The webcomics blog about webcomics

Patreonage, With A French Accent

Have I mentioned recently how much we at Fleen owe to Fleen Senior French Correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin? Aside from the fact that his English is far better than my French will ever be¹, he delivers delicious context and followup on stories of interest. Today, we call back to his recent dispatch regarding Maliki, and how her webcomicking is shifting. Take it away, FSFCPL!

Team Maliki announced yesterday they would be switching away from the traditional publishing model in favor of a more direct relationship with their readers, and opened a Tipee page. That, in itself, is not a first: other French-speaking webcomics have Tipeee pages as well; but that is not all:

[Quick editor’s note: Tipeee appears to be positioning itself as the European equivalent of Patreon, with an initial emphasis on French creators. Right now, a majority of creators listed appear to be French, scrolling down the home page brings up lots of text in French, and the About page contains links to legal guidance about crowdfunding in France.

But you can get the site rendered in English, French, Spanish, or German (it appears to autodetect location and default to an appropriate language — the site came up in English initially for me, and you can change it with a pop-up list in the lower-right corner of each page; there aren’t separate links for different languages), so as long as you can settle up in Euros, it looks to be happy to deal with you. However, the Terms and Conditions don’t seem to want to present in English … even with the rest of the page in English, the legal boilerplate was in French (or Spanish or German, on request).]

  • in the long run, future editions of Maliki books (e.g. for the most recent strips on the site) will be self-published, as indicated in the F.A.Q. on the Tipee page (books already in the pipeline with their current editors will be published by these editors, but that’s it).
  • Maliki is probably the French-speaking webcomic whose books have the second most retail presence (behind Bouletcorp).

[Me again: Surprising absolutely nobody, Boulet is absolument friggin’ énorme in the French comics market.]

So at this scale, this is unprecedented as far as I can tell, at least in the French-speaking world. The announcement (posted, of course, in comic form French-only as I write this, sorry) is long but well worth reading, in which Maliki explains the role of each middleman in the publishing chain, and why, without specifically indicting any of them, she feels the system is engaged in a surproduction bubble, in which she does not see any future for her.

[And again: From what I can tell with my terrible French, Maliki is making the same point that Howard Tayler did way back when this was a little baby blog:

Imagine you’ve got a book on sale at Borders for $10 — pretty sweet, right? Hang on a minute, because you aren’t going to get $10 a copy. Here’s how it breaks down:

  • The store sells it for $10, keeps $4, and pays $6 to the distributor
  • The distributor keeps $3, and pays $3 to the publisher
  • The publisher keeps $1, pays $1 to the printer, and $1 to the author
  • You’re the author

You can tell that story’s ancient, because Borders went out of business five years ago. Also, bonus points to Maliki for labeling her local financial institution Kiss Kiss Bank Bank. Correction: What I thought was a clever joke turns out to be a French Kickstarter-alike; FSFCPL does not let mistakes like these sneak by.]

That may not seem like a big deal to webcomic authors in the English world, who have walked that path before, and that’s true, to an extent. But that does not make it any less of a jump in the unknown for Team Maliki because of the differences in French-speaking comics readership. You thought the US public sneered at artists wanting to get paid for their work (After all, you are only doing what you like!)? That attitude is, unfortunately, even more widespread in France.

Moreover, French webcomic authors, and other comic authors who could have published on the web but did not need to because of the following, have had much less trouble getting published than webcomic authors did in the US, both for scale (much less trouble distributing to France, Wallonia and French-speaking Switzerland than to the whole of the U.S., so publishers are less risk-averse) and for cultural reasons; so most webcomic authors who publish books are published in mainstream publishers, with a few in indie publishers who get decent distribution. Self-publishing is almost unheard of. As a result, the support infrastructure outside of comic publishers is still in the early stages, though some of it exists, notably (as mentioned) that used by independent video producers (aka “Youtubers”).

[Last one: It’s interesting to note that the front page of Tipeee (in English at least) contains the elevator pitch, You create videos? Get tips from your community.]

So while other French comic authors may not follow right away, I get the feeling this is only the start of a bigger movement. At the very least, this seems to be going well for Team Maliki, as about 24 hours after the announcement as I write this readers have already collectively pledged 7273 €/month (minus 8% Tipeee fees), which appears to be the second-highest total overall on Tipeee. Will it stay high enough in the long run to sustain two authors and their cats (Maliki, being a paper creature, needs little in the way of sustenance)? We will see.

As of this writing (approximately 50 hours after the announcement), Team Maliki is up to €8577 per month², which minus the 8% Tipeee fee and using today’s exchange rates comes to US$8949 and 40 cents or more than US$107K per year (prior to any taxes, naturally). Not bad.

While there’s both both an early-adopter advantage and an existing-audience advantage for Team Maliki, a prominent success could popularize the idea of crowdfunding for independent creators in France. If nothing else, the eventual adoption of the model should be much faster than it was in the US, given that the tools to support it now exist instead of having to be built.

Fleen thanks Pierre Lebeaupin once again for his attention and insight.

Spam of the day:

We are interested on placing our tags on your website, they will fire a pop when a visitor performs a click on your website (You’ll get revenue stream from this). We pay $2 per 1000 visitors depends to geo and traffic quality. We also have a good referral program and various payment options.

Even without the weaselspeak in there that lets you decide to pay less when you declare my readers are not the desired geo and traffic quality, no. Over my dead body.

¹ The high point of my francophone experience was managing to exchange a voucher for a pair of rail passes valid for a specific 10 day period, without lapsing into English, at the Francaise seulement window of the main Brussels train station (the line was shortest).

Less than 12 hours later, I managed to mangle a reply to a simple question to the extent that I started in French, slipped into Japanese, and I’m pretty sure mixed in some Klingon. To be fair, some of the consonants in Dutch get kinda spitty and sound pretty Klingon.

² The one higher pledge amount I could find is for a YouTube series that gets €8707 per episode, which appears to happen every three to four months. By that token, Maliki is the highest grossing Tipeee-ee in terms of actual disbursements. In terms of comics only, Maliki is at least an order of magnitude above the next-highest earner.

This is a fascinating read! Thanks for this!

The link in the header does not, as far as I can tell, lead to a readable version of the header image, so sorry Alt Text, but I don’t know what the “all that” was that Tayler said in 2006.

The point made by Howard Tayler in 2006 is actually linked to (and also quoted directly anyway) in the middle of the post.

As for the bigger version of the image, it is in the middle of the announcement in comic form from Maliki, also linked to in the post. I admit it may be a bit hard to see the post when going from the header image to the comment form, but it’s there!

[…] Here’s a quick one on a site called Fleen, which is about webcomics. They mention the rise in France of a new crowdfunding site called Tipeee, which looks to be the next big thing for French comics creators. For all the attention given to your Kickstarters, your Patreons, it’s terrific to note new systems coming to the fore, especially if they’re coming from places you wouldn’t ever expect. It seems very much in the first few phases of life at this point, but it looks promising. […]

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