Anthony Coffey, Mike Kitchen, Blair Kitchen, Troy Little, Jesse Labbe

Ever since I returned home from the San Diego Comicon, my mind has been thinking non stop.  Mix that with the fact that Dave Sim’s new edition of  ‘Cerebus’ Guide to Self Publishing’ has just been released, (and I’ve been reading it non stop) it’s amazing that I can still sleep at night with all that is bouncing around in my head.

The highlight of San Diego was talking with all of the like minded creators and artists that Mike and I met (some very successful, and some who are just plugging away at what they love to do).  I loved discussing and hearing about what strategies or opinions everyone had about publishing and making comic books.  We talked a lot about the merits of finding a publisher such as IDW or Archaia and what those publishers had to offer.  Like all things, there’s some definite ups and some definite downs to going with a publisher as opposed to self publishing.  A big upside is the fact that people tend to take you more seriously.  A downside would be that I’ve talked to very few creators that have actually seen any money from the books that have been sold (only because the publisher has to pay for their printing costs first, and only after that is paid for does the artist/creator get a percentage).  I figure if I’m not going to be getting paid, I might as well have complete control over my books, but there’s something to be said about working with a publisher to establish a fan base and then keeping the option of self publishing future books open.  (It’s not something I want to do personally, though).

The other great thing about getting together with like minded people is seeing how much passion and how much energy everyone is putting into their work.  That energy is transferable, and I definitely feel inspired to work on my own comics now, more than ever.  I often wonder why there are so few successful self published titles (and by successful, I mean financially successful in the fact that self publishing pays the bills and you can do it as full-time work rather than doing it part-time, while your ‘day job’ pays for your self publishing, like most).  Are most self publishers not successful because they quit, or do they quit because they can’t be successful?  Dave Sim talks a lot about the need to have your comic come out on a regular schedule and not make people wait too long between issues.  This is such a hard thing to crack with print comics, because of the cost of printing and the need to pay for it.  It’s a huge accomplishment for most people to find the time to draw the comics between their ‘day job’, but it’s another thing to squeeze in extra ‘day job’ freelance work to pay for the printing of the comic work.  If you want to avoid going into debt, until your comics start making some money you really have to hold down three jobs (your regular job to pay the bills and feed the family, drawing your self published comic, and freelance work to pay for the printing bills, etc.)  Is it wise to dive headfirst into this business and take a year off, go $80,000 in debt and put out 12 comics in 12 months and hope to eventually start making money off each comic (treating it as getting a business loan), or is it better to plug away at a webcomic, where the costs to publish are much less, but there’s no physical comic right away?  Can you do both at the same time?

One thing for sure is it takes discipline, hard work, and commitment.  There’s so much to think about, but thinking will only get you so far.   I’m going to put a big sign up over my drawing desk that says “Draw comics every day!!!” and I’m going to do what the sign says.