2020 has been an interesting year for the comic community. While there has been impact, it has also forced innovation across the board.
GlobalComix is a digital comics platform that has not only delivered a “shop” for creators but also been trying to do new things. It recently launched a new funding model that benefits creators and today they’ve announced their next release, GlobalComix Crowdfinder.
GlobalComix Crowdfinder is a suite of tools to help creators and empower their crowdfunding campaigns. It not only helps deliver digital perks and rewards but also a way to find new backers.
The platform features:
- Increases Discoverability – Allows readers to find comics actively being crowdfunded and have a successful crowdfunding history.
- Interactive Crowdfunding Previews – Comics can be previewed including tracking clickthroughs.
- Campaign Backer Rewards – You can deliver digital rewards to backers with gift-codes and promos from single comics to all of a creator’s titles. This can be for a limited time or forever.
With the announcement of this new addition to GlobalComix, we got a chance to talk to its CEO Christopher Carter about GlobalComix, it’s new tools, and where it’s going.
Graphic Policy: Before we get to the announcement, let’s take a few steps back. Walk us through the GlobalComix platform and how it’s different from other digital platforms.
Christopher Carter (GlobalComix CEO): Unlike other platforms that serve up traditional comics, GlobalComix is a web first comics platform that natively integrates great mobile reading experiences and that offers up the full power of user acquisition metrics and analytics.
Our focus first and foremost has not been just “how can people sell comics online”, but more specifically “how can we provide the tools that comic owners need to be successful digitally”. This means that everything from the onboarding and upload process through to the reading experience has been carefully crafted and designed to create a delightful experience end-to-end.
GP: How do you see digital comics fitting into the comic landscape?
CC: I don’t think of those two things as separate concepts, really. Digital comics is one venue for readers to consume and enjoy stories. The biggest differences from print are that digital is not geographically challenged or restricted, and that the potential reach is much greater than what can reasonably be provided to the stores that make comics available physically.
In my mind, what digital uniquely offers up is the ability to really broaden one’s perspective and amount of stories that one reads and enjoys. Printed comics will always have a place among collectors and fans, but it is likely not the medium that will reach that broader audience beyond the niche interested.
Digital bridges that gap nicely by combining a lower barrier to entry and ease of access and much lower prices (no supply chain, physical inventory and infrastructure) with a medium in which readers can very easily share recommendations with friends and like minded folks.
GP: Digital comics have been around for quite some time and generally hit a ceiling these last few years with a recent push for them. What’s the feedback that you get from publishers and creators concerning them?
CC: I think the biggest concern folks have is the chicken-and-egg dilemma, in that historically, digital revenue for creators and publishers has been much lower than what they expected, and thus, they don’t put much (if at all) effort into building a proper digital strategy and community around their content. E.g. “why should we bother?”.
But I think that is a flawed way of thinking, because it’s not that there aren’t readers willing to pay to read stories out there, it’s that the strategy for finding and engaging with them is inherently different.
Between lack of sophistication in tooling and marketing/community building efforts, there’s a lot of education that I think the traditional comics market can learn from both other digital mediums, but also from digital native webcomic creators who understand what it means to build a following online.
GP: COVID has sped up the focus on direct to consumer marketing throughout many industries but especially comics. How does GlobalComix help with that?
CC: I think it’s first important to understand what “direct to consumer” actually means, because as mentioned, that has inherently different implications for digital as opposed to physical products. That said, on the digital side of things, GlobalComix was designed from the ground up to be both a suite of tools as well as a community building platform where brands and creators alike could not just publish comics, but also build a following, easily share their stories, and most importantly, accurately measure the impact of their marketing efforts.
Marketing without results data means you are almost constantly shooting in the dark, and that’s why we’re uniquely offering up (anonymized/aggregate) data and analytics information to every single creator and publisher on our platform.
With GlobalComix, it’s fully possible to know exactly how many people read your story from a digital advertisement on FB/Google/Etc, how many people clicked through from your email newsletter, or how many people engaged came from your blog/social/etc posts and shares. Not only that, but we also provide granular in-depth analysis of how readers consume each book, ranging from drop-off rates on a per-page basis to time spent engaging with each page.
GP: The big announcement is that you’ve integrated crowdfunding promotion and discovery into the platform. Where did the idea come from?
CC: For us, adding these features was a natural extension of our mission and vision, which is to help comic creators be successful. In the past 5 years, there’s been an ever growing amount of creators who are bootstrapping and financing their work through crowdfunding. What I think has been missing there is the focus on discovery from a reader’s perspective.
Since GlobalComix inherently focuses on giving creators tools to share their comics digitally with readers in a format that makes it easy and joyful to consume, simply embracing that creators might want to use our platform as the basis for their crowdfunding previews just made sense.
Further, by linking our discovery mechanism with filters for comic crowdfunding campaigns, we’re providing readers with a centralized location to discover new and awesome comics that they might want to back.
GP: How does crowdfunding integrate and what platforms does it work with?
CC: It’s fairly straightforward actually – as the admin of comics you have access to the backend configuration for each title. We created an interface where creators can list out their crowdfunding campaigns and some details like start and stop date, funding goals, and a link to their campaign page. The system works with any and all crowdfunding platforms.
With this information entered into our system, we’re able to contextually serve up notices and banners for readers on comic pages, creator pages, and in our reader.
On the campaign side of things, because GlobalComix is a web platform, it is extremely easy for creators to embed links and CTAs on their campaign pages where readers can read their previews directly. And since we also already offer creators tools to create promo & gift codes for access to their work, they can easily integrate this offering into their backer rewards — be it for digital access to the book being crowdfunded, or even more broader access to a creator’s other or older work. It’s up to them!
GP: What type of tools have you added to allow creators to interact with their supporters?
CC: All creators on GlobalComix get their own creator profile page, where supporters can follow them and receive updates whenever the creator publishes new content. And like Twitter/Facebook/etc, creators have the option to post status updates and posts that go into a reader’s home feed on GlobalComix. Followers can also comment on status posts and comic releases, which become publicly visible and are displayed in all the relevant locations you would expect to see.
Beyond the follow/feed/comment functionality, creators can directly communicate with their followers in 1:1 or group private conversations. We even offer up advanced options for creators to turn on discussion forums for each of their comic titles, allowing their fans a sandbox environment to discuss and engage with each other, the creator, and more.
The coolest thing about all of this, though, is that every single tooling we’ve built also has an analytics and metrics component to it. This means that during the community building journey, creators can get actionable insights into how the community is growing, where they’re coming from, and what their fans are doing to engage with them on GlobalComix.
GP: The use of data is still in its infancy in the comic industry, is that something you’re focused on?
CC: Very much so. In fact, some of the things that we really want to help comic creators and publishers answer are “how many people actually read my book”, “where are those people located”, and “how did they find out about our stories”.
But it goes beyond that. On the sales side, the print side of the industry – knowing actual sales numbers beyond what was picked up as inventory (and potentially returned) is virtually non-existent and guesstimates at best.
I truly believe that with a proper digital solution in place for getting numbers and data around these metrics, even direct to consumer marketing for print comics directly stands to benefit. Not only from identifying geo-clusters in the US, but also as market research for localization, international print distribution deals, and other merchandise. But let’s not forget animation deals – those are much easier to secure if one knows that there’s an established, growing and engaged audience out there hungry for more.
Let’s face it – I think that for the comics industry to truly succeed and expand, it needs to increase its sophistication, and business choices need to be based on actual data so that educated decisions that result in a high success rate can be made.
GP: Do you see the industry ever get to a full 360-degree view of their customers and readers?
CC: I think that depends on how one defines 360-degree view. Certainly it’s possible to get close to that, however, until some of the legacy parts of the industry and value-chains upgrade their data and reporting, it’s going to be hard to get 100% coverage.
But I think to get there, there needs to be a shift from a pure “if we make it, they will come, hopefully…” approach to one that marries celebration of creativity and innovation in stories with data-driven approaches to marketing, distribution, and supply-chain.
And on the production and sales side, I think that with innovation in printer technology and quality, an on-demand supply-chain might be established that can really live into that approach. Josh Blaylock over at Devil’s Due often talks about this, and I find myself very much agreeing with a lot of the perspectives he has and shares.
GP: What’s the feedback from all of these tools? The industry has been hesitant to embrace technology and data in the years I’ve been talking to individuals and publishers.
CC: I think it ranges from outright excitement and enthusiasm to confusion about “how do I even…”. There are groups of folks that have come into the comics industry, perhaps from other digital media, who are fully aware of the tooling and potential offered up to creators, and there are folks who come at this from the perspective of “I don’t really know digital, but I guess I’m supposed to be here, so I’ll upload our stuff and see”.
In some of the cases, it’s a bit like giving an UZI to a cat in terms of tooling/firepower, and expecting them to know what to do with it effectively. So that’s where we’ve started our approach to education – because I think only if we all collectively acknowledge there’s learning to be had can change happen.
I recommend creators start checking out our education program with editorial content and regular webinars and video tutorials to help catch up and understand.
GP: Any hints as to what might be next?
CC: One of the things I’m always very hesitant about doing is giving explicit timelines and roadmaps for things that are not 100% cemented, however, we’ve got both some reasonable and some lofty goals.
On the platform side of things, you can expect to see a general level of polish and improvement across the board of the tooling that we already offer. I feel like we’ve hit a great broad stroke with GlobalComix, so the next steps are not to just add more, but to button up, polish, and improve/expand what we already offer.
On the reader side of things, that means adding native mobile applications that further improve on the experience and capabilities we offer, and on the creator side of things I think it’s geared around increasing ease of use, education, onboarding, and ecosystem support for all the efforts that creators and publishers do for their fans.
GP: Thanks for chatting and excited to see what’s next.