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 If we’d done that, we would have had a massive junk heap of outdated digital attempts and transition gear as the industry flung every digital idea they had out to the market in the 80’s and 90’s. A lot of post-production facilities went out of business trying to pay for that machinery that was outdated every 6 months but took 2-3 years to pay off.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.


  1. Love the book and Terry’s work. It was underordered everywhere , which is a shame.

    Digital sales are not high on any level and made up about 5-6% of my sales on TATTERED MAN and TRAILBLAZER from image comics. Nothing to celebrate about really.

  2. Around here, they call this “taking the wait-and-see approach”.

    I know I am beating a dead horse when I say this: but I am not excited about paying for reading a comic online and having no file to keep. Okay, yes, I know the Cloud is coming. But when I buy a printed comic, I ‘own’ something.

    Maybe people like me are waiting for the dust cloud to settle, before we buy digital.

  3. Terry is right that people have been ringing the bell of digital doom since the 1990s, however it was merely talk back then. Nowadays business models are actually being affected; retailers are getting hit, more online services are available, et..

    Granted what is replacing the current system is not a solid business model that can fill the old resevoirs, but i just don’t see it as a take-it-or-leave-it scenario. In a perfect world we should have both and what we call “the market” today will have to include both print and digital and more. The hard part is getting the old system to play ball with the new one. Printing a comic is not cheap, keeping a brick-and-mortar store open is not cheap. I create Bomb Queen which has orders that are very much the bottom of the barrel right now so I know he pain that Terry feels (though I’m sure he’s still very much outselling my book by a mile), nonetheless I’m at a level where digital is almost a rival to my print sales… so for me… it has been interesting. I’m not calling it a sucessful replacement model, but I will say it is a viable one and clearly not a failure. It can’t be ignored.

  4. Snikt Snakt: That’s hardly true. Echo was an absolutely incredible series (I’d be hard-pressed to think of anything that could fight it or RASL for the title of best sci-fi series of the last 5 years), and was well-liked by pretty much everyone who read it (the series’ 6 volumes have an average score of 4.2 out of 5 on GoodReads).

    I, for one, can’t wait to check out Rachel Rising, and look forward to harrassing my comic shop if they don’t have any copies in stock.

  5. Jason, the book could be the best thing since sliced bread, but if NO ONE is reading/buying it, what’s the point?!?

  6. Wow, really? Per the numbers on this site, Echo was selling upwards of 8000 copies of the single issues its entire run, and the last volume of the series sold 1992 copies just in its first month (which was in June, so not exactly long enough for people to magically have lost interest in Moore’s work). I guess by your logic, there’s no point to the vast majority of comics published by Dark Horse, Image, IDW, Dynamite, and even Vertigo?

  7. [Homer and Bart are chasing the rolling rotisserie pig. It rolls through some bushes]

    Homer: It’s just a little dirty! It’s still good, it’s still good!

    [the cart falls off the edge of a drainage culvert, and the pig floats down the stream]

    Homer: It’s just a little slimy! It’s still good, it’s still good!

    [the pig reaches a dam at the end of the stream and plugs the drain hole. The water pressure builds up behind it, until it launches out of the hole into the air]

    Homer: It’s just a little airborne! It’s still good, it’s still good!