Digital Watch: Disney goes deep, manga goes bootleg, 4chan lends a hand

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§ Have you ever wondered what it would be like to read an interview with a publishing executive talking about his digital plans WITHOUT worrying about direct sales retailers taking his every word as a call to arms? Well, take a gander at ICv2′s talk with Disney’s Dario Di Zanni:

Exactly. And the stuff that is produced in North Europe, like the stuff coming from Egmont. Everything is included in those 50,000 pages. Consider that we (we meaning all the different creative centers of Disney Publishing Worldwide: including Milan; including our licensees, in Copenhagen Egmont; we’re talking about our creative center in Glendale; our creative center here in New York) keep producing at a pace of more than 2500 pages a year, all franchises included, so it’s a pretty big amount of stuff that we can work with. When we started working on digital comics there was this big [digital] manga phenomenon in Japan. It was already $20 million worth. So we said okay, there may be an opportunity for us to do something similar, to do some panel by panel reading experience.


As we pointed out a few days ago, Disney is launching fullscale into this digital, and Di Zanni has access to all 50,000 pages of international Disney comics materials — including pieces that are popular worldwide from Denmark, Italy and even the US. In part 2 of the interview he expands on the pricing models:

In the U.S., except in the last three years when Boom has started publishing what we call standard characters (Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck comics) in the US, and in the UK, we have not had any standard character comics in decades. People do not have that kind of benchmark of a traditional product in terms of pricing. They have other benchmarks, the competition, for which you spend $2.99 or $3.99 for each comic. That means when you spend $1.99 for one story you don’t feel like it’s that much, or at $.99, you feel even better. But in Italy there is this benchmark so we have to face it. We started getting great compliments from US and UK readers saying, ‘Oh wow that’s cheap,’ and reactions from Italian consumers that said, ‘Wow, that’s expensive.’ We have to face this difference. It was in our mind to start giving bundles and some form of subscriptions to the different users. We are also trying to understand whether offering a subscription to just the comic stories makes sense, or if it rather makes sense to give subscriptions to the magazines, which also include editorial pages and other stuff. We are looking at very different directions.


In a third section he talks about the roll out for Epic Mickey, the Oswald-Rabbit-as-The Joker video game coming to the Wii in a few weeks. Disney is supporting it with new comics which will be available on iPhones/iPad, etc. And the first one is free.

Yes.  It will be available on iPhone/iOS devices.  Our intention is to create a real comics world featuring Epic Mickey characters in different comic formats.  We are going to start with DigiComics, but is our intention to add more editorial content into the app.  Also we are thinking about doing motion comics starting from the same stories for which we have done DigiComics.

 
We checked out the free app, and the character stats are great — Clarabelle Cow! — but the comics itself is presented (at least on the iPhone) in standard size and reading it is hard. Oh well, hardly the first publisher — nor the last — to make that mistake.

§ Brigid Alverson reports that manga download site Manga Fox had promised to take down unauthorized scans but quickly went back to their thieving ways. Viz blockbusters NARUTO, ONE PIECE, and BLEACH, as well as manga from Yen and Toykopop, are all up there.

§ A classic pale green pants moment, when creator Steve Lieber ventured forth into the bowels of 4chan, the terrifying message board of online pranksters and media devourers, and found they weren’t so bad after all. the 4Chaners had posted the entirely of his UNDERGROUND comic, but after posting a link to his online store, sales SOARED.

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Now, Lieber doesn’t post the actual metrics of the bump, but it almost doesn’t matter. FREE SAMPLING WORKS. More at Whitechapel.

Should more creators launch an expedition into the bowels of 4chan to flog their comics? We wouldn’t advise it unless you are as calm and unflappable as Lieber.

Comments

  1. Epic Mickey looks great! Being a non-gamer, I was a bit surprised by the video at NYCC, but instantly recognized Oswald. The marketing strategy is to take Mickey back to his original personality, and build him into a Sonic-type franchise. Great game play, cool animated storytelling in-between.

    I don’t own a Wii, but might still buy the limited edition, just to see the extras.

    Dunno if it works here in the U.S., but there is a digicomics site in the UK.
    Here’s a video which shows how it works:
    http://www.disney.co.uk/digicomics/info/iPhone.jsp

  2. I got Disney’s iphone app a while ago and found it very heavy. In download time for the app itself and the downloaded comics. I didn’t understand why these things took so long to download.
    Later on, when reading a Mickey story in bed. I started hearing noises and then a very loud sound that really startled me and then I realized: it was a SFX form the comic!
    So, beware people: Disney has comics with SFX in it! Don’t forget to turn your sound on your iphone down a bit

  3. Chris Hero says:

    I may sound like a huge kid, but oh well – I’m sooooo excited for Epic Mickey!! Warren Spector is such a good game designer! He’s kinda like the Grant Morrison of game design only with a *lot* less drugs and trippy ideas. He’s just a very creative man who also has a very solid idea of fundamentals and frequently finds new ways to do things. I’m soooo excited!!

  4. If you can’t beat 4Chan, join 4Chan.

  5. A question: Is Lieber’s experience proof that free sampling works, or is it proof that interacting with potential buyers of your book online in a friendly, nonconfrontational and informative way sells books?

  6. Kid Kyoto says:

    No question free samples can work, companies have used them for years. The issue is it’s the publisher’s call whether or not to use that tactic, not 4chan’s.

  7. Todd VerBeek says:

    4chan didn’t boost Steve’s sales; Steve did. The piracy on 4chan just gave him a “teachable moment” in which to do it.

  8. Its the publishers call on how they choose to react to it happening. Its going to happen.

    To make a mockery of all things: 4chan is.

    Piracy is a matter of immediacy. People want to read what they want to read and they want to do this right now. And they want to share it with other people when they really really like it or really really hate it. If publishers can help to make those conversations happen more readily, or if they have strategies to ensure people in those conversations are finding their way back to later volumes and the wider catalog of materials they are going to survive.

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