Next up in I Speak Comics’ Talking Digital Comics series I got a chance to talk to Ed Dippolito, the big brain behind Frank N. Stein, an original series whose first issue just hit the digital marketplace through Graphicly. Ed agreed to share his thoughts on the world of digital comics, his own experiences in the digital realm, and how Graphicly helped get him where he needed to go.
I Speak Comics: What motivated you to create a comic? Is it a hobby? Do you want to make it a career?
Ed Dippolito: First and foremost, I like to tell stories. I always knew I wanted to tell stories for the rest of my life yet I was always unsure of the medium I would go about giving birth to these ideas. I contemplated between film, animation, novels and even video games as a possibility to tell these stories. Yet the one thing I knew I wanted from the beginning, total control, which is something I may have had to compromise, was I to take one of those “grand” methods. Then one day my brain subconsciously raised my hand and whipped it across my face which somehow implanted the obvious. Comics! Since I could remember comics were always a part of my life. I had a great amount of respect for comics, which were often the source of many great movies, video games, television series, etc. I knew starting my own comic entirely by myself was going to be hard work, but if it meant I solely have the control I originally sought after then I would gladly take on the challenge.
I am finally getting the chance to tell the stories I’ve always dreamed of telling. No, it is not a hobby, I have big plans to take my comic, FRANK N. STEIN to the limit. Which means the amount of time needed to work on it is quite demanding. When I first started the comic I was working as an Animation Director in New York City which was also very demanding of my time. Realizing that I could never fully devote the amount of time I felt necessary to the comic it became aware to me that were I to truly make this dream happen a choice had to be made. I decided to take the risk; I quit my full time job and began the path to FRANK N. STEIN.
ISC: Why did you choose to publish through Graphicly as opposed to other services? Why go digital instead of print?
ED: I chose to publish through Graphicly after reading an article about the company making a change. They decided to shut down their comic app and instead focus on getting self-published comic creators seen. After reading that article I really respected the Graphicly team for such a genuine approach to helping us indie guys. Whereas most of the other digital publishing services seemed to handle things the way Graphicly used to, by having to purchase books through their particular apps. I also read a lot of forums and Graphicly had a really good reputation and seemed to be the number one pick amongst the community. That in itself spoke to me, if you ever want honesty, head to a community forum.
There will never be anything like holding a fresh, store bought comic in your hand, and originally I always saw myself going the print route, but there were just too many pros to going digital. The most important being cost efficient, which of course is a huge thing and I really didn’t want to start out in debt. Another pro being the amount of ease there is to the whole procedure. All I have to do is upload my files and let Graphicly do all the work. Then there is the “Graphicly Dashboard”, which keeps records of important things, like how many times your book has been opened to even a monthly sales report. I can also appreciate the fact that Graphicly is connected to Facebook and Twitter, which I believe creates a huge convenience for anyone interested by allowing people to share and comment on your comic. All contributing factors to help you build a bigger audience!
ED: I published through both Web and Ebooks on Graphicly. It had only cost me $150.00 to publish the entire issue which is now being reviewed by those particular ebook carriers. Compared to what I’d have had to pay going the print route, it was absolutely cost effective. As of now I am only seeing little return through the web on the Graphicly App while the ebook is being reviewed.
ISC: In your eyes what are some of the strengths and weaknesses of Graphicly? Digital comics in general?
ED: A major strength of Graphicly that I’m quite fond of is that once my comic is on sale through the multiple ebook carriers, the potential amount of audience I’m able to reach out to is massive. As well as once it’s live there is no mention of Graphicly any longer, you are put on the ebook market and you have full control over your product. Although I believe there are some things that could be changed in order for me to have a slight bit more control over my comic and it’s pricing. One change being I’d like to be able to gift my comic to anyone I choose, say a family member or friend that I’d like to show my comic without having them buy it. I also would like to be able to advertise within certain channels and provide a promo code or something to help give an incentive to possible begin reading my comic. Not to mention I wouldn’t mind a slight tweak to the interface, the way it is now is a bit messy while navigating around. Other than that I have to say I believe Graphicly to have a fantastic thing going for them and I thank them for their efforts in helping me get the chance to make my story heard (or rather read). Indie Comic creators are really getting a great opportunity to break out on their own and get to do things on their terms.
Like I said before, there will never be anything like holding a store bought comic in your hands and physically turning that fine, crisp page onto the next and continue to unveil the story. Maybe it’s the link to my child hood that brings great memories each time I read a new comic or just my personal belief. I believe there will always be room for the printed comic but for many people the thought of going out on their busy day and to the comic shop to purchase a comic just seems inconvenient. Let’s face it, we are in a digital age and we all need to embrace it. With tablets and smart phones being on us at all times, convenience is at the touch of our fingers and I can appreciate that.
ISC: Did you ever consider making Frank N. Stein a web comic?
ED: For a second, but quickly disagreed the thought. I knew from the beginning I wanted FRANK N. STEIN in the traditional comic format.
ISC: Do you plan on publishing more books through Graphicly? In your opinion, could being a digital comic creator become a career? Where do you see the future of the medium?
ED: As of now, yes. I’m still in the very beginning stages with Graphicly so it’s a little difficult to answer. Overall I’m happy with their service. I suppose I’ll have a much better idea within a couple of months because there’s no doubt this is going to be a slow start. Comics are a business and just like starting up your own business it takes a lot of persistence and patience.
I do believe being a digital comic creator can be a career. Large publishing companies were necessary years ago when individual comic creators were unable to broadcast on a mass scale, but that time is over. With the internet and Grapichly’s service they are allowing you to do just that, reach the audience you need to let them know you exist within the vast sea of comics. It rests entirely on your shoulders to advertise and do whatever needs to be done to turn this business of creating comics a career. It’s going to be extremely difficult but is it worth it? My answer, absolutely! For the chance of telling my story I’ll throw everything I’ve got towards that goal.
I believe the future is very bright for digital comics. With tech developers creating devices that fit our personal needs on every level, more and more people will own these devices which in turn do nothing but help us creators reach that many more people. I believe this is only the beginning of the digital comic frontier, there is much more room for improvement and there is no doubt in my mind we will see some great things from people who’ve got wonderful stories to tell.