Oh, I completely agree with you! When the first Incubator Program came out, there were a lot of questions about it, and Tapas wasn't as open and transparent about their process at the time. I definitely think there were some PR mistakes made and misunderstandings that probably could have been avoided.
Before Incubator, Archia (my artist half of VVBG) and I had made our money from self-publishing. We did a LOT of reading before deciding to sign on with Tapas, about publishing practices, rights sharing, as well as horror stories of what happened when contracts went wrong. I definitely know creators who’ve had publishing deals fall through, and when you’re an independent creator, it’s only right to be wary.
I urge everyone to always do their own research, and before you sign any contract, make sure you understand and are comfortable with all the terms!!
Tapas is a small start-up; as of their newsfeed post in July 2018, the team consists of 24 full-time employees. They’re all young people who love comics. The company has only been around since 2012 and it’s US-based, and what they’re trying to achieve is to make digital comics a viable industry in the West, the way that the webtoon has revolutionized South Korean entertainment.
So, mistakes were definitely made before - but as we can see from the actions they’ve taken to rectify things, Tapas is committed to being open and transparent, and they’re always striving to improve.
Although print comics have been around for ages, and there’s an established Western comics industry, what Tapas (and also Line Webtoons) is trying to achieve is brand new.
There’s a great Comics Journal article about the Korean webtoon format, history, and impact in S. Korea in the last decade that you can check out here. It’s very enlightening about the goals for digital comics companies as they try to break into the Western market - as well as the possibilities for the industry in the future!
Like we said before, Incubator Program is a new model. There’s really not much precedent for the things they’re trying to accomplish in the current Western market. But you can read about their goals and what deals they have managed to broker for creators in an interview with Tapas CEO Chang Kim.
Archia and I are independent creators; we’ve self-published in the past, and we probably will do self-publishing for our personal projects in the future. I’m sharing my experiences here because we’re members of the first Incubator Class, and we’ve been working with Tapas staff for a year now.
I also want to look out for other talented creators, which is why I’ve chosen to be vocal about how positive it’s been. But of course, you don’t need to take my word for it! Please reach out to other Premium and Incubator creators, and see what they have to say.
In summation, everyone: do your research, consider your options, and make informed decisions!