The webcomics blog about webcomics

Ch-ch-ch-chaaaaaanges

Oh look out, you rock n' rollers.

Man, if webcomics could calm down for like a minute, that would be awesome. Let’s round this up, shall we?

  • Little Dee has entered the endgame with its last storyline; Christopher Baldwin informs us on the main page that it will take three to four months to play out, but then that’s it. No more Dee, no more Ted, Blake, or that magnificent bastard (with the soft, gooey center) Vachel. Fortunately, Baldwin won’t leave us high and dry, as he’s brought a brand new strip in the form of Spacetrawler. The sci-fi hijinks (sci-fijinks?) started on Friday with a small archive, but take a look: each update (there will be two each week) is a full-page, full color extravaganza. Get in while the gettin’s good.
  • Changes over at Unshelved, too — new back end to the site, some features still getting ported, and a new schedule. Per art-half Bill Barnes:

    When we launched Unshelved … we adopted a newspaper schedule: seven days a week. Later we made the Sunday strip the Unshelved Book Club. Well, newspapers may run seven days a week, but our website statistics overwhelmingly show that most of you work five days a week. We think that sounds nice, so we’re adopting a five day work week too. Starting next week, Unshelved daily strips will run Monday through Thursday and the Unshelved Book Club will run on Fridays. [emphasis original]

  • Then there was the bombshell: as of yesterday afternoon, visitors to Webcomics Dot Com were greeted with a slight change of policy:

    Starting today, Webcomics.com will begin charging a $30-per-year subscription fee.

    Yikes. Given the trend towards free, this seems both a) sudden, and b) unlikely to succeed, and c) really sudden. I talked with WDC E-I-C BG to get the lowdown on the changes, leading to the following factoids:

    • Brad remains in charge of WDC, and this was his decision
    • Abstracts of new articles will be available on the main page, with the full text behind the pay wall
    • Fellow Halfpixellite Scott Kurtz will contribute to this new iteration of WDC, as will Robert Khoo, Penny Arcade business guru; it doesn’t appear at this time that Kris Straub and Dave Kellett will be (although to be fair, while WDC was launched as a Halfpixel common effort, it’s been All Brad, All The Time for quite a while)
  • Honestly, I’m not sure that this is going to succeed; WDC has been a pretty active and useful resource for webcomickers, but that accumulated wisdom is now locked off behind a subscription wall — the archives of the free days are not freely available. The change was dropped into the laps of readers pretty abruptly (something that I’m bitter about in other circumstances right now, in fact — but I’m far more pissed about Scripps yanking programming from my cable company just before Iron Chef America Super Chef Battle, dammit). Asked about this, Guigar replied,

    [T]his site has become the second volume of How To Make Webcomics. There’s incredibly useful info there. And I’m not getting compensated nearly as well as I was for HTMW.

    It becomes a little hard to argue with that rationale — Brad does Evil, Inc. and gives it to me for free, against the possibility that I’ll buy stuff; he can run ads on the site based on a wide and large readership. HTMW isn’t entertainment, it’s a resource for a much smaller audience, and it exists only in pay-to-read form. I can see the argument that WDC takes Guigar as long to produce on a daily basis as any of his strips, but with no recompense other than perhaps driving a few people to his strips (although I doubt many who frequented WDC didn’t already read his comics). That effort deserves remuneration, and Guigar has set what he thinks is a fair price.

    I just don’t think that many people are going to pay it.

    Guigar’s betting that the distinction between entertainment and information is sufficient that people will pony up a couple bucks a month for access (side note to those attempting such things in the future: “ten cents a day” sounds much less than “thirty bucks a year”).

    Unfortunately, with the exception of very few prominent brands, with high-quality content, pitching to niche audiences (we’re talking Wall Street Journal grade, here), this hasn’t proved to be the case on the internet so far — people pretty much equate “content” and “free”.

    Guigar’s got a brand, quality content, and a niche audience, but I don’t think this is going to work any more than when Murdoch attempts to monetize his entire media portfolio (and/or get fees from Google) this year.

    Anyway, there’s a … lively discussion occuring at what is now the oldest accessible post at WDC. All that remains is to see if it works or not.

  • Finally (and I hope that people read down this far), John Campbell hourly comics return! Wait, let’s try that again:


    John Campbell hourly comics return!

    That’s better.

Guigar’s a smart guy. I figure if he thinks it’ll work there’s at least a fair shot it will. It’s not the kind of thing I’d try, but keep in mind that I have all the business acumen of slightly spoiled fish.

The webcomics.com subscription thing seems rushed to me. For example, what are the terms of service if you get a subscription? It seems like there should be a contract somewhere just out of professional courtesy.

In addition, although I admit Brad did an amazing amount of work, a lot of the content was driven by the users. Which a much smaller community, and a forum behind the paywall, how will this affect the content?

Finally, since the site is aimed at the beginner/intermediate artist, it is only naturally that there is a lot of turnover in who is interested in this kind of site. How will they keep getting new readers if the forum and archives are not visible?

[...] and some dude talked to Brad himself about the whole thing. Maybe he has more info you should check [...]

[...] Gary Tyrrell isn’t optimistic about the plan. Given the trend towards free, this seems both a) sudden, and b) unlikely to succeed, and c) really sudden. [...]

I can’t blame Guigar for wanting to get some compensation for his efforts on running a site that size, but I have a feeling that artists are going to find somewhere else to chat and get information. Frankly, unless I actually see some of Robert Khoo’s articles, then I won’t feel as inclined to put down any money.

Subscriptions seem to be a recent trend with the Halfpixel guys, such as the Assetbar extra content sites. It seems odd, since How to Make Webcomics stated the problems of having a subscription wall and the principle problems behind it. Sure, they’re talking about webcomics, but the basic issues are still present – no new incoming traffic and a slowly eroding fanbase. Besides, some of the stuff on the Webcomics site is discussed to some extent in the Webcomics Weekly podcasts. I don’t see Guigar doing anything to solve these problems, yet it’s too early to tell.

Who knows, though, maybe I’ll be putting $30 down for this in a few months.

Honestly, I don’t think Webcomics.com had nearly enough content yet to justify something like this, especially because it currently relied a lot on its community (which will, logically, be drastically cut down now). They were starting to get there, but they weren’t there yet. I think Brad did this far too soon.

Captcha for this was: bandiest investments.

I think Funderbunk hits the nail on the head. I wonder if this opens the door for other successful webcomickers to open a similar site with free content. This seems to happen every other time a content provider rings off the content – a competitor comes along and does the same thing for free. The beauty and curse of the internet is that no barrier to entry exists . . . Or, to put it another way – the barrier to entry is a speed bump.

I was promptly banned from the site after simply stating I thought it was a terrible idea and there were MUCH better ways to monetize that content without closing the doors. While the halfpixel crew clearly know alot about self publishing and the craft, they really don’t know how to do business online or handle communities or “tribes”- this is the second time they’ve abruptly closed off a community without warning to the members. Just look through the responses on that post and you’ll see the air of smugness as well and talking down to people. And for those who can’t afford 30 bucks, well Mr Kurtz just tells you that you must not be ready for prime time. Great to see these dudes think they are the litmus test for that. Clearly they are not.

I encourage those chaps, especially Brad, to read Seth Godin and other hugely successful bloggers and “advice” guys to see how it’s really done succesfully without taking a big sudden crap on your fanbase.

Not to be a spoilsport but who has the high-level professional-level expertise who also is willing to create an exhaustive *free* resource and step-by-step, frequently updated advisory blog just for the benefit of the community?

I keep reading that the information will be made public by some other professional but I would like to know who would go to the trouble? And why?What value is there in instructing amateur artists to basically become professional competators without making some money off of said pupils first?

Most of the people rattling their swords about setting up their own instructiona advice blogs appear to be amateurs themselves.

Once again the discussion inevitably turns to “professionals” vs “amateurs.” Hurrah. It’s only a matter of time before someone posts a “your free content is destroying my professional career” rant. Bets anyone?

[...] had another back-and-forth with The Guig-star late yesterday to find out how the somewhat abrupt transition at Webomics Dot Com had gone. In no particular order, it was established [...]

[...] at all, you probably don’t need me to tell you, since it’s already been reported and commented on by every major source all over the [...]

[...] ways to support Spacetrawler, getting the word out. Erin over at BigCloset TopShelf, Gary over at Fleen. And Twitter, thanks for the many of you who tweeted, Le_Woodman, Kiplet, alicebentley, [...]

[...] Gary Tyrrell, Fleen: I can see the argument that WDC takes Guigar as long to produce on a daily basis as any of his strips, but with no recompense other than perhaps driving a few people to his strips (although I doubt many who frequented WDC didn’t already read his comics). That effort deserves remuneration, and Guigar has set what he thinks is a fair price. [...]

Bobby Flay and the White House executive chef won handily. Emeril acted a fool.

I’m sure webcomics.com will become the ultimate guide to being a pro webcartoonist. These guys know their stuff, after all.

However, if any of you guys feel like contributing to a more general advice blog aimed to new, amateur and growing webcartoonists, I opened this today.

http://www.casualwebcartoonist.com/

It’s very bare-bones because it’s my first time using WordPress, but this is what’s it about, right? Learning.

Feel free to drop by and comment, and mail me if you want to contribute.

[...] the recent change-up at Webcomics Dot Com to a subscription model, I hit up WDC supremo Brad Guigar to see if he would, on the record, state if WDC has gotten more [...]

[...] ways to support Spacetrawler, getting the word out. Erin over atBigCloset TopShelf, Gary over at Fleen. And Twitter, thanks for the many of you who tweeted, Le_Woodman, Kiplet, alicebentley, [...]

[...] think I’m just a nobody with an opinion that doesn’t matter, allow me to point out that several legitimate figures in the community have already expressed their doubts that this switchover will [...]

[...] it’s been just about fourth months since Webcomics Dot Com did the big switch to paysite, and that means it’s time to say [...]

[...] 1106 days ago, regarding the previous day’s (somewhat abrupt) conversion of Webcomics Dot Com to a paysite, I wrote: [...]

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