webcomic$ – the future, now

Is Slave Labor Graphics a publisher of comic books, graphic novels or digital content? While the answer is “yes” to all three, SLG publisher Dan Vado discussed their shifting business model, as they move from the monthly comic book format to a combination of digital downloads and trade paperback collections.

Noting that the monthly comic book format has “gotten really soft,” Vado said during a panel at WonderCon on Friday that the format was no longer building an audience for them and that trying to maintain it was counterproductive. Meanwhile, they see an opportunity on the Internet, as more fans are downloading comics.

“Girl Genius” was the first comics to move from printing individual issues to serializing on the web, so you can read the whole series for free, if you like. New issues are put out three times a week, and the original printed issues are available for reading as well, making “Girl Genius” about as easy to catch up on as you could ask for.

If you don’t like reading things on a screen, you can also buy the trades, which has the added benefit of allowing the Foglios to buy luxuries like food and shelter.
“Our readership is way up,” said Foglio. “At a conservative guesstimate by a factor of ten. Our sales have quadrupled, and not just from our online store. Sales through Diamond have gone way up, and I hear from store owners all the time saying that we’re one of their bigger independent sellers. We no longer have to spend the time and effort to lay out individual issues, and with the time we save, we actually produce more ‘Girl Genus’ material per year. Not producing the periodical comics saves us money – at least $20,000.00 a year.

THE ECONOMICS OF WEBCOMICS: a free online ebook by Todd Allen, webcomics researcher, which I’m currently reading.

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