It’s no secret that I wasn’t expecting Sound Waves to last very long. It was originally going to be five issues and done, a pleasant little shoujo interlude about a little girl who becomes friends with a mermaid. I figured I’d be working on one of my other shoujo projects by now. Sound Waves was an experiment to see if I could handle the art and mood of the genre.
So imagine my surprise that, each time I introduced some plot element that expanded the mythology of the mermaids in the series, it would trigger an idea for another story or two. Eventually, I had fifteen issues. And I ended it there, figuring it wouldn’t go any further than that. And I’d be able to start working on a different project.
Well, those little elements of the series’ mythology kept playing on my mind, and more stories occurred to me. It’s like Rhapsody and Melody will not stop until they are damn good and ready. The scope of the series continues to expand in the new issues, with various plot elements coming to the fore.
Now, I’m not complaining. I love Rhapsody and Melody. They are great friends, and writing and drawing the two of them is a real treat for me (Sound Waves becomes a lot less interesting to work on when everything focuses on Rhapsody).
The problem is the number of issues. I’m keeping the series in print, calling the printer any time I need more. It’s mainly for the benefit of people who discover the series after the initial run. I hate comic series where you discover it, love it, then find the back issues are outrageously priced (like, oh, off the top of my head, Deadpool). Admittedly, not much of a concern for my series, but there is the problem of availability. People resort to pirating music or scans or whatever for one of two reasons – price and/or ease of acquisition. This is the reason story arcs typically run long enough to be packaged and will be packaged about six months after the actual story wraps – the publishers get the sales from the individual issues and get the extra cash from people who don’t want to hunt the back issue bins or can’t find it in their area. I wanted to make sure people who wanted copies could easily find and get them without jumping through a bunch of hoops.
(Side note: as far as widespread pirating, I would estimate maybe 25% of regular comic readers know about torrents, and most of those that do don’t download. They simply drop the series because it’s not only not worth their money, but not worth their time, either. Piracy is not the rampant problem everyone is saying it is. Publishers like Zenoscope and Avatar are doing just fine despite high profile titles because they are giving the readers what they want and making it easy to get, not treating readers like a money spigot and they should thank God that they’ve given them something to collect. The fans allow them, not the other way around.)
So, I’m doing what I can to play fair with the readers. What’s the problem?
Next month sees the release of Sound Waves #7. That’ll be when the next comic convention I’ll be appearing at happens. So, someone comes up and looks over the table and likes Sound Waves. Do they buy the whole run of books?
7 issues X $4 each = $28 out the door. That’s actually kind of a lot for a relatively unknown quantity. It’s not like this is Batman or some other series with a Q score.
I try to bring with at least thirty full runs of my projects. So, I’d be lugging a ton of shit just to bring those full runs. Had I stopped where I intended, that would mean that fans who liked Sound Waves and wanted to buy a full run? 15 issues X $4 each = $60. The price is getting steeper with each release.
My current estimate is that the series will easily clear issue #25. That’s $100 for a full run. No one is carrying a spare C note in case they find a long running indie series that they groove to and want all the issues of.
I’m looking at the possibility of pricing myself out of the running. The only Plan B I can think of is to take advantage of online sales and the current issues. By now, the groundwork for the series has been fully laid. So I would sort of do what current comic shops do – bring mostly current and recent releases around to shows, with some back issues for those interested.
So, I would take mostly, say, the most recent three or four issues and, maybe, five or ten copies of each issue older than that. Anyone who buys recent stuff, I would make sure to point out the online retailer with my books so they can order from them in more financially manageable chunks and at their convenience (and using their credit cards, too). That would make transport and table space better, and give people who still want the back issues a chance to get them without having to decide if they want to by X number of books for Y number of dollars right fuckin' now!!!
Well, I still have time to figure out if that’s a good idea or not….