Friday, June 27, 2014

The end of VS Comics

It gives me no pleasure to say this, but we're closing down VS Comics, and shooting all the creators. Wait, we're *not* shooting all the creators? Okay, that's good, I was a bit worried about that part, because I'm one of them. But we're still closing VS, sadly.

There's a blog post on the VS site here explaining the reasons, but to summarise: too many costs, not enough sales, lengthy story development, and difficult third party sites. Please read the post, it goes into more detail.

To elaborate on the Graphicly situation (more info here and here): we took a major hit in our very first month when we went with them to get our first issue out there. They cost £150 up front, put the wrong price on (much lower than expected), and launched us on Christmas Eve for some reason. Due to their, er, interesting sales tracking, we couldn't even tell how many we'd sold through them, and they were quite rude any time we emailed, so we stopped using them from issue 2 onwards, moving to our storefront and PDF system, which worked very nicely. We still haven't had any payments from Graphicly, but hey, neither has anybody else! Some of the Graphicly team have moved to Blurb, so you might want to be cautious about using them too, given past experience. If they'd like to respond to any of this, or even pay us what we're owed, we'd love to hear from them.

Getting onto Comixology would have really helped a lot - but they'd have taken 50% of sales, after Apple's 30% cut if it sold through Newsstand. Oh, and there was a 16 week wait for approval. For *each* issue. So that wouldn't have really worked for a monthly.

If you want to read more about how we ran the monthly operation, I wrote a post over at Den of Geek explaining all the ins and outs of it, including our sales tools and how to set up an automatic storefront - if you're selling your own stuff, it might be useful.

But! We put out a year's worth of quality tales, I'm really proud of what we all achieved. We had fantastic reviews & feedback, and an open submissions policy that brought some amazing talents to us. It was some of the most creative, fun work I've done, getting to tell a story with no limitations, helping others tell their own stories, and working with clever, brilliant people. I wouldn't trade that for anything - you should only regret the things you don't try, and I learned a lot from the whole experience.

There'll be a collection of some of the stories later (see the VS website for details), so if you missed out, you'll be able to grab lots of them in one big book. Until then, I'm planning some shorter form comics, and intend to finish Day & Night with Patrick (the artist), Nathan (the colourist) and Mike (the letterer) - the full, 12 episode arc is all written, Patrick has done the art for episode 6, and is working on episode 7 now. That will be printed separately when it's all finished, but now we don't have to hit a monthly target, I can stop shooting bullets at Patrick's feet and he can stop screaming. Although that part was fun, I can't deny it.

If you want to follow the work of all the people involved in VS, go to the website to see all the artists, writers, and editorial team. It'll be like when a band splits up and they all go solo, but more fun. Thank you to everyone who read VS, and thank you to the creators for making it so cool.