Recently, one of my favorite comics has decided to take a different path in the type of content it releases. Since Brad Guigar’s return from Emerald City Comic Con, he has announced an experiment in which all of April’s strips for Evil Inc. can be purchased before the strips run their course. Packaging this all up into a neat PDF (or MOBI for you Kindle users), the document features an arc of Dr. Muskiday running from April 2 to April 28. While Guigar is known to work far ahead in his work, partially due to newspaper time frames, this foray into a new aspect of the online comic model pushes him to work even further in the future. Mr. Guigar was kind enough to take some time out of his busy schedule to sit down with me to answer a few questions.
Draeno: Thank you for taking a moment to sit down with me, Brad. I know that you’ve probably got your hands full right now. First I have to know, what stirred up the idea to sell a months worth of comics prior to posting them on the Evil Inc. website?
Brad: This is something I wanted to do for a long time. I wanted to offer a digital download, but offering stuff that was readily available on my site didn’t seem to make sense. Neither did competing with my print book sales. I maintain a significant buffer — partially out of the necessity of giving Ed Ryzowski time to color the strips, and partially out of wanting to make sure that the comic isn’t interrupted by unforeseen events. So it kinda dawned on me that this might be a fun thing to experiment with.
Draeno: How did Ed (colorist Ed Ryzowski) take the news when you told him the plan?
Brad: Ed is unshakeable. He has a completely can-do, confident attitude. He’s amazing.
Draeno: What kind of workload has pushing out the strips this far ahead added to your plate?
Brad: I’ve been slowly building up this buffer for months now. The extra workload hasn’t been huge. I just nibbled away at it for a long time.
Draeno: Was the $1.50 price an arbitrary number that you plucked out of the air or was there some logic to it? Does it go along with the idea of making it accessible, similar to selling buttons or stickers at a convention at a low price point?
Brad: I wanted to make it low enough for an impulse buy without making it seem cheap.
Draeno: Based on the response of your fans, is this something that you will keep doing?
Brad: The response has been very strong. My goal is to release the May edition during the last week of April.
Draeno: You mentioned that you may raise the price to $2 or $3. Do you think that price range will still be in that area? Even with it being a similar price to picking up a comic issue at your local shop?
Brad: I think $2-3 is the sweet spot for digital downloads.
Draeno: Do you think this will have a negative or a positive effect on your book sales?
Brad: I don’t think it will have any effect on my book sales. The books have a completely unique hook. They’re graphic novels based on the daily strip. I use the individual panels of the daily comics to lay out a graphic novel. And where I have always used narration boxes and panels that were not part of the original Web presentation to smooth out the storytelling, the next Evil Inc. book is going to raise that experience to a whole new level.
Draeno: Would you say there has been a difference in net traffic of ad revenue over the previous month by creating an avenue for fans to read the story instead of visiting the site daily?
Brad: This has had no discernible effect on traffic or ad revenue. Both have stayed at their regular levels.
Draeno: Have you thought of using this as a way to arrange gift copies to other people that may not be regularly able to read the strips? For instance, military personnel stationed in various areas, people in lands without stable internet, hermits in caves with iPads, etc.
Brad: No, but that’s a dandy idea!
Draeno: In creating a digital file for distribution, do you worry about potential piracy issues? I know that it isn’t a big issue since the comics are posted online to begin with. There is that small window where you may miss out on some revenue though.
Brad: That’s always a worry, but I didn’t want that to keep me from trying this idea out. To a large extent, I trust my readers. They’ve been incredibly supportive of me for many years.
Draeno: You mentioned in your announcement that you were excluding the Saturday strips. Since you do these strips “on the fly,” as you put it, for the newspapers do you have any future plans for them as a separate release?
Brad: You’re full of great ideas, aren’t you? I just might!
Draeno: Finally, are they any numbers thus far that you could share up to this point? I think people are curious about how successful this has been. I know I am.
Brad: I never share numbers. It’s not that I’m secretive. It’s just that there’s no real context for numbers in a case like this. No matter what number I give you, one person could say, “That’s astounding,” and the next person could say, “That’s not a third of what I thought it would be.” And there’s no way to prove either one of those people right or wrong. So I’d rather not talk numbers. The response was strong enough for me to commit to a May release by the end of the first day. And surprisingly, as of ten days into the month, people are still downloading the April issue. That’s a very positive response to this concept.
Draeno: I’d like to thank you Brad for taking the time out of your schedule to answer a few questions. I know that putting out a product like this for Evil Inc. will do more for keeping readers like me able to catch up on big chunks of story amidst our busy live. I really hope that everything goes as well, if not better, than planned with this next step on getting Evil Inc. out there. Just don’t kill Ed, OK?
Brad: Thanks again for the opportunity!
As you can see, the project did end up being enough of a success for Brad to put out May’s edition at the end of April. I’m excited and interested to see how this trend goes into the future. The price is so low, that it is perfect for the impulse buy as he had intended. Better yet, with the May edition he only bumped the price point up $0.50. Hopefully, Brad will be able to keep pushing these monthly volumes out as time goes on. Given how naturally far ahead he works, I don’t see how keeping up will be a problem. When you consider how this has become a full time job recently, it makes you want it to succeed that much more.
Posted with permission from 20 Sides of Nerd.