Okay some quick thoughts…
Some retailers got arsey with Dark Horse’s supposed plans to release their comics digitally on the same day as the print edition and a reduced cost. Some figures were thrown around the internet like 99c/$1.99 for the digital version, $2.99/$3.99 for the print. So these retailers caught wind of this and decided to cancel all of their Dark Horse orders as some sort of punishment to DH for daring to contemplate doing this.
DH have reacted by clarifying that their digital releases will be $2.99 for the first month of release but then reduced to $1.99 thereafter.
But still, this is how I imagine the news to go down..
Customer: Do you have any of the Buffy comic in stock?
Store: We are not stocking those comics because of Dark Horse’s digital policy.
Customer: So you’re saying I can’t buy this comic from you?
Customer: So I have to buy it from somewhere else?
Customer: You’re saying I should spend my money somewhere else?
Customer: And you’re essentially telling me I can buy this digitally from my own home and never come back here?
Yeah, way to support the people who have been paying your rent for all these years, guys. Way to just alienate your customers.
It’s not just some comic retailers being A Bit Silly about this. Barnes and Noble took offence to D.C Comics recent pact with Amazon’s new Kindle Fire tablet. Essentially the fancy new Kindle allows you download comics that aren’t available on other systems yet, like Barnes and Noble’s eReader.
So B&N yanked the printed editions of the titles you can get from Kindle Fire from their shelves and boxed them up outback…
Customer: Do you have Sandman in stock?
Store: No we pulled them off our shelves because the electronic version is avaliable on the Amazon Kindle and not through us
Customer: Urrm, I don’t want to buy the electronic version I want to give you money so I can buy the printed collection.
Store: Well, we can customer order it for you.
Customer: Right, so I can order it today and then come back in 5 days time to collect it? Instead of, y’know, you just selling me the book right now?
Customer: Wait, so you’re saying you can’t sell me the book today but Amazon can?
I work in a bookshop part-time. There is one word I do not use. Amazon. You say that and you might as well be logging the customer into their Amazon account and pressing the checkout button for them because in their head you’ve already lost the sale.
I’m not being thick here though am I? If someone wants to give a shop money that’s good for business right? How are tantrums and empty threats helpful to anyone? Take the money, take all the money you can, because look retailers, when you close down and you moan about it’s all because of “digital” it won’t be, it will because of your ordering policy which is turning down sales.
Digital is here, it’s not going to go away. Nor is print. People still like paper.
There are developments in the industry to support digital and print at the same time, like this initiative from Marvel. Customers want a choice as to what platform to buy their comics and creators want that choice too. It seems the only ones who have an issue are some retailers who don’t want any one to have a choice that isn’t their own.
(NOTE: The number of good retailers outweighs the bad and not all shops would pull this shit. If it seems like I’m hating on all retailers, it’s very much not the case. Retailers have been very good to me over the years)
Image from my contribution to Solipsistic Pop #4
This post is probably going to make the most sense to the artists out there, but does anyone experience soul crushing fear when drawing their comic for an anthology? I do. God, always. Pretty much every time I get invited to submit work for an anthology it leaves me confused, grumpy, and self aware of all my faults.
Why? Well, with anthologies your strip is only as good as the one it follows or precedes. That’s a terrifying and perhaps an unfair prospect, especially when more often than not the work is so varied within anthologies. Your work is being judged against other people’s, literally from page to page. It’s unsettling to think that work that is good, funny and enjoyable in its own context can be torn down and dismissed because someone “liked the other dude’s work better” or “that person draws better houses” or whatever.
(I know that’s a little unfair; you read an anthology because you like the subject or the people behind it, not because you enjoy ripping into people’s work in some Simon Cowell-esque judgemental nightmare - but that’s how it feels to me as a creator.)
(oh god, you know I’ve just worked it out, I’m terrified that this guy…
…is reading everything I do.)
I bring this up as the past few days I’ve been working on my entry for the fourth issue of Solipsistic Pop, a brilliant comic anthology that I’ve appeared in twice already and still for the life of me can’t spell the title correctly on the first go. The line up is stupid good and full of young bright eyed talented types, it’s the sort of line up that makes you want to do your best work, y’know. You don’t want to be “the shit one” in a line up like that. So, naturally this week I’ve had a bit of a crisis of faith with my artistic abilities, second guessing my contribution to the anthology and having such a bad time drawing it I started over…twice. It’s only a one page strip, I’m sure if it was two pages I would have had a complete breakdown. I know deep down that this a good thing; that this fear is actually a desire to do good work and produce a strong strip and I am pleased with my comic, I just have no idea how it’ll fit within the context of the anthology. But I have faith in Editor Humbers that he wouldn’t let my strip get past the gate if it wasn’t good enough.