The webcomics blog about webcomics

Reports That My Posting Delay Were Related To The Twitpocalypse Are Unfounded

It is for entirely unrelated reasons that I’m criminally late in posting today, but as it turns out it’s a good thing — the additional time has allowed for more richness to develop around something I wanted to point out to you. Namely, a thinky piece at by Scott Kurtz on the topic of webcomics and controlling your business.

That groaning that you hear in the distance that sounds like What, again? is not warranted. Yes, Kurtz has been involved in some of the more spectacular shouting matches that have blown up around this topic, but the essay he’s written is well-considered, well-written, and certainly helpful to the discussion. Key takeaway:

If the gap between business and creative responsibilities continues to widen — after having been so nearly bridged — if independent artists decide to find more ways to remove themselves from the responsibilities of running their own businesses, how can we make sure we don’t return to a time where we lose all our power and ownership in the process?

Can we find a safe harbor in the middle?

This in response to what Kurtz sees as a pendulum swinging away from the aesthetic/philosophical choice of retaining ownership of your comics work, and towards (over- ?) reliance on (what for the sake of brevity we’ll call) a “publisher” in exchange for significant ownership interests in the work in question. As of this time, there’s a good (and calm) back-and-forth in the comments, with the most salient point coming from Jeffrey H Wasserman:

This is the “curse” of a successful small business. Single proprietor businesses, be he or she a butcher, a baker, or a candlestick maker, upon achieving a certain size must grow both horizontally and vertically. He needs people to handle or direct the traffic, systems, premises, bookkeeping, financing, legalities, public relations, advertising, etc.

A good business man realizes that in order to grow the business he needs to hire people or secure the services of outside contractors better than him in other fields. The trick is in managing these people properly and demanding results. [emphasis mine]

Which I think ties into Scott’s thesis, which is okay — very few creators will be fully competent business types as well, but that for their own good they need to at least be aware of how their business is run and not turn it entirely over to others. Kindly refer to the cautionary tale of Lynn Johnston, who upon her divorce discovered her ex-husband (to whom she’d entrusted her business) had strip-mined her accounts (original interview no longer available, but salient bit quoted here); if one can’t trust a spouse without doing some due diligence, one damn well better keep tabs on a corporation. You needn’t be expert in all aspects of business to do so, but you can’t just wash your hands of it and claim any degree of responsibility for your own life. Heck, this statement may satisfy even perennial nay-sayer Wiley Miller (although I’m not holding my breath).

Anyhoo, worthwhile read and recommended to anybody that wishes to create or own anything, not just a [web]comic.

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