I first met Mark Waid at the ICV2 Conference on Comics and Digital, held immediately preceding the 2010 New York Comic Con. At the time, he was with BOOM! Studios, and was getting a lot of flack for his vocal support of moving comics towards digital. “As an industry, we cannot allow ourselves to be held hostage by two thousand retail accounts”, was the quote that I most remember.
Since then, he’s left BOOM! and started a digital comics platform, Thrillbent, with Leverage creator (and comics writer)John Rogers.
The Onion AV Club (source of the great Louis C.K. interview I posted a link to here last week) has a pre-SDCC interview with Waid, where he talks, among other things, about his views on the digital future of comics, and the current state of the industry.
“We have over the past 50 years very, very successfully taken what used to be a mass medium and successfully turned it into a niche market. Which is crazy, the idea that comics are a destination point now, that I can’t find them anywhere. If I’m in the middle of the country, I have to get in a phonebook and see if there’s a store within 100 miles of me that even carries comics.”
Transitioning from that reality to digital makes sense:
“The beauty of digital, the beauty of the iPad, the beauty of mobile devices is that that’s the new newsstand. That gives us the potential to reach out to people and give them comics on a platform that is as ubiquitous to them as convenience stores were to you and me when we were growing up. That doesn’t mean they’ll automatically find comics. It doesn’t mean that is an automatic fix. I’m not saying that because we sold a million iPads today means that there’s a million other people going to read comics next week. But at least there’s a fighting chance. There’s a much better chance to reach them through the iPad than through comics stores.”
And his view of the future of comics, of particular interest to Insurgent Creatives:
“Self-publishing on the web, covering production costs through inexpensive downloads and/or donations, then aggregating in print along with special bonus features for those fans who want a physical object to put on their shelves. Skirting around the big players like DC and Marvel, and realizing that with social media being the power it is now, if you’re willing to put the time and effort into it and your work is good, you can build a self-sustaining fan base that may not kick in enough to buy you a new BMW every year, but can at least make your enterprise profitable, where you’re making a decent living doing what you love.”
…and that’s it, right there. The key to it all, regardless of if you’re a writer, an artist, a musician… the tools exist that enable you to do it yourself, and sure, you might not get rich — but you’ll get a decent living. If you were offered the opportunity to create for a living, and told that you probably will not get wealthy or famous, but that you will be able to survive on what you create — wouldn’t you take that opportunity?
So, why haven’t you?