Todd Allen is one of the more vocal proponents of making money through webcomics, and he’ll be introducing a new book on the topic at New York Comic-Con even as he starts making all kinds of guesses about Marvel and DC’s moves into webcomics, which he thinks could make a LOT of money for the publishers.

“All of a sudden, web comics are a hot topic, aren’t they?” writes Professor Todd Allen in the introduction “The Economics of Web Comics,” the second edition of his study on the business side of digital comics. “In October, Saheli Datta, a reporter from Business 2.0, made a number of phone calls to people involved with web comics, asking questions from a financial perspective. You may not have seen the article, and that may be because it’s been put on hold.”

Allen, an Adjunct Professor in the Arts, Entertainment & Media Management Department at Columbia College Chicago, goes on to describe DC announcing a mysterious web initiative scheduled for December 2006, causing Business 2.0 to sit on the article. An initiative that seems not to have happened, although DC Vice-President of Creative Services, Richard Brunning, has been added to the Web Comics panel at the New York Comic Con on February 23. Could a major announcement be planned?

“For DC to schedule a full Vice-President for a panel, I would hope it involved something substantive,” said Allen. “Currently, all DC does in the realm of web comics is offer a handful of 1st issues from their Vertigo line for online viewing. Marvel started doing that in 2001. It’s not news, and the stakes are higher than any of the traditional publishers want to publicly admit.”

Based on actual research with website offering paid digital downloads of comic books, Allen estimates a mature market approaching $4 million for both DC and Marvel.

“Penny Arcade has been built up into a multimillion dollar business and its only a single property,” Allen explained. Marvel has limited itself to regular previews online. DC has copied a segment of this, and thus far their greatest web achievement has been producing a print edition of the extremely popular web comic, MegaTokyo.

With the original volume already being taught at the Savannah School of Art and Design, “The Economics of Web Comics, 2nd Edition” provides additional insight into the emerging field of digital downloads, the increasing popularity of print edition of web comics and the current state of online advertising.

Read the introduction online at

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