Digitally-distributed comics offer many opportunities for creators, not least of them a global audience, minimal distribution costs and the opportunity to creatively push the comic’s form in new ways impossible on paper.
But with those opportunities come the problems of making your voice heard in an ocean full of competing talent, as artist Marc Jackson, publisher of the the subscription-based anthology GOOF! has discovered, and recounts here, as the project prepares to go on hiatus…
After a year’s worth of funnies, the June issue of online comic GOOF! will be our last one for the time being. Last year, when it was launched at the MACC-POW! day of comics in Macclesfield, Cheshire, not only was it a unique concept, an all-ages monthly funny book only available online, nearly half of the cartoonists involved were in attendance on the day, including Genie Espinosa and Lorenzo Montatore from Barcelona, British cartooning legend Lew Stringer and rising stars Emmeline Pidgen and Tor Freeman.
Even I Kill Giants artist Ken Niimura and Marvel and DC funny book cartoonist Hilarly Barta lent their skills to the first issue! It was truly a global project and one that I was and still am very proud.
GOOF!‘s model was simple. Readers subscribed for £12, for a year’s worth of comics and the profits would be split between creators. Featuring exclusive comics, characters and art that put the fun in funnies, it showcased some of the goofiest and greatest cartoonists walking this planet. Or any planet for that matter – including myself, Mari Ahokoivu, Hilary Barta, Fulton Beal, Andrea Bell, Jim Boswell, Rick Eades, Genie Espinosa, Tor Freeman, Nancy Jackson, Jessica on Paper, Joe Matthews, Lorenzo Montatore, Dan Moynihan, Ken Niimura, Phil Oliveira, Emmeline Pidgen, Andreas Schuster, Clara Soriano, Jess Smart Smiley, Lew Stringer and Dick Vincent.
Over the past year, we’ve gained a number of subscribers and received great feedback from younger readers. Some of our older readers (it’s comics for everyone, remember), I think, were expecting something different – and to be honest, I didn’t know what was coming from the creators either, I just put my faith in them to make something different.
As it turned out, GOOF! wasn’t what I expected or planned. It proved to be something even better.
Each creator was awesome enough to do what they wanted, not fit in. Comics about being cool to each other nestled with comics about Trolls, dogs that were hairdressers, pigs that fought crime, wizards, dwarves, ducks and little devils! We had it all and we still do. Each month, the creators made their comics for no money up front and for no money on receipt of their work, it was purely for the love of comics and trying to do a cool thing.
Yes, I wish I could say that I managed to pay them all enough to compensate them for their hard work, but sadly, not just yet.
Promoting a comic each month, and driving folks to your product online is tough, a full-time job in itself. Forget about making a comic to go inside it, creating covers, putting together the content and nudging everyone along in a very polite manner, checking spellings, missing spellings, uploading mis-haps and the last minute panic of creators not being able to deliver their comics from time to time (paying work always comes first). GOOF! put hairs on my chest!
I had no idea what I was getting us all into – but I’m glad about that. No-one wants to talk themselves out of doing something without seeing if it’ll work first. There’s not fun in that!
GOOF! introduced readers to some brand-new creators from around the world who in turn, all discovered each other and every time I see Andreas Schuster or Allison Steinfeld post a new image online of their latest work and see Jessica on Paper, or Rick Eades liking it, I like to think that it’s because of GOOF! that this gang now all exists – and that in itself is worth all the work that has gone into it.
It’s great to now see some of creators now reaching new successes, whether it be comic residencies in the United States, winning awards or colouring for the pages of 2000AD, GOOF! had the cream of the cartooning crop – make no mistake about that!
The fact that GOOF! exists is a great thing and the even better thing is GOOF! will continue to exist – and can be discovered by new readers all the time. By June, we’ll have 12 issues packed full of comics. Comics that visually stand tall next to the likes of weekly print comics such as the Beano, The Phoenix and old favourites like Oink! from the 1980s.
I will continue to promote GOOF! on my travels, including giving it a right old plug Stateside in May at NCSFest at Huntington Beach – and maybe, one day, it will return. I really like the GOOF! character I created for the comic and hopefully will add some bonus strips with him over the next few months, just to keep the brand going strong, so subscribers to the first 12 will get those for free, as they will continue to have access.
We might even add a donate button, so if you fancy supporting the creators you can from time to time. I will pay them all huge amounts of money one day for all their amazing work – that is my solemn oath!
So it’s not goodbye, it’s GOOFbye – and GOOFbyes are so much better!
See you in the funny pages, there’s 12 issues worth of them waiting for you!
GOOF! logo, character and design © 2019 Marc Jackson and Weirdo comics. All comics, characters © 2019 to their respective creators