Online Manga as Pyramid Scheme

Original manga Guardian Angel can be purchased as a PDF file, 94 pages for $6, or via print-on-demand for $11.44 US. There’s nothing unusual about that, except maybe how high the online price is.

Guardian Angel

What does set this project apart is the marketing scheme. Once you buy the file, you can set up a purchase link for others to use, and you get 50% of the take. (Just in case anyone wonders, I haven’t bought the manga, and I get nothing for mentioning it here. I’m talking about it only because I was stunned by the audacity of the idea.) The author pitches this as a way to actually make a profit, if you can pimp the work to enough of your gullible friends.

Also, I’m not sure what makes this a manga beyond the author naming it such. Visually, it reminds me most of Dave Sim’s Glamourpuss, with its photo-referenced art. In terms of plot, Alice is saved from a suicide attempt by a world champion arm wrestler (!), which leads to “international intrigue”. It sounds like a bad TV movie to me.


6 Responses to “Online Manga as Pyramid Scheme”

  1. Tommy Raiko Says:

    “Also, I’m not sure what makes this a manga beyond the author naming it such. Visually, it reminds me most of Dave Sim’s Glamourpuss, with its photo-referenced art.”

    Well, that opens up the whole “what makes manga manga?” can of worms, a question that’s perhaps unanswerable with any real specificity.

    From a certain point-of-view, “manga” is just the Japanese word for “comics.” If the creator is Japanese (and judging from nothing other than the name, that may be true) then he/she may just be defaulting to a familiar use of the term (and as you point out, the “buzzword” quality of the word “manga” doesn’t hurt.) Still, if a Japanese person does comics, he/she is likely going to call them “manga,” regardless of what style he or she works in.

    Anyway, the publisher’s referral plan is indeed audacious, and worth noting. Thanks!

  2. Letizia Says:

    After reading your posts I became curious about this comic
    and I decided to give it a try it and I bought it.

    Good move. I like it. Drawings are absolutly great, the story
    is a sort of Van Damme’s movie with super action, fast
    futuristic cars, big fights and a lot of bullets.

    To make a brief summery: there has been a conflict
    in the middle ages between two knight orders which
    is ending nowadays with their successors, or at least
    that’s what i have understood from this first volume.

  3. Journalista - the news weblog of The Comics Journal » Blog Archive » March 3, 2009: Big hand’s on 120, little hand’s on me Says:

    […] Johanna Draper Carlson finds an innovative means of marketing comics online. […]

  4. buzz Says:

    The marketing is multi-level, but not a classic Ponzi pyramid. Rather, it’s more along the lines of AmWay: An actual bona fide product is available for sale, and people who get others to buy the product get a kick back of that sale. The buyers actually get something tangible instead of a mere promise of future earnings. There is no promise that everybody will be able to find a new buyer.

  5. Johanna Says:

    Not to mention that these days, if you have a PDF you want to share with your friends, you send them the PDF, you don’t make them go spend money.

  6. Digital Strips: The Webcomics Podcast Says:

    […] Amway of comics? Johanna Draper Carlson looks at an online “manga,” Guardian Angel, that allows readers to set up their own purchase […]




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