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Author Topic: Chris Crosby here.  (Read 2533 times)

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Offline Chris Crosby

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Chris Crosby here.
« on: January 08, 2010, 10:06:00 PM »
Heya, everybody!  @RemedialRob was kind enough to invite me over here, so here I am.  I'm Chris Crosby, probably most notable within the webcomics community for co-founding Keenspot (and ComicGenesis.com) in 2000.  A couple of years ago we bought out our partners and took control of the company, and I am now serving as CEO of Keenspot under the wonderful chaos that is going on currently. 

I started in print comic books in the early '90s, but I posted my first "webcomic" years before the term webcomics even existed, back around 1994 or so on the primordial internet known as the CompuServe service and later on my AOL member homepage.  In 1998 I was invited by a then-popular entertainment website called mania.com (which still exists under different ownership) to create a weekly comic for their site based on my comic book SNAP THE PUNK TURTLE, and that was well-received enough that I was inspired to start the daily strip SUPEROSITY.  Eventually I created or co-created a number of other webcomics including SORE THUMBS, LAST BLOOD, WICKEPOWERED, CROW SCARE, and GOD MODE.  (Links to all can be found at http://www.chriscrosby.com.)

I'm not sure what I can contribute to this new community you're building, if anything.  Have any questions to ask of a webcomics old-timer?  I'll answer them to the best of my ability.

Thanks for reading!

Offline Rob

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Re: Chris Crosby here.
« Reply #1 on: January 08, 2010, 10:25:35 PM »
Chris the wealth of knowledge, expertise and experience you bring to the table is very impressive. I've been reading Sore Thumbs for a long time and am enjoying the reboot.

I don't suppose I could talk you into writing a short article?

One of the things that almost all of us smaller webcomics creators hear a lot is to watch out for Comics collectives. The words evil and thieves gets bandied around a lot. I've heard horror stories about domains being siezed and sited being shut down.

I would absolutely love to hear the other side of the story. The difficulties in creating and running a collective, the capital required to even approach such an endeavor and the difficulties in raising it. The difficulties in dealing with artistic personalities in a business venture and trying to be fair with compensation while still turning a profit.

There's also tons you could tell us about running your own sites and stories. I focused on the unique experience you have in the business simply because, well, it's unique.

And if you've written something in the past that might fit the bill and have the rights to let us use it that would be fine too. I know you are incredibly busy.

Thanks for your time, and I hope you like it here enough to come back often.  ;D

 

Offline Chris Crosby

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Re: Chris Crosby here.
« Reply #2 on: January 08, 2010, 10:58:24 PM »
Chris the wealth of knowledge, expertise and experience you bring to the table is very impressive. I've been reading Sore Thumbs for a long time and am enjoying the reboot.
Thanks.  The response to the reboot has been surprisingly good for the most part.
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I don't suppose I could talk you into writing a short article?
I suppose I could at some point.
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One of the things that almost all of us smaller webcomics creators hear a lot is to watch out for Comics collectives. The words evil and thieves gets bandied around a lot. I've heard horror stories about domains being siezed and sited being shut down.
Jeez, who's doing that?  I haven't heard these stories, I don't think.
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I would absolutely love to hear the other side of the story. The difficulties in creating and running a collective, the capital required to even approach such an endeavor and the difficulties in raising it. The difficulties in dealing with artistic personalities in a business venture and trying to be fair with compensation while still turning a profit.
The thing is, I never considered Keenspot a "collective."  To me it's always been a publishing company.  Over time parts of it morphed into something you could CALL a collective, but it's not what I think of when I think of collectives.  I think of Dumbrella, Blank Label, Dayfree, etc.  Basically groups of like-minded cartoonists that come together to cross-promote as a group and make all decisions as a group, rather than all the decisions being made by one or two people like they are at Keenspot.  Collectives are supposed to be owned "collectively" by the entire group, not one or two people at the top.  I don't think of collectives as having CEOs.  Maybe it's just me?

But yeah, I could say what it's like to run a webcomics company.  The short answer is that it's really, really hard.  :)

Offline Rob

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Re: Chris Crosby here.
« Reply #3 on: January 08, 2010, 11:09:17 PM »
I've heard alot of these stories. Porbably the most famous of which is the Penny Arcade story where they nearly lost the rights to the name Penny Arcade and thier website. There are many others and I'd be happy to PM some of them to you, but the last thing I want to do is open up old wounds on a brand new site.  :-X

And forgive the terminology confusion. You are right of course in that there is a significant difference between a collective and a publishing company. But that would be an important point to the article because most of us, probably don't know the difference. And what's more we most likely apply those scary stories uniformly.

I know that Rampage is courting some of the folks who plan to leave Keenspot after the reorganization coming up in July and so I consider this a particularly good time to educate folks on the subject.

And yeah, I bet it's hard. I bet it's like trying to get Superman to herd a hundred thousand rabid cats through the Rocky mountains. Cats made out of Kryptonite.

If you get the time to write something down please let me know. And thanks for considering it.  ;)
« Last Edit: January 08, 2010, 11:10:58 PM by Rob »

Offline Chris Crosby

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Re: Chris Crosby here.
« Reply #4 on: January 08, 2010, 11:26:09 PM »
Porbably the most famous of which is the Penny Arcade story where they nearly lost the rights to the name Penny Arcade and thier website.
Oh, eFront!  That's the one I have heard of.  I don't know if it's widely known or not, but that same company that ended up screwing PENNY ARCADE tried to buy KEENSPOT.  Their CEO (Sam something?) was bugging me for MONTHS.  They offered us millions of dollars in stock and promised a steady CPM rate (which I think would've amounted to about $100,000/month if our pageviews remained consistent).  Thanks to some miracle, we were smart enough to turn down their generous offer, and felt reaaaallly good about it when the shit hit the fan a year or two later.
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There are many others and I'd be happy to PM some of them to you, but the last thing I want to do is open up old wounds on a brand new site.  :-X
Well, if the collectives that rip people off still exist, it would be good to get the word out about them to creators (if the stories are true and not just rumors).
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And forgive the terminology confusion. You are right of course in that there is a significant difference between a collective and a publishing company. But that would be an important point to the article because most of us, probably don't know the difference. And what's more we most likely apply those scary stories uniformly.
Right, no worries.  I'll think it over and see if I have anything coherent to say about it.  Article-writing isn't really my thing, I'm much more of an article-reader.  :)
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I know that Rampage is courting some of the folks who plan to leave Keenspot after the reorganization coming up in July and so I consider this a particularly good time to educate folks on the subject.
Yeah, I'd hope that the departing creators will start up their own collectives so they can be in charge of their own destinies.  So far it looks like webcomicbucket.com will be the largest collective to grow as a result of the changes at Keenspot, but who knows.
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And yeah, I bet it's hard. I bet it's like trying to get Superman to herd a hundred thousand rabid cats through the Rocky mountains. Cats made out of Kryptonite.
That's damn close!

Offline Rob

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Re: Chris Crosby here.
« Reply #5 on: January 09, 2010, 12:12:22 AM »
I honestly think that the fear involved with doing business with anyone in the webcomics world hangs over like a cloud. When I lost my partner/artist I went looking for a new one and was greeted throughout the artistic community with a level of suspicion that was downright offensive for a person who (like me) considers himself to be as honest as honest gets. And that was just one guy trying to get another (person) to build something with him.

It seems from my experience that many artists don't want to deal with the headaches of running a website. If they can just draw and commune with the fans they are happy. So if you give them a contract like Rampage is offering where all the work is done for them for free they are more inclined to take it and run than try and build something of thier own.

XHTML, CSS, PHP.. this stuff is hard.

These stories and the mentality the have created make it extremely difficult to get any webcomics people together in business. And that's probably why you aren't seeing the Keenspot folks looking for someone else to take care of them. If they become friends then there is a better chance. But honestly how many friendships have been ruined by going into business.

But you start talking about merchandise and revenue and advertising and they seem to just assume you are going to try and either screw them or make them do all the work... and screw them.

Thanks for the conversation it was very interesting.