What Is zco.mx?
zco.mx is a curated not-for-profit comic-sharing website for self-publishing cartoonists and their readers. The site brings cartoonists together to build and share an audience, and readers can contribute money directly to cartoonists for works they enjoy. zco.mx offers a platform where self-publishing cartoonists can make their material available to readers with a simple-to-use user interface and where books can be uploaded within minutes.
zco.mx was created around the idea of goodwill and inspired by the comics communities that are formed through events such as SPX, TCAF, CAB and CAKE.
The Whole Is Greater Than the Sum of Its Parts
zco.mx is excited to have a variety of stories, genres and styles from different cartoonists available on one site. We hope that by building this community, readers will be motivated to give back and support cartoonists and their work. People can contribute in many ways: donating money, blogging, posting comments on social media, and recommending cartoonists' work to others.
Most paper and digital comics use the "buy before you try" model, where buyers purchase a book without knowing exactly what they're getting. In general, this means that sellers depend on marketing to overcome a buyer's reluctance to purchase unfamiliar content.
zco.mx hopes to use the appeal of a "try before you buy" model, which cartoonists are already using when posting work online or giving it away for free. Many comics are digitized and available on P2P networks, which is appealing to readers because they can try the material before purchasing. If a book is great, the reader can decide to purchase a paper copy. The goal is to develop a readership first and create secondary streams of income through paper copy sales, collectable items and commissions.
If self-publishing cartoonists worked together, the "try before you buy" method could generate a huge amount of goodwill and community support. zco.mx offers a platform for this exchange, including ways to support cartoonists' work directly.
It can be tedious for readers to track new releases from their favourite cartoonists when the material is presented in different locations (some on personal blogs, some on Tumblr pages, some on small/micro-press sites, etc.) We hope to make accessing the material simple, convenient and familiar, to make the experience for the reader as seamless as possible.
Leveraging File Sharing Communities
Comic file sharing communities have been around since the '90s. They have a tried-and-tested method for distributing digital material. The community has momentum and numbers. Cartoonists could take part in this community and mirror their methods, by using consistent and familiar file names and formats (such as cbz files) and P2P networks (such as BitTorrent and Direct Connect) for distribution. The community will give back. They will report mistakes and issues, such as missing pages or corrupt files, and cartoonists can gain instant readership if work catches on.
zco.mx is easy to use and provides howtos for common tasks to ease the learning curve for cartoonists wanting to publish digitally for the first time. This includes instructions on the following:
- Information regarding images
- Scanning and Photoshop
- Backing up files
- Setting up a Paypal Micropayments account
- Copyright licencing
To maximize the return for cartoonists, zco.mx is not-for-profit. This helps create goodwill. Readers can support cartoonists knowing that their payments are going directly to them, and not to a middleman. The intention is to connect cartoonists and readers, not to benefit developers.
Site administrators donate their time and the site accepts donations, which are used to offset hosting costs. Any surplus is put towards the site and its community. The site code is open source and made available on github, so the community has an opportunity to contribute features and bug fixes.
The current copyright law only serves a handful of people. It is broken and because of this black/grey markets appear. The Creative Commons (CC) licenses are a set of public copyright licenses that work within the boundaries of copyright law to enable the free distribution of an otherwise copyrighted work.
A CC license is used when an author wants to give people the right to share, use, and possibly build upon a work that they have created. Different CC licences provide an author with the flexibility on how people can make use of their work. The licenses protect those people who use or redistribute an author's work from concerns of copyright infringement as long as they abide by the conditions that are specified in the license the author chooses.
A chart summarizing the different CC licences can be found here. A summary of the Creative Commons FAQ can be found here.