200712050236Our recap of the Z-Cult affair for PWCW yesterday had this quote from Todd Allen:

“There is a very real possibility that torrents, effectively advertising in this case, have been a factor in sales spikes. People will want a physical copy of an inherent physical product. Crossgen did the research on this 5 years ago and went under before they had a chance to properly implement that research.”

CrossGen! There’s a blast from the past. Their “all freelancers will work in the same office” set-up drew constant Jonestown jokes, but they were ahead of the curve on a lot of things, like the downloadable comics model initiative to post their comics to the web, which they called, amazingly, “Comics on the Web”. In fact someone sent us this link at an article from 2002 on how their implementation of comics downloads had an immediate impact on sales:

Less than 30 days after the launch of CrossGen’s Comics on the Web, retail sales of CrossGen’s comics and trade paperbacks are taking an upward turn, with much of it taking place the week after the launch of Comics on the Web, according to recent sales statistics.

According to figures from Diamond Comic Distributors, first week advance reorders for The Path taken the week after the entire issue was posted for free on CrossGen’s Comics on the Web increased by 54 percent over the level taken for CrossGen’s Sojourn Prequel, which was not posted online prior to its release. In addition, the second week reorders, which typically drop by 50 percent after the comic’s release, actually increased by 23 percent for The Path Prequel. Also, advance reorders for The Path #1, still two weeks from being released, rose by 45 percent in the first week after The Path Prequel’s release, and then another 45 percent on top of that the following week, further bucking the trends for low advance reorders before a book is released.

While this still wasn’t enough to save the company’s ambitious, expensive and fondly remembered by some line of comics, it’s still as close as anyone has come to documenting the effect of making issues available for free download online sampling.

As long as we’re talking about Crossgen, we’ll remind everyone that Checker Books is reprinting a lot of their graphic novels, under a license from Disney.


  1. Ah, CrossGen. I tried to get into their comics, but something about them didn’t click for me.

    The art was of course gorgeous and incredibly slick, the stories didn’t lack action… but somehow the various titles seemed cast in the same mold, and had no personality. I can’t put my finger on it, but the CrossGen comics were too slick.

    Too bad.

  2. I brought up Crossgen yesterday, but I’d like to repeat myself here:

    Crossgens’s Version 3 of their Online Comics implementation was (and from what I can tell still is) one of the best uses of Flash to view comics on the web. I’m not a big fan of using Flash for comics, but their’s was a perfect execution of the technique. They had one of the Macromedia all-stars design it for them, IIRC.

    NOTE: I make break down why Flash has a hard time with jpgs and how a developer can solve this problem on my blog sometime this week. The question seems to be getting a lot of attention.

  3. Crossgen was working with a great many honestly great business concepts. If only they hadn’t been determined to try them all out at once and at the same time, and if they’d been able to admit when some concepts didn’t succeed, Crossgen might have been huge now.

    (Also, the people in that office building weren’t freelancers–they were actual company employees, that was the point of it.)

  4. Considering how many employees and freelancers never got paid from CrossGen (we will never see that $1300 that Robin earned, even working without their promised contract), I doubt the writers and artists would have seen any money from their comics on the web.

  5. I agree that CrossGen’s Comics on the Web reader was probably the best comic-reading web interface I’ve seen any of the comic publishers do, but they weren’t downloadable comics. It was an online reading model, much like Marvel’s DCU.

  6. Crossgen had all the right ideas at the wrong time, it seems.
    Forget Captain America but Steve Epting’s masterpiece is El Cazador. Same with Bart Sears’ The Path.
    If only Crossgen 3.0 was around now!

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