's avatar
stevescottProfessional Digital Artist
Del, thank you for that my friend. Even some of the big hitters in our industry have been crunched in the last few years. Success, in this, comes and goes. It's those of us working towards being in for the long hall that have to figure out the ins and outs of subsidizing what we love to do.

As most of you know, I had my 9to5, well, my 24/48 (fire service) and it was great to have but.....but....there were so many projects I lost or was never considered for during those years that I would have had. I have had some amazing gigs since resigning from that job, most of which, I would have not been able to do (deadlines).

Del, I have to confess, making it into the mainstream does not insure continued work. Mike and Jim are secure for now but look at publishing numbers of several other 90's legends and you will see that it can go away within a decade.
DelHewittJr's avatar
DelHewittJrProfessional Traditional Artist
Very true steve nothing is a guarantee.
stevescott's avatar
stevescottProfessional Digital Artist
Wow!!!! I opened up a very interesting box on this topic. I love it.

Remember, it's not so much a rant but rather a think tank. There are answers to be had and we are empowered to find those answers and apply them.

FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION!!! :)
dropeye's avatar
dropeyeStudent Traditional Artist
i think games is also a hard market to get in i mean a look at conceptart.org all those people would like to draw for games en stuff
but i feel a buzz in comic world in my country then anyway its more active .. so im trying to finnish art school and i will see wat the future brings
stevescott's avatar
stevescottProfessional Digital Artist
Not talking about concept art, though. What I am referring to is something different that you can offer them, the video game publishers. I guess, I am looking at creating a market to cater to a thriving market. I have my agent putting it all together right now and once it's in place, I will share with all.

Yes, comics are thriving differently in different countries across the world. France, for instance seems to have a good market while Spain, not so much. Very talented creators in both countries but declining market in one.
dropeye's avatar
dropeyeStudent Traditional Artist
ohh oke now i get it
must be hard to find something new

the netherlands realy is quite low on comic authors
it was almost dead but last year they seem to started a education for comics but the fist thing they published was realy bad sow...
and in spain is everything translated:S i was in Barcelona a while ago and
went to visit a big comic store
and there were like 10 english books the rest all in spanish realy weird...
but in the netherlands if you draw comics your like the lozer who doesn't have a job
in france its like ohh my godd your are that comic artist man,...
so i will wait for your nice whole in the market:d
stevescott's avatar
stevescottProfessional Digital Artist
Well, here in the states it is not so much that we are considered losers as much a look of shock by most that comics are still being produced. I did notice that in France, it is very much an honored profession. Same for Belgium and we were quite well received, as well you remember, in Breda. That was so much fun.

For those of you that may not know, the comic shop we signed at there was located next to a....I do not know the word for it...but, it was a place you could buy marijuana, mushrooms and the like. Right next to the comic shop. I thought that was just amazing.

Anyway, back to Europe, I found that the fans were very different there as well. What I mean is this, where here in the States, the fans ask questions about the plans for their favorite characters that you are working on (writer, artist, etc..), In Europe, the fans actually ask very intellectual questions regarding the creator of the work. Not the property. Here, it all tends to revolve around the property. People wanting to know the inside scoop on next months story.
shameous's avatar
When we were kids, we would see comics every where...so we bought them. When they hyped the collectability of comics, we bought more. When we grew up, comics grew up with us. The industry forgot about the next generation coming up and only focused on us. Who could blame them? Hell, we grew up and got jobs. No more begging mom at the grocery store for the latest issue of spider man. When we were buying multiple copies of #1 issues in the 90's, the industries greed grew to a point where they didnt care about anything else but sells. And let's face it, the older kids/adults were the only ones buying. I would be afraid to let my kids get hooked on a title these days with all the "adult content" the comics code allows now that it wouldn't when I was a kid.

The Industry has left out my kids' generation for a profit...and now THEY'RE paying for it.

Also, dont get me started on TV
stevescott's avatar
stevescottProfessional Digital Artist
You know, this is exactly how I feel and yet, getting to ask questions, outside of looking at this as a fan (which I am or else I wouldn't be doing this) I found that there was so much that played into the events. At times we see an event from the point of perspective of where we are standing. It takes research into all view points to figure out, quite often, what the heck took place.

If you asked any one of these people; writer, artist, editor, publisher, printer, distributor, retail store manager, comic shop owner, comics fan.....they could all offer their own take on what has happened and every one of them are right. You just have to combine them all.
shameous's avatar
Sorry, something happened mid sentence....

Why does every Spiderman, Batman, Superman, and so on cartoon/movie series' rehash the same stories over and over? It's not for continuity. They have figured out what will maximize their profits and stuck with it over and over and over. It's so played out that I only want to read creator owned books anymore.

I hear people say comics will come back. They say the industry is like a rollercoaster ride..A few years on top..Afew on the bottom. Personally I think printed comics is going the way of the 8 track tape.
stevescott's avatar
stevescottProfessional Digital Artist
You know, many of us working in the industry do see a trend towards what neoking mentioned earlier. Comics can be mad available as a weekly or revolving daily installment on the web and later collected as a paperback. It's being done now and looks to be the way of things.
NeoKing07's avatar
The problem isn’t any one thing. Lets look at the average comic specialty store. As much fun as they are you basically add another dolor on too comics prices because they exist. So sometime in the 80’s we create a market that helps pull comic off the drugstore racks. The comics used to be used as an advertising tool for kids and they didn’t have too make a ton of money. Following the comics as a collectable trend you take the audience you picked up at a young age growing up and demanding a more adult comic. Now Blackist night is a great example. I freaking love what they are doing with the corps but as a child my Mom would have not liked the blood and gore. The writing in my opinion is better today than ever. I know many golden age fans will disagree and that’s ok, I feel no need too argue an opinion. But what the more adult storylines are doing cuts off the new younger audients that is needed too sustain any industry. The work you did with the adventures series I.E. Iron-Man, is exactly what we need more of. Disney needs too focus a ton of new Marvel Books on a younger audience. Go too any comic store on new comic day and start an under 18 and over 18 tally. Heck when we went too watch the nearly sold out TMNT movie you could count the kids on one hand in the audience. Now enter modern day entertainment. Video games are the new pop art form. Why read a story when you can live it. Why read about saving the world when you can do it one shot at a time. Not to mention that fact that instead of seeing it drawn we can watch our superheroes on the screen and they look 100% believable….. Well most of the time. Heaven help us the Wolverine movie sold well. So what’s the right course for us creative types. Braking into the mainstream can be hard and even when you are in it doesn’t always mean steady work. I have a hard time thinking about going the Marvel DC route when people I see as art Gods aren’t working steady. So there are web comics. I truly feel the web comic market is going too keep growing. I am about too finish over 3 years of hard work and print the first Neo-Earth web comic. Jenny from The Zombie hunters stated that it takes about 4 years of not missing updates too see a return on a web comic. I believe Jenny is dead on. I haven’t made my 4 years yet but within the last year I have went from a few hundred hit’s a day to recently 4 to 8 K unique views… Don’t be happy for me though it takes about 30,000 sustained daily views to quite your day job. I may be their in another year or two but even if I’m not I do like my day job most of the time. I am an art teacher witch gives me wonderful kids too work with and a built in study group. You see where we are leaving kids behind the Japanese with small collected affordable kid friendly….well sometimes kid friendly books, are glad to grab them. In 10 years of teaching I see Manga almost daily where as I have never, not once seen a traditional comic. How sad is that. I have once in a blue moon seen a trade however so there is hope. Also every class has a few kids that read their weekly web comic/cartoon. Penny-Arcade without a doubt reigns on high. Wow I never type this much. I went the day job till I make it route because I felt the alternative would be many years of ramen noodle and too tell the truth I love my new house on the lake “Steve you have too come visit this summer, my art room is set up for drawing comics and the guest room sleeps two.” I know many people out their can’t spend 4 years on a web comic that will only drain income but I feel more and more that will be a strong market. That’s my two cents. Steve I would like too post this rant on my blog with a link back too your Dev if that’s ok. I am dying too see more replies, especially with the caliber of people you run with. Just let me know if you are ok with that.

Later my friend,
Bryan King
stevescott's avatar
stevescottProfessional Digital Artist
You are right my friend. I will add to your very first statement by instead of saying,"lets take your average comic specialty store", I will say, "lets find it".

It comes back to a point I brought up earlier of the Mobs involvement of skimming product. Although it was skimmed, the overall stability of this market was still very solid and advertisement space sold within the pages accounted for much of that.

You are so dead on about your take on video games as the current pop culture item. I couldn't agree more and I am guilty of enjoying them as well (as you, more then anyone would know. "Hail to the King, baby")...er...uh, that was a Duke Nukum line for anyone out there that....well, you know. Anyway,with that being said, I feel no reason to fight that in any way but to embrace it. Just as tv, movies, toys, etc....are merchendizing that ties in together to promote the intellectual property. Comics can be utilized to do the same. From web comic to the printed version.

Here is a perfect example of a linking intellectual property, Jim Butcher's Dresden series. Now, this was a series of books that I find enjoyable. I would have never known about it if it wasn't for the SYFY series , Dresden files. I loved that show. From that, an inker in this biz and friend introduced me to the audio books of the book series read by James Marsters. As I work all the time I have little time to read and miss it very much. The audio book saved the day. To add to all this, I have picked up the Dresden comic. If a video game were made, I would snag it up as well. We all tie in and it does amount to making profits in any way we can from our intellectual properties or, as I have and still do, make money from contributing to the intellectual properties.

This being said, I would agree that the best use of the big publishers is to acquire name recognition through the more substantial printing numbers that exist there (well, that did exist there). Many of us knew who Mike Mignola was long before Hellboy. Todd toys may never have existed if he had not used Spiderman to open doors for him. The list goes on. It is one avenue to take, but only one.

I love the work you have put into your web comic Bryan and I feel you have also learned a lot from keeping the deadlines going on this. So much of what we do is learned from these pressures. Also, it has worked to building a a finished product for you to publish.

On this, I am still very curious as to what the numbers are. I hate to think that way. The creative sole in me says, "just feed me bread and let me draw!! Money? Who needs money?". The 41 year old self employed individual in me says, "Show me how I can have this cover expenses of production while building towards business profit?". In short, I have to write a paycheck to cover the space of production, at least. From there it is typical for most new businesses to not see profit for a period of a few years. Sustaining the business, yes. Cost need to be covered such as rent, employee salaries and such. Again, I wonder what the numbers are? What does 30 thousand views on a web site generate in advertisement sales when comics publications were selling in the millions when advertisements were the focal point on profits? I am actually asking as I really do not know what the difference in the numbers mean when it relates to the sales of viable advertising space. I feel this is really worth looking into. Anyone out there have access to advertising costs out there?

You mention day job. I always told you Bryan, I was very happy for what you were doing and felt it was very worth while. If only one of your high school students a year really wanted to be an artist as there lifes career, you will be an inspiration to them forever. Not to mention, you get health insurance. ;)

On the Manga end, I feel it is awesome that these kids are picking that up and, hopefully reading them. Also, with that, more girls are taking interest to what was almost an all boys club of comics for many years (this was not always true in the 30's to the 50's as comics were very diverse then). Much of the success, I feel, has come from the marketing of the Anime and quality video games coming out of Japan. No one can deny the influence of both of these.

Now, being self employed and reliant on that as my only form of income, I pay close attention to market predictions. Not that of our little industry but of world and local trends, in general. One thing being mentioned over and over again for the year 2010 is a trend or battle cry, if you will, to buy local. In America that would be "Buy American", France, "Buy French" (they have some really great talent there and in Spain). Reason for this is that the economic collapse taking place is happening world wide. Future trends are going to be reflective of this.I can go into so much more of this but, check it out. Anyone reading this can learn so much more then I could remember to share by just a little research.

Here is a place to start

[link]

Bryan, please feel free to pick up on this on your page. Lets not look at it as a rant but more a board of directors think tank. Ranting is when it's not in our power to find a solution. I am empowered and so are you. And, my friend, you are the caliber of people that I am fortunate to run with. For that I will always be blessed.
anonymous's avatar
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