Why Comic Book Publishing is Doomed

Here’s why comic book publishing is doomed…

Stopped at the local library today and thought it would be fun to see what comics and graphic novels they had on the shelves. And for some reason, I made the mistake of asking the aging librarians where to find…well, let me just tell you how it went.

ME: Hi, I’m looking for comics and graphic novels.

LIBRARIAN: What?

ME: Comic books, graphic novels. Do you have a section for them?

LIBRARIAN: (loudly to other librarian) He wants to know if we have “comic books”?

And in that moment, I regretted even asking. I could feel their harsh literary judgment scalding me, and I  wished that I’d asked if they had a porn section.

LIBRARIAN #2: Graphic novels? YA.

ME: Thanks. I see it…

LIBRARIAN: Go over to that section marked “YA.” That’s for “Young Adults and Teens.” That’s where we keep graphic novels.

ME: Thanks.

LIBRARIAN: Teen section.

ME: Thanks.

Okay. Back to the “doomed” part.

Comic book publishing is doomed if the industry continues to market comics and graphic novels to kids. Kids don’t buy comics like they used to. By and large, adults are buying comics. Don’t believe me? Go to the comic store and observe who is going up to the register to buy comics.

And let’s face it, what adult wants to be shopping or even browsing in the “teen” section of a bookstore or library.

Stop marketing comics as teen literature and make it easier for adults to shop for comics.

Free Isn’t Really Free

Lots of people, including me, use free applications. This blog is on the free version of WordPress.

But free really isn’t free. There’s always a price.

As Google grows, more people register to use their free tools, including GMail, Google Documents, YouTube, and this little tool called “Search.” Yes, and it’s all free. We love free, right?

Google is a for-profit company that has a responsibility to it’s shareholders and employees. The smart engineers who write the code for these free applications…well, they need to get paid. Everyone needs to get paid.

So how does Google make money? Well, right now, they leverage the immense amount of data that they capture every time we do a search. Or they monetize the content of our emails. Or our social networks. Or our video viewing habits.

And it’s all legal and completely above board. It’s right there in their privacy policy, if you choose to read it. It’s really not Google’s fault if you dont read the fine print. Google is an exceptional company, creates a lot of great of amazing products and does a lot of wonderful socially responsible things. But all this is made possible because they also run a hell of a business.

Google, Yahoo, Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, WordPress and others offer free services with the hopes of getting a LOT of people to register. Then, they monetize it by selling profiling data about how we use their free services. (Note: Broadcast television and radio work in similar ways. Newspapers charge a fraction of what it costs to print and deliver the paper. It’s all fueled by advertising.)

Many people are thrilled that there’s a free alternative to Microsoft’s Office suite. But when you buy their software, you get a certain amount of protected anonymity. Microsoft isnt data mining information from your private Excel spreadsheets, but free services like Google Documents and Zoho can. The front end of these services are free, but they need to find a way to earn a profit. And currently that’s done by aggregating user behavior and selling it to advertisers.

There’s really no such thing as free. And with Internet applications, free is a temporary concept. Eventually, we will all have to pay.

My new book “Women & Girls” now available

Women & Girls My new book Comic Artist’s Photo Reference: Women & Girls” is now available in stores.

If you’re planning to be at the Wizard World Philadelphia convention this weekend, I will be there with copies of the book on Saturday. I’ll be sitting at the After Hours Press booth.

Thanks for your support of my first book and my CD-ROMs. Without you, I couldn’t have made this latest book, which I think is my best effort to date.

Sincerely, thank you.

Buddy

Below is a press release that’s started to pop up on some of the comic book news sites.

“COMIC ARTIST’S PHOTO REFERENCE: WOMEN & GIRLS” TO DEBUT AT WIZARD WORLD PHILADELPHIA
Original Visual Reference CD-ROMs Debuted in Philly in 2002!

PARAMUS, NJ – The second book in Buddy Scalera’s photo reference series debuts at the Wizard World Philadelphia convention, six years after the first photo reference CD-ROMs debuted at the very same convention in 2002.

Book 2″Comic Artist’s Photo Reference: Women & Girls” is the eagerly awaited follow up to the original best selling pose file book by photographer Buddy Scalera, who is known among artists for his innovative CD-ROM series “Visual Reference for Comic Artists.” The new photo book is published by F+W Publishing’s IMPACT Books imprint.

The new book features 1000+ photos of female actors in superheroic action poses, inspiring artists with accurate anatomy reference. Contributors include Terry Moore, Jamal Igle, Josh Howard, and JG Jones, who painted the stunning female barbarian cover.

Fans who visit the After Hours Press booth in Philadelphia on Saturday May 31 will be able to meet author Buddy Scalera and cover model and actress Pamela Paige.

“Wizard’s Philadelphia convention is the perfect place to debut the new book, since that’s where I launched the very first demo of the photo reference CD-ROMs,” says Scalera. “Fans and artists in Philly have always been very supportive of my photo reference products.”

All of Scalera’s photo reference products will be available at the After Hours Press booth, including “Visual Reference for Comic Artist’s” Vol. 1-3 and “Comic Artist’s Photo Reference: People & Poses.” The books are available on June 2, 2008 at Barnes & Nobles, Borders, Amazon.com, Bud Plant Comic Art, and many fine comic book stores.

My new book "Women & Girls" now available

Women & Girls My new book Comic Artist’s Photo Reference: Women & Girls” is now available in stores.

If you’re planning to be at the Wizard World Philadelphia convention this weekend, I will be there with copies of the book on Saturday. I’ll be sitting at the After Hours Press booth.

Thanks for your support of my first book and my CD-ROMs. Without you, I couldn’t have made this latest book, which I think is my best effort to date.

Sincerely, thank you.

Buddy

Below is a press release that’s started to pop up on some of the comic book news sites.

“COMIC ARTIST’S PHOTO REFERENCE: WOMEN & GIRLS” TO DEBUT AT WIZARD WORLD PHILADELPHIA
Original Visual Reference CD-ROMs Debuted in Philly in 2002!

PARAMUS, NJ – The second book in Buddy Scalera’s photo reference series debuts at the Wizard World Philadelphia convention, six years after the first photo reference CD-ROMs debuted at the very same convention in 2002.

Book 2″Comic Artist’s Photo Reference: Women & Girls” is the eagerly awaited follow up to the original best selling pose file book by photographer Buddy Scalera, who is known among artists for his innovative CD-ROM series “Visual Reference for Comic Artists.” The new photo book is published by F+W Publishing’s IMPACT Books imprint.

The new book features 1000+ photos of female actors in superheroic action poses, inspiring artists with accurate anatomy reference. Contributors include Terry Moore, Jamal Igle, Josh Howard, and JG Jones, who painted the stunning female barbarian cover.

Fans who visit the After Hours Press booth in Philadelphia on Saturday May 31 will be able to meet author Buddy Scalera and cover model and actress Pamela Paige.

“Wizard’s Philadelphia convention is the perfect place to debut the new book, since that’s where I launched the very first demo of the photo reference CD-ROMs,” says Scalera. “Fans and artists in Philly have always been very supportive of my photo reference products.”

All of Scalera’s photo reference products will be available at the After Hours Press booth, including “Visual Reference for Comic Artist’s” Vol. 1-3 and “Comic Artist’s Photo Reference: People & Poses.” The books are available on June 2, 2008 at Barnes & Nobles, Borders, Amazon.com, Bud Plant Comic Art, and many fine comic book stores.

Techronyms for Search

In the technology business, there’s a new acronym for every new product, idea, or process. They call these “techronyms.”

Anyway, I find that mnemonic tricks sometimes help me remember techronyms and people’s names.

I wanted to share a quick one that comes up all the time when I talk with people about Google Adwords and Yahoo Search Marketing. Here’s one to help you remember the difference between Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM).

Remember that the “M” in SEM stands for “money.” The “O” in SEO is for “zero-dollars.” That’s because SEO is free.

As I think of more techronyms, I’ll post ’em. If you’ve got any, post ’em.

Hulu & Pandora Got Me Through Book 3

Well, I finally got the “all clear” signal from my editor Amy. She told me today that all of my deliverables have been accepted and my book is moving to final production. Whoo hooo!

She gave the editorial thumbs up to the final pages and the CD-ROM on my third photo reference book “Comic Artist’s Photo Reference: Men & Boys.” I did this book at the same time as I was doing the last book “Comic Artist’s Photo Reference: Women & Girls.”Men & Boys

It was, I now admit, a lot harder to complete two books at the same time than I’d originally thought. My day job is busy, but I managed to juggle both and keep everything going. However, I did NOT account for was how much work kids are as they get older. Sports, parties, and staying up later means less time for freelance. I do my work on the weekends and that’s when the kids need me most.

BUT…! It all got done. I am exhausted, but satisfied. I’m looking forward to a short mental break, but I am also excited about getting started again.

These things kept me sane during the last two books:

Pandora.com – The best personalized-music station ever. Wow. Make a playlist and Pandora makes it better. I discovered a bunch of new music through Pandora.

Amazon.com – There’s a good alternative for buying music. I love iTunes, but I hate the DRM restrictions. Amazon sells complete albums for under $9.00 and there are no DRM roadblocks. I can listen at home or at work. Music I discovered on Pandora I bought on Amazon….if it was available. Amazon doesn’t have nearly as many songs as iTunes, but I that’s already starting to change.

Hulu.com – While I work, I keep Hulu.com playing in the corner. They have tons of shows from NBC and their affiliates. I caught up great shows, including 30 Rock, The Office, SNL, Family Guy, and Cops. I even discovered a genuinely scary webisode show called Devil’s Trade. It’s one freaky, creepy show.

iTunes – I still love my iTunes. I can’t live without my podcasts. They keep me going as I grind through 1000+ Photoshop files. My favorites include: KCRW: The Business, CBC: Search Engine, KCRW: Martini Shot, On the Page: Screenwriting, PC Mag Radio, NYT Science Times, Secret Identity, The Grim Reader’s Screenwriting Advice, the 60 Minutes Podcast, and the awesome Vodcast Tiki Bar TV.

So, I’m excited to be done, but I’m already looking forward to taking more pictures.

Now…sleep.

Hulu & Pandora Got Me Through Book 3

Well, I finally got the “all clear” signal from my editor Amy. She told me today that all of my deliverables have been accepted and my book is moving to final production. Whoo hooo!

She gave the editorial thumbs up to the final pages and the CD-ROM on my third photo reference book “Comic Artist’s Photo Reference: Men & Boys.” I did this book at the same time as I was doing the last book “Comic Artist’s Photo Reference: Women & Girls.”Men & Boys

It was, I now admit, a lot harder to complete two books at the same time than I’d originally thought. My day job is busy, but I managed to juggle both and keep everything going. However, I did NOT account for was how much work kids are as they get older. Sports, parties, and staying up later means less time for freelance. I do my work on the weekends and that’s when the kids need me most.

BUT…! It all got done. I am exhausted, but satisfied. I’m looking forward to a short mental break, but I am also excited about getting started again.

These things kept me sane during the last two books:

Pandora.com – The best personalized-music station ever. Wow. Make a playlist and Pandora makes it better. I discovered a bunch of new music through Pandora.

Amazon.com – There’s a good alternative for buying music. I love iTunes, but I hate the DRM restrictions. Amazon sells complete albums for under $9.00 and there are no DRM roadblocks. I can listen at home or at work. Music I discovered on Pandora I bought on Amazon….if it was available. Amazon doesn’t have nearly as many songs as iTunes, but I that’s already starting to change.

Hulu.com – While I work, I keep Hulu.com playing in the corner. They have tons of shows from NBC and their affiliates. I caught up great shows, including 30 Rock, The Office, SNL, Family Guy, and Cops. I even discovered a genuinely scary webisode show called Devil’s Trade. It’s one freaky, creepy show.

iTunes – I still love my iTunes. I can’t live without my podcasts. They keep me going as I grind through 1000+ Photoshop files. My favorites include: KCRW: The Business, CBC: Search Engine, KCRW: Martini Shot, On the Page: Screenwriting, PC Mag Radio, NYT Science Times, Secret Identity, The Grim Reader’s Screenwriting Advice, the 60 Minutes Podcast, and the awesome Vodcast Tiki Bar TV.

So, I’m excited to be done, but I’m already looking forward to taking more pictures.

Now…sleep.

A blind love affair with the Internet

I have a quote taped to the edge of my monitor. I saw it in “Computer Currents” magazine, which is now defunct.

Here’s the quote by Clifford Stoll, noted astronomer, author, and computer expert:

Our problem is a blind love affair with the Internet. Someday soon we’ll wake up and say, “Oh my God. Look at all the time I’ve wasted online.”

by Clifford Stoll

Great quote, right? Spot on observation. But here’s the zinger…this quote is from 1997!

Think back to when you first got on the Internet. Most average people weren’t even getting online in 1997.

But somehow this guy Stoll knew that it would be a huge time waster. And blogs and social networks as we know them hadn’t even been invented yet!

I wonder what kind of predictions he’d make today.

Want to Write Better Content? Ask a Designer

Writers write. That’s what we do, right?

While we’re at it, maybe we should build a wall between us and those pesky Web Designers. Right? Wrong. Very wrong.

Back when I broke into this Internet business (circa 1995), there wasn’t a big difference between writers, web designers, and programmers. If you wanted to create for the web, you pretty much had to learn the technical tricks to get it up there. Basic HTML, Photoshop, etc.

To learn about design, I spent time with print designers. They taught me critical lessons about how to control the eye on the page.

The most important thing they taught me was to…write less.

Designers often use white space to draw attention to a specific element in the layout. Most designers are excited about using their talents to help you communicate your message. But if you weigh it down with too much copy, it ties their hands.

Review every sentence, headline, subhead and picture caption. Ruthlessly trim the total number of words.

If you’re developing website copy, run a draft past a designer before submitting it to your clients. Designers will help you understand how much will fit on a page…and how much will suck the life out of the design.

The web is a visual medium. And writing less copy is one of the best ways to deliver messages with visual impact.

Finding an Agent

The more I research it, the more I realize that I am going to have to break down and find an agent.

In terms of publishing, I’ve been fortunate. As of right now, I have two books on the shelves. And by then end of this year, I’ll have a third. And none of them required an agent.

Okay, maybe an agent would have nailed me a better advance or royalty deal. I concede that is probably true. On the other hand, I’ve been fortunate with my publisher. They’re exceptionally nice, treat me well, and are responsive.

Yet, looking forward, I definitely want to produce more books, some of which may require me to expand to new publishers. And for this, I may very well need an agent to get me into new places.

So, I suppose I will need to start looking for an agent. One of my author friends has introduced me to his agent, so we’ll see how that pans out.