Digital Comics Month continues with an interview Zenescope Entertainment’s Editor-in-Chief and writer, Ralph Tedesco! Read on as he discusses the present and future digital plans of the publisher behind Grimm Fairy Tales, Charmed, and The Waking!
TFAW.com: How many titles/issues do you currently have available? What do you project to have at the same time next year?
Ralph Tedesco: We normally have about four to five titles that hit each month, but in 2011 we’re going to be at about eight or nine regular issues per month.
TFAW.com: How did you choose which comics would go digital first? What was your thought process behind your launch?
RT: We just started to roll out a good amount of our back issues on a monthly basis. We started small and still have a lot of stuff to unveil digitally.
TFAW.com: What are the biggest challenges in publishing digital comics?
RT: The key is to still promote printed comics and not roll out with digital too soon after publishing an issue. You want to make sure retailers can sell their issues in stores. Digital is a nice medium and is going to expand over the next several years, but this is still a print-first industry.
TFAW.com: How have digital comics been selling for you, compared to traditional comics?
RT: It’s definitely an extremely small percentage of sales right now, with potential for growth over the next several years.
TFAW.com: Have you considered a digital-only option for comics that have lower sales? Do you think this is an opportunity to extend the lives of series that might otherwise be canceled due to financial realities?
RT: Not as of yet. Printing can be costly, but artwork and general production of our books still costs money. Either way, as a publisher, I need to hit a certain number of sales or I’m going to lose money. At this point in the digital arena, if hard copies of a title aren’t selling, it’s safe to say that that same title won’t be selling digitally, either.
TFAW.com: Currently, customers are still buying standalone issues. Are you planning to offer digital “graphic novels”?
RT: We will eventually, I’m just not sure when.
TFAW.com: Digital comics have broken a lot of the traditional barriers of the direct market–they’re easy to purchase and less expensive than the paper versions. Do you think this will help publishers develop a wider audience?
RT: I hope so. It’s something we know will definitely appeal to more mainstream audiences who wouldn’t usually think to hit a local retailer. If they are able to download the comic, the hope is they realize what a great medium this is and start following both digital and traditional comics.
TFAW.com: What do you think of the piracy issue that comes along with digital distribution?
RT: Not a lot you can do about it. Piracy is a part of entertainment now. You hope that most people are honest and pay for what they read or watch or listen to, otherwise they’re just helping to ruin the industry they’re stealing from.
TFAW.com: What do you think digital comics will mean for traditional retailers in the upcoming years?
RT: I think for a long while it won’t be a problem at all, but I do think retailers will begin to think ahead of the curve and start offering ways to evolve their businesses to cater toward a more digital audience. However, comics will always be a collector’s industry, and I hope that fans will continue to buy non-digital comics forever.
TFAW.com: Do you have any retailer incentives or plans to include traditional retailers in your digital comics program?
RT: Not yet, but that’s a great idea.
Have you entered the digital age of comics? Post your comments below!