Friday, February 24, 2006

 

No more Dykes on PlanetOut

I just got the news that PlanetOut, currently the only source for Dykes online, is dropping the strip. I don't know why. I assume it's some sort of fallout from their acquisition last fall of LPI media, which has made them the “World's Largest Gay Media Company.” I'm surprised. I thought I got pretty decent traffic. I've been thinking for a while now about hosting the strip on my own site, and I guess the time has come. I'll keep you posted as I figure out how I'm going to go about this. And I'd love to hear any suggestions anyone has, particularly about ways to cover the cost.
Comments:
Oh, please, please please, host it! I lost track of DTWOF for years after I moved away from a town that carried it in the local alt weekly, and have been so psyched to find it online again these past few years. I can't live without knowing whether or not Cynthia is going to give in to her anti-Christian urges eventually.

As for how you can fund it, I don't know how you feel about advertising, but prehaps you should consider BlogAds (http://www.blogads.com/). They're an easy way to set up ads on your site, and, most importantly, you have 100 percent control about the ads that you let on the site and can even give ads away for free if you want (unlike Google's AdSense on both counts). It's selling out, I know, but it's a thought.

jf
 
Not to harp on it but if you want any more info on the ups and downs of BlogAds (I use it on my site) feel free to email me -- josh@jfruh.com.

jf
 
Well, yours was the last strip still there -- good thing I just worked my way through the Ethan Green archives (the old ones were pretty good!)

Josh sounds like he knows what he's talking about... I myself have never played with web advertising.

I hate to say it, but I bet that the PO traffic was dropping off because the Livejournal people were so much better. PO got spam all the time & were never reliable about the comics. Livejournal had a much larger & more active commenting community. Their current tendency to grab copies of the full comic so people that visit their site don't have to even go to the PO site to look at it before writing about it could definitely be a competitive problem, for PO & for you as well if you start hosting. But I bet if you ask them yourself to please just link to your site when you post your new comics, they probably would. I think they are very supportive of you as an artist. But most of them are a little too left to think about supporting PO, even though the company was providing a service & supporting the community. I suggested we should think about PO's perspective once & got massively flamed, as if getting to read your strip there was a god-given right. But anyway, I think it would be different if you just logged into the Livejournal community once in a while and said "listen, if you copy the picture here, I can't afford to keep putting them up on my own website, so please don't."

Incidently, there seems to be a company that specializes in doing merchandise for absolutely any cartoon -- have a look at this link:

http://www.unitedmedia.com/comics/janesworld/index.html

Note the link to cafepress.com under "books & merchandise click here" at the top of the page. I think they will just make a t-shirt or mug out of any image that someone clicks on & says they want a copy of, presumably giving you a dollar or two per throw. No hassle for anyone. I've even seen bloggers who seem to use them:

http://angryblackbitch.blogspot.com/

Ah, she isn't doing it anymore, you may want to ask her why not!
 
huh? how can a queer website drop dwotf? huh?? granted i don't spend time at planet out, but.. okay, i just don't get it. how can the "largest gay media outlet" not carry dwotf?

-brooke from eugene, oregon
 
Please, please, keep DTWOF on the web! I'm one of those (not so few) fellas out of the US who can't live without DTWOF...
So, Alison, don't be a be one of those ethnocentric yankee and think of the rest of the world :-P
thanx
 
Heck, I would even pay a little money to get each new strip via email. Maybe you could host them on your site, but let subscribers get the strips via email a week before they go up on your site? I'm not rich, but for DTWOF, I'd shell out a few bucks now and then. :)
 
Could you perhaps post the strip here, on your blog? If you direct people from a comment on the site, they can just come to the blog to view the newest strip, and then you won't get charged for bandwidth.

I'd love for you to be able to keep the strip online. When I'm not home, I can't pick up Out in the Mountains to read it, and the web has been a fantastic way to keep up.
 
Orrrrrrrrr.. anyone of you could subscribe to an LGBT newspaper that carries DTWOF or Curbside or any other of the fab homo comic strips. Support the LGBT newspapers!! We pay for the strips so you guys can read them.

xoxox
Christine Hahn
Gay People's Chronicle
Ohio's LGBT Newspaper.
 
That's ridiculous that planet out would drop dykes. What?!! But honestly, reading the strip on their website is kind of annoying anyway. There are all those adds around, and you have to click on like 3 different links to see the whole strip. You should host it on your blog or on your site. You put other pictures on your blog - can't you put up the strip as well? Or on your website?
- Laura, who honestly has know idea how a blog works.
 
What kind of money would it cost? My understanding (from several years ago, but I doubt this has changed) is that web ads make very very VERY little money, with the trend going rapidly southward. The idea to put the strip on the blog makes more sense to me.

However, in order to support Lesbian newspapers, you can postpone the latest strips by at least two weeks so there is incentive to subscribe to those papers.
 
In some ways, I'm glad--Planet Out has been doing such a crappy job and I'm sure you can do a better job. If not, what about the Stranger in Seattle (Dan Savage's paper)? I don't know anything about the logistics of a move like that, but I read his column online there each week, and it is a well-designed, beautiful web site.

Good luck and keep up the good work.
J
 
That's funny--the only reason I ever logged onto PlanetOut was to read DTWOF.

There are many better websites with cleaner interfaces--would any of your print publications post it on their websites?
 
I'd love to see the strip in The Stranger, but it looks like the only comics they print on a regular basis are "Makkies", "Underworld", and "Troubletown". They used to be a lot more comix friendly but have sort of drifted away from that. Plus, they're a weekly, so they'd have to find something to fill every other week with.

Who needs PlanetOut?
--MC
 
Well, I will be taking Planet Out off my "favorites" list now, as the main reason I logged on was to see what Mo and the gals were up to.
I would also love to see the strip posted on your website, AB. I think the subscription for "early" viewing (ie concurrent with print media) is a great idea if ads don't bring in enough bucks.

- From a huge fan since (almost) the beginning!.
 
I can't believe it! I, too, live outside the US and the only reason I go to Planet Out is DTWOF. I'd gladly pay a subscription to access the strip on your site, especially if it meant easier, ad-free access.

DTWOF is without a doubt one of the best comic strips ever written!!! Keep up your great work!
 
There are a couple comments in the LiveJournal feed for your blog, here.

Otherwise, couldn't you use the oh-so-affordable (free!) Flickr service to post the strip there and/or to your blog?

To add to what others have already said, I cannot believe that PlanetOut is dropping your comic strip. For years, DTWOF has been my only reason to give their site any traffic.
 
You might check out Webcomics Nation, a site purporting to provide "business services for cartoonists online". They charge $9.95 per month (or discounted to $99.50 per year if you buy it all at once) and offer unlimited bandwidth, automatic RSS feeds, complimentary banner ads on various "Modern Tales network" sites, and a long list of other features.

I became aware of them a few weeks ago, because a number of the comics listed by Tapestry Comics appear to use their services.

Good luck! Count me among the many eagering awaiting DTWOF's return to the online world.
 
I agree that Planet Out was doing a horrible job. I always hated their evil scheme of breaking up the comic in to four pages, just to get you to read four more pages of ads. Also, never, ever, ever on time. I just had to log in randomly hoping to catch one.

A lot of other cartoonists have on-line posting of their work. I agree that web ads will likely not pay for everything fully, although, if you keep the ads outside the cartoon itself, I have no problem with web ads. (My example of acceptable ad ratio would be tom tomorrow's web site). Also, several cartoonists either sell yearly subscriptions for having the cartoons emailed. I would happily pay a yearly subscription rate to recieve DTWOF. (See Ted Rall's site). Or I would also pay a subscription to have the privilege to log on to read (like Salon.com), but I suspect that might entail some technical difficulties.

I also have no problem with you emailing or posting strips significantly later than the print strips, so that print buyers won't be deterred.

However, I really enjoy having my media on line these days. As much as I want to support gay papers, I don't really support any print papers right now. If you don't find a gay hosted media site on line, please post them yourself. I can't live without it :)

Sincerely, JP, California
 
I always thought Planetout demanded a monopoly on DTWOF, and that's why you couldn't find it anywhere else; clearly that's no longer the case. Any of the gay papers that run the strip would be crazy NOT to put it on their website (like Lavender Magazine, for example). Planetout has been swirling steadily toward the bottom of the toilet for a while; it has finally swept into the sewer where it belongs.
 
Wherever it lands, I hope that it will be BIGGER! I'm sure you will have no trouble finding a workable solution. And I agree with the majority, better off without PlanetGout.

I'd pay for a subscription, too!
 
This eerily echoes a conversation I had after the London cartoonists' round-table, with Carol Bennett of Knockabout Comics. That there should be a way to charge people small amounts - like 10cents a time - to view web pages of artwork or comics. So the viewer hardly notices, but the mass potential of the web makes a decent income for the artist. Maybe a pre-payment lump sum? Anyway we agreed that there are probably much cleverer people than us right now working on the same idea. An alternative Paypal? Where are the geeks when you need them?

Good luck - there will be a way. Ask for donations, meantime. If ever there was a committed audience....
 
I'd rather pay to subscribe to an email, but I'd put up with ads on a blog, especially if I held the soothing belief that every ad was hand-picked by you. New strips held to support printed media's fine, too. Whatever works.
 
You might want to check out Keenspot.com, which hosts a number of independent webtoons, many of them daily strips (which they post *on time*, unlike some places we know), others which appear less frequently. They would probably consider it an honor to host a strip with such a wide and loyal readership as yours.
 
Oh, please please please don't take my DTWOF away from me! I'd totally pay for a subscription, it's the only way I'll get it!
 
Way, it would be awesome if you could get Dykes listed on Salon.com -- they definitely do comics, and they like a bit of sex now and then. And I already subscribe :-) Seriously, I bet you would get a ton of new readers! Could you try negotiating with them?

People who don't want to subscribe to Salon would have to actualy *watch* an add every day before they could get in, but at least paying money is optional. Money OR time, you get to pick. And it's only about $30 a year anyway, and you get excellent news service too.
They already have tom the dancing bug, the k chronicles, waylay & this modern world.

http://dir.salon.com/topics/comics/
 
When Bitter Girl was dropped from PO, I found it over at Lavender Magazine along with Curbside Boys. Maybe you can try talking with them if you haven't already?

*sigh* What will I do without my DTWOF dose?
 
Piled Higher and Deeper has its own stand-alone website, apparently funded by clickthroughs to the books and cafepress.com (which you get to if you click on any gear)

http://www.phdcomics.com/

http://www.phdcomics.com/book.htm

http://www.phdcomics.com/gear.htm
 
As a reader, I'm happy as long as I can find the strip on a regular basis — but I want Alison to get her due, too. I'd be willing to pay for DTWOF, or even to donate on the public television/Something Positive model. (If you don't know, Randy Milholland of Something Positive asked his readers to give him money so he could quit his day job and do his webcomic full-time, and to everyone's astonishment, including his, they (we) ponied up. I don't know whether that's a sustainable model, though.) I'd also be delighted if DTWOF were to land somewhere like Salon, which would undoubtedly give the strip a wider readership.

Is there any point in telling PlanetOut what a bonehead move this is for them? Like other folks, I only went there for DTWOF, but I did occasionally read other news and entertainment stories after I had gotten my Dykes fix. Do you think they would care that if they drop DTWOF they'll lose readers like me? (I'm an LGBT-friendly straight geek, and my wife and I support folks like Love Makes a Family here in Connecticut — so not quite PlanetOut's target audience, but not miles outside of it either.)

I just want do what I can to make sure I can keep reading about Mo's neuroses and Clarice's political angst, and that Alison can be paid enough to keep telling their stories!
 
Just another fan who would be happy to pay for subscription, email or otherwise.
 
Alyson, as an old white straight guy who loves the characters and storyline of DTWOF (I have all the books!) , I would be willing to kick in a monthly PayPal fee to be able to read the strip every month if you host it on your site.

The local (Boston) gay/lesbian paper, Bay Windows carries the strip, however, in the neighborhood where I live Mattapan, their distribution is nonexistent.

I've been reading the online version at PO for years, enduring the tiny images and the appalling way they broke up the strip.

Just keep in mind that, these days, the average monitor resolution is 1024 X 768. Please make the scans BIG and screen filling, so we can all enjoy the luscious little details of each panel, and demand that any online source that carries your strip does not screw with the resolution, like the clowns at PO did.

I think that, if you don't host it yourself, either Salon or Keenspot would be excellent sites for the strip.
 
I would not recommend either Keenspot or Lavendar Magazine. Keenspot does not update regularly and look at the terrible size that Lavender Press displays the comics it already has. Why bother?
 
Maybe altruistic, but some sites that I frequent get a good response by asking for donations from readers to keep things going. It allows those that can to donate, and those that can't to still have access.
 
Alison, I am very disappointed in PlanetOut's decision - and as a previous commenter said, I'll be taking PO off of my browser bookmarks as your strip was my main reason for visiting the site.

But hey, a one-stop shop for DTWOF wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing. Looking forward to more news on DTWOF's future home online.
 
Would be very willing to pay to subscribe. It's the only reason I go to PO.
 
The only reason I ever visited PO was to read your strip. I'd be very willing to pay for a subscription to DTWOF. I have no idea how you'd go about doing that... Sending out a password for access to the new strip when it's posted on yr site? I've been a fan since the beginning, and I want to support your work any way I can.
 
Also, something I would pay well for is a complete CD-ROM of all the existing comics. I own the books and have actually started hand-scanning them because I'm trying to get rid of as many as possible of my physical books, but it's a pain -- I would VERY happily pay for a scanned set of all the comics.
 
Out in the yard making compost today, I started thinking about who should pay how much for reading the strip. I saw 4 variables. Those of us who check more than once a day to see if a new strip's been posted, or if an interesting comment's hit the livejournal, would want to pay more. Those of us with a better income would want to pay more. Some of us would have different opinions about how much of Alison's income the online strip should be providing her. And, possibly, some of us would be interested in how much it WAS bringing in--maybe increasing our contributions if the total fell below some ideal point. Who would figure out what the optimum amounts for each of these factors would be (and keep us posted on how much was coming in each month, or year, or week)? Toni?
 
Thank god! I hated PlanetOut! This means I don't have to visit them ever again.

However, I hope you have a place to show your archive :( because I became a DTWOF reader by reading up on the archive. Every now and then I read them again just so I can see the hints that relationships are heading towards.
 
Tally another fan who

* has no other reason for visiting Planet Out

* will gladly fork over for a fortnightly fix

-- David in Cambridge
 
I too only look at Planet Out to read DTWOF and would be willing to pay something (but not much, I'm a poor student) to read it regularly in my inbox. But I have to say, as a city-phobe I have not seen Dykes in print in a newspaper in >10 years (since the Valley Advocate in Western Mass carried it). If anyone wants to do a public service and tell me what papers carry it and which ones might mail me a subscription out in the country, I would gladly support them. I love actual print in my hands ;)
 
Oh that is such a shame! I too also went to PO just to read the comics! (incidently, that was the first thing I would read when I had a subscription to the New Yorker - hmm... trend?) I also would GLADLY fork over some green to either access a website with DTWOF or better yet - have it delivered to my e-mail. I've been a loyal reader for what, 15 years? How long has it been - and I always get the books too - but I like my biweekly DTWOF Fix. WE'LL DO WHAT WE HAVE TO DO TO GET OUR MO!!
 
I have been checking this website out recently. Maybe they can help with putting the comic online, somehow?

http://www.prismcomics.org/index.php
 
Subscribe to off our backs, the 35 year old feminist news journal, for DTWOF in print, full size, easy to read. $35/year ($22.95 student) 2337B 18th St. NW, Washington DC 20009. You'll be glad you did.
 
I read James Kochalka's comic on his site at http://www.americanelf.com/ and I pay a dollar a month or something like that for it, automatically on my credit card. I'd gladly pay for your strip.
 
It sounds like you've received some good advice.

I LOVE the idea of a CD of the cartoons, and would pay a good bit for that kind of thing... especially if it were done well enough. Like, it be great if I could print them in the form of a card or poster, or whatever. DTWOF cartoons are often apropos.

As for the web ads, I used to work for a company that hosted a very popular web site. We never made very much money on web ads. I don't recommend it.
 
Personal comments aside, please consider the possibility of allowing people to view the strip for free -- consider it advertising -- with the yearly cost of publishing to be covered by an auction of your art (cost of item to be included in raffle.)

I like the idea of paying for the service, but loathe PayPal; I like the idea of having a chance to win original work; and I think a bit of profit could be made -- not a bad thing at all.

Have you checked out Lynda Barry's site? Or talked with her about possibilities?

Either way, this might be for the best.

Cheers,

ladiesbane (at) yahoo
 
You could also look into what Michael Jantze is doing over at http://www.thenorm.com/

He's got a subscription model going. I'm totally willing to pay.
 
Sorry to hear about PO dropping DYKES, but (as others have mentioned) it seems like comics are being phased out of that Web site in general. I love DYKES (obviously)...but also enjoy BITTER GIRL and A COUPLE OF GUYS, which I have followed to other Web sites. And in the process I've discovered other enjoyable strips like KYLES B&B, TROY, and others.

I definitely would follow DYKES to another site, and would pay for a subscription (as others also have mentioned). Perhaps you could make the comics accessible on your Web site on a subscription basis...but have the blog be open for free? And perhaps your site also could list newspapers and other publications where people can catch DYKES in print for those who cannot afford an online subscription? Just a thought....

- Mike, a longtime 30something gay fan but recent blog and LiveJournal poster
 
I get Lesbian Connection (sliding scale subscription) to get four DTWOF strips at a time. Also, its a great magazine! And then of course there's the book collections...
 
Oh, how sad! PO was my primary source of DTWOF.

I do occasionally read it in "Lesbian News" (Los Angeles' rag of a dyke publication) when I remember to get a copy, so there's still that.

DTWOF is pretty much the only reason I'd look at either source, though, and I'm partial to getting my media online. I'm on the Livejournal community, but I was under the impression that the moderator was reprinting from PO, so I don't know what will happen now.

All this said - if you host, I'd be glad to subscribe. I've been reading the strip ever since I came out in 1990, and it means a lot to me.

--Chaia
 
Hello! I'm not a part of the community, but someone near and dear to me is, and turned me on (read: addicted me) to DTWOF. I would never otherwise visit Planet Out, and I'm pretty far from the nearest store that stocks the books, so the web has been my lifeline (read: pusher). If there was a subscription, I'd buy. I'd also download entire books, if they were available online. I guess your publisher wouldn't like that, eh?
 
I'm another who only went to PO to get your strip. I'd pay for a sub or do the donation thang, whatever works. Thanks for keeping me going by doing the strip.
 
I'd pay to subscribe.

Or -

Put it on iTunes as a paid subscription.

I know, I know, it's not a Tune, it's a Toon, but it must be doable

Betty
Minneapolis
 
I definitely recommend a CafePress store, I want me some DTWOF T-shirts and mugs and posters and cards and postcards and christmas cards and and.

I'd be happy to do a subscription to the site (there are interesting options- Daily Kos has an option to subscribe to the site and NOT see the BlogAds, so he gets both ad and subscription revenue) and it really is a very good idea to have a PayPal button up on your site in case anyone passing through simply feels like giving you some cash. Honestly. No one can do it if the button isn't there.

I do my own web site, and I also publish my own books. My web site is the ONLY place to buy my books and people definitely don't mind. In fact they love it, and every sale is full retail for me.

Happy to help in any way-

Kate
 
I hadn't realized that they stopped and have been checking back and checking back for the new strip....I would pay for a subscription.

Sophia
 
It's absolutely bizarre that they would drop you. I've been waiting for the next DTWOF for weeks now! Thank you for keeping us red-state hostages, denuded of a Queer press, able to read your work!

Brighid
 
i feel like a doofus. i've been checking back for some time wondering, "What the hell is Bechdel doing?" it wasn't until i logged on to the message boards expecting some tragedy and alas, read that it was being taken off PlanetOut. honestly, DTWOF was the only thing that got me to continue going to that site. now this trannyqueer never has to go to PlanetOut again.
 
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