Future of Comics: Sunshine or Sunset?

Harbor Moon is getting ready to launch on digital publisher Graphic.ly.  Although there is a lot of ‘what do we do now?’ gloom and doom talk out there for publishing and even independent film, I strongly believe this is an exciting time to be a creator.

Right now, digital distribution is the only area of the comics market that’s currently experiencing any substantial growth. Digital comics revenue quadrupled year over year from $500,000-$1 million in 2009 to $6-8 million in 2010. Meanwhile, sales of periodicals are up only 1%.  That said – they are UP 1%.  Not down.
As things go digital, it seems to me that the power lies with the creator – at least with the creator who knows how to market themself in this arena.  That, to me, is the biggest question mark right now.  How do you reach your audience?  I see a future where book ‘publishers’ are acting more as gatekeepers, sort of the way they do now (particularly in the comic world).  You usually know what you are getting with a Marvel book, and so on.

Although I do realize that digital distribution is where we are going with this, comics, for the most part, are best read in physical form.  I know firsthand that response to Harbor Moon has been much better when holding the physical copy rather than reading off a pdf.  You can enhance a book’s quality and therefore the perception of the reader about that quality with certain elements, like paper thickness, enhancements such as UV or matte, and size.  But to ignore where the medium is heading and not doing your best to make your digital comic the best digital comic it can be would be a huge mistake for any creator.
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