The issue at the forefront these days is print vs. digital comics. This week’s article isn’t about that. My main concern is simply this:
How do the changes affect Indie Creators and how can we take advantage of it?
Digital publishing has been made easier and more accessible for Indie Creators by companies such as Graphicly. Starting a website or a blog can lower the cost to practically nothing. Compatible software can allow for selling and sharing of comics as PDFs on multiple devices. Through all this, the out-of-pocket costs are much lower than committing to a print run; meaning each issue can be sold at a lower more appealing price.
However, the “anyone-can-do-it” stigma of digital publishing can be off-putting to many as bad comics litter the scene. The system of digital distribution itself is not perfect, over-run with compatibility issues, translation issues etc.
Whatever medium you choose; the most important thing to consider is how it benefits your specific individual project. An experimental comic with constantly changing art styles would be incredibly limited by the printed page. On the other hand, a kid-friendly comic with activity pages just does not translate.
In my case, I draw a diary-style webcomic. One of the appeals of journal comics is their immediacy; that these comics deal with hyper-current events whether on an individual or global scale. This would be lost if the comics were published annually.
The target audience can also dictate the appropriate medium. Many comic readers are also collectors who prefer to build up a physical collection. More casual readers often treat comics as newspapers or magazines and resent the build-up of clutter.
Another option would be to do both. Two breakthrough successes from Image last year were Natalie Nourigat of Between Gears and Emi Lenox of EmiTown. Both of these began as webcomics. The creators printed small runs to sell at conventions before eventually getting picked up. Their comics were then collected and published as graphic novels while keeping the digitally published versions available for view.
It is impossible for Indie Creators to compete with the big guys. Whatever form it may be, being an Indie Creator means having to adapt to the current environment and reaching as many people as possible in any way you can. In the 80s and 90s, it was photocopying and stapling your own zines. The sexy new thing is digital publishing.
Some people (who are WAY smarter and better at words than me) on the print vs digital debate:
1. Fifteen thoughts on digital comics by Dustin Harbin
2. Print vs Digital: Can They Coexist? by R. B. LeMoyne for Comicbooked.com
3. Let’s Do the Math: Digital Comics Revenues vs. Print Comics Revenues by Todd Allen for Publisher’s Weekly