Created over lunch hour, and already Trackbacks from Ellis' blog? And how the hell did HE know it was already up? My image of Warren has changed remarkably. I used to imagine him drunkenly scribbling in a tattered notebook huddled for hours in the dingy corner of a local pub. Now I know he sits in an Architect-from-Matrix-Reloaded-style chair, endlessly scanning for tickles at the edge of his photonic spiderweb and responding to such amyl nitrate egopoppers with frightening alacrity.
A few links already up, and so introductions are in order. Over at Atomeka Press, Ross Richie is on the cutting edge of indie comic publishing. Ross is a singular combination of meticulous business obsessive and true-blue comics fan, all somehow form-injected into the body of a Texas halfback. In partnership with Brit comic legends Garry Leach and Dave Elliot, Atomeka began by republishing the classic A1 anthology. Want to see work by Mignola, Gaiman, and Moore -- yes, frikkin' Alan Moore -- you haven't seen before? And now, besides bringing to light classic works not seen in years, Ross is luring in little no-names like Dave Johnson, Keith Giffen, and Mark Waid to do all-new exclusive material. Look for Atomeka's books. I've had the pleasure of reading the 1st issue of Dematteis and Giffen's new HERO SQUARED, and it's a hell of a nice piece of work.
The webcomics, Penny Arcade and Something Positive are the first up in that category. Both are there because they make me laugh out loud regularly.
Penny Arcade is about video and computer games, their idiosyncracies, and the hateful, hateful people who love them. Most of the time the jokes will mean nothing to you if you're not a regular gamer, but that's one of the exciting things about the Web. No more need to broadcast; you can play to your audience. They also help shatter the stereotypes of "slacker", antisocial gamers who sit in dark rooms cyber-gunning down cops and pimping the mean streets of San Andreas. Last year, their charity Child's Play raised $250,000 dollars -- yeah, a quarter of a million Yankee dollars, Sparky -- worth of cash and toys for sick kids in hospitals. Two videogaming guys with a webcomic did that. Any of you Moral Guardian Gamer Haters accomplished anything even close? I didn't think so. Shut up and pass the rocket launcher.
Oh, and Gabe's art style is disturbingly good. It's like haiku. Its simplicity accents its elegance.
At Something Positive, young Mr. Milholland has been writing and drawing the adventures of his alter-ego and circle of friends in Boston for about three years now. He updates close to every day -- plowing through the archive is both funny and shanks a complete afternoon. He's not politically correct -- he's magnificently offensive, actually. These are good,bad, drunken broken angry people who happen to have friendships the norms dream of having.
Milholland made a little bit of history this year, in one of my favorite 4thGenMedia(tm) anecdotes. Despite the fact that the poor bastard was slaving way at a miserable cubicle job 40 hours a week and still managing to update 16 times a month, some readers complained about copywriting errors. Milholland went off on a rant, basically saying "There's the PayPal button, you ungrateful jerks. Want me to spend more time on the strip? Buy me out of my day job."
And they did.
In just under a week his fans raised an equivalent amount to his yearly salary. Somewhat shocked, yet true to his word, Milholland gave notice. He now works full-time on S*P and another strip, along with learning the ropes of being a small, independent publisher. Neil Gaiman caught wind of this, told the story, and there was a brief flurry of attention around the incident.
Completely unintentionally, there's a theme to all today's new additions to the blogroll. Each of these sites represent people who are doing what they love, creatively, and making a living at it through unorthodox means. The "headquarters" of Atomeka Comics is an almost purely theoretical space, represented by Ross' e-mail in-box and Fed Ex receipts. The guys at PA and S*P make living off their web work. Now, they're not getting rich off it, but that's not the point.
Here in Hollywood, everyone's always looking to hit the big score, to maximize the payday. If a project is "merely" profitable, it often isn't pursued. That's not the way of 4thGenMedia(tm) -- or 4GM for short, I haven't decided yet. We now live in an age where, with determination and savvy, you can get access to your audience, present your little dramas, and in theory make a living doing it. Wherever, and whoever you are.
"Nobody gets rich, but everybody gets paid." That may well be the motto of the entertainment world over the next twenty years. Or, it should be.
Of course, Scott McCloud posited all this (the "micropayments" idea) in, oh, I forget which book, maybe Reinventing Comics. Guys like Gabe and Tycho and Scott Kurtz at PvP have been doing business like this for years now. I'm a chimp throwing a bone at their onyx obelisk of business savvy when I wander into this territory.
But I'm also suggesting that with new technologies, new video distribution systems, and new economic models (like the recently passed Jobs for Americans Bill tax breaks) that this system which has worked for a low-overhead industry like webcomics could become the model for successful television and film production.
Discuss, harass, and flame. But in doing so, please remember that right now, Joss Whedon is editing a major motion picture based on a TV show with almost non-existent ratings and ran only ten episodes.