The Business of Comics

There’s an article on Comic Book Resources by Brian Hibbs which talks about how to move the comics in your comic shop. Order what you think will sell, sort out what sells and what doesn’t and have a mark-down bin.

But wait. If you’re reading ArtPatient, you are likely a fan of webcomics (and create one) and you probably do not own a comic book shop. So what am I mentioning this for? What does this have to do with webcomics?

After describing how one runs a comic shop, Mr. Hibbs basically tells us in detailed numbers that comic shop owners will end up with surplus inventory a.k.a. unsold comics. Stacks of unsold comics. Even with a bargain bin, you’ll be left with a mountain of surplus. You could say that with an ever-available webcomic archive online, you will always have a surplus that doesn’t generate profit. What are we to do?

He mentions a good business practice: “My wife gets into the “customer appreciation” sales at Nordstroms, where they basically give their “best” (usually, highest spending, as far as I can tell, but a few others as well) customers an advance crack at the stuff they’re going to put on sale. I thought that was a great idea, one worth stealing. So we picked a Sunday and opened two hours early, and gave all of our subscribers, and a handful of other favorite customers first crack at the 1400 books.

I think this applies to webcomic artists just as much as comic shops. If you have a website, you have some viewers that are your regulars. These folks spend their precious time to look at the work you’re put up on the web. Reward them by giving them an exclusive shot at something special.

Exactly what that is might be different for every comic. Wallpapers, new character shots and those things are good ideas. Maybe a bonus comic. Maybe a “cut scene” comic where you show something going on elsewhere in the comic world or foreshadow the next storyline. The wonderful thing is that you’re bound to have very specific ideas that will be great for your favorite comic. Feel free to offer a suggestion here so we can all benefit from it.

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