Archive for August, 2008

Whoa… um… oops

August 25, 2008 Leave a comment

Part Two of that last post will be up this week. I promise. It’s currently getting outlined. I had some internet/computer mishaps that got in the way of getting things done (read: I bricked both my computer AND phone, plus they done shut off our internet.) So fear not. Results: soon!

Also, I’m anxiously awaiting both the new Metallica and AC/DC albums, and there’s still plans for the new U2 and Mastodon albums to be released this year. And hopefully I’ll get out to see some movies in the next few weeks.

And lately we’ve been absorbing season one of Star Trek: The Next Generation. But that is neither here nor there.

Results: soon!

Categories: Uncategorized

Content Creation on the Web and For Reals (Part 1)

August 8, 2008 Leave a comment

Note: I was intending on posting this all as one massive post, but this is nearly 1200 words on its own and next week’s might be bigger. So I’ve broken it in two. Part two is available here.

So, now that we’ve finally come around to getting (most) everyone’s replies in, I can try to tackle this beast. Diving in.

My original intent in all of this was to figure out where one could build up some revenue from an online blog (or other avenues) without whoring yourself out and turning into a bland, formless word machine. While most of the e-mail interviews I conducted had some of that slant, I also tried to get some information about how some people came into their presence in their respective fields, their opinions on print vs. online work, their content creation, how they generate income, marketing, and finally some miscellaneous tidbits. I will work with the first three sections in this post, and go after the last three in my next post.

First, though, some introductions:
Zac Echola, an online content producer for Forum Communications, blogger, and co-founder of

Adam Carico, web developer for Ecliptic Technologies, and musician.

Ben Templesmith, comic writer and illustrator, Eisner award nominee and winner, creator of Wormwood: Gentleman Corpse, and artist for Fell (written by Warren Ellis), 30 Days of Night (written by Steve Niles), and Dead Space.

Brian Clevinger, creator of webcomic 8-Bit Theatre and the Eisner-nominated Atomic Robo.

I included two of my friends, and two up-and-coming/established writers and creators. I figure that this will lend itself well to a variety of opinions and therefore help get a slightly more accurate picture of the current state of things.

Note: So y’all don’t think I’m some misogynist bastard, I tried getting some female opinions, but they either weren’t interested or didn’t return my e-mails after they said they were interested. No one can fault me for not trying. End note.

So, let’s get down to brass tacks.

The first thing I’d like to tackle is breaking into an established industry. It goes without saying that blogging is fairly well settled into its own, and comics, newspapers, and magazines have been around forever. But how exactly does one crack into any of those content generation endeavors? The first step is creation. Does it matter where it comes from or whether it has a definite destination for publishing? Hardly. The one common statement among the established creators I interviewed was that it just sort of… happened. Says Clevinger: “I fell into online comics without meaning to and tripped into print comics by accident.” Templesmith says the same about breaking into print. “No, they just sort of happened,” he says, “[It takes] lots of luck, by being in the right place at the right time, but at the same time, you make your own luck.” Echola goes a little more in depth:

I never really tried to build a large network. It just sort of happened. Blogs tend to be short posts about random things happening in a given area … I started blogging to write longer, more cerebral pieces that I thought needed to be addressed but didn’t quite fit well in the comments of other people’s blogs. As I posted more and read more it just grew.

So what’s new here? Nothing, really. But the main thing I take out of this is to just work and don’t be worried about having a place to publish it initially.

So after you’ve come up with something, what to do with it? There’s tons of places to post something, be it Blogger, WordPress, Flickr, or even just Twitter. What are the differences between print and online publishing? Clevinger puts it this way:

The only limitation of print that I’ve run into is availability. Anyone who wants to access my online comics can do so easily, at their leisure, without restrictions. In the print world, you have to depend upon retailers being willing to stock or order your material. And they have to depend on Diamond to get your comics into their stores. And they can only order your comic during a short window several months in advance. These can be huge barriers to getting your comic to its audience… It boils down to the fact that these are people who make money by selling comics. Webcomics make money be giving comics away.

Echola agrees: “Print operations, particularly local newspapers, need to realize that the Web has destroyed their geographic monopolies.”

In short, the benefit of selling a physical product comes at the expense of availability. If you want to get your name, your work, out there, you’re likely better off on the web with any physical material that can feasibly be put on it. Text/writing, video, audio, photography, any of that sort of creation and art can be distributed on the web at a much wider scale than traditional print media. The problem is that it’s difficult to make money in such a manner, but that is a topic for the next post. Of course, if you’re coming here you probably already realize these things. But I think it’s important to let people know this from the mouths (or fingers, in this case) of people that have done it and are doing it.

As a side note, Clevinger feels that the most rewarding part of his print work is the people he works with: the artists, the printers, publishers, and distribution people. That sort of teamwork is one that is rarely seen in online work, where most creators work solo.

So now that we’ve come past the initial intent to create, and the method of delivery, we come to the meat of it: content.

I was hoping I wouldn’t get the same ol’ “just do something original” response, but unfortunately, I did. But I got that response in phrasing I wasn’t expecting, and that’s why I’m actually writing about the point. The general consensus, as I’ve said, is to create something original. “I can tell you one big thing that separates me from most of the other ‘artists’ in comics,” says Templesmith, “is that I do practically everything myself, rather than rely on a single person to draw, then another to ink, and yet another to color the art. It’s all me. I am certainly not the typical “comic book” style, that’s for sure.” Clevinger adds, “Do what you do better than anyone else. That way they have to come to you to get it.”

From an institutional standpoint, it’s a good thing to remember that ultimately, you are the creator. In any company situation (that is, a publisher or record label situation), remember that. “The artists make the money flow,” says Carico, “not the labels.” Your content makes the whole deal work, so make sure it’s original and done well.

That’s all for this half of the post. The next one will deal with creating income and money, marketing, and some miscellaneous issues. I could say the next post will be the nuts-and-bolts part of content creation and income in the current paradigm, whereas this is more of the basis, the reasoning for creation in general. More from our interviewees, as well!