Sunday, 12 February 2012

A change might come... demographics, piracy and other stuff

A recent announcement that story doesn't really matter for flag-pole movies comes at a strange time.

For the first time, studios are seeing bigger box-office revenue being generated outside of the US market. The need to create for a smaller, less localised demographic is changing.

Story might not matter for flag-pole movies, but flag-pole movies matter less and less to studios and viewers alike.

Could this also result in a change with comics?

Comic books move to wide-screen story telling to increase the scope of the page, but limit the scope of the story, has hopefully had it's day.

Can we move to a time where the less "flag-pole" books are the real revenue generators? Probably not for a long time, but they can be for the creators. More reach is now afford to creators, and the means of keeping production costs down seem to increase every day.

Hopefully we will see a new dawn in creative story telling come to the fore in the coming years.

Following on from recent announcements of the pro's of piracy from the likes of Neil Gaiman and Paulo Coehlo, and the recent announcement that movie piracy didn't adversely effect box office, I've been trying to think of a term which I think sums up the big problem here.

There is a tipping point, wherein brand recognition and reach/availability means that piracy can and does lead to in increase in sales from those who might not have bought your work before.

However, there is a bottom end, inverse to this, where in the cost of production isn't offset enough by the loss of revenue through lost sales caused by piracy.

If you imagine an hourglass shape, the pinch of which is the point where the brand recognition of a product is cancelled out by the lost sales through piracy (that is a zero effect), then anything above that can lead to a return from regained sales through piracy, underneath a loss of revenue.

Most lesser known creators with smaller catalogues, less reach are going to find themselves below the pinch - any lost sale having a bigger effect, increasing as the reach shrinks.

I still think there is a way of using piracy to the creators advantage, but for now the greatest thing we can still do is to make our work as readily and easily available as possible.

Following on from the internet-wide dislike of the treatment of Gary Friedrich, I made the mistake of reading some comments on a couple of comic-news websites.

I was really angry at the dismissiveness of some of the "fans" out there - some attacking Gary's character, saying he deserves everything he gets.

Fans need to grow up, to stop siding with the corporations that care so little about their precious comic book heroes. The people who created those characters, who crafter the stories that you claim to so love, are not the people who work for corporations, or for the grand-daddy lobby group, the lawyers.

Lets see how good the comics are when the creators leave.

I really would love for some union for the comic book folk out there, but sadly think this will never happen.

It would be marvelous, in my opinion, if the smaller independent creators boycotted Artist Alleys for the rest of the year. Pulled funding away from those people so that they couldn't attract the big names on our dime.

What if we all stood up and said "sorry, but I can't do your artist alley for $100-300 this year, because I have no idea what might happen to me if some kid comes up and asks me to sketch Spider-Man for him... I can't take that risk".

Sadly won't happen though.

I think a change is coming, where publishers won't have us over a barrel so much, where retailers won't dismiss us as sub-par, desperate to stay in bed with the big boys. Where fans actually respect the creators.

It will take time... but hopefully it will come.

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