This Column was a collaborative piece done with Steve Savage (The Boss at Fan to Pro)which first ran on Comics Bulletin.Last week, Steve and Dan told you about their Voltron moment, when all these seemingly disparate thoughts came crashing together to form a giant ass-kicking robot of an idea. That idea was something we started calling Comics Necropolis.
If you missed the column last week (and shame on you), basically Comics Necropolis would be a digital archive of obscure comics that have gone out-of-print and are not owned by any existing large publishing house. This would be something that would add value to the world at large (and could actually become a self-supporting entity) as an archive of what didn't work, a place to revive lost books that should have garnered more attention, an opportunity to get a broader sense of the history of comics, and an opportunity to understand the march of technology.
Yes, there’s the chance for this to be a place of oddities and weirdness, but jokes aside, the value is quite high.
There are a number of places/organizations that are doing the same sort of things with the likes of pulp fiction, short films, old photos, obscure poetry, and so on. Why not comics? Comics have as sizable a niche as these other media, and there is certainly a plethora of material out there to be repositioned in this format and brought to a wider audience (I mean, hell, that's what Daniel’s Cheap Thrills column is all about).
This week we promised to talk about how this could be done and what features Comics Necropolis should have – putting legs on the pony, as it were. Yes, we opened ourselves to MLP jokes.
We started with some questions about the format of Comics Necropolis and how it can become a self-sustaining entity. Basically, we asked each other, “How would this work?” We bandied back and forth a few thoughts on this and narrowed it down to these five elements:
- At a minimum there needs to be a website for communications and data, an organized and effective way to contact authors to secure the rights to reprint/post these lost comics. This is really the first step, because without the rights to these works, nobody can legally share them in their entirety. The site would start as a kind of community to work together to figure this stuff out – and find people.
- If possible, a deal should be made with an existing digital comic company to publish the works that Comic Necropolis has secured the rights to. This is important because not only does it provide a means to get these comics back in circulation, it also minimizes production costs.
- There should be a blog or newsletter set up to provide advanced notice about the comics and the progress. It would spur interest in upcoming projects and keep Comics Necropolis as an entity in the public consciousness.
- Ultimately a magazine (electronic or not) should be published on obscure comics that would make the endeavor profitable. There needs to be a financial reward for the time and effort put in by whoever is taking on this idea.
- Another focus should be the development of a pure publishing/republishing branch of Comics Necropolis. This too would add to the profit margin.
- It would need to have a forum for public interaction in order to build a community – going back to #1. A vibrant, interactive community is paramount to the success of this sort of venture – plus it could be a form of crowdsourcing for finding new material for Comics Necropolis.
As we said last week, “Like this idea? Intrigued? Oh, there's more” Next week we discuss an actual business plan . . .