Tuesday, 17 March 2009

So why should we save it?

Kids LOVE comics, but have you ever tried buying a kids comic?

They are all full of junk... short, usually insipid, stories sandwiched between

merchandising, advertising, licensing and other trash.

But not the DFC.

Pure, unADULTerated bliss.

A really idiosyncratic mix of things, too.

It set out to be completely supported by its subscribers but with limited resources for marketing, it has been reliant on word of mouth to build a reader base.... and in these credit crunchy days it hasn't grown fast enough for its backers.

But it is passionately adored by its readers and with a bit of love and care and a lot of evangelism it could build a much bigger subscriber base, perhaps not existing solely as a wonderfully printed artefact in the uk but reaching out over the interweb to small comic lovers everywhere.

Kids love comics and if you love your kids, they will love you for saving the DFC.


  1. I think it'd be a great idea to start up a website with original comics content. In the first instance, new strips go up on the site where people can read them for free at first. The purpose of those regular instalments is to give people a reason to keep coming back and of course you need to give them other stuff to buy if possible - Vern & Lettuce dolls or whatever.

    The investors would own the site and between them have a 50% share in all of the rights in the strips. Here's how it pays off in the medium term: as strips build up a solid amount of content, book publishers come sniffing around and asking if they can release a strip in book form. Normally it's hard to get a good deal with a publisher, because you're only offering them the promise of a book that has yet to be written. In this case, you'd be talking to several publishers and they would see that new instalments were going up every month - so if they want to step in and get a publishing deal, it's up to them to make an attractive offer asap.

    I guess it might take about 10-14 months to get the first few book deals. That's how long you have to keep the content flowing without revenue, ie paid for by the investors. (You might get some ad revenue coming in before then, but I'm not sure that I'd bank on that.) Let's say 14 new pages of strips go up every week. Paying the creators an okay-ish £150 per page, that means an outlay of around £120,000 on the content. Plus design, editing and maintenance call it £200,000.

    When the tp editions come out, the investors get 50% of any royalties. Looking at the longer-term value, a company like Marvel makes less than 15% of its money from sales of comics and trade paperbacks, the rest is from exploitation of IP rights. So you'd want to focus on strips that have the potential to become movies, TV shows, videogames, etc. The kind of prose novels that are being published for the kids and YA market would be a useful guide, perhaps.

    So the plan needs an investment pool of £200,000. There are precedents - a lot of indy movies raise finance by selling shares. 400 people with an average investment of £500 each and you're ready to go.

  2. There's a lot of webcomics out there already. A few, but not many of them, manage to make a living from merchendise.

    The big problem is the same as probably impacted the DFC, how do you get the word out there?

    I stopped listening a while ago, but the early webcomics weekly podcasts give an idea on how some people are trying to make a living from their strips.

  3. I think Random House have really missed the point on the DFC. They should have got DFC related books out there that would help publice the comic. There should have been a 2008 Christmas Annual and we should be having a 2009 Summer special. Sorry but I think Random House have been really premature in shutting down the DFC after just 9 months.

    Oh and count me in on the £500

  4. Dave, you should check out Kidjutsu (http://www.kidjutsu.com). We are building a kids comics website that will eventually be supported by advertising. I am currently working hard to grow the traffic for the website. With a large enough audience, advertising revenue should sustain the site and its creators.

    I'm currently working with many creators who already put up their comics online for free in the form of webcomics. In exchange for non-exclusive rights to publish their work on Kidjutsu, we provide the audience, the technical expertise, and a percentage of profits.

  5. What about trying the Arts Council, seeing if they'd fund in some way?