Barbra J. Dillon, Fanboy Comics Managing Editor: As the creator of Tapastic.com, what was the inspiration for this organization?
Chang Kim: I’m a huge fan of webcomics but was getting frustrated by the experience I had to go through to read everything I enjoyed. I had to bookmark each individual website, remember when each one updated, and keep track of where I was if I was trying to catch up on a new title I had found for starters. As a former Google Product Manager on Blogger, I knew that this user experience could be improved to benefit both readers and independent creators.
BD: Tapastic provides a variety of promotional assistance options to indie creators by acting as an open platform for visual storytelling. What is the best process for indie creators to take advantage of these opportunities, and how would you describe fan reaction thus far?
CK: We've helped individual creators get press beyond what they usually have access to on their own, and we are super active in social media interacting with, retweeting, reblogging, and sharing their content to the entire readership of Tapastic at large. The best way for creators to take advantage is to remain active or become active in promoting themselves. The next step is to keep us in the loop by talking about what they do within our community (on our forums and through Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and more tagging the larger network using @tapastic or #tapastic). The more they do and the more they share, the more there is for us to share with press about their stories and the more there is for us to shout out to the larger community.
BD: Is it possible for creators to sell their work through Tapastic?
CK: We know this is an area that’s very important to independent creators, because it’s part of how they support themselves. Currently, product and digital sales for independent creators is in much of the same state as reading independent digital comics. Everyone has a different setup that they use and prefer. We’re looking at how other artist communities like DeviantArt, a variety of digital content brands, and independent creators solve this problem to find a better solution before launching something within the platform. Creators can sell their work by providing links to their products on third party e-commerce platforms in description boxes, on their profile page, and in comments. In the meantime, we’re still keeping the needs of creators to sell their digital and physical work in mind as we update our platforms.
BD: How did the creative team behind your organization come together, and how would you describe the creative process involved with maintaining such a successful enterprise?
CK: Our team at Tapastic is very unique. We have a mixture of team members we were introduced to through 500 Startups’ network. We also developed a connection with Berkeley through the Haas Business School and found our community and foreign content team members through various organizations within the school. Newer members became involved through the ELAB at San Jose State University nearby. A lot of fostering the right creative process is choosing the right people. They need to naturally come together to form an atmosphere that reflects their creativity and ambitions. A lot of building the team is about good old fashion chemistry.
BD: Many independent creators have viewed web and digital comics as a revolutionary way to make their leap into the comic book industry. What are your thoughts on digital comics and their presence in the industry?
CK: Digital comics are only becoming a stronger market. As all levels of creators better understand the low production and distribution cost, more and more are trying their hand at it. Unfortunately, unlike the web, building your own app isn’t as accessible or inexpensive as having your own site, which can still have great limitations if you are not tech savvy. You also have to deal with gatekeepers like Apple. We hope to give an opportunity for independents to take advantage of modern technologies in distribution as they emerge.
BD: What is the most important piece of advice that you can offer to independent creators who aspire to work in the comic book industry?
CK: Hard work, consistency, and networking. While Tapastic is not an overnight sensation scheme, it is a type of accelerator. Tapastic provide opportunities for creators to step forward and be found by a community of users looking specifically for comics content. Many of our creators, like Devin Bosco Le, came from more modest readership to double or more in 3 months of publishing on Tapastic. Just like anywhere else, creators must prove the quality of their work and reliability by posting on a regular schedule; however, we provide greater sharing tools and a growing network within the comics industry. We’ve spoken with independent publishing houses for physical books who have been impressed by the quality of both the platform itself and our community’s comic content.
BD: On that same note, which creators have inspired your work?
CK: Over the past year of getting Tapastic up and running it may sound cheesy, but it’s our own creators who inspire me the most. I particularly enjoy The Best of PhD Comics (so I can understand all my PhD friends' jokes), Fisheye Placebo (the most amazing art you can find anywhere in the world of webcomics), and Moonlight Hair (the office favorite!). Outside of Tapastic, I’ve been inspired by entrepreneurs in the webcomic space like The Oatmeal, whose tenacity, savvy, and humor are great examples.
BD: Are there any exciting updates or plans in the works for Tapastic that you would like to share with our readers?
CK: We just introduced our new reading experience, “Pageless,” on Tapastic.com. While we started with a more traditional approach of clicking through episodes one at a time, we always wanted to update the experience of reading comics to modern content trends like infinite scrolling, but adapt it to the comics medium. That’s what Pageless is. After launching Pageless, we immediately saw a rise in the number of episodes readers consumed and the amount of series added to reading lists. Our next updates will focus on the mobile experiences and building a more interactive community.
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell fans who want to learn more about Tapastic?