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#472435 - 08/08/01 11:39 PM Groth, McCloud, Online Comics, etc. at Salon To-Day
John Roberson Offline
Member

Registered: 11/25/98
Posts: 492
Loc: Chicago
Here.

_________________________
John Roberson
Bottomless Studio
Creator of Vitriol, and the upcoming October Surprise, and FALLING SKY...

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#472436 - 08/09/01 12:26 AM Re: Groth, McCloud, Online Comics, etc. at Salon To-Day
JohnEWIlliams Offline
Member

Registered: 08/04/99
Posts: 1337
Loc: Virginia, USA
I thought you were Sgt. Fury now.

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#472437 - 08/09/01 02:08 AM Re: Groth, McCloud, Online Comics, etc. at Salon To-Day
Walt Stone Offline
Member

Registered: 01/01/01
Posts: 496
Loc: Katy, Tx
Good article. Glad I read it. Too bad that, like the mass media of TV, the distribution of the printed comic book is also controlled by one dominating corporation who can decide which creative product gets distributed to the bulk of the stores. Say Diamond wanted to stop the distribution of the fictional "Diamond Sucks" comic book. Would they be able to implement high pressure tactics to punish stores that got the books from whatever other source for resale? High pressure might include finding a reason to cancel the contract with the Direct Market store. I don't know how the current contracts have been set up, but you see where I'm going with this.

The distribution of comics is certainly more controlled now than Groth ever could project the Internet control to be. If I wanted to draw porno comics, I could sell them either via the digital only method or sell them via a digital sample of the printed comic and mail them the comic. Try selling porno comics in DM stores... You might try, but let's just say there are stricter rules for sale, and in some locales, the store gets in trouble for just being the middle man.

The same situation and debate that occurs with comics also occurs with e-books. And e-music, if you will. Thing is, self publishing (which gives the creative freedom that Groth etal might actively support) has always been cheaper for the comic book than printing and distributing a 300 page book or music CD. There have been literally hundreds of self produced comic books, available from a variety of distributors... and getting a distributor for an independant CD or book has always been rather tough. The internet changed that.

And right now, the e-book industry is filled... overflowing... with the selfpublished. But the success stories of the ebook authors are so few, you could count them using very few fingers. Ditto for the e-music(only) folks. I don't really expect e-comics to change this trend. At least not overnight.

As to the paper fetishists vs. the phosphor liberals debate... I make my living off of pretty pictures selling large diamonds and other shiny items. I have an vested interest in one camp, and my opinion on this will remain colored toward one side.

But face it.
The industry of the internet is in its infancy.
Infants grow.
And need changing.

Walt


[This message has been edited by Walt Stone (edited 08-09-2001).]

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#472438 - 08/09/01 03:17 AM Re: Groth, McCloud, Online Comics, etc. at Salon To-Day
John Roberson Offline
Member

Registered: 11/25/98
Posts: 492
Loc: Chicago
I thought you were Sgt. Fury now.

Well over there, yeah, till Dirk re-establishes my old account. Sarge was a sock puppet that, out of necessity, I have now entirely possessed. Priests are, however, on the job and should have me exorcised by the weekend.
_________________________
John Roberson
Bottomless Studio
Creator of Vitriol, and the upcoming October Surprise, and FALLING SKY...

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#472439 - 08/09/01 10:06 AM Re: Groth, McCloud, Online Comics, etc. at Salon To-Day
JohnEWIlliams Offline
Member

Registered: 08/04/99
Posts: 1337
Loc: Virginia, USA
Can I be Dum-Dum?

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#472440 - 08/09/01 02:10 PM Re: Groth, McCloud, Online Comics, etc. at Salon To-Day
Jeff Zugale Offline
Member

Registered: 12/06/98
Posts: 1806
Loc: Los Angeles, CA, USA
That's what I don't get about Gary's position; while it's clear that the potential for corporate domination of the Internet is there, the fact is that RIGHT NOW that domination doesn't fully exist - AOL and Microsoft notwithstanding. I'll agree that some companies like AOL/TW are definitely making steps that could result in them being able to control Net content from end to end (Imagine TW cable modem users being excluded from all but AOL/TW approved or provided content). However that level of control, IMHO, doesn't exist right now.

I won't begrudge Gary his cynicism on this however, as he's speaking from long experience watching corporates swallow up entire media production and delivery systems.

But right now, the Net is the ONLY media delivery system that is NOT completely dominated by large corporate interests, the ONLY one that allows a direct connection between creator and consumer -- and therefore is really the ONLY place for someone who really wants to produce their work outside the corporate media dominance to publish effectively.

My comic is a web comic BECAUSE we looked at the comics market and realized that given our circumstances (we need to eat) and our fierce determination to NOT SELL OUR COPYRIGHTS to anyone, that we were NOT going to be able to work within the current corporate-dominated structure, period. We were not going to be able to produce the comic in a way that conforms to Diamond's overall business methods, nor pay for sufficient marketing activities - UNLESS we could get a publishing contract, which would involve us signing away our ownership rights (when we were doing this, Image did not have its present creator-owned methods). Since we really want to tell our story... the only ways to go were to stay independent and print and promote as independents - possible, but risky, expensive and labor-intensive - or do it on the Web.

So, like many other comics creators, strip cartoonists, and animators, we exist on the Web BECAUSE of the fact that the big corporates dominate the traditional versions of these fields, and we're damned if we're going to play the game their way.

Gary may be right, the megacorps may indeed wind up owning the Web from end to end. If that happens, it will suck ass for us. BUT RIGHT NOW, they do NOT - and we have the time and the space to get out there and as Steve Conley has said, "develop our brands" while the opportunity is there.

Gary's pessimism is not unfounded, but I reject the idea that since eventually the big corps MAY take the whole thing over, that we should roll over on our backs and LET them do it without a fight. Perhaps you're embittered by your own battles against corporate monsters, Gary, and I can sympathize. But I'm not giving up without a fight.

Right now, we CAN do things and CAN make a difference. That may indeed change, and if so, well... we'll all need to reevaluate our creative efforts, to be sure. Until that day... let's do what we do.

------------------
Jeff Zugale
Pagan City Comics
www.pagancity.com
_________________________
Jeff Zugale www.jeffzugale.com/
My "Just A Bit Off..." webcomic

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#472441 - 08/09/01 02:20 PM Re: Groth, McCloud, Online Comics, etc. at Salon To-Day
The OC Offline
Member

Registered: 03/27/02
Posts: 1985
Quote:
Originally posted by JohnEWIlliams:
Can I be Dum-Dum?


You are, John.

Really, you are.



------------------
"Otto...you are a dick. That's good to know."
-- Gentlemanly Gene Phillips, May 30, 2001
_________________________
Posted by Otto Chelman

"You have [my] contempt." -- Alan Light to disappointed TBG subscriber.

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#472442 - 08/09/01 02:25 PM Re: Groth, McCloud, Online Comics, etc. at Salon To-Day
JohnEWIlliams Offline
Member

Registered: 08/04/99
Posts: 1337
Loc: Virginia, USA
Thanks, Otto! I believe Gene was right!

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#472443 - 08/09/01 03:47 PM Re: Groth, McCloud, Online Comics, etc. at Salon To-Day
William Harms Offline
Member

Registered: 02/01/99
Posts: 37
Loc: San Francisco CA
I need to preface these comments with a couple notes. First off, I havenít read Grothís review of Reinventing Comics, only the article on Salon.com. Secondly, before I was laid off I spent the last few years of my life working at CNET.com, one of the largest and most-visited sites on the Web. Suffice to say, I know the Internet. (Which, in todayís economy is a pretty bad thing, actually.)

That said, I couldnít disagree more with Grothís notion that the Internet is (or will be) dominated by large corporations and that statement clearly shows that he really doesnít know what heís talking about. The simple fact is that the exact opposite is true. While Amazon.com loses hundreds of millions of dollars every quarter, there are lots of specialized mom-and-pop bookstores on the ĎNet that are making good money for their owners.

To anyone who follows the news, it is quite obvious that large corporations are abandoning the Internet in droves. Few of the major companies that occupy the Internet-space are hiring and even fewer are expanding their reach. And this goes far beyond content-delivery sites like CNET.com, this goes up and down the chain in both directions--AT&T wants to get rid of @Home; DSL provider Covad declared bankruptcy earlier this week; Netscape is getting out of the browser market; wireless provider Ricochet is gone; on and on it goes.

The reasons for the fallout of the Internet are many, but it can be boiled down to two very general points--no realistic business plan and too much overhead. However, you can create a viable business on the Internet if you keep your operation small and appeal to a niche market. In my mind, comics fit that idea perfectly.

Most of the comics on the ĎNet use Flash or animation, but thatís only one way to deliver comics. If you were to utilize the full range of software available, you could create a comic book that follows more traditional formatting. Adobe Acrobat is a perfect vehicle for this method--not only can you deliver a complete story at one time, but you can also offer your readers the opportunity to read it through their browser, download it, or even print it out. And when you consider how easy it is to get set-up to accept credit cards (with services like PayPal) accepting payments is a breeze.

In a lot of ways (at least hypothetically), the Internet creates more opportunities for comic creators to move from the Internet back into more traditional publishing. If you create a PDF comic and get the numbers up to 40-50k a month, that makes a great story for a traditional publisher to pick the book up. (Of course, whether or not any of the traditional comic book publishers would have the courage to publish such a book remains to be seen.) And there is evidence of this happening. The Onionís success with printed books is due in a large part to its enormous success with their Web site, which gets over a million visitors a week. The House of Leaves, a horror novel by Mark Danielewski, followed a similar path and it went on to become a best seller.

It all boils down to understanding the medium and not being afraid of dragging your knuckles out of the stone age. The large mainstream comic book publishers have been slow to embrace the ĎNet (and some, like DC Comics, have simply atrocious Web sites that look like they were designed by a blind monkey) and donít really have any idea of what the Web should do for them, and this creates a great opportunity for smaller publishers and lesser-known creators. Is the Internet a panacea for comics? Of course not. But it is a viable avenue, especially when you take into account that the kids growing up today, who have matured with the Internet, are going to rely on it as a distribution system for news and entertainment for the rest of their lives.

And lastly, no megacorp will EVER run the Internet, and thatís the beauty of it. Anyone can register a domain name, create a Web site, and post up whatever content they want. Itís like the days of the Homestead land grab, except the land doesnít end with the Pacific, it keeps going on and on and on.


------------------
My graphic novel Abel is available from Slave Labor Graphics. Check it out at http://www.slavelabor.com/abel.html




[This message has been edited by William Harms (edited 08-09-2001).]

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#472444 - 08/09/01 04:20 PM Re: Groth, McCloud, Online Comics, etc. at Salon To-Day
Chris Knowles Offline
Member

Registered: 01/23/99
Posts: 875
Loc: USA
Quote:
Originally posted by William Harms:
I need to preface these comments with a couple notes. First off, I havenít read Grothís review of Reinventing Comics, only the article on Salon.com. Secondly, before I was laid off I spent the last few years of my life working at CNET.com, one of the largest and most-visited sites on the Web. Suffice to say, I know the Internet. (Which, in todayís economy is a pretty bad thing, actually.)

That said, I couldnít disagree more with Grothís notion that the Internet is (or will be) dominated by large corporations and that statement clearly shows that he really doesnít know what heís talking about. The simple fact is that the exact opposite is...
And lastly, no megacorp will EVER run the Internet, and thatís the beauty of it. Anyone can register a domain name, create a Web site, and post up whatever content they want. Itís like the days of the Homestead land grab, except the land doesnít end with the Pacific, it keeps going on and on and on.



Thank you William for an outstanding and informative post. I'm not going to speculate publicly about Groth's motivations for attacking the growing Webcomics movement, but I think his jihad is misguided. The likelihood of the Internet being dominated by a couple of Megacorps is a lot less than the possiblility of the entire direct market system imploding entirely. And why isn't Groth concerned that anyone who wishes to bring a comic book to market has to pass muster with one giant company? His doomsday prediction has already come to pass in the direct market.

The Internet is the best thing that ever happened to comics from an artistic standpoint. It remains to be seen how this opportunity will be utilized, but if you want the attention of that much yearned for younger audience, you're far more likely to get it on the Net than in the specialty shops or the Book chains for that matter. This is 1492 for Comics.

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