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pageviews and pamphlets [Mar. 2nd, 2007|11:10 am]
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[Current Music |Mon, February 26th, 2007 Hour 2-Coast to Coast AM-Coast to Coast AM Podcast]

Let's agree on a term:

In a webcomic, each page of comics read is a "pageview".
In a comic book, each page of comics read is a "pageview".

Let's speculate on the following:

The highest-selling American comic books today sell about 100,000 copies. 22 pages x 100,000 = 2,200,000 pageviews per month. Maybe 10 or 15 comics sell in that range.

I could guestimate at least 20 webcomics with more monthly pageviews than that ... and a quick search would find you thousands more with audiences a reasonable fraction of that size.

Has the webcomics readership outgrown the American comic book market?


****

Someone better at math than I could probably answer this definitively. Croz? Joey? Gary? Jon? Unkie Warren?
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: verabee
2007-03-02 04:30 pm (UTC)

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Don't forget trades and manga!
[User Picture]From: rstevens
2007-03-02 04:45 pm (UTC)

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Which is a market bigger than comic books at the moment, right? I think I read that this week.
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[User Picture]From: coyotecoyote
2007-03-02 07:25 pm (UTC)

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You also have to factor that a pamplet's sales for a month are for only the current issue, but a trade is still on the shelf years later...
[User Picture]From: coyotecoyote
2007-03-02 06:33 pm (UTC)

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Only if you don't count trades and manga AS comic books!
[User Picture]From: stevenlcloud
2007-03-02 04:32 pm (UTC)

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woah. that's an interesting thought.

your brain works good.

webcomics rise!
[User Picture]From: shadowofsummer
2007-03-02 04:35 pm (UTC)

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I'd argue that webcomics, by-and-large, don't have as much overlap with the comic book market as they do with the daily newspaper strip. At least stylistically, that is: the majority of webcomics tend to deliver in made-for-one-page bursts, even if within a part of a larger story arc. (Megatokyo is an obvious exception, though I'd put forward the argument that Fred's probably feeling a lot less pressure to do one-page-bites now that he knows Dark Horse are collecting the chapters in book form.)
[User Picture]From: onebyoneallday
2007-03-02 04:56 pm (UTC)

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Apples to Oranges. People pay for Comics and by-and-large (minus draconian micro-payment systems which are rare these days) webcomics are free.

A better comparison might be Trade Paperback sales in comics versus webcomics. For instance, I'd be curious to know how well the recently released 3rd Penny Arcade trade paperback stacked up against other trades sold that month.
[User Picture]From: onebyoneallday
2007-03-02 05:07 pm (UTC)

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OR you could average sales of for instance Marvel's TPB sales this month with their page views for the free comics on their site and compare that with for instance PA's pageviews averaged with their TPB sales.

I just think that compared two different price points (with infinite difference ((nothing vs. anything))) and two different delievery systems doesn't make for useable data or any kind.
[User Picture]From: boy_story
2007-03-02 05:34 pm (UTC)

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big time.

it's also a lot easier to look at a webcomic at 4am on a wednesday than it is to go to a store and buy a comic...you're also not really figuring repeat visits...how many webcomics get viewed twice or three times by the same person? does it count as another 22 'pageviews' if i read a comic book i've bought 5 times in a month?

speaking of months, webcomics are not released monthly...they come out like a million times a week.

it's like comparing youtube viewerships to tv ratings...it's similar enough to start an argument, but it's not close enough to make that argument tangible.
[User Picture]From: lunchbreak_pat
2007-03-02 05:13 pm (UTC)

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It's not really fair to compare a "page" of webcomics to a page of a comic book, though--who's to say they're equal units? Some webcomics resemble a traditional print comic page, but lots are closer to a 3-(or 4-)panel newspaper strip. In terms of content, that's more like 1/3 of a page? It varies. Also, how much does page count influence a print comic's sales? You're assuming that everyone who buys, say, an issue of "Batman" reads every page--which is probably fairly accurate--but then again, they don't have the choice to buy it page-by-page, which is how webcomics are read.

[User Picture]From: onebyoneallday
2007-03-02 05:25 pm (UTC)

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Exactly. The number of pages is simply not part of the decision to pick up a comic book for 99% of readers. They buy the book because they like Batman or because they like who writes or draws Batman (i.e. people buy All Star Batman and Robin because Jim Lee does it despite the fact that the book is crap) and not because of the number of pages. The closest thing I've seen to the whole "page views" thing is Warren Ellis' "Fell" which attempts to page a lot of story into the book by cramming in the page to provide a complete narrative at a lower price-point.

Not to mention the fact that comic books involve a buying decision and webcomics do not.
[User Picture]From: rstevens
2007-03-02 06:15 pm (UTC)

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I'm just talking pure readership, guys. It totally *is* apples and oranges, but it's something to consider!
[User Picture]From: lunchbreak_pat
2007-03-02 06:46 pm (UTC)

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I still don't buy the comparison. The people who view page 22 of a printed comic book are the exact same people who viewed page 1--that is, the people who bought the book. I'd say a webcomic with similar numbers probably has a readership made up of a somewhat wider group of people, who are somewhat less loyal (or captive) an audience.
[User Picture]From: rstevens
2007-03-02 06:50 pm (UTC)

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Ah, but that adds to the likelihood I'm right- less loyalty per page viewed equals larger readership ;)
[User Picture]From: lunchbreak_pat
2007-03-02 07:02 pm (UTC)

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Yeah, it does! I didn't mean to suggest you weren't--and I certainly didn't mean to stand up for all the drek clogging up comic shops and newsstands these days.
[User Picture]From: rstevens
2007-03-02 07:10 pm (UTC)

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No worries, your points are totally valid- we just might be arguing for non-overlapping positions!
[User Picture]From: coyotecoyote
2007-03-02 07:18 pm (UTC)

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AH, but the less loyal readership is comparable to the completely unmeasurable amount of people who flip through the comic book in the store, but don't actually buy.

As for pageviews in print comics...
If a 16-page comic and a 22-page comic have the same amount of sales, the 22-page book shouldn't be recorded as having a higher readership.
A fairer comparison would probably be average amount of daily pageviews per month to the average book sales per month.
[User Picture]From: onebyoneallday
2007-03-02 06:56 pm (UTC)

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Definately something to consider. I think if anything it really tells us something about delivery method. Going to the comic shop and buying comics? Probably not something a lot of people are going to do. That's why I think Trades are selling so well because they sell them in normal bookstores and online retailers. The single issue is fading away to a boutique sort of item.

I'm unsure how to feel about this. The growing cultural awareness of "graphic novels" could certainly lead to a release schedule more like written literature instead of the serialized issue-by-issue way it is done now. This might make for some quality comics but I think we might also lose something important in there. Superhero comics are great serialized and I would probably never buy a TPB of them unless it was a well-done major arc or crossover (for example I've bought Identity Crisis and several the Marvel Ultimates in Trade.) I hope the serialized thing doesn't die but, like pulp before it, it might be destined to.
[User Picture]From: granulac
2007-03-02 05:53 pm (UTC)

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yeah, but I'm pretty sure he's talking about readership and not sales. How does a popular webcomic stack up next to a mid-size comic book in terms of recognizability? I'd think more people know who Gabe and Tycho are than, say, a semi-obscure Marvel superhero. I don't know the numbers, though, so I could be wrong. :]

Webcomics are still a small (and different) market, but they have the potential to reach more people than comic books.
[User Picture]From: onebyoneallday
2007-03-02 07:13 pm (UTC)

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But Gabe and Tycho have only had 7 or so years (I think) whereas Doctor Bong has had decades to filter into the hearts and minds of America.

I also feel like comic books have kid appeal whereas most web comics (Penny Arcade included) do not. The highbrow humor and snappy comebacks just don't play as well as *Snikt* for the younger demographics.
[User Picture]From: rstevens
2007-03-02 07:14 pm (UTC)

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love ya to death big guy, but have you seen the average comics reader these days?

if comic shops were filled with kids and new readers, there'd be no need for GNs and webcomics.
[User Picture]From: coyotecoyote
2007-03-02 07:22 pm (UTC)

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I suspect the average comics reader these days buys comics from barnes & noble. The average comics shop caters mostly to yesterday's average comics reader.
[User Picture]From: onebyoneallday
2007-03-02 08:11 pm (UTC)

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I agree that the print comic is not as popular with kids as when I was a child (I'm 22 now) but I'd be interested to see if webcomics are popular with the "under 14" or "under 12" demos. Most of the comics I read probably aren't understandable or (in some cases) appropriate for kids.

Then again, as a child I enjoyed things ripe with pop culture and other references that were way over my head so perhaps it doesn't matter. I could see a young reader enjoying your comic even if they weren't aware that sometimes when two people love each other very much they dress like sports mascots and have sex with each other.
From: (Anonymous)
2007-03-02 08:07 pm (UTC)

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This is an interesting idea! But when counting website pageviews, how do you know that some of them weren't generated by someone reading the same comic page multiple times? To be fair, you'd also have to count in all the pageviews from people who read the latest X-men over and over because they CAN'T GET ENOUGH.

What I wonder is how many webcomics are viewed by more than 100,000 unique readers every month! But I imagine the only way to really figure that out is totaling unique IPs... which in my vague understanding of the internet isn't really an especially accurate measure of unique individuals, is it?

-Sam L.
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]From: rstevens
2007-03-02 08:19 pm (UTC)

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I'd say without better figures, those cancel one another out. Just for simple thinking purposes.
[User Picture]From: alexjeffries
2007-03-02 08:20 pm (UTC)

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Woops. I deleted my comment because it was similar too others.

Sowwy.
From: (Anonymous)
2007-03-02 08:40 pm (UTC)

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Well, if there's one thing I can get behind, it's simple thinking! :)

-Sam
[User Picture]From: netizenron
2007-03-02 09:28 pm (UTC)

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It is a hard comparison, just simply because webcomics are more diverse in size, audience, overlap and cycle.

As pointed out they range from single panel strips to traditional comic style pages to obscure and erradic formats. And these forms command a broad audience, that don't always intersect.

I personally like a range of styles, formats and themes. But there are probably people who only like strips, and not long format. Some that like gaming comics and not super-heroes. It's a crapshoot.

I do think that webcomics have a broader and larger readership than comicbooks as a whole. Case in point. Scott Kurtz gets 100k+ pageviews a day, or so I've heard professed. Not really outlandish, and if those are pageviews and not visits, we can probably break that down a third to mean actual readers a day (visits). And we can assume that all his readers don't visit daily. I go long stretches and then read a week or so at a time. Yet, he sells less than 10k books per issue of his comic.

Um ... there was a point, I'm sure. I just find it amazing that a webcomic could have such a following, but it doesn't echo in it's print companion.

I do know that the collections of PA have done extremely well, selling out of first runs of 30k+. For a trade comic that's pretty good numbers.
From: constructchris
2007-03-03 12:13 am (UTC)

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10 or 15 comics is generous.

http://www.cbgxtra.com/Default.aspx?tabid=1860

Only 6 topped 100k sales and most of those books aren't even monthly. They're OSTENSIBLY monthly, but they have tons of delays.

On those same statistics, the top 100 selling TPBs accounted for 4 million in sales, vs 20 million for the top 300 comics. If the next 200 TPBs don't cumulatively account for 16 million in sales (probably not, looking at the numbers drop offs after the top 30 or so), then issues are still do more business.
From: buddhist_kabuki
2007-03-03 02:15 am (UTC)

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No really, until webcomics start costing $3.00-$4.00 a month or for every 22 comics, you can't compare. I'm sure that if every web comic charged something comparable to print comic books, the readership levels would be pretty similar.
[User Picture]From: rstevens
2007-03-03 02:35 am (UTC)

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i said "readership," not "paid readership." otherwise, i agree with ya.
From: buddhist_kabuki
2007-03-03 05:06 am (UTC)

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But don't you think one directly affects the other? Take Canada for example. Comic books on average cost $3.00 more due to their taxes. That has to impact readership based solely on how many people are willing to pay an increased price. If every comic book that was printed was also available to be viewed online for free, then I think readership numbers would be very similar across the board.
[User Picture]From: rstevens
2007-03-03 05:21 am (UTC)

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I'm not arguing that in the least! Just saying there are possibly more people reading web comics than print ones in order to make a point about this little industry growing and having reason to be proud of itself.
From: buddhist_kabuki
2007-03-03 06:00 am (UTC)

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Don't get me wrong, I'm an avid web comics fan. (And thoroughly enjoyed meeting you a couple years back.) But it irks me that there is this constant decline in printed comic book readership and that one of the major underlying factors of this is increased paper costs. There are many advantages that web comics have over print comics, but the main one in my eyes has to be the fact that digital distribution costs only time and bandwidth. As more people realize that they can use the internet to receive something they previously had to pay for, for free, the less likely they are going to be to spend money on those same things in the future. And it's not just piracy that I'm referring to, as there are many services for television, music, and print now completely available for free through the internet.

Decades from now when the robots trample the last remaining pockets of human resistance, co-opting the vast electronic network we created; and Diesel Sweeties is but a pleasant memory in the monument-building slaves of our robotic overloads, I will be hiding out in my bunker flipping through my print copies of DS and reveling in its tactile pleasures.
[User Picture]From: rstevens
2007-03-03 03:13 pm (UTC)

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Don't get me wrong, I like print comics. Just trying to make a point that webcomics have really started to come in to their own!
[User Picture]From: maritzac
2007-03-03 03:14 am (UTC)

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I think the number of pageviews should be applied to say, panel numbers.

As in, a three panel webcomic strip with two pageviews is the same as a six-panel comic book page with one pageviews.
[User Picture]From: rstevens
2007-03-03 03:18 am (UTC)

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Not sure I follow?

I was using pages/pages because a good comic strip and a good comic book page both should have at least one complete idea each.
[User Picture]From: maritzac
2007-03-03 05:36 am (UTC)

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Ah, okay. I misunderstood you.
[User Picture]From: rstevens
2007-03-03 05:38 am (UTC)

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no worries, i'm just thinking aloud.
From: (Anonymous)
2007-03-03 10:07 am (UTC)

Unfair

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Here's the thing: It's not apples to oranges. You're just making a comparison that is unfairly stacked in favor of webcomics.

I'll give you an example using my own numbers:

In a good month, I might pull 3 million page views. By your reasoning, that would put my "readership" at 3 million comics viewed per month. Of course, many of those comics were probably viewed by people who disliked my comics and will never read them again. Yet, you are counting them as "readership."

Meanwhile, you're assuming that the number of people who buy Batman comics monthly equal the number of readers. Of course, there are many people who may buy trades, or who may not read religiously. There may be people who buy a comic and share it with 10 friends. Or, maybe someone reads it in a comic book store but doesn't buy.

On the flip side, what if someone read and reread my archive three our four times. That's a single individual skewing my "readership" way up.

Bottomline, you're advantaging webcomics by suggesting that everyone who read anything this month counts as a "reader," and disadvantaging print comics by suggesting that anyone who didn't PURCHASE during a given month is not a reader.

I blame Coast to Coast AM. You're using Richard C. Hoagland logic - applying extremely lax standards to the side you favor, and extremely strict standards to the side you don't.

-Zach Weiner
[User Picture]From: rstevens
2007-03-03 03:15 pm (UTC)

Re: Unfair

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HOAGIE WOULD AGREE WITH ME.

You make a good point, I'm just playing GO WEBCOMICS!!!
From: (Anonymous)
2007-03-03 04:33 pm (UTC)

The Choir...

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Rich -DJ Coffmania here.

I know an awful lot about the comic book market and history, (probably too much) and you've pretty much nailed it, and it's been something I've been talking about for years.

Readership IS the name of the game, and webcomics are clearly winning. Now, the corporate masters at the big comic publishers and a few others don't really GET webcomics, they primarily use it for "previews" or to entice readers to come buy a comic book. They are married to the comic book direct market and WAY afraid of upsetting the tables. Not to mention primarily catering to an aging and shrinking audience. The reason the companies have been scrambling around to figure out webcomics is definitly READERSHIP numbers. Here's why webcomics are unique and own comic books at the moment...

#1 Like Zach said, just because 250,000 copies of Civil War #6 sold in January doesn't mean it's 250,000 readers or "page views". Most of that sits on a shelf or will sadly migrate to the dollar bargain bins. They still made their money though, and that's all they REALLY care about, and another reason they pay no real mind to webcomics.

#2 Unlike a comic book, which is picked up and read once a month, probably ONE time, webcomic readers come back everyday, and often partake in a community of other like minded fellow readers. Simply put, it's amazing. Way more amazing than Spider-man.

#3 There are opportunities opening up on all sides if someone is looking for it. Comic book companies could get off their asses and start putting out their own honest to goodness "webcomics" , instead of thinking of how they can make super flash interfaces. AND webcomic people, instead of sitting around acting like it's the competition, they COULD just simply take over. Look at Marvel right now, the most successful writer there came from independent self publishing. To the Comic Book Industry crows, Webcomics are self publishing, the new "independent comics" or the new "small press", (both actually).

With that said, I look forward to Rstevens 161 issue run on a new and revamped IRON MAN.

Good day.
[User Picture]From: rosscott
2007-03-03 10:02 pm (UTC)

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You also have to wonder about the long tail. The big comics may get a huge bulk, but those fringe comics that aren't getting nearly as high of a readership but there are more of them than there are of the big guys. Same is I believe less true for print comics, since there is less ability for a small comic in print to stick around.

-rosscott
http://www.rocketsrockout.com/
From: jessor.myopenid.com
2007-03-07 09:10 am (UTC)

Follow the money

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Ultimately, what we're talking about is maximizing revenue. All comic book publishers are wondering what business model they should use to make the most money possible out of their material. Giving it away for free is a very counterintuitive approach in an industry that is used to people paying for the material before they are allowed to read it.

It would seem that webcomics are a fantastic way for unknown artists to reach a large audience, and thus make their product known, so that they may later sell hard copies online and in stores. But for established publishers, who have smoothly operated distribution and marketing processes in place, the added value of publishing webcomics is questionable. So, simply put, when the publishing executives can clearly see that it is more profitable to first give the comics away online, and then sell the books, rather than sell the books immediately through their traditional channels, that is when we will see the big publishers enter the webcomics arena for real.

Mikael Hed
Jessor & Co. (http://www.jessor.com)