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Indie Comics Zone interview with Saurabh Bhatia of Comix.one

Indie Comics Zone interview with Saurabh Bhatia of Comix.one

There are a bunch of great folks who are working in the indie comics scene today. Among them is Saurabh Bhatia, the creative mind behind the website Comix.one. His site, which is fully open for business, offers creators a different venue to promote and sell their comic books, graphic novels, manga and more. I interviewed Saurabh several weeks ago, and could not publish the interview (which we did on Zoom) until now. I started a new job and had to figure things out before I could get back to working on Indie Comics Zone.

So, now, after many, many weeks, here’s my interview with Saurabh. You can watch it here, and read it below. Saurabh’s site is now live, and even though we did the interview before the site was launched, he spoke about many of the features that are available to all creators — now. I hope you enjoy!

INDIE COMICS ZONE:
Hi this is Eric with Indie Comics Zone. I’m here with Saurabh from Comics One and I’m really happy to have him here with me to talk about what he’s got going on on his site. That is www.comix.one. Tell us a little bit about the site and and how you got started.

SAURABH BHATIA:
Absolutely. Thank you for introducing me Eric and I’m really glad to be here today my name is Saurabh. I’m based in Sydney, Australia for all places.

My background is I’m both a software developer and and also comics lover. I also write a lot so I have published books and books and short stories. I have written a comic as well which I published … which I crowdfunded through Kickstarter with a bunch of other people.

While I was doing that I found a lot of things that I think can be improved from the creator side as an experience of creating a comic book … bringing it to life and then selling it after.

Kickstarter ends your crowdfunding campaign. What usually happens is when when people go on crowdfunding platforms and post their work there they do get volume of sales at that point.

But after your crowdfunding ends, everything kind of just fizzles out a little bit. A lot of times people have asked me where can I buy a book and I’m like “Yeah I know… it’s an anthology.” So I don’t really know where to buy it anymore and things like that.

So that’s how that’s that was the genesis of the idea. I wanted comics to have longevity and wanted people to know creators produce a lot of work. They’re continuously producing that [and that] just like takes it toll.

I want people to be able to sell their existing catalogs and raise funds for their next crowdfunding campaign [or] next project.

Basically, they still need to go through the crowdfunding route, which I totally respect and I agree that it’s a good way to de-risk a lot of your sales. You get the initial attraction but beyond that, they need they need to keep selling their stuff.

So, Comix.one is an end-to-end ecosystem for comic books, specifically focused on indie and small press. But, if you’re an individual comic book creator, this is the place for you.

To start with it’s a Marketplace for indie comics, where you can come and sell your back catalog, but eventually we’ll have crowdfunding. So, you will have like a full life-cycle of comics you can come and create and bring your projects to life and then sell it on the marketplace, once your crowdfunding ends.

INDIE COMICS ZONE:
Awesome! So you’re going to be end-to-end support for somebody who’s trying to put their work out there for for the audience? Well, that’s great.

I go to a lot of conventions here in the United States and one of the top questions when I meet people is “How do I get it printed?” And “How do I get it funded?” so your solution would be really helpful.

SAURABH BHATIA:
Yeah absolutely. I have spoken to different people at length and printing is definitely one thing where people are always confused which is the best printer… who gives the best quality and who can ship out on time and those kind of things.

Now a lot of people actually don’t know that there’s a lot of good printers especially in the U.S. available for who can drop ship your work you know and you don’t have to go through the hassle of packing everything.

It’s not really hassle at times for a lot of crowdfunding campaign creators. It’s a token of love … they write individual messages well while packing their comics. But drop shipping can help especially when you’re going to other markets outside the U.S. as well. If you’re shipping to Canada or U.K. or maybe even Australia.

INDIE COMICS ZONE:
Tell me… your the site now if you go there, it says sign up to be notified about the launch. What’s going to happen? Tell me about the launch…

SAURABH BHATIA:
So, launch is coming up in the next week or two. We are testing the final instead of features where people can actually buy this stuff and then get it in the inboxes directly.

The launch is basically our initial cohort of creators who who have signed up and their catalog and over the next two weeks, I’ll be posting a lot of updates with these creators and highlight their work — how awesome they are and who they are. Essentially, the launch is pretty simple.

We’ll [give] creators the ability to start getting paid they will be activated and you can start buying their stuff. It’s as simple as that.

INDIE COMICS ZONE:
Gotcha! I went through [your site] and I poked around. When they pay, does the user get an email with a PDF? How exactly does that work?

SAURABH BHATIA:
Yes. So, a user gets an email with the PDF. They can also look at it in the dashboard. Those links are going to stay there forever, so they can download it, if they lose it

It’s there for them at a later point of time as well. And the plan is to actually create a reader as well so they can actually read in browser if they want to. It’s not possible at the moment, but it’s in works.

I’ve also hired a developer a mobile developer to make a mobile app for it.

INDIE COMICS ZONE:
So, they’ll have their library that they paid for on the app [and] can view the titles on your app?

SAURABH BHATIA:
Yes, absolutely.

INDIE COMICS ZONE:
Hw does how do you fit in with the big changes… Comixology is kind of collapsed and there’s a lot of talk about Webtoons. Some people are pulling their titles off Webtoons for all sorts of reasons.

Global Comics is ramping up and now and you guys are in the race now. How do you fit into to what’s happening in the [overall] indie comic scene?

SAURABH BHATIA:
Well, we are we are the new kid on the block at the moment. Global Comics has been there for a while and they’re really nice. The key difference between Global Comics and us is that I personally feel like there are successes very closely tied to the creator’s success on the platform. That’s primarily because of the business model.

We don’t have subscriptions. We don’t have readers paying some monthly fee and then creators get paid on based on the views, which is slightly different to how Global Comics works.

For us, creators get paid directly so, but as soon as a reader buys a comic, the creator gets paid 85% of the total value and we we keep the 15% on the platform. It’s completely free forever

All the features are free to use. No creator has to ever pay to come on the platform and use it. They have their own sale. They can give us feedback direct [which] can improve the platform

They can help us make it better … make it more usable for them. Also, as a reader, [they] can actually tell us what’s working for them and what’s not.

So, in a nutshell, the idea is that we want to be the most creative, friendly platform and the way we fit in is our success is very closely tied to the creators — if they make more money, we make more money. If they don’t make money, then we don’t make money. As simple as that.

INDIE COMICS ZONE:
So, how many titles do you have on here just for your big launch?

SAURABH BHATIA:
We have close to 25 at the moment, but we have already lined up a few more … an equal number. We have 25 more coming up in the next few weeks. We’re going to add new books every week from some of the creators who already have some some social media following.

All these creators are all vetted at the moment. We want to work with really good people who have really good history of creating not just good comic books but they’re also good human beings. We don’t want to get bad actors on the platform and we want to keep it nice and friendly for everyone.

INDIE COMICS ZONE:
If someone watches this and they say “I want to see that comic book — the one that you created!” Is that going to be available on Comix.one?

SAURABH BHATIA:
[Laughs] I’m not entirely sure of that to be honest! It’s a shame! It’s a long story… so one of the creators who was actually working with… he produced the final. He was the lead producer on the comic and he unfortunately passed away and last year and obviously he had all the rights and everything.

So, I don’t want to revisit that just out of respect for that person. And maybe create something new. I’m actually creating a new series myself and I will definitely launch itself.

INDIE COMICS ZONE:
Well, it sounds cool. Now, on the site you talk about a community… tell me a little bit about the community. I’m sure that’s going to kind of get fleshed out as the site is unveiled talk to me about the community aspect.

SAURABH BHATIA:
Absolutely. The community aspect of this is we want people to be have a place on the internet where people solely talk about indie comics. The initial plan is to actually have creators post their stuff similar to how they do it on Patreon, but they people can follow their favorite creators and they can see updates from them on a timeline. So, creators can do things like what if they want to test a page, and see you know if does this page generate a buzz or not. Does it resonate with people or not?

Specific panels and you know things like that or even like things like story ideas and stuff you know so readers and their fans can actually say have a little say in their comic book.

The other aspect is we’re working with a few influencers to to actually get comic book creators to get their books reviewed and you know they can actually just access people from the community to go and say podcasts like yourself you know and and get their books reviewed and things like that.

Because if you have a crowdfunding campaign coming up that’s the hardest part for most people. They want to do their marketing in PR and promotion themselves, and a lot of times it’s just a matter of… say if I have a list of podcasts that I can contact to be on you know to promote my book that would be extremely helpful. So, the starting point is just curating a list of these these podcasts and people who can actually help comic book creators getting their message out.

I have a lot of ideas. I don’t want to get ahead of myself and promise things that I can’t deliver it in six months time.

INDIE COMICS ZONE:
Gotcha! Those are all the questions I had, and I’m really happy that we were able to get together so I apologize for all the delays and everything…

SAURABH BHATIA:
I always keep telling this to everyone — life happens first so you worry about life first everything else comes later.

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