Just to warn you, this will be me venting and complaining (hopefully in an interesting way), so if you don’t want to hear it skip this one.
We are coming up on 10 years since Alex and I started Black Snow, not Black Snow Comics (though I guess maybe it was the same thing), but I mean the comic book. I didn’t know much about comic books, but I had a lot of enthusiasm and naivety. So we wrote it, rewrote it, then drew it, and since we were kind of tech nerds we made a Geocities website to go along with it and had the revolutionary idea (and I mean that legitimately, there were not many webcomics then, and no full webcomic books) to post Black Snow issue 1 in its entirety on that site. Thus our webcomic was born.
Here I am, almost 10 years later, a lot wiser (tech wise, comic wise, drawing wise, and every other way you can think of) and I have invested a fair amount of money along with countless hours into Black Snow Comics. Why is it so much time? Because you can’t just draw a webcomic and be done if you want to be popular or successful. I really wish all I had to do was draw.
No, let me tell you some of the things I have to do beyond that. Firstly I’ve rebuilt the website 4 times: from Geocities to a Network Solutions template, then a new template, and now the current one I’ve designed from scratch. To promote this site I’ve had to make SEO efforts, done a small amount of PPC, created multiple profiles in various formats for it on Myspace, Facebook and Twitter, submitted to countless directories, signed up for every comic site I can find, ask people for reviews, submitted to publishers, promoted on forums, attended APE as an exhibitor, mingled with other comic makers at APE and the mixer, submitted it to magazines and papers, done a semi related strip for a college paper, talked about it in person to everyone I’ve known, made a YouTube Channel, create free art for Something Awful, given comics away to people, asked for guest collaborators, posted stickers and flyers around college campuses, drawn free black comics for a magazine, blogged regularly, and a lot more that I can’t think of off the top of my head right now.
Some of these things I’ve been doing pretty much the whole time, and some are more recent. The last year or two have definitely seen even more increase in my effort. And when I say I, I mean I, not we. Alex’s efforts have always been minimal, much to my dismay. Would it make me feel better if he did more? Probably a little, but that’s not really the point of what I’m getting at here.
My point? It’s too much bullshit. Again, why can’t I just make a good comic and people read it, and that’s that. I’ve had to spend so much time doing this kind of thing that it is literally my job now that I do for businesses. But guess what…it works for them. I know I usually try to put a positive spin on what we’ve accomplished and how far we’ve come, but how far is that really? We get about 1400 people checking out our site regularly on a normal month now. That’s awesome! Except most of them suck. The bounce rate is high, the majority don’t spend long on the site, or look at enough pages. Some do, and I thank them. But almost no one contacts us, gives us feedback, or participates in our interactive things.
Then there’s Twitter. No matter how often I update, interact, follow others or try to promote it I seem to hover around 150 followers. The Lone Wolf’s Twitter, which is really funny and interactive, and we’ve tried to promote, only has 30 followers?! I got rid of our Myspace Black Snow profile and fan club, as those never got too many people, and they would not interact. I recently deleted the Facebook group to focus entirely on our fan page which is updated and promoted a lot, and we’re lucky that we just hit 170 fans. Who are a little interactive, but I’d like to see more.
The comics are all currently double posted to Smack Jeeves, where I’ve made some efforts to promote it, yet most don’t have a lot of registered fans, don’t get a lot of comments, and I don’t get a lot of messages. They do get a lot of views though. I’ve tried to get people to vote for us on sites that do that kind of thing, and it never goes anywhere. We’re regularly kicked off of Wikipedia when I to get us on there. I did a local art contest at our comic book store..and lost.
I’ve reach out to other webcomics and tried to become more involved in that community, but honestly, I hate that community. It’s almost all crap. That’s what I really don’t get. Sometimes I think “Well maybe we just suck, and our stuff is no good” but then I see all this shit out there that is somehow popular. WTF is going on? Larry Marder thought our stuff was good! There’s stuff so mush worse than us that gets published. There’s really unfunny comics with terrible art that seem to make minimal effort to promote themselves, yet they are popular.
Maybe my title is wrong, being a webcomic doesn’t suck, being an unpopular webomic sucks. I’ve tried to come to terms with just doing this because I love it and not worrying about if it ever takes off, but it’s really hard to keep that upbeat attitude. And I do love it. I think we are really good and I love making the comics. I just hate the rest, because nothing seems to work. Hell, I’d be happy for an active cult following. This is the age of comic popularity in the mainstream for Christ’s sake, I just want some of the run off!
The most success we’ve had is when I blog about pro wrestling, and they don’t even bother to check out the comics!
So if you read this, do me a goddamn favor- leave a comment, contact me, sign up for some of our social media, tell your friends, tell me the secret to success, tell me what I’m doing wrong…just throw me a bone.
I’m off to take my depression medication. And no, that isn’t a joke.