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Warren Ellis has written around thirty graphic novels, comics, prose fiction, journalism, videogames and screenplays. Sometimes he take photographs. He also creates and co-creates websites, including this one. He has awards and stuff, he's been in big magazines and newspapers, and he's been published in NATURE, which he always mentions because it makes him laugh.

Warren Ellis is represented by agent Angela Cheng Caplan at Writers & Artists and manager Aaron Michiel. He's a consultant to artbomb.net and opi8.com He's on the web at warrenellis.com, strangemachine.com and diepunyhumans.com. He's thirty four and lives in England and he never ever sleeps. Never.

Recent Columns:

Missed a column? Here are links to recent Brainpowered's:

36: Things Online That I Am Sick Of

35: A Foul Collection

34: Monetising The Fringe

33: Walking Camera

32: Microcast

31: All You Need Is Hate

30: Nothing Happened

(more columns)

 

27: Webcomics' Second Coming


Patrick Farley is possibly the best comics creator that comic shops have never heard of. (Except possibly Rory Root.) He works pretty much exclusively on the web, producing works of great skill and ambition and passion and very focussed madness. His site is http://www.e-sheep.com.


His APOCaMON has gone pay-per-view. Sort of. In order to cover his bandwidth costs and be able to produce work more than once every blue moon, Patrick Farley has put the latest instalment of his berserk brand-nightmare post-Rapture fantasy APOCaMON behind a BitPass barrier. For 25 Yanqui cents, you get to read it 666 times.


I got a BitPass account when Scott McCloud did a webcomic with a micropayment gate. It was dead easy and very fast.


If a whole bunch of people go and give Patrick Farley a poxy twenty-five cents today, then Patrick Farley can produce more APOCaMON. If APOCaMON isn't to your taste, then you may get into SPIDERS, a strange and evil alternate history of the Afghan/USA conflict with some serious invention and bite to it. Or, my personal favourite, the inspired hedonic sf of DELTA THRIVES. And SPIDERS and DELTA THRIVES are still free.

If everyone who could, gave him 25 cents this week, then you would have in fact invented a feasible independent channel for one of the best comics creators America's produced in the last three or four years. I mean, what the hell else can you buy with twenty-five lousy cents?


(For those coming in late on the whole webcomics-micropayment system, Dirk Deppey has a reasonably good overview of recent events here. I think he goes too soft on obsessive blogger-about-blogging Clay Shirky, though. Shirky needs a slapping.)


When I was still consulting on a message board for comics professionals, the decision was made to exclude webcomics creators. One of the reasons was that, frankly, pretty much no-one in webcomics was making a living solely from their webcomics. And that's an important distinction when you're talking about opening a forum for professionals. Professionals get paid. Professionals live off their profession. At the moment in which I write, that still holds true (with a couple of exceptions to prove the rule, in the newspaper-style humour category, like Chris Onstad, who makes his living off merchandise). James Kochalka's clearing a small piece of change off americanelf.com. Modern Tales must have at least 2000 subscribers at this point, possibly closer to 3000, but that's not making anyone rich. No-one's getting a mortgage on the strength of their online comics cashflow.


Underlining that: Justine Shaw's just had to suspend NOWHERE GIRL indefinitely. Still hoping to get her to do an artbomb.net piece -- we pay a professional rate for our webcomics. But she really had no mechanism for monetising NOWHERE GIRL.


BitPass, or something like it, may prove the killer app. It's easy. It's even easier for Americans than it is for me, because you can lash it to a PayPal account (which are pigs for people outside America to set up). And PayPal is huge. It's become the engine eBay runs on. And once micropayments become easy to implement and use AND come along with work of distinction... then you're in to Webcomics Phase Two. It's out of the hobbyist arena and becomes a viable channel for professional work. Bypassing every single element of the known comics infrastructure. Published with total immediacy and available for as long as the creator can find a live server to keep it on.


Twenty-five cents. Ten thousand people buying a 25-cent hit of APOCaMON puts $2500 in Patrick Farley's pocket. That's not bad.

-- Warren

 
Warren Ellis can be reached at brainpowermail@aol.com. BRAINPOWERED is copyright (c) 2002-2004 Warren Ellis. All rights reserved.
 


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