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Phil Foglio on Giving It Away

Dynamite:  |  Friday, March 20, 2009
Producing More, Enjoying It More, and Selling More
The Webcomics phenomenon is counterintuitive to many, because its proponents argue that by giving away content, the creators can actually make more money.  Phil Foglio, co-writer (with Kaja Foglio) and artist of Girl Genius, are two such creators.  Once a publisher of periodical comics, the Foglio’s Studio Foglio now puts up all of their new comic stories on the Web and sells books and other merchandise directly to consumers through the Website and through distribution, but publishes no comics in a periodical format.  We recently talked to Foglio about how they made that transition, and how the economics worked for them.

Tell us how you came to publish Webcomics.
I started Girl Genius as a print comic; it came out quarterly.

When was that?
That was 2000.  And we had a circulation of about 9,000, which for an independent color comic, is not bad, not bad.  It certainly more than paid for itself, and made a nice profit.  But I wasn’t able to get it out fast enough to really kick it over because we were doing everything ourselves.

So how frequently were you getting it out?
It was supposed to be quarterly, and we got it out about quarterly (laughs).
In 2005 there was a combination of things, one of which was a slight cash flow issue, one of which was we were trying to figure out how to expand our market.  So we just stopped printing comics and just started putting it up online for free.

In what format; by the page?
Yes, one new page every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and we had a second part of the site where we were putting up the stuff that had already been published.  So in essence we had two comics running in parallel, which we called 101 and Advanced.  They advanced in lockstep every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

That’s a pretty aggressive schedule creatively, isn’t it?
You know, you’d think so, but I’ll tell you it was a lot easier to meet an every other day schedule than it was to put out 30 some odd pages every three months.  I don’t know if it was just thinking about it differently or shortening the deadline time.  I figured it out once and I produce substantially more comic product per year this way, with a lot less effort.  It’s a lot easier for me.

Was part of that because you were managing the print production yourself?
I was always doing that.

So you took that away and replaced that with creative work?
That’s true.  And we figured we saved around $20,000 a year by not having to produce the individual comics.  Production time… I’m not just talking about printing, but paying for our time and the time it took to format it.  Because then we’d have to re-format the same material differently for graphic novel format, which was the final form.
We’ve been doing it for four years now, and at a very conservative estimate, I’ve got 270,000 readers.  And that’s conservative because the way you figure out how many readers you have is you count IP addresses and so it doesn’t count computers, it counts the routers that service those computers.  So if I, at home, click and read Girl Genius, that’s one reader.  If everybody at Microsoft reads Girl Genius, that’s one reader.

Some computers also rotate IP addresses.  Does that balance out the servers?
But that’s not even close.  When I say I’ve got 270,000 readers, that’s so conservative, because we also put it out on RSS feeds,…

The full page on an RSS feed?
Yes.
Business-wise, things have never been better.  Since we started giving it away for free, we started selling five times as many books.

Who does your graphic novel distribution to the trade?
So far, Diamond, but we also do some stuff through Harris, and through Big Kahuna (Dan Vado’s outfit).

Are you in the book trade?
Diamond gets us into the bookstores.  They service Amazon, they do Borders, they do all that stuff.

What’s your latest graphic novel run?
The one we’ve got out is 7, 8 is solicited for May.

And how many of 7 did you print?
We printed 7,000 of them.

What was the price on that?
$40 retail for the hardcover.  The softcover is $22.  So we printed 7,000 in May of 2008 and I just did year-end inventory and I’ve got 3,000 of them left.    

Combined between the formats?
That’s just the softcover.  The hardcover sells out almost instantly.  So a print run lasts me about two years.  I’m sold out of 4, 5, and 6, and 1, which we’re almost out of again, that’s in it’s third printing.  So I’m going to have to go back to a fourth printing on that.

So how many have you printed on those early volumes?
Our initial print runs for awhile were about 5,000 and when I go back to press I have to print 3,000 to get the right price break.

So you’re over 10,000, and after the next print run you’ll be over 15,000?
Easily.    

And how many pages is that?
125.

125 at three pages per week, so that’s 40 weeks work?
Yes, technically we bring out one every ten or eleven months.

So some years one, some years two?
That’s right.  It’s a good year when it’s two.
 
 

Dynamite In-Store: 3/17/2009

Dynamite:  |  Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Last week we told you about the Super-Zombies signing at Golden Apple in Loa Angeles, CA! This week, we have pics of Vince and Marc from that signing! Wow! If you haven't checked out issue #1 yet, what are you waiting for? Would these guys steer you wrong?
CLICK TO ENLARGE
CLICK TO ENLARGE
IN-STORES THIS WEEK - 3/18/2009

RED SONJA #42 By Reed, Geovani and Andrade!
http://www.dynamiteentertainment.com/htmlfiles/p-C725130112422.html
The countdown is on! As her quest for the Blood Dynasty continues, Red Sonja is about to face her ultimate destiny, only she has no idea what's waiting for her! Reed and Geovani continue to astound and cover artists Adriano Batista (25%), Jackson Herbert (25%), Fabiano Neves (50%) delight fans new and old!

ZORRO #11 By Wagner and Rezak
http://www.dynamiteentertainment.com/htmlfiles/p-C725130112491.html
More action and adventure from Dynamite, Matt Wagner and Cezar Rezik - with alternate covers by Francesco Francavilla -- as Zorro continues!
The growing love triangle between the cunning Diego (alter ego of El Zorro), the beautiful Lolita and the thuggish Pasquale continues, but when Pasquale conspires to win Lolita by deception, Zorro is forced to step in!

JUST A PILGRIM COMPLETE HARDCOVER
http://www.dynamiteentertainment.com/htmlfiles/p-C9781606900031.html
DIAMOND ORDERCODE: OCT08 4032
ISBN13: 9781606900031
ISBN: 160690003X
Collected in hardcover for the first time ever, the Complete Just a Pilgrim Hardcover features the signature anti-hero as created by writer Garth Ennis and artist Carlos Ezquerra! Return to Ennis' hopeless, yet fascinating, post apocalyptic world brilliantly illustrated by Ezquerra!
Featuring both the original mini-series and the sequel ("Garden of Eden") mini-series together for the first time in one hardcover collection, this volume also contains a complete cover gallery featuring the work of Tim Bradstreet, JG Jones, Glenn Fabry, and many more!

RED SONJA 35TH ANNIVERSARY TRADING CARDS
BOX - PACK - BINDER

http://www.dynamiteentertainment.com/htmlfiles/p-C108792.html

Diamond Order Code: AUG073603
For those who haven't heard, the success and popularity of Red Sonja in the comic pages has the She-Devil with a Sword heading for the silver screen in a major motion picture being produced by none other than Robert Rodriguez and starring Rose McGowan as Red Sonja!
Thirty-five years ago, Red Sonja was brought to life for the comic market, after being "birthed" by Conan creator Robert E. Howard. Now, Dynamic Forces is proud to present the Red Sonja Back to Basics Trading Card Series! Mixing classic images as well as the great images released over time by Dynamite Entertainment to create this incredible set!
Dynamic Forces is going back to basics for this set and is bringing the fans what they want most in a trading card series: signed cards in every box and a hand drawn one-of-a-kind sketch card in every box! Plus, other randomly inserted chase cards which will include individually hand colored cards to help enhance this 72-card base set, including:

ART CARDS
Alex Ross - John Romita, Sr. - Frank Cho - Adam Hughes - Mel Rubi - Jim Lee - Aaron Lopresti - Arthur Adams - Joyce Chin - Joseph Michael Linsner - Billy Tan - and many more great artists!

RANDOMLY INSERTED ORIGINAL HAND-DRAWN ONE-OF-A-KIND SKETCH ART CARDS ONE PER BOX!
Greg Hildebrandt - John Romita, Sr. - David Michael Beck - Kevin Graham (In Homage Cards) - Arthur Adams - Joyce Chin - Adam (Star Wars/Serenity) cover artist Hughes - Pablo Marcos - Bernard Chang - CB Cebulski - Filip Sablik - Michael Broussard - Mark Pennington - Tommy Smith - Andy Smith - Mara Rose - Allison Sohn - Kevin Sharpe - Ryan Stegman and so many more of your favorite creators!
Some cards will also be colored!

RANDOMLY INSERTED AUTOGRAPH CARDS - TWO PER BOX!
Stan Lee - Alex Ross - Greg Hildebrandt - Jim Lee - George Perez - Mel Rubi - Billy Tan - Joyce Chin - Joseph Michael Linsner - Art Adams - Pablo Marcos - Howard Chaykin - John Romita, Sr. Doug Murray - Brian Reed - Michael Avon Oeming - Frank Brunner - Jim Lee Greg Hildebrandt - Aaron Lopresti - Christos Gage and more!

RANDOMLY INSERTED STAR POWER AUTOGRAPH CARDS - EXTREMELY RARE!
Randomly inserted Robert Rodriguez (Producer) autographed Design #1 Billy Tan art card and Design #2 Mel Rubi art cards Rose McGowan (Red Sonja) autographed cards and Doug Aarniokoski (Director) autographed cards!

RANDOMLY INSERTED 9-CARD HOLOGRAPHIC "CHROME" CARD CHASE SUB-SET!

RANDOMLY INSERTED 9-CARD PUZZLE CARD CHASE SUB-SET!

RANDOMLY INSERTED ULTRA-RARE HILDEBRANDT HAND PAINTED DREAM CARDS! INCENTIVES!
And for the first time ever, world renowned painter Greg Hildebrandt will paint original art paintings of Red Sonja on a very limited quantity of cards! This is a very special gift to our fans for Red Sonja's 35th anniversary! The series is limited to 120 cases for the Hobby Market World Wide - Hobby and Collectors Market Exclusive.

COMING SOON!

ARMY OF DARKNESS #18
http://www.dynamiteentertainment.com/htmlfiles/p-C725130112484.html

THE BOYS #29
http://www.dynamiteentertainment.com/htmlfiles/p-C725130117953.html

MASQUERADE #2
http://www.dynamiteentertainment.com/htmlfiles/p-C725130115775.html

TERMINATOR: REVOLUTION #4
http://www.dynamiteentertainment.com/htmlfiles/p-C725130115959.html

ZORRO YEAR ONE HARDCOVER
http://www.dynamiteentertainment.com/htmlfiles/p-C725130108586.html
BATTLEFIELDS: DEAR BILLY #3
http://www.dynamiteentertainment.com/htmlfiles/p-C725130115898.html

BATTLESTAR GALACTICA: THE CYLON WAR #3
http://www.dynamiteentertainment.com/htmlfiles/p-C725130115850.html

DEATH DEFYING 'DEVIL #4
http://www.dynamiteentertainment.com/htmlfiles/p-C725130115805.html

ASK DYNAMITE:

Each week, or as available, we'll pull a letter and answer it here and in our companion podcast, send all letters to: letters@dynamiteentertainment.com) and mark them "ok to print"!

PAUL WRITES: Got a quick question.  What ever happened to "Borderline?"  You guys were reprinting this Eduardo Risso/Carlos Trillo series in trades and then nothing.  I bought the first two volumes and still hope to have all of it some day.
On the drive in just this morning, ready to face another Dynamite Day this was on my brain, I swear. As such, we have the translation done, just need to get the rewrite and new copy laid onto the files and ship it off to print. Look for volumes three and four to happen this year as we complete this incredible series.

DYNAMITE IN THE NEWS:

THE JIM KRUEGER INVASION:
http://www.mania.com/jim-krueger-invasion_article_113609.html

SUPER ZOMBIES #1 (Best Shots@Newsarama) "The art is very capably handled by Mel Rubi, whom regularly Dynamite readers will know from Red Sonja. He gets the shiny super-hero stuff and the gritty parts right in equal measure."

BLACK TERROR #3 (Scoop): "When you put this many characters in a comic, you know there's going to be a fight, and in this case it's wrapped a typically great story from writer Jim Krueger."

BLACK TERROR #3 (ComicsBulletin): "Mike Lily and Vinicius Andrade do a superb job. This is especially true when they illustrate the complexity of the Terror's plan and show the teen partners of the superpowers in action. In general, they actually live up to the promise of Ross and Krueger's intent. They make these heroes look powerful and valiant. Rather than also-rans, they look like the real deal and resonate their respectable history with each step"

THE BOYS #28 (ComicsBulletin): "This book hasn't skipped a beat in almost thirty issues. Ennis' terminal mad-on seems unlikely to abate anytime soon."

DEAD IRONS #2 (ComicsBulletin): "Bottom line, you need to be reading this book. If your retailer doesn't order this title you should just go to Dynamite's website and order it for yourself. The characterization is great. The art is phenomenal. Dead Irons is one of the best series I've read in a long time."

To find a comics shop near you, visit: http://csls.diamondcomics.com/ or call 1-888-COMIC BOOK!