Kibbles ‘n’ Bits: Business edition

§ Reed Exhibitions is hiring a marketing guru for their pop culture shows:

I am looking for someone to join our team here in Borwalk, CT as a Marketing Director to oversee all of our marketing efforts on New York Comic Con, New York Anime Fest and the new C2E2 (Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo). This is not an entry level job, this is not a fan job this is not an easy job, but it is a lot of hard work and a lot of fun.


§ICv2 sits down with Tokyopop CEO Stuart Levy in a wide-ranging and fairly candid for this sort of thing manner:

So in other words you were seeing declines in your sales that led you to believe that you had to prepare for a smaller market?

There were declines in sales, but there were also returns. The returns were the big things. We’ve seen declines in sales before. But the amount of returns that were coming back from retail was so significant. We saw that early first quarter and then continuing in second quarter.

We’d seen first quarter returns before, but continuing second quarter like that was the first time. It really shocked us and I said, “There’s something going on here.”


And Part Two:

What’s going on with the movie development of Tokyopop properties? That’s probably our most important initiative because it’s very clear to me that without a big movie, without a big TV show it’s very hard to have a significant blockbuster hit. And you can look at anything that’s selling in the comic book world, or the manga world, or the book world in general and it’s almost inevitably related to some kind of film or television.


§ Erin Finnegan has two excellent recaps of the recent ICv2 conference. Part 1, Part Two.

§ The Hibbs vs. Butcher debate vis-à-vis Viz backlist viability continues in this all-star comment thread.

§ Internet kerfuffle classic!

Step one: Val D’Orazio discusses the ongoing monetization dilemma:

Yes, it looks like the switch is on from paper to digital. But are people willing to pay for this digital media? For the most part — no. People are not willing to pay for it, unless you give them a damn good reason to. Damn Good Reasons To: 1) If I was DC or Marvel (or any other media company), I’d pinpoint what the top 5% webcomics are. Offer those web cartoonists competitive exclusive distribution deals that includes a health insurance component. Then make a subscription-based site offset by sales of hard copies and merchandise.


It’s a thoughtful post, although I’d quibble that a lot of what she’s talking about to happen in five years has already been happening — the big media blog buyout happened two years ago, f’r instance.

Step two: Joey Manley comes right out and says Occasional Superheroine’ is Wrong About Webcomics:

I can’t say that the post is plain wrong and belittle it with 70’s TV references without at least explaining why I think it’s wrong. There are all kinds of reasons, but here’s one fundamental one: D’Orazio sees a day when the “top” webcomics are bought up by Marvel and DC, and the rest are discredited as amateurs. Her comments section filled up immediately with “top” webcomickers declaring that they’re doing just fine, thank you, and that it would be a very, very expensive proposition to buy them out. Which is true. Another truth: there are new “top” webcomics launching every day. It’s a slippery and ambitious field, with new xkcds popping up at an alarming (or delightful) rate and proceeding to take over the world. I picked xkcd as my example on purpose, by the way: what DC or Marvel editor would have picked that one up? No DC or Marvel editor would have, especially if he or she only had the first month or two of strips to go by. And the people who discovered xkcd and made it a hit? Most of them, I’ll wager, weren’t comic book readers, and would have been immune to any “anti-amateur” campaign waged by Marvel and DC’s PR machines. (I mean, come on: it’s stick figures for God’s sake).


Step three: Val, who is always going on about how horrible the internets are and wishing people would be more civil, responds that Manley must be wrong about webcomics because…he’s an expert in webcomics:

Joey Manley wrote a post (which I am not giving the benefit of a link) that he says “isn’t meant to start a fight” — “But her recent post about webcomics, and how the business should (or will) evolve in the next five years, is just plain wrong.” Disclaimer: Joey Manley’s main business is in webcomics — including the running of sites that host web comic creators.


For a far better discussion of the business models involved, read the comments post of the original piece.

Comments

  1. Isn’t that “Norwalk, CT”? I mean, it’s not that exciting of a place, but ….

  2. Synsidar says:

    Yes, “Norwalk” was intended. The “Borwalk” typo has happened before, even on the http://www.norwalkct.org Website.

    SRS

  3. I didn’t understand why Val was refusing to give Joey Manley “benefit of a link”. The only benefit is to the reader so that they can read his comments in their entirety. It helps put things into context.

    Through the raw power of the Google, I was able to find his original post:

    http://www.talkaboutcomics.com/blog/?p=1515

  4. Kenny says:

    D’Orazio’s idea of a competitive reference site is also not practical. AcedemicEarth.org gives away lectures from top academics for free. For my business needs, Google Groups and Microsoft’s MSDN combine to offer 90% of my programming questions and both are free.

    On the other hand, anyone who thinks big mainstream corporations will be around forever is wrong. Just because there are corporations now doesn’t mean there always will be. All kinds of huge businesses have failed over the years in the face of new technology.

  5. Opps! Sorry, I didn’t realize that you linked to Manley’s original post.

  6. Oops! Sorry, I didn’t realize that you linked to Manley’s original post.

  7. Kirk Boxleitner, a.k.a. K-Box says:

    You know, I actually used to like Val, but as she’s turned into more and more of a shill for The Big Two and The Cult Of Nice, I find myself wishing that she really had Left Comics Forever, as she once claimed to have done. She’s pretty much 100-percent in the wrong on this issue, and provably so, and she’s responding to facts, supplied by subject-matter experts, as though they were personal insults hurled by trolls.

  8. You can’t stop the signal.

  9. ‘Ole Val really doesn’t have a very good grasp on what she’s talking about, and seems to have been losing badly enough to turn off the comments. Really did smack of sucking up, too. I mean, really, does she have a remote clue what kind of revenue something like Penny Arcade generates?

    However, the network neutrality conspiracy theory isn’t 100% far-fetched. Probably moreso if you’re on Time-Warner cable. That’s a bill that needs a stake driven through it. Probably won’t ever come to that, and if it does, it probably will be struck down before very long. Still, that’s something worth keeping an eye on.

  10. Kirk Kirk Kirk. “…is a nice person, and I know from reading her blog that she’s a smart and articulate one, too.” is extremely insulting. Not to mention racist.

  11. Steven R. Stahl says:

    Here’s an interesting post on the subject of profiting from Webcomics.

    SRS

  12. R. maheras says:

    Reed Exhibitions wrote: “This is not an entry level job, this is not a fan job this is not an easy job, but it is a lot of hard work and a lot of fun.”

    Excuse me??? What do they mean their marketing position is not a “fan job”???

    Bull!!! What, do they think that just because someone is a fan of comics, they can’t handle the big, bad marketing responsibilities of a tiny little organization like Reed Exhibitions???

    I got news for the folks at Reed, I’ll bet there are plenty of comics fans who have plenty of marketing experience and could probably handle their marketing job without batting an eye.

    Hell, in my humble case, I was the sole public relations person at a manufacturing firm with $800 million a year in sales. I handled all media-related issues (including all on- and off-camera interviews), all new product launch publicity for at least a dozen new products each year (which included press kits, news releases, etc.), all community relations, all product placements, all crisis communications, and, in my (ahem) spare time, I wrote internal stories for the company newsletter.

    Doing marketing for Reed, by comparison, would practically be a vacation.

    Not a “fan job” my arse!

  13. Tyson D. says:

    Joey Manley also referred to Valerie D’Orazio as “nice”, “smart”, and “articulate”.

    The vicious bastard.

    :P

  14. Tyson D. says:

    Apologies to jamesmith3 who beat me to it.

    As far as Marvel and DC buying up properties? Well, anybody can sell their creations as they wish and that’s their right, no question, although if you’re part of a creative team, that stake is 50%, I think.

    But isn’t the history of comics littered with shameful stories of legendary creators being treated horribly because they signed away their rights and got screwed out of compensation and even formal credit for their work?

    That history isn’t something that is easily forgotten, nor should it be, least of all by today’s and tomorrow’s creators.

    Keeping your head up at all times seems advisable, regardless of the specifics.

  15. I think both sides of Valerie’s webcomic debate are missing a point. Most successful webcomics do get paid by a large corporation. GoogleAds. It’s very profitable for Google, and they don’t have to provide benefits. The risk of their model is very low. It provides creative freedom for the creators and a wage, so they’re happy.

    It’ll be hard for Joey Cheese or Paul Levitz to beat the Google deal.

    Essentially, the steady money from webcomics isn’t in owning the Intellectual Property. It’s from support. Directing the right ads for the audience, and getting your cut from the funds. Printing the books and t-shirts. Etc.

    It’s like the California Gold Rush. The people making the most consistent money weren’t the miners. Most of them struggled. It was the people selling them a single fresh egg for $10 or the hardware store own selling pans and pickaxes.

  16. Mark Coale says:

    I took “not a fan job” to mean don’t apply just because you like or know a lot about comics and don’t have the necessary skill set for the position.

    Probably similar to how DC and Marvel are flooded with applications by every fanboy and fangirl when a position opens up there, whether they are qualified or not.

  17. Charles Knight says:

    Reed Exhibitions wrote: “This is not an entry level job, this is not a fan job this is not an easy job, but it is a lot of hard work and a lot of fun.”

    Excuse me??? What do they mean their marketing position is not a “fan job”???

    Well if you READ the whole thing, you’d see that she meant that you had to have marketing expertise and not to just apply because you were a really big fan of comics.

  18. R. Maheras says:

    Charles Knight wrote: “Well if you READ the whole thing, you’d see that she meant that you had to have marketing expertise and not to just apply because you were a really big fan of comics.”

    What makes you think I didn’t read the whole thing?

    The statement was condescending to fans, and I would not have used it.

    A simple “we are looking for qualified marketing experts” would have sufficed.

  19. I haven’t read the argument yet, but I’m on D’Orazio’s side because Manley shares the same last name as Mike Manley.

    For all I know they may even be related, ghastly though that fate would be.

  20. Mike Manley and I are not related! Kip Manley and Jenn Manley Lee are also note related to me (though, weirdly, Kip comes from a small town in Alabama about thirty miles north of where I come from). I am also not related to Gerard Manley Hopkins, Manley from Rent (or Joey from Rent for that matter), or anybody else you may have heard of named Manley. :)

  21. Thanks for the info, Joey.

    I should have rephrased my jibe to make it clearer that it would only be a ghastly fate to be related to Mike Manley, not to have the name Manley by itself. As you point out it’s shared by a dang good poet, and I’d add that it also belongs to a purty good pulp-writer, Manly (no e) Wade Wellman.

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