“A one-stop shop for everything and everyone you would usually find at a UK comic convention” behind the scenes of the UK’s first digital comics marketplace with Comicsy creator Tim West
Although the world of digital comics may seem to dominated by major distributors like ComiXology and iVerse, an increasing number of independent companies are now setting up their own portals online for fans to buy more low-key digital titles directly from them. This kind of entrepreneurial spirit is what the world of digital comics so exciting and one website taking advantage of this new world order is Comicsy created by web developer Tim West. However unlike the other distributors, Comicsy has a unique selling point – one which is very close to our heart – all the titles on there are created by British and Irish creators. As a fellow Brit looking to make a name for himself in the world of digital comics we knew we had to get in touch and find out more, so welcome to the world of Comicsy…
Tell us a bit about what inspired you to start up Comicsy?
TW: Inspiration for the site came after visiting the Bristol Comic Expo back in 2012. I was stunned by the commitment, passion, and quality of work that was on display, not to mention the friendly atmosphere of the event. With all the wonderful comics for sale it seemed a shame that they could only be purchased at conventions or via the sellers’ own websites.
However, with the internet being such a huge beast, it’s easy for individual websites to be crowded out by the vast number of other sites vying for attention. Conventions enable creators to sell their wares to a targeted audience with an interest in indie comics. It made sense to transfer the pull of a convention in to the online world.
The idea behind Comicsy is to use the collective strength of comic creators to drive sales within the industry – strength in numbers. If one creator is asked, ‘Where can I purchase your comics?’ they could point potential customers in the direction of Comicsy. Hopefully, this would send fans of small press comics to the site, who then may just purchase additional products from the other comic creators who are listed there.
What is your background in comics and how many people currently are involved in Comicsy?
TW: I’m fortunate my 2 main interests are comics and websites. If this were not the case, Comicsy would never have been born!
I’ve been involved with a small press anthology for the last 4 years (www.hallowscream.net). It started out as a fun project but I soon found that I’d been bitten by the comic making bug! When I’m not geeking around with websites I’ll be trying my hand at writing comic strips. Some kind folk have even deemed them OK enough to appear in their own indie anthologies!
Comicsy is currently a one man team (not counting the development team who created the software). However, being a part of the small press scene meant I had already made some good comic friends, who I could call on when I was developing Comicsy, to offer advice, opinions, and help test the site to smooth out any potential hiccups.
What makes your site unique compared to other digital comics portals? (Am I right in thinking you offer the option for readers to download print versions as well as order print copies direct from the writer/artists? Or is it just digital downloads?)
TW: There’s a big split in the world of comics between fans of digital and fans of traditional comics. What sets Comicsy apart from other sites it the ability for the sellers to choose how they can sell their products. For the buyer, this means there is a healthy mix of both physical and digital products available on the site.
How can writers and artists get their work published via your site? And do you put any restrictions on work that is supplied?
TW: Each ‘Comicsy Shop‘ is controlled solely by the comic creator/publisher who set up the store. These ‘sellers’ are able to add pretty much any type of product to the site to sell to the public, as long as it’s a comic related. We do have some specific guidelines in our T&C’s regarding decency and relevancy, but mostly we want to keep out of the way and let the shop owners do their thing.
When setting up Comicsy we wanted to make sure that it was as easy to use as possible. The sign-up process is extremely simple and users can be selling products within minutes of joining the site. All they require is a valid PayPal account to receive payments when customers purchase their goods.
At its heart, Comicsy is just a free tool for small press creators to get their products available to purchase on the web. Whether users want to use this tool as their primary location for selling their products, or just as an additional avenue for their goods, it’s entirely up to them.
Which titles have been the success stories of the site so far?
TW: Top of that list is Hibernia Comics’ (http://www.comicsy.co.uk/hibernia/) ‘One Eyed Jack and the Death of Valiant’. David McDonald had put together a fantastic 32 page publication, the first in his ‘Comic Archive’ line, looking at the more obscure and forgotten comics and creators of days gone by. He chose to use Comicsy as his sole portal for selling the book, made available in both print and digital format. David has been delighted with the response and number of sales he has had via the website. It’s mostly down to having a great product to sell but the ability to quickly add his comics, manage orders, and receive 100% of the funds that the book generated, means we’re likely to see a second issue of ‘Comic Archive’ sometime in the future
How has the growth of digital comics aided a small start up company like yourself? Do you find you can spread the word globally, and not just in the UK and Ireland?
TW: It’s currently a very exciting time to be involved in digital comics. The success of big hitters, such as ComiXology, prove there is a significant market for digital comics and we’re beginning to see people testing different modes and ways to both display and sell digital comics online. The scene is exploding so as more websites, such as Pipedream, and magazines, such as INFINTY, focus on digital comics, Comicsy, as a player on that scene, should benefit from greater exposure.
How would you like to see Comicsy develop in 2013? Will you be releasing more digital only titles do you think and any plans for an app?
TW: It’s still early days for Comicsy but we hope 2013 will see the site become more prominent in the UK scene. There are over 300 titles available via the website, both physical and digital, and we expect them number to rise as more people discover the site can help them shift comics.
There’s not much that an app can do that a website can’t so there’s no plans to app-up this year. We have been in discussion with printing companies regarding adding a print on demand service to Comicsy, but that’s unlikely to happen too soon.
If you could get any title or writer/artist combo to join Comicsy, who would you like to get? And what are your chances of getting them?!
The ultimate goal of Comicsy is to contain ALL indie comics from the UK and Irish scene. We’ve already got some great creators selling their wares via Comicsy but to have EVERYONE involved would be the cherry on top of the cake.
There are some well-known indie creators who have been working in the industry for a long time and developed some exciting characters and stories. Creators such as Graham Pearce and his series Sgt Mike Battle, Garen Ewing’s The Rainbow Orchid, and the team behind Lou Scannon, to name just a few. Having these on Comicsy would be fantastic for the site.
Comicsy is really just another platform to sell from. Obviously many creators already have their own sites or use other services to sell their comics. If that’s working for them, great, but we’d love to see Comicsy as a one-stop shop for everything and everyone you would usually find at a UK comic convention.