Sunday, January 13, 2008

Heather Brandon is a blogger whose work has set new standards here locally. If I had the budget at the 'paper I would hire her in a second.

I was honored to be interviewed by her for a blog she wrote on the relationship of bloggers in news organizations and anyone who is interested in "new media" should give it a read. Go here for it.

A handful of people who read this blog are aware I worked for Kevin Eastman's experiment in creator's rights publishing, Tundra, back in the late '80 and early '90s. I did marketing and p.r. for the company and was given specific comic artist/writers with whom to work. My "clients" – as a I was a freelancer – included Rick Veitch on "Brat Pack," Steve Bissette's "Taboo" – on which I pissed off some of the full-timers by coming up with a promotional item that actually made money for Steve; that sealed my fate, there – and Bernie Mireault's "The Jam" among others. I did some work for Mark Martin as well if I remember correctly.

I was at the epicenter of the creator's rights movement in comics. Although I have many, many reservations about what was done at Tundra I will always give Kevin credit for attempting to create a new economic model. Where he failed was in having the wrong people in key positions, not willing to say no as often as he should have and not thinking out his model as thoroughly as he should.

To me much of what is now going on in the new Web media involves the same arguments that have plagued mediums such as comics and is at the center of the screen writers strike: who owns the work you create? How should all of the parties involved benefit from the work?

I believe that every for-profit business must pay for work on which it profits. And that business only buys the rights which the creator wants to sell.

When I co-published "Animato" and then soloed on "Animation Planet" I made sure contributors were paid every time we could afford it. I hated being in a "fanzine" position of asking for favors. Naturally the contributors maintained all the rights to their work.

With the Web, the question is how to we get people to pay for content when the lure of the Web is "free" content? If I hear another person tell me the Web is the "answer" for diminishing newspaper advertising profits I'm going to suck the gas pipe. The bottom line is no one seems to have the handle of how the Web can replicate the still very healthy model of magazines.

What's your take?
© 2008 by Gordon Michael Dobbs


Mark Martin said...

Serious question - refresh my memory

What was the promo item that actually made money for Steve?

And did it make money for Tundra?

Just curious. I don't remember this. Maybe feathers got ruffled because it cost a lot for Tundra? (Which is STILL a relatively unfair reason to hate it, but whatever)

Mike Dobbs said...

The Taboo shot glasses for Taboo Especial actually made a profit as they were used for promotion but then sold at conventions. Instead of being congratulated, I was shunned even more by the friends and in-laws who were busy ordering expensive die-cut saw blades for Jmaes O'barr's Taboo-like anthology.

Mark Martin said...

Oh yeah, I remember those. Don't know that whole story (truly - I'm clueless about so much that happened then). Just know they exist.

Well, if it will make you feel any better, I DO know those damned sawblades did not win any brownie points either!

HB said...

Thanks for the plug Mike.

dogboy443 said...

I've got a set of those shot glasses. They always get quite the eye when I break them out for company. Somewhere I have an empty bottle of Steve's home-made beer he made for the Small Press Expo in NH.

dogboy443 said...

The expose that could be written in colaboration between Bissette, Dobbs, Martin and many others over the Tundra debacle would be eye opening. The Bill Sienkewicz/Al Columbia Stray Toasters story comes to mind.

SRBissette said...

Mark (and Mark), that was once all on my portion of the old Kingdom discussion board, The Swamp -- even Dobbs weighed in at length. Alas, that board is long gone, and was never archived; I was in the time-consuming process of doing so when the Kingdom unexpectedly shut down (for the third time), never to return, and everything was lost. Too bad -- someday, perhaps, someone will put that whole story together.

The shot glasses were indeed successful, the ONLY promo item that was profitable in and of itself! Dobbs did great work for me and others during that year or so; we had our debacles, too, though, the 'Year in Fear' calender primary among 'em.

I've always publicly acknowledge the high ideals, hard work and grand generosity Kevin and many (Mark and Jeannie Martin prominent among them) at Tundra applied to that dream venue -- but because I also discuss the ISSUES of what I saw and experienced first hand, and what went so badly wrong, in hopes others won't repeat history (though they do, and continue to, each in their own way), I'm caricatured as a negative Nelly. I don't care; the core issues are still central to so much -- as Mike states in his post today! -- and MUST be discussed and understood.