up and coming art, stories and comics by steve pugh

Monday, January 28, 2008

PIRATED- AAR!

DCP >scan on the left
Original
on the right

So Shark-Man has turned up in a CBR pirate version, scanned by some guys named Team DCP.
How do i feel about it?
Well i dunno really.
Yeah, I'm kinda flattered in one way, but it's not like i can rationalize at it as an advert for a live concert in the way a musician can. It took three hard months to put Shark-Man #2 together, and we're not making much back.There's the "reaching a wider audience" thing i guess, and there's no glory in being a moody old f*ck about it.
heh, I'm such a control freak. I almost feel like sending them the original art files- I'd spent two nights just getting the colour separations right for the printers, and it kills me to think kids are ending up reading such a bleached out VHS copy!

41 comments:

Paul Neal said...

Isn't this basically piracy? The same as dodgy copy DVD's and burnt cd's. While I've got some of them,when it strays into a small market like comics it takes on a unpalatable feel. You "seem" to be taking it quite well. Personally I think I'd be absolutely livid. FURIOUS BEYOND REASON. Its your work! Is this illegal in some way?

steve pugh said...

well, what can i do, realistically? Shake my fist in the air with impotent rage, and look like a tool with the rest of the "old media"?
We can't just stuff the comic full of google ads and give it away free, the market's too small, we have to find some way to adapt or go back to working in the biscuit factory!

END said...

That sucks big time. I was emailing back and forth with Dave Flora and he told me about this (love your work by the way) infringement. Sharkman is a hot property no doubt - I finally got my hands on both issues and someone stole them out my bag at a diner I had a business meeting at...heh...Can you get Image to at least drop a cease and desist on them or something???
Major Bummer...:(

steve pugh said...

hey-hi!
thanks, sorry you lost your copies, if i ever get my comps i'll mail you replacements :-)
hmmm...I don't think cease and desists are the way to go, everything i've seen happen in filesharing has convinced me it's unstoppable. The trick is to figure out how to make a living now things are turned on their head. It's great that an alternative venue to the comic shop is appearing- the ordering and distribution system hold a huge amount of power over what material comic readers are exposed to, but only time will tell if those shops were actually a prison, or in fact our last sanctuary.
Your work's AMAZING by the way!

END said...

Howdy back atchya!!
Hey no sweat on the Sharkman books I plan on replacing both of them as soon as I get back to the comic shop for sure (totally worth a respend). That's some of the best work I've seen in a while in the indies. Just love those books you go through over and over enjoying the art as much as the stories. Thanks sooo much on the gracious comments on my work - very nice of ya! Issue 3 of Sharkman in the works??? What's up with that toy figure that coming out too???

Michael said...

The green and blue are more vibrant in your original art than it is on the printed page. Is the printer partly to blame for the bleached out scan?

The Comic Book Haters said...

Hey dude, to put things in perspective, I will order a copy of Sharkman through my local shopkeep. Perhaps the cosmic scale will be balanced again.

Now, if 100,000 others follow suit, we'll be totally square.
-Sloofus

ultrapaul said...

I bought both issues (new #1, old #2) but they were hard to find.

Given the relative success of Radiohead and NIN/Niggy Tardust maybe independent comics need to follow a similar model? I don't know how well this would sit with Image and/or Diamond but it's something that hasn't really been confronted in any meaningful way (Digital Comics [Un]Limited. Ugh).

This is worth reading if you haven't already: http://forum.newsarama.com/showthread.php?t=146854
TwoMorrows is offering digital versions of their magazines, as well.

As an artist and a fan, I'd love to see official high-quality CBZ/CBR's for, say, $1.50 - 2.00. A Flash-based web interface is just not enjoyable and high-res PDFs are just too slow even for fast-machines. And no kind DRM. DRM won't stop anyone and it gives people a moral justification (spite) for piracy.

Something to think about.

steve pugh said...

mmm, yeah DRM is no solution, i feel the same as you, i buy tracks off itunes, but i strip the protection right away, i just resent it being there. PDF's are OKish, but i took a look at the readers that use the CBZ and CBR archives and they're pretty great. I would definitely favor a simultaneous digital release for shark-man, but it's been suggested that it would bollocks a deal for foreign reprint. Distribution of physical comics is a nightmare, I've been sending people to ebay to get issues- that's where i had to get my copy of S-M #1!

steve pugh said...

-Sloofus
hey thanks!
so would you prefer to get your comics as a hi-res digital download rather than a physical comic?
Or do you use downloads to read what's out, and buy the ones that grab you?
Would a $2 download be a low enough price to tip a reader into a purchase, bearing in mind someone would immediately make the same files available for free?

steve pugh said...

-michael
well there's quite a lot of detail lost as well, i'm guessing they have to rip alot of pages, and have a scanning technique that worked well with coloured line work, but wasn't great for Shark-man's full tone art.

ultrapaul said...

Steve,

Piracy, most likely, is already buggering foreign distribution. Western anime distributors are facing that problem right now. I don't have numbers to back that up but that's the way I see it.

People spend ridiculous amounts of money on entertainment, you just need to give them something they want to buy at a fair price. I personally spend at least $30-$40 a week on comics. When NiggyTardust came out, I didn't hesitate to shell out $5 to download something that's actually better than CD quality. (Lossless audio tracks from a digital master not a mass-produced disc.)

Now, some people will never want to pay for anything and that's something we have to accept. A comic is going to get scanned and downloaded the day it comes out. However, if you made a high-quality version available (made from the original files) at least some people will be honest enough to buy it.

It makes even more sense for independent artists such as yourselves. If you're having trouble getting physical books to your core audience now, imagine what's going to happen in the foreign markets!

Now as far as price-point, $1.89 "sounds" like sweet-spot. You can get Fell and Casanova for $1.99 after all (yes, I know they're shorter). I would wager that a $2 download would be just as profitable for the creators. You can also get more books out, faster. The only ones taking a hit are Quebecor, Diamond and the shops that aren't getting the books anyways.

Personally, I love printed books so I would use downloads for books I'm on the fence about, ones that I can't find or ones that I don't think need the fancy papers everyone uses these days. For example, I had a hell of a time finding all of Phonogram and I would have just as soon downloaded it since it's a B&W book.

Maybe you have an unpublished book to experiment with?

Obviously, I'm a comic freak and I've given this way too much though.

Cheers.

Dominic said...

I'd like to comment on this as a long-time comic book reader, a creator, and also one who's discovered the convenience of digital downloads.
The price of comics is ridiculous. I'll try not to be too crotchety when I say that I started buying comics at $0.25/book, but now I see regular monthly books selling for over $4.00, and anytime there's an annual or "special issue", you can count on that cost at least doubling.
The reason for that cost, we have been told all along, is the rising cost of printing.
Yet, at the same time publishers are crying because they're not drawing the new readers (i.e. kids) into comics like they used to, losing the eyeballs to video games and the internet.
Digital comics pushes the medium forward by doing two things:
1) reducing the printing costs. There are none, as such. Yes, there's bandwidth costs, but they're significantly less in comparison. Thus the cost per issue could drop dramatically, attracting new readers.
2) delivering the content to the place where the audience is actually congregating. If Mohammed will not go to the mountain, the mountain must come to Mohammed. Mohammed's too busy reading Warren Ellis's "Freak Angels" online and keeping up with PvP to go the mountain.

The monoliths have begun to make some moves into the digital arena, but their attempts are clunky and awkward and don't really embrace the potential.
Slave Labor Graphics, on the other hand, is doing it right. At EyeMelt, you can:
-pay by Paypal.
-download portable cbr/pdf formats.
-pay a reasonable price for the content.

All three of the above listed are necessary components of online success, which is, in my opinion, essential to the future success of comics.
Comics piracy occurs not just because it's free, but because pirated models tend to be in the most open, portable formats possible. Given a legal, low cost choice in the same open, portable format (especially after seeing the difference between the "real" product and the DCP scan), I think the readers would make a choice for legitimacy and quality.

steve pugh said...

ahh, money money,money
did you know, distributers take half the cover price, 50% gone- THAT DOESN'T INCLUDE the printing bill OR the comic shop's cut, the writer artist and colourist and production team are paid out of what's left.
With the greatest respect to Warren Ellis, his genuine terrificness was nurtured in printed comics, and radiohead wouldn't have made a ripple with their digital release if they hadn't had their "real world" success.
You could argue such artists like Prince are actually just "pulling up the ladder behind them" after they've let "old media" establish them.
I'm not going to whine about cash, i know comics are expensive, i just need to figure out if i should stick with it.

The Comic Book Haters said...

Hey Steve, to answer your questions, I am actually not a big fan of downloading comics. I pretty much purchase every comic I read, but I often download the DCP packs just to sample some other stuff, and see what's out there. Nine times out of ten I will purchase it if I enjoy it.

Having said that, I recognize the need to support artists, but I would only purchase 'digital comics' if they were dirt cheap. I am tlaking like a quarter; let's get comics back to the 'disposable entertainment' level of decades past. You know; plunk down a quarter, read it, then just trash it. If you really enjoy it, go buy the collection.

It sickens me that Apple charges ten bucks for an 'album,' when I can pretty much go out and purchase the physical object for the same price.

-Sloofus

steve pugh said...

ha, dude!
i ain't working an 18hr day on shark-man for a share of 25cents, i'd rather shelf stack and have my evenings free.

Dominic said...

Based on what you've commented, Steve, you can kiss off 50% of the cover price right off the bat thanks to the Diamond monopoly. From my experience, for a smaller publisher (i.e. not in the first half of Previews), it's more like 60-65%. Then you have to account for the cost of printing, plus all the incidental costs. When you're done, do you have much more than a quarter per book left?
I agree that a quarter a book is probably a little unrealistic these days, especially considering the work that goes into making a quality book. However, the buck a book model of SLG is more reasonable when you consider that you're not handing the better part of that to distributors, printers, etc. Therein lies the value (to the creator) of digital comics.
However, all of this is largely moot. You're not going to be able to do it on your own; nearly no creator will. Unless one of the big publishers (again, the first half of Previews) takes up the cause and adopts the business model, the marketing necessary to drive this format to the non-Z-Cult membership public is not going to happen. The potential is there for anyone to do it, but the effort to do so for a single or small group of creators is going to be too much, especially for a monthly or regular series. This is an idea that needs to travel uphill and gain some wide acceptance in order to fly. The demand is there; the supply is not.

steve pugh said...

well, look, bottom line, comics has always relied on creators pathological need to please and excel, to get exceptional material out of them for average page-rates. When it was corporations doing it, it seemed alot less personal, but now you're getting your work distributed for free by the readers, it feels plain bad.
if some one wants to actually front up, and ask me if they can distribute shark-man in a DCP pack with a readme file and shareware/tipjar instructions, well i'll certainly talk to them, but just ripping it, and putting it out there feels a lot more personal than when multi-million dollar companies have gipped me.

Van GoghX said...

Nice to see an open, honest discussion regarding this topic. Unfortunately, I'm going to echo another posters concerns about comics costing to much for the average Joe nowadays. I also started collecting when titles were .25 cents and even being a kid could scrounge up a couple bucks each week and walk out of my corner convenience store with half a dozen titles. Maybe twenty-four books a month for $6 bucks. Now, a quarter of a century later you get two books for that price. Twenty books a month costs over one half of a hundred dollars!!! No wonder kids aren't buying comics nowadays, I as an adult can't afford to indulge in my favorite childhood past-time! Comics should cost more than they did 25 years ago, but they are priced at least twice what is reasonable to expect from the consumers pocketbook, at least IMHO. I love having my boxes of thousands of comics that I can grab for that quick hit of escape and nostalgia whenever the mood hits, and that I can pass on to my kids one day (should I ever be able to afford having one of those! good grief!) but I buy less than a dozen comics a year nowadays. Part of this is difficulty in finding comics (which is another piece of the puzzle in this discussion), but another is the price point. I suppose I'm justifying what is essentially stealing by clicking a torrent link and bingo-bango I've got all the comics I want for nothing. But my conscious does bother me. I want you guys to be able to afford making these things every month, so that when I do give those comics to my kid he'll be able to go out and buy new ones every month like I did. Would I buy scanned versions for less money? Yes, without a doubt. Piracy is such an easy crime to commit nowadays. If you don't do it in some form, odds are a surprising number of people you interact with everyday are doing so. A side-effect of our new digital era. But I think these will just force workable new models upon the industries that are affected. We occupy a strange chunk of time now, but it will iron itself out eventually... hopefully... fingers crossed. (Okay, feel free to shoot me or call me nasty names for rambling on and on like an idiot, but I love comics just like you dopes!)

Dominic said...

"if some one wants to actually front up, and ask me if they can distribute shark-man in a DCP pack with a readme file and shareware/tipjar instructions, well i'll certainly talk to them, but just ripping it, and putting it out there feels a lot more personal than when multi-million dollar companies have gipped me."

Steve, let me ask you...would you actually be willing to do this? Do you have perhaps an older book, not necessarily Sharkman, to which you have complete distribution rights that could be scanned and put online through, say, the Z-Cult and Komics Live community with tipjar instructions or any other instructions you like?
As far as I know, you'd be the first creator to do this in this fashion, so it should get some attention if you do.
I'll make the offer to do the legwork (i.e., find and buy the issue, scan the book, put the file together and distribute it) if you want to give it a try.
Feel free to email me if you're interested; I'd like to see the results, as I'm sure would many other creators.

steve pugh said...

-van goghx
-shrugs- i know, but it costs what it costs, i promise you only the top 3% of creators are making real money. Distributers like big expensive comics, it's a better cost to weight for shipping. Readers like glossy paper and frantic art, computer colouring and other pricey stuff.
It takes about $20,000 to put a comic on a shelf

steve pugh said...

-dominic
There may be a couple of things i can persuade the writers to take a punt with. i'd have to track down the colourists and letterers too though, their work isn't mine to give.
BTW i can't email you, your profile is private

Dominic said...

It should be public now.
At any rate, paladinfreelance @ gmail.com.

Van GoghX said...

I love my physical comics. I love touching and smelling the paper and turning the pages. I love that they occupy actual physical space. But the number one reason I read comics is because I love to read comics. It's my first acquired addiction that I've never been able to shake, nor have I tried.
I'll give up the physical aspect of it if that means comics will continue to be created in a more cost efficient way and I will be even more happy to trade my 32 pages of paper (wait, it's only 16... no, 8 pieces of paper printed on both sides and folded in half, isn't it? Thirty years of reading comics and I just figured that out! Awarding myself a no-prize.) for less substantial 0's and 1's if it means a greater percentage of my money goes to the people who lovingly create those stories for me. Maybe paper should be reserved for collected trades? It unfortunately no longer seems like the ideal format (at least not cost-wise) for single-issue monthlies.
~sigh~ I realize all of this is mostly academic at this point for you creators, since deeper pockets than your own control the actual publishing. But I also understand your interest in sounding out where all the currently rampant piracy is going to leave you money-wise should you decide to try and make a living and eat food every day from your hard work.
While the road seems very murky today, I am confident that not only will there be paying jobs for your efforts tomorrow, but they will be eventually better paying than they are currently.

On a personal note to you: Frankly, I'm a Marvel guy for the most part and am mostly unfamiliar with your work... buuuut, saw your Gallery here and was absolutely stunned by the quality and style of your work!!! I can think of a million titles that I'd love to see you illustrate! So, please.... pleeeaaaaase don't stop doing what you do!

MrTractor said...

Sucks that the pirates can't even steal the art correctly. Someone should buy them a better scanner.

Michael said...

The paper copy doesn't look as good as the original art, actually, and a scanned page never looks close to the source without tweaking. It's the tweaking that can cause colours to shift. (Scanner software usually comes with auto tweaking.)

Most scans out there have got the colours wrong in some places. I've seen scans with all the colours in a hue different from the floppy.

Buy the stuff you download and you will notice this. :-)

Sic Faciunt Omnes said...

Hello Steve, actually a good thing you could do (if it doesn't cause you any legal trouble) is to post your art here and put a paypal tip jar.

It won't be a risky pirate-legitimizing affair, like contacting the scanners, and would be nice to keep you from eating Macarroni and Cheese.

Just an idea, and not a new one. Some webcomics have had that for ages.

Dave said...

Steve, I would pay $2 for a quality digital copy of Shark-Man in a heartbeat! In fact, put a paypal link on your page and I'll pay it for the scans I've downloaded already...

=^ Dave
(NotAlbert)

steve pugh said...

-dave
Cheers, that's very cool of you!
we have a paypal account for Shark-Man in preparation for something we're hoping to do.If you do make a donation, i'll see to it you get "it" even if we don't get permission to do it large scale:

paypal = sharkmancomic@gmail.com

Michael said...

My LCS lists Shark-Man #2 for next week. Woohoo!

Dave said...

Check your tip jar for what will be (I hope) just the first of many...

I made a small adjustment to the agreed amount since I did steal them from you, after all.

Thanks for all the enjoyment I've gotten from your work over the years but especially for Shark-Man. As I've posted elsewhere, it is clearly the best work of your career, so please keep it coming!

8'Dave
(NotAlbert)
"Steve Pugh fan & low level pirate"

steve pugh said...

-dave that's
great of you!

Tom said...

Hi, I got the first version of Shark-Man in the A1 anthology, and I got the second version of #1 in the Thrillhouse edition, I know the new Image #1 is a bit different but I can't find it in any shops - is it worth getting as well? Hope I can find #3 tomorrow

joseph said...

Hi Steve,

Just wanted to ask if the shark man series is still active.

Can't seem to find any news or updates about it.

I'm really excited and hoping that it will come out soon.

Tom said...

I picked up #3 a couple of weeks ago :)

(and I actually bought it, too!)

Tom said...

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=HAueUdlW14w

and more to follow.

Matthew Smith said...

Hi Steve!!

absolutely love your work!!

any ETA for Shark-Man 4?

Cheers!

matt
santa rosa, ca

Lanika Rigues said...

*Sigh* This comment will be awkwardly long. But maybe my insights can be somehow useful, I hope.

Hi, Steve! I'm a brazilian girl of 33 years. I can say that I would never know your work and read Hotwire if it wasn't for a pirated scan. And I'm in awe and in love with your art. If I had the chance I would buy it and cherish my printed copy.

I don't know if you're aware of it but there's a big market of avid comic readers in Brazil. The trouble is, there's maybe 20 to 25 years that the market lacks any sign of remaining stable.

When I was a kid we had "major" publishing houses that would buy american comics cheaply and publish them in a little format known here popularly as "gibi". It's more or less the size of an A5. They would shrink the art, crap the colors and we would buy them anyway for the quality of stories. Usually we would buy and subscribe to packs of Marvel and DC comics and Monica's Gang from the same publishers. Parallel to this there were also graphic novels collected in books like Eisner's, Spirit, Manara and plenty of european comics.

I remember the boom of Vertigo comics when I was a teenager. I fell in love with an issue of Sandman and started searching hungrily for back issues in every place that sell comics that I would discover. I would buy packs of back issues and started collecting lots of comics. By the time I was 17 I learned you could buy original american comics through Devir and they would deliver it to a comic store. The problem was that their dollar was rated as circa 3R$ to 1U$. So if anything you sell for 2US$ would cost me 6R$. Now imagine that 1 dollar == 1 real and you can have an idea of the impact each issue would have on the money an average teenager has to spend.

I married another comics collector and by the time I divorced we had amassed quite an amazing collection via Mile High, Devir and brazilian publishers. It gave me a heartache when I separated knowing that I would never have enough money to buy everything again. To make matters worse, by that time the major publishers switched to american comics format (more expensive) for the Marvel and DC lines and cut off publishing Vertigo,Image and Dark Horse (if I recall only Spawn remained). To catter to the abandoned fans little publishers tried to keep bringing titles like Hellblazer and Books of Magic to Brazil but they usually went kaput after two or three years. You would never know if a new house would keep publishing your favorite book so you stopped buying. After a while the major houses stopped publishing comics alltogether, so even Marvel and DC comics started being published irregularly and bought often by adults.

Kids these days buy little to none superhero comics, usually they buy some spin-off comic from a TV show like Ben 10. Teenagers here read japanese manga. Adults like me don't trust buying brazilian published american comics anymore, they're not only expensive (R$12, R$15) but you never know if they will keep being published, and it's frustrating. We still buy comics, usually at bookstores as collected graphic novels in trade paperback by Via Lettera, Panini or Devir.

We are bound to buy whatever publishing houses will bring. To import comics became expensive and uncertain with time, but many of us keep buying from Amazon and praying to have our comics delivered without being strayed or overtaxed along the way.

How do we know about new stuff? How do we keep reading titles that aren't being published anymore? How do you react when you discover that someone butchered 10 or 12 issues of a title away and that's why the story you were reading made no sense? How do you feel when you know that if you buy something you like this will cost you ten times more than it costed to other buyers in unfair taxes?

I know the publisher's side of the story too. Here we only have one distribution company that bought the only other one and now it's a big monopoly where the face value of a comic becomes 60 to 70% more expensive only because of the cost of delivery (continues...)

Lanika Rigues said...

So you have a market where comic books are overpriced (print cost is abusive too), irregularly published, distributed when and how the delivery company wants, the new generations don't care and aren't brought up reading comics if they're not tied to another media and the actual readers are traumatized. AND the only way of keep reading is to import comics that'll be overpriced and overtaxed.

I admit that I have now collected scans from all the comics I bought and lost after divorce, but if I had conditions I would buy the prints again. I keep downloading scans of titles I used to read but can't buy now, wishing I could buy them. I keep buying expensive TPBs at special dates and usually ask them as gifts for Christmas. One of the ways I find new titles that if I like I'll ask someone to buy collected for me at Christmas are exactly the scans.

On the other hand, I read an almost unhealthy quantity of webcomics. I like the idea of giving back to the creator and I feel that when I tip them via Paypal or buy merchandise directly from them they are receiving more from me than they receive for each issue of an comic. I don't know how much you receive off the cover price, but I doubt it's a fair amount.

Would I buy PDF or CBR downloads from the creator of a comic at U$2? OF COURSE! I would know the money is going to you. It would be half to less than half the price of the butchered published translated comics in my country. I would save the costs of passing through customs and taxes of importing single issues plus the time waiting and insecurity. I would still import collected TPBs or buy quality national translations and would feel much better about all this.

I believe in giving back to the creator of a work I admire. I know perfectly well that you have to eat and pay your bills too. I'm in a foreign market that would love to have a legit and less expensive way of buying and consuming comics. And I care less about publishing houses than I do about buying stuff from you.

I'm looking forward to experiences like comic readers for Kindle-like electronic readers, that new app for the iPhone with Marvel titles and the possibilities of printing on demand at bookstores. I really hope Freak Angels works and sell a lot.

I would pay a monthly subscription for, let's say, ten dollars and read 4 good titles, delivered in my email one a week. I would absolutely adore to buy spare or back issues as people buy music in iTunes.

And I hate DRM for things like Amazon limiting the times you can download the book you bought or deleting it from your kindle or you losing everything you spend money on when the company that selled the DRMed content dies.

steve pugh said...

hey lanika,

please forgive me replying in bullet points to your posting, and thank you for caring enough to write.

btw, i checked out your site, you're VERY talented!

- i love that you love comics, like films and music, they can help you through the bad times :-)

- heh, well, i guess we both agree the distributors should be first against the wall when the revolution comes!

- as a format, i actually do like cbn/cbz files, if you get a nice reader program it's a very convenient way to read a story, i also love the idea of the kindle's automatic downloading of new issues as they come out (though i'm not crazy about the kindle as an actual device)

- as an obsessive artist, my problem with scans is mainly the degradation in quality, they lose alot of detail when filtering out the print dots.

- i agree about drm, there's nothing i hate more than paying for something and then having to jump through hoops to use it ( Adobe Photoshop springs to mind!)

- reprints outside america often don't filter ANY money back to creators, although DC comics is good at getting money to you.

- darkhorse is putting out my terminator comics on iphone, neither i or the writer are getting anything, or were even told about it!

- freak angels is great, of course, but how many hits would it get if warren wasn't already a well known name?

- itunes for comics? it's been talked about a few times... i'd welcome it, but it would take a company like apple to knock enough heads together to get the publishers to co-operate

- i love creating and painting comics, but i spend up to 18 hours a day at it. if i couldn't be sure of breaking even, i'd get an office job and, spend some time with the people i love!

- if i'm completely honest with you, yeah, i am very glad you got to read "hotwire", i really hope you enjoy it ;-D

Lanika Rigues said...

Hi Steve, thanks for the answer and the kindness of telling me I'm talented, you're far better than me!

I can understand obssessive, and I'm perfectly aware of what scanners can do to art. I view DCP's and other groups of fans scans more or less as copy machine copies (even the old B&W ones): good to preview something but you would NEVER consider them an adequate substitute for the original publishing. If I want quality (and sure thing we all want) I'll buy the carefully crafted original.

I have no love for the Kindle, but I look forward to see what devices will be created next, I have been following e-ink and e-paper development for years and hope someone somewhere will create an acurate display of colors in a portable format with interesting functions in maybe two to three years.

I imagined that creators wouldn't receive their cuts of reprints. That makes it frustrating for both of us: foreign fans that are pretty sure their money isn't going towards the creator, and you, that spends a lot of time and careful effort working to make it.

Now to the part where I must disagree with you: if Warren Ellis hadn't started making his name in printed comics, Freak Angels could not be an IMEDIATE success, but that doesn't mean it wouldn't be successful.

As I said, I read a lot of webcomics daily. A lot of the creators were successful in forming a fan base that'll buy their merchandise and demand more, or donate money to the creators via paypal tipjars.

I noticed that the main factors to keep the public are charisma and the ability to keep it going. People fall in love with the art, with the characters, with the history and want to buy the collected strips, the t-shirts, the posters and thank the creator for giving them the comic.

Most of these webcomics creators started the stories while having day jobs and then quit when the comics became self-sufficient. Wikipedia actually has a list of them: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_self-sufficient_webcomics . The average time for being self sufficient is about two to three years, I think. So what interests me more about Warren Ellis case is seeing how the internet public reacts to an established writer using the webcomics means of self-publishing.

BTW, I looked for a tipjar in your blog, couldn't find it. I saw the paypal email here in the comments, I shall put something there (probably the cover value) for the Hotwire 1 scan I have here ;)

Again, your art is amazing. Is OHMYG-HOW-THE-HELL-DID-I-MISS-THIS-GUY's-JOB-BEFORE amazing, lol. Thank you for the 18 hours a day maraton, really.