Coming back...

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Coming back...

Postby Troy Kealley on Thu Jun 25, 2009 6:33 pm

So... despite the failures, upsets, disappointments, lost money, stress and trauma... I still want to give Aussie comics a shot! Owen is actually half way though now with a dedicated inker on board and a much heavier story line coming (ie not just one long car chase!) so despite my long absence things are still happening at the radiotak drawing board.

BUT I'm going to be pretty hard about it this time. We're tired of trying to help people out to end up doing all the work and copping the flak when it doesn't work out.

Here's some formulative ideas of how my new business model will work:
1. It's mainly about me: That sound selfish - but it's how capitalism works! But I'm happy for collaborators - who are willing to pay their own way and do the work required, and have their own business essentials set up already.
2. Everything is web based or print on demand: I have no capital left. And why would we do it? Printing that costs more than comic stores pay for wholesale product is zero business sense. And why would they pay more money for some shitty comic from someone they've never heard of? Since I only normally lose money - it's actually more profitable to give the comics away online - I earn nothing but I lose nothing either!!! Eventually - if I'm good enough, people WILL want to buy the stuff they've already read - I mean people happly pay money for a TV series on DVD that they've already watched, and the same applies to popular webcomics (eg Penny Arcade)
3. We wont try to cover all audiences: I'm going to stick with adult oriented comics and try to build a universe that works together. Principally dark tales of crime and revenge like Owen and Velveteen - the working title so far is 'Tales from the Kit-E-Kat' that combines all these stories into a sleazy, crime ridden underworld. There will be some naughty stuff to help prop up the site with impulse buyers and I'm not afraid of using a bit of sex to sell! I'm going to aim for what I'd buy rather than trying to please everyone else!
4. I'm happy to tout Manga because a. I love the out-there stuff they do like Wicked City, Cowboy Bebop, etc. and b. yes it sells well and at the end of the day making oney doing what you love is the ultimate goal. But just because you draw girls with big eyes and big tits doesn't mean you're a Manga 'artist'. It's gonna have to be a combination of impressive story, great art and dependability as a contributor that would get you on board with me. At the moment, I know of only a few manga artists in Australia that meet all those categories, like Queenie Chan, Henry Pop - and guess what? They're making it out there! You need to have a passion about making comics - with Manga as your chosen style - to be considered; it's not the other way around.
5. My idea. My pace. My monster to unleash or cage. While I'll value others input - ultimately it will work around the ups and downs of my life and family/paid work will always come first.

So - thoughts? Suggestions? Anyone interested in braving these conditions and coming along for the ride?

This is all open at the moment and will depend on how soon I get things back to normal after I get back from Europe. Particularly I'd like to hear current experiences with hosting services and print on demand providers.

More ideas and news once I return form the continent!
Troy Kealley
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Re: Coming back...

Postby matt g on Thu Jun 25, 2009 9:09 pm

Hey Troy,

At the risk of starting any sort of flamewarage on the eve of a convention, I think you're on the right track, but maybe you could rethink a couple of issues...

I've been a huge proponent of print on demand, yet I've ditched it for my books because for me, POD wasn't working - the prices have gone up to the point where I can actually have them printed locally for less than the POD services do, even in small runs (I'm only doing 100 copies of each book in the run). Also, a disadvantage of the POD model is that it seems to encourage a race to the bottom in prices. Sure there's a bit of a capital investment in printing, but you get the direct relationship with the customer if you sell online with your own shop and your own stock, you get the email address for your mailing list etc.

The other thing is that I get the impression you're still thinking about it from a business / profitability point of view. I'm coming increasingly to the conclusion that it is the very idea that a book should be profitable that holds sequential art back as a genre, and keeps us as "commercial" art, rather than museum-worthy "fine" art. This might be because I've spent the past 3 years in a fine arts training, and I'm getting a very different viewpoint on my own work, but also, when you look at the great work of the genre that generally get held up as our "fine" art works, not many of them of them would make a particularly compelling business case.

"A story about nazism, as told by mice?"

I think an important thing might just be to create what you want, specifically without saleability as a goal. I suspect trying to make something that is commercially appealing (ie cutting corners or compromising to bring in under a price), especially in a field as small as ours may very well be just the sort of insincerity (the ultimate fine arts insult) that turns today's consumer off.

Now, I'm not saying there's anything wrong with being commercially successful - it's a great outcome, because the romanticised poverty stricken artist is a particularly modern phenominon. What we want to do is nurture our own credibility as artists doing what we want for our own internalised motivations, to the point that people buy our work *for* it's honesty.

Kind of like the way years after his death, Bill Hicks is more popular, more highly regarded, and probably better selling than Dave "i'll shill anything you pay me to say" Hughes.

Like I said, good to see you're focussing on producing the work you want to produce.

BTW there was a still from Badlands Taxi in a docco on abc or sbs a few days back, did you see it?

Cheers,
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Re: Coming back...

Postby Troy Kealley on Fri Jun 26, 2009 2:01 pm

Yep I hear you there Matt, in my case I'm not really a fine artist as such - but I do understand your point of view. This will be the challenge and it's where I should really consider the way I do things. I'm hoping to go back to TAFE and study art next year - and actually learn how to do this right!

That said the best story and art can go unnoticed without good marketing.

Yes the Badlands Taxi footage and other manga styled art in that documentary - ('Cracking the Colour Code' from WA film company Electric Pictures, and SBS) -were indeed mine and I was paid for that - thanks for spotting it out though!
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Re: Coming back...

Postby rumpusroomie on Thu Jul 30, 2009 5:05 pm

Hi Troy,

My only question is what you're offering others. don't get me wrong, i like the fact that you want to include others and create a community but having spent awhile thinking about the web-model I can't get my head around what's in it for others.

A year ago I was formulating a plan on creating something akin to Transmission X: a portal for aussie webcomics of a certain calibre that were all contained in one site or linked off from one main site. But i couldn't work out what would be in it for others to come in. Hosting is almost free, and for those on sites like Webcomicsnation IS free so why do they need you to reach an audience. POD is the same. you're not offering them anything there either. In fact you're maybe watering down their brand since their comic (lets use the Halfpixel teams example of No Shoes for Tuesday) won't be found on www.noshoesfortuesday.com but at Radiotak.com it's harder to remember for the casual reader.

Would they get a cut of advertising on the site? is the publishing model an anthology of everyone on the site and therefore an opportunity for those who couldn't produce a 60pge book a year to only contribute 30?

Maybe BMB could chime in here as a member of a webcomics collective? Where's the value.

Sorry for being all negative. As i said, it's something I really wanted to do 12-6 months ago, some great comics I felt i was happy to host for free to get them out of the white noise of webcomicsnation and in the end i couldn't work out a model that wasn't just 8 different comic sites that just happened to be hosted by me.

But great news about new Owen!
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Re: Coming back...

Postby Troy Kealley on Thu Jul 30, 2009 7:39 pm

Actually that is a good point, and I guess the ruthlessly honest answer is 'not much' - however obviously if someone collaborated in a comic or saleable work then they'd entitled to their fair share of the profits (if any)! I didn't really think of it as community site as such, more a case of having 'guest artists' occasionally joining in or even just advertising their own website/comic. For example - Grug started a short 'Little Owen' strip some years ago for my comic and if I convince him to finish it off, I'd love to feature this with the obvious links to where to buy all of his work.

It sounds like you've given this a lot of thought already - and I think you're right in saying there's not much better to be offered by joining a small unknown site than at least having a chance of being found on a much bigger site like Web Comics Nation. So I'd probably steer away from that direction. And no I don't take it as negative - you've done the homework already and you're saving me the headache of finding out the hard way so it's actually a great help :D

So yeah - I don't expect anyone to be rushing to jump on board - let me get set up and sorted first and we'll see how it looks and works.

Thanks to both you and Matt for the well thought out feedback. And to everyone else feel free to throw in - (if you think it sounds stupid - let me know - save me some work :D) thoughts or other suggestions are always welcome.
Troy Kealley
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Re: Coming back...

Postby rumpusroomie on Thu Jul 30, 2009 10:59 pm

well that's a little different Troy, I was thinking you were more offering a space for people to bring content, a sort of IP collective, that's not really what you're saying, you're primarily offering people the chance to work on a property which DOES have a bit of local cache and therefore you offer value. Beginning creators or creators that want to play in your sandbox are your target, also creators who can see some syncronisity in their characters and yours could provide you with a short story as a teaser to a longer narrative they're offering on their site.
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Re: Coming back...

Postby Troy Kealley on Fri Jul 31, 2009 10:47 am

Bingo - Couldn't have put it better myself! No, really - I couldn't - want to work as my copy editor? ;)

Yes the ideas are slowly pulling together but I think that's the crux of it.
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Re: Coming back...

Postby Troy Kealley on Sat Sep 05, 2009 11:47 am

Lying in hospital for a week gave me plenty of thinking time (and pain medicine :D) and I think I gotta agree with Matt; no point forcing these things to try to sell it. I'll keep this on hold for a bit to reconsider later - first step anyway is to actually get my lazy arse back into serious drawing time - please excuse all the thinking out loud.
Sigh, too many ideas but enough time to carry them through! I do have some pages on the drawing board though so I'll update you with those soon.
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Re: Coming back...

Postby Laocorn on Sat Sep 05, 2009 6:39 pm

Troy Kealley wrote:Sigh, too many ideas but enough time to carry them through! I do have some pages on the drawing board though so I'll update you with those soon.


*tap* *tap* *tap*

Are they done yet? ;)
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Re: Coming back...

Postby The Bard on Thu Oct 01, 2009 7:55 am

You should never apologize for thinking out loud. If you can't talk to all of us on this forum who can you talk too? :)
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