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State of the Comic Union
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fredirc
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Joined: 21 Nov 2001
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 22, 2001 6:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have noticed in my regular perusing of comics available for consumption that online comics has taken an interesting turn of late. I recall that back when the Dot Coms collapsed as an industry and ad revenues almost vanished entirely, a large contingent of comic artists began to speculate wildly on the fate of the online comic 'industry'.

Some of the more popular and intimidating predictions included the remaining ad revenue drying up; Keen vanishing as their business strategy became untenable; a lack of new entrants into the foray due to a lack of monetary incentive; and even that the older participants would start to drop from the front line due to their audience load crippling them financially with bandwidth bills. Some hailed these possible outcomes as a good thing; a culling process. Others postulated that these changes would spell the end of the 'golden age' of online comics. Now, several months after the fervor has petered out, let's examine these predictions.

Firstly, the elimination of the remaining ad revenues. Certainly, this source of income has lessened considerably since ads were deemed to be unviable. However, have you noticed any sites taking down their banner ads? It must still pay something, even if not a substantial amount. Furthermore, with the rapid decline in ad rates, there have arisen new experimental methods of generating income from your readership. Pay Pal and Amazon donation boxes have propagated like rabbits on fertility drugs on a vast and increasing majority of comic sites. Others are turning to the tried and true merchandising method to drum up the capitol to continue posting free comics for the world to enjoy. Still others are experimenting with offering print versions of their comics, hoping to revive that dying industry, at least as far as their creations are concerned. These various methods, along with other potential future endeavors are experimental, to be sure, but the comics community are willing to take any possible risks at this point.

On the issue of Keen going bankrupt and setting the majority of comics adrift without a free hosting solution, I still have yet to see this materialize. While I certainly have few good things to say about the quality of their services, they are still the only viable business offering these services free of charge, bad economy be damned. While still not a fan of their reliability or policies, I hope they continue to survive to improve said problems.

A quick survey of comic archives will reveal a lot of new entrants into the field of sequential art. Not as many as there once were, but that is a blessing. While that comment might garner harsh criticism, think about it. Back during the zenith of Keenspace, I would groan whenever someone said their comic was a *.keenspace.com comic, not for their choice of host, but because I knew that nine times out of ten their comic would be utter crap. There were enough fart, turd, and penis jokes on Keenspace to compete with Comedy Central. In modern times, when the average person with a pen and a computer is more worried about his day job being axed than if he will meet his updating schedule on his comic strip, those who do start up a new online comic tend to do so only if they really have a work of quality. There has been a culling effect, just not as drastic as originally supposed.

Finally, the older comics do seem to be taking more hiatuses than ever before. While this is unfortunate, try to remember that these are hiatuses, not retirements. This means that after the authors sort out their financial situations in the 'real world', they will return. Trust me on this. As Robert A. Heinlien said about writers, "You never stop writing. You write until you die. You may slow down at some point, but to actually stop writing, you would have to stop breathing first."

So why have the doomsday prophecies not materialized? Easy. They were prophecies about the 'comic industry'. We were never an industry, excepting a few highly profitable ventures. From the beginning, comics have been posted free, not because we could not charge, but because we would rather entertain first and, if we have entertained decently, then we worry about compensation. If we were an industry we would vanish with the dawning of economic woes, as we would only care about the bottom line and said line would be ruining us right about now. We are a community, not an industry.

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Tailsteak
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 22, 2001 10:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A community, not an industry. I like that.
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 25, 2001 1:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I like steak.
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glych
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Joined: 25 Jun 2001
Posts: 56
Location: So' Cal, USA

PostPosted: Sun Nov 25, 2001 1:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's what I've been trying to say- go community! As for my own comic, yes- it's on hiatus right now, and No Stereotypes will not be coming back (at least in online comic form). I have been apprached by a few people to take my characters into other avenues, such as an animated TV series, a "traditional" comic book (on dead trees), among others....but that's just me- Just because I'm stopping NS doesn't mean I'm stopping- I will keep doing online comics, just maybe not the same ones...

As for "keen going under" I doubt that, or at least that for now.

Yes, Chris and Gav and Terry and all them do have their hands full, because they themselves are but a handful of people doing what they love for a medium they adore...

It might be hard, but it doesn't mean they're ready to quit...

Beleive me, Howard (Shlock Mercenary)wouldn't let it happen... he's got too good of a business sense.

And speaking on the community of keen as a whole, we all kind of help each other. Just look at the Great Framed Escape to see that...

I'm glad that there are others out there with the same optomism about the state of online comics that I have...

Optomism gives us all hope...

Thanks for sharing!

-glych

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fredirc
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Joined: 21 Nov 2001
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 25, 2001 1:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You are welcome. And good luck on the projects.



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David Schumacher
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Scott McCloud
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Joined: 23 May 2001
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 25, 2001 1:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting thoughts, David -- and an interesting site, btw. Thank you for posting.
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fredirc
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 25, 2001 3:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

No prob. I plan on posting more on other topics, as inspiration allows.

Thanks for looking at my site, as it is rare that someone does;-)



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