Comics Necropolis Part 1

A column article, Mission: Professional by: Steven Savage


The power of the internet, beyond the immediate access to pornography that will drive you to celibacy, is that you can combine powers with others.  It's like a giant conceptual Voltron.

Last week I mentioned how Daniel Elkin's ventures into the Bargain Bin had inspired me to come up with a business idea - an archive and storehouse of digitized oddball comics.    This was inspired by Daniel's oddball experiences and my eternal love of history and strange things.  I figured I'd post it and then move on to something more.

Then Daniel and I talked.  This is when the Voltron phenomena started.

So what you have here is Daniel and I's proposal for how this idea can become reality if someone will run with it.  You know someone like you, or others.  That is a massive hint.

The idea?  We call it "Comics Necropolis."

The basic idea of Comics Necropolis is this:

  1. It would be a digital archive of more obscure comics, the things not owned by any existing large houses, out of print, etc.
  2. They would be available in some easy format - preferably available through the large e-comics distributor.
  3. This would come with supplemental material - blog, magazine, etc.  This would expand the idea and allow for additional income streams.

The basic idea is pretty simple - we need a place to get odd and weird long-lost titles online.  Preferably in a self-supporting way that can eventually pay for a few people, full or part time, to do this.

But the question may arise if you're unsure, doubtful, or cautious of why we'd do this anyway?  I mean, yes there's the fun of the old comics, a good laugh, nostalgia.  but why would this be viable?  Why would people care?

Actually, we hit on quite a few reasons.

First, it's an archive of what didn't work.  We're not talking about laughing at failure (though, face it, we will).  It's more an archive of fascinating mistakes, lost ideas, and more.  When marketing fails, when funding collapses, when printing was too expensive - there's a giant history here to be learned from.

Second, it revives works and art that truly deserve appreciation.  There've been amazing efforts over the years that deserve wider distribution, works that were inspirational, or unusual, or ahead of their time.  Steve remembers someone did a true-to-myth comic of Norse legend that blew him away and he love to see it again - if he could only remember the name.

Third, it gives us a broader sense of comics history.  The strange, obscure, and dead titles out there gave birth to careers, to hopes, to plans, and more.  The failures remind us of issues of economics and appeal and markets.  Comics Necropolis will let us learn more about what comics history is.

Fourth and finally, it'll help us understand the march of technology.  What today is done entirely online and cheaply was insanely expensive two decades ago.  Methods of print have changed, methods of distribution have changed.  Comics Necropolis would be a window into the past of technology.

Like the idea?  Intrigued.  Oh there's more.  See, next week we discuss how this could be done  and what features it should have . . .

- Steven Savage and Daniel Elkin

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