Platinum goes to DrunkDuck.com

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Platinum is joining the stampede to the web, the New York Times reports. Platinum Studios is the long gestating comics publisher run by Scott Mitchell Rosenberg that has been developing hundreds of properties over the last few years, optioning many for Hollywood development. Now, after some rumblings that Platinum would be ramping up it’s interactive division, comes the announcement that their comics will be appearing on the DrunkDuck.com site, which Platinum purchased. The article is from the tech section of the paper, and focuses on the forward-looking aspects of this deal:

The revamped DrunkDuck site will continue to encourage the growth of independent comic book creators by distributing their work digitally at no cost to them or to consumers, Mr. Rosenberg said. Some of the comics appear as static panels, while others are lightly spiced with soundtracks, audio effects and minimal animation, and this will continue.

But a crucial difference, he said, will be in how Platinum plans to use the site to create a broad mix of revenue streams, “full-circle commercialization,�? for the company and its content contributors.

For example, Mr. Rosenberg said he planned aggressive marketing of the site — which already receives a million unique viewers a month, mostly drawn by word of mouth — coupled with advertising sales. While the advertising revenue would not be shared with the comic creators, artists would share in the revenue from downloadable comics for cellphones and mobile media devices like iPods, comics-related ring tones, wallpaper and items like T-shirts or plastic scale models of comic book characters.

Product creators, Mr. Rosenberg said, can expect to receive 10 percent of the adjusted gross revenue earned by sales.


100 Platinum graphic novels and comics will start appearing online this week, the article says.

We’re sure the webcomics community will have much to say about this, as always. The Times’s “Gosh wow! You can publish comics on the web!” attitude is a bit jarring, admittedly. We’ll just note that this effectively make Platinum the latest “we’re going to the web” publisher, after years of development heck for their properties.

Comments

  1. spiderman says:

    He said

    “He said that beginning this week, all of Platinum’s comics, including 100 graphic novels and series in production, would be published online at DrunkDuck 2.0 before any are printed.”

    Not that all of them would go up at once, it said “beginning this week” — you kinda misread that there, you might want to edit that.

    It would be neat if a 100 new things came this week though, but I doubt it.

  2. Question – when was the last time that Platinum actually published a print book?
    For that matter, will their San Diego Idol still get his book printed and promoted as it was promised?
    Honestly, my first take on this is that the whole deal stinks. Platinum didn’t really hide the fact that their business model was predicated on getting as many licenses as possible, so that when a Men in Black comes along, they get full profit off of the license. Creators took the not-brass ring offered by the company with a couple thoughts in mind – it was a foot in the door, and hey, you still could make money on the comic book runs.
    However, for the past few years, I can’t remember a single damn comic that Platinum has produced. Now, they’re not even bothering with that charade of making money off the print run, and are instead deciding to take an entire revenue stream away from creators, as well as their license and probably the merchandising rights. For what? Ipod download rights?

  3. Brian Spence says:

    Who? Platinum what?

  4. Hey Darren— In my case, the book will be coming out as a 4 issue miniseries in stores in MArch, in Previews I think in January (if that’s how Diamond still works) — Then we’re doing a special exclusive Hero By Night Webcomic that’s different from the books and launches online before the books come out, probably within the next couple months.

    Hey, Cowboys and Aliens launches online like that this thursday I think, they have a cool looking site up with a flash trailer: http://cowboysandaliens.net

  5. R'Rich says:

    They DO publish comics! Rosenberg’s annual Xmas card qualifies, doesn’t it?

  6. “…and are instead deciding to take an entire revenue stream away from creators, as well as their license and probably the merchandising rights. For what? Ipod download rights? ”

    Only if the creators want to enter a separate deal with Platinum. From what I understand, Drunk Duck stays a free hosting service, and Platinum may or may not decide to make an offer to the thousands of comic writers who just have a great time making fun comics.

    I think it’s no different from the Keenspot/Comics Genesis model. Keenspot makes no ownership demands on their Comics Genesis accounts, but offers a select few them the possiblility of being published under Keenspot.

    I’ve been on Drunk Duck for almost as long as it’s been around, and I can tell you that most of us aren’t thinking about becoming millionaires off our work. We just love doing comics and not having to pay for hosting. Dylan has done a great job keeping things running, but it was his hobby for all that time. He worked a full time job ON TOP OF all his efforts for DD. (*pauses to worship at the alter of St. Dylan*)

    Drunk Duck remains a free host for webcomics writers (the vast majority of which are just having fun), get a more reliable server AND a tech support team that they can count on…again, much like Keenspot and their wonderful efforts.

    Seems like a win-win for people who want to remain on the community. If they want to take advantage of the commercial system that Platinum is offering, they will. If not, they won’t.

  7. “Question – when was the last time that Platinum actually published a print book?”

    They haven’t, yet.

    “For that matter, will their San Diego Idol still get his book printed and promoted as it was promised?”

    It appears so. I know the book is a high priority for the company.

    “Platinum didn’t really hide the fact that their business model was predicated on getting as many licenses as possible, so that when a Men in Black comes along, they get full profit off of the license.”

    I may be misunderstanding your point slightly, but if by “full profit” you mean the creators of the work get nothing from money generated by licensing, that’s not true. Generally speaking, the company does take the bulk of profit and control, but not all of it.

    “Creators took the not-brass ring offered by the company with a couple thoughts in mind – it was a foot in the door, and hey, you still could make money on the comic book runs.”

    It was also one of very few companies willing to entertain proposals from unproven writers without an artist attached, almost unique in its willingness to expend resources developing creators they saw potential in. They also offer cash advances for work, albeit nominal ones.

    “However, for the past few years, I can’t remember a single damn comic that Platinum has produced.”

    Because they haven’t published the books they’ve produced, yet.

    “Now, they’re not even bothering with that charade of making money off the print run, and are instead deciding to take an entire revenue stream away from creators,”

    The plan, as I understand it, is not intended to take a revenue stream away from creators, but to generate interest and sales in a printed product by building up interest in projects online. Whether releasing an entire story online for free will translate into sales for the same story in print remains to be seen (I have my doubts, but as a creator working with Platinum, I obviously hope it works), but that’s the idea.

    Print has not been abandoned by the company; in fact, there’s a fairly aggressive publishing plan in place for 2007 (one that takes care not to flood the marketplace with a multitude of titles–I believe the most currently planned for release in a given month is four, split between miniseries issues and standalone graphic novels), starting with the release of the COWBOYS & ALIENS graphic novel this December.

    A

  8. Hey DJ, thanks for the update on HBN. If I remember correctly, Platinum was pretty much legally bound to hire the other two books in the semifinals as well, and only yours is to be getting the all-star promotion.
    Almost all of my gripe is targeted at Platinum Studios for what it’s doing with its current batch of properties that they set up under comic book contracts (not what will happen with Drunk Duck). I gave the article a close comb-through and would have to agree, yes, they’re not quite giving up on the print versions of current properties, but it does look like they’re trying even less to get these properties in print. Now, they probably only will print something if it’s done well enough online.
    The last time I looked at a Platinum contract, it was set up that the studio got larger than normal amounts of the licensing for movies, toys and the ilk, while the creator had to get their pay from the page-rates offered and the percentage of book-sales profits.
    In theory, Platinum acts as a comic book company. I get that they’re trying to build interest in their products, all 100 of them. But of those 100, I’ve heard of two, count them two (2) that are actively on their way to comic book shops near you. And Cowboys and Aliens they started promoting in early 2004, but they still haven’t solicited the book yet.
    Ever interview out there, Rosenberg trots out his affiliation with Men In Black. Not really the comic by Lowell Cunningham, as that might remind people what the exact parameters of the game are. It’s not about the creator making money, and it’s not about making comics. It’s about making Platinum Studios money.
    Honestly, I have no problem with it. There’s exposure possibilities there. I just want everyone to realize what they’re jumping into if they try to sell a story to Platinum.

  9. Well, you can’t just make money without work or products or projects– from what I know from my own asking around, Platinum has had a slow building business plan thats been unraveling over a couple years now– I mean, take a look at their staff, they’re not fly by night slackers there.

    Also, just a minor clarification, I don’t think they were legally bound to give anyone a contract but the winner of the CBC– they were open to working with other creators though, but thats between them and the creator– with the CBC, there was really only one contract given out—

  10. I just thought I’d post these answers I got from Platinum directly- I hope Heidi doesnt mind–
    _____________________________________________

    “Hey DJ, thanks for the update on HBN. If I remember correctly, Platinum was pretty much legally bound to hire the other two books in the semifinals as well, and only yours is to be getting the all-star promotion.”

    –***This is not true. Only the winner (yourself) was guaranteed publishing. However, we have since struck deals with a few of the other semi-finalists and continue to converse about ideas with all three of the top finalists.

    “Almost all of my gripe is targeted at Platinum Studios for what it’s doing with its current batch of properties that they set up under comic book contracts (not what will happen with Drunk Duck). I gave the article a close comb-through and would have to agree, yes, they’re not quite giving up on the print versions of current properties, but it does look like they’re trying even less to get these properties in print. Now, they probably only will print something if it’s done well enough online.”

    *****In many cases for our upcoming 2007 publishing slate, we will have to solicit the comic BEFORE putting the comic online in order to make deadlines, so we are NOT waiting for web success to make decisions about printing our properties.

    “The last time I looked at a Platinum contract, it was set up that the studio got larger than normal amounts of the licensing for movies, toys and the ilk, while the creator had to get their pay from the page-rates offered and the percentage of book-sales profits.”

    –***Also untrue. We are one of the only places (and THE only place that I am aware of) that gives the comic creators A CREDIT in the films/shows and a piece of the money when the property is made into a film/show. Poor Stan Lee had to sue to get a piece of Spiderman, and we do not work that way. We give credit where credit is due. Without the creator, there would be no project, and we appreciate that.

    “In theory, Platinum acts as a comic book company. I get that they’re trying to build interest in their products, all 100 of them. But of those 100, I’ve heard of two, count them two (2) that are actively on their way to comic book shops near you. And Cowboys and Aliens they started promoting in early 2004, but they still haven’t solicited the book yet.”

    ****We have already solicited. The ‘Diamond’ with “Cowboys and Aliens” in it should hit buyers in…I think October (it’s always 2 months before, right?).

    “Ever interview out there, Rosenberg trots out his affiliation with Men In Black. Not really the comic by Lowell Cunningham, as that might remind people what the exact parameters of the game are. It’s not about the creator making money, and it’s not about making comics. It’s about making Platinum Studios money.”

    ***Unfortunately, in terms of the audience that reads NY Times, they will not recognize any comic book creator’s name, they will only recognize and understand movie titles. Just because people only talk about the actors in a film doesn’t mean the studio doesn’t value directors. : ) That’s just the reality of the American audience. They don’t understand what happens behind the curtain.

  11. Anonymous says:

    “We are one of the only places (and THE only place that I am aware of) that gives the comic creators A CREDIT in the films/shows and a piece of the money when the property is made into a film/show.”

    I can only speak for myself, and I’m not here representing the company, but this is in all my option agreements with Oni Press.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] [EDIT: while I approached the story from the Drunk Duck angle, and what this means for them, Heidi has another perspective, when she looks at it from the Platinum side of things, and what it means for them: “We’ll just note that this effectively make Platinum the latest ‘we’re going to the web’ publisher, after years of development heck for their properties,” says she.] [...]

  2. [...] Tom Spurgeon also has concerns, while the comments at Heidi’s blog have some interesting participants, including a second-hand response from the company. [...]

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