Monday, June 26, 2006

Scott McCloud

I hope that everybody is familiar with Scott McCloud's book Understanding Comics. There's a lot about design and visual storytelling in the book that applies to animation. McCloud has a new book coming out in September called Making Comics, and he's doing a lot of interviews to promote it.

This one talks a lot about webcomics and distribution. There's no question that it takes less time and effort to create a comic than an animated film. However, because comics are taking advantage of the web, creators are reaching an audience and the field as a whole is being enriched by new voices. Here are a few quotes from McCloud about the advantages of the web.
That's the big difference with digital distribution and webcomics -- there's no penalty to having a small readership. If you have a small readership, you have a small readership. But you get to keep it, because your work is always available. If you go into an average comics shop -- or even a Borders or Barnes and Noble, for all their tremendous variety and selection compared to previous eras -- it's a different situation. A comic which isn't expected to sell at least a few thousand right out of the gate will not be seen at all. It will never appear.

It's the principle that any given square inch of shelf space needs to generate a certain amount of revenue for a shop to survive. And so the people who buy the material for that shelf quite reasonably try to skew their ordering toward those products that are going to sell to the highest number. And if you have five genres, and one sells to 40 percent of the fans, one to 30 percent, and one to 10 and one to five, etcetera, the one that sells to the 40 percent is going to take up 80 percent of those slots.

I just boil it down to: There's no shelf space in cyberspace.

There's limited "shelf space" in movie theaters and on TV and that's why there are gatekeepers to filter out what they think won't sell sufficiently well to make them a profit. The person or company who figures out how to make a profit from animation on the web is going to revolutionize the business and open it up for new creators.

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