You desperately want the comic book superstar lifestyle, and all the perks that go along with it: legions of adoring fans, billions of dollars, several vacation homes, and your own private jet.
Not to mention the bevy of beautiful supermodels that will be swarming you wherever you go (OK, now you know I’ve gone too far, but you get the picture).
You know what you want, you have the talent, and you’re ready to rock.
But there is just one tiny obstacle in your way: you need to get your foot in the door with one of the ‘Big Two’.
Without question, you almost HAD to figure out a way to get Marvel or DC to notice you before you could get noticed at all, by any fan.
You had to somehow (I honestly have no idea how) get someone to realize your artistic brilliance, and hand-pick you from the tens of thousands of other pencilers, inkers and writers that were desperately fighting for every possible position (and you can bet those were few and far between). And art is very subjective, so you can bet politics played – and still do play – a large part in this process.
You can also imagine that along with hard work and talent, a LOT of luck had to be on your side, as well as a hell of a lot of personal connections.
But wait, there was ANOTHER path towards comic book superstardom: self publish!
All you had to do was create your comic, and then print it.
Which, of course, cost anywhere from $1.00 to $1.75 per book, depending on your print run, paper quality, color, etc.
Then you had to get Diamond Distributing, the middle-men who get your book into comic stores, to put your comic in their catalog…there goes another huge chunk of cash.
And THEN you had to get fans familiar with your book, which meant thousands of dollars in print advertising, or getting a booth in as many conventions as you could afford (again, we’re talking thousands including travel, lodging…it goes on and on).
The result? Sell maybe 10,000 – 15,000 copies or more, and maybe, if you’re lucky, you can BREAK EVEN on your massive investment.
Feeling powerless, afraid and alone? You’re not the only one. This near-impossible mathematic equation has broken more than a few independent comic creators over the last several decades.
You create a comic, and all of a sudden you don’t need to have a contact at Marvel or DC.
You don’t have to pay Image thousands of dollars to put their ‘i’ logo on the cover of your book. And you don’t have to sell your soul to an evil demonic creature from a perilous hell dimension (or whatever Rob Leifeld did to get famous).
You just throw your creation on the web, and BOOM – you’re a comic book creator.
No one knows who you are? No problemo.
Get social. Twitter, Facebook, Buzz, Deviant Art…you can get noticed any number of ways. Do you have 10 friends on Facebook? Send them a link, and ask them to read and share. If it’s good, it will go viral.
The bottom line is that if you have an Internet connection, you can get eyeballs on your work.
But what about the cash?
How are you going to pay for your Lamborghini Diablo and the mansion in Beverly Hills? How are you going to afford to date a Victoria’s Secret supermodel (or one of those hunky guys from this past season of Bachelor Pad…am I right, ladies?)
Surely you aren’t going to get paid for putting a free comic online.
If you build a following first, you can do a number of things to make money:
Kickstarter allows you to gather donations before you even put out your book. People love your digital stuff? Pay a few dollars and you’ll ship them a printed copy. Some people on Kickstarter have gathered $1000, $5000, or even $10,000+ in a matter of HOURS to fund their creative projects.
There are a number of online publishers that will sell your digital book for a small fee. Or just get a merchant account and charge with PayPal on your very own website.
Sell T-Shirts. Sell action figures. Sell ANYTHING. If you’ve built a small, rabid fan base, the members of your tribe will follow, and won’t mind shelling out a few dollars here or there to be a part of it.
Will you ever sell 120,000 copies at $2.99 a pop like a top-ranked Marvel or DC book? Possibly not. But can you get a couple thousand people to pay $1, or even a whopping $2 a month?
With the right strategy and a quality product, it’s a very real possibility
The future of comics is fast approaching. No Delorean required.
Marvel and DC, for the foreseeable future, will dominate the sales charts. And with good reason: they have some great characters, exciting stories, and talented people in their camp.
But as iPads, digital comics and social media continually make life easier for the independent comic creator, their empire will slowly crumble. Fresh new projects will continue to circulate, and spread with greater ease.
And the day is coming that the Big Two almost certainly dread: the time where YOUR comic book will be alongside theirs, and a reader can simply press a button to choose which title to purchase.
When you factor out shelf space, printing costs, and the middle men, you’re left with who has the better art, the more compelling story, and the greater ideas.
I’m not sure that’s a fight that Marvel and DC want to get into with the independent comic creator, because in that battle, the odds are no longer in their favor.
‘Nuff said. 🙂
Love you guys,
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