Posts Tagged ‘Web Comics’

Net Neutrality Gets a Pleasant Surprise – Let’s Not Stop There

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015

Last week FCC Chairman, Tom Wheeler wrote an op-ed piece for Wired explaining how he intends that the FCC will insure Net Neutrality.

His support of Net Neutrality came just a week after President Obama emphasized his intention to protect  a “free and open Internet” in his State of the Union address where he stressed the importance of high-speed internet access nation-wide when he stated:

“I intend to protect a free and open Internet, extend its reach to every classroom, and every community, and help folks build the fastest networks, so that the next generation of digital innovators and entrepreneurs have the platform to keep reshaping our world.”

We all expected the positive affirmation of the importance of Net Neutrality from Obama. He is a lame duck president who is now in the position to say what the people want to hear because he knows his hands are tied by the Republicans who control both the House and Senate and have resisted his decisions at every turn.

Wheeler’s support, however, came as a surprise to many because the FCC has lately been favoring the demands of big business. Internet service providers and Republicans have been fiercely fighting against Net Neutrality which is scheduled to be voted on by the commissioners of the FCC on February 26th. There did not appear to be enough internal support to secure it until now.

Unfortunately, should Net Neutrality get the green light from the FCC, Congress does have the opportunity to undermine their authority with new legislation.

The FCC intends to reclassify the internet as a utility which will give the commission jurisdiction to protect consumers by regulating the service providers to guarantee that internet is fast, fair and accessible to everyone.

Congress wants the internet to remain an “information service” which will minimize regulations on service providers in hopes that “competition” will level the playing field for consumers.

It does not take a rocket scientist know that we can’t count on big business to be concerned about what is fair for the consumer. The bottom line is their only concern. It is obvious that the internet needs to be fairly regulated if we truly expect it to be free and open to everyone.

The public has been very vocal about protecting the internet. Their ferocity has been compelling enough to sway the FCC thus far. Now is not the time to stop defending Net Neutrality. We must all do our part to demand that Congress support it by nagging them until Net Neutrality is confirmed.

Michael Goodwin Ian Akin Net Neutrality Comic

If you need to be educated about Net Neutrality this link on Popular Resistance has a great comic by Michael Goodwin and artist Ian Akin that does a wonderful job of explaining why it is so important.

If you are a fan of Web Comics, know that Net Neutrality is important to every comic creator that delivers comics on the internet. Without Net Neutrality, data heavy comics will be relegated to the dreaded slow lane unless they are provided by a company that can afford the prestigious  fast lane. The freedom that we have enjoyed populating the internet with great comics that might otherwise never be published by major publishers will be strangled. As hard as it is now to build an audience or possibly generate revenue, it will become nearly impossible without Net Neutrality. This is true of everything that depends on the internet to reach any  audience or consumers.

So please,  don’t just be pleasantly surprised by President Obama or FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s warm and fuzzy support of Net Neutrality. Continue to demand that Congress understands how important it is to the future of this country’s education, information, creativity and economy.

Remember, the internet has also given us strength to the voice that we need to protect our freedoms, do not allow it to be controlled by big business service providers. Use the free and open internet to contact your Representative to Congress today.

Gerry Giovinco

Warning: Comics May Cause Amnesia

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

Warning: Comics May Cause Amnesia

There seems to be plenty of evidence that comics may cause amnesia.

Apparently anyone who reads, collects, buys, sells, or creates comics is prone to complete memory loss especially regarding the subject of creator rights. people associated with comics in any way shape or form are in desperate need of an old-fashioned FLASHBACK!

How can this be? It has long been assumed that comic enthusiasts excel at the ability to retain the most trivial detail regarding their favorite characters, story arcs and comic creators. They are able to recognize fine nuances in artwork that identify pencilers and inkers, idiosyncrasies in writing that denote authors, and can distinguish the differences between lettering and coloring styles and techniques.

The true comic fan can recite, verbatim, from their favorite comics, panel by panel page by page issue by issue. Yet, regarding the long fought battle over  of creators rights,  the brains of most people associated with comics today are a clean slate.

This explains why artists continue to work for page rates that are the same as or less than they were thirty years ago. This explains why creators are willing to continue to be exploited by work-for-hire contracts with little or no expectation of royalties.
This explains why contracts for digital content are as archaic as those that sucked the souls from creators and robbed them blind since the dawn of the comics industry.

Comics are like rufies, you know, the date rape drug. They must be because they make comic creators forget how they have been screwed, over and over again by the corporate publishers that demand complete control over all Intellectual Property and are unwilling to share all but the tiniest crumbs left by the billions of dollars of profit that is generated by the hard labor of those that create it.

Some are immune to this peculiar neurological allergen. They stand out as rebels and spin their craft in the far reaches of the marketplace: small press, self publishing, web comics and commission work. They carry the torch for a war still fought but rarely noticed; a fight for principle and fairness. They remember the victims of the scrupulous publishers. They remember those that fought: the few that won and the many that lost.

This rag-tag band of comic rebels have their supporters: enlightened fans that sing their praise and defend their stance but in total they are a rare breed that struggles to perpetually rekindle the flame of an apparently, easily forgettable fight.

Thank goodness for history books. If not for them many a war would be left forgotten. Fortunately, the chronicles of this battle for creators rights was recorded directly from the mouths of those that first led the charge. Their words were captured for perpetuity in the pages of a magazine in the form of interviews.

David Anthony Kraft’s COMICS INTERVIEW was the voice of comics industry from 1983 to 1995. It was the forum where everyone and anyone associated with comics was able to speak their mind. The matter of creators rights was at the forefront of many of those discussions as a heated affront to the unjust norms of the industry was erupting in the form of the first wave of independent publishers who, along with the formation of the Direct Market, created an alternative venue for comic creators to reach their audience and own their work.

Steve Gerber

Page after page of COMICS INTERVIEW emboldened the movement, inspiring, and engaging the ranks of comic creators and fans alike who were able to empathize with each other. Readers were able to experience and appreciate the perspective of creator rights pioneers like Steve Gerber who threw his mantle down in the first issue, establishing a code of honor that would endure for the full 150 issue run of the magazine.

Fortunately, COMICS INTERVIEW is not destined to be a faded memory, lost to the world in the forgotten long boxes of aging comic enthusiasts of a bygone era. It is being digitally restored and collected in its entirety by CO2 Comics who are packaging the massive collection in an eleven volume set. Each volume contains over 600 pages of riveting history of the comic book industry. Currently the first two volumes are available featuring the first 28 issues of the magazine. Volume three is currently in production.

Many of the subjects whose interviews grace the pages had careers that dated back to the dawn of the industry itself, while others continue to work in the industry today. This portal to a window in time at the center of the history of comic books makes David Anthony Kraft’s COMICS INTERVIEW The Complete Collection an invaluable historical treasure. It is in fact the greatest collection of interviews in the history of comic books.

David Anthony Kraft’s COMICS INTERVIEW The Complete Collection is the perfect cure for any amnesia regarding creators rights in the comic industry. It is a history book that uniquely depicts a war as it was happening and directly told by the participants and witnesses themselves.

It is a history book that belongs in the library of anyone with any interest in understanding the comic industry today as it is as relevant now as as it ever has been.

It is a history book that belongs in every school or public library for its intimate perspective of an industry that has had a dynamic impact on the popular culture of the world as we know it today.

David Anthony Kraft’s COMICS INTERVIEW The Complete Collection is the ultimate FLASHBACK to remind us that the war over creators rights is not, and can never be, over.

Never forget. Never give up.

Making Comics Because We Want to,

Gerry Giovinco


Don’t Trust the B in Apt. 23 – She reads Comics!

Monday, June 4th, 2012

I’ve been noticing that comics are getting a lot more respect these days in other media. In an almost nonchalant manner comics are seeping back into the popular culture and are being accepted and promoted by people of all ages, gender, and conviction. Could it be that the comic book is finally coming of age just as print media is teetering on the verge of extinction?

A recent Fox News segment did a great job of pointing out how comics are experiencing growth in digital and print media where other forms of print product are struggling. They did it with no usual gratuitous tag lines like, “No Longer Funny Business,” “Not Just for Kids,” or “Pow, Zap, Wham!”

The Avengers movie and a host of other comic related films that will be crowding the theaters this summer are getting a lot of the credit, but as I noted in an earlier blog, “Betrayed,” in my opinion, the unit numbers of superhero comics, especially from Marvel and DC are embarrassingly low compared to historical figures where comic titles sold in the millions. I have to agree with Tim Marchman’s Wall Street Journal article, Worst Comic Book Ever! with regard to the current state of the traditional comic book market.

But, while superhero comic sales seem to be confined to the hallowed halls of the local comic shop, a broader range of comic genres is experiencing success in the  wide open mass market. Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, for example, though considered a comic hybrid of sorts, is one of the most successful series of books published today with over 75 million copies in print. The latest edition The Third Wheel will enjoy an initial print run of 6.5 million copies.  Compare these figures to the Avengers vs. X-Men issue sales of about a mere 230,000 and you understand my point.

Graphic novels and Manga in book stores, web comics, digital downloads and online sales of printed works are creating an opportunity for creators to expand well beyond the confines of the traditional market for comics focused on the superhero genre. The result is a huge array of comic product for just about anyone  and the audience of comic readers is now quietly growing by leaps and bounds though not readily identified by market statistics.

This vague phenomenon was exemplified by the season finale of the ABC sitcom Don’t Trust the B in Apt. 23 starring Krysten Ritter and Dreama Walker where we discover that the culture of reading comics had expanded to a number of the key characters of the show. The episode titled Shitagi Nashi refers to a graphic novel that chronicles the exploits the show’s lead character Chloe, played by Krysten Ritter, . The adult comic titled Tall Slut, No Panties is hugely popular in Japan and Chloe is often recognized by Japanese fans who greet her with her tag line from the comic, “Shitagi Nashi” which loosely translated is, “No Panties.”

Chloe is described as the coolest girl in New York and feigns ignorance of her status as a comic book icon to preserve her awesomely cool status. She, however, maintains a secret stash of mint copies of every issue of Tall Slut, No Panties preserving each in mylar sleeves.

Chloe’s roommate and self described nerd, June, played by Dreama Walker discovers  Chloe’s secret when another comic reader, their pervy neighbor, Eli, spills the beans. All this excitement results in June confiding that she had created her own comic about her own adventures with friends when she was in high school. She still keeps a handmade copy. June attempts to use their mutual interest in comics as a vehicle to solidify her relationship with Chloe. Who could have ever envisioned comics as a bridge between nerds and the cool crowd?

Other highlights of the show include a character who represented stereotyped comic book writer, some very nice comic illustrations with a touch of motion comic thrown in  and a guest appearance by Dean Cain who played Superman along side Teri Hatcher’s Lois Lane in the 1990’s television series Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. Ironically, Superman also no longer wears his famous red underpants since the character’s costume was redesigned for DC’s launch of The New 52.

Shitagi Nashi, Superman!”

I was disappointed that the website for ABC or the show did not present any of the comic art. It would seem that at least a small sample of the comic would make nice content especially since ABC shares Disney as a parent company with Marvel. I guess that would require Marvel putting some energy into something that would actually promote reading comics to a new audience, rather than herding them to the movie theater or directing them to an endless supply of superhero merchandise.

Now is a time to be excited about comics. More and more people are discovering comics and are enjoying a more diverse selection than ever before. You may be surprised to find out who the new fans of comics are because now comics are of interest to anyone, even the girl next door, and underwear is optional.

Celebrating Thirty Years of Comics History!

Gerry Giovinco


Copyrights, Trademarks and Comics, Oh My!

Monday, February 20th, 2012

The legal forrest that the Yellow Brick Road travels through on the way to success as an independent comic creator or publisher just became a scarier place.

Gary Friedrich

It is probably fitting that the demonized Ghost Rider character has lit the torch with his blazing skull.

Regardless of your opinion as to wether Gary Friedrich should be compensated for his contribution to the creation of the character of Ghost Rider and the unfairness of the court’s ruling against him, it is Marvel’s victory in a countersuit against him that has turned the hourglass on end and the sand is running out.

In a brilliant facebook entry written by the esteemed Stephen Bissette he raises the alarm for artists in artist alley that sell sketches of trademarked characters without consent. In the blog he explains the legal necessity of Marvel’s enforcement. They have a responsibility to actively protect their trademarks or risk losing them.

From the cover of Comico Primer #2

This practice of due diligence is nothing new. When we had just published our second issue of Comico Primer back in 1982 we received a Cease and Desist letter from Will Eisner referring to a character featured in the comic whose name was Spirit. Spirit was a female robot that had absolutely no similarities whatsoever to Eisner’s character The Spirit.  We had never even considered that there would or could be a conflict.

Will Eisner appreciated that we were young and naive and explained that he paid lawyers to protect his properties. Their job was  to seek out potential conflicts and he had a responsibility to follow through on their findings to protect his interests. Needless to say we were embarrassed and humbled by the graciousness of this man that we already had great respect and admiration for. We were sure to honor his simple request that we not use the name Spirit especially not on a cover of one of our comic books.

It strikes me that it was a lot easier for a comic artist like Will Eisner to police the comic industry for copyright and trademark infringement in 1982 than it would be today. Thirty years ago there were just a few publishers in the market and a handful of fanzines. There was no internet with a seemingly endless selection of web comics and there were surely not the tremendous number of comic creators that exist today.

The Friedrich vs. Marvel case has magnified the necessity of protecting one’s trademark. If a huge corporation like Marvel/Disney finds it necessary to hassle Gary Friedrich over $17,000  because those sales of prints he sold in artist alley at comic book conventions could jeopardize their claim to trademark, how safe can the trademarks of smaller companies be?

Should every small publisher, self publisher and comic artist be canvasing comic conventions and the internet, prepared to rifle out a C&D letter to every potential infringer? How can small publishers and creators afford to do it without the funds or the time to execute such an endeavor? How vulnerable are our intellectual properties?

Imagine if some guy is a big fan of your character and goes to every convention getting every artist he finds to draw a picture of your character. Proud of his collection he displays it all over facebook, and his website. Another company likes your character and discovers all these images that were created by unlicensed vendors, in this case artists in artist alley, and feel that they have deep enough pockets to argue that the trademark has been left exposed.

Marvel’s victory over their assertion that Friedrich’s sales in artist alley were a credible threat to their trademark establishes a precedent that will influence future rulings. Make no mistake, the big boys will go after the competition and will do whatever it takes to win.

The Forgettable's

Marvel took a shot at the insanely popular Rocketeer back in the 80’s claiming it infringed on characters that they had that were also called Rocketeers. Their characters were minor characters buried in a forgettable story. Dave Steven’s had to fight for years to defend his property tying up capital that could have been used more productively.

This may all seem like paranoia until it actually happens but who wants to be the first victim. The industry has been buzzing over piracy now for some time. The threat of piracy is nothing compared to the threat of trademarked properties being totally hijacked by unscrupulous competitors.

Comic creators, please get educated on copyright and trademark laws. They can be your friends or your enemies. Don’t let your ignorance on the subject make your property a hostage as you travel that long, arduous Yellow Brick Road to success.

Celebrating Thirty Years of Comics History!

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 Art of Delivering Comics

Monday, December 5th, 2011

I have said many times that I do not regard a comic complete until it is in the hands of the reader. I say his because I believe that the presentation of the material is itself a critical element that impacts the readers appreciation of the work. Most of my career in comics has been on the side of producing the final package wether it be in print or digital format. Bill Cucinotta and I take as much pride here at CO2 Comics in packaging other creator’s comics for final presentation as we do writing and drawing our own material. This was also true when we were partners publishing comics under the Comico label back in the 1980’s.

Last week I wrote about accessibility, primarily focusing on characters remaining accessible to their audience after decades of continuity that might obscure their fundamental characteristics that make them unique and even iconic. To many, however the concept of accessibility as it relates to comics refers more to the availability of product or more precisely, the delivery of the product.

Ever since the rise of the Direct Market, beginning in the late 1970’s, it seems that  the accessibility of the comic book to the general public, or more accurately the casual comic book reader, has diminished with the relative extinction of traditional mass market outlets that drove the sales in the Golden and Silver Ages of comics.

Overlooked however is the fact that comics do exist outside of both of these markets and are thriving.  Comics may be more accessible to readers now than ever before. Comics are offered in such a tremendous array of packaging and subject matter that surely there is something for everybody and comics as a medium is poised to be recognized for its ability to have universal appeal.

I am going to attempt a breakdown of venues through which comics are currently being enjoyed. some are traditional formats others are new and still others are vehicles of marketing or use of comics as a form of communication. This includes strips, panels, short form and long form presentations. Please, if I miss any don’t hesitate to to send along your suggestions.

Newspapers – strips and panels – newstand distribution, subscription

Magazines –  strips and panels – newstand  and mass market distribution, subscription, internet sales

Comic Books – long format – Direct Market, Bookstores, subscription, internet sales

Graphic Novels – long format – Direct Market, Bookstores, internet sales

Small Press – Boutique format – Direct Market, internet sales, conventions

Web comics– Any format goes including infinite canvas – usually free on internet, some by subscription, some get collected into print packages.

Digital – comics collections on disc or via subscription on web sites.

Cell phone apps– comics downloaded to cell phone

e-reader apps – comics downloaded to e-readers like i-Pad, Kindle Fire, BN Nook

Print on Demand– Comics available as books printed to order from POD producers like LULU.

Zines – usually produced as fan publications, printed at home and mailed or distributed as PDFs via e-mail

Tracts – small religious pamphlets done as comics usually handed out freely by true believers.

Educational -comics used to illustrate a point, often seen in textbooks or educational magazines. The military uses comics to educate.

Institutional– I’ve seen comics used to describe museums and historic landmarks to name a few.

Premium –  This includes everything from free comics in Bazooka Joe Bubble Gum to comics in cereal boxes.

Instructional– Comics are used all the time to show instructions from everything to setting up a computer to flight safety on airplanes.

Promotional-comics used to advertise a product in ad form or catalogue form. I’ve seen promotional comics on comics on place mats in restaurants.

Journalistic– comics journalism has come a long way and can be found as panels or strips in newspapers to magazines and on the web.

I know that there is plenty more out there, I’d love to see samples of comics used in unusual formats, it always fascinates me so please share links or upload pictures to our facebook page.

Comics are everywhere. They are so ingrained in our culture that idioms like word balloons, panels, page layouts, effect splashes, production techniques and genre references are so common place they are easily taken for granted.

It is time for comic creators to lose the sensibility that they are purveyors of a fringe medium whose target audience is a focus group of geek culture and recognize that comics as a medium is one of power through its ability to communicate effectively to the masses in a simple, cost efficient manner. This cultural repositioning of the medium will be necessary for creators to establish their value to a market that will witness an ever increasing demand for this wonderfully versatile medium.

Making Comics Because I Want To

Gerry Giovinco


Broadcast Blues

Monday, October 17th, 2011

This week I read a blog post by Warren Ellis who did a great job of examining the possibility of a lost opportunity regarding webcomics in relationship to the newly popularized digital distribution of comics. If you have any interest in this sort of topic it is a lengthy but worthwhile read.

About a month ago I had written my own wordy post on the subject which, if you missed it, can be found here I covered a lot of the same issues that Warren Ellis did and came to similar conclusions. Warren and I should get together over a cold one some time.

He used the term “broadcast” when describing webcomics which I thought was a brilliant analogy especially regarding distribution of content.  When I think of broadcasting comics via the internet it reminds me of ham radio and the network of amateur radio enthusiasts that have the opportunity to express their right to freedom of speech over the air. It is an activity that they enjoy and do so because they want to, not because their ulterior motive is profit.


The internet offers comic creators, wether amateur or professional, the opportunity to exercise our inalienable right to make comics however we please.  It is a powerful tool for the medium that I hope will never be completely overlooked in the name of monetization as creators seem determined to rush toward digital distribution and turn away from the web.

I can’t help but look at the Occupy Wall Street folks struggling to coordinate the power of their voice and draw a comparison to webcomikers taking a stand in the name of making comics. Both groups have a need to publicly express themselves and are doing so with limited structure and a lot of passion. Like the garbled message of  the protestors not all webcomics meet with warm reception but, like the message or not, you have to be proud that we live in a country that gives us an opportunity for free expression and that it is being exercised.

Having the courage to find a voice and the ability deliver that  message is what is important wether it may be politics, opinion, music, video, art or comics. The internet gives us that freedom as comic creators, even if it does present a difficult venue to generate revenue from our precious content. We need to preserve its use for its value as a powerful forum for our freedom of expression through webcomics.

So, buy a comic book or graphic novel, pay to download an app and a bunch of digital comics, enjoy your purchase and support a comic creator but please bookmark your favorite webcomic, surf the web frequently for new webcomics that you have yet to discover and support the growth of the comics medium.

Make CO2 Comics one of your bookmarks and we will continue to do our best to bring you quality innovative comics. Thanks for being on the receiving end of our broadcast!

Making Comics Because I Want To

Gerry Giovinco


R.I.P Steve Jobs 1955-2011

Monday, October 10th, 2011

Steve Jobs’ passing was no surprise. His failed health had been quite public and his recent resignation as CEO of Apple was a clear sign. The dignity with which he handled his final days in public is as much an inspiration as his life and the impact his vision has had on the world.

It is hard, now, to imagine a day without some technological influence that Steve Jobs and the company he stewarded did not have some impact on. As a comic creator, I can tell you that the course of the entire comics medium has been redirected, in large part due to innovations derived from Apple.

There certainly were computers before Steve Jobs and Apple came on the scene. In 1974, when I was in 8th grade at Saint Titus in East Norriton, Pennsylvania, I had access to an already obsolete computer that had been used for actual Apollo moon missions. It was a clunky machine that had to be programmed with binary punch cards and its output seemed no more sophisticated to me than that of the newly released Mini Bomar that launched a frenzy of low cost handheld calculators on the world.

Learning to program that two digit dinosaur was a real trial and to this day the words of my Math teacher, Rev. Joseph Oechsle, ring in my ears, “Trash in, trash out!” The lesson was that computer was only as good as the person programming it.

Vintage home computing

A few years later I would sell computers meant for the home as part of my job working in the electronic appliance department at K-Mart where I tried making some extra cash while we struggled to build our fledgling comic company, Comico. I sold machines like the Texas Instrument TI-99/4A, the Commodore VIC-20 and the Commodore 64. These computers saved data on audio cassette tapes and sophisticated gaming was PONG.

By that point in my life I had no interest in computers. I  was totally focused on comics and the ugly pixelated images and type that these computers could barely generate were of no use to me and my aspirations to be a comic artist and publisher. I was blind to their potential.

This all seemed to change in 1984 when the hammer was launched into a giant screen during Apple’s first and most memorable Super Bowl commercial. Not only did it change the impact that Super Bowl commercials had–it changed the way the world would look at personal computers. It also introduced Graphic User Interface (GUI) which put icons on our desktop suddenly making computers much more intuitive and useable to the general public.

We had one of those Macs at Comico when it first came out and immediately we used it to generate all of the type that we used for our letters pages, graphics and editorial columns. Between the Mac and our photocopier we had practically eliminated our dependancy on our local typesetter and the graphics house where we had most of our photostats done. This transition to a variation of desktop publishing ended up saving us us a ton of money.

In 1985 First Comics published Shatter by Peter B. Gillis and Mike Saenz. This was the first all-digital comic commercially published. It was created on a Mac exactly like the one that sat in our office at Comico.

Digital comics have come a long way since Shatter. Where Shatter’s pixelated digital imagery made it obvious that it was generated on a computer and was in fact a badge of honor for its accomplishment, today it is nearly impossible to tell which comics are drawn by hand on paper and which are generated completely digitally.

Michael Saenz interview from Comics Interview #21, © Fictioneer Books

Steve Jobs recognized the power of digital art which was evident when he bought Pixar from Lucasfilm in 1986. Under his guidance Pixar changed how animation was created and delighted the world with Toy Story in 1995 followed by a long list of incredible 3D CGI films that set new standards not for just animation but entertainment in general

3D CGI has had its affect on comics. Many creators use it to create their comics entirely, others use it as a form of reference for everything from anatomy to architecture.

The biggest impact that Steve Jobs has had on comics in my opinion, however, has been in the area of web comics which would not have ever been possible without the advent of the personal computer. Since the turn of the century (boy that sounds weird!) digital comics have been proliferating on the internet at a rapid pace. Almost anyone with a computer, a scanner, and internet service can now publish comics on the web.

Thanks to the personal computer there has never been more diversified work available in the comics medium. We take full advantage of that here at CO2 Comics. The computer and the internet have given Bill Cucinotta and me a chance to publish comics again and to reach an audience that before was never possible.

Distribution of comics is also changing thanks to Mr. Jobs and company. Just as Apple redefined how music was heard around the world with the 2001 introduction of the iPod and iTunes, the iPhone and the iPad are quickly becoming the place where people read their comics with apps purchased through the App Store. These of course are not the only options for digital comic distribution, but as with the introduction of GUI and the Macintosh personal computer, Apple seems to always be the innovator of record.

Maybe I’m biased. This blog is spat out of my dependable iMac every week and Bill does all the designing on his. We’ve both done our fair share of work on other PC’s but it is our Macs that have always been the faithful workhorse. This is a certain to me as the notion that the future of comics is brighter and more diverse now than ever dreamed possible thanks in large part to innovations set forth by Steve Jobs and Apple.

Rest in peace, Steve Jobs but expect your legacy to survive for a long, long time. You made a difference in the world and it will always be remembered. Thank you for making a difference in the world of comics, wether you intended to or not. The art of making comics is far richer thanks to your innovation and inspiration.

Making Comics Because I Want To

Gerry Giovinco


Bang for the Buck

Monday, September 19th, 2011

Lately I’ve been sifting through the concept of the value of comics. What is a comic worth? What am I willing to pay to read a comic book, either in print or digitally and more importantly, what should I expect readers of comics that I publish to want to pay?

The question is a hotbed for discussion but for now I’m just going to float some thoughts.

Peanuts

The comics that originally hooked me on the medium I did not pay for. I read comics in the newspaper and though that paper which my parents bought was probably fifteen cents an issue back then, to me the comics were free. I read Peanuts comics that had been reprinted in pocket sized paperback books that were given to me by my uncle who got them second hand as returns, more free stuff. I read comic books as part of my experience going to the barber, sure someone coughed up the twelve cents that each comic cost somewhere along the line, but I read them for free then left them there for the next kid that would come in to get a buzz cut.

By the time I was actually carrying real change in my pocket, I already knew that I liked comics and when a quarter was burning a hole in my pocket It was a good bet that I would spend it on baseball cards, candy, or a comic book. All three items had a social value that could not be measured in terms of coinage. These were things that were shared with friends.

“You give me some Skittles and I’ll give you some Good & Plenty.”

“I’ll trade you my double of Mike Schmidt for your double of Johnny Bench.”

“You can read my copy of Captain America while I read your copy of Bat Man.”

While the candy was eaten, leaving little evidence other than tooth decay and an obesity epidemic, baseball cards and comic books had a way of accumulating and representing some type of feel-good value, either as fond memories of friendships or quiet escapes to fantastic worlds of celebrated heroes.

For some of us, the tattered piles of well read comics and hand flipped cards became collections and a desire to preserve the treasured artifacts generated something new – inflated value driven by speculation and scarcity.

Ironically, as the collector market grew, the cover prices rose and the traditional newsstand market shrunk into oblivion, alienating the casual reader that had long been the bread and butter of the comics industry.

Thirty-two page comics that were once a dime and offered, often, more than one complete story now sell for upwards to four bucks for a fraction of a story that will take a dozen issues to complete. Buying comic books is no longer a casual, impulsive, social practice. It is a commitment, a speculative purchase that requires the added investment of archival storage products such as mylar sleeves, acid free boards, long boxes and an accounting system. It takes a special person to be this motivated. Comic books are no longer for everyone.

Enter the graphic novel. Comics in a real book with a perfect bound cover that is card stock or even hard back! The complete run of a story arc fits between the covers that may contain a dozen issues or more of previously published material for a reasonable book price. A story that may have cost thirty-six to forty-eight dollars in pamphlet format can now be had for less than twenty bucks and looks fine on a bookshelf with no need to box or preserve in plastic. Better yet, I can find it in the library and read it for free. Boy, suddenly as a casual reader I’m reading comics again!

What’s that? Comics are all over the internet? For Free? Web comics…WOW!  More comics than I know what to do with featuring every type of genre imaginable. Some OK, some lousy, some great! I can build a library just by bookmarking the sites I like and return to my favorites every day, every week, once a month. Occasionally I’ll find a new gem and share the link with my friends on Facebook, Twitter, Stumbleupon, you name it. “Hey I’m really digging that CO2 Comics site-www.co2comics.com!”

I can read comics on my phone? On a tablet? I need what? An App? Then I can download the comics I want for how much? $1.99?  $.99? Free?  OK, I’ll try a free one. That’s pretty cool let me share it with my friends. Hmmm. What kind of device do they use? Is this app compatible with their platform? I can’t share my download?

Wait a minute. I can read a lot of web comics on my phone and tablet and I can share from those devices. I’m cool. Web comics rule.

I know I’m getting a lot of comic creators steamed right now talking about all this free stuff but I’ve realized something. None of us pay for the comics we read. Nope. We pay for the distribution of the comic! We pay for how the art is put in front of our eyes. We pay for the books, the paper,the shipping,  the app provider, you name it. The retailer, the distributor, the publisher all get a cut. Yeah I know that the creator made some money off the comic but let’s be honest, they got paid as little as negotiably possible for the right to distribute the comic in a particular format, then the publisher gave them their art back. We don’t pay more for a comic because a better artist drew it.  We pay more for it because it is on better paper. If more books sell then the creator, if they get royalties, gets more money. The great creators may get paid more in advance because publishers know in advance that the book will reach more readers because that creator’s name is on the cover.

The value of the comic is determined by how many eyes look at it. Search the internet. The value of the content of any website is determined by how many people see it. That’s how television and radio work too. What do you think those Nielson Ratings are for?  So let’s be real. What would you look at first, something you had to pay for or something that was free? Be honest!

The goal of the comics industry should be to get comics in front of as many people as possible. The more people that read the product the more the value of the intellectual property increases. How? More circulation equals more advertising dollars, more merchandising, more licensing, more demand for more.

Marvel and DC accomplished this a long time ago. Their characters reached the tipping point decades ago when they became icons of our culture. Their comic books could disappear off the face of the Earth and people would still recognize their logos, know their mythology and by more stuff that relate to them because even without the comic books, the planet is plastered with film, television, and merchandise featuring the characters.

Disney understood this when they paid four billion dollars for Marvel. Disney is not in the business of publishing comics, they do not even publish their own iconic characters.  Disney is in the business of putting characters in front of as many eyes as possible and keeping them there. They have done this successfully since 1928 recreating value with each new generation by introducing them to the same product that their great grandparents enjoyed as children. Snow White, Cinderella, Bambi, Pinocchio, you name it. Disney took a concept, made it great, made it once, and built an empire.

Marvel and DC can sell their comics for four bucks, if they only reach thirty thousand readers, who cares? They’ve already won the war. The small publisher trying to compete with them cannot succeed at a comparable price point. Small publishers trying to keep their price “respectable,” with a few rare exceptions, will never reach the wider audience especially without the merchandising machine behind them and the big competition knows this. They also know that as creators and small businesses, we have to eat and busting our butts making comics for peanuts will not put food on our families tables. Bye-Bye small competition.

Call it an obsession, a passion, maybe even a disease but some of us just have an inexplicable need to make comics. It’s what we love. It’s how we express ourselves creatively. It would be great if we could all actually make money doing it. We at CO2 Comics have put our faith in the web comic format, for us it is the best and most cost effective way to reach our growing audience.  It is a slow arduous task, building an audience from scratch but it takes faith, perseverance and commitment. Most of the creators that feature work here on CO2 Comics support themselves by other means, you know, real jobs, including Bill and myself. We create time to make our comics available to our readers often sacrificing time with family or a good nights sleep.

Our comics are delivered to you free of charge. Enjoy them, share them and please come back and do it again. We will continue to provide great comics here and the larger our audience gets the greater the value will be of each comic on this site. Your patronage by simply reading and sharing will generate advertising revenue, spawn the development of printed product so you have the opportunity to adorn your book shelves with your favorite stories if you wish.  Your interest in characters found here will generate merchandise featuring them and promote interest in potential licensees. You, our readers, have the power to make this venture a success without spending a dime to read the comics published here.

This web comic business model is a simple yet dynamic one that has been around now for about a decade. CO2 Comics is just one of hundreds of sites that have already changed the face of comics forever. There is more diversity, more options, more creative opportunity to make comics than ever before. It is an exciting time to be a comic artist and a comic fan and who wouldn’t want to see it continue? As a reader this is your opportunity to make a difference in the success of the comics medium. Simply by sharing your favorite sites with friends you become a distributor of sorts, rewarded with a continued stream of amazing comic content.

So, if you want more BANG for the buck, now is your chance. Support the little guys that are braving the turbulent tides of technology to reinvent the comic market and support free content simply by reading and sharing what you enjoy. You have the power and you know what Stan says comes with that…

Making Comics Because I Want To

Gerry Giovinco


Appless Comics

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

Apps, apps, apps! That is all we hear about anymore, especially when the discussion is about digital comics. Maybe I’m dense, too old fashioned or just plain stupid but I have to admit that I just don’t get it.

I know that there are apps for just about everything. Apple boasts over 300,000 apps available just for the iPhone. There are thousands of apps for Droids, Smartphones and Blackberries too but, face it, apps are a brilliant marketing tool for “App”le more than anyone..

Now that the iPad is on the scene everyone and their sister can see the potential of comics flourishing on that brilliant 9.7 inch screen and of course the imitators are already popping out everywhere.

In the midst of all this commotion we have all been sold the idea that an app is needed to be able to read comics on these portable devices. An app! Quick run out and get one so you can read comics! Hurry, hurry, hurry!

If you are a creator or a publisher you especially better get a jump on it before you are left in the dust. Times-a-wasting! Lock into a deal, NOW! Tie up your rights and spread that wealth with Apple, the app developer, and the publisher leaving little for the creator before it’s too late!
Hurry, hurry, hurry!

What a bunch of sheep we are. Happy to be herded to a promised land by the carrot of new source of possible revenue.

WAKE UP!!

SMELL THE COFFEE!!

STOP BEING A PANSIE!!

Let me bring you back to Earth with a simple truth. You do not need an app to read tons of great digital comics on a computer, a net book, an e-reader or a cell phone.

You don’t need an app!

All you need is a browser.

If your device can read Flash files your options are even greater.

New devices are coming soon from Samsung and Blackberry that read Flash. Soon Apple will have to include it as well. Even if they don’t Flash created with HTML 5 is readable so eventually all web comics will be an easy read on any tablet or phone, app-free!

If you are a creator or a publisher, post your comics on the web, market a PDF download, or make your own app if you feel that you really have to and guess what?

You are in command!

You have control over your content, no censorship, no digital rights management that ties up your property indefinitely and, if you wish to sell your works, get paid directly from your readers without sharing any of the profits except your PayPal fees.

I know this all sounds like blasphemy!

The digital comic download is supposed to be the savior of comics and finally provide a source of revenue to creators while opening up the huge untapped market of the masses.

The magic bullet!

But it is not.

If we allow ourselves to be led down the narrow road of the app it is business as usual. In the comics industry we know who wins. Everyone else loses. Even the readers.

Look, as a publisher, I have gone toe-to-toe with Marvel and DC in the Direct market. I’ve waded into the dark and murky waters of the mass market. I was there championing the rise of creators’ rights and the proliferation of independent publishers from the beginning. I know what I’m talking about.

As a comic creator and publisher I sought the Holy Grail and it wasn’t profit. I’d be lying if I told you money wasn’t part of the motivation but the real prize was freedom.

CREATIVE FREEDOM!

The internet gives comic creators the opportunity to enjoy creative freedom like never before. Creators can reach a global audience with little expense and retain complete ownership of their works.

Creators don’t need to be confined to an app. They need to be creative and they need to discover creative ways to generate revenue.

When Bill Cucinotta and I conceived of CO2 Comics this was and continues to be our mission, to create a cooperative community of comic creators that support each other to reach a wider audience with diverse material and to maximize the profitability of our individual intellectual property by exploring product options of digital, print, merchandise, other media and licensing.

In a year and a half we have amassed nearly a thousand pages of comics from over twenty distinguished creators that attract about ten thousand hits a day. We have published a 680 page book that is the greatest collection of comic interviews in the history of comic books. Most importantly we have created a venue that supports the creators that share in our mission by helping them sell their print products, services and merchandise while maintaining complete ownership of their creations.

We are just getting started.

I know that I am coming down pretty hard on apps, but I am just trying to make an important point that I believe has to be made.

Apps can be part of a successful comic marketing strategy but I don’t think that they can be viewed as a panacea for the entire industry or surely the little guy will get crushed, unnoticed in the shadow of the usual giants and trampled by the rush of new readers herded by powerful marketing machines toward product they are already familiar with.

Comic creators need to take advantage of the internet while it is still inexpensively accessible. Maximize it as a resource while you still have a chance. Don’t be distracted by the temptations of a huge corporation whose sole motivation is profiting from the work of every creator possible.

That “app”le looked good to Eve, too and look where it got her.

Making comics because I want to.

Gerry Giovinco



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