So- Here we are, several weeks into The Great Experiment. So far no one has been able to find another example of an established comic jumping directly to full-time free online mode. There are any number of examples of comics that have gone the other way, in the mistaken belief that printed comics are a vital, glamorous artform that will bring their creators vast amounts of money, respect and dates.
Unfortunately, this is true everywhere in the world, except the United States.
In Europe, comics are printed exclusively in full color on a pure linen paper that the E.U. has designated, by law, as being exclusively reserved for comics. These comics are leather bound, and sold in trendy boutiques. The creators are feted by royalty and treated like rock stars by the general populace.
In Japan, if a comic doesn’t sell seventeen million copies every week and become a hit anime series, the entire creative team and their families are branded failures and are expected to do “the honorable thing”. Of course, no one is quite sure what this mysterious “thing” is, since no manga series, no matter how idiotic, ever fails to sell less than seventeen million copies every week and become a hit anime series.
But here in the United States, the country that gave comics to the world in the first place, more people willingly read bad science fiction about worlds where everything is just like Earth, but everyone is an ocelot or something. Some of this, I believe, is because of the fabled crushing of the comics industry that took place in the fifties. However, that excuse is close to sixty years old and is getting a bit weak. A lot has to do with the Comics Industry, which has labored mightily to suck as hard as it possibly can in the intervening years.
But the biggest competition has come from stuff that is FREE!
Television? Free. Radio? Free. The Internet? Free. Comic books? Four bucks for twenty two pages of people beating each other up which you read and toss in five minutes.
To me it is obvious that if we want to compete with other forms of entertainment, we have to keep up with them. When they hit upon something that works. Steal it. In this case, the business model that says, “Give your product away for free and hope they like it enough to pay money to own it in a material form.”
Others have done it. Can we? We shall see.
As for how well the experiment is working: Well, it’s working on me, because now I know about the very cool comic and as soon as I make my way to a comic shop with some $$$ to spare, I’ll invest. It was many years ago that I ran across their art in Magic: The Gathering and I’m pleased to reacquaint with them now. A thousand blessings on the Internet!