MangaMagazine.Net Aims to Pay Contributors to Provide Free Comics Online

MangaMagazine.Net launched earlier this year, providing free online comics while still paying its contributors and without heavy reliance on advertising (although that’s coming in future). They’ve set up a system that requires some attention to understand, with different tiers of both contributors and members, with the apparent aim of becoming a one-stop shop for online comic readers. logo

They want creators to submit their content, but only those who reach a higher tier get paid. Although their site title is manga-based, they also encourage comics. Authors can become Featured, or even Premium (of which there are 19 currently), if selected by the site staff and based on the attention they get from readers. Featured artists are expected to upload at least a page a week, while Premium have to post 15 pages a month. Those levels get a cut of a payout pool monthly based on the traffic they bring to the site, although they have to post on MangaMagazine first, before uploading pages anywhere else.

Readers are encouraged to become subscribers, at $2.99 a month, to get access to the premium content. The first eight chapters are always free, though. It’s one of those “we keep billing you until you cancel” schemes that take advantage of people being forgetful. They do run promotions to allow people a free month — mostly based on talking them up online and using their catchphrase in an attempt to game Google searches. (I am not using the phrase, and I did not receive any consideration for this post, by the way. I don’t even have an account there.)

They also sell books (and the occasional geegaw) both on their on site and at Amazon, where they also provide digital versions. The site takes a cut of book sales to raise money. MangaMagazine appears to be trying every strategy possible, with the exception of donation buttons. It remains to be seen whether they’ll get the audience they need to keep something this ambitious going. At least they’re promising that creators retain rights, so if the site doesn’t make it, if the artists keep their own files, they can move the work elsewhere.

Update: Two years later, the site (which became Inkblazers somewhere along the way) is shutting down as of February 1, 2015. From the post (which won’t live forever):

We have been trying to find a path for Inkblazers and unfortunately we have reached a point where we can no longer financially support the continuation of the site which cost us upwards of $65,000USD a month. Every single dollar earned from the subscribers went directly back to the artists and authors….

After February 1st all user and author data as well as images will be deleted permanently. To be clear, every single file, data, everything will be deleted. We will not be archiving or keeping any information or files after February 1st. All subscriptions will be refunded over the next week as well. Any orders previously placed on Inkblazers will be shipped.

This has caused some sadness in their community, but my mind is still spinning at the comment that said:

Why can’t we continue to run the site without paying artists? I know it’s not the best thing but it’s better than shutting it down completely. That way we can all still read our favourite comics and everything and the owner doesn’t need to pay anyone.

I’m not sure how this person expects to read his favorite comics if the artist isn’t getting compensated in some fashion.

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