Now lets here from the newcomer in this Top Web Comics merger, the president of Basto Media himself, Marty Basto! What was it that convinced Marty to create this merger with TWC? Where does his interest in comics come from and what’s up with one of the biggest changes on the site, the banner ads section.
1. You have written web comics before. What drew you to creating four panel web comics instead of larger scale comic pages?
Growing up in a French community, I wasn’t blessed with all the comics that were easily available to someone who could read English. Therefore, I was limited with my exposure to comics. With that being said, some of the world’s best comics have been launched in French, which allowed me the opportunity to venture off in the world of the Smurfs, Asterix and Obelix and of course TinTin.
I was enthralled by those books. Yet, it never occurred to me that I could participate in this industry. When I was sixteen years old, I was privileged to have a French teacher that was a published playwright. Under his mentorship, I wrote my very first play that same year. It was only after graduation that I realized that writing scripts, whether it is for movies, plays or television, is the same process for comic books. Yet, it was still only an idea.
Thinking about it now, it would have been simpler to start my career with comic books but I went straight for television instead. Which as hard of an experience as it was, that’s when we met, isn’t it Les? Anyway, it was that drive to create new series that kept me going for more. But it is sometime impossible to get more when dealing with major projects because your time is solely focused on one story at a time.
So, a day came where I needed a way to get rid of that excess creativity that was plaguing my soul. I needed to get the worlds that were brewing into my mind onto a canvas. Obviously, the webcomic medium seemed to be the ideal, cost effective choice for me as it allowed me to give life to my creations.
We first started off our comics using the four panel format because it was fitting for what we wanted to accomplish. It is a decision that cannot be made lightly. We wanted to share a story, yet being able to share a point across to the reader in every strip. In this format, we are able to tell a grand story, yet deliver a conclusion, no matter how small it is, with every strip.
We obviously have many projects going at the moment and some of our comics do have the full page larger scale comic pages. We choose this method when continuity becomes crucial for story and project.
2. Did this love of creating web comics play into your desire to help TWC expand?
Any mainstream publishing group will deliver quality material, well developed stories, characters and universes. Those are projects that are given time and resources to better their chances of success. They have gigantic teams of specialists working on its development and production to make it perfect for the readers. With all the money in the world invested in those projects, are they still perfect? Of course not.
If you take a look at what the webcomic community has accomplished in such a short time, it is nothing short of a masterpiece in progress. We do not possess the millions of dollars like the main studios have. We do not have gigantic teams to help us strategize and develop our universes. What we do have is heart, a dedication to our creations. A love for the worlds that started in our hearts.
There are webcomic creators out there that do spend the time necessary to plan their stories, they give it the time it requires, the dedication it needs to flourish. The results… A story that rivals any major production made to date. It is never good enough to have an idea. An idea is NOT a story which many webcomic artists know already.
TopWebComics is a community that brings webcomic creators together with readers from around the world. As Webcomic creators, our direct rapport with our fans is an advantage that we cannot ignore. It is that direct contact that allows us to thrive and succeed, the gentle push that gives us extra motivation to continue.
As a community, we can do more! I am proud to be part of that community and if we can continue to unite, there is no limit to the dreams we can create. That is my passion and my goal for TWC.
3. We’ve already seen the addition of banners for every ranking on the site. What other ways do you hope to expand TWC?
TWC is, simply put, an artistic community. We have within our community some very talented artists and writers. The goal of TWC has always been to help promote Webcomics. I can sit here and talk about webcomics all day and I can tell you which ones are my favorites and give out the best reviews in the world. If I’m successful in my description, you will go and check it out for yourself. And when you do check it out, I feel like I’ve accomplished something. Because of TWC, I will have sent a new visitor to a new webcomic.
It works. However, the problem is, I’m lazy and I cant go visit every single person accessing TWC to recommend webcomics to go visit.
Time is precious, for me, for you, for everyone. Therefore, we don’t always have the time to talk about the things we love. So I often say “Let your work speak for itself” around the office so why wouldn’t it be applicable here? The banners is a direct way to let the art speak for itself. A lot of people are visual therefore it’s only a natural thing to do, to make TWC more artistically friendly.
One of the changes that we are making, which we have started already is to allow a more personalized profile page for the webcomic creators. This will allow people to post more of their art work for fans to see, to give more information in a visually appealing manner.
Finally, another big change that we will be doing starting in March, TWC is going to be holding some ART CONTEST. These contests will be featuring art in a way that will promote webcomics. Obviously we will be giving out more information on this when the time comes but it should be a fun experience.
There is a lot that we want to do with TWC and right now, our focus on the changes is to let people’s work do the talking. Therefore, if I can say something to everyone… “Artists & Writers, get your pencils ready, it’s going to be a blast! We are definitely going to challenge your creativity.”
4. This blog section has allowed you to reach out to TWC fans on a more personal level. Was that something you intended when you added a more in depth article section to the site?
This is where I want to say No it wasn’t and that you, Les, have blackmailed me by taking a puppy hostage but we both know that it’s simply not true. It was a duck.
As I mentioned before, I have always seen TWC as a community and I think that to thrive as a community, we need to have an open communication and find a medium to allow this to happen. The article is the start to help us build that medium. However, just like everything else, it is not enough to simply want something, you have to ensure you give it time and attention for it to grow.
With any changes, we need to test it out and make any modifications to it that are required as we grow. We also need someone to take the lead and ensure everyone is having a good time. I am a proud man but even my pride has its limit and I am man enough to admit that this article section on TWC would not have seen the growth it has received without your help and dedication, Les.
5. TWC has been around for quite awhile. Why the merger now? Was it your own web comic experiences, a desire to help promote fellow creators, or something else that encouraged you to become a part of TWC?
I think it was a matter of timing more than anything. It is no secret that Richard has created something great. TopWebComics was there when I first gained interest in Webcomics. It is the first platform that has helped me reach out to the community for the first time and the platform that has allowed me to discover the hundreds of webcomics that I have read over the years.
Our team was discussing the possibility of creating a community to allow the webcomic creators to get together along with their fans under a single roof. We were looking around to see what was available. There are a few. Because of the numbers of existing communities, we figured it would be best to share the spot light with someone else rather than compete. Competition can be a very good thing as it challenges the mind and pushes everyone to be better but too much competition can be detrimental to any industry.
So we were thinking and I asked the question. “Right off the back of your mind, if you think of a webcomic community, which one comes to mind?”
Many people think the answer was TopWebComics…which is half true. It was a mixture of answers. Some names that were mentioned were very big names for communities but they all had something in common, they are young communities. TWC has been around for ages, which doesn’t make Richard any younger but we like him anyway. I just want to see if he will read this because I do talk a lot…
For months we studied various communities, the trends they created, where they were lacking, where they were succeeding. When we were done, we came to the conclusion that TopWebComics was the best option for us to offer our expertise. Richard has accomplished a lot on his own so we offered to partner up in order to bring TWC to the next level. And the rest is history.
6. Do you have any advice for those working their way up the ranks here at TWC?
Don’t sit back and wait for it to happen. The success you will have is in direct rapport to the efforts that you put into your work.
If you want the top, aim for the top but you have to work for it. It’s not going to be easy because you have to talk to people, you have work day and night to create things to get people to notice you, to visit you, to talk about you. You have to contact your peers, offer fan art, guest strips…anything to get you noticed.
Then, when you do get noticed you have to keep doing it. It never ends! Think of the major webcomic creators, those who make a living off their creations. They do not stop. They are dedicated to their work. They perform interviews, they attend conventions, they do side projects…the list goes on. Creating a webcomic is a full commitment that requires a lot of work. But why do it?
We create artistic works to share it with the world but we cannot lose track of the real reason we put ourselves through such hard work. It is because we love creating. If you love what you do and are doing it because you’re having fun, people will see that and will support you. Don’t do it because you want to be famous. Do it because you will not be happy unless it gets done!
Love what you do and your passion will be rewarded.
7. Lastly, pricing and format changed on TWC banner ads that fans could buy after Basto Media merged with the site. Why were these changes made?
Les, you weren’t suppose to ask this question. You’re fired!
Nah, I am very pleased to see you’re professional enough to ask the question that a lot of people may have asked themselves but never bothered asking. I see this question as follow “Did Basto Media merge with TWC for increased profits?” We are a company so to say no to this question would paint me as a liar. There is no true political way of answering this without sounding like a greedy fat cat.
It’s a good thing I don’t believe in political answers. I will be truthful.
The prices for ads on TWC have indeed increased with the merger. It was done because the prices that were used were simply far too low when comparing it to other advertising agencies. Not only that, but TWC has a lot of expenses to pay in order to keep this site running, something that the old rates alone did not cover. Many webcomic creators have commented that they are not in support of the new price structure. We have listened and will take action.
We are revising our strategy and will find a way to satisfy everyone. We are going to be rolling out a new pricing strategy very soon that will have much lower prices to give an affordable chance to everyone.
At the end of the day, our goal is to do what is best for the community, not only our wallets so we will listen and act when things are not satisfactory. That is a promise!
There are a lot of things that we want to do with TWC but “things” cost money and people cost money. Therefore, to be able to offer the best experience we possibly can, we must look at all options, which includes the financial portions. The last thing we want to do is grow TWC too big where it is not affordable anymore. Such a move would be detrimental to everyone and would see a product that we all love and enjoy taken away.
Our goal still remains the same and that is to help promote the webcomics around the world and to serve as the best webcomic community for everyone and together, we will do just that!
Thanks for your time Marty and your continued help in improving Top Web Comics!