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Author Topic: Novelty in Merchandising  (Read 4268 times)

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Offline ShadowsMyst

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Novelty in Merchandising
« on: February 16, 2011, 03:28:33 PM »
Sort of some brainstorming/thinking out loud going on here based on some articles I've been reading and podcasts I've been listening too, as well as my own observation.

Most webcomics in terms of their merchandise seem to go pretty standard with the same stuff. T-shirts, buttons, stickers, books, etc. And while I don't discount the must-have standbys, I have to question the logic of always walking down the same path. One can only own so many shirts, books, etc. There's also the issue that a lot of comic merch with comic logo/comic characters doesn't usually sell as well as more generalized merchandise.

So Kory Bing of Skin Deep did something that I think is brilliant. She made a piece of merchandise not only unique to her comic, but also very novel. It ties in beautifully, yet its generic enough to be appreciated by people who might not be familiar with her comic. She did these medallions based off the medallions worn by the characters in her comic.

The brilliance is that these are unique. No one else is doing them. They are great for fans and for non fans alike. Sitting in an artists alley I could see these really stand out.

So this got me to thinking. Is there any other 'sideways merch' out there? Stuff that you don't see everyday that's unique to a particular webcomic? What sorts of things might we pull out of our comics that would be novel?

This does require some high level thinking, in terms of pulling back from details and looking at our genres and general audience. What sort of people do you attract? What genre are you appealing to?

People are attracted to novelty. Novelty, difference, it stands out. In this day and age when people are being more cautious about their pocket money spending, what can we offer that they haven't seen a million times and might be a little dazzled with?

Maybe we could do a little brainstorming around each others comics? Throw some ideas out there of what might be unique offerings that might be viable to do?

For example, my comic, Brymstone, is a fantasy comic. There's these special red stones called brymstones. I thought maybe I could go to a glassblower (there's one locally) and have some specialty glass beads made so I could do some hand made beaded jewelry with a bit of a medieval flare.

Any takers with thoughts on this sort of approach to merchandise offerings?
 

Offline Gar

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Re: Novelty in Merchandising
« Reply #1 on: February 16, 2011, 08:08:37 PM »
The custom jewelry is a cool idea, and from your drawings I think you'd make rather pretty necklaces. Also, maybe you could sell cloaks? Get an affiliation going with a company that does LARP supplies and you could get some lateral advertising going that way. Your costume designs are quite nice, and you seem to have a knack for designing sigils and funky little artefacts, so you could probably get some designs translated into reality, and the LARP market's right up your niche. You'd have to split the profits on that between yourself and the tailor, so you might not see much of a return on it. Then again, if you were at a con and Raphel approached your table, that'd make it all worthwhile.

I've had a couple of ideas for quirky little NtK knick knacks. A bunch of my main characters are adorable kitties, so I can pretty much assign them to any functional object and thereby improve upon that object :P I also picked up some sculpey recently, so I'm going to make a Find Bummy home game. It's for shared accommodation, the set will include a little Bummy statue and the game instructions: If you find Bummy, move him somewhere else. The prototype's a gift for someone who gave €50 to the Help Gar Pay the Rent Initiative, but clay's fun to play with so I'm going do up a couple and see if I can sell them. That's pretty specific to my audience, but for someone who just sees a weird little purple dude with a huge ass it's still kinda funny.

Offline ShadowsMyst

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Re: Novelty in Merchandising
« Reply #2 on: February 17, 2011, 01:13:58 PM »
An affiliation with a Larp supplier or manufacturing some larp boffer props might be fun, replicating say Raif's swords and mask for example. The costume/symbol design is my graphic designerness showing through. I do alot of product design/logo design and branding in my job, so I guess it just comes out now everywhere. Although I'd never considered larping, but its a really cool idea. I'd love to do REAL swords, but we live in a townhouse where we could never have a forge. :P If ANYONE approached my table in cosplay from my comic I'd lose my MIND over it. Seriously, I would explode... in a good way.  I might even cry with joy. I'm not sure.

Neko is awesomely cute, and has this delightfully simple design, which you've clearly been refining over the years. Have you ever been to patchtogether.com? I bet Neko would make a fantastic vinyl toy figure. Actually any of the cats probably would make great vinyl toys. They've made toys from other webcomics, I don't see why Neko couldn't make it. Neko would probably also make an adorable plush beanie toy.

Although speaking of sculpty, I've seen people make little sculpty cellphone charms. Neko and assorted cast, bummy, maybe with a little bell for the cats, or a bit of food, like these. But you know, with cats. I don't see many people doing cellphone charms for webcomics. And since yer playing with sculpty anyway, might be a possibility. :)


Offline Gar

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Re: Novelty in Merchandising
« Reply #3 on: February 18, 2011, 05:10:11 AM »
I'd never even HEARD of patchtogether.com, so thanks for that. A line of NtK vinyl figures would be cool. I had an idea yesterday for plushies: the pink bits on their front paws could be velcro hooks so the plushies can hug each other and climb stuff (more in character for Keno than Neko, but cute kitty merch would have an audience beyond my comic's audience, so gotta stay mindful of that)

Cellphone charms would be adorable as well, probably something to work up to though. I haven't done anything with clay in a while, so I'll need to get some practise in before I'll be able to work that small. Simple character design definitely works in my favour there, though.

Offline ShadowsMyst

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Re: Novelty in Merchandising
« Reply #4 on: February 18, 2011, 04:03:57 PM »
OMG, you know what would be funny? A keno backpack. You know like the plush backpacks? with his legs spread out so he looks like he's clinging to your back? Put a zipper on his tummy so you could put stuff in.

That would be awesome.

But yeah, you've got a pretty good chance of selling to catlovers, and that's a pretty big (and semi fanatical) market. Might even consider having some catnip cattoy designs. I bet you could get an affiliate link with somewhere, maybe earn some extra cash referring links to cat toys or cat books.


Offline Gar

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Re: Novelty in Merchandising
« Reply #5 on: February 21, 2011, 11:28:26 AM »
I think I'm too small to be a desireable affiliate at the moment. My daily uniques are still only in triple-digits, so I'm a ways away from launching my merchandising empire. Once that ball starts rolling it's going to crush everything in its path though :P

A Keno backpack (with the little plush head peering over your shoulder) would be frickin' adorable.

Offline ShadowsMyst

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Re: Novelty in Merchandising
« Reply #6 on: February 22, 2011, 01:37:15 PM »
Seriously? o.o

I'd have thought, for as long as you've been around, you'd be well into the 4 digits if not 5.

What's going on there? I dun understand. Me, I get. I keep going on hiatus for extended periods, but I'm good at getting my numbers back up once I start updating...


Offline Gar

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Re: Novelty in Merchandising
« Reply #7 on: February 22, 2011, 06:25:44 PM »
Well I've had a couple of extended hiatuses and a fairly long period between them where I was updating really sporadically. I've only been going regularly again since 2008 when my girlfriend at the time encouraged me to get back into it, and it was only twice a week and I wasn't advertising. The audience has only really started growing again since I started the SmackJeeves mirror last August. I'm essentially just starting out, I just happen to have a massive archive in place for when people find me :P

I need to start promoting it more, it was just a hobby for years, but the art's starting to get good now and I'm starting to think there might be some money in it after all.

Offline ShadowsMyst

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Re: Novelty in Merchandising
« Reply #8 on: February 23, 2011, 04:24:28 PM »
Ehhhh, is that a familiar story. Hell, I'm JUST bringing back Shifters, beginning of june after a three year vanishing act on that comic, and just came off a 10 month hiatus for Brymstone. So I totally understand where you are coming from.

I'm kinda getting to be rather good at retrieving audiences. Its also kind of crazy, for people like me and you who've been around a long time how much the comic scene has changed and stuff. I'm always amazed at how the online comics world shifts in terms of what does and doesn't work in the way of marketing.

I noticed your nekothekitty.net site is kinda... borked, compared to the smackjeeves one. What are you using to run the site? Do you need some help with it? I'm pretty good with design stuff (for other people, I'm a little more sketchy when I'm designing for myself. :/) so I'm happy to help.

I'm happy to help you in anyway I can. Neko the kitty is one of the few strips that has attracted me as a reader. I'd love to help you really take Neko to the next level.
« Last Edit: February 23, 2011, 04:27:59 PM by ShadowsMyst »

Offline Gar

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Re: Novelty in Merchandising
« Reply #9 on: February 24, 2011, 04:01:38 AM »
Well the .net site is running on this really old comics management script called CUSP which the person who gave me the domain installed for me in 2004. I'm absolutely terrible at coding and site design (I tried switching to comicpress a while ago, but couldn't follow the instructions), so I've just switched some of the graphics around in basic html and otherwise left it be. I've been meaning to hire someone to update the layout and back end for a while, so if you want to volunteer that'd be super helpful, thanks!

You should write up a post on retrieving your audience, I know I'd be interested to read your thoughts and practises on the matter.

Offline ShadowsMyst

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Re: Novelty in Merchandising
« Reply #10 on: February 24, 2011, 08:59:09 PM »
Hmm. I never thought about that. Maybe I will do an article on that. :)

For the rest, I think I'll take it to PM. ;)

Offline UncleRobot

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Re: Novelty in Merchandising
« Reply #11 on: December 30, 2012, 01:12:21 AM »
I definitely agree that supplementing the standard fare with something unique is a good idea.  With so many strips out there, you have to differentiate  yourself whenever you can.  Vorto is a retro sci-fi strip, harkening back to serials like 'Buck Rogers', 'Flash Gordon', and 'Captain Easy'.

Martin Pope, the creator of 'Vorto' and Uncle Robot, came up with the idea of making Uncle Robot Society secret decoders.  When people buy them they get a signed, numbered Uncle Robot Society membership certificate, and become a member of the society.

Martin has started writing encoded messages and attaching them to the bottom of each strip for members to decode.  Sometime soon we'll start giving away prizes to the first person to decode the message each week.



Neil

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