A Word… On T-Shirts

High and low upon these Nets of Inter virtue have I scoured looking for things to buy with the money I don’t have, but sadly my list of items is limited to wearable wisecracks in the form of T-shirts. Now, let it be known I am no stranger to these items of cloth and color nor am I philistine enough to denounce their good qualities, but I am still left a bit miffed in their abundant presence.

They are the mass product of choice in online stores of every comic of every nature. They come in all sizes, styles, colors, and designs and their supply never does seem to run low (much unlike my patience).

Of course, I know what you’re thinking, oh diligent creator… You have a comic online and you’re looking for a creative way to get some extra scratch on the side to keep it going. I understand. We’ve all been there, but for heaven’s sake, T-shirts are not the only answer. For instance: Do I not have boorish looking items in need of jazzing up with tiny entertaining pictures (possibly equipped with an adhesive backing)? Are my walls not barren and sad in their lack of posterific pizzazz? Are not my keys lacking a suitable chain? Do I not lack pose able toys with which to play? When I place a cold beverage on my coffee table does not the condensation leave a wet ring of destruction?

Indeed, I say to you uncreative creators, these are all needs your product’s likenesses can fill for a profitable fee! Wardrobes become filled. Fashions are subject to change. Shirts can become funky and faded. Let not all your eggs reside in a single woven receptacle. Your public can not survive upon T-shirts alone!

Many of you have been blessed with the strength, longevity, and fortitude to sponsor book(s) of your own strip in order to be sold in the infinite internet market. To each and every one of you I tip my cap and salute, but these in conjunction with the insipid T-shirts are still not enough.

“But, mighty Pookey, T-shirts are all I know. What else can my characters’ likenesses be printed on?”

Dear creator, my list of basic needs is above. If you can not fill those or would prefer to be even more different from the rest, be creative. Think of new things that you can forge and sell to your readers. Speaking as a reader/consumer, we appreciate creative products, and if we have any money at all we will buy ANYTHING (that is clever).

Be creative! Don’t forget about T-shirts altogether, but let not the shirts be your store’s master!


10 thoughts on “A Word… On T-Shirts

  1. While I agree that stickers, posters, buttons, etc. are cool and creative ways to merchandise your property, they\’re simply not profitable. At least, not as profitable as T-shirts.

    I think tchotchkis like buttons and posters are nice when sold as \”packages\”. Say, fifteen or twenty bucks will net you a T-shirt along with some buttons and a poster.

    But selling posters, coasters, key rings and other miscellaneous items in place of a T-shirt probably won\’t make the creator near as much money. Unless it\’s limited edition stuff and the price is marked up higher. Then \”maybe\” the creator can make a decent amount of scratch.

    – Wes

  2. At conventions such easily peddled trinkets are a great source of income and further promotion. But I wouldn\’t bother shipping them unless, as Wes said, it came in a package or bundle.

    I\’m suprised how few posters or bookmarks have permeated the online market.

  3. Think about the basic needs of humans… food, shelter, clothing. As you can see, tshirts are the only webcomic merch that fall into any of those categories. Which is why I\’m here to propose a new tool in webcomic marketing…

    Webcomic fast food! That\’s right, sign up today and become a manager of your very own ComicBurger franchise! Who could in their right mind could turn down a delicious McNinjaburger? Or you could stop on by early in the weekend for some delicious Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal! And, for those willing to take only the biggest risks in life, the Questionable Content mystery meal or the Blank Label combo (no ingredients or health facts here, folks!). And of course, it\’s not all junk, we also offer some nutricious deserts, such as Butternut Squash, a large bowl of canteloupe… the Melonpool.

    So… who\’s with me?

  4. Why t-shirts? Because aside from books they\’re the only item that seems to sell (and believe me I\’ve tried just about every item imaginable).

  5. The other advantage of tees is that they are much easier to store than say, mugs. Not fragile, stack flat, not too heavy and don\’t have a big footprint so you don\’t have a room full of stuff to hang onto if they don\’t move as quickly as you might like.

    There are good options like CafePress for the print on demand market. I had a very successful shop with my Very Secret Diaries merchandise during it\’s popularity. The advantage of course is that there\’s no cost outlay and there\’s no storage issues. The cons is that your profit margin is much lower.

    The smaller items are a great idea but shipping is always going to be prohibitive for them, so they are better as a promotional \’extra\’. They can be effective to drive traffic to your online stores where folks may choose to pick up additional items to \’fill out\’ a shipment too.


  6. They are cheap to produce.
    They sell well.
    There is a decent profit margin on them.
    They sell well.
    It\’s good advertising for your comic.
    And they sell well.

    What\’s everyone\’s problem with Tees?

  7. Hey Scott?

    Didn\’t you do a successful run of Skull plushies? Would you be willing to comment on those vs shirts, so people can have a first hand account of the pros and cons? I know I was tempted to buy one but they disappeared dang fast. I expect the initial outlay must be huge vs a shirt, not to mention the prototype process.

    Thanks for your time.

  8. Gotta join the chorus here. While I agree that it is important to diversify, t-shirts are the most practical sollution for anyone looking to make a little extra money and advertise their work at the same time.

    I\’ve done posters and they\’ve sold okay. I\’ve done buttons in packages of five (so I can mail them) and they sold poorly. T-shirts sell best.

    What I wouldn\’t kill to have the disposable income to produce action figures or other irregular items. But that\’s why they\’re irregular. Not everyone can afford to spec them out.

    T-shirts on the other hand… hell, I could screen a few in my own garage if I wanted.

  9. I agree with Lar.

    Scott, I bought one of them plushies immediately for the girlfriend just before they sold out.

    Perhaps you could tell us about the logistics of how you produced and sold them.

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