Talking digital comics

In March ComicScene launched ComicScene+ Digital Comics. We asked Tony Foster why the departure from print comics.

“The ComicScene website not only wanted to share news but be a window to read old and new comics, samplers and publications about comics in a digital format. ComicScene + Digital Comics was a way to bring back weekly comics – at least one new title every week being released and added to a library of digital comics.”

You were a big advocate for print comics. Why the change?

“A few reasons. Environmentally digital is a better option. I don’t think comic fans have truly embraced comics in a digital format but attitudes are slowly changing for a few reasons. I am evidence of that so my feeling is there must be more like me ready to take a leap of faith.”

Any of the reasons why digital may attract more readers in mind?

“The cost of postage for one. And posting from the U.K. since Brexit has been a logistical nightmare.”

“Cost of living is another. We can provide digital comics cheaper than the print version, without the paper and postage costs.”

“For publishers getting into comic shops with Diamond is a good upfront deal but WHSmith is a retrospective bad one. But I don’t think many comic shops place U.K. and indie comics in great places from what I’ve seen. And WHSmith just pack them in as the shelf space gets smaller and expect you to print many copies which just get junked if they don’t sell. So the digital option, with a print on demand option, becomes more attractive.

Why did you move to digital?

“I still prefer a print copy if I’m doing a review. But getting stuff in digital means I can experiment a bit, maybe try something new I wouldn’t normally buy in print. I can try something out and buy it if I really like it. But either way my biggest thing is storage. If you have been collecting for a while there is only so many shelves you can use at home and mine were at breaking point. And I was collecting for collecting sake whereas now I can open up my iPad and read any comic I fancy, at anytime, anywhere.”

You say each purchase benefits creators? How does that work?

“We want to work with creators, perhaps as they are launching a new title, by giving some coverage, talk about their work and let people know about their new title or Crowdfunder. We are being upfront about that. Then sharing a previous title in ComicScene+ at the same time.”

“Financially 50% goes to creators on individual issues we sell (and we promote where you can buy the title directly from the creators in print). If you get the 2023 password for £20 you save on the cost of individual issues and the creators get a % of that based on how many downloads they get throughout the year. It’s hard work out there and even if we can offer a little to creators that’s great.”

“I also hope as ComicScene+ Digital Comics expands creators can make a little more from a title they may have released five or ten years ago, or perhaps interest a new reader who didn’t support their kickstarter and discovers their back issues.”

What comic titles are coming up?

“The complete collection of The Sentinel is being released weekly at the moment. The first episodes of GlassCity is on there with the second being made available soon. The Milford Green series will be added too. We are keen to hear from more creators to include their titles. The more eclectic the better. I’m keen to include as many of those publishers and creators who were nominated for a ComicScene Award as we can. Just use the contact button on the ComicScene website.”

What titles would you like to see?

“Comics. Most comics, on any subject. Comics that have been produced to educate. Comics that have been produced to entertain. Comics that make you think. Indie comics from all parts of the world. I’d love to do some old comics too. I want to create a safe place to share comics of any genre, within reason, and people can discover comics they would perhaps never have considered reading.”

Will there be any new material?

“I’d like to launch a new 32 page weekly title using material sent in from creators. Everyone would get a share of what is made without the cost of print and a distributor. That’s maybe for the future and ideally I’d like to do it with someone.”

How will you know if the project is a success?

“I think we have to play the long game. Digital sales are growing. I hope creators will embrace it and the work we share will be of such high quality any comic fan would like to be part of it.”

“Go into any train or bus station and hardly anyone will be reading a comic, magazine or physical book. It’s all online. It’s the future. Be part of it.”

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