The first post was so popular, here’s a sequel! More of Alan Gardner’s reports from the Success in Comics seminar.
Despite all the gloom and doom talk in the biz of late, there is still room for Success in Comics, Alan Gardner writes. In fact they held a whole seminar devoted to the topic!
After my long post yesterday, there were a few loose ends and misstatements and yet more viewpoints that deserved some linkage.
Wow! All hell has broken loose in comic book-land! Last week’s surfeit of Aquarian-born comics creators created a busy circuit of birthday parties, and if I had a dime for every time the name “Gary Friedrich” came up, his legal fees would be paid.
IP Wars are breaking out everywhere.Why here, why now? As always, follow the money. The most visible and lucrative segment of comics industry has, since the great distribution collapse of the ’90s, been primarily in the IP business. Entire comics companies have sprung up just to create movie storyboards masquerading as comics. Big media corporations outfit swanky offices just for the purpose of developing existing IP. It’s become a cottage industry. No wonder then, that controlling and profiting from IP has become THE major preoccupation of the comics industry from the CEO selling movies to the colorist selling prints.
As we end this week which has been obsessed with copyright, IP and the intersection of licensing and art—you should have heard the talk at FMB’s b-day bash on Wednesday: wall to wall Gary Friedrich—we’ll be the 2,649th persson to link to Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Valentine’s Day treat, a pinup of Ramona Flowers, Kim PIne, Lisa Miller and Wallace Wells, which, while quite notable on its own, is also a reminder of many things. For instance, as much as SCOTT PILGRIM has become a cult unto itself, and as joyful as it is to see new art with these characters, and it would be the easiest thing in the world for O’Malley to exploit the desire for more Pilgrim, instead he’s been concentrating on his NEW project, Seconds.
Even as the economy shows fitful signs of flickering back to life, the comics economy, which was “too small to fail” to really take much of a hit during the Great Recession, is still puddling along, under capitalized, under-recognized and with even the greatest cartoonists prone to spells of belt tightening. Comics have been traditionally immune to the effects of a recession—”cheap entertainment does well in bad times!” we’ve heard time and again—but the corollary is also true: Economic boom times rarely touch comics.
During the late ’90s and the first dot.com boom, one of the greatest eras of general prosperity in American history, comics were going through their WORST slump since the end of newsstand distribution, with sales numbers so low executives were crying over them. And then, paradoxically, comics began to do better even during the mini-recession following 9/11 and the end of the dot.com bubble.
Artist Sean G. Murphy (Joe the Barbarian) has posted a piece on his DA page called
5 Year Plan — it’s about planning for the future — something very few young cartoonists seems to have the courage to do. I recently told a talented young cartoonist “Keep doing what you love until someone pays you for it” — which is pretty basic “follow your bliss” advice. Murphy’s is a little more practical:
Via Evan Dorkin’s end of year post, which in happier notes, reveals his 2012 projects — New BEASTS OF BURDEN, woot.
Comics are a business that is relatively insulated from the ups and downs of the economy: things are ALWAYS marginal. While there’s no doubt but that the global recession has impacted the comics industry — especially with customers dealing with price increases — quite frankly, there wasn’t a lot to cut back. There’s a good living to be made in comics, and many people do, but no one is buying a yacht — or not very many anyway. And maybe comics are a survival industry because it seems like everyone is just one or two issues away from square one.
It’s end of the year roundup/predictions time again at The Beat, but one pretty safe prediction is that we will likely hear of many more creators, in all sorts of media, exploiting new distribution channels to connect directly with fans. As Michael Wolff points out at leading tech blog GigaOM, “Everywhere you look, artists are taking more control over their own economic well being, in large part because the Internet has enabled them to do so.” Citing some well known recent examples such as comedian Louis CK, author Barry Eisler and comedy podcaster Marc Maron, Wolff sees a growing trend of artists cutting out traditional middle men and presenting their work unfiltered directly to customers, and especially in the case of Louis CK, profiting handsomely from it. And Wolff doesn’t even mention a number of other recent examples of the artist as entrepreneur trend, from multi-platform musician Cee-Lo Green to the Humble Indie Bundle video game collection.
Last year Dean Haspiel kick-started the creative juices of the new year with an essay called “Dear Content Maker” that confronted some of the excitement and uncertainties of the new horizons. Since then he’s launched a new website — Trip City — and kept juggling all the balls a creator needs to.
Warren Ellis takes a stab at Five Predictions About The Immediate Future Of Comics. It’s brief — just go read. A couple of main ideas:
* Roll-your-own digital available to creators creates distribution opportunities and chaos
* Creators will continue to explore Kickstarter and other methods to get paid for their work
* DC and Marvel in diminishing returns.
And this classic Ellis observation:
In as unstable job market as we have today, three men have decided to give their art their full time attention, their all. Writer and artist of Let’s Be Friends Again!, Curt Franklin and Chris Haley respectively started their witty webcomic on the print comic world and what it means to really be friends in 2008. Eugene Ahn aka nerd rapper Adam WarRock quit his career as an attorney in 2010 in order to follow his heart and let his mouth fly. Today they announced the joining of their two ventures into LBFA!, Inc.