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View Full Version : Webcomics v.s. Print.


Shishio
06-24-2006, 05:21 PM
I hesitate to ask what most people will probably think is a stupid question, but I have heard that there are more readers of webcomics than there are of print comics.

But is there any proof of this?

I ask, because I have seen discrepancies in the estimations of the readership of some strip. For example, someone said Penny Arcade has about a million readers, another has said they have about 200,000.

L Jamal
06-24-2006, 05:23 PM
Depends on the web comics and the print comic, web comics have more overall exposure simply because most are free.

T.J. May
06-24-2006, 09:30 PM
Depends on the web comics and the print comic, web comics have more overall exposure simply because most are free.

And readily available to the world. Shrinking numbers of direct market stores, and bottle-necked distribution has been hurting print comics for years. Many adults I talk to don't even know they still make comics. They are so far out of the American public-eye.

D.J. Coffman
06-24-2006, 09:33 PM
I mix the two, and have a good success of selling books all over the world-- it's a lot of hard work though. I HATE it when I'm actually filling a ton of orders each month, it's really only about 2 or 3 days of intense concentration, but it's rewarding being able to send books all over the country and the world.

I'll probably never go back to the limited direct market system personally. I may deal with bigger publishers in the future who have shown interest in putting out a big trade of my strips, but for the most part, the direct market is a dead end for independents.

viva la webcomics!

Shishio
06-24-2006, 10:01 PM
Thank you for the responses, but I am writing an article on my thoughts about the industry (Well, its future, really.) in which I plan to mention webcomics, so I was hoping to be able to find proof of the claim that more people read webcomics than print. (At least in North America.)

thecarrierone
06-24-2006, 10:08 PM
it seems to me that dj has shown that there is a commercially viable way to make comics without the help of a big company.
im quite excited to see where the web comic world is going and its relationship to print comics and trades.
im thinking about venturing out into the web comic world in the next few years... it seems like if you put the work in and have a good concept you can make it work. whereas selfpublishing and kissing up to diamond 9 times out of 10 guarentees failure

Scott Story
06-24-2006, 10:26 PM
I don't think there is any doubt about the volume of readership in web comics vs. print comics.

An indy print comic usually sells about 600 to 900 copies through the direct market, maybe 1000, in rare cases 5000, and in very rare cases more. The bottome line for the big two publishers varies, but they usually cancel a book that doesn't sell more that 25K copies.

Web comics, on the other hand, can command way more. Some of the top web comics get 20K to 30K unique hits per day, possibly more. Those are the webcomic superstrips, of course: Most webcomics average more in the range of 10K to 15K unique hits per week, and several thousand hits on update days. Some don't do well, but that's generally because of substandard quality, or poor advertising, or what have you.

To a degree, comparing the two is apple and oranges. But, in the end there is no doubt that magnitudes of more people read webcomics than print comics.l

Romaine
06-25-2006, 01:53 PM
I'm afraid I can't offer any concrete numbers, but from what I've seen and read, webcomics do get far more exposure. For the most part, the only advertising outlets print comics have are in the hands of people who already buy comics. But advertising for a webcomic can be seen by just about anyone who surfs the web once in a while.

And while we're on that subject...

I have an idea I'd like to get some opinions on.

I've got a book I'm working on and I've often weighed the differences between print and web formats. I thought it might be interesting to combine the two into one product so to speak. When a customer buys a print comic, they get access to the web version, and vice versa. Each medium has something the other doesn't. The website would offer extras that aren't in the book. And of course the printed book offers the benefit of being able to take it with you or give it to a friend who hasn't heard of the book, not mention uses like coasters or toilet paper or something to kill a bug with.

Now I can easily mail a copy of the book to someone who pays to see the website, but I can't think of a way to do it the other way around. How do you grant website access to someone who buys a comic book?

Anyway, is this a possibly good idea or is it stupid and I'm not seeing it? I've never self-published before so all thoughts and suggestions would be helpful.

Thanks,

~Romaine

Shishio
06-25-2006, 04:37 PM
Scott Story: Well, a friend of mine who owns a comic book store estimates that about 500,000 people read comic books in North America. I would be at all surprised if much more people than that read webcomics, but it would be nice to have evidence to show anyone who may contest the claim.

Romaine: I believe Webcomicsnation allows customers to lock away comics behind a subscription wall. I have not ever used the service myself, but it appears to be an excellent, competitively priced service. I would highly recommend looking into it.

Ron Phillips
06-25-2006, 05:46 PM
Scott Story: Well, a friend of mine who owns a comic book store estimates that about 500,000 people read comic books in North America. I would be at all surprised if much more people than that read webcomics, but it would be nice to have evidence to show anyone who may contest the claim.


Since there isn't an auditing system to do that, I think finding hard fast numbers for the webcomic readers through out the Americas, if you must limit yourself, is going to be impossible.

I'd like to know how your friend was able to calculate 500k people read comics in North America? The average comic sells what? 25-30k issues and that's in mainstream?

Webcomics have a wider potential reader base, and has a wider definition of what a webcomic is. A webcomic isn't limited in format, publication cycle or continental divide.

I've yet to see a really popular serialized comic book formatted webcomic. Most successes are from comic strip formated. Of course with the number of webcomics available now, I've hardly read all the good ones. The web is infinite, my time is not.

Scott Story
06-25-2006, 06:48 PM
Shishio: I've never heard that 500K number associated with print comic readership, but it could be right. I haven't heard a good estimate. In terms of indy comics, I have heard the number of 2000 regular buyers of indy comic thrown around, and that all indy comic are competing for the same 2000 readers. Again, this is a guestimate, so I have no idea if that is true or not.

Romain: DJ Coffman presented an idea like this a month or so back, and I think it's still up on his blog (http://www.yirmumah.net/make_money/) under the New Independents. I don't think it's a great idea to try to tie these two, non-overlapping audience's together, but that just my take on it and purely subjuctive.

Ron: Yeah, the daily strip format seems to be the most popular. I think it's the "daily" aspect of it, to be honest, that keeps em' coming back. Some serialized adventure strips, like Athena Voltaire or Sorcerer of Fortune, have had some pretty followings, or Talismen.

Lovecraft13
06-25-2006, 07:08 PM
Even if webcomics have a larger readership than comics in print, I think fans of a long-running webcomic would eventually ask the creators to collect its run in a printed collection.

nolanjwerner
06-25-2006, 07:12 PM
I prefer hard copies.

But you can print copies of most webcomics to read.

Shishio
06-25-2006, 09:30 PM
I am not sure how my friend came to that conclusion. Looking at the Previews toplist, maybe. Anyway, I can't remember for certain, but I think a similar number was given in Reinventing Comics.

Also, I thought the best selling comics, such as X-Men, sold around 100,000-300,000 copies. But it was a long time ago that I saw any numbers, so my memory could be failing me here.

Scott Story
06-25-2006, 10:59 PM
Last I checked, topsellers sold around 100,000, and rarely some, like the first Jim Lee Batman, or some X-Men, hit 200,000. I haven't kept up on that either.

Ron Phillips
06-26-2006, 12:00 AM
I am not sure how my friend came to that conclusion. Looking at the Previews toplist, maybe. Anyway, I can't remember for certain, but I think a similar number was given in Reinventing Comics.

Also, I thought the best selling comics, such as X-Men, sold around 100,000-300,000 copies. But it was a long time ago that I saw any numbers, so my memory could be failing me here.

If the top 300 were any indication, it would make me believe there are closer to 300k readers because in May the top book, part of the big Marvel summer event Civil War #1 sold 260,804 with dramatic drops between it and #2 and #3.

If there were 500k readers the top book should at least reach 75-80% saturation and I wouldn't think there'd be such a dramatic drop between the top 50 let alone top 3 books. That indicates over buying by retailers and multiple purchases by speculators. Yes there are still speculators out there. Look on Ebay. Instead of long turn around, they go for the short.

I don't know what I'm trying to get at. 500k readers would be great, even moreso if they purchased a dozen or more books on a regular basis. And even more moreso if 25% of those were creator owned books.

It'd be nice to think you can reach 500k readers, but unless you're working for Marvel or DC you are likely not going to reach even a 100th of those potential readers.

The web gives you more opportunities in this respect. You aren't hampered by distribution, by retailers or production cost. You can make a comic, scan it, and post it to the web. And if it's good, you can make money and if it's popular you can make good money. If you are so inclined you can collect your comic in print and sell it in book stores and comic shops around the world.

Though its in strip format, I like to point out the incredible success that Penny Arcade has had. Not only do they rake in incredible amounts of money in avertising from their site, but the collection of their first 2 years published by Dark Horse and sold through book stores and comic shops sold out the initial run of 35k (if I recall correctly). That to me is a success for a web comic.

Calloway
06-26-2006, 12:11 AM
Well Ron, don't forget to take into account that 30k people could read one comic, another seperate 30k reads another that's 30 k..keep doing that and you could concievably get 500k unique readers.

There's no collectors market for web comics so the demand for print will always be there, maybe not as strong as free web comics, but it'll be there.

scottr
06-26-2006, 08:42 AM
Webcomic readers are pretty much a different crowd than comic book readers. I think one of the reasons comic book buyers abhor webcomics is because webcomics aren't collectible in the traditional sense. Comic book buyers are mostly 'collector personalities' that are compelled to own complete runs of titles or books featuring their favorite characters or creators. They see thousands upon thousands of webcomics on the net and realize that once they grow to like webcomics, they would then be compelled to collect them. With so many webcomics out there, it's reasonable to assume that's an impossible feat, and there's not much incentive to collect .jpg files on a cd...so instead they ignore the entire medium.

That's just a theory.

Ron Phillips
06-26-2006, 10:58 AM
I must be an aberration. I still love print comics and love web comics. Though at the moment I read more web than print. Damn the system where I can't just pick up my favorite book without having to pre-order 2 months in advance.

D.J. Coffman
06-26-2006, 11:40 AM
The key is making your own thing into it's own unique collectibility among the fans themselves. Can you believe that I have CLUB YIRMUMAH members who compete to see who gets order #1 each month of the book. I include a special "not seen anywhere else" comic print signed and numbered for pre-orders only for like ONE WEEK, making it super rare. Those have gone over really great.

The problem in print comics that I've seen is, the relationship between readers and the book or the creators. It's a one way street. With webcomics, you can be out there and accessible to your readers and they appreciate it and reward you for it. ON the other hand, it can kill you on the web too. If you launch something and promise an update schedule then don't do it and never explain yourself, people will lose your link fast. Trust me, I've done that! -- Communication is the real key. Hell, you don't have to be FRIENDS with everyone, but being out there and communicating is important. It's not for everyone though.

Scott Story
06-26-2006, 11:42 AM
I'm in a similar situation, Ron, because I read both. I love reading comics online without adding to the four dozen long boxes of comics I already have.

My theory on who reads comics is a bit different from Scottr's. I think that print comic readers are those who grew up reading print comics, and are thus a bit older. Webcomic readers grew up with the internet around, and don't feel that print comics are somehow more "real." That's just my guess, because I'm not of that age group, and I went to college before there was email available to most people.

My entry into the webcomic fold came when I did a webcomic with Kep, and I began to see the potential of the medium.

D.J. Coffman
06-26-2006, 11:45 AM
I'm in a similar situation, Ron, because I read both. I love reading comics online without adding to the four dozen long boxes of comics I already have.

My theory on who reads comics is a bit different from Scottr's. I think that print comic readers are those who grew up reading print comics, and are thus a bit older. Webcomic readers grew up with the internet around, and don't feel that print comics are somehow more "real." That's just my guess, because I'm not of that age group, and I went to college before there was email available to most people.

My entry into the webcomic fold came when I did a webcomic with Kep, and I began to see the potential of the medium.

I grew up reading print comics GALORE! heh. Heck, I don't think I really got into web until around 1997 or 1998? And there really was no "webcomic" scene back then at all. Now though.. WOW, there are a TON of college, highschool and dare I even say Jr. High and Elementary kids reading comics online. I'm always shocked at the amount of kids who e-mail me. (I feel like I may be corrupting their souls as well, but I'm sure you can find much worse and twisted things than my work)

Scott Story
06-26-2006, 12:31 PM
More twisted that Retarda Kitty?

The idea that kids could be reading our comics is really reassuring. It's sure unlikely that many kids ever accidently stumble into a specialty comic shop.

Ron Phillips
06-26-2006, 12:45 PM
I got into comics because I'm a wannabe. I always wanted to be a cartoonist. Lack the decipline. I started 2 strips for the web, both got one issue. Woohoo. Maybe if I stuck with it, I might be as famous as DJ ...

Someday ... yes, I'll be the oldest newcomer evar. "This years break out talent for digital comics is 98 years young Ron Phillips"

D.J. Coffman
06-26-2006, 03:49 PM
I got into comics because I'm a wannabe. I always wanted to be a cartoonist. Lack the decipline. I started 2 strips for the web, both got one issue. Woohoo. Maybe if I stuck with it, I might be as famous as DJ ...

Someday ... yes, I'll be the oldest newcomer evar. "This years break out talent for digital comics is 98 years young Ron Phillips"

Hey fool, remember, Kirby was in his 40s when he FINALLY hit it big-- Hard to imagine Jack was in his 40s drawing FF, etc... Age means very little--

Romaine
06-27-2006, 12:47 PM
Shishio: Thanks for the suggestion. I shall definitely check that out. :)

Does anyone else have any thoughts about the combining print and web comic idea?

~Romaine