Is a dollar too much to ask for a comic that took over a hundred hours to create? I don’t think so. But maybe you do.
I’ve been debating the price on Deadhorse for some time. Charging a small fee would allow us to put a little money toward the collected print run, but this is an age where time is the real currency. Placing an obstacle, any kind of obstacle, in front of someone is going to drive some people away. On the other hand, we could just give the book away and completely remove that problem altogether. It would certainly increase our potential for reaching a larger audience. Worse though, I believe that approach feeds into a system that continuously devalues creative work.
Now I understand the desire to just get the work out there. To be read. To grow an audience. To tell a story. That’s the reason I did this to begin with anyway right? But when so much of the content is available for free, and I’m not talking about piracy here, but artists who literally give it away under the pretense that eventually all will be made right, what does that do to the value of our work? What does that do to the value of your work? It reminds me of a scene from the wonderful Harlan Ellison documentary “Dreams with Sharp Teeth”. Now by no means am I inviting comparison to Harlan Ellison, and he is certainly directing it at places that SHOULD be paying, but I think it illustrates the point.
The more I thought about this decision, the more it became clear that there is no correct answer. Both approaches have merit. There are readers that might love the book, but would never buy it. Whatever their reason, be it financial or otherwise, I want to make sure the book is available for them. If they choose to follow this mystery until its conclusion - I’d love to have them. On the other side of the coin, there are readers that would be willing to pay for our hard work. People that value the long hours that we poured into each and every panel. People who would like to support the book and maybe even help carry some of the folks who can’t. They should have that option.
So what does that mean for Deadhorse? Going forward, as long as I’m publishing the book, if you buy the PDFs for any of the single chapters you will be setting your own price. It means that you can choose to pay $1 an issue, or you can pay $10, or you don’t have to pay a dime. It’s up to you. This will only apply to books sold directly though Deadhorsecomic.com. On Graphicly, Deadhorse will continue to be sold for a fixed price. Will we do this for the collected edition too? I don’t know. We’re not there yet.
In return, I only ask that rather then share the PDF among your friends directly, you send them to the web site so they can make their own decision about what it is worth.