Okay, so a few months back I announced that three new Modern Tales spin-offs were in the works:
AdventureStrips.com, our play for the "mainstream"
serializer.net, our stake in the ground of artcomix and
Modern Tales Presents, which, I said, would be a showcase for non-serialized long and short stories.
AdventureStrips launched almost a month ago. If you missed the hype, you must have been living in a cave.
serializer.net is just around the corner (either this Monday or next, depending on a few factors, this and that, you know how it goes).
So, you might be asking yourself, what happened to Modern Tales Presents? When's the third shoe going to drop?
Well, the first thing that happened is that I got slammed with submissions. Many of them were mind-blowingly fantastic. But, well, I started thinking: just how many comics are we talking about? If you assume two or three full-length short or long stories a day (which seems low to me), then that's fourteen to twenty-one comics a week, or fifty-six to eighty-two comics a month. Each of which would require a separate recruitment and negotiation process, a separate contract, a separate payout schedule, and so on and so on.
I just couldn't imagine finding the time, to be honest.
Meanwhile, the submissions kept pouring in -- again, many of them mind-blowingly fantastic.
I guiltily let the submissions pile up in my inbox, unsure how to proceed, given my massive workload and my reservations about the project.
Somebody always comes along to save me. About the time that my guilt about Modern Tales Presents, and the submissions I'd received, was starting to overwhelm me, Joe Zabel (of Return of the Green Skull fame) got involved in a heated conversation on the comicon.com threads defending longform webcomics (or, looked at another way, decrying the fact that serialization is the overwhelming publication strategy in our nascent field).
"Hey Joe," I said. "Um, would you like to take over Modern Tales Presents for me?"
He agreed to do so.
But I still had reservations. I mean, launching AdventureStrips has taken more out of me than I'd expected -- and serializer.net has proven to be an equally challenging launch. Yet another website? Meanwhile, Modern Tales' popularity has continued to grow quite nicely, but the non-paying reader numbers are growing far more quickly than the paying readers. Far, far more quickly. As in, we have ten times more non-paying readers on any given day than we have subscribers overall (and I assume that most of the non-paying readers only check in once a week or so, meaning that our non-paying reader to subscribed reader ratio is probably more like 50 or 60 or 70 to 1).
We love our non-paying readers, really, we do. We're thrilled to have captured the attention of such a large audience (we never really expected to do so). We just love our subscribers more. And we want to love everybody equally. So, clearly, we need to turn those non-paying readers into subscribers!
After launching AdventureStrips.com and serializer.net, it seemed very important to me to turn my attention back to the parent site, and take it to the next level.
We kicked around a lot of ideas on the advisory board, the most compelling of which was to start having more and more subscriber-only features -- not taking away what we currently offer for free (the latest episodes of most of our series), mind you, but piling tons and tons of new stuff behind the subscription wall.
That's when the lightbulb finally came on.
Modern Tales Presents (now renamed Modern Tales Longplay) will be launching in a month or two, as a subscriber-only section of Modern Tales proper -- one of many new subscriber-only features you can expect to see in the coming weeks and months, but probably the biggest and most ambitious of them. All Modern Tales subscribers will have complete access to it (and we plan to have hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of pages of fine graphic novels and short stories, within the first month or so). Non-subscribers will have access to a sample page or two from each work, so they can get a sense of what they're missing.
I'm guessing, and hoping, that many of those non-paying readers ask themselves every time they come to the site whether or not they should finally subscribe. And I'm also guessing, and hoping, that Modern Tales Longplay will be the thing that causes them to turn the corner.
And if not, what the hey. Like I said, we love our non-paying readers, too!
If you submitted work to Modern Tales Presents, Joe Zabel probably has it in his inbox now (I forwarded everything I had to him). Once I've finished the serializer.net launch, we'll be firming up the contract and payment details for Modern Tales Longplay cartoonists, and Joe will be getting in touch and making offers.
If you haven't submitted work yet, you probably should. Joe is a much more proactive and considerate reader of submissions than I ever was. He's even set up a special email address for it: firstname.lastname@example.org