Upcoming Seasonal Break: January & February
Aw, dry your tears. Z&F needs to hibernate for the winter (after just TWO more comics to finish this storyline), but will RETURN on March 4th! If you recall from THIS article, I need a rest from comic-making twice a year, to both catch-up on other projects as well as refuel the engine and continue to improve my craft. I’ll be periodically posting some news and updates, checking in with you fine readers, letting you know I’m not just sitting around playing video games and scarfing down Cheetos. Believe me, I have my work cut out for me– one big looming project is a little thing I call ZORPHBERT & FRED VOLUME THREE! No doubt I’ll be sharing some cover art from that!
During this break, I’d like to remind you fellow comic creators (or anyone who likes to draw!) that I am accepting FANART, which will be posted on the site AND included in Z&F Volume 3! Read THIS post for more info on the special THEME I came up with for this series of fanart– “Famous Duos”! You will be properly credited, and given a plethora of mushy thank-you’s in exchange for your hard work!
Now, A New Way of Thinking for Z&F
If you have stopped by the Webcomic Alliance in the past month, you may have read my pretty popular article on Ditching the Webcomic Business Model. It’s my new proposed plan for Z&F, actually. It has some pros and cons, depending on what kind of reader you are. I’m going to warn you, I am going to be blunt about things involving the business side of Z&F, so settle in, folks.
Here’s the thing. After almost 7 years, I have come to a realization. Zorpbert & Fred doesn’t make a good webcomic. I’m not saying I suck, or that I am killing the comic. I’m saying that there are certain types of comics that have a bigger opportunity to make a splash on the web with that demographic of readers… and Z&F isn’t it. All-ages comics, without an online-niche subject matter (video games for instance), have an especially hard time becoming successful online. Why? The best theory I can offer is that webcomic readers enjoy webcomics as they can be more edgy and “adult” than the “safe/boring” newspaper comics they grew up with. Upon first glance, Z&F is not that much different than the boring/safe comics in the papers. (This despite the fact that syndicates have expressed in rejection letters that Z&F is just a tad too far on the “quirky” side to resonate with readers. Go figure.) Anyway, the point is, 6 years plugging away at the “webcomic business model” of quality-AND-quantity-AND-social-networking is enough. It’s not working.
This is not to say that I don’t appreciate those of you who have stuck with Z&F over the years and are devout readers. I love you guys, I do. I want MORE of you. And you know what? You’re the exception, not the rule, in terms of online-comic-readers. Finding you guys is hard! Where do y’all hide, anyway???!! That’s my new goal in Z&F version 2.0. (or heck, it may be 3.0 or 4 by now). I want to spend more time promoting Z&F.. not just in the usual ways (twitter, facebook, Google+), but in new outside-the-box ways. Maybe even returning to traditional advertising & promotional outlets. After all, the people who love this comic tell me it’s because it’s a new twist on a nostalgic favorite. My demographic, as determined by THIS SURVEY, tells me my fan base consists of these age/gender/interest groups:
- preteen boys, 8-12
- men, 30-40
- men & women 40+
- young families, parents who want to share comics with their kids
- dog/pet lovers
Whereas, typical webcomic readers are the exact opposite: men/women ages 15-30 or so. Even at conventions, that age group wanders right by me, typically. Do you see my dilemma? The crowd Z&F will attract isn’t reading webcomics. I need to go find where they are, and get a book in their hands– libraries, schools, workshops, pet stores & vet offices, local comic book stores, mom & pop book stores. The people who really enjoy my comics enjoy it in BOOK-FORM, not online. And heck– that’s how I earn the money to justify this second-career-disguised-as-a-hobby.
Yes, Yes… here’s the actual CHANGES:
- Starting in 2013, there will be ONE new comic a week posted online on MONDAY, along with ONE blog post on FRIDAY (which could be fanart, news, appearances, etc). Possible extra post on Wednesday with fun series like Clipart FAIL, or Contests!
- However, I will be drawing TWO comics a week. That other comic will go into a collection to be purchased via the website store, and only available via a purchase.
- Collections will be offered in both print AND as digital “ebook” downloads. Each will have some different bonus content. The printed collections will have 200 comics each for $20, the “ebooks” will have 100 per, for $.99.
- The extra time I’ll have leftover from “only” doing 2 comics a week instead of 3 will be spent promoting the comic in new ways (as listed above)
- Without the pressure to pad my website stats, I will be doing away with those annoying ads, and promoting the BOOKS more. For those who follow me on social networks, you may see a decrease in all the shameless GO READ MY COMIC posts, and more actual DAWN posts.
To put it succinctly, Zorphbert and Fred is a COMIC STRIP, to be read in comic collection format. There also happens to be some sample comics online, for you to get a taste of what the comic is about. Much like smartphone & tablet apps, you can have a taste for free, sure.. but if you want it ALL, you have to pay the creator for their hard work. Many readers are so used to 100% free content with just the option to buy it, so I realize there may be some angry pushback for my decision to not give all my content away for free. To those people, I only have to say: read the free comics and leave it at that, or don’t read at all. I’m not going to apologize for thinking my hard work, my talent, is worth something. If app creators can charge you $0.99 for an app they slaved away on and everyone seems to be OK with that, I can charge the same for an ebook.
That pretty much sums it up. Zorphbert & Fred will return on March 4th, once a week. I will be making plenty of appearances on the east coast (and elsewhere if I can ever afford it), spending my time promoting this old-fashioned comic, the old-fashioned way, and see if I can make any further headway towards my ultimate goal: A full-time, self-syndicated cartoonist, with 3 updates a week online and even MORE comics in her 10+ collections!
Feedback? What’s your hunch on this?