I think this page pretty well begins to show us that putting your life in Nigel’s hands is not the greatest idea.  He’s one of those people… so intent on doing good for the world that he makes bad choices, is easily fooled and is not completely honest with others.

Hey, if you live in So Cal come see me Saturday at Comikaze Expo!

 

I won’t be there on Sunday, so if you want to come to see me, be there Saturday.  This is a new convention, so come show some support and give it a try.  It’s in Los Angeles at the convention center.

In other news, keep an eye on the Facebook page an/or Twitter because the Octo-Bear tee shirt may become available later today.

I got a question here from a guy named Caleb:

“I have a few roughs of comics that I would like to finalize and possibly get some actually printed. Can you give me any advice on what I should know ahead of time before I shop around for a printer? The other question I have is how do you go about getting exposure? I would imagine conventions would be the place to go but it seems like there aren’t many that come through Missouri.”

I want to apologize in advance, but I am going to give much more of an answer to this question than what Caleb is actually asking here.  So Caleb, please don’t get offended if I infer certain things from your question.  These answers are intended for all aspiring comic creators, so I am speaking to a broader group.  Don’t take this stuff personally… but I want to start by saying this:

The main goal of every comic creator should mainly be this:  Make a good comic.

I know that seems really obvious, but most comic creators get side tracked by printing, formatting, this, that…

Here is the thing.  Make a good comic, and the rest will follow.  One of the biggest myths in the comic industry is that it is really hard to get published.  No, it is easy if you have something really good.  Something people will buy.  That is the hard part of it all… very few people just happen to make a comic people will want to buy.  Publishers are gasping for good material.

We have this “finite pie” view in our culture in economics and we let it bleed into any area we can see ourselves as victims.  We figure the publishers pick who they want to publish, leaving others out, even though they would make more money.  That is the big myth.  Think of how silly a view it is to think that, because Dark Horse publishes Axe Cop, some other comic will not get published.  Wrong.  If Dark Horse found another Axe Cop, they would publish it too. That is what they are looking for, and the more of those properties they find, the bigger the company gets, the bigger the profits are… everybody wins.  So don’t fear publishers.  The moment you make something that can sell they will be all over you.  And would you rather spend all your time printing, shipping, coordinating distribution, advertising, etc. or would you rather be drawing comics?

Trust me, I have been at the other end.  I made lots of comics that publishers brushed off, and I really started to think that there was just some force field between an average guy like me and the publishing world.  I had received every turn down you can imagine.  I had been told my stuff sucked.  The comic shop owner from my hometown even told the local paper that he didn’t think I would really make it as a comic artist, but maybe a writer, and I think when he said that he was trying to be nice.

The reason I am bringing all of this up is because you are looking to spend money printing comics up, and asking how to get exposure for them.  I am not going to say that is not an option, but with the Internet at your finger tips, it can be a good waste of money and trees.

What is your ultimate goal as a comic creator?  How many people do you want to read your comic?  20? 100? 1,000? 10,000? 1,000,000?  I assume as many as possible.  If you want as many people as possible to read your comic, you have two choices:  the Internet, or a publisher.  Luckily, the two are not mutually exclusive… you can have both.

Without the Internet, I never would have had millions of people read my comics, and these are comics that had never existed on a piece of paper.  Without that success I would not have gotten picked up by a publisher who could market and distribute my book so that is sold thousands of copies.  My only point is, if you are asking me how to get exposure, how to get success in comics… its not going to happen printing up 100 or 1,000 copies of your book.

There was a time when that was a choice (it was the only choice outside getting published), and people paid a little more attention to indie comics in those days… but the comic buying market has really become more specific to what it knows it wants since the internet has become a place to taste test all your entertainment before you buy it.  Printing up indie comics is fun, but it’s not efficient if you want exposure, and it costs a lot more.

So, let me reiterate that making a good comic is your number one goal.  Here is the fantasy they may be going on in your head, that went on in my head often.  These publishers kept rejecting my work, so I was going to print up books and sell them myself, then I would start some kind of revolutionary movement, single-handedly build my own fanbase and the publishers would come back to me begging me to please reconsider.  They were so wrong about my comic!!  But in every instance they were right.  No one WANTED to buy my comics.  For them to invest money in marketing and printing and shipping my comics would have been one dumb act of charity on their part, and fat white American males don’t typically have a lot of charity organizations dedicated to their advancement.

That fantasy was laid to rest the first time I showed Chumble Spuzz to a publisher.  I had not printed up copies and sold them, I did not have to convince an audience to buy the book then tell SLG that the book was selling.  Dan Vado at SLG was one of the first people to ever lay eyes on Chumble Spuzz, and he published it because he thought it would sell (and, well, it sorta did.  But you get the point).  I showed Chumble Spuzz to a number of other publishers and their reaction was basically unanimous.  Even if they did not want to publish that specific book (it was so obviously a great fit for SLG) they all wanted to stay in touch because they saw that I was making something legitimate.

Are publishers always right?  NO.  Of course not.  No one is.  That is why the Internet is so great for us wee little comic artists.  I believe Dr. McNinja was rejected by publishers originally.  I suspect that Axe Cop, if it had never gone viral, would be a hard sell.  The Internet is the best place to get exposure, and the web comics community is a kind one.  If they like your comic, they will share it.  My only point is, it is MUCH more efficient for exposure than printing up comics.  You print up your comics, you get your local shop to sell them, you spend money to attend a comic convention… maybe you get a couple hundred readers if you are lucky, and if you are REALLY lucky you make your money back.  With the Internet, the lamest comic out there can get a couple hundred views and it costs you nothing.

With all that said, if your heart is set on printing books, I recommend a short-run printer like Ka-Blam or Lulu.  You can shop around more if you want but in my experience shopping for printers the prices are all pretty similar unless you have a buddy who owns a print shop who can give you a deal.  Even if you do this, you should set up a web site with a sample of your comic and some way to order it online.

I also want to add that when I say your goal should simply be to make a good comic, I must reiterate from previous postings, this does not mean to labor over it for 5 years.  It means to make it, and then make another one, or make the next volume.  The thing is to keep making, and don’t allow yourself to believe that if this comic doesn’t take off your career in comics is over.  It’s over when you say it’s over.  You will see all your comics as good (until you finish them, then you will see what is wrong with them)… but much like success, whether your comic is good or not is not decided by you, it’s decided by others.  That is, IF you want it to be your job.  If you just want to make comics for yourself, I don’t know why we are even talking.  Go do it and enjoy your life.

Alright… another long rant about comics!  Please send any questions to info at Bearmageddon.com.

Ethan