Why should anyone give a shit about your comic book? Seriously…why?

A few weeks ago I heard about a comic book called Chew.

From the brief description I discover it’s about a detective named Tony Chu who is a ‘cibopath’, which means he has the ability to produce a psychic vision after eating something.

This is all it took – I needed to find out more. It turns out that this is a highly decorated book with a ton of endorsements from comic fans and creators. It has a unique art style, interesting characters and some real originality.

But I would have never gotten that far if I wasn’t hooked in the first place.

Whether you’re trying to pimp a comic book, novel or video game, people are going to ask themselves one question as soon as they hear about it: Why should I give a shit?

1. Give people a reason to give a shit.

Some ideas and concepts are just too intriguing to pass up. When I heard about Plants vs. Zombies I HAD to play the demo. I barely have time to play video games, but I MADE time to play this one. I had to see what it was all about just based on the title.

If your idea doesn’t sound interesting and unique, start over and come up with something that will work as a hook.

We don’t need a movie about some stuff going on in space. We’ve all seen Star Wars and Star Trek.

We don’t need another story about swords and sorcery. We’ve all read Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter.

There isn’t a shortage of stories out there – there is a shortage of interesting and unique spins on a story that will be compelling enough to make someone stop and look twice.

Give us a hook, and then start to reel us in. And then once you’ve got us…

2. Be outstanding.

Not as easy as it sounds. But if you want to entertain people with your book or film or art of any kind, you have to realize that we have a LOT of choices. Almost too many.

I have a stack of unwatched Blu-Rays and unread comics sitting on my floor right now. If someone says “Hey, check out something new” it had better be outstanding if it’s going to make it into the queue.

Incredible artwork. Compelling, original stories. Step outside the box in whatever you do and get a little crazy. The people who take the biggest risks are the ones you remember.

And once you have something outstanding…

3. Tell people how great it is.

Not bragging, but informing. Let potential fans know who you are, and what you’re bringing to the table. Use Twitter, Facebook, YouTube…hell, open your goddamned bedroom window and start screaming.

This step seems like the easiest, but for many it’s the hardest. Artists are inherently introverts, and they like to let their work speak for itself. But the Internet is a big, busy place, and as consumers we’re inundated with news and information at an impossible

Our brains filter through the clutter and pull out what grabs us on an emotional level. If something doesn’t speak to us personally – if we don’t feel a connection – we ignore it.

Is it easy to go through these steps? Hell no.

It’s mind-bending, back-breaking labor. You’ll have sleepless nights, lower back pain, and develop carpel tunnel syndrome. You’ll spend hours staring at a computer screen until your retinas burn.

There are no shortcuts and no easy answers.

But this is how people get great.

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14 Responses to Why should anyone give a shit about your comic book? Seriously…why?

  1. americanwade says:

    I get what you’re saying and I agree with it, to a point. From a business standpoint, if you are a DIY style creator, you want to be different. When some one asks you at your table at Bumblefuck Con 2011 what your book is about, you want to give them an answer that’s different and intriguing.

    On a personal note in regards to item 1: sometimes I’ll take style over substance. Sword and sorcery is done to death, but that doesn’t mean there couldn’t be great work done in the genre; it just happens that most of it is so atrocious in terms of storytelling and dialog, that it’s just not worth it anymore. I’m also convinced there’s another great space opera out there yet to be written, but a lot of sci-fi set in space reads like bad fan fic.

    There are a lot of great writers out there that never even tried to deal with original subject matter. I don’t think Hemingway was the first to write about World War I or fishing, but he was certainly the best. The problem is that there’s so much noise, if you want to be become a business not just a literary type, you have to produce an obvious attention grabber. That’s somewhat depressing as a reader because it means I may never find the really well written work, just the best promoted.

    • Must clarify: if you want to do swords and sorcery, a space opera, etc. that’s AWESOME. Just give us a fresh spin on it.

      Too many people are like “I want to make the next Star Wars!” WE DON’T NEED THAT. We already have it. We need YOUR version of a space opera that’s daring and intriguing and a little scary, and maybe even outside the box.

  2. Spuds says:

    I have been reading Chew since the first issue. I *LOVE* this comic. It is an outstanding idea, well executed, and every issue leaves me wanting more. I’m glad that you got the time to read it. Hope you’re hooked! 😛

  3. Once again, your honesty rules.

    And Plants Vs. Zombies is one of the best games out there.

    But yes, trying to make yourself be heard may be near-impossible. But persistence is key!

    • If there is anything I CAN do, it’s honesty.

      OK, that’s a lie, but I try .

      making yourself heard to EVERYONE is impossible for the small publisher. Print ads and huge comic convention booths are expensive, and unless your budget is in the tens of thousands, you’re screwed. I’m not saying you can go head-to-head with Marvel or DC and start competing at the top, because out of the gate, that simply cannot be done.

      But can you reach a small segment or interested readers by connecting with them through social media? Can a comic book about S&M or World War 2 or psychic poker playing ninja reach 1,000, 2,000, or even *gasp* 5,000 people?

  4. Robert says:

    Good work on the blog again. I hear what you’re saying. I agree with most of the points in it. It all comes down to spin, if you have a new spin on something and are able to execute that spin well, then you have a winner on your hands.
    If it’s a rehash of something on jumping on a bandwagon, well there isn’t really a need to care about it.

    • Definitely. I think you’re right, it does come down to spin to a large degree.

      There have been literally millions ( or maybe billions?) of stories written in history, but you only need to read around 20-30 before you start seeing a pattern.

      A 100% pure, unique story is probably not possible, but you can mix genres, take chances and spin an old yarn into something fresh and exciting.

  5. horondan says:

    Im genuinely curious. Do you have a project yourself? You sound like someone who doesnt merely want to write about comic books , but who has in the past , or wants to, involve herself professionally at some point. Am i right?

  6. zenexo says:

    Totally agree, Loved your blog. I’m working on my own right now and I think most people are going to love it.

  7. Peter says:

    Awesome post. I was trying to make a sword and sorcery story when someone asked me what’s the difference between my book and Lord of The Rings (something like that) Had to double back, brainstorm, find references and experiment more. Still in progress, but I prefer to take my time than be just another ‘me-too’s

  8. philbyday says:

    How “bout yourself? Any aspirations yourself 2 see some of your words put 2 pictures that r in a sequential fashion? Your personality would seem 2 lend itself toward a bit of a Curb Your Enthusiasm or Ally McBeal kinda vibe.

  9. mrw00dy says:

    Hi ComicBookGrrl 🙂 I am reading your sensible advice from the future and will try to force myself to take my doodles and make them interesting thanks in part to the energy I have gained from you.
    Do you think an ancient, wayward, earthly priesthood infested with homeless aliens, inter-dimensional farm animals, mathematical worms and ham-fisted nuns might tickle your fancy? Hmmm….
    Thanks for sharing your energy [Why are Canadians so cool?]
    Kia ora from Aotearoa/New Zealand on the other side of the world

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