Mark Millar – My Big Concern With Comic Downloads

Mark Millar recently posted the following on his Millarworld Forum:

Okay, I’m loving the fact that Millarworld books account for 8 of the top 10 downloads in 2010. That’s cool, but what superficially looks like a great deal for creators is less so under a little scrutiny. Yes, you’re eliminating paper, printing, comic store and distributor costs, but there’s hidden costs here I haven’t seen highlighted anywhere.

1/ Apple take 30% right off the bat.
2/ In the case of Wanted, Comixology then splits 50/50 with the publisher.
3/ Then the agent and creative team get paid out of the remaining cash depending on their deal.

In hard numbers, the download is normally half the price of the paper comic, but you have just as many percentages to pay out as a creative team to an electronic distributor and publisher. So effectively the creative team is getting half as much money. For creators, this isn’t great and for comic stores this is awful. I don’t mind paying thirty percent to a local store where my friends work and the guys care about the product. But do I want this money going to Apple?

In a nutshell, I’m very, very on the fence with this one. I don’t like the idea of digital replacing paper anyway, but unless sales more than double creators are going to be worse off and the lifeblood of the industry, the stores, are going to feel the pain more than anyone. Y’know, like, the guys who keep us in business.


All Mark says here is true, but I feel this is missing the point.

I agree that as far as numbers are concerned, no-one is going to get rich from digital comics, but digital is only half the industry. Not only have I, and others gone out and bought series or trades from reading digital, but it has also given exposure to those breaking into the industry. Artists and writers can now go to talent scouts and say “look what I have created – it sold XXXX on Graphic.Ly/Comixology/WOWIO”
Apple are the start, but the not the all – already companies are finding ways to bypass Apple – usually in order to get round the censorship policy, but the method is there – that adds the 30% back. There is also ideas like ‘The Not .99 Method’ as posted by Warren Ellis and laid out by Brett Jackson:

THE NOT .99 METHOD: How to roll-your-own e-payment and delivery system for selling your books & comics so quick and reliable that not even Apple can take it away.

This do-it-yourself iBookstore alternative…

Is DRM-free (simple, shareable and readable on any device forever).
Lets you set the price. (Well… NOT __.99, naturally.)
Can sell, download and read works immediately.
Can never be censored, redacted or removed.
Charges nothing. You keep all the money (or almost all the money).
It’s a great free and simple method for selling indie books/comics for the iPhone and iPad (and every other mobile reading device).


The customer uses their phone (or e-reader) to purchase your book/comic via standard text message (or browser URL) and then automatically receives a download link by email.


This friendly 3-step method highlights uses common free online services (PayPal, Gmail & Google Docs) but feel free to make your own substitutions based on personal preference, terms of service and transaction cost.

Bypassing the likes of Comixology etc and more to the creative team.

Remember: This is still new to everyone, there are going to be successes and failures, just like in print. 2010 moved extremely fast for mobile and digital comics, so I would like to see what 2011 brings!

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