The webcomics blog about webcomics

Webcomics In Review: 2007

Hey, did you know that there were some significant things to happen in the world of webcomics in 2007? Well, it turns out that there were, and here are some of them. Despite the fact that they’re numbered, these are in no particular order of importance.

0 — The number of entries in the past-strips archive of Skin Horse, which launched a few hours ago. Why am I calling a completely new strip that has no track record a significant event for the year? ‘Cause it’s from Shaenon Garrity, homes.

1 — Achewood‘s position on the list of Top Ten Graphic Novels of the year, according to Time blogger Lev Grossman. He’s done a lot to raise the visibility of webcomics to the wider world this past year.

3 — Number of apparently very smart people involved in the Modern Tales/ComicSpace merger. We hope to bring you an interview with principals Joey Manley, Josh Roberts, and Alan Gershenfeld once everybody’s back from the year-end travelganza.

4 — Number of days until the start of the 2008 convention season, with Randy Milholland putting in an appearance at Ohayocon. Likely winner of cons in 2008? Ironwoman Jennie Breeden, with 43 days already planned, and the back third of the year still open.

6 — Wowio came on the scene, offering free downloads of books (including [web]comics) in exchange for statistical information to consumers about readers, and the promise of payouts to the creators. Judging from the checks that were cut back in the Fall, the creators I’ve spoken to seem more than satisfied with their end of the arrangement, but the question remains as to how long Wowio can continue its burn rate.

As for me, I’m pretty philosophically opposed to the trafficking of information about me (whether I remain individually identifiable or no), so I’ve not taken advantage of Wowio’s offer. So why is this item #6? Because I am not a number, I am a free man.

10 — As in “ten bucks”. A brutally important number. Come back tomorrow to find out why.

15 — Days you still have to catch Infinite Canvas: The Art of Webcomics at the Museum of Comics and Cartoon Art in New York. What are you waiting for?

47 — The number of people creating webcomics that, off the top of my head, are making their livings (at least in significant part) from their webcomics. You can get into all kinds of trouble here, playing games like “Do I count the people on the Penny Arcade payroll that aren’t Jerry and Mike?” and “What about infrastructure providers like the aforementioned Manley and Roberts and Phillip Karlsson and the people packing t-shirts for Topatoco?”

In the end, I made it a judgement call and just started counting writers and artists on my fingers. I’m sure you could come up with a completely different list, but what’s important here is that there’s probably as many people on this list, as you could find on the list of top-tier syndicated strip cartoonists. And I’ll bet $20 right now that the number at least doubles over the next two years.

1200, 1300, 1400 — Aisle numbers at the San Diego Convention Center where the (to date) largest concentration of webcomickers in history gathered for Nerd Prom ’07. Variations on this theme have occurred in prior years, of course, but this year seemed to represent a turning point of sorts. There’s been a marked decrease in Teh Drama and a corresponding increase in the collegiality of those who create webcomics, which seemed to have really started around the time everybody promoted the hell out of each other.

2,000 — The amount of money that a Zudawinner needs to be paid every four years to keep the rights from reverting back to the creator. Significant mostly because Zuda (which has proven to have a clumsy, heavyweight interface, and not really be about webcomics at all) sparked a general discussion of rights and ownership among the webcomics set, which is always a good thing.

5,000 — The reported going price (in US dollars) for a piece of gallery art that bought Todd Goldman some very bad publicity. By the time the storm had settled, there was a particularly telling quote from Goldman’s art dealer:

Solomon said that several galleries stopped showing Goldman’s work. And the wholesalers who buy Goldman’s posters canceled their orders and asked for refunds for unsold stock.

“I lost the three biggest poster distributors in America,” Solomon said. He wouldn’t say how much money he and Goldman may have lost.

17,000 — Circulation of the Rutgers University student newspaper, The Daily Targum. A new webcomicker of my acquaintance started a strip over the summer and has been working on his skills at a steady rate. Taking a piece of advice from the Webcomics Weekly podcast, he started writing to college papers, offering his strip, and TDT was one that bit. In the coming year, he’ll jump immediately from dozens of readers to thousands, and be just a bit closer to that dream he’s had of doing a comic strip since he was six years old. I’ll introduce you to him in the coming year.

1,135,000 — Amount of money, again in US dollars, donated to Child’s Play so far this season. Or if you prefer, there’s the even more impressive $3,324,000 to date since the inception of Child’s Play a few years back.

2008 — The most important number on the list. It’s been a hell of a year for webcomics, and next year promises more of the same. Come on back tomorrow and we’ll talk some more.

2008 here we come!

Eh. 2007 smelt better.

2011 will be a prime year for webcomics.

Lovely idea for an end-of-year roundup, Gary. But the account of Wowio is inaccurate on a few points.

First, I assume that “statistical information to consumers” is a typo for “statistical information about consumers.”

Second, more important to Wowio’s exchange than statistical information or the promise of free downloads are the ads that appear on the first page of every download. Without those ads, the statistical information wouldn’t mean much. Electronic Arts doesn’t care how many 18-to-34-year-olds read Wowio’s Art of War. EA cares how many of them saw EA’s ad. I don’t share your position on the ethics of that statistical tracking, but if I did, I’d say, “in exchange for ads embedded in the downloads and statistical information about those ads. The company also offers payouts to the creators.”

“Burn rate” is the other inaccuracy. I don’t know the exact terms of the deal Wowio has with its advertisers, and I haven’t seen any trustworthy report about the company’s profit or loss. It could be drowning in red ink– or it could be doing just fine, especially if its advertisers are paying it per download the way it’s paying its contributors. Some of Wowio’s sponsors have pretty deep pockets.

There are all kinds of reasons to keep profits a secret– if profits are too low, the numbers might draw advertisers away; if profits are too high, the numbers might leave some contributors dissatisfied with their cut.

I’d replace “the question remains as to how long Wowio can continue its burn rate” with “it’s uncertain whether Wowio is, or ever will be, profitable, and if not, how long it can survive.”

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