Posts Tagged ‘Creators’

Who Cares that Comic Creators Get Credit?

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

As comic characters continue to roll out of the pages of comic books and into other forms of media, especially television and film, we are discovering a greater interest in who created what. This piqued curiosity is surely the bi-product of heated battles that were fought on behalf of Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster as well as the recent settlement regarding the characters created or co-created by Jack Kirby for Marvel.

It is a sad fact of comic book history that creators have most often been taken advantage of by the publishing houses that retain the rights to characters that they created. Many had long careers but were only rewarded by meager, hard earned page rates. They saw no royalties or benefits and in the early years little, if any, credit for their work. Most never even saw the return of their original art. Too many have passed on or continue to live in obscurity, without healthcare and certainly no compensation from their creations which have spawned a multi-billion dollar industry.

To be fair, some progress has been made, and in recent years attentive creators and their families have been able to establish some undisclosed agreements that have satisfied both sides. These accounts, however,  are few and far between.

The foremost concern for many creators is not money but rather an acknowledgment of their creative contribution in the form of credit on the screen. This has been demonstrated most recently by a Facebook post from the daughter of the late illustrator, Al Plastino, the co-creator of Supergirl a character that will soon be the focus of a new television series.

She writes:

“Facebook friends, we need you help.

Please help us get Al the credit he is due and all the creators who have died recently and will not see their characters come to life on television or in the movies. They never received any pensions, or health insurance, nothing at all. How disappointing that DC has waited until these gentlemen have passed away to begin producing programs like Supergirl, The Flash, Arrow, Legion of Super Heroes,.Not looking for royalties. Just an acknowledgement of all the work these men put into building the DC brand. All the guys who have drawn or created characters when they were at the height of their popularity. Many nights I saw my father working in his studio to meet deadlines from the editor. At one point, Dad was handling 5 different strips for DC and United Media. Go to the DC website or their facebook page and let the syndicate know. You can do so much more for Al than any lawyer could. You helped Al get the Superman/Kennedy art into the Kennedy library where it was supposed to have been for the last 50 years and for that I am eternally grateful.

go to

MaryAnn Plastino Charles”

Why is a fleeting credit so important to creators or their families? Why should we care?  Few of us even notice, or stick around for the credits to roll at the end of a film. Those of us that do, understand that the greatest reward to a creator is to be recognized for his or her contribution to our culture. A simple acknowledgement goes a long way.

Think of the closing scenes of the Wizard of Oz when Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion get their awards. A diploma, a testimonial and a medallion were all it took to make the respective characters each feel fulfilled. The tokens were material acknowledgement of who they were and what they accomplished. This is the value of credit to a comic creator especially one that has created a character that has become iconic. It is the fulfillment of their destiny as a comic book creator, to experience immortality vicariously through their creation.

But our society has become desensitized to these simple but important details. Too many of us want to cut to the chase and just consume. There is a sense of entitlement that is too quick to dismiss the value of the effort those involved in creating our entertainment. This is ironic because now, more than ever before, all that information is easily at our fingertips.

A quick Wikipedia search will tell you all you need to know about who created nearly any character with links to biographies of the respective creators.

Supergirl, She was created by writer Otto Binder and designed by artist Al Plastino in 1959.”

The modern Flash, “starred Barry Allen as the Flash and the series assumed the numbering of the original Flash Comics with issue #105 (March 1959) written by John Broome and drawn by Carmine Infantino

Green Arrow, Created by Morton Weisinger and designed by George Papp, he first appeared in More Fun Comics #73 in November 1941.”

The Legion of Super-Heroes, “The team first appears in Adventure Comics #247 (April 1958), and was created by Otto Binder and Al Plastino.”

With all of this information so readily available why is it so difficult to ask that they be credited on the screen? Some could argue that so many creators have influenced the current stories being told that the effort becomes daunting. This, however, becomes more of a reason to signal out appropriate credits.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., for example, does a nice job of crediting Jack Kirby and Stan Lee for the creation of S.H.I.E.L.D. but what about characters like Deathlock created by Rich Buckler and Doug Moench, Quake created by writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Gabriele Dell’Otto or Mockingbird first written by Gerry Conway and pencilled by Barry Smith? This is just a short list of the many characters that have appeared or are expected to appear in this ongoing series that has proven pivotal to the development of the MCU.

It is important for the world to know that the genre of superheroes did not just come from the fertile minds of a few. The genre is the result of the exceptional talents of a huge number of individuals whose work has been woven into a fabric of an expansive and growing mythology that has become entrenched in our popular culture.

For those of us that care, it is our responsibility to ensure that these creators and their efforts are not forgotten. It is the fans, collectors, historians, teachers and practitioners of the medium who will ultimately maintain the database of information that preserves the integrity of the history of what these comic book creators have accomplished. Hopefully our enthusiasm will be infectious enough that others will take notice and a greater appreciation of those unsung heroes will flourish.

Share if you care.

Gerry Giovinco

Joe Simon Deserves More Than a Concession

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

Marvel superheroes are anticipating a big summer on the silver screen with four blockbusters waiting in the wings. Captain America, Spider-Man, X-Men and The Guardians of the Galaxy are all ready to prove that their real superpowers are their ability to generate billions of dollars worldwide from ticket sales and merchandising.

With all that cash soon to be whirling around, It was a wonderful feeling to discover from  Bill Mantlo’s brother Mike, that Marvel had come to an agreement that would compensate Bill fairly for his part in co-creating Rocket Raccoon, the expected breakout star of the Guardians of the Galaxy film due in August. It is a bitter sweet victory since Bill now resides in a nursing home a victim of permanent brain damage sustained by a terrible accident in 1992.

Marvel’s settlement with Bill Mantlo, though undisclosed, appears to be one that is quite satisfactory to his family and is indicative of other agreements that seem to be quietly negotiated with other creators whose characters were created as work-for hire and are now being featured in this wave of popular films. Creators appear to be receiving some type of small ongoing royalties from profits generated by their work.

For those of us that grew up worshiping Marvel and the creators that brought so much excitement into our lives,  it is a dream come true to see Marvel attempting to treat the creators fairly and compensate them for their contribution.

Unfortunately the realization of this dream is just a mirage.

In less than a month Captain America: The Winter Soldier will burst into theaters and the granddaughter of Cap’s co-creator, Joe Simon, celebrated it’s impending release with a lovely tribute intended to remember her grandfather’s most significant contribution to the world of comics.

Megan Margulies writes about how her grandfather, who passed away in 2011 shortly after Captain America the First Avenger was released, was always so proud of his creation. She subtly points out that he had reached a settlement with Marvel in 2003 that relinquished all of his rights to the character for a an amount of money so small it left the most meaningful part of the agreement being that his name and the name of co-creator Jack Kirby was required to be displayed during the opening credits of any Captain America movie.

She describes seeing his credit on the film as a great source of pride for her and Joe’s extended family as they all represented him at the LA premier of the film.

As much as anyone can appreciate being recognized for our accomplishments we all know that pride is wonderful but, at the end of the day, that and a cup of coffee ain’t getting anyone anywhere.

Dig a little deeper and read Megan’s 2013 Fourth of July tribute to her grandfather and you realize that, in her own poetic way, she wants the world to know that this man that co-created one of the greatest superheroes of all time lived a very modest life until his death at 98.

He lived in a small messy apartment that he shared with mice and a squeaky armchair. His most prominent piece of furniture was his ink splattered drawing board. The family found it necessary to sell off most of his art, a piece of which her fiancé bought for her from auction in remembrance of her grandfather.

This humble and loved man was proud of his creation but he and his family never had and never will benefit from the incredible wealth that Captain America is able to generate.

So, in my opinion, Megan’s tribute reads like an eloquent concession speech given by someone who has lost a great battle.  She took the high road and showed tremendous sportsmanship, choosing to focus on Joe Simon’s legacy rather than the ugly details.

Megan has taken the same road as the Kirby family who have finally lost a bitter war with Marvel over their father’s stake in not just Captain America but many of the characters in the Marvel Universe.

The Kirby’s, in defeat, have similarly focused on preserving Jack’s legacy by actively promoting a positive image of his contribution to comics, and managing a wonderful Kirby4Heroes campaign to aid the Hero Initiative.

It fascinates me that Marvel can pick and choose those that they are willing to compensate in an effort to manipulate public opinion while those that have been most responsible for their vast wealth are perpetually denied.

To me, it is a crime to march a creator’s family on to a stage to promote a film whose movie premier alone probably cost more than the settlement that Joe Simon received.  It is a travesty that the actors portraying the characters make more for one film than Joe Simon and Jack Kirby made in their lifetimes. It’s a shame that the profits generated from these films could support a small country yet the heirs of these creators find themselves selling prints on etsy, surely not for the fun of it.


it is a huge mistake to read Megan Margulies tribute to her grandfather and get so overwhelmed by the tremendous respect and pride that she has for what Joe Simon accomplished that we fail to remember that he and his family are victims of an unscrupulous corporation that will deny fair and reasonable compensation to the families of their greatest creators.

Marvel, you had us going there for a second, but compensating creators needs to be more than a PR stunt. Make it a retroactive and significant part of your corporate strategy and then we will all be impressed. Until then, enjoy watching creators die in poverty while your execs and shareholders get fat at their expense.

Making Comics Because We Want to,

Gerry Giovinco

Fans Build a Comic Company

Tuesday, July 16th, 2013

When it comes to selling graphic albums,  CO2 Comics uses the oldest trick in the book. We sell direct to the customer. It makes sense to us. It is how people sold goods and services since the dawn of cash transactions. We want a relationship with our fans that is as direct as possible.

We don’t use distributors. We’ve eliminated the middle man and those added expenses.  Because of this we don’t see the need for ISBN numbers and barcodes. We think it is just as easy for readers to find our books using any popular search engine as it is to search for books on Amazon or any other online retailer. Our fans already know where to find the product. If you are reading this blog post, our online store is just a click away. Purchasing our books through our Lulu storefront is as safe and easy as any other online purchase you can make.

The reason we do this is simple. We want as much of the revenue generated from our books to go to the creators as possible. Traditional distribution systems seem to generate revenue for everybody but the creators. Typically, publishers receive not much more than 10% of the cover price and pay creators royalties only after all other expenses are met. This too often results in little or no compensation to the creator payed long after the book is published and there is always the threat of returns.

We have other ideas. Because we publish our graphic albums Print On Demand through Lulu we are able to pay our creators 70% of the revenue CO2 Comics  generates off of each book sold starting with the first book printed.

Yes, production costs are higher on individually printed books and yes, Lulu does take a 20% cut of profits from books sold on their site, but when all is said and done, creators will receive about 30% of the cover price from each book sold from our Lulu storefront. That is way better than sharing 10% after expenses are met, if they are.

Lulu reports and pays each and every month allowing for quick and steady revenue stream. Our creators get paid when we get paid and they make the lion’s share of the profit. They earned it. They did most of the work.

Revolutionary? Not at all. selling direct to the customer It is as “old-school” as it gets but people still look at us like we are renegades. We have no ISBN. We are not in Diamond’s catalog. We sell our books ourselves. This seems to translate, for some, into “not real publishers, ” “not newsworthy” and “not worthy to review.”

1st five Comico Covers

Comico's 1st Color Books

We have greatly appreciated the fan press that has recognized the pedigree of the creators we have published and shown a modicum of faith in our own publishing legacy as former publishers of Comico comics. We wish more news outlets were as committed to acknowledging works by respected, journeyed creators, historic collections and our efforts to redefine how comics can be sold in this ever changing market.

More importantly, we appreciate the fans that support us. We believe that the comic is not complete until it is read. We know that the reader’s imagination is what connects the panels and fills in the blanks making comics a unique interactive visual experience of storytelling. Our fans are responsible for the growing popularity of the CO2 Comics site. Thank you for your visits, your support on social media, and your purchases of our product.

We are building a relationship that we believe is important. One that is direct and honest. We produce great comics that you enjoy and you allow us to continue through your patronage.  We are building something special here at CO2 Comics. It is a cooperative effort between us as publishers, the talented creators, and the fans who are our loyal customers. We will build this comic company together and that will be newsworthy enough for us.

Making Comics Because We Want to,

Gerry Giovinco

Making Comics is Risky Business: Part 4

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

Over the years the business risk of making comics has shifted as has been outlined in the previous three installments of Making Comics is Risky Business.

Part 1 , Part 2 , Part 3

As promised in this last article on the subject we will now take a closer look at the risky business of speculation and why crowd funding is the future for comics publishing.

When Phil Seuling developed the concept of the Direct Market in the late 1970’s he predicated it on the existence of comic book specialty shops that were springing up across the country, most of which depended on sales of collectible back-issues, the value of which were marked up considerably on many depending upon their rarity and conditions.

Though back-issues at the time were still generally affordable, they established a precedent for what would constitute speculative value. Premiere issues, popular creators, significant events and, of course, mint condition comics became sought after commodities by comic collectors who became the backbone customers of the Direct Market.

As the rising prices of collectible comics became a recognized investment, collectors began to buy multiple issues of their favorite comics, one to read and others to  squirrel away in mylar bags, preserving their mint condition and hopefully driving up their potential value.

The customers became speculators and took over the position of financial risk takers in the comic market. Professional speculators bought specific issues in quantity, artificially driving up demand and inflating aftermarket retail figures.

Retailers and publishers took advantage of the speculator market and a secondary market of collectible supplies like bags, boards and boxes sprang up.

Independent publishers benefitted greatly from the speculative nature of the market during the 1980’s as collectors feared missing the next “Holy Grail” guaranteeing that at least premiere issues of almost any title could receive respectable sales figures.

As Independent publishers began to proliferate in the market presenting themselves as serious competition for Marvel and DC, the Big Two, in defense of their reign, launched an all-out assault of first issues featuring popular characters and creators. Focusing on the speculative nature of the market they employed novelty devises like mini-series, variant covers, crossovers and events to successfully flood the competition out of the market.

By the mid 1990’s the Direct Market was a bloated mess of over-inflated and over-hyped product that nobody wanted or could any longer afford, crashing the market and even forcing Mighty Marvel into bankruptcy. Diamond stood as the only surviving distributor to a market that was once serviced by over a dozen.

Through it all the emergence of the graphic novel and the success of imported Japanese Manga paved a road into traditional bookstores challenging the Direct Market’s role as sole provider of comics to changing readership. Digital media, however was lurking in the background, poised to change how comics could be delivered to a world wide audience.

Eric Millikin's Art

The development of the web comic, which began with Eric Millikin’s Witches and Stitches as early as 1985, grew through the 1990’s and has flourished in the 2000’s, has changed the rules for creating comics completely and for the first time put the risk fully on the shoulders of the creators as, in most cases, they are the sole publishers and maintain complete autonomy of their works.

Though it requires minimal expense to post comics online, the true cost in publishing web comics is in the time it takes to create the material and cultivate the audience. Monetization of the web comics remains the biggest challenge as web comikers struggle to find ways to profit from their works. Most creators that have managed to bridge that gap have done so by rolling their web content into print product or digital downloads for mobile devices to be sold for retail.

Minimizing their investment risk, these unique independent publishers have taken advantage of today’s technology to put that risk into the hands of the consumer. Using Print on Demand suppliers like Lulu, CreateSpace, Comixpress, Ka-Blam, and others, they no longer need to sit on large quantities of expensive unsold books waiting for sales. Books are printed to order and shipped directly to customers, avoiding the need for distributors and returning a much larger portion of the profit to the publisher who is most often the creator themselves.

Steve Gerber

Finally, creators have found a way to control their properties which have been historically robbed from them by comic publishers for the last seventy years as wonderfully described by the late Steve Gerber in this recently resurfaced article Truth, Justice, & The Corporate Conscience, which I beg you to read and share with every comic creator you know.

The modern comic publisher also has a new tool at their disposal to minimize their risk and further enlist the consumer to share the burden. Crowdfunding through services like Kickstarter , and Indiegogo , capitalize on the strength of social networking and perks offered by campaign developers to essentially pre-sell comic projects.

Comic creators set a goal that represents the investment they will need to produce their project and they request financial support through pledges on these crowdfunding platforms. For various levels of financial support, rewards are offered as incentives. Though these rewards often vary considerably they generally include a printed copy of the project being promoted establishing a new form of marketing and distribution. If the established goal is not met, pledged funds are not collected and rewards are nullified.

Because crowdfunding does such a wonderful job predetermining the success of a project, some observers are viewing the phenomenon as a new form of market research avoiding the need for agents and pitchmen to sell a concept.

So, yes, making comics is risky business as has been proven over the last seventy-five years but it doesn’t have to be as risky as it has been. Now is the time for creators to take advantage of the resources available to them and take control of the direction of the industry so that they, themselves, can enjoy the riches provided by their creations rather than some domineering corporation that views creators merely as cheap disposable labor from which to capitalize on.

Carpe diem!

Gerry Giovinco

Thanksgiving Tradition – Embracing Something Different

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012

Imagine sitting at that table on the first Thanksgiving in 1621. Do you think there was any tension? Pilgrims sat across from the Native American, Wampanoag people and celebrated their first successful harvest together. The Pilgrims were strangers in a strange land and relied heavily on the support given to them by the natives. Their survival depended on their ability to embrace the differences of the two cultures. In the end, their successful harvest was as simple as people helping people despite their differences.

Life in America has changed a lot in the 391 years since that first Thanksgiving and is undoubtedly much more complicated. The hostile tensions that have risen in the wake of our recent presidential election are a sign that we desperately need to sit at our Thanksgiving tables again this year with a willingness to reach out and embrace our differences again.

This is much easier to do when there is a sense of community, when we have a feeling of responsibility toward our neighbor, when we all realize that we re in this together. Big corporations and big government have made us all feel like a number on a ledger sheet that matters little. When big companies like Walmart, Papa Johns and Denny’s threaten or impose layoffs as retaliation to the Affordable Health Care for America Act, Americans need to do what we have done since before that first Thanksgiving and turn to our neighbors for support. Little guys helping each other will be what pulls this country out of the economic mess we are in today.

What does any of this have to do with comics?!

The direction of the comic market has been dictated by big companies for generations. We have all grown up enjoying the adventures of too few iconic characters. In most cases the creators of these characters have been stripped of ownership of their creations by “traditional” business practices in the comics industry. These properties today are worth billions of dollars and their trademarks permeate our culture. They have a grip on our attention and our wallets that offers the corporations that own them the confidence to do whatever they feel to elevate the bottom line.

Comics as a medium, however, has infected our culture. More people create comics now than ever before in history. There is more talent, more diversity and more product than could ever have been imagined. Too much to presumably generate secure careers  for the sea of talented practitioners. Too much to be channeled through a few giant corporations who are unwilling to recognize, produce and promote the vast variety of material available.

Are there too many independent “little guys?”

Comic creators shouldn’t have to struggle, especially now that there are so many. There is power in those numbers. They need to realize their strength as a community and work with each other to raise awareness of their work and its value. They need to join forces when combatting injustice regarding their creations. The comic creating community needs to work together to reach a wider audience rather than wait for one of the few major corporations to do it for them or to rely on a single brave sole to venture forth with limited resources.

This Thanksgiving, as you sit at the table give thanks for all the other comic creators that have chosen this vocation, for each is a member of a unique community that only we can fully appreciate. Think of each member in this community as a neighbor that is as dependent as you are on the embrace of the entire comics community. Support your comic neighbors especially those that are pressing the boundaries of the medium and creating something different than what you have grown accustomed to. Broaden your tastes and experiences. Broaden the market. If we can all work together, starting simply by supporting each other, we can hope and expect a bountiful harvest of success as comic creators in the future.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Gerry Giovinco

Recreational Cartooning

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

This weekend past Bill Cucinotta and I manned our booth at the second annual Asbury Park  Comic Con which for this year and last was held at an unusual venue, a bowling alley. Asbury  Lanes wears its retro heritage on its sleeve and and glorifies its half-century existence in vintage style throughout. A quick spin through their website shows that it is a teeming hotspot for the gathering of subculture enthusiasts. Punk Rockers, Hot Rodders, Burlesque Beauties, and Pin-up wanna-bees all make pilgrimages to the historic bowling alley that more accurately operates a a Rock club. Housing its own  bar and lounge, Asbury Lanes makes for a fun, casual, and quirky environment for those who enjoy life outside of the box.

Comic fans that climbed out of the longbox on Saturday were treated to a relaxing, one day event that featured a respectable list of indie creators and G.I. Joe legend, Larry Hama.  For us, the big surprise was a visit to our booth by John Workman who has done everything imaginable, production wise, in the field of comics. A tremendously talented craftsman and all around nice guy, John thrilled us with stories from his days at Marvel, DC and Star* Reach. Bill and I are big fans of comic history, our main reason for publishing David Anthony Kraft’s COMICS INTERVIEW the Complete Collection, and we were tickled to point out that Volume One of the collection did contain a wonderful interview featuring Mr. Workman.

John Workman in COMICS INTERVIEW: The Complete Collection Vol 1

Having had a chance to work my way around the convention, talking with creators, publishers and fans alike while savoring the atmosphere of the classic lanes I began to formulate a  new perspective regarding the creation of comics. Something I like to refer to as “Recreational Cartooning” became evident to me.

In what we consider the comics industry, there seems to be a prevailing sentiment that there is an overabundance of material competing for a limited audience which is creating a frustration for creators who are struggling to support themselves by making comics. A discouraged creator at the convention muttered the phrase, “Everyone and their mother is making comics.” as he rationalized poor comic sales.

The is no doubt that there are more people creating comics now than ever before in history. This is an extraordinary time for a medium who’s industry leaders, in the late 1970’s,  were so concerned that that there would be no successors to an aging creator pool that they instituted apprentice programs to cultivate new talent. Comic artists, at that time, were trained to create comics in a very specific way to satisfy the editorial needs of a very limited number of publishers.

Today, thanks to the internet, a wide array of independent publishers and an unimaginable number of people creating comics, there is more creative freedom and the output of comics could not come in a greater variety of styles, formats, and modes of distribution. More importantly, people are creating comics for different reasons.

Throughout the first half of the history of the industry I think it is safe to say that creating comics was specifically an end to a means. Creators made comics to make money. They cranked them out for a page rate and were not even concerned about residual income. Their original art was considered disposable once the films were made and there was no aftermarket for their art. The creators that made lifelong careers out of comics were the few that had a true affinity for the medium. Most others used the comics industry as much as it used them. To them it was a mere stepping stone to a career in creative media.

People who create comics now have a different connection to the work. I believe most of these comic creators make comics because of a strong personal attraction to the medium. They make comics, first, because they love to and secondly, hope to find financial rewards from their work. It is this paradigm shift that has many creators struggling to make sense of their place in the industry because the equation making comics = making money is no longer always true.

Dean Haspiel, Seth Kushner, George O'Conner

I had this discussion with Dean Haspiel. That creators, in order to maintain an income from creating comics, must be prepared to continually hustle to find ways to generate revenue with their work. Dean said, “the trick is to have your comics make money for you while you sleep.” This is done through royalties or what is known as residual income, something that was unheard of in the comics industry for decades but is the staple for success in other creative media and fortunately part of the current economic state of some of the current comic industry.

This is where my term Recreational Cartooning comes in.

Maybe it was because we were sitting in a bowling alley but I began to compare comic creators to bowlers.

I imagined casual bowlers who pop into the lanes occasionally to enjoy playing with their friends or bowling just because they liked to and found it relaxing.

Then there are bowlers who join leagues and play on a weekly schedule, some of them even own a ball or bowling shoes but they play more for the fun and social aspect of the sport.

Some bowlers join leagues that are highly competitive. They play to win, they take the sport seriously, but at the end of the day they go home to wake up to  a real job to support their bowling interest.

Finally there are bowlers who turn pro. They dedicate every waking moment to the sport. The search for sponsors, travel and compete against the best bowlers in the world for cash prizes that will support them as professionals. They must stay on top of their game at all times or risk losing it all.

Pro bowlers are rarely intimidated by recreational bowlers. They will encourage them and inspire them even train them. They appreciate that recreational bowlers represent the large portion of the pro bowler’s fan base and are necessary for the economic survival of the sport. They also appreciate that only a rare few will rise to the pro level with the talent and commitment to the sport that is required.

The pro knows and endures the struggles to maintain a career and may often find themselves creatively using their skills or accomplishments to generate income through appearances, lectures, teaching or merchandising. They understand that success can be fleeting.

With the recreational bowler in mind, Recreational Cartooning can apply to  anyone making comics because they love to but are not interested or able to support  themselves making comics. Like bowling, it should be OK to enjoy making comics just because you want to.

As an industry, comics should  support the recreational cartoonist as part of the complete landscape rather than be intimidated by them and their efforts. Their product may or may not not be distributed by Diamond but it is influencing trends that will impact the whole industry. Already they are driving forces behind many of  the small conventions springing up across he country and they are proving to be a niche market in and of themselves. The recreational cartoonist is necessary for the survival of the industry and the medium.

I will always make a point to encourage anyone interested in making comics to jump in ad give it a try. There are so many options to be able to create and publish comics. Budding comic artists don’t ever have to be the next greatest master of comic art but if creating a comic gives them a feeling of joy or accomplishment then I applaud them for trying. Who knows, they may someday be the next genius of the industry and I sure don’t want to be known as the guy who said they were wasting their time.

Making Comics Because We Want to,

Gerry Giovinco

COMICONOMY the Economics of Comics

Monday, January 30th, 2012

Pirates! Pirates everywhere!

It was just over a week ago when everyone was banding together to trash SOPA and PIPA. We can agree that, as creators, nobody likes pirates but we hated the idea of losing our rights to innocently pirate, ourselves. The idea of being shut down, fined or arrested for sharing music, images or video that we “borrow” for use  on our blogs and/or favorite social media brought together a nation of internet users that rallied to crush those bills and won an indefinite reprieve.

I guess we are all in agreement that it’s OK to pirate a little bit, so long as nobody is profiting directly from the pilfering. It is, after all, free advertising, right? As a creator, what could be better than seeing your work go viral and having the whole world find out about it besides, you know, being paid for it?

The real pirates, the bad guys, are the ones with those vicious torrent download sites, scanning entire issues of comics, ripping entire DVD’s of major motion pictures, and cataloging music by the truckload for downloads as mp3 files. Those guys are rapists! They literally rip the food right out of the creators’ mouths by preventing them from benefiting from sales that were lost to the downloaders. The downloaders are the pirates’ accomplices, they are pirates too, red handed with stolen goods and the first ones to share an innocent link or post tainted content.

So, SOPA and PIPA have been dead for barely two weeks and everyone is already screaming about how we have to take down the pirates. Comic artists everywhere are starving and nobody wants to pay for comics, especially if they can get them for free. What are we to do?

Kill the pirates! Shut them down!!

Please, just don’t use SOPA or PIPA.

Almost symbolically, good ol’ SEAL Team 6 heroically trashed a real-world, pirate compound in Somalia and rescued two aid workers that had been kidnapped. Nine pirates were killed. Everyone is happy!

This all got me to thinking. Pirates are a motivated lot, as are most bad guys. They don’t steal and plunder just for the fun of it. They do it  for the money. They gather up a ton of treasure and then they bury it on a deserted island. The downloader’s reward is free comics but the mastermind must be making a fortune to be willing to risk federal charges.

The pirates have figured out how to make money with comics while giving them away for free! Those rat bastards! If only we were that smart! Comic creators could be happy again.

Well Golly! Web comics have been using the same business model as the pirates for years now with varying degrees of success. We use it right here at CO2 Comics! Yet it is always a struggle to justify giving comic content away for free because it flies in the face of the old distribution system, the same system that has a stranglehold on the industry’s move to a digital market.  We are so afraid not to make a nice buck off a sale in a micro niche market that we are unwilling to make a small return on each sale in a potentially monolithic market or let graphically rich, free content drive streams of traffic through a sponsored website.

Free content drives every major website on the internet wether it is a search engine, a social network, a news agency or whatever. Who pays to use Google, Facebook, YouTube, Yahoo!,  Wikipedia, or Twitter? They are all among the top ten sites in the world and all worth BILLIONS of dollars! Content that is free to consumers has driven entertainment industries for decades. Newspapers,  radio, and television have all been huge beneficiaries of delivering free content.

Build a big enough comic reading audience in a free and open market and you will see the number of book sales begin to rise to numbers not heard of in decades. There is plenty of evidence that free web content has helped the sales of trades. Retailers will be happy to see a parade of new clientele march through their doors. We won’t have to read blog posts by comic artists crying duress driving down their power of negotiation to corporate publishing scum by playing a vulnerable hand. Free content also neutralizes piracy by taking away their only incentive to attract comic readers to their torrent sites.

Comic art has more value than we are daring enough to place on it. Let the work declare its own value and surprise yourself. Always remember that Disney is built on the back of Mickey Mouse and Time-Warner on the shoulders of Superman. Walt Disney believed in Mickey and let Mickey’ s success establish the worth of his company. Seigel and Schuster, in a fit of desperation,  sold Superman, a comic that nobody else wanted, for a lousy $130 and made someone else rich beyond their dreams.

Which creator would you like to be?

Let’s learn from the pirates. Comics are treasure even when they are free. We are in a position to command the destinies of our creative properties. Do not let senseless fear jeopardize the future of the industry. Take time to analyze and understand the market. Take control.

Celebrating Thirty Years of Comics History!

Gerry Giovinco

The Language of Comics

Monday, March 28th, 2011

I’ve looked over a lot of portfolios of young comic artists in my day and the most difficult thing to do is to explain why a budding creator is not ready yet. My insecurities about my own work have always made that task that much more daunting but also gave me an opportunity to understand the frustration of a developing talent.

Complicating the issue further is the subject of style. Some artists aspire to exquisitely detailed imagery while others depend on a minimalist abstract style that to some may imply that artist has little if any drawing skills.

My explanation to a creator that still needed to grow, especially one that on the surface understands the technicalities of the medium, was to equate creating comics with learning a second language. A student can understand all the vocabulary in that language that is possible to know. They can learn to conjugate sentences and even attempt to grasp an understanding of the culture of the language. Even with all this foundation that student may go to the country that speaks that language, open their mouth to speak and still be an obvious foreigner.

Full mastery of the language can only be attained when the student finally has the opportunity to live and breathe the language while communicating to others that fluently express the nuances of the language. Eventually even a dialect can be mastered that pinpoints the speaker of a language to a specific region or subculture of the language.

In short, expertise is acquired by exercising the knowledge. You improve by developing a fluidity that can only be achieved by repetition of action until your skill set is second nature to you. This is true when creating comics, mastery is achieved by a constant commitment and act making comics.

Many comics artists, especially the ones with the most simplistic styles, actually create their own language of communication. The comic artist develops unique and specific visual idioms and trains the reader to understand them through consistency of use.

I always marveled at how well Charles Schulz’s Peanuts characters emoted with just the use of simple lines. The furrowed brow defined by a single squiggly line denoted anger. Double parenthesis around the eyes indicated despair. These along with many other idioms were indigenous to his work and every reader learned to understand and relate to them in a way that made the Peanuts a national treasure.

Comics require a certain visual literacy to be understood. Creators need to understand this and take an active role in conditioning their readers to allow them access to the message the comics artist is trying to communicate.

The new wave of comics that is targeted at young readers has a responsibility to develop this understanding of visual literacy. As comics become more accepted by educators and are used to support education in literature at any level it will be as important as ever to stress that each comic has its own unique language that establishes a communicative relationship between the comics artist and the reader.

Making Comics because I Want To

Gerry Giovinco

The Gutter: The NEW Direct Market

Tuesday, December 28th, 2010

2011 is just days away and the whole world is brimming with hope for better economic times. That’s what New Years is all about after all, a clean slate, a new beginning, a new resolve.

Personally, I hate the word hope. It is such and ineffectual state of mind. Hope, to me, is the most meager last resort in an effort to achieve or acquire a goal. If it is necessary to resort to hope, then it is assumed that all other efforts have been exhausted and failed.

Hope has managed to achieve a state of popular acceptance because of its blind faith nature. Those calling upon hope can equate it with placing their aspirations in the hands of God, a higher power or the Universe.

We are much too quick to resort to hope. It is too convenient and too acceptable.

So, I am unwilling to hope that 2011 will be a better year. I am determined that 2011 will be a great year especially for CO2 Comics.

New beginnings require change if we intend to see improvement. This is not Groundhogs Day where we can afford to keep repeating what has gone before.

Change is good!

The biggest change is how readers are going to get their comics.


Not Direct Market but Direct to Customer.

I know I just blasphemed the market that has supported the entire industry for the last thirty years and made it possible for independent publishers to be able to sell their comics to a target market but it is time to acknowledge that for the comics industry to grow we are going to have to step outside of the comforts of the Direct Market to reach new audiences.

Dak Franklin

Direct to Customer is not really change it is the embracing of the oldest form of marketing with the most modern tools available. Ben Franklin did just this when he created the first mail order catalog to sell directly to his customers without ever meeting them. He could not have done it without a printing press and a postal service.

Today we have something better than a printing press and the postal service, we have the internet and digital downloads. In the blink of an eye comics can be delivered to your computer, cell phone or e-reading device.

Just a few of the comics at CO2 Comics

CO2 Comics delivers free content via our website with new updates daily. Award winning comic creators like Bernie Mirault, Mike Baron, Mitch O’Connell, Don Lomax and Frank Thorne top off a list artists that present two dozen features and hundred of pages of comics for your reading enjoyment.

The printing press and the post office still offer an opportunity to put physical book in our readers hands. Digital printing presses now give us the opportunity to print one book at a time. This Print on Demand method of publishing gives us the opportunity to produce books and ship them to you hot off the press.

Comics Interview On Sale, Premier Editions retire New Years

CO2 Comics first print publication, David Anthony Kraft’s COMICS INTERVIEW: The Complete Collection Volume 1, is a beautiful 680 page black and white book that is offered in two different paperback and hardback editions. The Premier editions which feature a classic style logo that has been available for a limited time only are set to expire on New Year’s Eve. Be a Direct Customer and get your limited edition while you still have a chance.

Direct to Customer comics, whether they be digital or print have the opportunity to find comic readers that may never make their way into a comic shop. Good comics will light a fire in the new readers making them want more and inspire them to share their interest with others.

Sharing the experience of good comics will promote the industry better than any marketing strategy. Word of Mouth is always the best promotion and thanks to social networks like Facebook and Twitter Word of Mouth spreads faster than ever before.

It will be the sharing experience that drives the customer back to the comic shops. Comic shops and comic conventions will be the homes of the culture of the comic enthusiasts. Comic shops will become cultural institutions where fans of the medium gather to share, educate and communicate face-to-face with others that enjoy the same interest.

2011 will be a dynamic year of change in the comic industry as digital content develops a stronger foothold. We all need to work together to enthusiastically promote the medium rather than resist the dramatic changes in format and marketing. A unified front will benefit everyone and ensure economic success for creators, publishers, distributors, and retailers alike.

This is the greatest opportunity for a new beginning since the first comic book was published let us all take advantage it. You can bet CO2 Comics will.

Happy New Year!

Making comics because I want to

Gerry Giovinco

The Gutter:
Land of the Free

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

The debate over free content on the internet is heating up to a fever pitch and it is getting ugly. Discussions about piracy and devalued intellectual property with regards to comics, fueled by a terrible economic climate and rapidly changing technology is generating hysteria among comic creators and those of us who love the medium.



At the heart of it is free content on the web of which I am a strong supporter.

This does not mean that I do not respect the value of the work! If anything, I appreciate its value more.

Comics as a medium has a power that few mediums have. It has the ability to connect with the masses in a genuine way. The creator can convey their concepts through words and pictures and deliver it directly to the reader with a minimal amount of production in between. This can be a photocopy, a printed page, a jpeg or a web site.

Creators have the opportunity, now more than ever, to reach the largest possible audience, unencumbered. More importantly, they have control of their work. The creative opportunities are endless but shouldn’t there be some compensation for all the hard work that goes into making those comics? Absolutely.

Then why do I, Bill and the rest of the fine creators here at CO2 Comics, give our work away for free?

We know that good comics attract readers like a light bulb attracts moths.

This is no secret!


Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst knew it in the 1880’s when they put a free comic supplement in their newspapers to sell more copies and attract more advertisers.

The first American comic book Funnies on Parade was given away as a promotional tool by Proctor and Gamble in 1933.

Bazooka Joe comics have been given away free with bubblegum since 1953.

Free comics are nothing new. They have launched the industry and made money for publishers, promoters and packagers for over a century! In the process many creators worked for peanuts and others made tons of money.

For the record, I consider comics in newspapers and magazines to be free content the same way I consider the prize in a Cracker Jack box or the Happy Meal toy to be free. We all know that we are somehow paying for that little premium but it just seems like an added bonus and that’s what makes it special.

I remember reading the top ten grossing entertainers list in the 1980’s and being surprised to find Charles Schultz and Jim Davis up there with Michael Jackson and Bill Cosby. Those comics that I perceived as free content in the newspaper sure made a lot of money.

Excuse me while I venture out to my mailbox. Let’s see what is in here today. More catalogs. Who sends this crap to me? I don’t ask for this stuff! Full-color, well produced magazines with nothing but ads in them from every company imaginable.

These things are produced better that almost any comic on the market and I get them for free.

What a waste of content and paper. Do you think? This stuff would not be in my mailbox if the sender did not know that if they sent out enough of them they would make a lot of money. I sure wish they were comic books.

In 1987 Comico made a sixteen-page fashion catalog for Jordan Marsh that was bulk-mailed to households in New England. It was a comic book that featured the characters wearing the clothes that the department store was selling that fall. I wrote the story and Mitch O’Connell did the art. It was selected as one of the best direct mail ads that year by Advertising Age Magazine. I’m sure it sold a lot of clothes.

Comics are powerful marketing tools folks! Do not kid yourself! There is a reason that Mickey Mouse built Disney and Superman built Warner Brothers.

Free content on the internet is not much different than free content in my mailbox except that it can reach a larger audience with minimal expense. If my free content is comics, I believe that I will attract more people to my site where those visitors will be exposed to product and advertisers that will generate revenue to support the creators that make the comics.

If you are enjoying free content on the internet; if you are especially enjoying the free content here at CO2 Comics, do yourself and us all a favor. Share the comics with your friends! Allow the free comics on the internet to reach the widest audience possible!

Support the creators by buying product that they may have for sale: original art, graphic novels, related merchandise. Support the advertisers that chose to promote on our sites.

Enjoy the free comics product as much as possible and the comic creators will enjoy success and creative freedom that they have never known in this field.

This is not revolutionary stuff. It has worked in newspapers, television, radio and sports forever. Don’t let an old-school, failed system of distribution and marketing of comics suffocate this medium. Now is the greatest time to be a comics creator. Now is the best time to be a comics reader. Now is the time to build the profitable and prolific future that the comics medium should enjoy!



Making comics because I want to

Gerry Giovinco

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