Recently the guys over at ifanboy.com asked Eric and I if we wanted to contribute to an article they were putting together concerning the struggles so many unpublished creators go through to see their product hit shelves. The Article used a rough approximation of what both Eric and myself had to say.
The little bit that follows is what I had sent to Eric before we Amalgamized (its a word now) our experiences during the ongoing production of Hastings. One of my major intentions with this blog is to recount for anyone interested in hearing just how annoying and eventually rewarding it can be to just just outside something you love so much.
"Why the Hell are we doing this? Ive asked Eric that several times. I ask myself almost daily. A main-stream comic is read by few enough people as it is. What chance do two unknowns like us have in this market? You throw yourself at least 12 hours a day into something that offers no page rate or promise for publication. All you have is the constant desire to see something of your own brought to life. Telling a story that means something to you. Fighting with the nagging urge that hounds you to put it on paper. You worry about working in a potential vacuum while still trying to be wary that everything and anything you may have seen before may possibly taint your own idea.
Do you work to serve your story and idea, or do you attempt to create an illusion just to bump sales? It is common knowledge that a good chunk of Serial Comic sales are based on a good cover. This fact has been exploited ever since the first issues hit the stands. A little intrigue and suggestive visuals lead you to expect anything and everything from a comic, only to get home open it up and realize there is nothing reminiscent between the pages. So do you serve yourself as a creator, or your creation through shrewd marketing tactics and transparent lies? Do you make a flashy cover that attracts the eye but does nothing for the final product? Do you write scenes that are controversial instead of serving the story? Where do you draw the line between the commercial product, and the reason you chose to make the product in the first place.
Normally these problems would be handled in house. A publisher or editor would make these decisions for us. But Eric and I have to see the lines for ourselves and choose a side. Do we try to get a sale, or do we try to make our comic?
So we hope to tap into the rush you get from your individual idea enough to translate it to a piece of paper 8 by 10 and relay that same feeling in some way to a reader who didn’t buy the product because of a name or a license. He wasn’t sold with Toys, logos, commercials or PR. The people who buy these comics are people looking for fresh voices and original ideas. The problem is that it is our idea to give them that. That is how you get noticed. They look for something new. And you hope you have it. But who are we kidding…it’s a lot of our friends and family. Every comic shop might mean 5 sales. Each family member and friend hopefully can be jokingly threatened into 2 copies. But at the end of the day, how do you push your message into the faces of the guy who loves comics but has been conditioned to the "present and feed" marketing structure that comics thrive in today.
But, the tighter the hole is to squeeze through, the harder you push. Because you're in creator owned properties, you are not peddling someone else’s baby. You are not backed by someone else’s dream. You only have your vision, your ideas, and the need to get one more out there. These ideas are solely yours. If you are lucky you find a small set of people who feel confident enough in these ideas to pull together and produce something that is your own. For most of us there will be no mug or lunchbox for our ideas…but when you are selling comics in the independent fields…there are always more people. Standing on the professional on-ramp, hoping you have what it takes to merge when the opportunity presents itself."