The webcomics blog about webcomics

Creators And Value

A pair of large media companies sought to use content from independent creators, and the results could not have been more starkly different; let’s take a look, shall we?

  • Via a much-retweeted notice on The Twitters came news of the musician NJ White being asked by a TV production company to use his music for free; his response is wonderful (and, unfortunately, an image and not easily copy/pasted, so click on the picture up above to embiggen), but let me type out one brief bit by hand:

    Or would you walk into someones home, eat from their bowl, and walk out smiling, saying “So sorry, I’ve no budget for food”? Of course you would not. Because culturally, we classify that as theft….

    Yet you send me this shabby request — give me your property, for free. Just give us what you own, we want it.

    The answer is a resouding, and permanent NO.

    I don’t know White from a hole in the ground, but I’m going to start searching out his music and give it a good (paid for) listen.

  • By contrast, Zach Weinersmith had an announcement barely three hours after White’s that turned out far better:

    Announcing! SMBC will now also be syndicated on @BuzzFeed ! …

    Buzzfeed, like pretty much all of the big aggregators, has come in for criticism for taking content without attribution or payment, but Weinersmith seems to have worked that out:

    They gave us terms that comported with artistic and business integrity. I was very pleased by the whole experience :)

    [regarding Buzzfeed’s prior habits of not attributing/paying] I dunno about that, but at least in my case they’re giving us the kind of deal I wish were prevalent.

    And may I add, this just shows that sites like Buzzfeed and independent creators can work together. @buzzfeed did it the right way.

    I’m going to take that to mean (and I have no inside information, so this is speculation) that Buzzfeed offered Weinersmith something of value — money, or an equivalent¹ of sufficient value. Appropriately enough, today’s SMBC cartoon, the one that ushers in this ongoing Buzzfeed deal, is in the very Buzzfeed-friendly form of a Top N Things list/infographic (with an art assist from Ross Nover of The System). And because Weinersmith is Weinersmith, it’s a Top N Things list/infographic about how much infographics are worthless. Well done, Mr Weinersmith.

Oddly enough, there were also instances of creators bypassing media gatekeepers to deal directly with audience/other creators, with a goal of obtaining money in the right places.

  • On the creator/audience front, Meredith Gran has released another tranche of originals from her (wonderful) six-issue Marceline and the Scream Queens miniseries — all remaining pages are 50% off for a limited time, with prices as criminally low as US$75 in her store.
  • Meanwhile, Spike is over the Death Flu that laid her low last month and had the side-effect of delaying the acceptances for the next Smut Peddler. Spike reports more than 370 creators submitted for consideration, far more than could possibly be accommodated in the gig², and is understandably down about having to tell so many people no. Despite what would obviously be a disappointing outcome to nearly everybody involved, she also reports that everybody’s cool about the rejections, which means that a lot of people have been taking the professionalism lessons from the likes of Estrada and Zub seriously.

    My sincere hope is that everybody that didn’t make the cut for SP2104 work their comics skills (and their smut skills, for that matter) hard so that when the next open submission for the next ‘Peddler comes around, it’s an even harder decision to pick out the best. Creators get better at comics, I get better smut — that’s a win-win.

¹ I’m not saying that the rumors that Weinersmith has a fetish for Bolivian marmosets are true, just that he might find some things more valuable than mere cash.

² The paying gig, we should note; some lucky people are getting paid to draw porn!

[…] yesterday’s account of media companies screwing indy creators: I was contacted today by a webcomicker (no names) who […]

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