Memories of Deadlight Studios

 

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Dead Men Tell No Tales #1 Cover by Ben Templesmith

Since today is Flashback Friday, I was reminiscing about my early days as a comic creator. Of course, the first thing that came to mind was Deadlight Studios. It was 2006 and my first creator-owned mini-series, Dead Men Tell No Tales, had been published by Arcana Comics. It was a smash-hit, and I quickly gained a devoted (and awesomely crazy) following.

Around that time I was producing several webcomics, and I had signed one of them, Jim Reaper, to a deal at Silent Devil Productions (remember them?). I was also involved in several anthologies and had many comic pitches in production. I was thrilled to be making comics and I was anxious to reach out and connect with aspiring and established comic creators. But what I really wanted to do was to help newcomers break into the industry. If anyone had been through hell to get there, it was me. Surrounded by naysayers who were the closest to me, and living in a seriously messed up situation, I had done it. And I wanted people to know if they worked hard enough and didn’t give up, they could make it, too. What they needed, I knew, was positive people around them who would encourage and provide a bit of guidance–someone who had seen some success, had a critical eye, and would tell them the truth… even when it hurt.

Enter Deadlight Studios.

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What a magical time that was! With my trusty partner in crime, Darrell Mogg, we created a visually stunning website with a lively and thriving community forum. A couple of times I even got my buddies, Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith, to drop by and say hello!

My good friend, Amer Kokh, provided the art for the site together with friend and Dead Men Tell No Tales colorist, Michael DeVito. I never could have made it happen by myself. These friends caught my vision and helped me make it happen. It was a magical collaboration and I’ll never forget the experience of bringing it together and giving it life.

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During the course of our conversation I brought up the idea of putting together a horror anthology titled Deadlight Theatre. The forums were abuzz and it was really a wonderful time as forum members put together teams and created several short horror stories for the anthology. Everyone was excited.

And then it was gone. People were shocked.

The truth of the matter is that I was being medically separated from the Army and at the same time, I assumed sole responsibility of my three young sons, so Deadlight Studios took a back seat to raising them. I was unable to keep it going and give my sons the care they needed, and as any single dad will tell you, they would have done the same thing. Some people understood, some people didn’t. But no one was more disappointed than I was.

Some people on the outside say it was a noble idea to create a community where comic creators help one other. I mean, there are others who have done something similar, but none of them were headed up by an industry insider. Some might say it was a dumb idea, that I should have concentrated on my own brand rather than worrying about other “schmucks” trying to break into the industry. Whichever camp you fall into is your prerogative. All I know is that I am still close friends with many fine people I met during the “Deadlight Years,” and I gained invaluable experience that I believe will ensure the success of Hocus Pocus Comics. So I will call it a WIN.

 

Rest in Peace, Deadlight Studios. You are gone but not forgotten.

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-Dwight

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Alternate Distribution Options Part 3: UPDATED

Thank You Very Much

I’d like to start off by saying an extra-big, Galactus-sized thank you to everyone who is taking the time to read my blog. I know more people are reading than commenting, but that’s fine. This is a controversial topic that many creators don’t wish to address publicly. Many felt more comfortable responding directly through PM, DM and e-mail. There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, I am thankful for every response I get. So please… keep ’em coming.

Get Your Work Out There

Let’s break it down: Until a site is created that offers comics in several different formats at the click of a button, the goal of using alternate distribution options must be to make your work available in as many formats as possible to increase your readership and potential for generating income. I know some will disagree, but think about it: if your work is available as–say–a webcomic (with Project Wonderful ads), hard copies (IndyPlanet), PDFs (Eagle One Media) and iPhone and iPod Touch files (iVerse Media), you have increased your potential to attract more readers and generate income. If your work is only available as a webcomic, however, you limit the reader’s options and the potential to generate revenue. Indie creators don’t have the resources or established fanbase for an undertaking like Marvel’s digital comic initiative that consolidates everything onto one site, but I would submit that their goal is very similar: making their product available in several different formats while increasing the potential to generate income.

You can’t go wrong basing your business model on the best in the industry.

Alternate Distribution Options by the Numbers, Continued

4. Eagle One Media – According to their site, EOM is known for “producing, marketing, and distributing high quality animated comic DVDs, series & educational products for the retail North American marketplace.” EOM has recently begun offering digital comic downloads as well. Publishers like IDW, Moonstone and Desperado Publishing are represented there–as well as smaller indie publishers. Eagle One Media does not require publishers to make their content exclusive, which is a bonus. I’ll get back to why this is important.

On EOM’s site, you can make your comics available for PDF download for a determined price. Readers pay, download the file and the money is deposited into your EOM account to be paid to you quarterly. It’s quick, easy and the staff is wonderful.

Bottom Line: You would not want to use EOM exclusively, but it may be a nice opportunity to increase readership and put a couple bucks in your pocket. If used in association with a webcomic and POD publisher, you may increase your readership and put a bit of cash in your pocket at the same time. On the other hand, EOM’s traffic has fallen 40% in the past three months. If you link to Eagle One Media on your site, however, you will drive readers to their site to download your books, so this may be a moot point. But make no mistake: you’re not going to get rich at Eagle One Media, but something’s better than nothing and you’re increasing your readership–right?

5. Myebook.com – Myebook offers comic books that can be read onscreen. They are modeled after Wowio’s pre-Platinum days. By having several sponsors, Myebooks is able to pay publishers a modest sum every time a reader views their books.

Bottom line: After having an attorney look over Myebook’s contract, I was directed not to sign it due to some vague legalese that appeared to give Myebook consent to publish hard copies of my books. Perhaps someone out there who is using Myebooks could chime in and tell me how it is working for them, but, in the meantime, I have to say that while providing another possible revenue stream, you may unknowingly be giving Myebook consent to publish your work in other formats.

Workin’ It

I would like to direct your attention to two sites that I believe have gotten it right:

The first site is Th3rdworld Studios. Th3rdworld offers their titles as webcomics and print copies. I have known Th3rdworld publisher Michael DeVito for several years, and he has intimated that each title will also be available as an on-site digital download in the near future. Michael is attempting to follow Marvel’s business model and I have to believe that he–and Th3rdworld–will succeed. In fact, I’ll be making an announcement that involves yours truly and Th3rdworld Studios. Keep an eye out for it.

The second site is Keenspot. Keenspot is a webcomic host site that–for a relatively small price–will host your webcomic. Customers are free to use Project Wonderful ads or “Donate buttons” where readers can “tip” the creator or creative team, and they also have hard copies of several webcomics available in their store. I have not used Keenspot, but I have only heard good things about them. Perhaps I’ll track down Chris Crosby to give me the lowdown.

Time to Fly

I’m afraid that’s all the time I have today, so I’m going to cut it off here. Listen: if you are using one of the aforementioned distribution outlets and have information that confirms or refutes what I’ve posted, please drop me a line at dwightmacpherson@gmail.com and let me know about it. I really want to present the most factual information available–and there’s no better way to do that than by offering firsthand and reliable secondhand information.

UPDATE: I have been contacted by a representative from Myebooks and will address their rebuttal tomorrow.

Alternate Distribution Options Part 2

Mic Check… Is This Thing On?

It would appear that my exchange with a certain online persona is gaining more attention than what I’m actually saying. I’ll be honest with you: I don’t care. If all that’s required to raise creator awareness is that I “stick it to” or “tweak” someone for their shortsightedness, so be it. It’s obviously gaining the attention of creators and small press publishers, so I’m glad it happened.

Alternate Distribution Options by the Numbers, Continued

3. Webcomics – As you may or may not know, my webcomic The Surreal Adventures of Edgar Allan Poo was nominated for a Harvey Award last year. I was not aware of the advertising broker Project Wonderful when I fist posted my webcomic. Now… I will freely admit that I do not have firsthand information about Project Wonderful yet, but I have signed up for the service and will be using it from this point forward. Friend and Th3rdworld Studios’ Publisher Michael DeVito subscribes to the service and has told me that he is seeing a steady stream of income from Project Wonderful, so I decided to give it a shot. I’ll be sure to let you know how that goes.

According to Keenspot and ComicGenesis co-CEO Chris Crosby, the best approach is to “Put your comic on an attractive, easy-to-navigate website (use popular webcomics as an example) and then advertise it on popular webcomics using Project Wonderful. That will get you way more readers than WOWIO can right now, guaranteed, and you won’t have to sign a contract with Platinum Studios.”

Bottom line: You can generate a moderate to substantial income from webcomics. No doubt about it. If you don’t believe me, do a bit of research on Perry Bible Fellowship, PvP and Penny Arcade, to name a few. Combine a webcomic format with a POD publisher and you may have a recipe for big time success.

Addendum:

Chris Crosby informed me that “WOWIO has dropped in traffic by about 54% over the past three months according to Alexa.com. It currently ranks Wowio.com as #144,150 in web traffic. If Wowio.com was an individual webcomic with that traffic rank, it would not be considered popular. The fact that Wowio.com is home to HUNDREDS of individual comics makes that rank even more sad.”

Yikes! I stand corrected. Thank you, Chris, for chiming in!

Addendum 2:

Look for Ka-Blam to make a major announcement in the next few days in light of Diamond’s new threshold change. Write this down, Rich! *poke poke*

Audi 5000

I’m afraid that’s all the time I have time today. My children are (more) rambunctious (than usual), so I’m going to take them over to my folks’ to burn off some energy. After an hour or two of snow ball fights and snow angels, I may have some time to write. Or not.