MYSPACING COMICS: Social Networking Heals All Optimum Wounds

Welcome to MYSPACING COMICS, CBR News' tracking of trends and "friends" on MySpace.com -- the nation's most trafficked website -- as they relate to the comic book industry, most specifically with publishers and creators. This monthly feature endeavors to share our findings, chat with newsmakers and explore profile movement - be it up, down or sideways.

Last month, Optimum Wound Comics debuted on our list as the No. 1 publisher, having just shipped its first print book, an 80-page release of Danijel Zezelj's popular web comic "Rex." In previous installments of MYSPACING COMICS, Optimum Wound Comics didn't register because it was strictly an online comic publisher.

CBR News spoke with Optimum Wound's Vancouver-based publisher Jason Thibault about the advantages of social networking when operating as an independent. "Social networking gives us the ability to get the word out extremely quickly and gives potential readers a wide variety of options to either follow or contact us on their terms," Thibault told CBR News. "It also allows us to receive instant feedback from our readers."

And they're getting feedback. Optimum Wound boasts more than 90,000 friends and 30,000 more than their closest rival, Dark Horse.

Optimum Wound was active on MySpace in late 2005, which was quite early compared to other publishers. "If you follow Warren Ellis, he basically gives you an education in Web 2.0 networking and he's always three steps ahead of the game," said Thibault. "In 2006, we aggressively built up our first 10,000 friends and posted hundreds of comments linking back to us. It helped that there was three of us at the helm working together. Then it became a lot easier. We posted dozens of resource pages for creators, turned our blog into a mini network for other writers and artists to connect and gave away tons of original artwork. We also answered every message sent our way.

"After a while, our friends started spreading the word for us on message boards and their own pages. Everyone was actively helping out the new guy on the block. While most of the established companies were treating their MySpace pages as another extension of their websites, we tried the opposite route striving to become insanely useful to the comics community on MySpace. It's seemed to have worked."

Thibault said print comics have always been Optimum Wound's end goal and following the successful launch of "Rex" in May, more print comics are on the way. "Webcomics helped to get tens of thousands of people to check out our work," explained Thibault. "They also helped introduce a lot of people to webcomics in general. In later 2008 and 2009 we'll be continuing with more webcomics, e-books and printed comics.

"We're also going to release two more graphic novels in November, 2008. First up is Richard Serrao's military horror, 'Memento Mori.' And Danijel Zezelj's 'King of Nekropolis' will hit the stands two weeks after that. Our aim is to get four to six books out a year and grow slowly from there."

The Skrulls haven't scared off any n00bz to the House of Ideas' online clubhouse, as Marvel Comics added 2,684 friends in June with more coming as "Secret Invasion" continues to heat up.

DC Comics DC Comics had a big month too, netting just shy of 2,000 adds as their super-sized summer event -- "Final Crisis" -- takes flight.

Perhaps taking note of Optimum Wound's online popularity, two more indie publishers have joined the fray on MySpace, Zenescope Entertainment ("The Living Corpse") and Archaia Studios Press ("Mouse Guard").

And while certainly not new to MySpace, Viper Comics has increased it activity of late too.

On the creator side, Stan Lee jumps ahead of Jim Lee into fourth place as "The Man" added another 2,857 friends this month after adding nearly the same total last month -- 2,806.

But as you can see, one thing that Stan Lee will never have on Jim Lee is musical taste. Click on the Wildstorm's Editorial Director's MySpace page and you are serenaded by Steve Perry of Journey fame.

Don't stop believin'

Hold on to the feelin'

But what does "Streetlight people" mean? To save you the search that we know is coming, here's a link to Journey on MySpace Music.

Finally, MySpace Comic Books, the site's official comic book portal (which includes a news feed syndicated from CBR), presently boasts 235,130 friends.

TOP PUBLISHERS (Total friends, monthly shift)

1. Optimum Wound Comics: 91,793 (-109)

2. Dark Horse: 61,247 (-161)

3. Marvel Comics: 58,900 (+2,684)

4. MySpace Dark Horse Presents: 29,119 (+139)

5. DC Comics: 23,491 (+1,931)

6. TOKYOPOP: 21,603 (-39)

7. American Mule Entertainment: 18,533 (+335)

8. Top Cow: 16,321 (+52)

9. DC Nation: 15,991 (-78)

10. Virgin Comics: 15,296 (161)

TOP CREATORS (Total friends, monthly shift)

1. Siya: 48,215 (+210)

2. Tara McPherson: 32,920 (+347)

3. Warren Ellis: 21,786 (+217)

4. Stan Lee: 22,115 (+2,857)

5. Jim Lee: 21,441 (+256)

6. Brian K. Vaughan: 16,391 (+167)

7. Roman Dirge: 16,000 (+224)

8. Brian Michael Bendis: 15,394 (+143)

9. Steve Niles: 11,742 (+187)

10. Brad Meltzer: 11,326 (+70)

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