There’s an essay by Dean Haspiel (who understands webcomickry, but also works on stuff by other creators, with his Harvey Pekar collaborations being an excellent example) that’s going ’round the nets today. It neatly addresses a dilemma for the modern creator: publishers don’t legitimize your work, only you can do that, but that’s going to require a lot of work on your part.
The services that a publisher would put behind a property that they really believed in (translation: one that is going to make them a boatload of money, which means however much you make is reduced by that boatload) are things that creators, of needs, can (and increasingly in the future, must) do for themselves. It’s brief enough that others have reproduced it in its entirety, but I’ma let you read it in situ for a reason that will shortly be made apparent. He might oversell the “death of print” angle, but from that position he stakes out actions that are beneficial regardless of whether or not you agree with that conclusion: don’t be afraid to network, make your creation as good/valuable as possible, don’t give anything away.
The reason I wanted you to read Haspiel’s minifesto is because of a bit in the comments that I caught. James A. Owen, comic creator/publisher and novelist, directs Haspiel (and we along with him) to a recent tale at his own LJ, regarding a recent interaction with Hollywood (a publisher of sorts — sure, they make movies, but the idea’s the same) and the absolutely vicious screw-job attempt that was foisted upon him. It’s a lesson that could be titled Why You Always Need To Read The Contract Especially The Addenda At The Back, or, (to quote Owen) Never Ever Give Up What You Want The Most For What You Want The Most At That Moment. Go read it now; it’s a little long, but it’s an absolutely necessary cautionary tale for anybody that wants to make a living from their creative efforts.
Speaking 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 was curious as to what was up at The Big K, since I’ve recently been noticing strips associated with them — emails pointing me towards Shockwave, Darkside (and the associated movie) or Exposure (new to Keenspot this week), along Head Trip getting ‘Spotted a few days back and Road Waffles recently returning to the land of updates). Given that the major goals of the reorg were to reduce the number of comics, and to concentrate Keenspot’s resources on the efforts of the Crosbys and the associated Blatant Comics brand (which is entirely logical — if you start a business to handle creative works, it’s only right that the first works you deal with are your own), I got curious as to how concentrated Keenspot has become.
As of today there appear to be 31 titles listed on the front page; 20 are currently updating, 11 are complete or update sporadically. A total of 13 titles are associated with Chris Crosby, Bobby Crosby, or artists that are closely associated with them (Owen Gieni and Remy “Eisu” Mokhtar); we’ll arbitrarily designate these creators as being the core Keenspot “family”, for lack of a better term. If you want to break it down, it’s 6 family strips vs 14 non-family (currently updating), and 7 family vs 4 non-family (complete). So the core creators represent approximately 2/3 of the completed comics, less than 1/3 of the active, or about 42% of overall content.
A’course, some of those comics are more extensive than others (trying to figure out a weighting factor that would adequately adjust for nearly twelve years of Superosity would require mathematics not yet devised), but given that Keenspot has probably been associated with 80 – 100 different comics over its lifespan, I’d say that the goals were pretty well met. Making changes that amount to a re-engineering of your business, within a year, in a six-month timeframe for execution? I’m going to call that move reasonably ballsy and one requiring a fair bit of skill.