How to Make Your Free Sample Digital Comic Useful

Rob at Panel Patter took advantage of a free sample offer to try the anniversary issue Savage Dragon #175, but the experience wasn’t satisfying enough to convert him to a reader. Some of the lessons he points out for those considering similar giveaways include avoiding too much complicated backstory that seems out of keeping with the character, and giving away an issue that’s a good starting point, unlike this one.

Inspector Spacetime fake poster

These two are related, but not quite the same. Together, they add up to an issue that’s not enjoyable for new readers. Rob goes on to conclude that this is a problem with many other titles from the genre, in contrast to two other properties he jumped onto quickly:

I just don’t see why superhero comics are determined to keep new readers in the dark and why their supporters argue for new readers to go see wikis and other sites. Why can’t the comic itself stand on its own?

I had almost no knowledge of Dr. Who. I watched one episode in the middle of 50 years of continuity and was instantly hooked, because all I needed to know was that it was a guy in a time-travelling space ship. I watched one episode of the character-continuity heavy Community and I was hooked, without needing to know much of anything at all.

If it can be done with other comics I referenced above and with other media properties, it can be done in superhero comics.

By the way, I second his recommendation of Community, because it’s hilarious and deserves many more readers. To pull all this together, it even has its own Doctor Who parody, “Inspector Spacetime”, but if you aren’t familiar with the Doctor, the references still work as some goofy thing the guys go fannish over.

5 Responses to “How to Make Your Free Sample Digital Comic Useful”

  1. Anthony Says:

    Considering it’s the same genre that’s decided for some reason (to ape “The Dark Knight Returns”/”Watchmen”? The general paranoia in the genre about looking “cartoonish”?) editor’s boxes are more important as ungainly substitutes for thought balloons than for subtle continuity explanations (“As long-time readers know, Superman last faced the Toyman in issue #364″, “See Zoo Crew #275 for how Mr. Mind attacked Earth-C!”, etc.), I’m not surprised.

  2. James Schee Says:

    I honestly think, especially reading some of the DC 52 series, that most comic creators have no idea how to appeal to new readers. Some things have just become so ingrained in that style of books, that I don’t think many working in it even realize they are doing it.

    I’ve never watched Community. I remember when it was first coming on the commercials, looked like people doing stupid things for laughs and it turned me off.

    Inspector Spacetime sounds kind of clever though. (poster is nifty)

  3. Johanna Says:

    Community took a few episodes to really hit its groove. We tried it originally, didn’t care for it, but tried again later and came to love it.

  4. James Schee Says:

    Hmm I’d be more inclined to watch it, but some of it’s fans turned me off slamming Big Bang Theory which is a favorite of mine (& only show my mom also watches and we can talk about) because it came on opposite and attracted a bigger audience.

  5. Jaylat Says:

    Excellent point, too often overlooked. Thanks for highlighting it.

    I really think the reason comic sales are dropping is that they just aren’t accessible to the average reader.




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