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Some Days I Feel Like A Real Goddamn Journalist

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And let me tell you, it’s much easier to just sit back and ramble until I fill up a column; sometimes though, a story presents itself and you’ve got to follow it wherever it goes. And yikes this one goes lots of places.

A small bit of background — as you may or may not have read, last week Keenspot and Kel McDonald parted ways, with a certain degree of hard feelings, judging from McDonald’s telling of the tale. Keenspot responded, the flood of comments began, musings appeared from third parties, at least one other creator decided to leave (no permalink; newspost on 18th December) as a result, and Bobby Crosby tossed in his two cents (at some point in the future, there may well be a “Bobby’s Law”, the point after which no useful discussion on a webcomics topic can take place). The claims and counter-claims of the parties were all out on the record, and if it seemed perhaps similar to John Troutman’s departure over the summer, there also didn’t seem to be much of a story there.

Fast forward to two days ago.

I was given (or, if we’re gettin’ all journalistic up in this bitch, “leaked”) what purported to be a confidential communication from Keenspot to its creators (and which you may read for yourself below the cut). Short form: the (in the copies I have received, unsigned) communique announced that on 1 July 2010 new, mandatory contracts will go into effect, which would essentially transform Keenspot into a traditional publisher and away from the nature it has had in the past (although we should note that Keenspot has had numerous corporate personae over the years). Creators that signed the contract would be required to be hosted by Keenspot, use their updating program, turn over control of ad slots, and accept a 50/50 revenue split on the advertising.

We’ll let those terms soak in for a moment.

I spent time yesterday contacting various Keenspot members, looking to confirm the validity of the document; some declined to speak on the matter, but those that did all confirmed that the posting was genuine. More than one said that they had not known about it until contacted by other creators, none said that they had received communication directly from Keenspot.

By last night, Keenspot CEO Chris Crosby had contacted me to make himself available for questions, and also confirmed the news. So it’s official: sometime about six months from now, Keenspot will cease to be what it has been, and will become something entirely different.

In the meantime, the existing creators will have to decide whether or not to accept the new contract terms; the announcement makes clear that Keenspot does not expect many of its members to stay. Crosby noted that:

As well as not inviting or accepting any new members, we may also politely decline existing members who decide to sign the new contract. We’ll be having long discussions with each interested creator (assuming there are any) in order to work out what’s mutually beneficial and what’s not. If Keenspot cannot bring something substantial to the table for the creator in question, we will stop working with them.

He went on to describe the business decision to reduce their pool of associate creators by such a severe degree (I have no formal data to back this up, but I feel it would likely be at least a 90% reduction) as allowing a greater degree of focus and ability to manage those comics that remain:

Keenspot has always been spread far too thin, and this will immediately solve that problem.

The reactions of creators that were willing to talk with me (and each on the condition of anonymity) to the announcement are uniformly negative. One creator of long standing expressed it as:

Every Keenspot member I’ve spoken to agrees that this is the Crosbys’ way of firing everyone without having to fire anyone, since trying to ditch Kel [McDonald] blew up in their faces.

The new contract is ridiculous, completely unreasonable, and they know that. It doesn’t just mandate a revenue split, but requires cartoonists to give up their domains, and the contracts are slated to last three to five years.

The Crosbys are doing their best to pretend that this has been in the works for ages, but it’s clear this is fallout from the beating they took over trying to fire Kel. They were still adding new members up until very recently, like Tiny Kitten Teeth. Those aren’t the actions of people contemplating a radical restructuring.

For the record, in case the “of long standing” part wasn’t sufficiently clear, that last quote was not from Frank Gibson or Becky Dreistadt of Tiny Kitten Teeth. Asked to respond to this point, Crosby replied that the announcement did run earlier than planned:

[P]artly in reaction to the Kel McDonald situation, but this is something we’ve discussed over and over again internally for years. We formally decided on finally doing it within the past month or so. Terminating Kel’s contract was a step in the direction of reducing the line-up (as she represented four Keenspot comics), but we don’t plan to terminate any other existing members in advance of the change.

He also indicated that the two most recent Keenspot additions (from August and October of this year) were from prior to the final decision on the transition, although that would put the acquisitions well within the period of “years” of discussion of the forthcoming change.

The other chief objection I’ve heard from creators is that the form of communication (posted to a forum) was insufficient. One reported being in communication with five other creators, none of which had learned of the impending changes from Keenspot’s efforts. Crosby characterized the notification as:

The initial announcement was made via a mass E-Mail to the private Keenspot member list that linked to a private forum thread where the full announcement was located.

Although this has been disputed by creators; one told me:

I did have to read that Keenspot thing on the message-board and rumors had been out for days and days before they made their official announcement. Scott Kurtz knew before I did.

Continuing on the topic of a more formal announcement, Crosby said:

When we formally introduce the new contract in January, we will contact each member directly. We decided to do the initial announcement earlier than originally planned in order to give attentive members as much time as possible to make other plans. In any case, all members will have at least six months to do so.

As an aside, one has to wonder if the mechanism for announcing the changes wasn’t the real cause of friction with the Keenspot creators who have spoken with me. From a purely logical standpoint, one also has to wonder about the secretive manner in which Keenspot attempted to make the changes.

Certainly, a company has the right to do business as it sees fit, and nobody is suggesting that Keenspot’s principals should have had their strategic discussions in public. But once they decided on a course of action, a direct email to all creators outlining the plans, followed by at least a small public announcement of forthcoming changes, with details to be forthcoming once the creators had been consulted with formally, would have allowed much more control of the process, and likely far fewer bruised feelings.

In any event, the thought that the process could be kept secret was a severe miscalculation; in the entire history of the world, no memo headed FOR YOUR EYES ONLY, DO NOT REDISTRIBUTE OUTSIDE OF [whatever] has ever been kept quiet absent an understanding on the part of the recipient that the sender has the means and willingness to absolutely ruin (or end) the life anybody that talks. No disrespect to the Crosbys and what they’ve built, but Keenspot ain’t the CIA.

Which leaves the question of what Keenspot is, or more accurately, what it will be. As one creator expressed it,

By the summer of next year, Keenspot will effectively be The Crosby Show.

Presumably, Chris, Teri, and Bobby are choosing colorful sweaters; some of the new fabrics are actually pretty lightweight and won’t be overly warm in the San Diego heat. But that slightly disturbing mental image aside, where is Keenspot headed? It’s had a long history in the world of webcomickry, and it’s completely fair to say that the medium would be in a very different place today if Chris Crosby and Gav Bleuel hadn’t seen the potential for a replacement to the failed Big Panda webcomics portal. Crosby sees the changes as offering a chance to resolve tensions:

I had hoped Keenspot the webcomics collective and Keenspot the independent publishing concern could co-exist happily. But after two years [following a 2008 reorganizaton and the buyout of former partners] the resounding answer is no. Those two sides of Keenspot resent each other, and neither side is happy.

[G]oing forward our focus will be directed solely at properties we have a long-term investment in, which is primarily Crosby-produced comics and related projects. That’s what makes the most business sense for us as a company, and we make no apologies for it.

Crosby added that Comic Genesis (née Keenspace) will continue without major changes, “for the forseeable future.” In the meantime, Keenspot will be nothing but major changes for the forseeable future, and once those changes all shake out it appears that The Big Green K will pretty much stand for “Krosby Komics”.

More on this story as it merits. Fleen thanks all who provided information (both on and off the record) for this story.

The text of the Keenspot reorganization internal memo is included here so that any discussion of these changes can proceed from a factual basis.

[FOR YOUR EYES ONLY, DO NOT REDISTRIBUTE OUTSIDE OF KEENSPOT]

By July 1st of 2010, Keenspot as it has been known for a decade will drastically change.

Two years ago, we introduced the optional “New System” aka “100% Revenue” contract that turned a large portion of Keenspot into something more resembling a collective, or rather a glorified link exchange with optional free hosting, rather than the web publisher we began as. From most accounts, for many creators it was successful in terms of increasing and keeping 100% of the ad revenues they generate.

For Keenspot the company, the results have been mixed at best. The “collective” side, in which decisions are generally expected to be made by and in support of the group, and “publisher” side, in which decisions are solely made by the company owners at our discretion, are in a constant battle against each other. As a result, no side is truly happy.

The facts are, you do not need Keenspot. For members on the “New System” contract, everything you’re doing on Keenspot can be done on your own. You should go independent.

For those still on the original contract, you should strongly consider leaving Keenspot if you are not extremely happy with it. If we aren’t doing something for you that you can’t do on your own, there is no reason for you to stay.

On July 1st of 2010, Keenspot goes back to being solely a publishing company, but for the first time, one with a focus. We assume the vast majority of our existing members will leave, and we completely understand that. The comics that do remain will be given the attention and investment that a small company like us could not possibly give to the more than fifty comics currently active on Keenspot (and the hundreds inactive).

On that date more than half a year from now, a new mandatory contract will go into effect that does the following…

* Requires Keenspot to host your comic.

* Requires your comic to use the updating program of our choosing (currently AutoKeen).

* Requires your domain name to redirect to a nameofcomic.keenspot.com URL.

* Puts all ad slots in control of the company.

* Requires a minimum of two ad formats displayed per page.

* Requires a longer term.

* Pays the creator a set monthly rate in advance of 50/50 split.

We will present this full contract to remaining members in January 2010, but those few who decide to sign will not need to do so until July 1, 2010. If a creator requires more time to make other plans, we will continue to host them for as long as they need.

Additionally, we do not plan to invite any new members to Keenspot.

Thank you for being a part of Keenspot, and best of luck to you in the future wherever you end up.

Any questions? If you need anything from us, do not be afraid to ask.

That is a very strange turn of events. When I left Keenspot it still had, hands down, the most flexible and artist-friendly contract of any webcomic collective ever. It’s sad to see it go this route.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Abby, Christopher Wright. Christopher Wright said: What the hell Keenspot??? http://tinyurl.com/ycoyyfk [...]

For anyone interested, I’m posting Gary’s full E-Mail interview with me below…

> My understanding at this point is that Keenspot are planning on
> redoing their contracts wholesale, and that your expectation is that
> most of your creators will be leaving rather than signing. So, yeah, a
> few questions.
> 1. Can you confirm officially that this is your new business plan?

Yes, formally going into effect no sooner than July 1, 2010.

As well as not inviting or accepting any new members, we may also
politely decline existing members who decide to sign the new contract.
We’ll be having long discussions with each interested creator
(assuming there are any) in order to work out what’s mutually
beneficial and what’s not. If Keenspot cannot bring something
substantial to the table for the creator in question, we will stop
working with them.

> 2. What is the benefit that you see to Keenspot by reducing your
> associated talent pool by such a degree?

Focus and manageability are the biggest benefits. Reducing the
line-up from sixty active comics to probably less than a dozen
(including my own comics) will allow us to invest ample attention into
each comic. Keenspot has always been spread far too thin, and this
will immediately solve that problem.

> 3. I’ve had it expressed to me that some creators didn’t know that
> these changes were in the works until alerted by others. What was the
> rationale behind making the announcement in a forum rather than more
> formal communications (direct email or physical letters) with the
> creators?

The initial announcement was made via a mass E-Mail to the private
Keenspot member list that linked to a private forum thread where the
full announcement was located. When we formally introduce the new
contract in January, we will contact each member directly. We
decided to do the initial announcement earlier than originally planned
in order to give attentive members as much time as possible to make
other plans. In any case, all members will have at least six months
to do so.

> 4. One creator expressed the belief that this move is likely a
> reaction to the Kel McDonald situation; another wonders why creators
> have been brought on fairly recently if the terms of Keenspot
> membership were going to change so drastically in the near term.
> What’s your response?

First point: the initial announcement was done earlier than planned
partly in reaction to the Kel McDonald situation, but this is
something we’ve discussed over and over again internally for years.
We formally decided on finally doing it within the past month or so.
Terminating Kel’s contract was a step in the direction of reducing the
line-up (as she represented four Keenspot comics), but we don’t plan
to terminate any other existing members in advance of the change.

Second point: only two new outside comics were accepted by Keenspot in
2009, one on August 10th and one on October 7th, all before we had
made a final decision on 2010 plans. Both are under the 2008
contract, which is basically a glorified link exchange with optional
free webhosting (the latter comic is not hosted by us at all). We
regret inconveniencing the newer members, but it should be minimal
given that fact, not to mention our advance warning of more than half
a year.

> 5. Keenspot’s had a pretty prominent place in the history of
> webcomics, from the initial collective model, to the changes in the
> wake of Gav’s departure, to this transformation into what appears to
> be a pure publishing concern. The natural question is, will Keenspot
> remain relevant in the community after this transformation, or will it
> be solely an outlet for Crosby family projects/movie option pipeline?

It’s up to the webcomics community at large to decide whether Keenspot
is relevant. What this move does, hopefully, is make Keenspot truly
independent. Buying out our partners was the first step, and this is
the next step. When we did take control of the company, which
resulted in the 2008 contract that gave any creator who wanted it the
opportunity to basically act as an independent webcomic while
retaining the collective cross-promotional benefits of Keenspot, I had
hoped Keenspot the webcomics collective and Keenspot the independent
publishing concern could co-exist happily. But after two years the
resounding answer is no. Those two sides of Keenspot resent each
other, and neither side is happy.

But yes, going forward our focus will be directed solely at properties
we have a long-term investment in, which is primarily Crosby-produced
comics and related projects. That’s what makes the most business
sense for us as a company, and we make no apologies for it.

What will remain relevant to a good portion of the webcomics-creating
community is Comic Genesis, our all-inclusive free webhosting and
automation service. It will continue to operate without any major
changes for the forseeable future.

It’s strange, but it seems this year has been a year for change. I’m not sure the impetus, maybe the economy, maybe the new president, who knows. But it seems to me like many cartoonists (and related peoples) did a real evaluation of their situation, and quite a few decided it was time to strike a new path.

And I’m not just saying that simply because I’m starting a new project, but I also can’t deny that we do tend to notice in starker relief things going on around us which echo our own activities.

Speaking only for myself, I don’t feel there is anything remotely unfair about my current Keenspot contract nor the new one they’re offering. Overall my association with Keenspot has been positive and rewarding; I’ve generally felt I’ve gotten more out of the relationship than they have. I’m not saying we’ve never been a disagreement or that I’ve never been frustrated but I would categorize every one of these disagreements or frustrations as “extremely minor” and “not worth reporting”. By and large I think Keenspot does well by its artists. I’m not privy to whatever went down with Kel McDonald or John Troutman and I don’t wish to speculate about it. I will say that some of the comments made my individuals outside of Keenspot regarding this situation are, in my view, erroneous and misleading.

I’m not sure I’ll be continuing my association with Keenspot when the new contract goes into effect; there are pros and cons that I must weigh during the next six months. But if I and when I do leave, it will be a business decision, not a personal one.

Before commenting on anything in the original post, I’d like to comment on your response, R. C. Monroe. I disagree that this contract is fair or beneficial for those who sign it in any way, and I urge you and any other people who are involved with Keenspot and may attempt to sign it to take my point of view into consideration as well.

If this was a contract put forth by any company well-regarded in its field, or any company that I perceived to be run efficiently or well in any way, I might think differently. If they’d shown themselves to consistently pay and take into account their creators, then I might not be so wary and outright rejecting of this contract as it stands. But over the years, Keenspot has consistently shown itself to be a company incapable of all of these things, and shackled to a loudmouthed, unprofessional, entirely polarizing figure in Bobby Crosby. Though his properties are purported to bring Keenspot the most monetary profit, his demeanor gives Keenspot the most professional damage of any of their unprofessional actions.

In addition, if you consider the last three to five years of business in webcomics and who was successful and why and how, you see that making money in this business is something that requires dynamic adaptation to changes in the model and flow. Part of the reason that Keenspot has run into these problems is because they’ve stagnated and not kept abreast of new developments. When they have attempted to, such as with wowio and iPhone apps, it’s failed to give more benefit to creators than they would have been able to get on their own. If you expect to get anything of benefit from a company that doesn’t even contact its contractors directly to inform them of a contract change, think again.

Keenspot has consistently failed to bring their artists profit in book ventures, new media, or ads. The people, like Kell, who were making money from them, were doing so only because they managed their own ads. Any benefit gained by printing books through them died along with whatever bookstore penetration deal they had. This deal is a transparent and reprehensible act intended to drop the most people with the least amount of fuss.

In addition, your passive-aggressive implication that it was personal reasons that caused Kell and Troutman’s expulsion from Keenspot is absolutely correct. Bobby Crosby hated both of them for quite a long time before he found a reason to browbeat his brother into firing them.

Well, this whole thing is just delicious. Tasty stuff.

This is the smartest decision that Chris and Teri have made in the last five years. It’s just too bad that either of them lack even the most rudimentary skills needed to execute even the simplest of business plans.

All the facts point to this move having been one of 10 possible 2010 announcements for keenspot, 3 of which involved projecting webcomics on the moon. Thank God the poor handling of Kel MacDonald’s exit forced them to pretend THIS decision has been loaded in the chamber and ready to fire for months. Because that’s the RIGHT story to stick to at this point.

Chris told me personally that offering contracts that gave Keenspot cartoonists 100% control of their own ads and the ability to host elsewhere was a “subtle hint” that they could and should go it alone. That’s the business acumen you have in play here.

Chris is the Michael Scott of Webcomics. This whole mess reminds me of a recent Office episode where Michael Scott had promised a bunch of kids college educations if they graduated just to feel good about himself. Now it’s time to pay off and of course he can’t. So instead he offers them all laptop batteries.

This new Keenspot contract is your laptop batteries, everyone.

Wow. That’s one way to ditch everything anyone likes about you. I wonder how many “common fans” will notice the change once it takes effect?

I’ve never quite understood all the fuss about Keenspot. The general ideas of something LIKE Keenspot all sound pretty good, but it’s never been fully realized. Plus, as Abby points out, Crosby is not exactly the most popular guy in Webcomics.

But Crosby’s right about one thing; creators don’t need Keenspot. They can probably do far better on their own, and let Crosby’s new plan sink or swim on its own merits. I’m not sure how jettisoning the majority of contributors can lead to profit, but smart or not, it’s Crosby’s ball and he’s taking it home.

Honestly, I don’t know why Keenspotters have stayed on as long as they have (nostalgia?). If Keenspotters feel they’ve been cheated or somehow can’t survive without a collective/publisher, why not get together and form a more contributor-friendly collective, sans Crosby & Company and all the assorted Crosby baggage? That certainly sounds like the best course of action if people are upset with Keenspot, Crosby, or Crosby’s dickish letter or his behavior in general. Obviously he doesn’t care about the same things Keenspotters value in the webcomics community, so take the opportunity to free yourselves, say good riddance to Crosby & Co., and set something else up and show him how to do it properly.

Well when it first started it was the most contributor-friendly outfit there was — too such a degree that some of the members felt it gave the artists too much control over their material, which made it difficult for Keenspot to effectively market the “intellectual property” of each comic in conjunction with the Keenspot brand.

The original contract essentially recognized all the artist’s IP rights without making any demands other than that the comic be published exclusively online at the Keenspot site, use Keenspot for advertising, and display the Keenspot branding items on their front page. The artist was free to choose any publisher he or she wanted for publishing books, could enter into other business agreements without Keenspot’s consent…

… as a musician who has had some experience with online music sites, and as someone who saw some of the fraudulent and exploitative “webcomics hosting services” that were out there *before* Keenspot (note to old-timers, I’m not talking about Big Panda here), that contract was astounding and that contract was what kept me on Keenspot for as long as I did. I don’t think people really understand how unusual it is for a company to have a contract that respected and acknowledged the artist’s rights for his/her work as much as the original one did.

It was that contract, Mark, that kept me at Keenspot for as long as it did. I thought it was an important concept to support. I left before they adopted the newer contract, so I can’t speak to that one, but the original one… well. It’s passing dis, in my opinion, a genuine loss that most people probably won’t understand.

I’d like to thank Chris, Teri Gav and Nate for getting me into the webcomics fold back in 2000. Keenspot’s been a good harbour to learn and improve skills, but since I’ve been getting ads from ADSDAQ for the last two years (and Burst) I won’t be signing the new contract. It’s time to learn to swim on my own. I wish Chris and Teri the best of fortune and hope that they find the individual success they seek. If it weren’t for them, Wandering Ones probably would never have come about.

Any company with a PR and marketing strategy as poor as what Keenspot has been over the last year is a company to avoid. If they can’t properly mitigate their own public image, how can you expect that they will do justice for yours?

I don’t know who hates who or why, Abby, but I didn’t think I was being passive-aggressive; all I said is I didn’t know why Troutman or McDonald were let go and I wasn’t interested in guessing. You seem quite certain of the reason(s) for their dismissal; perhaps you’re in a better position to be able to make this assertion than I am. Which is why I said “I’m not privy”.

In my 3+ years with Keenspot I’ve seen a lot of people come and go (and come back again), almost always for business reasons. I’ve seen very few instances of people storming out the door, pissed off and throwing things; the overwhelming majority have left with a smile, saying “thanks for the association, Keenspot.” I’m just sayin’, there’s another side to the coin.

You are right in stating that Keenspot’s restructuring is designed to “drop the most people with the least amount of fuss.” I just don’t agree that there’s anything reprehensible about it. None of us signed lifetime contracts. We all had to expect SOME sort of change, SOMETIME. I believe Keenspot is correct when they say they can be more beneficial to a small group of cartoonists than the current 60+.

I assure you I’ll be taking every piece of data I have into account before making my decision. But I’ll be weighing “things I know based on my own experience” more heavily than “things people said that other people said”.

I’m confused.

The new contract… isn’t it pretty much exactly the same as the contracts used in the days of Gav, a time being glorified… yet in this time the contract is terrible?

Which is it?

Everyone grew up.

I’m not defending Keenspot (I don’t have all the facts) nor am I going to attack it (I think that’s stupid too).

I’m pointing out a contradiction.

Either the contracts are crap, and were crap when Gav oversaw them too, or they were great when Gav oversaw them and are now too.

As far as I can tell, keenspot is returning to what it was… something everyone glorifies, and somehow everyone calls it wrong even as they say what it is is crap.

Very contradictory, making me not believe any opinion being thrown out there right now.

Also, the old old contract let you keep your domain name which is pretty important.

Here’s the deal. And you can take this from someone who was once very proud to be hosted on Keenspot.

Back then, the atmosphere was very different for webcomics. We were all feeling our way through this thing. The Dot-com bubble had burst, we were all trying to maximize our advertising revenue by acting as a large group, bandwidth was more expensive, and things like WordPress and Squarespace hadn’t really crested yet.

So a contract that gives up all ad spaces and yields a 50/50 split is a great contract. If it’s 2002.

But it’s not. And this ain’t a good contract.

The contract is terrible if you’re interested in actually making cashmonies from your comic. If you just want to upload your pages and leave the rest for the birds, then I guess it’s fine.

It’s very strange to be involved in all this.. All I wanted to say was thanks for the mention, and that Kel is a true professional, an excellent webcomicer, and a good person, so she deserves to be treated as such.

It could be worse – they could be running a contest.

The contract is being presented as a deterrent. Chris has practically stated it as such. It’s there to make people go away.

Which is such a BAFFLING way of doing business.

Mr. Guigar is right. One also has to take into account where it comes from. A 50/50 split and loss of adspace control would be great, if it were from Marvel. Keenspot just doesn’t have enough pull to make it worthwhile. 50% of ad revenue is a LOT of money for a big comic, and the Keenspot name just doesn’t command enough respect or attention to make that worthwhile. It’s not a brand I put my faith in.

R.C. Monroe: The difference between all the other people who left and Kell and Troutman is that the latter two were fired. Whatever reasons each party has for the split, there’s a different tenor to a situation when someone is being let go and different responsibilities on the part of the firer and the firee. Chris Crosby seemed to have difficulty meeting some of the obligations on his end, for instance, the contractually mandated statement of reasons for firing, as Kell stated in her entry.

It’s clear from the way the announcements have been structured and the timeframe in which they’ve been announced that this was not planned out in advance. Tiny Kitten Teeth was added to Keenspot less than two months ago, not the action of a company preparing for major restructuring. When Kell was fired, they dithered on telling her why and as soon as she made an announcement and it looked as if it would blow up in their faces, they announced this restructuring. Coincidence? More evidence for the lack of care: They failed to adequately inform their contracted employees, many of whom heard from other channels long before they heard from their employers. (Some of whom may only have heard of it upon reading this post!)

THAT is what I find reprehensible. Sure you could expect some sort of change sometime, that’s reasonable for them to do as a company. But the way they’ve gone about it shows a clear lack of respect or care for their contracted employees and a haphazard decisionmaking process. The bottom line is: If they were planning on this all along, why single Kell out at all? If her firing was intended to punish her for some transgression, what was it and why was it so bad as to warrant the treatment she’s gotten? This is not the kind of company that I would want to continue to contract with.

Keenspot is clearly attempting to cull properties that don’t fit with their brand image, and make sure that the properties they do have are clearly identified with the Keenspot company name. This is their right and it’s a sound business practice for companies whose names haven’t been tarnished by bad business practices. Because of that latter fact, I don’t think it will work.

“If you just want to upload your pages and leave the rest for the birds, then I guess it’s fine.”

Maybe this is too strong a metaphor, but if you’re right-handed, I guess you can cut your left hand off?

It’s not a good contract for anyone, period. It’s a good contract if you like to sign bad contracts.

I think the shift in Keenspot has been coming for years as stories of their inability to get organized keep cropping up from the inside. I think it’s the right move for them to trim the excess, kill what doesn’t work and start making decisions that will let the Crosbys’ business start to walk instead of continuing to pull itself forward with one arm. The webcomics arm doesn’t function anymore; it’s been a workaround since 2004. (I was shocked to learn Autokeen after all this time doesn’t even support any native blogging.)

It’s almost like this contract is the equivalent of taking your beloved dog out to the woods and screaming at it to run away, and that you hate it — Keenspot hopes that’ll drive off enough people that they can close that wing without looking “mean” (maybe with a couple hangers-on who have been wandering around in 2002 for the last 8 years). Feelings get hurt when business gets tough. I actually think the sense of family and camaraderie killed Keenspot’s ability to react to a changing market.

I wish they’d just come out strong with an announcement that in a year Keenspot would be dissolving its memberships entirely and focus on what is profitable. It would sound so much more like a difficult — but resolute — business decision. It takes leadership, and businesses need leaders.

Either way in six months it will be more or less forgotten. Close up the store, Chris, it was good while it lasted. Keenspot wasn’t getting anybody closer to a Super Bowl ad. Take care of your stuff and what keeps you afloat. Be cutthroat! Approach your top 3 with an actual contract and eliminate the chaff — if they were meant to survive they will! (It’s incredibly easy in this day and age to just exist!)

Kris, I was trying to find a nice way of saying ‘sign it if you don’t give a shit’, really. I wouldn’t recommend these terms to anyone.

Guigar makes an excellent point… it’s not 2002 anymore. It begs the question if Crosby even realizes this? Maybe he’s thinking Keenspot will suddenly become this awesome venue for Comics As He Sees Them if he can go back in time somehow, dragging only the contributors he likes with him, and convincing them this contract is all that and a bag of chips. But Keenspot ain’t the TARDIS, and Crosby’s no Doctor Who, so as Scott says, driving away talent is a baffling business move.

It’s sad to see it go after such a long history. But really, a new venue is what’s called for for folks who want/need/yearn for a Keenspot-type collective. It could be done if Keenspotters were willing to band together. I guess it really comes down to Keenspotters asking themselves if they really need Crosby or his [myopic]vision of Keenspot, enough to put up with this new “deal,” or the in-fighting, ill-will, stress, politics, and other assorted wackiness. Seems to me all that just gets in the way of making comics, and making comics is the whole point of being part of a Keenspot venture in the first place.

Doesn’t sound like Keenspot is the fun creative place it used to be. Why stay? Let Crosby take his ball and go home if that’s what he wants to do. Unfortunately, it’s his ball. So, go find another ball of your own and get back in the game. Meanwhile, maybe Crosby will find that playing with his ball all by himself isn’t nearly as much fun as he thought it would be when he left the playground.

Oh, Mark. No. Chris knows it’s 2009. He’s already doing stuff he needs to for Blatant comics. That’s where he and Teri and Bobby need to focus.

It’s just that he’s got this keenspot band-aid he needs to take off first. This is him peeling up one corner and beginning to pull VERY SLOWLY

I am a layman here, and do not claim to understand the dynamics of business as applied to webcomics, but so far all Keen seems to be doing is tossing out all the comics I like to read in favor of promises of projects I care nothing about.

So after all is said and done, why am I going to go to Keenspot anymore? They’re getting maybe something in ad revenue from me now and 50% of nothing from me in the future, because all my favorite comics are no longer associated with Keenspot. Great plan.

Keenspot been in business for almost a decade. If they haven’t got some kind of plan together by now, I am apt to believe that what the Crosbys are claiming now to be complete and utter spin. It’s not the mark of stability, it’s like they just now noticed the leak in the lifeboat and are just now donning the lifejackets in panic.

Ok, I’ve had sites on ComicGenesis, DrunkDuck, SmackJeeves, Comicspace, etc, as well as handled comics on KeenSpace [that are not my own. I just handle the webstuff]. I think I’ve got an insider’s AND outsider’s view. Those of you who believe that Keenspot is nothing more than the newsbox are completely wrong. KS has provided quality hosting and tech support at no cost to comics hosted there for many years. It was, and still is, THE place for people looking for a group/community/host or who have a good comic but would not do nearly as well on their own. This is fact. Every single person on KS owes a debt of gratitude for the service provided, whether they go or stay, because it was the KS name that got them the attention they have currently.

That said, it just saddens me completely that this whole thing was not handled better. For such a large change in the way things are done, there was a pitiful amount of communication and transparency. One mass email does not cut it, especially since KS caters to professionals, not just hobbyists, who rely on funds generated by the comic. Never forget, however, that KS is a business. If it’s not making the owners money, something’s gotta give. A business is not meant to be magnanimous.

Agreed, Keenspot did need a change, but this is not the change I expected. Again the idea of driving people away is insane, why not just simply reinvest everything into “chris’ 12″. Surely keeping hosting up for the rest of the members can’t be draining Keen’s pockets that much. It isnt 2002 anymore…

I know I’m relatively new to the Keenspot scene (2 years), but I haven’t really had many gripes or complaints. Keenspot been pretty damn fantastic. I’ve been helped tremendously (both in terms of my traffic and advice) and for that I’m grateful. I kinda regret that I won’t be able to keep my current relationship with them going, but hope everything works out great for this new direction. They’re a great bunch of cartoonists.

At this stage, since Keenspot isn’t going to be close to the Keenspot people remember, why even keep that brand alive?

For that matter, is there any real value in webcomics collectives anymore? The two collectives that readily come to mind, Halfpixel and Blank Media, are only notable because of the strengths of the individual creators, not because of the collective marketing label. The creators of those comics succeed because of their individual efforts, not because of any shared icon on their websites.

There might be some value in a Keenspot-like newsbox shared by a group to introduce readers to other comics in the collective…but that’s only going to work if the comics are any good. And as tempting as such an arrangement sounds, I’d bet it would be much better business to instead swap ads via Project Wonderful, rather than some rigid newsbox page element.

I don’t think we’ll ever see a prominent webcomics collective again. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s worth noting.

@Ray Well I know these numbers aren’t the world’s greatest, but in a year I went from having 2000 readers a month to 120000 a month. So comic collectives can be a real shot in the arm.

Keenspot gave me a huge leg up at the beginning, and for that I remain grateful.

I’m happy I left when I did. I hope those leaving now have good experiences. If you’ve got questions you think I can answer, go ahead and email me. If nothing else, you’ll know there’s a sympathetic ear out here in the wilderness.

(Note: There are hundreds such ears.)

I think what we fail to realize is that the internet is not what was 10 years ago.

The truth is, the Keenspot collective model was relevant for many years. But nowadays it has become obsolete. When I left two years ago Keenspot changed to become more modern. However, after two years, apparently it doesn’t work for the founders anymore. So they’re going to try something else.

I am leaving Keenspot before the new contract kicks in, and I’m going to try and encourage helping each other during this transition. But I wish Keenspot, the new company, and those who stay behind, the best of luck. Why not? Maybe I am sentimental, but it’s been a lot of years, and I have made very dear friends there.

Change is good. Hard. But good.

I’ll start this off by saying that I’ve never much followed what Keenspot has been up to, just read some of the comics there, so my opinion is based almost entirely on this article and these comments.

I can’t help thinking that what it sounds like is they just want out to be honest and that perhaps just getting out straight would be the best thing, finding someone to take over and cutting ties with Keenspot entirely.

A few years ago, I almost had to end my comic. Chris and Teri were instrumental in not letting that happen. For me personally, I will always have fond memories.

That said, what happened to Kel was unfair. I seem to recall a Keenspot where that would never have happened. That, to me, is the real shame.

[...] some of you this may come as a surprise, to others, especially those who may follow “webcomic drama” it will not. Around March 2010, COTC will be leaving Keenspot. COTC began w/ Keenspot, born out [...]

Other than drawing my own comic, I read literally hundreds of comics everyday. I am constantly being sent links to new comics and some of them are added to my daily reading list. With that said, thinking back over the past three or four years, I can’t think of a time that I noticed anything from Keenspot except when their was an internet fight with Scott Kurtz.

I’m not on the same level as a lot of you guys but I have to think that’s not good business. If I ignore all of the negative press from Kurtz fights, I can’t remember hearing anything good. When I started noticing Keenspot ads running in a couple Project Wonderful boxes on other web comics I was a little surprised that Keenspot was still around.

I’m not meaning to sound mean, but I have to think that if you want to be successful, I should be hearing more positive things in the mix. I should be seeing your brand more often. Instead all I get is the vibe that Bobby is a lose cannon and there’s not really any kind of business management being done at the top.
I wish the Keen brand only the best, but in this day and age, I can’t see their relevance and that saddens me. When I first started doing a web comic in 2003 I thought getting ‘Spotted’ was the definition of success online. Now, not so much.

I was going to post something about the Keen brand, but the Captcha box down there said “The tactless.”

I bet discussions like this would be much more civil if Captcha always said things like “stop trolling” and “RU A Jerk.”

Oh my God. There should be an app for that.

[...] actual journalism takes a lot of time. I don’t wish to journalise more today, so we’re going mega-brief. [...]

I don’t really care about the Keenspot issue, but I have to ask one thing: If there’s webcomic drama, why is it ALWAYS Kurtz? I like his work (I think PvP is hilarious), but I’ll make sure I’ll avoid HIM like the plague. Everyone who comes into contact with him gets BURNED. I have never seen an ‘internet celebrity’ cause so much shit. Not even Maddox back in the day.

[...] it was all over the internet in a New York minute. Or at least, as long as it took Gary Tyrrell to do his due diligence on it. Gary has done a masterful job of teasing out the story and getting reactions, and I [...]

[...] UPDATE: Very interesting overview with lots of additional information at FLEEN. [...]

Funderbunk, what did I do?

Other than observe like the rest of you guys?

No offense, but it’s just been my experience that a lot of webcomic drama starts with or ends up with you butting in and then it spirals out of control (possibly due to your rabid fanbase). The thing with you accusing Pyro of stealing Largo’s baby comes to mind (even if that was just meant as a joke). I know there’s more, but I just can’t think of it right now. You criticize other people in a way that invites anger in kind (to the point that in this case someone was convinced you wrote someone else’s anger because it’s just far more in your character).

Another example was your reply to an invite to a con. It was filled with anger (over Mike Wieringo if I remember correctly, a good reason to be angry), harsh language etc. Fair enough, but then you made it public. It seemed like trying to goad someone into writing a pissed off reply. Not very professional, if you ask me (and that’s something you go on and on about in that webcomic book your co-wrote). It reminded me of The Pirate Bay’s replies to cease and desist letters, which were little more than a glorified “fuck off”. A simple no might have sufficed, and it definitely didn’t need to be public.

I don’t really mind right now, but if I had my own webcomic I would definitely try to keep it out of your way, just to be safe.

I really mean no offense, I suspect you’re a nice guy and I like your work, I even own your book on making webcomics, but that’s just the image I have of you as one of the ‘big guns’ of the webcomic world, so to speak. You’re just seem dangerous to me – because a little criticism can escalate into what comes down to internet war with you so easily, dragging most people who participate down.

Although you replied to my rather aggressive comment in a calm matter, so maybe I’m wrong. I didn’t expect a reply from you personally at all, but if I had I would have expected it to be far more angry.

“Bobby Crosby hated both of them for quite a long time before he found a reason to browbeat his brother into firing them.”

I had never heard of John Troutman until meeting him at the 2008 San Diego Comic-Con and I had never heard of Kell before meeting her at the 2009 San Diego Comic-Con. Troutman was fired for drinking alcohol in our SDCC booth and in general acting like a huge asshole at the booth and refusing to leave it. I still don’t know exactly why Kell was fired, but I’m assuming it’s something awful that they don’t want me telling others about. I know that there’s many many good reasons to fire her, which are all obvious from reading her posts. I did not know that she was fired until days after it happened when someone linked me to her thread.

Yeah, guys. Bobby’s the only person allowed to be a giant asshole in the keenspot booth. If I had to share a booth with Bobby, I’d drink too.

[...] You’ve heard of the Keenspot thing by now and some are starting to chime in about it. I suspect more will come out about it but the [...]

Wasn’t an asshole in any way. You only think that because the one time you walked by the booth I called out “Hate you, Kurtz!” And you looked back at me briefly and shook your head disapprovingly and said nothing. Do you think I do that to everyone? No, I just do it to people like you and Straub who have been lying about me and my family and the companies I’ve been involved with for many years. You’ve never said anything to me in person, even though we were very close to each other for two straight Comic-Cons, but then you can’t wait to get home and spread lies about me all over the internet.

Bobby, I don’t even know you and from your two posts you seem like the only goddamn asshole in this thread. So that should say something to you. Mull around that for a little while, dickhead.

I can’t believe you think yelling HATE YOU at people at San Diego Comic Con is a reasonable way to behave, Bobby.

Any emotional, unprofessional response like that does not belong in public, let alone in person. The worst thing is, you wear it like a badge of honor.

Good luck in the movie business.

Yelling “hate you” to Scott Kurtz is an extremely nice thing to do. He should be killed.

Looks like someone’s got a massive crush on Scott Kurtz.

Bobby, not for nothing, but if being better at webcomics and business were a killing offense, you’d be the Omega Man.

Holy shit, Keenspot is officially calling for Scott Kurtz to be killed!?

OFFICIAL STATEMENT FROM KEENSPOT: Bobby Crosby speaks for himself alone, and his statements in no way represent the opinions of Keenspot or its subsidiaries. Keenspot strongly opposes killing.

So I guess that means Bobby Crosby does advocate killing certain people, then?

For those not paying attention, Bobby Crosby speaks in negative hyperbole.

so yeah, my brother can say he wants people dead, he’s just bein a goofball. that’s our bobby!!! but this ONE complaint a cartoonist made on a stream watched by 30 people, THAT WAS THE LAST STRAW

Way to go, Bobby. Way to win yourself some fucking credibility.

Chris, I can’t stand the way you pave over your brother’s childish behavior with gags. He implicates you and your business, regardless of how many tongue-in-cheek, self-embarrassed giggles you ladle on top of it.

Someone has problems with how Keenspot sits on their hands year after year, their membership is cancelled. Bobby can’t go two sentences without calling someone a liar, shouts “hate you” in person, and calls for their death on the internet. How the latter behavior keeps a seat at Keenspot’s booth, I don’t know. (You realize, you can promote his material without having him behind the booth alienating everyone.)

I will not be speaking with, to, or even making eye contact with anyone at that booth in 2010. That is a promise.

Dramedy. Good grief. No wonder the list of comics has been dwindling at Keenspot. It’s a shame, I’ve liked it as a site for a long time, and I’ll miss it.

May all of you who are leaving find viable alternatives.
I’ll be online looking for you. Crosbys, Keenspot will be seeing a lot less of me as a reader, in future.

Nice one! I will not miss Bobby making us all look awful.

My biggest complaint while I was at Keenspot was Bobby Crosby.

Chris, for the record, when your brother states unequivocally that someone should be killed, it’s not the kind of thing that a joke patches over very well.

well you all seem to behave childishly enough; you’re probably ready to compete with the professional comic publishers now. Pretentious fucks.

Merry Christmas. Santa brought me my 2nd death threat from Bobby Crosby.

[...] unusually high volume of comments on a particular recent post from people without a history of posting at Fleen has made the spam filters go a bit wacky. If [...]

HA! So the spam filter thinks that Bobby Crosby’s posts are spam. What does that say?

I’ve been following this story with the mildest of interest. I do not have any personal stake in the Keens or the Kurtzes but that last comment from Mr. Keen is a “superwow.”

Across the board, comics is an unprofessional industry on many and various levels. Every controversy that comes up, somebody claims to be the single most unprofessional, shocking event in history. I don’t know about that for this situation specifically, but I have never in my life read a publisher (is Keen a publisher?) wish an artist dead.

ON CHRISTMAS.

Whenever the Keens come up, people are always saying that they are unprofessional and one of the family members is crazy. This is absurdity. Why do people work with a company where one of the co-owners is an unstable, frothing maniac? Is the money that good guys? Is the payoff worth it to have a person who is that unstable partly in charge of your destiny?

Aside, I find it funny that the Keen fellow had never heard of Kell McDonald until this year. I had heard of her and I don’t even look at Keensites. How can you run a publishing outfit (no matter HOW many artists you operate) when you don’t even know who you have on your team? The mind reels.

I don’t understand how a lot of you comic guys operate. I don’t have brothers, I don’t understand that kind of love. If that had been me, he’d have been cut out of the partnership years ago. I mean, seriously, dudes? “I hate you” at the con? “should be killed” on the comment thread? You call this the comics business? Well what part of the business is this?

Those terms sound very familiar to me: I’m involved in a few web-based ventures and recently we signed a deal with a very large media company in which they would promote our company country-wide (on traditional media in addition to web properties) in return for which they would expect us to split the income 50/50 and they would serve/control all advertising.

The difference, however, is that our contract includes a couple of things the Keenspot lacks, and anyone contemplating the Keenspot deal should require these or drop out of the deal (assuming they’re capable of functioning independently):

- option to purchase URL and brand property etc. after a specified period of time, usually at a multiple of earnings. This is standard, and if they’re going to own your URL and essentially use you as their own, it’s only fair.

- you’re being reamed if they control all of the finances. You should require an audit and specify that the 50/50 split occurs on GROSS proceeds and NOT some “net” profit which they can change and jack up just because the owner wants a bonus.

I ain’t a fancy type thinker, but the Crosbys’ decision to restructure seems like a good idea for webcomics in the long run. Whether it’s because they’ve made poor business decisions in the past or not, the fact of the matter is they don’t get anything by being a glorified link exchange or free web hosting. If they’re not making money, then they do need to change something, and this is one way. It’s kind of crummy the way they announced it, yes, but it’s still their business and if they want to focus on fewer clients, then that’s not a bad idea. Whether they’re CAPABLE of delivering a profit to creators is another question (if Mr. Kurtz’s Michael Scott analogy is true, then maybe not), but the decision itself isn’t nuts. People need to man up.

I agree with Gary that we’re probably looking at a 90% drop of Keenspot clients, which honestly is a mass extinction that webcomics has needed for a while. Whatever poor business practices he may or may not be responsible for, Crosby’s reasoning here (that if you’re managing your own ad space and domain well, you should go solo) is sound, and one I’ve agreed with for years. If your comic is decent, you don’t need the safety net of a collective, nor free hosting. Free hosting sites like Keenspot have traditionally kept a lot of terrible comics on life support. Dropping a lot of these hanging on will provide a more powerful selective pressure, which means the people who are doing a bit better with their work will be less obscured in that sea of mediocrity.

The majority of professional webcomics that provide a full a comfortable living income for its artists (including my own) never started with these hosting sites. You don’t need a safety net like some of these sites provide, and the Crosbys know this. I understand not everyone is looking to be a millionaire in comics, but even if you’re a casual creator you can shell out 5 bucks a month to host it yourself.

In the end, it appears that Keenspot is shifting its strategy because it needs to make money, and a lot of comics that should go solo will. This is a good thing.

“If that had been me, he’d have been cut out of the partnership years ago. I mean, seriously, dudes?”

Why are you assuming this isn’t the case? I’ve been out of the partnership for many years.

I wrote a long post a couple days ago, but it kept saying my IP was banned, even though Gary has now strangely told me that that was a mistake.

Anyway, in summary: Kurtz calls Keenspot a sweatshop that is breaking the backs of children in order to fund my projects, but I’m the bad guy because I say he should be killed for those lies (among hundreds of others)? Why do you all love liars so much? Kurtz has devoted a large percentage of the last decade of his life to defaming what is basically a charitable organization for people who make comics, no matter how poorly it’s been operated. It’s been lie after lie, year after year. Not facts or even opinions, but straight up lies that he knows are not true, designed to hurt good people and take down their company, and he doesn’t care who else he hurts or manipulates in this industry in the process. And no, I’m not counting myself in the “good people” category, although he obviously lies about me constantly too. My brother and mom have made a trillion poor business decisions, but they’ve never once had a glimmer of a thought about taking advantage of anyone or cheating anyone out of anything. They’ve gone out of their way to help people who make comics, including Kel, and in return they have her and most of the industry thinking they’re shady assholes because of being poisoned by Kurtz’s lies. It’s sickening.

Bobby, look around. Listen to what people are saying. People don’t think poorly of Keenspot because they are drinking the kool-aid I’m offering. They think poorly of Keenspot because of Keenspot.

I am one of hundreds of people with negative things to say about Keenspot. The difference between me and others is that my comments have more reach than most. But despite that reach, the contents of my assertion are no different from anyone elses. Including your own. You join in the chorus of people badmouthing Keenspot yourself.

If you’re going to quote me, maybe take some time to read what I’m saying and use a employ a little reading comprehension. You’re twisting my words.

When I referred to the majority of Keenspot members as “kids” it’s obvious I meant in relation to my age and Teri’s age. That was the context of the comment. For you twist that into accusing Keenspot of being a sweatshop is absurd.

My assertion about Keenspot is identical to everyone elses. We all are aware that neither Chris nor Teri set out to hurt anybody. But their inaction has always been more damning to the company’s reputation than any action they could ever hope to take. And after a while, you have to start holding them responsible for their inaction and ineptness.

You can either throw up your hands and say “Sorry, we’re doing our best and aren’t very good at this.” or you can say “look at us. we’re a legitimate company.” You can’t do both. And Keenspot has been doing both for years.

So Bobby, wake up. Shut up. And Smarten up, pal. The rest of us are tired of putting up with your crap.

Aaron Diaz, I think you’re confusing Keenspot (which was invitation only) with Keenspace (now Comic Genesis, which is a free hosting site that anyone can use). Also, we were contractors, not clients, there’s a reasonably significant difference.

I resent the ludicrous and rather pompous implication also that no comic which supports its author started out with free hosting- There are many, many successful creators who started out on Keenspot or Keenspace, Meredith Gran, John Allison, Tatsuya Ishida and Michael Terracciano just to name a few off the top of my head. Some others have posted in these very comments. I’m obviously not saying that Spot made them, but they still STARTED there.

While I can’t support any of the actions Keenspot took that are mentioned in this article, you simply cannot say that they have been flat out no good for for every single person they have ever taken on. That is just plain incorrect.

@Komiyan: Sorry, I think I have conflated the two. As I mentioned in my first post, I’ve never been completely up to speed on the details of these sites. If Keenspot is invitation-only, then my comments on its impact are less relevant; however, if they’re still providing free hosting to sites that aren’t economically viable, then the principle of my point still stands.

Regarding my “pompous” comments, I think you may have misinterpreted something I’ve said as my wanting to start a fight. I said the MAJORITY of professional webcomics didn’t start with these collectives. Obviously there are quite a few that have started with sites like Keenspot, but even with the ones you’ve mentioned they all got their start around 2002 or earlier: when hosting was much more expensive and nobody really knew what they were doing. The major professional webcomics since then, like Dr. McNinja, Questionable Content and XKCD, didn’t start there, and for good reasons. If it was a process that had any relevance, it’s gone now, and you can ask any of those people you listed and they’ll give similar answers. That was my main point.

To be honest, I wouldn’t dare to attempt to untangle Keenspot’s business plan.. A lot of the sites there are economically viable- I know several of us make rent money, and several also live off their comics, though what this means for the core business of Spot, I couldn’t tell you. A lot of us have been managing our own ads or merch for quite a while. This isn’t an argument, by the by, moreso information :)

Apologies if I sounded a little harsh, it just rankles when you read something saying that you aren’t ‘proper’ somehow because you took the free hosting and extra advertising that was specifically offered to you. Things have changed, of course, but you will still see great creators like Kel popping up from free hosting, and it should in no way be seen as a negative thing that new comics are being encouraged with free hosting and technical help.

Everyone has to start somewhere, and many of us come into this whole process blind.

Aaron – As you of all people should know, there’s no one way to make it in comics. And I think you might find that more successful comic artists still have free or collectivized hosting than you’d think. For one, Spike of Templar, AZ still does. Early on, free hosting was a good idea for people starting out, especially larger comics who might not be able to support hosting on their own before a model for making money had been well established. I’m reasonably sure that some of the people you’re thinking about probably had free hosting somewhere along the lines. Now, I agree with you that if a comic project is making enough money to cover its own hosting (and honestly most Keenspot comics should at least be doing that) then the creator should host it individually. However, most of the people still on Keenspot may just not know how to manage their websites on their own. Throwing them into the deep end of the pool might be a good thing for them in the end, but if you were promised swimming lessons and paid for them, getting tossed in and told to fend for yourself is not exactly what you’d expect.

@Komiyan: I understand, but as others have pointed out there are things now (like Comicpress) that render most of what these sites offer either redundant or irrelevant. Obviously there are multiple paths to success in this business, but these days I grow concern that these types of communities actually stunt the growth of sites and creators that would otherwise be doing much better. It’s one thing to use something like this as a stepping stone, but it’s no coincidence that virtually every webcomic that starts with these sites *leaves* them when they start pushing for professional goals. As others have said, the Keenspot brand offers no bonus to your image, and the net of links from other sites would exist even if you were on your own. Any webcomic of even modest size will have plenty of incoming links from other sites.

The main difference is that with these networks and hosting sites is that they sustain comics that shouldn’t be sustained, nor would they sustain themselves on their own. This hurts the credibility of sites like Keenspot, and one of the biggest bonuses of associating with a “web publisher” in the first place *is* the credibility. As someone already mentioned, if this was Marvel, it would mean something. But comic hosting (even if it’s invite-only) without that selective pressure generates a 2002-era bubble, and while there may be some fine comics being made there (I don’t recognize them, but I’ve never been able to keep up), I still hold that they’re much better off leaving.

Abby – I know there are some professionals who still use those services, but I still make the case. In fact, I’ve talked to Spike before about this, and that I thought she’d be much better off flying solo.

Like I said before, there’s no one way to be successful with webcomics, but for the majority of sites out there this antiquated hosting system is a hindrance to the skilled and an pitiful life support to the horrid. Some kids need to drown in the deep end if this medium’s ever going to be considered legitimate to anyone besides bloggers.

I should clarify that I’m not condoning the actions of Keenspot in the least (I don’t know enough about it to form a strong opinion). The way they seem to be cutting people loose does seem kind of crappy, but my main point is that potential dickishness aside, any webcomic on Keenspot that was doing okay before this announcement is capable of doing as fine or better without it.

Two things, Aaron.

For someone who makes most of their income from ads, the advertising of all Keenspot comics meant an extra few hundred dollars, even if no one who clicks that ad sticks around. Links from other sites around the internet doesn’t have as much an effect as that one day a month ad.

Most of the sites that you think shouldn’t survive are staying with Keenspot anyway. So all Keenspot is doing is forcing all the people who have a chance of doing better and keeping alive the comics by a Crosby and the ones who hurt their credibility. And if these unprofitable comics really want to stick it through without keenspot

Some kids need to drown in the deep end if this medium’s ever going to be considered legitimate to anyone besides bloggers.

Why do you care what other people think? Christ, I thought the time of people being ashamed of being on the Internet was over and done with. Who are you trying to get approval from? Wiley Miller?

… I’m not.

I will point out that by leaving Keenspot, I’ll be losing a significant portion of my traffic, some 20% or so. I’ll eventually be able to recoup, but pretending like the extra few thousand eyes don’t count doesn’t seem right.

Chris – for the most part, I don’t, but no comic is an island, and it’s only in recent years that major publishers have actually invested in certain webcomics, and that’s only after a handful have seen any critical success. Now in the case of my comic and a few others, I can self-publish until the end of time and be fine, but this isn’t true for everyone, and the legitimacy of the medium *does* have professional implications. If it’s a hobby, that’s fine, but there are those who are interested in building a brand, and if webcomics is seen as amateur hour by investors, that can hurt certain creators in the long run.

The whole internet is Amateur Hour, Aaron. This is why it’s different from other media. This is actually its STRENGHT.

There’s a lot of talent that wouldn’t have been discovered if this wasn’t the open mic night of comics.

Aaron – There’s no quality control on the internet, there’s no way to enforce any kind of professional standard. The internet is just a medium, and each comic will be judged on its own merits just like each blog, video series, etc etc etc. Basically, investors don’t invest in webcomics, they invest in a particular webcomic. A person who wants that for their property will have to convey that professional behavior to a potential investor themselves. I don’t think that’s a goal of even the majority of webcomic artists, or something within their grasp. And there’s nothing wrong with that, either.

Getting a bit back on topic, I do agree that being involved with Keenspot is a bad move professionally and has been for some several years. However, I don’t think starting out with free hosting or becoming involved with most collectivized hosting is a bad move professionally.

You know, if some guy randomly shouted, “I hate you!” to me at a comic book convention, I’d just make fun of him and then forget about it. Probably never bring it up again. Why get upset over someone who’s obviously socially inept embarassing himself?

I certainly wouldn’t think, “Something must be done to prevent this from happening again!”

David, it’s bothersome because Bobby critised Kel for making Spot look bad because she said something in a ustream, yet he’s ok to do things like shouting ‘I hate you’ at people, or saying they should be killed. Seems unfair somehow!

“They think poorly of Keenspot because of Keenspot.”

Why are you acting like I care about people “thinking poorly” of Keenspot??? Who gives a shit about that? As you know and as you said later in your post, I think poorly of Keenspot. What I care about is people believing the lies you tell them about Keenspot, which make them think far worse than just “poorly” about Keenspot.

“I am one of hundreds of people with negative things to say about Keenspot.”

You and your friends are the only people I know who are constantly telling huge lies about Keenspot, at least one of which you had to post a retraction/apology on your site about. But that was several years ago and you’ve stopped caring in any way about the truth since then.

“But despite that reach, the contents of my assertion are no different from anyone elses.”

Every single thing you say is a lie.

“We all are aware that neither Chris nor Teri set out to hurt anybody.”

Then why are you constantly saying that they’re stealing money from people, among many other crimes???

“it’s bothersome because Bobby critised Kel for making Spot look bad because she said something in a ustream”

What the hell? Hate liars so much. I had no idea the ustream even took place and I had no idea she was kicked off Keenspot until days after it happened, as I said earlier on this page. And you really have to stop implying that she was kicked off Keenspot for simply saying something on a ustream. There were many, many reasons, and I don’t even know all of them. If you haven’t even read the posts on the thread she started and on this page, then why are you talking about it as if you know something? Anyone who thinks Kel is somehow a victim in any way is out of their mind. And I’ve never criticized anyone for giving opinions — I’ve criticized Kel for flat out lies, which you can’t deny, which have been proven.

I was refering to where you said “..and then she publicly tells everyone that Keenspot is only good for its newsbox???” in her LJ here: http://community.livejournal.com/dannysdomain/240684.html?thread=2211628#t2211628 . Where else did she say this if not the stream?

Even if she said it elsewhere, you’re still critising her for doing precisly what you’re doing now.

Bobby, if everything I say is a lie then “I love you.”

“Even if she said it elsewhere, you’re still critising her for doing precisly what you’re doing now.”

What are you talking about? Have you not read the word “lie” about a million times in all of my posts? My problem is with her LIES. I’ve never criticized her for making Keenspot “look bad,” and obviously I’ve made Keenspot look far worse, because no one cares about lying on Earth apparently except me. The difference is I’ve told the truth while she’s told lies. Most of her points in that LJ post were lies. She said my comics get an unfair amount of newsbox time when in fact they get far less than hers, she said banners at the booth were promoting people who weren’t there, she said the Keenspot logo wasn’t on any of the banners. On top of those lies (and others I’m sure I’m forgetting), she insinuated that Keenspot would take down her site early, after receiving numerous assurances otherwise, and she had the audacity to complain about her books being misplaced for the first day of a long convention, seemingly forgetting that Keenspot printed those books for free, knowing she was going to give most of them away for promotional purposes, and gave her free booth space, only to have her apparently say later that Keenspot is only good for its newsbox. And on and on and on.

Bobby:

1)Why would your comics get ANY Keenspot newsbox time? You’re not a part of Keenspot. You said so yourself. Or were you lying about that? If you’re not even a part of keenspot, then why would your comics get ANY time in the keenspot newsbox?

The fact that you’re with BLATANT comics and Chris and you are very SPECIFIC about pointing out that those are two different companies, if your comics got ONE day in the newsbox, it was in there too often. So Kel didn’t like there.

2)Banners at the Keenspot booth were 95% your projects. One banner had a keenspot logo on it and it was at the bottom of the banner where nobody could see it. The word Keenspot was not visible at all on any of those banners. There was nothing visible to indicate the existence of the Keenspot booth. So again, Kel didn’t lie there.

3) Kel insinuated that she was afraid that Keenspot would kick her off the site sooner than she wanted. That’s not a lie. She did fear that. Not a lie.

4) Keenspot did misplace her books on the first day, which was the busiest day of the con. So again, not a lie. It’s irrelevant if Keenspot printed the books for free. That means nothing if she can’t sell the books or give them out on the busiest day. So once again, no lying has taken place here.

5) Keenspot is only good for its newsbox. Kel can’t seem to stop telling the truth.

Bobby I love how you say that everyone and everything is a lying liar while the only evidence provided has only supported those comments, instead of disproving them. Now correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t lies supposed to be false?

Get over yourself, Bobby. Instead of calling everyone liars, maybe come up with some actual argument as to why several people unaffiliated with Kel or Kurtz have voiced their negative opinions about Keenspot here.

Also, you should be more concerned with the fact that no one will want to have anything to do with your or your shitty comics from all this.

The fact of the matter, and the topic of the post, is that Keenspot is changing it’s business model, and the effects this will have on it’s current creators and artists.

Chris stated in the interview, and in the email for that matter, that all of it’s creators should very seriously consider going independent,as Keenspot is not providing anything other than being a third party and lengthening the current process. Not only that, but Chris has shown that he is being active in this thread, and it has been stated various times that he is effectively “shooing away” these creators. He has not opposed this train of thought, which can only lead me to believe that he, in fact, agrees.

The contract seems to benefit the Crosby family the most. 50% going towards the site, and 50 for the creator seems like a deal that would only benefit Chris, who is obviously putting his time into keeping the site alive. I can see it being a benefit to the creator that is only doing a comic as a hobby looking to make some extra dough, but this is where I get confused. He says that KS will require signature of the contract, but not everyone who signs the contract will be accepted into the collective. This leaves me with an impression that they know who they will be cutting already, but will instead let them down at the time of signing, instead of telling them ahead of time. I could see this leading to a brief dissapearance of many artists, and a permanent disappearance of a few others.

Bobby, I will say that I don’t feel you’re really bringing anything to this conversation. By insulting Scott, and Kris, and Kel, you are not furthering your case, but rather strengthening everyones case against you. You have truly ask yourself if you’re going to be posting something that is going to actually contribute, or perpetuate more people, more potential readers, to dislike you. And while a product and the person behind it are two separate things, readers will not see it this way, and will instead avoid anything with your name on it like the plague.

And please, you’re a writer. Do better than writing “liar” 20 times in a post, and little else.

Scott, sorry about all those times I mouthed off at you in defense of Keenspot. I’m reading this post and these posts now and I’m like “why the hell did I ever DO that?”

wow, KeenDrama……

Josh,

You probably had good reason. Keep in mind that Kris, Brad, Dave, Paul Southworth, Steve Troop, and a bunch of other people I have known over the years have all taken turns making the same god-damn complaints independent of each other to me about Keen.

And when a friend comes bitching you get upset and you defend them. And I’m mouthy. And I get personal.

So trust me, I’m sure you had great reason to defend Keenspot back in the day. I’m sure I was a jerk.

If it makes you feel better, I’m like “Why the hell did I ever DO that?” as well.

“Why would your comics get ANY Keenspot newsbox time? You’re not a part of Keenspot. You said so yourself.”

What the hell. I said I’m not an owner of Keenspot. Obviously I’m part of Keenspot. My comics are on Keenspot.

“Banners at the Keenspot booth were 95% your projects.”

What. There were two and a half banners behind the 10×10 Keenspot booth, two of which I had nothing to do with. But once again you’re forgetting/lying about how there were two booths there, Blatant and Keenspot. If you want to count them all as one, then how is 3/5 95%? When there’s five banners, how could anything even be 95%? I have nothing to do with “No Pink Ponies” (and neither does Chris, who is not “Eisu’s partner,” as you insanely said a few days ago) or “The First Daughter.”

“One banner had a keenspot logo on it and it was at the bottom of the banner where nobody could see it.”

Two of the standees had the Keenspot logo on it, not one, and the Blatant Comics logos on the other standees were also way down at the bottom.

“There was nothing visible to indicate the existence of the Keenspot booth. So again, Kel didn’t lie there.”

What about the eight foot long KEENSPOT banner on one of the tables? The Keenspot logo wasn’t simply on the standees at the back of the booth, but also on the table right up front. It was often at least partially covered up with books, though, just like the Blatant logo was on the other table. You can’t make the argument that the Keenspot logo wasn’t visible if the Blatant logo was similarly invisible. Why would anyone want to see that horrible Keenspot logo/name anyway? I don’t see how it’s something to complain about.

“That’s not a lie. She did fear that. Not a lie.”

I never said it was a lie, but why would she fear it when she was told many times that she had no reason to fear it BEFORE she stated that fear publicly?

“Keenspot did misplace her books on the first day, which was the busiest day of the con.”

Again, what the hell. The first day of the convention is the LEAST busy, not the busiest. The busiest is always Saturday, and she had her books days before that.

“Keenspot is only good for its newsbox. Kel can’t seem to stop telling the truth.”

Free booth space and free books to sell/give away at the biggest comic convention in history doesn’t count for anything, I know. And I like how you just plain ignore several of her/your other lies. She said the banners were promoting artists who weren’t there, even though she spent a whole week with these people and participated on a panel with them where they talked about all their projects.

Hold on, Bobby. I’m terribly confused. You’re lying all over the place.

-You asked me when Keenspot ever claimed it made a lot of money.

-I responded by pointing out that Chris bragged that Keenspot earned 96k from Wowio.

-YOU responded by saying that the WOWIO money was for BLATANT comics, not keenspot, so that money doesn’t count because Keenspot and Blatant are not the same.

-NOW you’re saying that your Blatant comics are on Keenspot so I guess my original assertion that Keenspot earned 96k from Wowio is true. And my assertion that Chris can’t stop bragging about how much money Keen makes is true.

Bobby, could you just clear up once and for all if Blatant Comics and Keenspot comics are separate companies or not? I mean, honestly. It’s confusing as hell. You guys keep changing your story.

There’s nothing confusing about it and we haven’t changed our story in any way. The same comics can be part of two different entities. Do you not understand how Batman makes money for both DC and Warner Bros.?

Also, here’s what the booth looked like, clearly showing a large Keenspot logo on the table:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V9lRkL_uCN4

Also, you’re confused because you’re lying: “I responded by pointing out that Chris bragged that Keenspot earned 96k from Wowio.”

I highly doubt he’s ever bragged about simply “Keenspot” earning $96K from WOWIO. Usually he just says Blatant, but sometimes he says Blatant/Keenspot, because most of the comics we had on WOWIO were also part of Keenspot. And since when did $96K become a lot of money? You know that businesses have expenses, right?

So the other day I was sitting in my living room watching my daughter play with one of her Christmas presents. It was a tea set — two teacups, and a teapot that makes burbling noises when you tip it over. She was playing by herself — pretending to pour tea into one of her cups and then pretending to drink from that cup. She’s 15 months old and it was the first time I ever saw her actually “playing pretend” by herself. That was really cool.

… no, it has nothing to do with the preceding conversation, but I figured people might like a break from that.

And here’s Kel smiling happily while sitting behind the Blatant side of the booth, which is where she spent most of her time, since the Keenspot side was always overflowing onto the Blatant side, of course:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qW3vsekudHo

Very brief, of course, but you can see her at 0:01 if you look closely in the right top corner. Also, I am a great man.

Here’s the thread Scott Kurtz is talking about where I and a few other publishers disclosed our WOWIO revenues, for those interested:
http://pwbeat.publishersweekly.com/blog/2008/06/24/wowio-sold/

If anyone can dig up a recent public statement from me where I “brag” how much revenue I’m generating from a non-WOWIO source, I’d be very surprised. The reason I and other WOWIO partners disclosed our grosses publicly at all was at first to make known to other creators the shocking amount money that could apparently be generated from free e-books, and later as an angry complaint because WOWIO until recently owed us tens of thousands of dollars.

Regarding Blatant Comics, it pre-dates Keenspot by three years. It was a comic book publishing company Bobby and I published various titles under starting in 1997. It had its own booth at Comic-Con in 1998.

When Bobby and I started LAST BLOOD in 2006, Blatant Comics was revived to publish it and other Bobby-written comics in print, because Bobby’s comics were not allowed on Keenspot due to our partners’ understandable dislike of my little brother. It wasn’t until 2008, when we bought out our partners and took control of the company (thanks in part to our share of the money our comics had made on WOWIO, natch), that Bobby’s comics were allowed into Keenspot proper. So for example, Keenspot is the web publisher of LAST BLOOD and Blatant Comics is the print publisher of LAST BLOOD.

Very complex and self-serving explanation, I know.

Annnnd I cannot WAIT for July 1, 2010 to arrive. THE CROSBY SHOW, baby! Woooooo!

Chris: I will say this, and only this:

Your unconditional loyalty toward your brother is nothing short of breathtaking. Many in your situation would’ve long ago filed a restraining order barring such a relative from anything remotely connected to them or their business, or even had said relative discreetly “taken care” of. That you continue to support him in his endeavours, even at risk to your own, is unbelievable and rare.

There’s only one way to solve this. Scott’s brother must duel Chris’ brother in a cake decorating contest.

To the cake!

Okay then Chris and Bobby stop saying that Bobby doesn’t represent Keenspot or reflect Keenspot or is not involved in Keenspot. Stop pointing out that you bought out his shares and he’s no longer an owner.

You guys mix and match. You work together. Not only is the corporate veil between keenspot and blatant pierced, it’s been torn down, stomped on and burned.

I can’t wait for July 1st either. By then your company will have no respected creator associated with it and you guys can disappear into the history of webcomics where you belong.

A faded fucking memory

“Okay then Chris and Bobby stop saying that Bobby doesn’t represent Keenspot or reflect Keenspot or is not involved in Keenspot.”

Other than between ’05 and ’08 when I wasn’t an owner and didn’t have a comic on Keenspot, no one’s said that I’m not involved in Keenspot. And simply writing a comic on Keenspot doesn’t mean that you represent or reflect Keenspot.

Why aren’t you apologizing for all your proven lies?

It’s not a lie. Keenspot literally represents you as a webpublisher. Literally. They represent you. As one of their creators you reflect on their editorial processes. These are all facts, Bobby. Not one lie.

What. Not talking about that obviously. Talking about the lies that I provided video proof of.

You said “There was nothing visible to indicate the existence of the Keenspot booth. So again, Kel didn’t lie there.”

Again –

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V9lRkL_uCN4

Okay bobby. So let me address that “lie”

Yes, I can clearly see the word keenspot on the table there. Which I’m sure is visible in the morning before the show when that video was taken.

But once a person stands in front of the booth, or any of the artists lean forward to start drawing or sketching that becomes obscured QUICKLY.

So walking up to that booth, it’s almost impossible to tell it’s a keenspot booth.

the fact of the matter is that even I, who is aware of Keenspot and Blatant properties saw that booth and said “Wow. No Keenspot this year. It’s a Blatant booth. Interesting.” It wasn’t until Maritza called up up that I realized there were keenspot people there.

There was nothing visible. The moment there’s any traffic or any artist start to actually work that logo goes bye-bye. So Kel didn’t lie and neither did I.

FYI, Wednesday was the busiest day of the show. We made more money on Wednesday than Saturday. So did most people. You’re an idiot.

No, you’re a liar. Wednesday had by far the least hours and by far the least amount of people. It’s insane to say that most people made more money on Wednesday than Saturday. It’s basically impossible. Tons of people, even many who had four-day passes, only go on Saturday — more than any of the other days at least. It’s just common sense and it’s always been this way. Ask Mark Evanier.

And what about all the other lies you’ve ignored? She said the banners were promoting comics made by people who weren’t in attendance, but they were all there and she was on a panel with all of them.

As a Con attendee I can attest that Wednesday was the busiest day on the floor of the show. Saturday saw more people through the door, but a lot of them were there for panels (or stuck in long lines for panels) and thus the floor wasn’t as crowded. Wednesday was Preview Night for the diehards and everyone there came to see their favorite booths ASAP.

Well hold on a second, Bobby. Slow down. Let’s address one thing at a time.

Absolutely you can make more money on Wednesday than Saturday. I don’t need to ask Mark Evanier (nor would I bother him for such a stupid question).

The Wendesday night crowd is there to get their early purchases done before the crowd hits. There are less hours and less people there, but a higher concentration of people looking to spend money. That’s not an insane assertion. In fact, Wednesday was our biggest take at San Diego 2009 and 2008. It’s not impossible.

If Kel said that the banners at the booth were promoting comics made by people not attending, and those people were attending then Kel is wrong. If she was aware that she was wrong then yeah, she’s lying. Or she’s misinformed.

But for the sake of argument, let’s assume Kel’s lying and made a purposeful false statement about that. It changes nothing. It still does not change the fact that (let me do the correct math this time) 80% of the banners there were for properties owned by either you or Chris and one of the other banners was owned by one of your artists. So it’s not a whole lot of love for the keenspotters there. That booth was advertising Crosby owned comics (and the comic of one friend of the Crosbys).

In year’s past, we’ve seen Keenspot booths representing the creators of Keenspot. We did not see that this year.

How you can be arguing that, or how you could miss the context and spirit of what Kel was saying is beyond me. I think you’re grasping.

“Saturday saw more people through the door . . .”

A trillion more people who had six and a half more hours than on Wednesday to visit booths. It’s a big convention floor.

Bobby, you’re being stupid. Everyone who’s attended comicon over the years knows Wednesday is the bigger sales night. You’re arguing against real data.

I swear, talking to you is like arguing with the Hulk.

“In year’s past, we’ve seen Keenspot booths representing the creators of Keenspot. We did not see that this year.”

You saw it more in ’09 than in ’08. In 2008 all four standees were Crosby owned properties. No one complained then for some reason. But wait, what the heck does “the creators of Keenspot” mean and how does it not include me and Chris and Eisu and the others who were represented this year?

“How you can be arguing that”

Because I don’t like going along with your lies like everyone else. I’m also still waiting for an explanation about why it’s somehow bad to have the banners we had this year as opposed to prior years. You’d rather the old days of the giant banner with a MILLION little characters on it that no one could see unless they walked behind the tables and got two feet away? Please tell me how that’s better for ANYONE. You can’t deny that it’s an improvement, unless you want to continue to promote being brain dead.

You had five banners, four of which were yours and one of which was a collaborator of yours. And you don’t understand why I think that’s good for the other keenspot creators attending Comicon?

Is that what you’re asking me?

Is that what makes you think I’m brain dead and you’re sane?

“It still does not change the fact that (let me do the correct math this time) 80% of the banners there”

Once again, crazy wrong math. The Keenspot booth had two and a half banners behind it — two of them were projects I had nothing to do with whatsoever — plus half of the “Dreamless” standee.

Again, please explain to me how it’s better for anyone to have a million little character drawings that no one could make out unless they get up close than to strongly promote four or five popular properties, most of which had new books debuting at the convention. How does a three inch tall character face on a big banner help the person who drew it, especially when almost all of the creators of those tiny characters weren’t in attendance??? Please explain to me how that was better. Again, you can’t deny that this is an improvement unless you’re brain dead. You’re acting as if we previously had a similar setup with big standees promoting a few selected works by people who aren’t named Crosby. That’s never been the case. Most years there was simply a giant ugly banner with a million characters, promoting nothing except funny drawings in general, I guess, and one of the worst company names ever.

All right! Enough, Scott. Bobby won and caught you in those lies. Everyone tear up their departure plans and go back to Keenspot, they’re beyond reproach. Everything can go back to normal with all this evidence.

Recaptcha for this post: gulags newcomers

Here’s what I don’t get.

Why are people arguing with or even acknowledging Bobby Crosby? He’s a known troll. What is there to gain from baiting him?

Here’s Kel at the Keenspot booth this year:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/21239270@N03/3759446109/

She looks fucking elated.

Nice job ignoring the giant Keenspot logo.

Oh. I’m not ignoring it. I just didn’t realize what you were trying to show me. yes I see the logo. And again, that’s because it’s before anybody showed up to the booth.

As anyone who’s exhbited at San Diego knows, the moment the floor fills with people, anything lower than a person’s waist is lost. Which is why people get six foot high banners made that can display things high. You know, like the five banners you made.

Here’s another picture of the Keenpsot booth from a previous year. Notice how the logo is large and high so people can see it from a distance. Also notice how happy the people in the booth seem. What’s missing here? I think it’s you.

Scott, I apologize for my comments earlier. This guy is impossible and he needs some telling off.

(Also, your little exchange with Josh up there made me change my mind about you.)

Bobby, as the photographer who took that photo, I can tell you that getting the keenspot logo was due to a lucky break in the crowd. In fact, I missed the keenspot booth several times before I found it. You’re being a dishonest little shit if you think that floor-level logo was at all visible or prominent.

Let’s look at some other booths, shall we?
Dumbrella:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/21239270@N03/3759446543/in/set-72157621834593372/
Name is on the top of the booth prominently displayed.

Templar, AZ:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/21239270@N03/3759446889/in/set-72157621834593372/

Name of the comic is on top of the banner prominently displayed over the crowds.

Hey Bobby, Did you happen to read the caption under the photo you linked too? “I should point out that I walked past the keenspot booth several times because that floor-level banner is invisible during the con.”

Hey Bobby, Did you happen to notice the caption under the image you posted “I should point out that I walked past the keenspot booth several times because that floor-level banner is invisible during the con.”

That caption was added later to clarify the context of the original picture, since at the time, my comment was caught in the spam filter.

This discussion actually prompted me to go back and look at the original photo, and in that, it’s a little more obvious that it was just taken during a momentary gap in the crowd.

In fact, I actually stood there for about a minute just waiting for the crowd to clear so I could get a clean picture, before saying “fuck it” and just taking the best shot I could.

Ah. Thanks for clarifying… and now I feel like an ass. ;)

[...] Pioneering webcomics portal Keenspot is radically changing its business model; Gary Tyrell has details, interviews, long comment thread, the [...]

No matter how many banners on the tables you have, if you do not have a banner that promotes keenspot from above and in full, as in representing EVERYONE, collectively, with tiny little characters, then it’s just promotion towards ‘the cosby show’. Pfft.

No matter how much you may disagree with someone or how much you ‘think’ they are lying, you should NEVER wish a death threat to someone. Uncouth,trollish and sad, specially since Scott has noted that this is ‘his second one’ from Bobby. Merry Christmas indeed.

Personally, I’m not sure why anyone would be keen on keenspot at this point. Specially with Bobby involved.

At least Kurtz, if he’s “lying” brings up amazingly good points. And for someone who in times past, as he has even noted in a round a bout way, “what the hell was I thinking when I said this/that”, Scott, I think, has been considerably tactful.

[...] | Fleen's Gary Tyrell dives into some of the changes that the webcomics host Keenspot is making to its business model starting next [...]

“You’re being a dishonest little shit if you think that floor-level logo was at all visible or prominent.”

You can’t be serious. You TOOK the photo but you can’t even look at it and see the obviousness of the giant logo? Kel and Scott said on numerous occasions that there was NO KEENSPOT LOGO anywhere. Not simply that it wasn’t visible or prominent, but that there was none at all. They’re proven false in a thousand ways and you guys still somehow have the nerve to continue lying about it and spinning it. It’s insane.

Still waiting on the answer to a million questions, like how it’s possibly better to have a million tiny characters in a big banner than what we had in the past couple years, where we set new records each year for money made at the booth, by the way. Kel even claims to have sold out of her books.

I’m also still waiting on why there’s even a discussion about it. Who cares what the Keenspot booth looks like? Why does Kurtz care so much about it? Why is he apparently breaking into private Keenspot forums, as I just got an e-mail about. He’s obsessed with Keenspot.

Bobby you want to argue stupid details so you can say you caught me in a lie and you’re ignore the important points that we’re trying to make. Some will assert you’re doing this because of a learning disability. Others believe that you’re doing it on purpose so you don’t have to actually defend yourself.

Regardless of the reason, it’s obvious you only want to get bogged down in pointless details instead of addressing larger issues.

- The amount of characters on a banner is an insignificant detail and pointless to argue. If the banner clearly demarks Keenspot and is visible from a distance then it doesn’t matter if it looks good or if the characters themselves are fairly represented. You can see from a distance that it’s the keenspot booth, even when surrounded by people. This year, the only branding that could be seen during busy times was Blatant books. Period. Done arguing that point.

People care about Keenspot right now because people they actually care about are involved. I care because Kel has been kicked out due to something she said during one of my Ustream broadcasts. This whole change and business plan is a reaction to it. That’s how I’m involved, retard.

Why would I need to hack into your forums. All I need to do is chat with the cartoonists involved in your collective. It’s not like the information ain’t flowing. What would I need to see in those forums that I can’t get just by talking to 3-4 people in IRC?

Does anyone need me to continue at this point? Can everyone see now how crazy this family is? I’m not making any ground here.

Arguing with Bobby is like arguing with a piece of paper that says “no” on it.

that last joke ©2009 Kris Straub

“Bobby you want to argue stupid details so you can say you caught me in a lie and you’re ignore the important points that we’re trying to make.”

You’ve been caught in no less than 8,000 lies in the past week alone. I’ve ignored NOTHING. Name one thing that I’ve ignored. You’re the one who keeps ignoring everything. And it’s hilarious to say that you’ve ever made an important point.

Your entire post just now was filled with repeated lies that I’ve already proven to be false.

“This year, the only branding that could be seen during busy times was Blatant books.”

Again, “No Pink Ponies” and “The First Daughter” have nothing to do with Blatant Comics and they were also not written or illustrated by anyone named Crosby, so what the hell are you talking about? I wish you’d simply ignore more things instead of repeatedly lying about them like right there. Still wondering how the fuck you got it in your head that Eisu was “Chris’s partner,” what the hell.

first daughter was created by Chris Crosby. says it right on the cover. thanks, google

recaptcha: abraham two

abraham two: isaac’s revenge, in theaters now

“I care because Kel has been kicked out due to something she said during one of my Ustream broadcasts.”

Are you somehow acting like that’s a bad thing? You’ve been telling people to leave Keenspot for many years and you rejoice when Keenspot’s numbers diminish. You said this less than 24 hours ago:

“By then your company will have no respected creator associated with it and you guys can disappear into the history of webcomics where you belong. A faded fucking memory.”

So how the fuck are you claiming to somehow be upset about her being kicked out? Because you couldn’t get her to quit first??? Also, I can’t imagine what she said on your ustream could be any more than 3% of the reason why she was kicked out.

“This whole change and business plan is a reaction to it.”

It has absolutely nothing to do with it. Why would it have anything to do with it? It doesn’t make any sense. Stuff like this happens all the time, as you know, since you INSTIGATE most of it, as you’re claiming to do with this one and as you definitely did with several others in the past through your defamation.

“first daughter was created by Chris Crosby. says it right on the cover. thanks, google”

I never said it wasn’t. It also has nothing to do with Blatant Comics.

Scott’s right that the majority of the stand-ups at the booth (whether you wanna call it the Keenspot booth or Keenspot/Blatant booth or the Bobby Crosby Comics booth) were Crosby-owned properties we have a definite long-term investment in. Keenspot is a company, not a commune, and we chose those properties to promote as a business decision. It does not make business sense to create five 8-foot tall stand-ups promoting comics that we don’t necessarily generate any revenue from and that might not even be members of Keenspot by the time the display has shipped to the convention center (let alone something that could be re-used at other events).

That’s why we chose those displays, and that’s exactly why we’re dissolving the “collective” element of Keenspot entirely in 2010.

I apologize if we have offended any Keenspot members with our actions, but I don’t apologize for making what seemed like a good business decision at the time.

why did it get a giant poster at the booth though if it wasnt out yet

wouldnt more people come to the booth if they saw a poster for something they recognized, like goblins or menage a 3

its good business to have big displays of stuff you hope to make money on, it’s better business to use big displays of really popular properties to draw people in and then sell them the stuff they weren’t aware of

Those are really good points, Matt. Though no one responsible for the creation of GOBLINS or Ma3 in particular were attending this year, and we did only want the banners to represent creators at the booth.

We chose THE FIRST DAUGHTER to promote because we were debuting a printed book of the first issue at the convention (which writer Mike Rosenzweig was there to promote), and because we thought the iPhone issues would be released sooner than they actually were. We originally planned to release them ourselves, but ended up signing an exclusive deal with another comics app and that resulted in a delayed release.

FYI, the Keenspot banner was originally spread out on top of the table with books and merch carefully placed to still show off the “Keenspot”. I think it wasn’t until the end of Wednesday that 2 or 3 exasperated Keenspot cartoonists took it upon themselves to hang it in front. I suppose they had no choice, what with all the banner using up the prime space.

Scott Kurtz: Webcomics Magnate and Perpetrator of 8,000 Lies.

You’re going to need new business cards.

Don’t forget “Tastemaker” and “Pioneer.”

“Why does Kurtz care so much about it? Why is he apparently breaking into private Keenspot forums, as I just got an e-mail about. He’s obsessed with Keenspot.”

And of course there would be no way to verify this claim as true or false for anyone not on Keenspot, so it’s a safe accusation to make because nobody can prove you wrong. It can only turn into a yes-no situation. Very cold, calculated and obvious attempt to discredit Kurtz. So he is the one with the personal vendetta, you say?

Please guys. You’re trying to engage in logical conversation with someone who won’t be logical. Don’t try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig.
(Henh. My Captcha says “Assizes This”. I this thing psychic?

Wow. This thread is… WOW. It’s like webcomics drama was all pent up all year and just exploded inside the pants of Fleen and has left a big yucky mess.

You should see all the fun everyone’s having over at the Daily Cartoonist.

OT: The ReCAPTCHAs are fucking hilarious, “comprehensive siege”.

Wow, most of this reads like a war between Trolls. Step back, take a deep breath, drink a beer, relax. Remember, arguing on the internet is like running a race in the Special Olympics. You may win, but you’re still retarded.

There only happens to be one Keenspot comic I read, and if Thunt chooses to take Goblins elsewhere, I will still read it.

Anyone else notice that comicgenesis (I.E. keenspace) seems to be melting down? Updated comics are getting corrupted, the current comics of http://sidekickgirl.comicgenesis.com/ and http://www.green-avenger.com/ both show similar corruption, and the green-avenger one has a comment about it.

So the theory about this only affecting keenspot and not keenspace seems a bit optimistic. When the crosbys bought out Bluell (the nukees guy), they lost their webmaster, and the people who are left don’t really seem _interested_ in administering web infrastructure. (Especially not for anybody other than Bobby the wonder twit.)

The corrupted comic files on CG are due to a server outage earlier this week. The creators of any comic files uploaded to CG FTP between 5pm on December 27th and 7am on December 28th need to re-upload or overwrite those files.

[...] Out There’s  Two Cents in Sixty Seconds, Fleen article on Keenspot, Tin Lizard Productions, Comic Tools, Atop the Fourth Wall, Dungeon Legacy, WAGON Webcomic Battle, [...]

[...] has a good round-up of chaos at [...]

[...] has a good round-up of chaos at [...]

Hi chaps! I heard there was a good ol’ ding dong going on with lots of fire being spewed everywhere so I thought I’d come in and…hey..lads? Where are you all going?

…jesus bloody christ even the CAPTCHA is trying to get in on the war between Halfpixel and the Crosby Clan:

“Flaming elections”

Actually, I saw all the hubbub between Scotty & el Bobbo, checked youtube, found the following video and thought of you two at 02:30, 04:25, 04:58 and then 06:56.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n6WrTfDpD2E

Dawwww… :)

[...] Anyway, I’ve got to sit on a panel discussion about webcomic collectives and co-operatives and how the world of Webcomics is a fantastic medley of peace, harmony, ANZAC cakes, punch and pie. The reality however is really high profile figures in the webcomic community such as Bobby Crosby and Scott Kurtz are doing this: [...]

[...] since Keenspot announced its dissolution, there has been much chatter on the web condemning comic collectives. The gripe is that Keenspot, [...]

It’s been years since I tried Comicgenesis, but I remember the CMS being terrible. Also the documentation was written by the community instead of the company, so it had huge gaps and poor organization. Was Keenspot as bad?

My previous job involved working in a company very similar to Keenspot – big name, high profile, but behind the scenes is a big mess. It seems like once somebody gets big enough they just can’t bring themselves to stop and fix what they have. They have to just keep expanding and expanding, adding new features as the bugs and problems continue to pile up. It just goes to show, being able to make money is not the same thing as being able to do a good job!

Well. After muddling through that deep pile of excrement (my god, Bobby, how the hell do you ever get enough to eat with the amount of shit that flows out of your mouth?) I must state: I am sorry, Scott Kurtz, for normally ignoring what you say when you foam at the mouth over Keenspot.

Whatever Keenspot once was… these days it is something pitiful and broken. And I hope those people who are still a part of it leave. Before their comics are tainted by association.

I was once one of Keenspot’s more ardent defenders. But the latest bullshit as revealed here… makes me regret ever defending Keenspot in the past.

Rob H.

At some point, I just had to skip the bulk of the comments and come down here to just say that Chris and Teri and everybody else at Keenspot have been incredibly helpful and supportive — massively and *consistently*.

The reason the original concept of Keenspot has outlived its internet usefulness is because it has been not so much a “link collective”, but more like a virtual family. That’s the part of it that’s going to be missed most. It’s not “passive aggressiveness” — it’s about community. That’s why it’s been disappointing that a better business model couldn’t be wrapped around it, even though that’s a backwards way of doing it. Like Maritza said, the internet’s changed a lot in 10 years, and it’s just hard to let go of this close relationship, even though the business side of it doesn’t make so much sense anymore.

That’s probably why this all sounds weird to Scott Kurtz. I don’t think he ever got that family aspect of it. A long time ago, before he started hating on me, he tried convincing me that Chris & co. were robbing me, somehow. But I’ve always been better off by being associated with Keenspot than I would have been otherwise. It’s one place where I always knew I could rely on help and support.

And that the Crosby family are finding a more valid path for the business — I’m not sure why that’s supposed to upset or hurt me. From my perspective, they have helped me far more over the years than I have helped them. For years now, they’ve been the central pillar of support for a web activity that didn’t use to have much support at all.

Well, it’s their business after all. They could fire a bunch of authors and just keep those they want, but with the risk that those they want would walk. In this way, they know that they can count on the people who sign the contract and they can cull their numbers later. It’s not pleasant but it’s nothing that you wouldn’t see companies do with their employees (“voluntary redundancy” schemes and all that). Anyway, whatever the audience of a comic, I’m quite sure that with the current prices of bandwidth, ad revenues will always cover abundantly for hosting costs – there’s no reason to be managed by someone else.

Well, it’s their business after all. They could fire a bunch of authors and just keep those they want, but with the risk that those they want would walk. In this way, they know that they can count on the people who sign the contract and they can cull their numbers later. It’s not pleasant but it’s nothing that you wouldn’t see companies do with their employees (“voluntary redundancy” schemes and all that).

Anyway, whatever the audience of a comic, I’m quite sure that with the current prices of bandwidth, ad revenues will always cover abundantly for hosting costs. There’s no reason aside from companionship and booths at cons to be managed by someone else.

Also, I’m quite grateful to Keenspot because I started on Keenspace back in 2004 and I might never have started if it wasn’t for it – it seemed costly and scary to put a comic on the web by myself and I didn’t know the first thing about how to do it.

[...] content. At first I thought it was a joke, I really did. This was happening in the wake of the Keenspot debacle, something that happened very suddenly and out of the blue, just like this was. It was also [...]

Bobby, I stopped reading anything on the internet that was webcomic-newsworthy that had anything to do with keenspot, because unfortunately, I associated them with you. I know you were bought out years ago, and that decision was recieved happily; the forums at the time thought you were going to go away. For a time, you did…but much like some kind of cancer, you came back and continued shouting where you left off.

So I walked away from KS forums, and largely the KS business. I still read a few comics there, but the last one Gaming Guardians) just left.

Still, STILL, I find you elsewhere on the internet, shooting off wildly, being a gigantic douchebag calling everyone liars, when the “liars” are the only ones offering any supporting evidence. In other words, you’re behaving like a four year old.

Never had a problem with Teri, Nate, or Gav. The only issue I have with Chris is that he defends your behavior, even when you’re making death threats, or suggesting people should die, in between all your yelling of LIES AND SLANDER.

Honestly, if you want to talk about who hurts KS’ reputation, it’s you Bobby. You’ve been making KS look terrible for years. You need a muzzle, anger management classes, or god knows what, but you need professional help. This much is clear.

Seriously, you DO do the things they fired Kel for. You make Keenspot look bad every single day of the week, every time you log onto that computer and find the keyboard, you make them look bad.

Go back and read the thread here in its entirety, you’re going to notice you’re the only real dissenting opinion here, muddled between a lot of actual professionals.

GET OVER YOURSELF.

[...] their work done. For a hack pseudo-journalist, it’s depressingly sane … even the Great Keenspot Reorg went by without a peep. Let’s see if the mailbag has anything [...]

[...] You’ve heard of the Keenspot thing by now and some are starting to chime in about it. I suspect more will come out about it but the [...]

[...] of publishing, it’s been a year (more or less) since news of Keenspot’s reorganization broke, and six months (more or less) since the changes announced at that time went into effect. I [...]

[...] Out There’s  Two Cents in Sixty Seconds, Fleen article on Keenspot, Tin Lizard Productions, Comic Tools, Atop the Fourth Wall, Dungeon Legacy, WAGON Webcomic Battle, [...]

[...] Skullkickers page, but at Keenspot. I may have missed something in the two years or so since the Great Keenspot Realignment, and I don’t recall any new properties being added to the Keen banner in that time that [...]

[...] Out There’s  Two Cents in Sixty Seconds, Fleen article on Keenspot, Tin Lizard Productions, Comic Tools, Atop the Fourth Wall, Dungeon Legacy, WAGON Webcomic Battle, [...]

[...] Out There’s  Two Cents in Sixty Seconds, Fleen article on Keenspot, Tin Lizard Productions, Comic Tools, Atop the Fourth Wall, Dungeon Legacy, WAGON Webcomic Battle, [...]

[…] and Keen Spot head by Chris Crosby (Reference: Fleen) […]

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