Friday, February 20, 2015

Web to Print and Print to Web

If you remember the Quasi-Awards return post from the beginning of the year, you may remember seeing me mention Shadowgirls, but not actually link it.  I do make a point of linking comics whenever they are named in an article, unless I'm really rushed (it happens once in a while).  The reason for this incident was that I went to the old link and the comic was gone.

So I did some searching using the holy power of Google, as I usually do, and I found two things.  The first was a string of reviews for a novel named The Shadow Girls, which has nothing to do with the comic.  The second was links to the comic, to be bought, in print form.

This has happened before.  Jeremy is one of my favorite comics, and one of the first to go pure print.  Marsh Rocket (another dead and gone link) did the same.  There is nothing wrong with this, let me be clear.  There is no reason for freeloaders like me to expect a comic archive to remain up forever, especially when the artist is paying for the website to display them.  Still, I think they're missing something important here.

What's missing is that a lot of people don't like to buy something sight unseen.  I imagine they're banking on fans of the comic during it's run to pick it up, but there are only so many of us for many of these comics.  Giving new readers a chance to get their feet wet before paying for the experience seems a much better idea to me.  Faith Erin Hicks did something similar with Friends with Boys, a print comic that was free for a time and I took the opportunity to even review it.

Serenity Rose did something similar when I first read it.  The middle chapters of the story were behind a paywall, but thanks to some clever introductory writing, I barely noticed and it didn't reduce my appreciation of the comic.  Later this restriction was removed and I get to read the rest and was very happy.

Stjepan Sejic, the artist of Sunstone (NSFW) went even further.  One of his print comics, Ravine, failed financially, so he's decided to convert it over to a full blown webcomic.  Yes, eventually I'll review it.  He's even provided copies of Death Vigil, his other series, on his main deviant art page, for free.  I imagine that combined with Sunstone's growing popularity has guided him to this decision, and while he won't make gobs of money on any of those comics, he'll at least make something and people will love it.  And he'll get a lot more commission work, which is growing by the day I swear.

Still, there is another reason for me to be bothered by webcomics going print only.  Back when I started his blog, I did so because I had just lost my very well paying job and I wanted something to do.  But it also made it that I couldn't exactly spend a lot of money on things that weren't necessary to live (the internet survived because of the kindness of others).  So to see these comics, as wonderful as they are, be entirely unreadable without a down payment of some kind is bothersome to me.  How many others out there would love to read Shadowgirls but can't afford the price tag?  I don't know, but I was in that place once and I know I would never had read it if it had been that way from the beginning.  I still probably won't do it due to some frugal streak I was raised with.

I won't deny these artists their desire to make some money off their work, but with things like Patreon and Kickstarter, I would think this kind of thing wouldn't be necessary any more.

Next week, I hope to have something.  Bit of a stretch getting this up between snow storms and work schedules.  Until then kiddies.

1 comment:

  1. I've never understood why some creators don't want to put their comics online to read. I think in the end, it won't hurt your sales. Even if there is a few people who won't buy your comic because they already read it, there are a bunch more that will buy your book because they have read it. There is just so much stuff out there now, I feel like if you don't give people a chance to really see your book, they will be more reluctant to buy it. So I agree, webcomics for the win. I have this argument with one of my creator friend all the time. he doesn't want to post his work and I always post mine.