Steve Jobs announces Spy6teen at this year’s Macworld Conference
(worst. photoshop. ever.)

As we started to prep for our Digital and Print releases, I was asked (more than a number of times) “Why would someone buy something you’re giving away for free?”

It’s a good question, obviously– Luckily, I have a convincing answer. At least I hope.

Longtime readers know that Spy6teen was originally intended as a print project. It was only after a miscommunication with a potential publisher that we collectively decided to take the project out on our own– just to see what we could do with it.

I think as a webcomic, we’ve been charting pretty well in terms of progress– in fact, just yesterday we had one of those weird record breaking days with around 1000 people swinging by– and that’s a non-update day. Already more people have read Spy6teen than would ever have, had we gone with a small press publisher. Can’t be happier with our decision to go independent.

When we started the website back in April of last year, Digital Comics were on the tip of people’s tongues– we all knew (and know) that tablets are going to be a major player in everyone’s entertainment consuming habits within the next few years. Just like we all know that print, at least from a consumer standpoint, is drawing its final breaths in the comic and magazine world.

Pushing to digital just made sense for us. As an independent comic, digital allows us a wide distribution platform without the very costly need to stock our own prints, or be at the mercy of Diamond’s submission standards.

That said, when we launched the webcomic, Digital Comics just weren’t there yet–We could have forgone the web route and worked in the dark to complete Issue 1 and release it right to Digital, but at the time it didn’t seem to make sense. In fact, it wasn’t until late last year and into January, where I started to feel comfortable that , as a platform, digital comics would stick– and, yes, I still think they’ve got a ways to go– but I don’t get “Short Round on the Rope Bridge” feeling from Graphic.ly, Comixology, or the other players in the field anymore. I think (and hope) these guys are in it for the long haul.


hang on lady, we’re going for a ride!

So we launched as a webcomic, fully intending to go Digital and Print after we wrapped each issue– now, the question is: Why would you buy it?

DIGITAL PRESS

The Digital edition is 99 cents on Graphic.ly (and we’re looking into other distributors as well. In fact, if anyone has a contact at Comixology, please let me know.) I remain unswayable that the price has to be 99 cents– the price of a song, basically. It makes no sense that a comic (particularly an indie like us) should cost more than that.

In a lot of ways, reading the comic online– with our weekly updates and lags between page loads– it’s probably the WORST way you can possibly read Spy6teen.
I’m really starting to view the site as a “Making of the Comic” blog– which happens to feature a new page every week.

In a way, you guys (our web readership) are our editors– making suggestions and comments about text copy, balloon placement, and– although I’m not telling, even story ideas, in the comments.

If you pay 99 cents for a copy of our digital book, you’re getting the best/finalized version of it. It’s the Blu-Ray/High Def version of Spy6teen. The one we’ve always wanted you to read and share with your friends.

Like Blu-Rays and DVDs before them, the thing that I remain committed to is offering a bunch of bonus features. Back in the old days of producing content for discs, there was a term for all that stuff called: VAM- Value Added Media (or material)– To that end, for the first issue of Spy6teen we’ve got an audio commentary, the script, a bunch of unreleased art from DJ, a few pinups, and a little more. Each issue following will similarly have exclusive shiny bonus stuff you won’t be able to get anywhere else.
By issue 4, I don’t doubt that you’ll be looking at the “Criterion Collection” of Spy6teen!

Spy6teen’s Panel-View on Graphic.Ly

Really, when you buy the Digital Copy, what you’re doing is helping us (obviously financially– although, trust me, not by much) and by pushing us just a smidgen up the charts. If you give us a positive review, more folks might be inclined to check out it out…and so we grow.

I’ll admit, there were a few interesting suggestions that came my way as we neared launch– one was to Archive issue one– close the gates on it, that way, you’d HAVE to buy the issue. The thought being akin to the “On-Demand” model of TV shows.  But that seemed to me that we’d be walling off potential new readers to the comic. We won’t be doing that. In fact, the webcomic will continue on totally as-is– although, I reserve the right to pimp out the digital editions on occasion. I promise not to go overboard with it.

The other idea that was presented was to release issue one for free– but that also didn’t make much sense to me, as we’re already giving it away here for free.
Part of the reasoning behind price pointing is that I’m a Learn-By-Doing kind of guy, and it seemed to me the best way to learn about Digital Distribution and pricing is simply to do it. The one thing I can promise you in that regard is that we’ll be open and honest about our sales reports (when we get them)– I want all of you guys to be aware of what works and doesn’t work for us. Hopefully, you can learn from our Hoo-Ray! And our D’oh!s

In regards to our Print Version and Tee-Shirts– these are just things I wanted to offer you guys, just because I like stuff like that. Both partnerships, with Indyplanet and Skreened, are POD (Print-On-Demand)– and both companies have a very good reputation for quality products– but if you’ve ever carried a product via POD, you know that you basically take a bath on any sort of profit.

It isn’t a huge deal to us– because again, we WANT to offer this stuff to you guys– and, y’know– for ourselves. We love print comics because we grew up on them– we want Spy6teen in print, but we can’t pay 5k for a full print run. Likewise, with the tee-shirts…

All of this is work-in-progress stuff– I’m hoping down the line we can offer products that cost less for you and provide a higher profit margin for us…or if something like Topatoco comes along offering a partnership–  but we aren’t there yet. That said, at least we can give you the options to own stuff in the meantime!

We’ve got a lot to learn–and Digital Comics are really in their infancy, but I think we can (with your support) make an impression on the medium in the early stages as an indie book. In return, we’ll keep feeding you guys the best Spy6teen stories we can muster and continue sharing everything we learn along the way!

WRAPPIN’ UP!

It’s been a pretty killer week here at 16HQ– We’ve had a LOT of eyeballs swing by the page– Probably due to the Graphic.ly interview, which was picked up by a few comic news sites– plus, all the fun of our launches. I did want to re-ping yesterday’s unscheduled “Blog@16″ just in case you missed it– I knew that with this big long post, I really wouldn’t have time to work in the awesome video that Brant put together– so, if you happened to have missed it, please check it out here!

As always, we continue our march on Top Web Comics– where, I’m super proud to say, we’re holding in the 90s!! I’m still just amazed that we’re on the front page! A huge thanks to all of you who keep voting! This week, our incentive image has finally been updated– so drop a vote for a sneak peek at next week’s page!

And finally, if there’s anything that you guys want to see on the site– or if you have suggestions on how we can improve, please don’t hesitate to drop a comment. We appreciate you guys more than you imagine– I have pictures of all of you, framed and hanging in my bedroom (kidding– Creepy!) Seriously though, our dream is to grow Spy6teen to a mini-player in the digital and web comic world– and that isn’t possible without all of you, Thank you so much for your support!

Next week, BRAND NEW PAGE! DON AND CALLY: CONFRONTATION!!!!