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