I get a little depressed when I keep reading the same arguments again and again about webcomics, and Zuda, making money, rights issues, blah blah blah.
And it's HILARIOUS to me that webcomickers are coming out to complain about how to make webcomics more economically viable, and what's going to be a good model, because they all shot themselves in the foot. The internet came along, and everyone jumped in, deciding to sidestep the syndicates and go straight for that pie themselves, and now it's all over their faces.
I wanted to do comics since I was 5 years old. Since I read my first batch of Peanuts books back to front every day for a year.
As I got older, I worked on my strips, sending away my first solid strip attempt when I was 18, but it turns out I was too late. The syndicates were falling away already. Some had stopped taking submissions entirely, some were in the early stages of disappearing for good, and some sought new strips purely by headhunting off the internet. My dream was crumbling before me, and all I could ask is 'Why?'
Because people were putting comics on the internet FOR FREE.
Surely, anyone can see the inherent problem with that? How is anyone going to place a value on your work, when you can't be bothered placing one yourself.
Now, subscriptions don't work, paying to read won't work, etc. because the precedent was set. Readers now could read comics without paying 50 cents for a paper. And the comickers could now get readers without having 50 percent of their revenue taken away from them by the 'evil syndicates'. Um, what revenue? No one is paying you! Money is now completely out of the equation when it comes to reading comic strips. And now you want it? I really wish someone had have thought of that to begin with.
Sure, the standard contract from a syndicate was pretty terrible, 50 percent of the take, the option to have someone else take over your strip should you burn out, etc. There were even editorial mandates to contend with, some so constricting it destroyed some great strips. But they could go out and get your strip in to 100 papers within a week. They had access to overseas markets. They did a LOT of good stuff for that share of the take. I have a degree in advertising/marketing and I could never hope to do anything like that.
The system was in place, and the system worked, but everyone decided to go out and destroy it.
I know papers all seem to be in trouble now, but the syndicate death toll rang LONG ago.
Well, so there I was. 18, with a head full of dreams and ideas, but no real avenue to send my strips, and no desire to completely devalue my work by giving it away for free. I gave up, I retreated to the 'real world', went and got myself an advertising degree, floundered in crappy jobs, all the while scribbling comic strips mainly for my own enjoyment and growth.
There are people out there who are having fun, posting their comics on the net, working full time jobs and producing in their own time, and that's great, but if you want to make a living out of it, why would you ever give your work away for FREE? That's just bad business. When I go down to the art supply store, they certainly don't give their pens and paper to me for free.
Then Zuda came along.
Zuda, who were willing to PAY me for my work? Hot damn. And I get to keep my copyright? HOT DAMN. They'll take care of all the web stuff? And the advertising, and the promotion? HOT DAMN. I could at least handle that part of it myself, of course, but hell, all that advertising degree gave me was a strong desire to never work in advertising.
Thank god for Zuda! No more call centre jobs for me, no more soulless storyboard work. Just working on my comics, and spending my money. Zuda haven't taken any of it from me yet. Shock! People are reading and discovering my comics every day, when they used to sit in my drawer amusing no-one but me. Horror! I am telling my story the way I want to. The editors haven't changed any of my story, if anything, input from Kwanza has improved my stories. Omigod, Zuda is the devil!
You all want to be some kind of modern day Rockefeller with your comics, desperate to cling to any potential money should it (ever) come along, but you're giving your comics away for free! Your ONE asset!
Life is short. Let someone do the work you don't want to do, so you can produce the best and most art you can. Computers and web design mystifies me and I can market my comic if I really want to, (but I don't have to). All I have to do is work on my comics, make my deadlines (easy when you're enjoying yourself) and have steak for dinner.
So Zuda have a share in my property should it ever expand beyond its comic roots, if it's ever a movie or a cartoon, DC gets more of the pie, so what. I still get some, which is more than none. You want to hold on to the rights of something that no-one's reading, or have a share in the rights of something that IS out there? The odds of my 'property' ever becoming something else are still pretty slight, but they were non-existent before. Why? Because I don't want to make myself hoarse selling fish at the market, I just want to supply the fish. People like the fish, they WANT the fish. They don't like the guy yelling at them.
You can hate Zuda if you want. If you're some kind of 'cool' anti-establishment robot that likes to hate things just 'cos it's interesting to say at parties, whatever. You can see Zuda as a necessary evil, just like the syndicates were, in delivering the 'fish' we really want.
As a fish supplier, I'm just glad someone's moving them for me so they don't stink out my fridge.
You can try and do it all yourself in the hopes of success so you can retire early, buy a big house, fancy car, ivory toilet roll holders, congratulations. Here's your Greed Award. Or you can let someone else HELP you, share your success, and still live pretty well anyway, practically stress free. As Linus would say, from those Peanuts books I read all those years ago, and continue to do so, 'In 500 hundred years, who'll know the difference?'