Paying For Comics

Whenever the print comic vs webcomic debate gets started, there are invariably many voices that say people won't pay for content on the web. Paywalls are said to scare off fans, who only open their wallets to buy merchandise, not the strip itself.

That may be very true in many cases. I myself have experienced this with my music. On my harp website, I made my music available for free but requested that those who downloaded it make a donation in any amount they felt comfortable with. I tried to make very clear that the donations were for breast cancer research and support programs for cancer victims. I was curious to see if folks would download the music and pass it around for free while - in essence - stealing from cancer victims.

The answer is: yes, people will happily download anything and everything that you provide for them with nary a thought about paying for it. The analytical program that comes with my website is sophisticated enough to track every download so I know people are taking the music. They just aren't paying for it. I started offering the tunes last spring and, to date, have been paid exactly 0 dollars and 0 cents.

I am not that surprised. It was an experiment. 

But I am taking steps to put the music behind a paywall from now on.

Anyway, I bring this tired old topic up again because of something I read on Paul Gilligan's blog over in Pooch Cafe land. 

The Denver Post has dropped 21 comics and Paul has written a very nice piece of commentary on the subject.

But what really got my attention were the comments in response to his post. Most of them are from folks promising to pay for Paul's strip no matter where they have to get it from - print or web.

This is because, along with having a great, high quality strip, Paul obviously has a very loyal and enthusiastic fan base. It gives me hope that, all previous evidence to the contrary, people will eventually make their peace with paying for content on the web. We just have to hope that the companies that are in the business of providing the content figure out the best way to get everything behind that paywall.

So take a little stroll over to Paul's blog - it's a great site - and be sure to particularly check out the comments.

I am also going to go out on a limb here and predict that the Post will have to reinstate at least 5 of the comics they've tried to axe.


  1. Very interesting. I give my webcomic away for free as I develop it, but encourage people to buy the book for a friend. What I've found is the same as you: plenty of readership, but VERY few buyers. Good thing I have a day job.

  2. Oh yes, John and I still have our day jobs as well, thank goodness.

    I went back and read the comments on Paul's site again and another thing struck me - many of those commenting were interested in subscribing to the strip on the web and also completely unaware of gocomics and dailyink. I wonder if this means that they are print fans who have migrated to the website through Paul's url being listed in the print version of the strip. It also shows you that it's mostly comics people that know about the syndicate's efforts to offer subscription services rather than run of the mill readers. Bad marketing if that's the case.