Okay! So…

There has not been a recommendation and/or a “stuff I like” column in some time. Most of that is because I am hard at work on my novel about a dude named Max Carter who is kicking all kinds of cartel ass. It’s fun. It’s rad. You’ll dig it, I hope, some time soon in a book store near you. It also means that I shan’t have much time for many “what I like” blogs in the near future, though I do hope to pick them up again. I really don’t want to be that guy who promises content and doesn’t deliver, but I figure you’ll forgive this one, given the fact that I’ve never missed an update of the comic, presumably the reason you’re here. If you’re here to steal my wallpaper, why I oughta….

Also of note is the fact that I have RE-LETTERED pages 1-30, making them much improved with what I’ve learned over the last year and a half, and will soon be updating the first trade with a second edition, and updating the first pages on the site once that version is available, sans the watermarks, which I never liked in the first place. I apologize if this bugs anyone who bought the first edition and thinks that’s unfair of me. If it seriously bothers you, let me know, I’ll make it right. I still think the first versions are good and legible, but I’m also committed to improvement. There are no story changes involved in the cosmetic changes. Charlie still shoots first, not Greedo.

I am writing this particular entry, which may stay at the top of the blog for some time, for several reasons. The first, and most awesome, is this, another thing that’s been eating time, and the reason for the re-letter in the first place:

That’s right, folks, I’ve been working with an artist to get Cura colored for you guys. Woot! And the results have been awesome, to say the least. I went through a number of very extraordinarily great samples from some truly amazing artists, but the person who most fit what we were looking for is a gent named Rodrigo Diaz. He rocks, and he’s been working diligently to knock out the pages for the last few months. We have a number in the can, and we’ll have enough to make them available soon in some fashion.

This brings me to the question of HOW, something I’ve been rolling around in my head for quite some time.

Cura grows in readership, especially with things like the kind mention from Comics Alliance, Kate Coenen’s article on Yahoo, Four Colors and the Truth, Greg Rucka’s kind words, Anthony Cardno’s interviews and articles, and the IO9 article (plus others I don’t place here not for a lack of respect for them, just for the sake of brevity). Any time anyone wants to write us up, I’d be forever in your debt, you have no idea how much it drives this comic in a good way. These things make me believe in the comic and throw my all into it financially, mentally, creatively. It encourages Dex and I to continue on, and boldly go.

Plus, as I’ve said before, and as I’ll say again, turning two people on to the comic who will regularly read it helps SO MUCH. You have no idea.

With that growth in readership, oddly, comes a decline in sales. Please don’t take that as an indictment, it simply is what it is, and I want to figure out the hows and the whys of that, and endeavor to make the comic more worth your hard earned cashola. Maybe it’s that you guys bought the first book and figure that’s cool, that’s your contribution, or you’re one of the people that have bought everything (in which case you rock, and ignore me, you’re amazing). Maybe trades aren’t worth the cash for you, or the price point is too high, or you’re waiting for a hardcover. Maybe there’s no magic bullet, and I should just keep throwing stuff out there and being patient.

(Hint: That’s probably it! But I have no idea unless you comment and tell me, so speak up, folks! I want to make you happy!)

Or maybe you want the comic digitally, in full color? This is the avenue I am considering currently, and working on.

Don’t get me wrong, there will still be print trades, and the trades ARE breaking even for the print costs, but they’re not coming close to covering the production cost of the comic, which is an important (if not THE important) hurdle to leap to make the comic break even. I did the math a few times to see what covering production costs would entail, and it would be on the order of moving 70 books every two weeks. To date, there are about 125 of volume one out there, and about 25 of volume two, to give you an idea.

I don’t see 70 a week as possible in the near term, barring a major and continuing surge of hits, meaning print is not the route to making Cura sustainable right now, though I will keep doing it, of course.

I’m turning to you guys for suggestions. I did a poll asking what folks wanted, the number one thing was tee shirts, but so far, I’ve only sold a few, and not enough to meet the costs of producing them. That, too, is not an accusation or an attempt to make anyone feel bad, AT ALL (and please do not take it that way). I bring it up instead to ask what folks really want, and what I can do to help make this comic more sustainable financially.

I have been told to try Kickstarter or other fundraiser sites, but I don’t think the time for that is now, for several reasons. The first? I’m not in any danger of closing down the comic. I can sustain this production cost, though it’s tough, but I think kickstarter funds should go to good causes, like the gent who Marvel is suing over Ghost Rider rights, or to cover insurmountable difficulties. I am arrogantly bootstrap in my ways, perhaps to my own detriment. If so, tell me in the comments, I’m listening.

The tactic I am considering right now is a simple one. Lower the cost of production for something people will want, so I can take that money and pay for the operational costs of the comics (I’m in no way remotely concerned with profit, of yet, as the comic is still young. I just want to see if I can allay the monetary output in any way).

The best way to do that, by my reckoning, is offer something superbly cool and new at a decent price that people who love the comic will want. My thinking is that this will be color pages, in individual issues or trades, digitally, with extra content.

Here’s how it would go. I would make a file (say, 25 pages in color), and I would offer it to you guys for a given price, probably 2 to 2.50, no DRM. Each trade would be made up of four issues (there are natural breaks in the story I planned for, in case Cura ever went to individual issues), and if you bought the regular comics, you’d get the trade for free, and the overall cost would be cheaper than the individual issues (this would enable me to get funding for the comic faster, and give you added content at a deeper discount).

Example, say the comic prices out at 2 bucks, you’d buy color issues 1-4 as we finish them, and then you’d get the ten dollar digital color trade (with the script and extra goodies) for free. It might be 2.50 an issue and then you get the 13 dollar trade for the equivalent of ten bucks (don’t hold me to the price until I know for sure what it would be, or, in the comments, what you think a fair price is).

Another thing is the price point. I’ve been told to sell individual issues for five bucks, and for one buck, by varying people, all very certain that’s right, and it’s what people will want to pay. I know four bucks a comic sounds high to me, but I also know I’d pay five for an indie book I wanted to support, but maybe I’m a rare weirdo. Again, comments will help with this.

Does this sound insane? Is this a good way to move forward? You guys are the readers, so I let free a little more of the nuts and bolts of the inner workings of the comics than I’m comfortable with here in good faith (not to guilt you, which I’m afraid it will do, please do not feel guilt) in the hopes of making the experience work better for all of us.

Well, and of seeing more of stuff like this, which makes my eyes pop out with coolness:

Let me know what you think!

Also, note that I have put the blog back on the main page, seeing as it wasn’t getting seen too much as a separate page.