MODERNTALES.COM lauched in March of 2002 as the first subscription service for professional webcomics, under the industrious leadership of Joey Manley. In order to garner support for the new enterprise, Scott McCloud posted an unpaid plug at the COMICON.COM message board: FIVE REASONS WHY I'LL SUBSCRIBE TO MODERN TALES [appended]. My own devices were more hooligan in nature - I concocted this parody and posted it online. Within thirty minutes, traffic to my site had exceeded its allowed bandwidth, and i had to upload the comic to another server! Nothing has brought that much interest to my site since.

"Whoa. Okay, now I feel like John Malkovich in the puppet scene finale of BEING J.M.... Gotta love the funky OSX balloons, though."

Scott McCloud

"Must ... obey ... The McCloud ... must ... recruit ... bearded baby ... [robotic clanking noises]"

Joey Manley


Five Reasons Why I'll subscribe to Modern Tales

1. THE ARTISTS. Joey Manley did a great job of finding some of the best webcomics artists working today. And the list has tremendous range, including web comic strip artists like Scott Kurtz and r. stevens; independent print favorites like Tom Hart and James Kochalka; long form innovators like Cat Garza and Derek Kirk; and one-of-a-kind mad geniuses like Jason Shiga.

2. THE PRICE. Early birds could sign up for just $20.00 a year for full access to what promises to be a fast-growing archive and now that it's launching, the price is only going up a little (probably $29.99) That's barely a dollar per cartoonist. Best of all, if you're shy about a commitment that size, just $2 or $3 per month is a good introductory rate. And they use PayPal, which simplifies things for a lot of us. (Other methods too, I think, but maybe Joey can let us know details on that). And again the new stuff will be free, which is a price I think we can all go for.

3. THE WORK. With even a little monetary incentive, these artists are going to produce far more work than before. I've already seen Garza's first installment of his beautiful "Cuentos de la Fronteros" and it's his best work yet. I'd pay the sub price for that work alone.

4. THE EXPERIMENT. Subscription sites have their limitations, but getting something like this to work is a necessary step toward a maturing comics economy online. These guys have been giving it away (many of them for YEARS) and they really deserve some compensation. And Joey Manley deserves our support for taking a chance on what I'm sure will be a complicated and demanding job -- as well as some slack for any bugs in the first few weeks.

5. ENLIGHTENED SELF-INTEREST. If paying for webcomics becomes a viable proposition, maybe I can devote more than an hour a day to my own. I don't know if I'll be joining MT myself in the future (obviously, this site can only expand so far) but something like it might someday help enable me and the hundreds like me (and you know who you are) to finally go full-time and produce far more of the kind of work that we care the most about.

Panel five is no longer correct: McCloud and I spent some time together at the 2002 Small Press Expo.


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