Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Platinum Comics Buys Drunk Duck

The New York Times as an article, excerpted here that contains some interesting things in it: ideas of how to leverage the digital medium to gain a mass market, how to market your creations to a potentially huge audience, and a few others. I thought that it was worth taking a look, since most of us here are web-savvy comic readers who very likely have both bought and read stuff on the web as well as buying things from the brick and mortar LCS (local comic shop).

The digital impact on previously print-only content reflects similar pressures on other traditional media. Comic books, which have appealed almost exclusively to children and young adult readers — who are more likely to be lured to electronic entertainment than their parents — have been especially hard hit as sales decline and press runs grow more costly.

But the comic-book industry has more than $500 million a year in revenue, and still has many very popular titles. And Mr. Rosenberg has shown that he can produce hits. With his previous company, Malibu Comics, he published “The Men in Black” comic books and was credited with taking the concept to Hollywood, where it became a billion-dollar movie franchise for Sony Pictures, starring Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones.

First, I would say that the Times is only about 30 years behind in its appreciation for how comics have been marketed and who they have been marketed to. Obviously the writers children havent' been renting the unrated DVD of Daredevil or Electra in all its violent glory. The adults that the comics have been marketed have not always responded the way that the industry would have predicted.

Malibu was certainly not making a sales dent in Marvel and DC's core titles with its copycat approach to comics. Men in Black was a true fluke honestly and owed more to Hollywood than its source material, which is the reverse of, say, Spider Man, where Raimi certainly makes a good call whenever he stays close to Stan and Steve's vision.

But a crucial difference, he said, will be in how Platinum plans to use the site to create a broad mix of revenue streams, “full-circle commercialization,” for the company and its content contributors.

If only all those web companies from the late 1990's were able to "monetize" their community as well, they would still be around.

For example, Mr. Rosenberg said he planned aggressive marketing of the site — which already receives a million unique viewers a month, mostly drawn by word of mouth — coupled with advertising sales. While the advertising revenue would not be shared with the comic creators, artists would share in the revenue from downloadable comics for cellphones and mobile media devices like iPods, comics-related ring tones, wallpaper and items like T-shirts or plastic scale models of comic book characters.

Interesting to note that the advertising would not be shared with the actual content providers. Instead they are given a tiny sliver to the items that people are least likely to pay for. I mean, c'mon, when was the last time that you, yes you, paid for a downloadable wallpaper for your computer?

Product creators, Mr. Rosenberg said, can expect to receive 10 percent of the adjusted gross revenue earned by sales.
Really? A whole 10% when they could be distributing this themselves and getting 100%? Isn't that the whole power of the web?

The Times also fails to mention books like Mom's Cancer, which have also made a successful transition from web comics form to books by energizing an audience that is not normally the one the looks like it would be caught dead with "" in their browser bookmark.

This is another case where I suppose that I should be happy that comics make the popular press, but I'm not. I almost feel they bought some hollywood press release hook line and sinker without examining the profound effect that comics are currently having on popular culture again. They should be taking a longer look at just how superheroes are making waves in our community to the tune of millions of dollars per picture and where else people are getting their superhero fix these days. On line? Perhaps, but no one is quite sure who and how to make money at it right now.

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