Terry Moore has a pretty amazing track record as a self-publishing cartoonist. He’s wrapped up his magnum opus STRANGERS IN PARADISE, but instead of going into that awkward “I just finished my magnum opus” mode, he jumped right back in with a new series — the SF-tinged ECHO — and just wrapped up THAT. And now he’s a launched a new thriller series called RACHEL RISING, which debuted at Comic-Con. However, as successful as he’s been, Moore still found his new #1 underordered, and #2 orders cut back even more. It’s a familiar problem in the direct market. In an interview with Russ Burlingame, Moore is askedthe inevitable questions about digital delivery:
Terry Moore: Not just me, but everybody in comics is watching the digital front move in like a storm. But it’s not hitting like we thought. It’s taking longer. There are no digital book success stories yet, most of the people on planes are not reading an ebook, nobody’s rich yet… in fact, nobody’s replaced their print income yet. When digital can replace your print income, then the storm will hit. My “announcement” was about the delivery systems being developed. But they’re taking longer than promised and I’ve since become convinced that we should all stop focusing on the delivery mechanisms and focus on the business models. I don’t care what gadget is in Vogue this month, where’s the frikkin’ business model that will pay off my super-yacht mortgage? When does digital stop being the free-love commune of the geek set? We have houses and employees to support. Show me the frikkin’ money. Well, I don’t have any employees, but I’m sure somebody in comics has one… somewhere, doing something useful. And they need a salary. Man does not live on iCrap alone.
Moore also pulls the old-timer who’s seen it all card, and drops some knowledge of the past:
Do you have any idea how long I’ve been listening to digital prophecies of doom? Since the early eighties, when I was a TV editor. The Sony and 3M tape salesmen would visit the facility and tell us our business was doomed if we didn’t order all their beta test systems as they came out. If we’d done that, we would have had a massive junk heap of outdated digital attempts and transition gear as the industry flung every digital idea they had out to the market in the 80’s and 90’s. A lot of post-production facilities went out of business trying to pay for that machinery that was outdated every 6 months but took 2-3 years to pay off.
Twenty years later, the same syndrome finally hits the book biz and for most people this is the first time they’ve seen the syndrome. They freak out and think the world will be upside down the day after tomorrow. Well, there are still post facilities, and they now use standardized digital formats. And we still have comic shops and Diamond, and we will all soon be adding a standardized digital format to our arsenal. It’s never either-or in the beginning, it’s always plus. By the time something is outdated, you’re glad to see it go. I don’t see anybody burning books or their Diamond order form.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.