Dailyink and Comics Kingdom

As the print world struggles to find its way through the current marketplace, more and more people are reading their comics online. There has been much debate in cartooning circles regarding online business models. Some business models bring a lot of eyes to the material for free and the artists support themselves through merchandising. Other models prefer to charge for content up front.

When one has a syndication contract with King Features the first model has been - up to now - off limits. Artists are discouraged from putting their daily strips on the web for free and all merchandising revenue has to be split with the syndicate whether or not they are involved in the production process. Until recently Edison's online presence was restricted to primarily a subscription model called dailyink.

I think dailyink is a terrific value and very convenient and it is my preferred way to keep up with my favorite comics. I pay a very small fee ($15.00) for a year's subscription and I can have any or all the comics King carries delivered to my emailbox every morning. I also like that it archives a year's worth of comics and has access to great vintage comics and also puzzles and games. Best of all, John and all the other artists get a direct cut of the subscription fee.

Now King has launched a second online comic service called Comics Kingdom that derives its income, not from a subscription fee, but from ad revenue earned on the hosting site. The subscribing newspaper gets to run all the King comics, attracting readers to their online versions of the paper (and also hoping visitors will then move to other sections of the paper as well), the reader can enjoy all their comics at no charge, and the artists still receive some direct compensation for their work. The easiest way to see Edison this way is to use the widgets on the Brilliant Mind of Edison Lee website. Currently there 3 widgets - one on this page at the top right, one on the home page, and one on John's blog page (Lab Notes). Simply click on the widget and away you go! (And while you're at it cast a vote for your favorites.)

The up side to these services is that artists are compensated. Also, the space for comics is virtually unlimited, eliminating the need for papers to make difficult decisions about which features to keep and which to drop. (Making especially useless the ever dreaded comics polls - see above strip) The down side is that, currently, the pay scale is nothing close to that which artists receive from print newspapers. Features still need a solid number of print papers on their client list to be commercially viable.

There are other ways to view comics on the web for free, and there will always be people who delight in outwitting the system and getting "a great deal". But I believe there are also a number of folks who genuinely don't mind paying for something that they feel has artistic value. It is important to know that, while every once in a while a feature like Zits or Dilbert will earn its creators a really large income, that is not the norm. If you care about the future of comics, (because very few people have the time, energy, and independent wealth to produce 365 comics a year for free), please either pester your print paper to run your favorite comics (hopefully including Edison) or take advantage of dailyink and comics kingdom.

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