Friday, August 21, 2009

The Web Comic Project: Day 52

Eagle-eyed readers may have noticed the little cartoon guy with the empty pockets in the adjoining column to the right. He's my new "status icon" and part of my planned redesign of the Web Comic Project page. I've been too busy with Other Work to get to it but I want to fix a lot problems with the way I'm presenting information (for one thing, it all looks too sober and dour). But I did manage to redo (and improve) the Income/Expenses spreadsheet seen on the Database Page so that it's a little better organized. Oh, and this would be a good time to mention that I've been keeping up with my Daily Data spreadsheet on the same page for those who are interested in my reader stats.

In other news: My favorite cartoonist is currently Richard Thompson (Cul de Sac) who recently shared another cartoonist's spot-on comic.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Web Comic Project: Day 51

Some items of interest:

This is making the rounds but in case you missed it: Video of LongBox Digital, a sort of iTunes for comics. It looks like it has some nice features. Personally, I hate reading comics on my computer but... once e-book readers get color and lots cheaper LongBox -- or something like it -- could be as important to comics as the development of the Direct Market was decades ago.

Print Isn't Dead, It's Just Sleeping: Interview with my friend Dan Vado of SLG Publishing in the latest issue of San Jose's weekly paper, Metro. Dan's been at this comic book business a long time and is always worth listening to. It was nice to see my old Dr. Radium comic mentioned (albeit in a "too bad it didn't do better" kind of way) but would have been happier if SLG's digital delivery and web comic efforts got a bit of plug. As a related aside: SLG will be publishing the print version of Java Town next March.

Comic Strip Contest: Andrews McMeel Publishing is sponsoring a contest looking for the next Comic Strip Superstar. Are you a superstar? Are you? Details here.

UPDATE (8/21/09): Ryan Sohmer (Least I Could Do) makes some good points about the above-mentioned Comic Strip Superstar contest and what it takes to make a successful web comic.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Web Comic Project: Day 50

Not web comics but somewhat related: Cory Doctorow over at Boing Boing has a post about the benefits of free e-books. I haven't read it and don't expect to but I did read the comments. I was struck by the fact that most of the respondents were consumers (in the most selfish sense of the word) and all very pro-free e-books. Only three authors (as of this posting) have chimed in. One of them was open to free e-books and had, in fact, offered such to readers without any sales or other measurable value as a result of giving his work away. One author wasn't published yet but also open free e-books. And one author didn't make money either but was simply thrilled to be read by anyone. Does this equation seem off balance to anybody else? If free e-books were really so awesome for writers wouldn't they be shouting out about how cool and beneficial they were? I'm not hearing it. But if there are writers out there who getting meaningful benefits from free e-books I'd like to know about it (Internetlebrities like Cory Doctorow don't count for this data quest -- I'm looking for folks who started out e-publishing like me, as a mostly unknown creative). So, really, anyone know of any successful self-publishing e-book authors please let me know.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Web Comics Project: Day 47

The Adventures of Dr. McNinja is one of the few web comics I've come across that I've enjoyed. Like my own Java Town it appears to be formatted for later publication rather than optimal computer viewing but this does not appear to affect its popularity which at 150,000-200,000+ page views a day is significant. Via Project Wonderful I placed a small ad button (the smallest size available) about a week ago. On the lower portion of the screen capture below you can see the ad stats taken a few minutes ago.

For starters, only a teeny, tiny fraction of the McNinja audience bothered to click on the ad (104 clicks or one tenth of one percent of all page clicks). The response represented nearly all of the Java Town visitors that week (see upper portion of above graph for the other ad placement from the same period). Here are my Statcounter page stats:

At the time of this snapshot I had 254 unique visitors for the week with no returning visitors (the McNinja ad started running on Monday -- you can see the spike in page hits) and 902 page loads. Roughly, this means that each unique visitor read 3.5 pages of Java Town. When you take into account a current bounce rate of around 50% (according to Google Analytics) -- though that number has varied during the week -- the average visitor read about 7 pages of Java Town. That's about half of all the pages currently uploaded. Is this good, bad, or indifferent? I'm not really sure. Obviously, it would have been better if I could prove that every unique visitor read every page of Java Town. The results as they stand don't seem very conclusive to me. None of the McNinja visitors added the Java Town RSS so I don't think I made any long term fans but I'm just speculating. Next month, when I replenish my ad budget I'll try another web comic and will compare the results and see what I can make of that data.

Cost of the McNinja Ad: $12.72 (12 cents a click) for about a week's worth of advertising.
Worth it? Only if I were to get long-term readers and I have no way to measure that. I do think I got a fair chance to try to attract readers and was encouraged by the number of page loads though I was was disappointed by the small response rate to the ad overall.

Update: I should have thought of this sooner. Here's a screen capture of popular page statistics from August 17th. Judging from this data it appears that almost 100% of the current Java Town material was read during about one third of the most recent visits. In other words, it really looks like folks who weren't immediately disinterested read through all available pages (or nearly so). I'm happy about that. It also appears that the story is being read backwards (this doesn't thrill me but that seems to be a common way to read a newly encountered web comic). Also, it seems that there isn't too much interest in Test Version #1 of Java Town. Overall, I'm encouraged by what the numbers reveal so far.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Web Comic Project: Day 40

I decided to put a little more polish to the Web Project Test Kitchen (featuring Java Town) since I hope that being included in the Cartoon Art Museum's Monsters of Webcomics show will bring me a teeny bit more traffic and I want to look my best. Just a reminder: the Test Kitchen is where I'm experimenting with a couple of different ways to present Java Town. The (apparently despised) flash version of Java Town is still updated over at SLG Publishing's web comic page and will continue to be until the conclusion of the story. I plan for the Test Kitchen to morph into my final home for future web comic projects but for now you have your choice of flash or no flash (sort of like decaf or full-strength).

Yes, it is probably way too early in the life of Java Town for me to be doing merchandise. Consider my two new Java Town mugs (seen above) Early Adopter Swag. I plan to discontinue these in the not too distant future. I'm not sure on the timing yet but the Big Plan is for me to release new designs now and again while retiring old ones. The intent is to help drive sales and maybe (just maybe) create a little bit of a collectible. Maybe. I also made the mugs because I wanted to have them now for my personal use and for display at the upcoming Third Week Comics Festival (September 19, 2009 in San Jose, CA -- I'll post more info as soon as I have it). If you're interested in getting one or both of the mugs you can order them at my Zazzle mug page and if you order soon you should be able to get a 10% discount. I ordered mine today.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Web Comic Project: Day 37

Some very nice news: I've been selected for inclusion in the Cartoon Art Museum's upcoming Monsters of Webcomics Virtual Gallery. The exhibition begins in just days (August 8, 2009) and runs until December 6, 2009. Considering the current version of Java Town has been running for little more than a month (not to mention that I'm probably the only person on the list with a readership in the single digits) it's very nice to be included.

Knucklehead Note: I just deleted yesterday's post (I blame unruly fingers). Basically, I wrote about working on the WCP Test Kitchen and a new experiment.