December 9, 2008

Stuck in 1986, part III: Audience

Marvel and DC have 'em.

They have your audience, if you are a comic book creator.

Just so you know that.

What? You've sold some comics at some conventions? Great!

But most people's money is tied up in buying Marvel and DC. It's just the way it is.

So why go head to head with them? "Because those are the comics I read, and I want people like me to read my comics."

Understandable. But with the price of comics going up and up and up . . . we creators have to be thinking of ways to get around the fact that DC and Marvel are snapping up those dollars. We've got to be all "kung fu" about things, and use the giant's strength against itself.


By innovating. Not copying.

By looking for different audiences. People who don't buy comics, but might buy yours.

By giving content away.

I think, unfortunately, too many of us are stuck trying to be the people we looked up to in 1986 . . . or 1996 . . . or, for some, 1976 and 1966.

But back then, we were the audience. Now, we're aspiring creators. We simply cannot try to emulate the past. Not now.

We have to look forward. Bring our product to the audience. If we were Marvel or DC, we could expect the audience to find us. But, hate to break it to you, we aren't.

The time has come. If you are a creator, you have to stop thinking about what it was like back in the day when you were the audience, and start thinking about tomorrow and where you're going to FIND your audience. And then grab 'em! Give 'em awesome content that they've never seen before! Hook 'em! And then make 'em glad they came, and look forward to coming back.

Easy? Heck no! But it's what I'm trying to do.

We'll see if I manage to succeed somehow.

~ Ben


Tim Baron said...

I enjoyed these posts ben. I look forward to hearing more. I appreciate your contemplations on these things.

Ben said...

Thanks, Tim. That means a lot coming from you.

~ Ben

R. said...

I've just come across your blog from a link on facebook, this is a good post and you've made a great point that's relevant to not just comics but much of traditional print media.

They're operating as if the digital age has not arrived / advanced. What this means is the little guy has a chance to corner the smaller niche audiences with ease through grassroots methods.

The trick is getting enough of us on board and willing to put our heads together to come up with viable strategies that fit our goals / needs.

I believe the move towards social media, blogs, twitter, youtube, facebook, has shown the elements of "the way". It's full of nothing but data that can be used to mold and monetize whatever it is we want to publish as far as comics and graphic novels go.

In theory, we could eventually pool the niche audiences together through cross sections. Like a social network publishing house, content + built in audience.

This means potentially a larger audience than the big 2 and while it may not directly compete with older, established entities such as Marvel or DC, it should be more than enough to sustain the little guy that understands the advantages of his limitations.