By Filip Sablik
Publisher, Top Cow Productions Inc.
We live in an age where unparalleled information is at our fingertips. Not only things like the news or reference material, but information about our friends and even people we don’t actually know.
How many of us start our workday by checking our favorite news or pop culture sites like Newsarama or skimming our RSS feeds in our favorite browsers? Or find ourselves checking up on our Facebook friends’ statuses on our iPhones while standing in line for a cup of coffee? Or checking-in at an exciting new restaurant and tweeting what we’re having for dinner? Okay, maybe that last one is just me.
I admit I’m an information junkie. Part of it is job-related; I need to keep up with the latest in comic news and industry happenings. Another aspect is just part of my ever growing need for feeling connected and informed. I check Twitter after my morning run and sometimes beforehand. I run through a dozen or so RSS feeds with my cup of coffee. I update my status while watching TV in the evening. Yep, I have a problem.
I recently noticed that this constant information streaming and processing has had an unintended casualty. The time I’d previously spent reading comics, magazines and books has shifted in part to downloading information. Which left me wondering, how many people are in the same boat as I am?
Have you noticed your personal comic reading decline with the rise of the internet? Or do you limit your leisure web surfing to the traditional limits of your workday? Yes, dear employers, your employees probably spend as much time goofing off on the internet as they do working on whatever project they’ve been assigned by you.
If there’s a large group of us looking at the internet all the time, could the future of comics include not only digital comics on your phone or computer, but combinations of daily updates with links to new sequences or pages of comics? Or perhaps even more frequent links with single images accompanied by 140 characters or less of dialogue and captions. Is it that far-fetched to think our beloved art form might evolve in this direction? In India, there are already plans to deliver comics through SMS messaging on mobile phones. USA Today featured some Twitter comics recently. WebDesignerDepot.com also highlighted some 50 Twitter-based comics. For the time being, most of these tend to be comedic, one beat strip-style stories, but who’s to say you couldn’t do serialized fiction in a similar manner?
Last week, I took a trip to Memphis to meet with some of the hardest-working, forward thinking retailers in the country at the annual ComicsPRO Meeting. These guys think outside the box and are all about promoting the business and art form of comics. There was a fair amount of concern over the future of the future of digital comics, like in the image above from Panelfly, and how it will impact the direct market. What was heartening to hear was the consensus, from all of the publisher representatives who were present, who were not only dedicated to pushing new customers to the direct market, but also the strong belief that the digital reading experience could not replicate the experience of reading a hard copy comic book.
As for myself, I have to agree. As addicted as I am to the internet and the waves and waves of information available on it, nothing gives me the same warm, fuzzy feeling of cracking open a comic—the feel and smell of the paper, the act of turning pages, the ability to hold this artifact of pop culture in your hands. Our next opportunity to pull in a new group of potential fans is coming in May with Free Comic Book Day. Grab a friend or someone you know through your social network and encourage them to pick up a comic, won’t you? If you are so inclined, recommending our FCBD offering Artifacts #0 would make me happy.
Filip Sablik is the Publisher of Top Cow Productions, Inc. He’s been in the business for ten years and is in his thirties. Occasionally, he does a bit of writing and drawing. He loves comics. Top Cow Productions, Inc. was founded by Marc Silvestri, co-founder of Image Comics. Top Cow currently publishes its line of comic books in 21 languages in over 55 different countries. The company has launched 20 franchises (18 original and two licensed) in the industry’s Top 10, seven at #1, a feat accomplished by no other publisher in the last two decades.