The webcomics blog about webcomics

Spike Speaks

I opened up my email yesterday and received this unsolicited gem:

…I was just looking over some old Fleen articles about Zuda’s contracts and I just cannot freaking get over it.

Did you know that, with a 1% cover price share and assuming the books are equal in cost, a Zuda book would have to sell 10,000 copies to make the creator what I would selling 100 copies of Templar? And that’s assuming there are no penalties in the payout for deep discount/damaged/give-away books, and the payout isn’t be split in half between a writer and an artist or something.

Jeez, man. JEEZ.

Ah, Spike, it’s clear-headed, straight-to-the-point logic like this that makes me want to high-five you across a convention table ’till bystanders think we’re the coolest people in the universe (upon re-reading this sentence, I realize that the casual internet reader may be determined to find some innuendo there — get your minds out of the gutter, people). The other reason is the gag referenced up top — click the link to see more, then click the next strip if you think you can handle Reagan in all her glory.

Just to be clear, I checked with Spike that she was okay with me sharing her quick microeconomic analysis with all of you. She replied in the affirmative and added:

I can move 100-plus copies of TAZ at a good con (MoCCA, SPX, SDCC).

So there you have it — the raw worth of the Zudadeal in real terms, from somebody who’s doing webcomics every day.

Speaking of self-publishing, got a bit of delayed gratification on deck for you, courtesy of Steve Troop:

In June 1996, the first issue of a four-part limited series, introduced the world to Mayberry Melonpool and the crew of the spaceship, The Steel Duck.

In July 1996, the comic book market crashed, cancelling hundreds of titles—including the remaining three issues of The Melonpool Chronicles. Though finished, they sat on a shelf gathering dust…

You can fill in the blanks: Troop launched Melonpool online, and twelve years on the trade paperback is finally being released. Copies go up on the ComixPress site next month, but Steve tells me he has like ten copies that can be shipped in time Christmas to most areas if you order now. Email Troop at melonpool2000, which is an address belonging to the .com that paid the yodeller to go Ya-HOOOO-oooo! in their commercials. Seriously, you’ve waited twelve years, it’s just not reasonable to wait any longer — especially considering that Troop’s got talent on the book the likes of Linda “Castle Waiting” Medley and Doug “Too much cool stuff to list” TenNapel.

I’m not a loyal Zuda acolyte or anything… but in order to sell 100 copies at a Con, wouldn’t that have to be offset by getting a table at a Con, plus the cost of setting up a decent, eyecatching display? Not to mention the printing and transportation costs. I’m assuming that winners of a Zuda contract wouldn’t have to deal with these overheads.

But does Spike have the marketing power of Time Warner in her corner?

I mean, I totally think I might have once seen an ad for something that I suspect might have been a Zuda comic, maybe, possibly? (Parse that, suckers.)

Where as, I’ve only seen a million banner ads, links, interviews and reviews of Templar AZ.

Actually, more to the point, I think that Time Warner’s marketing -in regards to Zuda- has been underwhelming, while Spike is frighteningly good at her job!

There’s something else to consider though, Bryant: the reason we’ve seen so many Templar AZ ads is because we tend to wander within webcomic circles. Zuda, I admit, has little to zero presence, but it’s print division hasn’t even started up yet. Given that, it has many options to advertise outside of the webcomic community to folks who don’t even know that webcomics exist … or are worth checking out. Visit a local comic shop, and you’ll realize that there’s a large number of comic readers out there for which this is true.

And yet, if I look at the Templar store page, or the page announcing Devil’s Panties book 3, or the page of any other webcomicker that’s putting in the homework, there’s a Diamond order code. And when I go to my comic shop, there’s copies of Digger, and Evil, Inc, and Finder on the shelves.

If the big comics companies could merely up the marketing budget and get people to read comics outside their comfort zone, the Minx line would never have folded.

Plus let’s pretend that there may not be 10,000 people total that want to buy a Templar book, but there are 1000. Spike has an equal or better chance of reaching those people (since she has a relationship with her readers), and will make 10 times the money Zuda would have paid her if they could have reached 10 times as many readers as actually exist.

Now this was just let’s-pretend, but I suspect it’s much closer to reality than the idea that DC/Zuda could perform the marketing equivalent of cold-calling the comics-reading public into reading Templar. And those 1000 hypothetical readers? They have a far greater change of personally converting non-readers than any marketing department ever will.

My local comic book store has extra copies of PVP they’re trying to get rid of on the clearance rack. I couldn’t believe it.

Zuda is a scam to get free work out of hardworking artists and writers. Sure you get the benefit of getting your work seen/name out there in the public eye but that’s about it, no real pay off in any other way. By its very nature it’s trying to lower the standards we cartoonists are living and working by. I refuse to give Zuda any form of acknowledgement and its bogus contracts are a sham, same as Tokyopop. They are out to make the most money by ripping off the creators that do the best work for them.

[...] “Did you know that, with a 1% cover price share and assuming the books are equal in cost, a Zuda book would have to sell 10,000 copies to make the creator what I would selling 100 copies of Templar? And that’s assuming there are no penalties in the payout for deep discount/damaged/give-away books, and the payout isn’t be split in half between a writer and an artist or something.” – Spike [...]

Rock on, Spike (and Gary!). Though we’ll always have problems with advertising budgets and getting people to notice us, now’s not that bad a time to be self-publishing, all things considered.

I can believe it. Times are tough for comic book shops and PvP has a strong online audience that buys books directly from the author. Some shops might be stuck with books that just aren’t moving. Plus, let’s face it, PvP kinda sucks.

People are asking how Zuda, with the backing of DC and Warner Bros can’t be doing better than Spike is without all that backing. The truth probably is that they are doing better than Spike.

They’re just doing better or THEMSELVES.

Zuda seems to have a clear plan and that’s to develop cheap properties they can exploit in media outside of comic books. So I’m sure they have what’s equivalent to a development budget. It’s all a loss leader to try to develop properties on the cheap.

They pay a pittance to the creator along the way, and they possibly get some IP to exploit down the road.

Zuda is not in the same business as Spike.

Now, if I’ve read the Zuda contracts correctly, it looks as if the creators get a decent slice of the pie if the property gets used in other media than print, such as animation; remember that Cartoon Network has picked up some Zuda comics for development deals. That alone may make it worth trying out. It doesn’t look like the print division’s getting up and running anytime soon, though, so it’s still more of a waiting game with Zuda now anyway.

While it’s true that the SMARTER way to go is to do it all on your own, I’ve talked to a lot of creators who #1 Don’t care to learn other aspects you need to know to go it alone (web stuff) and #2 Even if they DID have a guidebook that you’d written for them, they dont want to put the man hours or energy in that it takes for most successful web cartoonists. That book royalty sounds like CRAP. Even Platinum’s royalty is better than that – ( i think 20%) -

A smart creator goes into ZUDA working the connections and other deals. It’s sad to say this, but true, other business people take you a bit more serious if you say “I have a DC Comics contract” (or marvel, insert big name) or being able to say you actually have something optioned or being developed, even if it means jack shit really, corporate business runs on “jack shit”

[...] has a good review of some interesting and candid posts about Zuda [...]

How is it that every time Scott Kurtz comments on a thread, it’s only a matter of time before D.J. is following him?

Does D.J. have a google alert set for Scott Kurtz?

[...] Time-Warner owned Zuda contract, cartoonist Spike of the webcomic series Templar, Arizona tellingly concludes that she makes more money selling 100 of her self-published books than Time-Warner’s…. It is also worth noting in bold that she also keeps all of the rights to her work, which in my [...]

Hey Carl, maybe I comment here because I’ve read Fleen since the dawn of time! That’s like saying Scott must have a google alert for “Zuda” or “Platinum” because he has to comment on articles about them. But he doesn’t, he’s just smart and reads FLEEN.

^ Ass feeling properly cleaned yet, Mr. Tyrrell?

Er, the work done for Zuda isn’t free, in any sense. You get paid for inclusion in the contest and a page rate if you win.

By the time you’d have enough pages to print a book the length of Templar,AZ you’d have already been paid close to $28,000, so Spike’s analysis is decidedly one side.

[...] affiliate of DC), and Shadowline (an affiliate of Image). Some independent webcomic artists, like Spike from Templar, AZ, insist that the benefits of self-publishing are more rewarding. You’ve seen [...]

[...] with what seems to be the new baseline when discussing independence vs. publishers in webcomics: Spike’s Greater 1% Theory. Interesting [...]

[...] at the same site, Spike from Templar, [...]

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