By Madeline Ricchiuto
The minds behind the popular YouTube channel ComicBookGirl19, the eponymous ComicBookGirl19 and Tyson Wheeler hosted a panel about their pop-culture, art, movies, and comics review show on YouTube. The duo revealed that they are starting to do documentary films on Vimeo on Demand, and plan on moving more of their content over to VOD.
The show has been going for three years now. “YouTube is a place where no one can tell us no,” CBG19 said about their show.
Wheeler used to make his own movies, when CBG19 suggested, “Why don’t we just get me drunk and talk about X-Men?” Which how they got their start on YouTube. They started for fun and became successful by accident.
When talking about their start, Wheeler poked some fun at his co-creator. “I want to point out that she was really untrained when we started,” he said. “I have footage of her first show and she’s just shaking like a leaf… I really want to release some of that footage so people can see that you can get better at something like that.”
CBG19 went to art school and after years of trying to break into comics, became a tattoo artist for five years. During the first year of the show, she was still working full-time as a tattoo artist, while Wheeler worked as a freelance filmmaker. After that first year they made a Kickstarter, CBG19 quit her job to rep the campaign. The Kickstarter was very successful, and they have been working on the YouTube channel ever since. It is hard work, they assure us.
“We are known for pretty high production values, so high that we are not consistent. Which is the number one sin on YouTube,” Wheeler said.
They described their show as more like a TV show “that we wanted to watch.”
“We had no idea about anything” CBG19 said, citing Mad Men as the closest thing she had to a business education. “We have been kind of fumbling in the dark … Sometimes I have meetings with these larger companies, but they know even less than we do.”
YouTube itself is run by Google at a loss, which is why Wheeler and CBG19 are diversifying to Vimeo as no one knows where YouTube will be in a few years. Although its unlikely that Google will let the company fail, since it is still a powerful tool, even if it isn’t quite successful financially.
The duo did well with the Kickstarter, but they noted some other creators put too much into their incentives, which can use up all their money. They warned future Kickstarters to not put too many incentives into their pitches. Creating merchandise is a lot of work and is very expensive. It took about seven months for CBG19 to get all their incentives out, which took time away from the videos.
YouTubers make little-to-no money off YouTube itself, so they often have to find other ways to make generate income. Kickstarter does not supplement their cashflow forever, and doing additional campaigns subtracts time away from making the show. Thus, the CBG19 team are trying to push for video on demand, because then the content will help pay for itself.
“We have some large projects that we’re working toward. We want to be known as the people who transitioned from YouTube to doing documentaries and from there to a narrative show,” said Wheeler. “All artists need goals. Something you can see a path to even if it’s a fantasy.”
“[Video On Demand] is the future,” CGB19 insisted “in two-to-three years, everyone is going to be on VOD.”
Beyond money matters, CBG19 said she had a hard time giving up her anonymity. “You just want to be somewhere sometimes,” she said, “Be an observer. There’s a lot of weird stuff that comes with fame.”
“YouTube is all fun and games until you have over 20,000 subscribers,” Wheeler said. Then come the trolls. “You do read the comments, because they’re there and anything you read has an influence on you… always ignore the negative, but respond to the positive. The most dangerous comment is the one you think everyone believes.”
Doubt is often the toughest thing to fight, especially if a troll manages to strike that nerve, but CBG19 said it is important not to give into it. “We all have that, especially women. We have a problem with perfectionism.”
“Don’t be afraid to mess up and make mistakes,” she added.
As for the trolls, she said, “I allow myself two troll comments a year to talk back to. It helps me feel better about not letting people talk sh*t to me.”
“You should have people talking bad about you. It means you’re doing something good,” added Wheeler.