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January 31, 2011
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I saw this www.youtube.com/watch?v=gPk6ch… on :iconbrohawk: 's page and it really hit home for me.  Eric Powell is an amazingly talented writer/artist [ The Goon ] and he put together a very funny video that encourages creators and fans to support independent comics.  Please watch it and spread the word!  

I have an idea.  It may bother some creators that have decided Marvel and DC don't give back enough or should take more responsibility for the industry, etc, etc... But here's my ham-fisted thoughts:

I think Marvel/DC do a GREAT job of doing what they do BEST.  

[ Both Marvel and DC offer creator owned options for top tier talent.  That said, they're in the business of making money - so their percentages probably don't match the smaller companies regarding incentives.  Marvel and DC Comics is not a government run operation designed to "support the arts".  They have and always will be businesses designed to elicit profits.  For every chance a publisher takes on something like Watchmen or Hellboy - there are hundreds and thousands of failures.  They make money with superhero comic books on proven commodities like X-Men, Spiderman, Batman and Superman because of licensing and movies and other media besides just publishing comic books.  That is their business model and companies like Warner Bros and Disney would not be interested in them if they didn't do so. ]


You can't ask a lion to be a wolf or a lamb or an alligator.  Marvel and DC print primarily superhero comic books.  And yes, they're owned by very large corporations.  It simply is what it is.  There's a place for those companies.  We LOVE those companies and their characters.  There's nothing wrong with that.  But asking them to cater to Creators doesn't make financial sense to me.  It's like asking NBC or HBO to offer some Public Access shows in their weekly line up... That's not gonna happen.  That's why there's Public Access and Cable.

Image Comics prints independent creator comics.  If you create a comic book for Image Comics you own 100% of the rights to that book and licensing, etc.  But I think Image Comics needs to expand their printed comic books into broader marketplaces [ Who doesn't, BTW... I'm sure they are keenly aware of this ].
  
IMO, Image should consider also offering a limited partnership with creators and share some of the creative ownership $$$.  

"Why" you might ask?  Why should they take a cut of someone's ownership?  

For one thing, not everyone that is creating their own comic book is a Jim Lee, Todd McFarlane or [ insert comic book creator with a built in fan base ].  Image comics offers all their creators the same privileges.  That privilege includes ONE page in Previews.  Image pays for that or has a deal with Diamond [ Diamond is the biggest means of distribution in the comic book marketplace ] which is great - but that's it.  That's the ALL the advertising you get.  It's certainly better than nothing but it's not really enough to really push your creator owned property in front of comic book shop owners and it certainly isn't enough to get NEW readers interested in your book that hasn't come out yet...

But that's what happens when you own 100% of something.  You get 100% of it's funding/advertising responsibilities.  If your book hits - AWESOME.  If it doesn't.... Well, you're out a month or more of work that you could of had if you simply worked that month for Marvel or DC.  [ And let's face it, not too many writers/artists can really create a brand new character/storyline and put it all together in one book in one month.  Creating a new book takes a while.  Once it's "up and running" it's possible to do so monthly for some. ]

Ideally, you have money saved and you can advertise and build hype for your 100% creator owned book.  EVERYONE has plenty of money saved for that, right?  I'm joking, of course.   

Which is why I think it might behoove both Image and Creators to offer a limited partnership.  Image could take a percentage of book and licensing profits from Creators and in return offer a broader, richer marketing strategy.  In fact, they could vary their percentage rates depending on how much support they give by way of advertising.  Plan A could be 15% which would equal "X" amount of marketing and Plan B could be 30% and would offer more than Plan A, etc.  You may even have a situation where Image may own a Controlling Share of profits but really push that book like no other!  I'm sure some newer creators could really benefit from exposure like that.  

With that type of exposure they could always opt for Plan A, B or C for their next project or maybe they could simply rely on Image's existing Previews Ad Only Plan that has been in play since they emerged in the 90's.  [ Obviously their original plan works well enough or they wouldn't be around today! ]

Something to think about.  

I'd rather not waste time trying to make a lion into an alligator or a lamb.  I think it would be smarter for a company designed to give Creators a viable launching pad for new books even more of a boost.  It wouldn't take much of a policy change and it would open more doors for both individual creators and Image Comics.  More potential money for both Creators and for Image.  I think that makes good sense.

UPDATE: I've heard from plenty of sources that thanks to Eric Stephenson and Robert Kirkman there are plans similar to what I discussed above already in the works.  Also, as you can tell by my ramblings - my journal here has almost nothing to do with Eric Powell's cool video anymore.  It just sort of sparked some thoughts.  Probably things that you or others have bounced around plenty.  Here's some thoughts on Diamond below.  They get a bad rap and I'm sure there are plenty of horror stories from both publishers and comic shop owners.  But there are some factors to consider.

CONCERNING DIAMOND:

They're taking a big chance on a truly independent publisher. Under the best circumstances, an average Indy won't survive long or make ANYONE any money.  The Creator, the publisher, the comic shop owner or Diamond.

What is a distributor? The simple answer is they distribute comic books from a publisher to a commercial business. Do they dictate how much you can sell? No. It's up to the publisher to create demand for their product. That's not the job of the distributor. The reason Batman sells comic books is because DC Comics promotes Batman. Not because Diamond promotes Batman.

Should Diamond agree to carry an Indy Comic that doesn't sell over 2000 copies? Maybe not. Maybe that person or super small Indy company needs to build hype/advertise, create demand for their product so that a company like Diamond feels safe distributing their product.

If Diamond does agree to carry a product it doesn't guarantee people will buy it. They are gambling on Indies. Until that Indy can guarantee more sales they probably need to take a big chunk to insure they don't go broke delivering everyone's Indy...

It's not Diamond's fault. It's the marketing approach. And Diamond is a distributor - not a marketer. They deliver products to businesses. That's it.

There's more than one way to skin a cat. And there's more than one way to get a book noticed and build hype/sales. Sales equal leverage.

All I'm saying is that you can't realistically expect Diamond to advertise for you.  They're not in that business.  They're middle men.

Beverage distributors don't pay for Coke ads.  Coke does.  If Coke stopped advertising and Pepsi continued to, beverage distributors would eventually be distributing more Pepsi than Coke.  It's pretty simple.

If you have a product - you need to advertise/hype it.  Besides a rich uncle, who's going to take a chance on an unknown quantity?  Why should Diamond take a chance on you?  Just because?  Because you "could" be the next big thing that saves comics?  "Just because" is probably a good way to go bankrupt.

One of the determining factors on what Diamond will "buy" is also based on perception on their behalf.  

If your "product" is getting a lot of attention [ advertising, hype, whatever ] that will influence their participation.

Diamond is in the business of moving as much product as they can.  If it's Marvels, if it's Image and even if it's some new company.  They can't make money otherwise.  They're not trying to keep anyone down.  

If Marvel lays down a ton of money on advertising a new book - Diamond is going to order a lot of copies because they'll anticipate big sales.  

Advertising works in every consumer market.  It works the same way in the comic book marketplace.  

But Diamond is not going to do the hype for you.  That's your job.  Or Marvels or Dark Horses.  

If you can create demand or perceived demand - they will order respectively to a point.  




Now, here's an idea for Disney/Marvel or Warner/DC:

Leak some pictures of Miley Cyrus reading a Spiderman comic book.  Any Marvel comic book.  Have all of their stars reading comic books in public.

They control/influence media trends.  They're why you know who Miley is.

Pepsi pays money for movie/television product placement.  Disney should have their manufactured celebrities reading comic books when "caught" by paparazzi.

Every young girl or boy will want to read comic books.

Leo DiCaprio actually digs comic books.  Interview him about them on some talk shows regarding this.  Build.  Do you think it's a coincidence DiCaprio or Christian Bale is on Letterman or Conan a week before Inception or The Fighter is due to hit the theaters?  It's all studio hype.  It's time those studios hype the comic book companies they own.  Once America sees their stars buying comic books they're gonna buy comic books.  Arnold bought a Hummer.  Everyone bought a Hummer or wanted one after that.  We're lemmings.  We know this.  We're very easily lead.  Lead us.  Tell us what to like.  

Heavily market college campuses.  That's our real audience.  Not every kid in college is at the Frat Party.  Most aren't.  They're on their own and need entertainment/distractions.  Think Facebook, the Social Network movie.  

This isn't rocket science.  Disney should have already been on all of this.  So should Warner Bros.

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:iconjonomm:
jonomm Featured By Owner Feb 3, 2011
What I got out of Erics video was that a. the comic book industry is too focused on superhero books and b. Marvel/DC have too much market share and independents can't compete.

1. It seems downright silly to be making these points now in this economy. With 10% unemployment where everyone is cutting back comics unfortunately are the first to go.
2. This is a business not a charity. If Marvel/DC were getting government subsidies or using shady methods to give them an unfair advantage then we'd be having a conversation. As far as I know, their only crime is publishing superhero books and passing on Eric Campbell's great comic idea.
3. Superheroes sell because that's what people want to buy.
4. Superheroes aren't necessarily bad. I see superheroes as another genre.Look at tv, most TV dramas are about cops, lawyers and doctors and some of the best shows on tv have fit into this framework.
5. Believe it or not Marvel/DC are trying to bring more readers in. Marvel hired Stephen King the biggest author of our time for chrissakes. DC created the Minx line to attract more young girls. So its not like the 'big 2" are sitting around w/ their thumb up their collective asses.
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:iconurban-barbarian:
urban-barbarian Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2011
1- during tough economic times most entertainment venues thrive.
2- Not sure what Eric Campbell's idea is
3- True
4- True
5- True
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:iconjonomm:
jonomm Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2011
1. I stand corrected.I figured when your unemployed and on a tight budget you have to cut out the non-necessities.
2. I meant Eric Powell, it was in response to his video where hes calling the comic book co and trying to pitch his new idea.

His video seemed to have touched a nerve.It was featured on Newsarama also.
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:iconurban-barbarian:
urban-barbarian Featured By Owner Feb 5, 2011
I noticed that. He took it down now. It sparked a lot of debate though which is great.
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:iconjonomm:
jonomm Featured By Owner Feb 5, 2011
Yeah speaking of creating comics, have you thought about making your own comic?I'm sure a lot of us would buy Urban Barbarian #1! lol
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:iconurban-barbarian:
urban-barbarian Featured By Owner Feb 6, 2011
I like the sound of that! ;) Thanks!
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:iconjonomm:
jonomm Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2011
I just realized I referred to him as "Eric Campbell" instead of "Eric Powell'. Sorry my bad.
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:iconstephenbjones:
StephenBJones Featured By Owner Feb 1, 2011  Professional Filmographer
wow. GREAT journal entry, dan. and great discussion. can't wait to see your creator-owned work! well, i'm off to read the eric stephenson interview!
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:iconurban-barbarian:
urban-barbarian Featured By Owner Feb 2, 2011
Thanks for reading it. Eric's "rebuttal" came together nicely too.
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:iconstephenbjones:
StephenBJones Featured By Owner Apr 15, 2011  Professional Filmographer
i guess....
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:iconhobostick42:
HoBoStIck42 Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2011
agreedom
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:iconmulv:
Mulv Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2011
WOW is there a shit ton of replies to this, not surprised but I'm also not reading all of them.

I'll just say like most topics in life, everyone has an opinion and has the right to be heard and respected...

So here's what my UNDENIABLY CORRECT opinion is , I agree with a fair amount of what you said, and I think the movement of the digital age will help determine if it's print within the industry that's in jeopardy of fading away or the actual medium itself. I can't imagine in today's "buy now, immediate gratification" type society, that having the ability to get any comic at any second is a bad thing. The content is out there all you need to do is get the consumers. At a .99 price point, you can hook new and established readers into an Itunes type system. It's not guaranteed but it's a viable and likely option.

As for the business plans Marvel or DC have, I agree with your point. They are a business and they are there to make money. They do reach out to kids, with the multiple toy lines, cartoons and wide amount of cross promotional products. What they don't do is tie the actual comic market into it. If the toys sell and the bed sheets sell, but the comics don't, there's an epic fail in the overall marketing plan.

But this topic is creator owned, and the reason Marvel and DC don't do it, quite simply is because it doesn't seem worth while to them. Which is a HUGE mistake and misstep in carrying their business into the future. Most of the big 2's comic properties were invented by a handful of people 60 years ago. The few new characters they actually gave a chance to in publication, like a Cable or Deadpool, only ended up being popular characters that sold Millions of books and have become staples. And the guy that helped create them, got fed up with the companies antics and left to form a company that was entirely about freedom and control for the creators.

I can't help but wonder what the result would have been if Marvel would have said ( At the Time) Hey, here's a guy that's selling millions of copies each month for us, who WANTS to create characters for our universe. He's doing the job for you, so WORK WITH HIM. I think your point is completely valid about Image taking a larger cut in return for a better business model for the emerging creator. But the one thing I would add, is why doesn't the Big 2, try an initiative as well. As someone who's is working on getting into the CO market very soon, IF Marvel or DC had a young creators initiative, where you could submit new ideas, like an Image type submission, but then work with them to get your book out there on a percentage deal, I would HIGHLY consider it.

Imagine the markets you could reach with Marvel/Disney or Warner Bros./DC behind you as a publisher. Disney has made their name on creating new characters and universes and successfully marketing it to the world, why not do the same here. Now I know there would be legality issues, and I'd also suggest making this type of deal with current working creative professionals within the company. Let them contribute to a universe that's engrossed them enough to make their life's goal to be able to make a living from it.

Dan, I appreciate you having this conversation on here and bringing it to peoples attention. It's a great topic that I'm hugely interested in. I honestly feel the entire industry needs to be pumped with some new energy and new characters. The level of talent working in comics today is ASTOUNDING. And not having it recognized as the amazing artistic and creative industry it is, drives me bat shit crazy. But to continue discussing that, I'd have to get into my marketing comics rant and that's a whole'nother story.

The characters that are around and popular today, are there because amazing people created them and then more amazing people came along and made it their job to continue a legacy devoted to the those characters. But imagine if all ( HELL, even half) those creative people had a slightly more inviting environment to create something of their own within the universe. Things would def be different.

Eh But what do I know, I'm just handsome and snowed in, in a little city on the east coast called, NEW F'N YORK!
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:iconurban-barbarian:
urban-barbarian Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2011
I'm probably way off base on a lot of my little theories but it's thought provoking at the very least.
Reply
:iconmulv:
Mulv Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2011
Dude, I honestly love the discussion. because it REALLY gets people going. Trust me I'm a huge fan of books the big 2 put out, but it's new ideas and books that get my ass in the store. Appreciate you starting it up on here.
Reply
:iconmancus:
mancus Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2011  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I don't know what deal Chew had but i decided to buy that based on a one page ad in the back of an IDW book. It was just an image of the cover of the first issue.

What ever they did there Image should do with all their books.
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:iconurban-barbarian:
urban-barbarian Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2011
There you go! One ad can make a difference.
Reply
:iconstudiobmedia:
studiobmedia Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2011
I agree, render unto Ceaser what is Ceaser's. If we are creative as we should be, we should be able to come up with clever ways to advertise to get work out to the masses. I do love Eric's take. It was funny, but there is a message there I think more for the masses to educate themselves on what's out there.

When I started this dream of being a professional comic artist, the first thing I thought was, what a great time it is with all the digital tools available and the print on demand companies popping up I should be able to do something. Compare this to back in the day when the best and only place to get noticed or talk to was flying to San Diego or NY.

After working on my own title for the last couple three years it became very clear that we needed a huge promotion budget if we were to compete with the half million titles out there. Mind you, I still feel my stuff is not up to par with what is on the shelves, but if we as an "indy" need is a huge boost up to the table just to get some crumbs.

I also think the word "indy" has been redefined from what it used to be too. It used to mean struggling comic artist that put out ashcans and maybe could afford to print up some issues for sale. Now it looks to mean "not the big two."

If you truly love comics we will keep doing something to support that dream whether it means getting that movie/cable TV contract or content with doing a webcomic with your only fan being your mom who hits the site once you tell her you just posted something up there. If I don't improve enough I think I am destined for the later.

I look forward to seeing What image and Kirkman come up with. I think Dan has some great ideas. I look forward to your posts Urban. Keep us scratching our heads and passionate about our work.
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:iconurban-barbarian:
urban-barbarian Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2011
It's a tough business at times but it's always a labor of love.
Reply
:icondreno360:
dreno360 Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Your posts are such gems! Thanks for the insight!
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:iconurban-barbarian:
urban-barbarian Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2011
You're welcome!
Reply
:icontombancroft:
tombancroft Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2011  Professional Filmographer
Great Post, Dan. I can tell you've thought about this before- especially the end part about Disney/Marvel promotions. I dare say you have a "start up" mindset. Why aren't you doing this? don't you have a movie star wife that can take care of you for awhile?:)
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:iconurban-barbarian:
urban-barbarian Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2011
I'm gonna probably enter the creator owned arena mid 2011!

Exciting times! But I wouldn't mind being a kept man! I'd learn to paint!
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:icontombancroft:
tombancroft Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2011  Professional Filmographer
It's my dream too! The kept man part...
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:iconcidvicious831:
cidvicious831 Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2011  Professional Artist
you are correct my friend, especially about the advertising stuff. they should make actors carry it around. i also think the superhero stuff is "american" comics weakness and our strength. look at manga, almost everyone reads one in japan. you dont see a marvel or dc type business there, you dont see them pump the same characters over and over. i think this is why manga sells more than we do.
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:iconurban-barbarian:
urban-barbarian Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2011
Sure. Pay them the way you might pay Jennifer Aniston to endorse Smart Water.
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:iconrodcom1000:
RODCOM1000 Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2011  Professional General Artist
Really interesting. Would you mind if I re-post this?
Reply
:iconurban-barbarian:
urban-barbarian Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2011
Sure. Hopefully I won't come off like a jerk though. It's just my ramblings.
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:iconrodcom1000:
RODCOM1000 Featured By Owner Feb 1, 2011  Professional General Artist
Thanks, I don't think you'll come off that way.
Everyone that loves this medium should join this debate.
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:iconbankyone:
BankyOne Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2011
haha wow truly amazing, what a fantastic journal entry! Found this compelling as well as important for people to understand as artist/creators
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:iconurban-barbarian:
urban-barbarian Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2011
Thanks!
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:iconlogicinkismgh:
LogicINKisMGH Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2011  Professional General Artist
Hey sir!

I just wanted to say that I think you hit the nail on the head. I think it's up to the creators/publishers, however small, to create demand for their product. That's just business 101.

I remember reading an article a few years back about these two guys who created a website for t-shirts, where designers uploaded their designs and users voted on the ones they liked best. The company would only produce the top 10 shirts. They were essentially guaranteeing themselves the sales as the most likely buyers literally told the company which ones they would buy with their votes. I'm not sure if these guys (whose names eludes me currently) were the first to use this particular business model or not, but I think it could be applied well to comics. It's certainly not a cure-all, but it is a way for small publishers to test content before pouring money into a 2,000+ print run.

It seems to me that part of the problem is the leg work; most of us don't want to do the non-artistic leg work involved with really promoting a book or seeking out opportunity for exposure. We want to draw, damnit.

I think what this leaves is a lovely void in the industry--one that leaves creator-owned/indy books behind. A company like Image could augment itself to fill the void. Or perhaps we need a savvy new company to come along. I for one know I'd give up an extra 10% for help promoting.

Anyway, that's my two-cents, for what they're worth.

Cheers sir! And thanks for the taking the time to share your thoughts with the DA community.

Matt
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:iconurban-barbarian:
urban-barbarian Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2011
I'm glad you dig it. I live for this stuff.
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:iconlogicinkismgh:
LogicINKisMGH Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2011  Professional General Artist
You live for art, debate, or challenging/problem-solving the industry status quo? Or all of the above?
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:iconurban-barbarian:
urban-barbarian Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2011
Pretty much all of it.
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:iconlogicinkismgh:
LogicINKisMGH Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2011  Professional General Artist
Haha Fantastic. Keep it up then!

Cheers sir!
Reply
:iconmdavidct:
mdavidct Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2011  Professional Traditional Artist
thanks for share this, help a lot i dream whit draw a Spiderman comic even one but i have a lot of ideas and i already do a comic that i share for free in the Web and sell in local comiccons, but here in mexico is hard to sell comics the people are into anime and mangas and the new kids don't read they are in other thing's party's, sex, money, gadgets etc. so i see your idea of Miley Cirus like a great one introduce the kids comics and if your protuct is great they hook up and also share these whit her friends, so i think still are hope and like you said if image, marvel and DC suport more the artist i think every one wins because all love the caracters that make us draw and imagine things so could work have your creator owned comic they could help to make it real like the Mark Millar Icon ones and make money but also work for them and the characters that we love.
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:iconurban-barbarian:
urban-barbarian Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2011
Interesting. Thanks.
Reply
:icontasteyfrog:
Tasteyfrog Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2011
Thanks a bunch for sharing that video it is kinda sad but at the same time really made me look at DC and Marvel differently.
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:iconurban-barbarian:
urban-barbarian Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2011
It's a business but it's a fun business when it works.
Reply
:iconkreepingspawn:
KreepingSpawn Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
thanks very much for the breakdown. it's easy for newbies [like me] to look at Image and think, "Oh cool! I get published, and keep all my rights!" but, that's really a very naive view of the whole process.
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:iconurban-barbarian:
urban-barbarian Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2011
You do keep all of your rights but it may not guarantee sales. Pluses and minuses.
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:iconkreepingspawn:
KreepingSpawn Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
exactly. it's easy to get swept away by the glamor, and forget the mechanics. ;p
Reply
:iconmancomb-seepwood:
Mancomb-Seepwood Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
I agree with you, you canīt blame Marvel or DC for doing what they do best.

But there is a thing that scares me a bit, as Eric Powell said in his video, Disney/Warner doesnīt give a shit for comics, Im afraid about what may happen if Disney decides to make the industry "more profitable" by making comic books in a Disney Channel style to appeal their usual audience...
Miley Cyrus reading comics may be one of the signs of the apocalypse, I may be wrong but I think that it will be better if Disney just continues earning money with shitty superhero movies and expensive merchandising and keeps away from actual comics...
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:iconurban-barbarian:
urban-barbarian Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2011
I know some Disney guys in the upper food chain and some really love the comic books. They're fans. But then there are money crunchers too.
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:icondwaynebiddixart:
dwaynebiddixart Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
OK, I have been reading you posts and I have one simple question....
Will you be my daddy?
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:iconurban-barbarian:
urban-barbarian Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2011
LOL!
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:icondwaynebiddixart:
dwaynebiddixart Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
:P
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:iconzero-warrior:
zero-warrior Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2011
I dont think Disney/WB care for comic books, they care for the characters they've bought, and the money they make off those franchises from different outlets like movies and video games, animated tv shows, etc. basically, everything but the printed media, which in the business sense, isn't profitable. I don't think their hearts are really into it for them to try to reform the industry, its up to those (us) who actually care about it.

and i agree, enough with the old super hero franchises (and also the new franchises that are just the same thing but a different face). that's what pushed me away from the industry. it's so constricted and its just not evolving, its been lacking creativity.
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:iconurban-barbarian:
urban-barbarian Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2011
It's hard to tell what their intentions are but they have a lot of comic book fans working for them!
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:iconhuntingtown:
HuntingTown Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
awesome post man- that seriously makes a lot of sense- I'd happily drop 51% of any of my books into Images hands if I new I'd definitely get a return on the time I put in- that's the real kicker in this business for guys starting out.
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