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Episode #32 | The Distribution Game with Anne Bean of Emerald Comics Distro

 

Wanna know how to navigate comic distribution? Wanna know how to juggle multiple creative plates at once? Wanna learn how to create and survive a dedicated con schedule? Look no further than the one-woman-show powerhouse behind Emerald Comics Distribution, Anne G. Bean.

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Anne has only been in distribution game since the tail end of 2016, and she’s already a force to be reckoned with in the world of comics. She got to press up the wazzoooo early on starting with Seattle Vanguard. This was simply the beginnings of a rustling wind bound to be a hurricane. Anne might call it luck. I don’t disagree with luck playing a role, but I’ll never believe luck is completely responsible for any outcome in business. The press and following that has steadily grown in such a short time follow Anne because of her dedication to the profession and her clients.

Her solid understanding of comic distribution and how its morphed/shifted since the 90’s has given her more than a leg up in not just the indie comic industry but graphic storytelling as a whole. Her client care goes beyond personal introductions at cons and showing at random comic shops in and around Oregon. Her research and dedication have lead to a blueprint of distribution. She understands the necessity of its service, the path to take for success, and where the cracks have formed along the way. There’s no doubt that the future of Emerald Comics Distro is a bright one and The Comixcentral Podcast is thrilled to be a megaphone for people like Anne whose tireless heart is making comic distribution a respectable institution once again, chipping away at Diamond one comic shop at a time.


Don’t forget to check out the links below for information on Emerald Comics Distro, Anne’s upcoming panel and distribution in general.

Website: www.emeraldcomicsdistro.com

Twitter: @EmeraldDistro

Instagram: Emeraldcomicsdistro

Link to Anne’s ECCC panel on distribution coming up: https://www.emeraldcitycomiccon.com/en/Sessions/53106/Rebuilding-the-Comics-Business-from-the-Bottom-Up

Some comics distribution history for context: http://www.delusionalhonesty.com/2011/06/brief-history-of-comics-distribution.html

 






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Rick Osowski | Episode #16

comixcentral_carousel_Rick-Osowski--inside-the-mind-of-a-super-fan

Rick Osowski | Inside the Mind of a Super Fan

On this weeks episode of “Adventures in Interviewing” Chris Hendricks goes deep into the mind of a Comicbook superfan!

Get some insight and perspective into what makes a fan, how to find your audience and how to keep your readers happy. Chris and Rick discuss what makes a story addictive, what causes a reader to lose interest and how to capture a fan for life.

It’s market research 101. Get out your notepads comic creators!

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Rick Osowksi is a self-described Computer Geek, Sports Nut, Magic: The Gathering Nerd, Solution Architect at IBM Cloud and Hobbyist-at-large. Connect with Rick and check out his Podcast using the links below:



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The Etherington Brothers | Episode #15

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ETHERINGTON BROTHERS comixcentral podcast

On this weeks episode of “Adventures in Interviewing” Chris Hendricks has the great pleasure and honor of sitting down with the Etherington Brothers!

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Creators of Long Gome Don, Von Doogan, Monkey Nuts, YORE!, Baggage, Freak & Fearless & Stranski. Not to mention working on Star Wars, Transformers, How to Train Your Dragon, Kung Fu Panda, Angry Birds, Wallace & Gomit and more!
Listen as these creative pros share the wisdom and advice gained from their amazing careers. But don’t be too dazzled…these boys are always keeping it Indie!

The Etherington Brothers comixcentral podcast

Connect with The Etherington Brothers and get their amazing creations using the links below!

Twitter  |   The Blog   |  Instagram

 




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Comic Shops Open Up About How to Get Your Comics on Their Shelves

sell comics stores

If ever there was a field where independent creators have it rough, it’s the comic book industry.

Completing any project can be a feat in itself but with comics, you have to have it all (as in finished comic book product) and hope that you can recoup your expenses monetarily or at least in the capital of prestige/notoriety.

So, as a way to help guide indie creators to greater heights, I talked to several different comic book stores about their ordering processes, how indie books make it to their shelves, what books seem to sell and ideas on getting indie books in stores. If you don’t already, you should fully understand the juggernaut you’re up against coming out of the gates. Out of the stores contacted the majority reported their independent/non-DC/Marvel titles sales were only 5-20%. Since Image was included in these numbers (which is essentially just a smaller version of the Big Two) it’s safe to assume the percentage for non-Image independent books drops even further. Obviously, as in any competition against established products, the uphill battle is very steep indeed. But not impossible, and this is where the owners have keener sight and advice.


1. Any Insight into why certain titles seem to take off compared to other titles? What seems to misfire?

Dave Michaels of eXpertComics: “I find what works in the indies better than anything is word of mouth. If a book is not doing well, it is probably because the fans and retailers are not spreading the word in the shops and online.

Jim Drucker of NewKadia.com: “Marketers have been trying for about 150 years to figure out what products the public will grab onto. You never know.”

Benn Ray, co-owner of Atomicbooks.com: “I think some non-DC/Marvel titles fail because many are uninspired 3rd rate DC/Marvel/Image/Dark Horse wannabe books. The publishers are simply trying to create what other publishers are already doing better, maybe in the hopes of securing a job with those publishers. Some creators seem to think “indie” is simply a step up the rung. I also think many floundering indie titles could benefit from stronger editors. Overall, crappy art, lame writing, uninspired storytelling. In many cases, you can judge a bad book by its cover.”

John Robinson, co-owner of Graham Crackers Comics: “Indie titles are just like a mainstream book. It’s like Batman except his butler is a girl! Whoa. It’s like Superman only he’s kind of a jerk. It’s like Justice League only they hate each other.”


2. How does the person responsible for ordering make their specific choice of titles and the quantity they order?

Dave Michaels: We specifically have on online subscription service. I believe we order based on what is pre-ordered mostly, and secondly, we try to order based on mainstream exposure and/or ‘hype.’”

Jim Drucker: “Based on past sales of those titles.”

Ryan Liebowitz, owner of Golden Apple: “Diamond Previews is our main catalog but we also look at emails, mailings and get many calls and visits directly from creators and publishers alike. Generally, we will look at the creative team, publisher credibility, story concept and artwork to help determine ordering levels.”

Benn Ray: “I think my filter works something like this: if the book looks like a wannabe DC/Marvel superhero book, I’m not ordering it. If it’s a hokey-looking genre book, sci-fi/ fantasy, I’m not inclined to order it. If I’ve never heard of the publisher, the writer, or the artist, it’s unlikely I’m going to take a chance on that book. If the art looks poorly computer colored, computer-generated or the story concept seems hackneyed, I’m probably not going to order it. If the art looks “manga-inspired” I’m probably going to skip the book. My store focuses on alternative/underground books, so I’m more apt to carry those. If it’s a publisher I recognize as doing quality work, if the book has artists/writers I know I have an audience for, I’m more apt to carry their book. I’d rather miss an issue or two of a new comic and have customers ask me to order it than get stuck with a really crappy book that I”m embarrassed to have on my shelves that I can’t get rid of.”

John Robinson: “Managers base their ordering on their personal tastes, number of pre-orders from customers and the current amount of buzz surrounding the title.”

3. In terms of sales does anything stand out to you as remarkable from the past few years, as far as indie publishing?

Dave Michaels: “I don’t know if this counts but I would say the resurgence of Archie and the whole relaunch of the Archie line of comics shocks me. Whoever decided to reboot the line in that way is absolutely brilliant! I think the indie market should be thinking about tapping into that fan base.

Jim Drucker: “TV shows and movies and other mass media and massive social media all contribute to sales of various titles.”

Ryan Liebowitz: “Image Comics are starting to outsell Marvel and DC titles. We also have seen much success from publishers like Black Mask, Boom!, Valiant and others on select titles.”

Benn Ray: “We’ve seen a big resurgence in interest in self-published mini-comic.”

4. Any advice or suggestions as to how someone with a self-published book would best go about getting it on comic book store shelves?

Dave Michaels: “My best advice for indie creators would be to use the times and social media as much as possible. We live in a big “convention era.” Try to get booths at cons both big and small, do panels, interact with fans. Also, the internet and social media is our best tool today. Get online make Facebook pages, do the Twitter thing, get a Kickstarter going. These are the best avenues we have today. Also, go to local comic shops and ask them to put your stuff on the shelf. There are not many stores that won’t support local content. Make friends and fans and get out there!”

Jim Drucker: “ A, have a ground-breaking idea. There is no substitute for quality and originality. No amount of great marketing can sell AND maintain sales for a lousy product. B, have a strong social media presence. If young musicians can find a worldwide audience from YouTube, aspiring writers and artists and comic book creators can to with the right product. C, have the necessary capital. Starting any new business takes a great product but it is expensive. I have seen HUNDREDS of comic books that published only one issue. Many, deservedly so. But some, I thought had some potential, but for reasons unknown to me, there was never a second or third issue. My guess is that poor early sales sapped their budget. There are countless examples of products in other industries that took YEARS to catch on. If you’re on a shoestring budget, you may not stay in business long enough to catch on.”

Ryan Liebowitz: “Self-published works that are not solicited through Diamond are very difficult to get onto shelves. Their stronghold on the industry is criminal and another distributor needs to form to help all publishers get into the hands of comic book fans.”

Benn Ray: “There is no magic bullet or quick fix or trick to this.”

John Robinson: “The thing I tell anyone that is self-publishing is to take a hard look at their own buying habits. Ask yourself some questions. Do you buy Stray Bullets every month? Are you interested in Zombie Tramp? What indie titles have gotten you to buy them faithfully month after month and what was it that got you to try them? I constantly get people that buy only Marvel/DC type books doing their own self-published book and not understanding why no one buys it. Every item in the store is fighting for your attention–what’s unique about your property? Could be just great art. Could be it fills a niche that is currently not being filled in the marketplace.”


So there you have it, folks, straight from the mouths of those who know and want to see indie, self-publishers and creators succeed.

There are certainly a few key takeaways. Even if you can’t use a hot established property such as Archie, maybe try and tap into the essence of what is attracting so much attention today both in comics and Comic related TV programming. Support other indie/self-published books. Research and explore the market. Be original, don’t clone the big Marvel/DC titles. Or if you do, put a real spin on it that no one has read before. (It’s the Justice League but they’re vampire zombies!) Lastly, and most importantly, network the hell out of yourself and your book. Without that, even the greatest of indie comic books will stay undiscovered.


*A seriously big thanks to all the people and establishments that took the time to answer my questions and help propel, if even only a small amount, the world of indie and self-published comics.

NewKadia.com  |  Atomicbooks.com  |  grahamcrackers.com  |  goldenapplecomics.com expertcomics.com





 

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CrowdFunding Round Up – Sept 1, 2017

crowdfunding roundup indie comics blog

Hey. Pssst! You! You wanna’ see something cool?

I know you do. Come on, all the cool kids are doing it! Come feast your eyes on our Crowdfunding roundup! We’ve got some of the best, un-cut and primo campaigns from Kickstarter. But you know, if you’re not into being awesome. We understand.

May we present the CXC Crowdfunding Bi-Monthly Roundup, September 1st, 2017 edition.


Champions of Hara

by Greenbrier Games INC    |    Kickstarter

 

Champions of Hara is an adventure board game in which 2-4 players (+2 with expansion) race to protect a dying world. Players will contain destructive energy by defeating monsters, closing rifts, and exploring the six different zones within Hara. In order to rise to the challenge, players will need to unlock new abilities and collect powerful items. Each session takes approximately 30 minutes per player.

Breathtakingly beautiful! The art is what first caught our eye with this Kickstarter, but after reading more about the gameplay, characters and of course the Graphic Novel (2 issues are currently available on ComixCentral btw… cough cough!)  which runs parallel to the game, we were hooked! Get your hands on this exciting, self-described, funk fantasy! Your friends and family will thank you when you pull this beauty out on game night!

Kickstarter Campaign   |   greenbriergames.com   |   twitter.com


SPACE COPZ: Cereal Zombies!

by  Michael Speakman  |    Kickstarter

 

SPACE COPZ is an all-age science fiction comic series following the journey of Sgt. Alpha Omega and his loyal sidekick Beta Boy, as they traverse outer space, saving it from great evil.

Available as a web-comic series before making it’s way into print copy. Each SPACE COPZstory will be illustrated by a different artist, making for a unique experience for all.

The issues will not be numbered but will instead be titled. This will allow more casual readers the opportunity to pick up the series wherever/whenever they wish.

FUN! That’s the word that kept popping up while we were looking into Space Copz Kickstarter. Seriously, the art looks fun, the storyline is fun, the creators look fun. I think we killed the word fun. Fuuuun. So, you want to have some fun with Zombies, puppies, cereal and spacelords? Of course you do! Come back these guys and get as much fun as humans can pack into a comic into your hands! Also, take a close look at some of the rewards this campaign is offering, some really unique options there. OK. Go have some fun! 

Kickstarter Campaign    |   Facebook


EDJ COMICS: BLACKLIGHT

by ERIC W SHEFFIELD JR.|    Kickstarter

This is the first book in a three comic series that will tell an amazing story that culminates in the joining of the characters of the 3 books in one grand quest against an invincible foe.

If you haven’t watched the trailer to this campaign, go back and watch it all the way through. Guys, great message, great idea, great comics! We love this project. Let’s help Eric bring these amazing characters to life so kids of every color can see themselves in their heroes! By the way, if you pledge fast enough, you can get your own character in the first issue! Yup, get out your wallets and pledge to a great project! Not to mention, the art looks badass, and you know you want to add it to your collection;)

Kickstarter Campaign   |   Facebook


Urizen Zero – The Serpent’s Fang Hardcover Comic Book

by  John Pinto |    Kickstarter

Urizen is a mesmerizing, compelling, tragic, fun and epic adventure revolving around a medieval, sci-fi world with the same name. In it my good friend Derek Thomas and I tell the story of a great race living at the cold ends of Urizen known as the Ademinians, led by their strong and noble ruler, Draconan and his queen of beauty and magic Arguine.  It has been told that a great light will fall from the sky and it is then that a great reign of nobility, and strength will come in the form of an egg, soon to give life to the one to be named Draconan King of Starlight and Might.  Soon he would grow alongside the young Arguine, and together they would join to form the Kingdom of the Cold, Ademynia.

So we’re going to admit the art grabbed us by the collar and slapped us around a few times with this campaign. Pinto has found an amazing artist is Fachrul Reza, and it seems that this group of creators is destined to create some mind blowing comics and take the indie world by storm. Pledging support to this project is a no brainer! Show these guys some love and be part of bringing this jaw dropping universe to life. Not to mention with a $100 pledge.. they’ll put YOU on your own cover, how cool is that?!

Kickstarter Campaign   |    http://www.bloodshadowgames.net/   |   Facebook


And that’s it for now! If you’ve got a Campaign you think belongs on our list, let us know!

@comixcentral





 

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Making Comics; An Interview with Spencer & Locke Creator, David Pepose

making comics blog david pepose

Many of us who read comics would love to write them.

We’ve studied the art of them for years, perhaps decades, and often assure ourselves, if, given the chance, we could create something kickass. Still, there are some things you need to know before embarking upon this path of comic greatness. Having a story is definitely part of it but there’s much more involved than that. In fact, having a manuscript of a finished comic, completed even, won’t be enough to even get your submission looked at by most publishers, if not all. So, to help navigate these troublesome waters I contacted David Pepose, writer, and creator of the new critically acclaimed Spencer & Locke series published by Action Lab comics. Pepose spent several years writing and immersed in the culture of comics, working both at DC Comics and Newsarama before landing his gig as an official, badge-toting member of the highly selective Comic Book Writers Club. (Which isn’t really a thing but sounds pretty cool so maybe it should be.) And while Pepose had plenty of sage tips and advice to offer, there’s one he proposes as the most important. “At the end of the day it doesn’t matter how well you write, although that’s important, it’s all about relationships. It’s about reaching out to people and making that human connection.” ‘Nuff said, right?

1. Study the structure.

Comic books are infamous for having insane plots but unlike other mediums they generally all have the same basic structure to them; 20-22 pages of words and pictures, text boxes, dialogue balloons, etc. Pepose spent a lot of time with the format writing reviews for comic sites like Newsarama, where he spent the better part of eight years before embarking on Spencer & Locke “writing reviews and breaking down the stories every single day.” Even a long-time comic fan can have trouble navigating the confinement of a comic book; having exactly the same amount of room to tell a particular slice of a larger story, being able to choose only the material that is relevant and moves the story. You don’t have to write reviews for eight years but you do need a solid grasp on the basic mechanics of comic book style story-telling. Publishers and the titles they publish follow, essentially, the same format. Of course, that shouldn’t discourage creativity within the form but this is one instance where you really do have to know the rules before you can break them.

2. Have your entire story completed before reaching out to artists.

At some point, you’re going to have to start lining up an art team. And when you do, you need to have your act together, Bub. Whether they’re working pro bono or you’re paying them a rate, illustrators (and inkers and colorists and letterers) probably have better things to do than waiting for the possibility of work from someone who hasn’t gotten past the initial concept of their comic book idea. With his own series, Pepose waited until he knew exactly where he was taking Spencer & Locke. “I didn’t approach an artist until I had a script and a treatment for all the issues already done,” Pepose recounts, then adds, “I can’t just expect somebody to take a leap of faith on my story.” As the writer and the creative force behind the comic, you’re the leader. And no one wants to follow the lead of someone who doesn’t know where they’re going.


3. Don’t worry about writing in order.

Pepose always keeps Joss Whedon’s sage advice in mind when writing: “Nobody said you can’t have dessert first.” In the course of plotting out your comic’s story, there will certainly be moments and scenes that stand out more than others, ones you’re dying to get out. So, if you’ve hit a wall in your writing, skip ahead to those scenes and write those. That’s exactly what Pepose did. He knew from the very beginning that he wanted a car chase in Spencer & Locke which was one the very first things he wrote. And while writing out of order isn’t for everyone it can definitely help to spur creative momentum if you feel yourself floundering.

4. Finding an artist/art team is the hardest and most crucial part.

Comic books without art would just be short plays so it should go without saying that you can’t get a comic book published without it. Unlike most other writing outlets publishers, from behemoths Marvel and DC to indies such as Spencer & Locke’s Action Labs will accept submissions only as a finished/semi-finished product. “All you need is six pages and a cover,” according to Pepose, but that finished six pages and a cover is harder work than you might imagine. You’re going to need someone for the pencils. An inker. (Pepose suggestion, as difficult as it may be: to find a penciller that can ink.) You’re going to need a colorist, unless you’re going for a black and white aesthetic, although there’s a reason the overwhelming majority of comic books are in color. Oh, yeah, you’re going to need someone to do the lettering. To cut some expenses and time looking for your perfect band of merry comic creators, Pepose advocates learning some things yourself. Online classes, YouTube videos, etc. If nothing else, Pepose says, it will help you better communicate with your art team if you understand some basics behind the elements of creating the finished comic.

5. Be prepared to spend some money.

It’s very possible to assemble an art team that will work for future fortune and glory, or at least a penciller, but it’s more common to pay upfront costs to illustrators, inkers and letterers. Which is fair. It’s work being done with no concrete promise of that future fortune and glory. But even if you do somehow manage to enlist a dedicated, completely pro bono art team, you’re still going to have to spring for submission copies. And while there are publishers who accept online submissions, we still live in a comic book world where paper is still king. It’s something very unique to comics; that relationship the reader has with the physical book, and prospective publishers are no different.

6. Comics are best when stories and characters are relatable.

Marvel comics took off in a big way when Stan “The Man” Lee and Jack “The King” Kirby began introducing characters much more akin to the true nature of our human psyche. The Fantastic Four was a family who bickered but still loved each other; Spider-Man was a shy, bullied high schooler who had failed to use his great powers responsibly and inadvertently got his uncle killed; the X-Men were mutant freaks shunned by the rest of the world. Take away the optic eye blasts, telekinesis, and web-shooters and you’ve got a mess of humanity that anyone can relate to at some point in their lives, and that holds as true today as ever.

7. Keep your stories small.

In a world of cosmic distances spanning unfathomable light-years and men and women who can fly around the world in minutes, this rule seems counterintuitive. Why not go all out? Pepose advises against this, at least for newcomers. “Don’t try and convince people you can run a marathon when no one’s even seen you walk,” warns Pepose. Spencer & Locke revolves around a detective and his partner, a stuffed, one eyed panther and is proof you don’t have to confine yourself to average every day subjects for a powerful, focused story. But he keeps the cast small, the story streamlined. That’s the walk before the run. A sprawling space opera featuring dozens of characters and locations are the bread and butter of many publishers, but when you’re trying to break in you should be able to elevator pitch the summation of your story, Pepose says. Publishers want to see how well you can handle something small before giving you a 24 issue deal.”

8. Finish It!

Repeat after Pepose: “Finish it!” No, really. Finish it. It’s the only way you’re going to see your name in the funny pages.

Connect with David and Buy Spencer & Locke at the links below:

Twitter   |  actionlabcomics.com





 

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When Artists Hire Artists- The Business of Storytelling

gamal hennessey

In this Guest post Gamal Hennessey shares his insights into the things you’ll need to consider to protect yourself when creating comics.  For a more detailed look at this either head to Gamal’s own page or listen to him talk to the ComixCentral team on this podcast


The business of storytelling is evolving to take advantage of new technology and business models. It’s creating new opportunities to get stories in front of people by breaking down the old barriers to entry. Self-publishing and independent projects are growing at a record pace, thanks to digital distribution and micro niche marketing.

Creators are now in a better position to publish books on their own without traditional publishing houses to act as gate keepers. Some artists are releasing their own comics to build their reputation in the industry and break into the mainstream. Some writers are self-publishing their books to retain more profit and control. But with great power comes great responsibility (sorry, that was too tempting to leave out).

Artists and writers who used to be forced to sign a publisher’s work for hire agreement are now in a position where they need their own work for hire contracts to protect their rights. But what are the key elements that need to be in this kind of contract? How can you protect yourself in both the short term and the long haul? How can you be the type of creator other artists want to work with? When artists hire artists, they need to take care of their world, their defenses and their reputation.


Your World:

When you create a story, you have the power to define what happens. When you have your own creative project, you have the power to define your relationship with your artists. The three key factors you need to deal with are:

Defining the project:

Spell out in as much detail as you can what the artist is working on, what kind of work they’ll be doing, when the work is due and how much they’re going to get paid.

Owning the Services:

Make it clear that your relationship with the artist is a work for hire. This means they aren’t going to have any ownership or control over the property itself or the underlying characters or stories they’re going to be working on.

Own the use and distribution:

Reserve the right to use any work the artist does for you in any and every way you can think of. You might only be planning to do a web comic now, but you don’t want to limit your options to do a deal with Netflix or whatever the next hot media turns out to be

Your Shield:

Producing your own book opens you up to a certain amount of risk. You could pay for work and never get the finished product. Your artist could deliver artwork done by someone else. There are all sorts of pitfalls in publishing, but certain terms in the contract can help protect you from trouble.

Payment:

If you tie payment to delivery of work, you are more likely to get the services you commissioned.

Representations and Warranties:

If your artist makes promises to protect you and your work, they’re less likely to screw you over because they’ve been put on notice

Indemnification:

If they do break their promises to you, an indemnity (just a fancy word for repayment) gives you the ability to resolve your dispute in a court (which is one place artists don’t want to go).

These protections are not perfect. People breach contracts all the time. But when all the terms and conditions are spelled out, people are more inclined to see you as a professional and treat you in a professional way.

Your Reputation:

Clear and consistent contract terms will remove most of the confusion and doubt that comes with making a business deal. As more and more people do business with you and get exposure to your business practices, the better your reputation will be in the industry. The creative world of books and comics is a small one if you stay in the game for a while. A professional reputation as both an artist and a publisher can be just as critical to your long term success as your ability to write or draw.

Independent creators need to tailor each work for hire contract to fit each new creative project. Larger publishers work better with form agreements and economies of scale, but until your publishing evolves into that level, a custom agreement is probably your best bet.

Have fun.

Gamal

PLEASE NOTE: THIS BLOG POST IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR LEGAL ADVICE.

IF YOU HAVE A LICENSEING OR INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY ISSUE, DISCUSS IT WITH YOUR LEGAL ADVISOR OR CONTACT C3 AT gamalhennessy@gmail.com FOR A FREE CONSULTATION.

Judge Dredd Image Credit Magnetic 007 At Deviant Art





 

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CXC PodCast Episode #7- Expositional Dialogue Make Chris a Dull Boy!

Expositional dialogue makes Chris a dull boy!

Originally intended to be a mini-sode, this week Chris Hendricks and Leigh Jeffery have a little chat about making comics, how much Chris hates expositional dialogue, what expositional dialogue is, taste in comic art and we even venture into the digital vs traditional art argument.

Also, just a little apology. Leigh has terrible allergies and she coughs a lot through this. Geeesh.. Leigh! She does however insist she was muting herself before she coughs, but it didn’t work;P

[podbean resource=”episode=c9ut3-7e9a3f” type=”audio-rectangle” height=”100″ skin=”1″ btn-skin=”108″ share=”1″ fonts=”Helvetica” auto=”0″ download=”0″ rtl=”0″]


Our sweet intro music is brought to you by Pleasure Pool! Thank you so much guys for letting us use your awesome tracks!



 

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CXC PodCast Episode #6 – Marketing Your Comics Series – Part #1

Part 1 of Our Ongoing Series – Marketing Your Comics / Simple, Straightforward Advice for Self Promoting Your Comics & Art.

Today Leigh Jeffery is joined by expert Marketers Kirsten Nelson and Jamie Moran to discuss how to start marketing your comics in a noisy and uninterested world. We also poke fun at how Kristen pronounces Origin 😛 Sorry Kirsten! We love you! <3

[podbean resource=”episode=2m3e5-7e9a40″ type=”audio-rectangle” height=”100″ skin=”1″ btn-skin=”108″ share=”1″ fonts=”Helvetica” auto=”0″ download=”0″ rtl=”0″]




 

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Starving For Affection Part Deux: The Search for More Money (AKA Becoming the Unicorn)

becoming unicorn chris hendricks

What’s shakin’, cartoon cartels? Welcome to another episode of I Think I Might Know What I’m Talking About (Maybe Sort of a Little Bit) by Chris Hendricks, sponsored by Comix Central.

In case you were wondering, the title does reference Spaceballs, the ultimate parody of everyone’s favorite star odyssey that didn’t feature Patrick Stewart or William Shatner. On a rather important note– If you don’t like Spaceballs: The Movie, please do normal people a favor and go away. I’m happy to assist you in shuffling off this mortal coil with the use of my trusty Spaceballs: The Flamethrower. Now that the terrible people have been cremated, let us continue.

Today we’re talking about, you guessed it, making money as an artist… again. Why, you ask? Because I hear a glimmer of hope beneath your mocking laughter of disbelief. Oh yes, my apprentices of art appreciation, you may still laugh. You may even call me a madman, but I told you before, and I’ll tell you again: it can be done. These “successful” creatures exist. Granted, it’s rumors mostly. They participate in foreign rituals like eating non-Ramen-like, energy-sustaining food products three times a day. I hear they also drive cars without the check engine light on and have personal relationships outside of immediate family and beyond that kid you decided to loan your retainer to in fifth grade who for some reason still comes over to play Magic: The Gathering even though you don’t really “get” each other.

These money-making artist types are troublesome. The frisky unicorns are as rare as a Polish Leprechaun sunbathing in the South Pacific. Lucky for you, I’ve been navigating their rainbow road for sometime. Stay in the middle of my flow, brothers and sisters, and we might get somewhere. I’ll teach you to avoid some red turtle shells along the way, so you can at least cross the finish line in the money race without becoming a total wreck. Let’s pull our nerdtastic-selves together, and we’ll get out of mom’s basement yet. The best part, of course, is that we’ll do it on our own terms. Rise up off the couch and start your engines, people. Let us not simply survive off our passions, but thrive! At the end of this journey, you won’t just find the unicorn, my friends. You will become the unicorn.


The last time we crossed this bridge together, the preparation provided was largely mental and philosophical in nature. This time I’d like to give you insight into some real tactics I’ve learned along the way. I should warn you: this piece is as much a rant against lazy people as it is a learning opportunity. Not to worry. If you’re reading this article, you are not a lazy person. If you want to make money doing art, your desire must be genuine, and we all know that learning is the first step to genuine understanding. Most learn by asking questions, so let me begin by asking, how serious are you really?

Most creatives, including myself, are one ADHD moment away from hobbyland. There’s nothing wrong with hobbyland. It’s a carefree kind of kingdom, somewhere around the end of world one or two, but I’m sorry, Mario, the princess is in another castle. Toadstools won’t pay the mortgage, and there’s no warp whistles in this game. If you want to afford a kingdom for your king or queen, you’re going to have to face the greatest Bowser of them all: consistency.

via GIPHY

If you want money as an artist, earn it. You must learn to treat it like a job. That means working on your craft at least three to five times a week. Part-time or full-time, make it happen. Most of the unicorns I know currently paying bills with skills work on their magic everyday. Call me a snob all you want, but the bottom-line is that work ethic is your greatest asset. It’s the only thing you can control. If you’re really serious, then take advantage of the fact that you care more than the other guy. I encourage you to think of the free time you have as a sort of currency you exchange for future freedom. If you can’t do 9am-5pm, then do 7pm-1am. Get up early, and do 6am-8am before your day job. If you wish to exist inside the business of art, then Weekends are prime time for the art of business. Fruits of opportunity are born inside seeds of dedication. In other words, “I don’t have time” equals “I’m not an artist.” I know some of you are afraid of structure when it comes to things you love, but if you want to stay the course, you’re gonna have to roll over the curious question box, hope for a feather, press the A button, and get over it.

If you want money as an artist, earn it. You must learn to treat it like a job.

Now that you’re keeping your foot on the gas, let’s examine some of the power-ups and pitfalls you’ll encounter on the road. My first piece of advice: watch where you’re going. Sounds simple, right? Well, you’d be surprised how many blind, angry, flaming-guitar-playing drivers exist in the art world. It’s sort of like the movie Mad Max: Fury Road, except this time you’re stuck in downtown Los Angeles, there’s a lot more drivers, you’re not Tom Hardy, you’re stuck in an ‘82 Pinto without any weapons, Charlize Theron has hair, and one of the other guys behind the wheel is an angry gorilla who throws bananas. Side note: If you actually do happen to be Tom Hardy, then congratulations on winning the life game. Otherwise, let’s keep going.

The only real way to avoid slippage and catch an upgrade is self-awareness. Learn who you are as an artist. Have the courage to give yourself an evaluation every-so-often. What are you good at? What do you suck at? Use that knowledge to evolve as a creator. Consistency is great, but it guarantees nothing without swerving the learning curve. Let’s say you’re an illustrator who consistently “draws” Harley Quinn, but your version of Harley Quinn consistently looks like a five-year-old girl’s first attempt at wearing clown makeup. The bottom-line: the only thing more important than consistency is growth.

The bottom-line: the only thing more important than consistency is growth.

Sometimes this happens naturally, but if not, the best and worst opportunity for this is social media. Ask the people you most admire for feedback. Eventually, you will develop a filter between the haters and the mentors. Like most upgrades in imagination land, this is something you earn over time. Thick skin requires experience points, and experience points sometimes mean “killing your darlings” for the sake of something better. On behalf of your self-esteem, remember one thing: Success is not external. The outside world does not determine your worth. Only you, the artist, can do that. Bear in mind I’m speaking to personal worth here. Monetary merit, on the other hand, is a little more complicated. That is determined by the market, and it can be a little overwhelming sometimes.

Success is not external. The outside world does not determine your worth.

It’s understandable if you feel pressure considering the amount of content out there right now. The road to success is always going to be a congested mess of warlords and wannabees. The fastest way to alleviate the pain is by accepting the truth and forging your own path. This doesn’t mean you will discover a shortcut, but it does mean there’s always room for you to get ahead. Sure, there’s a lot of content out there, but it’s not YOUR content. There are millions of pieces out there worthy of purchase, but there’s only one you. The sooner you figure that out, the sooner the rest of the world will. The sooner the rest of the world figures it out, the sooner you can use your passion to pay rent. You do this by giving your art monetary value. Sure, it takes awhile. You need to figure out what people charge. You might have to go up and down for a bit before you find the sweetspot for your service. So what? I don’t understand why people in the art community, and especially the indie-comic community I know personally, aren’t always up front about charging a fee. For some reason, when it comes to giving people a number, some creatives turn into some sort of Oliver Twist-reject in a poorly done, one-off Disney film. Does the following sound familiar at all?

Customer: “Hey there, how much is your drawing of Pennywise? It’s amazing!”

Artist: “Gee willikers, sir. Thanks for noticing! Gosh, I did work awful hard on this here piece. Now that you’re here, stranger, it looks more like a finger paintin’ than a true work of art. It’s Uhhhhh, 50 dollars.. I mean, maybe… well, I’ll go ahead and take 10 dollars if you can’t afford that. You know what? Actually, I just want to “get myself out there” so if you could just tell your friends….”

Me: WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU!

If your drawing of Pennywise is fifty dollars, it is fifty DOLLARS! If they don’t have ten dollars, guess what? They have to go work an extra hour at the Give-N-Go Gas Deluxe first, or they can’t have your hard work. You hear me, people? They have to go away until they return with your value. If they say, “I only have ten dollars.” You say (in a much more polite way), “Tough shit, my drawing is fifty dollars. It is fifty dollars because if you wanted it for free, you could’ve done it yourself, but you didn’t. That’s why you work at the Give-N-Go, and I draw things a lot.”

Listen, there are exceptions to every rule. There’s nothing really wrong with doing free stuff every once in awhile, but you’ve got to have the right intention around it. If you really want to do something for free, then do it because it’s the right thing to do. Don’t give the charity guy an immediate answer. Tell him you’ll think about it, and really think about it. If you are honestly being a good Samaritan here, fine. Now hear this: if you’re doing it for free because you’re afraid you’ll lose the opportunity for “artistic exchange,” then being poor is your own fault. This just happens to be a perfect pipe dream down into the next topic.

In the indie world there’s this debate about being a creator for hire versus the allure of profit sharing. The “hired-gun creator” usually gets an agreed-upon lump sum divided into two parts. The first half being a deposit (upfront payment allowing the artist to prioritize his/her time), and the second half being the remainder (the rest of the fee).  Profit sharing usually happens with larger projects. If you’re a hired writer for instance, the head of the book may offer you a large percentage of ongoing sales in exchange for a smaller deposit upfront. If you’re a hired illustrator for an ongoing comic series, this is also common. My take is by no means a biblical breakdown of bartering skills. However, these are lessons I’ve usually learned the hard way. I hope this knowledge makes things easier for you.

Early on, if you really want to start paying for things with art, I suggest the hired-gun approach. It’s simple, it’s immediate, and it’s a wonderful way to learn the business as you go. The clientele that you serve will prefer quality and a quick(ish) turn around time. Find a way to serve them well and protect yourself at the same time. A good reputation with these people who hire you is critical, but you’re not a piece of meat. Creative newbies can be very trusting, and therefore, sometimes get taken advantage of. If you really know your worth, then get comfortable setting boundaries. For example, if you’re an illustrator, you might consider giving the client the opportunity for 2 free full revisions. After that, you charge a per-hour penalty for your time. Otherwise you may wind up drawing the same Poison Ivy with 100 different noses for six months. As a writer, there are only so many drafts you can shell out. The same rules apply. After a few rewrites, there needs to be a draft fee. Make sure the clients are aware of everything up front. If you can’t eat while working on the project, the project shouldn’t be a priority. Again, I learned this the hard way. I once ate cheese off of cardboard while writing a song for a client. Don’t short-change yourself, and definitely don’t eat cheese off of cardboard.

If you do things right, your confidence should increase with each project. Remember to have faith, and always challenge yourself. Lastly, don’t be afraid to say no to a project. It seems counter-intuitive, but when you do have the courage to ride away from something that isn’t serving you, that’s when you’ll really start going places.

If you do things right, your confidence should increase with each project.

Once you have gained a bit of experience, you might consider profit sharing. It’s a whole different circuit and has its own ups and downs. If I’m sticking with the Mario Kart metaphors, we’re sliding into 150cc territory here. The drivers of projects tend to (usually, but not always) be more experienced. The relationships are more long term. As a result, there can be more expectations, more assumptions, and more risk. It’s a great idea if you have a lot of faith in the project itself. If you really think the story, franchise, or business model is something special, then by all means, feel free to forgo immediate riches for a stake in passive income possibilities. It’s a bit of a gamble, but can be very rewarding if you have patience, dedication, and good interpersonal skills. Once the product is out there and begins to gain traction, your bank account should grow accordingly.

Another facet to consider: Younger creators sometimes have a hard time with starry eyes. They believe in the dream more than themselves. Don’t make that mistake. Contracts can provide the perfect amount of UV protection from the blinding burn of big, bright, planet-size promises. It’s important to note that contracts don’t exist to protect naive geniuses from hungry sharks. In my experience, they exist to protect good people from their own, sometimes accidental, humanity. In other words, good people with the best intentions make bad decisions all the time. Good humans have bad egos. Good humans forget things. Good humans can lose heart when heads get too crowded. A contract should not be an intimidating document. It should be an inanimate friend that preserves the animation of a relationship. Bottom line: people come first. Make sure any contract you sign is a covenant of friendship and business, not a prison sentence for you and your dreams. Respect will take you closer to the finish line than any other shortcut out there. I don’t share any of this to make you fearful of collaboration. We know there’s nothing more fulfilling than a group of people letting go of ego for something much bigger. Learn the difference between owning who you are and being selfish with your content. This arena is not always about speed. Sometimes the only way to win is to slow down.

We’re rounding the final curve, friends. How do you feel? Can you reconcile personal, artistic integrity with your bank account? Are you comfortable with asking for dough? Can you call yourself an artist? I believe you can, and so does this community. The only ones who can’t are people who refuse to at least acknowledge the modern era of this art business. If you’re one of those Luddites out there who’s “angry” at the digital/internet world, fine. I can’t change your belief system. There’s nothing wrong with putting pen/pencil to paper. It is, in fact, and will always be, incredibly beautiful. However, avoiding or especially “hating” digital because you feel like the world is “losing something” is straight up immature, moronic, and just bad business. I’ve said this before, but learning, exploring, and adapting to new platforms is what creativity is all about. If you’re making money in indie comics without the power of Google, Instagram, Facebook, or Snapchat, then I applaud you. Email me at chris@comixcentral.com and tell me I’m wrong about the necessity of the internet community and digital platforms. Break down your own process, tell me how you pay all your bills using your art without the Internet, and I’ll write you an apology personally. I’ll even give you the opportunity for a guest blog post. Let the games begin.

It’s about connection, and this new world is ripe with that possibility.

Last thing, I’m not trying to be overly positive or overly direct here. Living off of your art in the indie world is hard. I get it, but there’s plenty of people who do. Look for us. Ask for help. Be genuine. Chances are we’ll probably want to help you. It’s not about chasing a deal with Marvel, DC, or even Image (If that happens for you, great btw). It’s about connection, and this new world is ripe with that possibility. It’s everywhere. Just keep your eyes open, and actively look. Honestly, I need to ask you all one more favor as a community. Can we please take the word “starving” as far away from our artistry as possible? The kind of artistic success we’re talking about means time and overcoming challenges, but it also means fulfilment beyond measure. This article may have been about tactics, but this game is still 90% mental. If we keep calling ourselves starving artists, then so we shall be. Let’s change it up. We’re not starving. Starving implies a sort of frailty. We are not frail. We are hungry. We are energetic. We are the collective. We are pillars of support. We are hunters, gatherers, and friends. We create the very ideas that feed us. How could we ever starve? We are the never-ending story in a world that lives off of imagination. We make fantasy into reality for everyone else all the time. Why not do it for ourselves? You got this, people. Laziness must die, and fear must be let go. Only when you quit being a bitch can you finally become the unicorn and never go hungry again.  


 


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Just DO the work.

comic book motivation

A friend of mine had once told me the secret to breaking into the comics biz was to “Just DO the work.”

Without name dropping, this friend, who made quite a name for himself in the indie comics world and was becoming a success in his own right. When he gave me this seed of wisdom, it took some time for the idea to grow. Once I realized what he meant, I was at the drawing table as often as I had the time. Just creating.

I had had brushes with my dream job, make it into the comics biz as a full-time storyteller, a few times in the past. My relationships with other creators always seem to steer me further into the right direction. But somehow, fall short of the intended destination.

I pushed my submissions to many publishers over the years, nearly coming close to drawing my hero for a fledgling company. No matter how close I came to my dream, it seemed not to be. I was chasing the damned Roadrunner. It was exhausting. Coyote or not, I could not continue wasting my time and energy chasing something, seemingly, unattainable. So, what was there to do?



“Just DO the work.” His words kept pinging off the inside of my brain. What had it meant?

To me, four words never held such mysticism and mystery. Doing the work surely had meant keep submitting your work to companies. Over time, that didn’t prove true. So, there had to be another meaning. One I had to discover on my own. Just DO the work. Just create. Just write. Just draw. Just DO it. It began to sound convincing. What had I to lose?

Over the years, technology progressed, social media pages began exploding with all kinds of new apps. I began to think, Fine, If I can’t sell my art, I’ll showcase it. Somebody is bound to take notice. I took my art to Instagram and to Facebook. I stopped trying to sell myself to a faceless company whose only concerns were their bottom line and not the reader’s interest. I want to tell stories and draw them for you as I see in my head. 

Just DO the work. Let THEM decide if they like it. Get your stuff out there. Don’t be afraid of negative feedback.


 

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CXC PodCast Episode #2

EPISODE #2


On today’s episode Leigh is joined by Kirsten Nelson, Chris Hendricks, Jamie Moran and Ricky Lima! They discuss Marvel Legacy, how Chris thinks the Big 2 are a bunch of cowards and how to get a fair deal in place BEFORE you start a collaboration project.

So please join us as we continue to learn the craft of Podcasting and are having a blast doing it!

[podbean resource=”episode=naews-7e9a44″ type=”audio-rectangle” height=”100″ skin=”1″ btn-skin=”108″ share=”1″ fonts=”Helvetica” auto=”0″ download=”0″ rtl=”0″]

Our sweet intro music is brought to you by Pleasure Pool! Thank you so much guys for letting us use your awesome tracks!



 

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CXC Podcast Episode #1 – Finding our Groove

Welcome to our very first ComixCentral podcast!

Now, a short disclaimer. We have no idea what we’re doing. Three members of our team found themselves early yesterday morning deciding to make a podcast, and they pulled the trigger. We’re all about just getting things done around here, even if you’re flying by the seat of your pants!! 


There are lots of shows dedicated to indie comics. There are review shows, shows that discuss art and the creators, and lots of shows that just geek out in wonderful ways! We didn’t want to step on their toes and so we decided to put together something a little different. As we move forward with our show, we hope to bring you more of our team members, lots of information on marketing, creating, collaborating, attending cons, getting published, covering your ass legally and so much more!

So please join Kirsten Nelson, Chris Hendricks and Leigh Jeffery as they discuss how Pulp Fiction traumatised Chris (not really though), Kirsten nerds out over how the brain interprets good and bad stories and we even get into what are some essential steps that every indie comic creator should take to market their comics as effectively as possible.

We hope you bear with us as we figure this whole thing out. I’m sure the journey will be entertaining! And hey, you might even get some tips on how to start your own podcast!

[podbean resource=”episode=d9z73-7e9a45″ type=”audio-rectangle” height=”100″ skin=”1″ btn-skin=”108″ share=”1″ fonts=”Helvetica” auto=”0″ download=”0″ rtl=”0″]




 

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Get New Customers and Reward Loyal Fans by Using our Coupon Feature

Here at ComixCentral, we don’t have favourites, But it doesn’t mean that you can’t!

Make your fans feel special by giving them discounts with the Coupons section in your ComixShop.



Perhaps you want to say a little thank you to your buyers or to those that helped you get up and running?

Say, you post something online using our social media links and would like give a small reward to those that help promote you by sharing?



You could even create a key for your friends and family which offers a 100% discount, such that you can gift your comics to those close to you!

 

So whatever you decide to do with your coupons, let your fans know that they are appreciated and grab some new readers too!

Best of luck!
Sincerely,

Your friendly neighbourhood Crystal & the ComixCentral team


 

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Crowdfunding Monthly Roundup – May 2017

comic book crowdfunding may

Hoooooweee, have we got some incredible Crowdfunding Campaigns to share!

Guys, we scoured Kickstarter this month to find you some amazing options on which to spend your dollars, make some dreams come true and be entertained AF! We’ve got some real gems in this May edition, so sit back, get that scrolling finger warmed up and let’s get started… KICKSTARTED that is!

And with that amazing play on words, may we present, the CXC Crowdfunding Monthly Roundup, May 2017.


KICKSTARTER

Emily Green is a struggling politician. She is the second-in-command of the British government, but her personal life is falling apart, she doesn’t believe in the political system anymore and she is preparing to quietly step down from her position after the upcoming General Election.

Jump into the Queen universe that Graphic Policy’s Brett Schenker, who works in politics, describes as

“About as authentic as you can get.”

After reading about the personal struggle that led creator Jamie Me to create Queen, we knew this was an important series and wanted to do our best to get the word out so he can continue to bring these incredible stories to life.

We think you should check out this campaign and throw your support behind this extraordinary team as well. Whether that means backing or sharing, let’s help these guys reach the widest audience possible, and help Queen find it’s home among every indie fan’s collection. 

Kickstarter Campaign   |    Twitter    |    Facebook


KICKSTARTER

Seemingly unrelated Horror and Sci-Fi stories in one gnarly 66 page comic book. Gross, gore, guest artists, grind-house style goodness!

http://kck.st/2p2Y5vc

What the Hell is KURU Anyway?

This phenomenal team would like their associated, Rod, to clue you lovely folks in about what exactly this sexy new book is all about!

Kuru is a horror comic book series that creator Brian Flint has been working on for the past year. The stories lean towards a Monster Movie/Science Fiction vibe with elements of Body Horror and a few Occult themes. His goal was to create a comic with crazy visuals, scary supernatural creatures and that grisly gory good stuff we all love to see in our favorite horror media. Couple that with unique, funny, likable characters and BLAZAM! You’ve got HELLBO-(ahem!)-you’ve got KURU!

This campaign has left us a little more than speechless. From the artwork to the professionally produced trailer to gripping storylines, Kuru #1 is more than a horror comic… it’s an experience. And in our humble opinion, it’s an experience everyone should partake in.

Drink heartily from the well of creativity being offered here my indie brethren, you are sure to have your thirst quenched! 

Kickstarter Campaign   |    Website    |    Facebook


KICKSTARTER

Issue one and issue two packages available – “What you see, what you can see, what you think you know; it tilts.”

http://kck.st/2qFJEBW

Show this campaign some love in its final days and get yourself some of these insanely creative comics and sweet swag too!

Kickstarter Campaign   |   Twitter    |   Website


KICKSTARTER

Derik Diaz is funding a print run for the over-sized second volume of his retro 90s action-adventure comic, The Adventures of Toad!

http://kck.st/2ppAd56

YES!! Get in on this guys! To quote the trailer, “Let’s destroy this goal with a webfooted kick to the face!”

Kickstarter Campaign   |   Website


KICKSTARTER

MONSTERS! LOST WORLDS! UFOs! The strange and unknown! Karl Kesel and Tom Grummett finally finish the comic they began 17 years ago!

http://kck.st/2qzV0UG

These dudes have a lofty goal, but totally doable with a book and team like this! Let’s make this happen! Also.. guys, these books take me back to 90’s X-Men.. and my nostalgic tears are flowing. 

Kickstarter Campaign   |   Facebook


And that’s it for now! If you’ve got a Campaign you think belongs on our list, let us know!

@comixcentral