New POD Life For Out-Of-Print Comics?

By | Sunday, December 30, 2012 Leave a Comment
Some of the earliest pieces of original comic art I obtained were several pages from a book called Prophet of Dreams, written by Julian Lawler with art by Rudy Vasquez, published by Broken Tree. I wasn't familiar with the book or its creators before, but the art was part of a prize package from a contest I won. I spent some time tracking down the issues and figuring out which pages I had. Some great work, but apparently only the first two issues were published, and some of the art I had was for #3 and/or #4.

Two of the other pieces that came were some covers from issues that didn't seem to be published anywhere. Still nice pieces, but I like to see how original art translates into a final, published product. Part of my art background, I suppose.

I finally managed to track down Lawler on Facebook and chatted with him a bit about the old books. He didn't go into the details about how/why they weren't all published, but he did point me to this page on IndyPlanet. As of this writing, he's only got a book called Trouble Point listed, but he says he's working on getting the entire Broken Tree library into their system to make all of those books available again. Or for the first time, depending.

Now, I've seen a few people who've taken old print comics and re-publish them as webcomics, hoping to sell off whatever remaining stock they had of the printed books, or help to generate interest in some of their current projects. I think these are the first instances I've seen of taking an out-of-print book to a print-on-demand format. Which actually seems to make a bit more sense, in terms of storytelling.

The rhythm of a page-at-a-time story for a webcomic is somewhat different that the rhythm of a story that unfolds over the course of a single 20-30 page pamphlet comic. Plus, the art that was produced for a pamphlet book in, say, 2001 (when Lawler's books were made) is already formatted more-or-less in exactly the way that's needed for a POD service, compared to a webcomic format which would need to be downscaled and possibly color-adjusted.

That's not to suggest that loading an entire backlog of story archives is an easy task, certainly, but it seems more viable for creators who have older work that they would still like to sell, but no longer have their original print runs. Whether or not IndyPlanet is the best option, I don't know, but they're one source among several POD providers who print comics. It seems like a reasonable way for independent creators to make use of their backlist without having to drop large production fees on work that may have largely (but not quite entirely) hit its target market. Use the POD option to take advantage of the long-tail of sales.

I don't know why it's not an angle I haven't thought of before or, more poignantly, why I haven't seen anyone else try it before now.
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