You've probably noticed a lot of Comics web sites advertising in Spider-Man comics over the last few months. One of them was PsyComics, who took out a number of full page ads.
Well, on PsyComics' home page, you'll find the following statement right now:
To Psycomic Users:
www.psycomics.com will be concluding operations this month. The site will be available, in its present state, but it will not be updated. This will allow you the opportunity to browse the features that already exist on the site. We very much appreciate all of the support you have shown the site over the past months.
Sixty seconds earlier, in another window, I had been surfing at www.anotheruniverse.com. That's another big name, whose web site currently features the following text:
Dear Fans and Customers -
We are in the midst of being acquired and until the process is finished we will not be shipping merchandise, nor keeping the site updated. Creation Entertainment was acquired today and will be doing business as usual. Cinescape Magazine will continue to do business as usual as well.
If you have ordered product, your credit card will not be charged if the product has not been sent. If you have sent cash and your order cannot be fulfilled, we have you on record and will be refunding your money.
From all of those who kept the site going and from all of those in the Virginia warehouse, we thank you for your patronage over the years.
The recent dot.com madness spawned a lot of comics sites, featuring a wealth of industry news, new comics and comic-related sales, with interviews, live chats, bulletin boards... the works. Not surprisingly, not all of them managed to generate sufficient revenue to keep afloat. That's a story which has happened all over the Internet, and there's no reason that the comics business should be immune.
Heck, they're in good company... even companies run by experienced hands like Stan Lee have sunk with little trace, his Stan Lee Media being another casualty of Internet Reality.
That's the commercial site, but what about the fans? Well, I've just been cleaning out my Links Page, and I've removed a ton of dead links from the fan pages too.
When the Internet hit the big time, in the late 1990's, every man, woman and child wanted to have a web site. Spidey pages grew like weeds after a rainstorm. What many failed to realise was the huge gap between throwing up a web page, and the far more demanding task of creating and maintaining a high-quality site on a continuing basis.
I would estimate that 90% the Spidey Pages I saw created in 1994-2001 were inactive and abandoned within six months, most sooner.
So what will survive? On the commercial side, the same sorts of sites that will survive the next couple of years in any line of business. Professional sites with sound business practice and sound long term planning. Sites that offer great service. Sites with enough cash to invest in advertising and survive until their business is self-sustaining.
As for the fan sites? Well, a lot of the best sites have gone commercial. Places like Fandom and Spider-Man Hype are there for the cash. With the impetus provided by the movie trilogy, they should be around for a few years. Many of those webmasters started out for fun, but got tempted by the offers of commercial affiliation and advertising dollars.
As for those that do it for love? Well, I'd like to think that the non-affiliated sites that will stick it out are those like this one. Sites run by a solid team, who have been collecting Spidey for many years. Guys who do it because... "With great bandwidth comes great responsibility!"