March 31, 2012

Comics Necropolis - Part Three

This Column was a collaborative piece done with Steve Savage (The Boss at Fan to Pro)which first ran on Comics Bulletin.

So Dan and Steve are still on their tear about the idea of a Comics Necropolis - an on-line resource and eventually archive for odd, obscure, weird, and lost titles. Last week they talked about how it might work - well the next question is, "what's a good business plan?"

Not that we're like prodding people or anything. No, not at all. We're inspiring you.

After some careful analysis, they realized there's actually a pretty straightforward process - but one that's going to take dedication, thought, and a willingness to read really bad stuff.

Step #1: Website. A site needs to be established immediately as a rallying point and promoted. Fortunately, this is pretty easy to do (it's maintaining it that's the problem). Between tools like Rapidweaver, Joomla, and Wordpress putting something out insanely fast is easy.

Step #2: Rally your forces. This ain't happening alone. Whoever takes on this burden needs a team of crack people. Fortunately lots of people love comics and many people love obscure comics.

Step #3: Legal team. Among the rallied troops in the battle to resurrect the old comics from the grave of bargain bins will be people with legal knowledge about publishing. They'll be needed, trust me.

Step #4: Target and Identify. Comics Necropolis, using its core rallying point, should target and identify 25-50 comics titles that are worth bringing into the Necropolis in some for or another. The team would then set out to research them, find them, look into rights, etc.

Step #5: Get the rights. The rights for digital reprints or even online reprints should eventually shake out of the 25-50 titles. It might not be many, but it'll be a start.

Step #6: Publish the works. The rights that are received should be used as soon as possible to get the comics out there - and perhaps get income flowing in. This idea will live if it has momentum, but die if it loses it.

Step #7: Website improvement. As the works go out, the website needs to grow with it. It also can become a site with documentation on the search, historical articles, and more - a predecessor to later efforts.

Step #8: Secondary revenue streams. Don't count on the comics to pay for themselves. The site needs to secure revenue in the form of ads, merch, and more.

Step #9: Expansion. With regular research and inclusion of comics, regular articles, and regular income, the site should keep expanding its effort. It'll need to be treated as a business - even if it's a hobby - quickly due to the complexity.

Ultimately the site's critical points are:

  • Initiation. It has to start strong.
  • Quick Hits. It has to get quick hits to keep attention.
  • Maintenance and regular process. It has to regularly improve, get new material, etc.
  • It'd say it's doable with a small core team, and you can scale the plan as needed (even if it was a handful of people they could, say, target a limited selection). It might not pay the bills - it may never pay the bills - but then again, you never know.

There is a huge backlog of weird, old, and forgotten out there . . .

Next Column: Bells, and whistles, what we'd want to see in a Comics Necropolis in detail.

Check out everything that is Steve Savage here and make sure you check out his excellent site on how to turn your hobby into your career, Fan To Pro.

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