The webcomics blog about webcomics

Can You Tell I’m Excited? ‘Cause I Totally Am

When last we left our intrepid heroine (nearly six months gone!), she was leaping into the vast unknown and had just learned the snail’s name. What’s that, you don’t know Kukuburi? For shame — get caught up before it returns on May 12th! Everybody else, mark your calendars for the big day.

  • Scott McCloud gets a day’s downtime at home in the midst of his neverending travels, and does he sleep in like a normal guy? Nope — he takes a swipe at the shape of nearly everything and/or engages in equine necromancy. Interesting implications when designing your next website, though. The shape of the screen part, not the dead horse thing. Ew.
  • So it seems that the ongoing crisis in newspapers has prompted people from the boardrooms to the beat to opine that the solution to all broadsheet woes (though nearly everything’s tabloid size these days) is to start charging for online content. Over here you got Rupert Murdoch, head of NewsCorp (and owner of MySpace) declaring war on free content. Actually, that’s slightly exaggerated; he actually said:

    The current days of the internet will soon be over.

    So that’s all right, then. For a more in-the-trenches perspective, I give you David Simon’s testimony before the US Senate; before having a hand in creating two of the best TV shows ever, Simon was a reporter for The Baltimore Sun. His prescription is:

    “An industry-wide transition to a paid, online subscriber base”, allied to relaxing anti-trust laws and help with enforcing copyright.

    So if newspapers all go paid (and I’m not convinced at this time it can happen), whither webcomics¹?

    Will we see them get in on all that sweet, sweet subscription revenue? I find it telling that it’s tough to find webcomics still using subscriptions these days. Will free carry a stigma as people wonder how much it can be worth if nobody pays for it? Or will free content become even more popular in a world where more of online has costs associated? I’m tending towards that last one, but would love to hear any developed counterarguments. Tell me what you think, people.

¹ Yes, yes, you could argue that every syndicated comic also appears on the syndicate’s website, and that subscription fees are necessary to gain unfettered access to the archives. And yes, just this week we’ve talked about how the distinction isn’t properly between medium of publication, but between corporate-owned and independent creators; all of that takes too long to qualify outside of a footnote that you obsessive types are reading, so for all of that we’ll use the shortcut term webcomics.

You still see a long-trending retreat from subscriptions in webcomics, with the significant exception of adult content, where the subscription has the added benefit of providing cover in the form of age verification. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go browse through the no-longer-subscription-walled archives of Digger.

These media gezzers are still debating when/where/how/why to charge for the internet when that battle is already lost. It’s not going to happen. It’s like trying to make people charge their co-workers for gossip at the water cooler. No one cares enough to pay. No one. Never. No one. Nope. Never. Not gonna pay. Not a chance. Ain’t never payin’.

Simon is right that it could only happen if the industry moved in lockstep and didn’t need to worry about anti-trust issues. If 70%+ of a paper’s content comes from wire services and that stuff is freely available, the horse is already out of the barn.

And then what’s left? George Will (or Maureen Dowd, take your pick) repeating talking points that are debunkable in a minute or two of googlage? Stories written in a strict pattern of setting every issue along partisan lines, no matter how irrelevant that might be?

Sign me up for that. Send me the bill, sure.

(I’m sorry, I go off on a huge tangent here…)

I don’t understand the feeling that it’s the internet vs. newspapers– and why many people (especially in the webcomics community) seem to wait gleefully for print media’s demise… I mean– can we just get over it? They’re different beasts. Newspaper comics suck, yeah… but that doesn’t mean they’re going to suck forever, or that they’ve always sucked, or that print isn’t a viable medium (it is). And webcomics suck too, right? I’m just as bored looking at Beetle Bailey as I am looking at QC or Dinosaur Comics…

I think newspapers moving to paid or subscription based services is, unfortunately, a necessary move… How else to pay for their (extremely useful) content? Blogs, after all, mostly comment on press releases and newspaper articles, and they conduct little original research/do only rudimentary investigation. Obviously, if newspapers collapsed, there would be a huge information vacuum… Taking any step to build a new sustainable system (whatever that may be) I think, is a right one.

The system as a whole is just messed up right now. Google News makes a lot of money off newspaper content, for example, and they don’t pay a dime for it. How is THAT sustainable?

It’s just a weird system in general. Is it true that big comics guys like Rowland and Allison make most of their money off of t-shirts? I think you have to expect things to change… I think the internet is still in its infancy, in that sense. Well. I don’t know. Who knows.

A really interesting article (worth reading) on how newspapers got into the mess they’re in from legendary reporter Walter Pincus:

Will webcomics go all paid? I doubt it. There are way too many models currently in use which are funding financially self-sufficient webcomics. It’s not even all about merchandising any more! A number (nowhere near comprehensive!) of examples of financing methods can be seen in this article:

[…] of the original Wizard of IO essay cracks me up. (thanks, everyone who sent it) * I’m with Gary Tyrrell (I think I’m agreeing with him) that the thought of newspapers going to paid content is such a […]

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