I’m not positing that print should just die or go away. I am saying, as I have been for over a year, that unless you’re, say, Brian Vaughan or Bendis or someone else who’s already proven to comics shops that you can move non-superhero fare, print-first creator-owned floppies and graphic novels are a huge risk. Printing prices are a gargantuan bite of your budget at typical direct-market print-runs, even for big name creators. Even to print through Image, as a creator, you have to be willing to work for back-end money or to fund STAGGERING initial costs. There’s no WAY for me — or anyone with less of a track record than I have — to launch two or three new creator-owned books into the marketplace as it is right now, especially non-cape material, and not go bankrupt by issue three.
That’s part of Mark Waid’s response to Chris Sims, who asked Waid why he is choosing to make digital comics. Waid announced his new line of creator-owned digital comics at WonderCon, and he kicked it off with Luther, which is available as a free download. Sims’ post is well worth reading for his analysis of what Waid is up to in this comic, but aside from the formal analysis, it all comes down to money, and if a creator of Waid’s stature can’t make a print comic that will pay for itself, well, it’s time to shift the paradigm.
Later in his response, Waid says that he plans to publish collected editions of the digital comics in print form, but only after he monetizes the digital versions, which is one of the great struggles of the modern comics market.