As we reach the waning days of the year, thoughts naturally turn to what’s in store ahead. The interesting thing, for me, is that 2010 has been a year almost entirely given over to planning for what’s ahead. From SXSW in March, to the ICV2 Conference on Comics and Digital (at the New York ComicCon) in October, nearly all of the work I’ve put in this year has been devoted to getting my ducks in a row for a redirection of my efforts.
Last night was the Winter Solstice. The longest night of the year, when those of us of the various pagan faiths celebrate the end of the long night and the return of life and light. It was also the night of a total Lunar eclipse — making it the darkest long night in over 500 years. Symbolically, pretty powerful stuff. So today, it seems doubly appropriate to talk about the future.
Check out this blog entry from Avalanche Press. They go into detail about the costs of producing their boxed wargames, and the financial straits that this puts them in. They also ask their fans for patronage, to bolster their accounts in a time when no small business is having any luck in securing short-term loans, much less ones in a risky industry. (and I’m using Avalanche’s own term here, so the “oh, GMS is doomsaying AGAIN” crowd can, frankly, suck it.) That’s not a pretty picture — and Avalanche is well-established, having been around for 16 years.
The writing on the wall for the tabletop games industry (especially RPG releases) has pretty much convinced me to pull that side of Adamant back to part-time work. To be honest, I don’t think that the end-user customer will notice any real difference. The real difference will be in the amount of work and stress for me, behind the scenes. If I work on gaming less, I expect that we’ll be able to hit our release schedules better — so the overall amount of product won’t really change from the delay-ridden schedule we have now. Full-time game work + stress = same release schedule as part-time game work and less stress, basically.
This adjustment will allow me to focus more on the other areas where Adamant has been laying foundation throughout this past year. Some efforts, like FAR WEST, will be transmedia projects, across multiple product types and platforms. But not every project needs transmedia expression — some are perfectly well-served by a focused-media approach. So in 2011, Adamant will be rolling out a fiction line, as well as a digital comics line.
It is my firm belief that despite today’s FCC enactment of toothless, corporate-loophole-ridden and sure-to-be-legally-challenged “net neutrality” rules (which don’t deserve the name), the future of creative entertainment is digital — especially in 2011. This coming Saturday, millions of people will become owners of shiny new iPads, Kindles, Nooks and other devices. Over the course of the year, more tablet device options will become available. All of these millions will join the millions who already have such devices, feeding the growing demand for content to be consumed on the devices. 2011 will be the year that digital begins to hit the mainstream.
The fiction line is a no-brainer. The experience of established writers like J.A. Konrath and novice start-up entrepeneur writers like Amanda Hocking points to a clear fact: it is no longer necessary to release through a traditional publishing house, and in fact, the stars have pretty much aligned perfectly for plans along the lines of my idea of ‘disposable digital entertainment’ that I presented in a blog entry called “ePulp” back in April. So that’s what I’ll be doing — and not just me. I’ve got a number of other writers lined up as well, and Adamant’s fiction line (releasing digitally and in print) will be kicking off in mid-year, if everything goes to plan.
At the ICV2 Conference, I spoke with Mark Waid (and dozens of other folks) about the future of digital comics. I’m pleased (and completely unsurprised) to see that Waid has announced that he’s leaving BOOM! Studios and will be concentrating on digital. In October, his advice led me to formulate Adamant’s plan for a digital comics line — digital comics replacing individual issues, and then collected in print for book trade distribution as graphic novels. I’m looking at this as a full creator-ownership platform, and I think that 2011-12 will see a *massive* explosion in the digital comics arena, and getting in early to stake a claim is a priority. I’ve already received some great pitches — from established pros, in fact — and I’m very excited to explore this new frontier.
Yesterday, Kevin Smith posted some great thoughts for creatives via Twitter. He assembled these “Smonologues”, as he called them, into two blog posts on his site. In the first, he posits that the secret to “making it” is to identify what you love to do and monetize that. The second is by far my favorite, with a lot of wonderful thoughts about the process, self-doubt and more. In it, he says:
“two people believing is the start of a congregation. You build a congregation of believers and you try to build a cathedral. Sometimes, it’s just a church. Sometimes, it’s a chapel. Folks who don’t build churches will try to tell you how you’re doing it wrong, even as your steeple breaks the clouds. Don’t listen.
But before all of that, you gotta start with the idea – and not just the idea for the story/ movie/ novel/ installation/ song/ podcast/ whatever. You gotta start with the idea that you can do this – something that’s not normally done by everybody else. […] Embrace a reasonable amount of unreasonability.”
So that’s what 2011 holds for me. I’m going to be unreasonable. Will you join me?