The webcomics blog about webcomics

World Serves Its Own Needs, Don’t Misserve Your Own Needs

Everyone else is talking about this (or should be).

So we will too.

Nothing Eric says can be trusted anymore

Ha! Just Kidding!

Seriously, though. Jon is paying me to say this. So don’t take my word for it.

Think for yourself about what this means. And then consider that this is pretty much exactly where Eric has wanted to be, and probably a good part of his motivation for doing WebSnark in the first place. He’s admitted all along that he wants to make money off of webcomics – and that he tried to do it the “normal” way and failed. So then he started “snarking”.

And now he’s getting paid for it.

So am I.

In beer.

When I get the very rare opportunity to get to New York to collect.

Jon Rosenberg made me say this.

But, still. Think for yourself.

Why is this a good thing for webcomics journalism?

Curses of curses!

You dared say something negative! You’re supposed to be glowing over this appointment like everyone else.

Try a pat on the back, next time, or instead of getting bought a beer, the webcomics community will be dumping it on your head.


Actually… if you check the only places I’ve commented on the money end of webcomics (the digital strips podcast and the blank label podcast I was on, respectively), I’m on the record saying I’ve not been interested in making a living off of webcomics. Which is why we have no advertising or anything else on Gossamer Commons or John Stark.

However, I’m now making money editing. Which means I’m making money in the thing I went to college for.

That has me excited.

Oh — and for the record? It’s entirely possible — perhaps even likely — you’ll make more of a profit in beer than I make in editing Modern Tales. ;)

(As for the rest of your point… it’s a worthy question.)

How in the world did you make a fancy emoticon? That’s too cool!


Well, actually, I just did a semicolon and a closed parentheses. Fleen’s comment system appears to be pretty cool.

It depends on the moral fiber of the person in question. Eric has already stated he’s not planning on turning Websnark into a Modern Tales advertising center, and I trust him in this.

If he betrays that trust, then I’ll stop reading Websnark, as will quite a few other people. While Eric has stated he doesn’t care if his readers all vanish, he does it for his own enjoyment… well, that will still result in Websnark vanishing from the venue of most people’s perusal for critical commentary.

Eric’s new job is a good thing because it allows Modern Tales to continue as a viable entity. MT is required, even if the subscription model for webcomics is flawed (so I say even as I plan on renewing my subscription so that I can still effectively review MT comics), as competition for Keenspace, Blank Label, Panel2Panel, and the other collectives out there.

This is no different than Kristofer Straub doing commentary on comics through his own webcomic, or of Ping Teo’s Webcomic Finds, or William G’s blogsite. Or of my own reviews. Any reviewer is going to be prejudiced in some fashion (I, for one, tend to coach even my criticism in kindness, and write fairly optimistically, though there have been exceptions to this). Fleen is no different. Nor is Websnark.

So we’ll have to wait and see.

Robert A. Howard

For my part, I couldn’t care less if it’s a good thing for webcomics criticism or not. I just know that it’s a very good thing for Modern Tales! And I hope very much that it will be a good thing for Eric Burns. Beyond that, well, yeah, whatever … (grin).


The other shoe drops here:
Burns Takes Over — Modern Tales will be (Mostly) Free!

Summary: the new Modern Tales will be 80% free, advertising-supported. The other 20% of the site, the subscription-based part, will be exactly as it is today. I’ll maintain control of that part of the site. Eric’s charged with building the free part.


I’m on the record saying I’ve not been interested in making a living off of webcomics.

Right, but if that were actually true, you never would have “failed” as a webcomic artist. You would have just kept at it.

People who love what they are doing are pretty much completely oblivious to the level of talent that they actually possess.

^ Not sure about that.

Eric has pretty high standards when it comes to his artistic output. I think the reason that he “failed” as a comic artist is because he thought his comic sucked, not because he found his comic wasn’t making money.

Again, if he thought his comic sucked for artistic reasons, he would have kept at it and tried to make it better.

That’s the only reason people *do* get better, is that they think their work is crap and needs improvement. And the only real way to improve is daily practice. (#4 on the list of reasons I won’t make a webcomic – I’m too lazy to practice anything daily.)

And if he thought his work was so bad to begin with, why did he wait until he knew he had a larger audience to try again?

Not really… for example, William G is well-known as a sort of artistic rebel in the webcomic community… one who is not in it for the money, necessarily.

He has quit a number of comics for purely artistic reasons. Once a comic is started, there is not necessarily any obligation of the artist to keep working on THAT project forever.

As for waiting for a larger audience… I’ll be the first to say that I’m not necessarily in it for the money (I’ve been drawing daily comics for the last year with no real audience to speak of)… yet there is a certain niceness in knowing that folks are reading your comic. Waiting until there is an audience is part of human nature. Even if Eric doesn’t necessarily make comics for the money, he still might want people to read them.

One other point: daily webcomics are not always the best.

People who love what they are doing are pretty much completely oblivious to the level of talent that they actually possess.

Also: This statement is definitely not true.

I think for me, the only thing interesting about any of this news is, what will the NEW business model be for creators to make money? I’m guessing, allowing them to have access to the tools of WebcomicNation.. which, well, you don’t REALLY need to be in a group to do.

I’ve come to SOLID BLOWS with JOey Manley in the past (not literally, although I’d totally let him suckle it) about the creators not making money at ModernTales.

It’s interesting… Eric has no real desire to make a living from webcomics, and now he’s in charge of a business venture, even though it’s a free model now, STILL, Im sure those creators would like to make some bank. So, is it the smartest thing to have a guy in charge that isn’t interested in turning a profit? Heh…

Wait– why is this even news? To me, it’s SPIN. Modern Tales is a bust. The subscription model for webcomics IS bust. Just like PV Comics found out too.

Nice spinning though Joey. And at least you aren’t just bailing and leaving people hanging and waiting around, at least you’re allowing the creators to go on and bring in new leadership. That’s really the only NEWS I can see in this.

And whether Eric admits it or not, it will effect Websnark. But who cares, he doesn’t owe us readers anything since we don’t pay, right?

Eric is also deluded if he thinks any talented webcomic artist would actually let him *edit* their works.

But DJ, according to the latest, MT is mostly dropping the subscription model. At least partially.

But I totally think you have a valid point, DJ.

Right.. they are dropping the subscription model because it’s a terrible failure that’s made like CRAP for the creators….

So, I’m interested to see what they can cook up FOR CREATORS.

Just a few points of clarification.

We’re not “dropping” the subscription model. The subscription-based site that was/is there, will be there still. There will just be lots and lots and lots of other stuff, too.

Think of it as a house. We’re not gutting the house. We’re adding a new wing. A new wing that will be open to the public. And will be maybe twice or three times as big as the original house. But the original house will still be there, too.

In terms of “my business model can beat up your business model” back-and-forth, that’s soooooo three years ago. I’m not going to be pulled into any ideological arguments about what this means for “the subscriptions business model.” Clearly, to find out what I think about subscriptions, you should look at what I’m doing, not at what I’m saying. And what I’m doing is hanging onto subscriptions, because it represents a steady and predictable stream of income, but I am no longer letting that be our only stream of income. The subscription model has its place, but it is not powerful enough to serve as the *sole* business model for a leading webcomics portal like Modern Tales. In short: I’m not running a business model here. I’m running a business. To let ideological preferences for this or that business model slow the growth of that business would be the real disservice to creators.

The offer we will be making to creators is very carefully designed to allow them to continue to build their own, independent businesses — on Modern Tales as well as elsewhere — while, at the same time, taking advantage of the benefits that MT membership can bring. We don’t promise the moon, because those benefits are incremental — to pretend otherwise would be silly, presumptuous, and Actually Wrong. Our deal will reflect that reality, and is designed to help creators get a leg-up toward that goal, not to hold them back and tie them to our own brand forever. Like, you know, a certain other portal I can name.

But those matters — or, at least, the specific details of those matters — are best left for discussion and negotiation between Eric and the individual cartoonists in question.

DJ, just out of curiosity — how’s that newspaper syndication deal with Keenspot working out?



sorry i got it wrong. the lack of an edit feature means that my original comment is there to stay, unfortunately.

Joey– I never heard back from them on it actually. So I guess it went south.

Joey, I never heard back from them so I figured it wasn’t really THAT important to them. I think it would have worked out, even though newspapers are probably a bad venue. If someone actually WORKED and put the work in on it, you can easily get into papers.

That sucks.

Newspaper syndication is definitely a direction I might want to explore for MT Free someday … maybe we should talk at some point …


If I had to advise anyone about newspapers now, I’d tell them to stay away. Even just the past year alone, newspaper subscriptions have plummeted to an all time low. And many big newspapers are fudging their subscriber numbers by continuing to deliver papers after they cancel– in essence, being able to keep their advertisers… but advertisers are getting a bit smarter now.

Right, but if that were actually true, you never would have “failed� as a webcomic artist. You would have just kept at it.

Well, except I did.

I did Unfettered by Talent because I wanted to, and because it was fun — but it was also terrible. Ergo, I failed at it.

I never thought I’d make a cent at it, though.

Later, I had the chance to write webcomics, and that’s gone much better. It’s exciting and fun and I love it.

However, we don’t make any money doing it. And I don’t see that changing. We might shoot for print at some point, because that would be cool. However, the standards for success we’re shooting for are artistic, not financial.

Eric –
If for no other reason, you are *too well read* to believe for a second that having bad art and a bad story line and no sense of timing and no sense of character can in any way make a webcomic a failure.

You and I both know that there are lots of terrible comics out there that are (inexplicably to those of us with taste) wildly successful both in size of readership and in monentary gains.

So I still don’t understand why you used the word “failed” – because you know better than to link it to artistic merits.

If I wrote a ten page missive that outlined all of the flaws that I could find in Gossamer Commons, and I backed them up historically, literarily, and artistically… And you found yourself agreeing with at least half my points – would you then consider it a failure?

And how can you claim that you kept at it, when you say “*later*, I had the chance”. That’s clearly telling me there was a break between the two. Are you saying that you kept writing comics and didn’t share? If so, again, why use the word “failed”?

You and I both know that there are lots of terrible comics out there that are (inexplicably to those of us with taste) wildly successful both in size of readership and in monentary gains.

There are many different intents in cartooning (and in any endeavor). Audience and finance are two reasons people do such things. They aren’t the only two reasons they do it.

Artistically, UfbT was a failure. So, I scrubbed it and went and did other stuff. I continued to grow. I continued trying things. And I found stuff I felt worked. And stuck with it.

You could indeed highlight a ton of flaws with Gossamer Commons, I’m sure. And I would agree with some of them, I’m sure. But to date, Gossamer Commons has succeeded in the things I’ve tried to accomplish. I look back at the first two chapters, and while I see things I need to improve, I also see a Hell of a lot that I wanted to accomplish and did. So no, I wouldn’t think it was a failure, even if you highlighted its problems. Whereas when I look at UfbT, I see plenty of things I attempted that simply didn’t work at all, and little that succeeded. So, I see that as a failure.

Money doesn’t enter into either.

Here’s when you know Eric has become untrustworthy:

Gossamer Commons becomes the Modern Tales flagship comic.

Other than that, it doesnt fucking matter. Eric Burns isn’t a journalist, and Websnark isn’t journalism. Can we drop that bullshit already?

Well, we gotta come up with something — Narbonic ends in a year!


Well… Bloggers ARE called “citizen journalists” now in the media.


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