So, I was listening to some episodes of Talksplode from Ifanboy the other day and they has some creators on talking about their experiences with comic books and one of the questions that intrigued me around the creation of comics was "What would you pass along as something not to do?", or some such thing regarding your first works in comics or the initial works in comics. Here are some of my ideas on the don't s mixed with some dos.
1. Don't write superheroes. I know, I am writing superheroes and what I thought would be commercial is anything but in the world of indie comics. There might be audience for them, but no one in the industry wants to publish another superhero comic, especially if it seems as though it might be derivative. While my idea is one that I think I haven't seen before, the first couple of issues play with the idea of lulling you into false security by being superhero adventures before pulling the carpet out beneath your feet. This is not exactly a great idea either, for serial comics anyways, hence my switch to a longer format. Also, indie comics and their readers want something different these days, and that is what I will be tackling on project number two.
2. (This is a do) Believe in your work. Whatever you do, and however much that your ideas around comics change in the time that you make your comics, believe in your work. Love it, cherish it and make it the best that you can.
3. Don't pitch too quickly. I think one of my downfalls on this project was that I pitched it when the initial pages came in and I pitched it with the excitement flowing through my veins. Yes, excitement is a good thing, but I think that I could have sent a more polished product to the companies that I wanted to buy this comic. I have since polished the project, made it look a little nicer and have a more complete idea about what I want to do, what format I want to sell it in, etcetra. Although that hasn't help me sell it to anyone, I think it would have had I my initial pitch had the strength it does now.
4. Make you first projects short. I am talking about three or four issues, or an eight page anthology story. If you have a long comic, it is an investment, especially if you are paying your artists. I have had the good luck of working with some incredible artists (German I am looking at you), but twelve issues is an incredible investment.
5. Know how much money that you have and budget accordingly. Comics will cost you money. They will if you are paying your artist, and you will have to pay your artist unless you are incredibly lucky or have some crazy back end deal where they take 80 percent or something like that. Don't fool yourself. Check yourself before you wreck yourself.
6. Don't do too much, but do what you have to. I letter the fucking comic, and I have improved so much. But I still need to work on it. I still have to be better at it. Would I letter this comic again if I had the chance. Yes. But it has been hard work and much suffering to get half as good as my not-so-good ass is at this. IF you have to, hire someone to do this shit, and hire someone who knows what a good page looks like, knows what great balloons look like, knows how to formulate a page, etc.
7. Don't be a word whore. I know you are a writer. I love the sound that my words make when they leave my brain and fall on the page. Such pretty words that will make people swoon and think you are a genius. This is not prose. This is comics. Words that you need only. That is all.
8. Be prepared to whore the hell out of yourself. If you don't know how to market (I still don't) it might be best to get some idea about social networking and networking in general. Press flesh and make people out there remember who you are without being a dick.
9. Whatever you do, whether you listen to my shit or not, know that what you are doing you are doing it for the love of it. I have become a letterer, a webmaster, a blogger, and have tried so many things in order to get to where I am which is sitting on top of 150 pages of comic that I will have to hand sell to retailers one by one if it gets picked up by Diamond. I have to love this shit, or I would be insane, or more insane than I am already. Comics are hard work and don't you forget that, but I can put one together for press, I can make one available for digital. I can put pages up on a website that I designed. I can write a script that is functional and would not have to be edited a million times. The only way you are going to learn is if you FAIL, and fail big in a lot of ways. Hell, I still don't know what the fuck I am doing and am flying by the seat of my pants most of the time. But I am making comics and that is something I have been talking about for too long. And my next project...will probably be a learning experience just as fucked as this one, but it will be even better.