Sunday, 8 August 2010

Comic Book Writer - Why?

“The Ultimate goal of a writer is to be read, money comes later.” Paulo Coelho, writer.

Working as a writer in the world of indie and self published comic books can be pretty lonely. Unsure if people are even reading your work, despite the constant search for validation can get to a person after a while.

I recently pondered on two questions; in the world of indie comic books, who benefits more, the writer or the artist? Secondly, why do I do this?

Firstly, if a writer is not an artist, s/he is placed into a position of making a choice – do they try to find a collaborator for their idea, or do they pay someone to come on board? If going for the later, then it is probably best that the writer has a job!

The artist, however, will almost always devote more time to the project in completing their part, than the writer will. Having a job isn’t really an option, unless the artist does not need sleep, is a kind hearted billionaire or lives under a bridge. Being paid for their work is always good, what with it taking up the better part of a day to produce one page.

General consensus seems to suggest that the best way to break into comics is to be a published writer. This is not the catch-22 it may initially seem. Self-publishing has always been an option. With Print on Demand options being available, the publishing costs can be removed almost entirely, allowing you to funnel that expense back into the project true.

The artist is able to present samples, use sample scripts and attend conventions and open reviews to get their work out into the greater world. These are all things that the writer is not really able to do (most companies, even for pitches, will not accept unless art pages have been completed).

It seems as though one needs the other more than the other needs one.

However, again, remember that little issue about time and money?

I wrote Omnitarium in my spare time from my day job. It was an idea that I had been playing around with for several years, and I had a very clear idea of where I wanted it to go. A rough estimate of time it took me to write all four scripts? First drafts, around 8 or 9 hours – revisions, around a couple of hours. All in, 10 or 11 hours, approximately.

I am certain it took J.C. a lot longer to produce the pages of art.

What is my why? If I am in this for the money, I either have an incredible amount of patience or I am a terrible business man!

Issue one of Omnitarium was released in conjunction with Indy Comic Book Week. It was given a boost in promotion because of this association. To date I have sold just under twenty copies through Indyplanet (the main place to buy the print edition) and two digital copies through DriveThru. I also sent out nearly 150 copies to various stores because of the Indy Comic Book Week drive. I do not know how many of these have sold.

Issue two’s sales, to date, are two copies – one of which I am certain that my in-laws bought.

Issue three has just been released, and has no sales at present.

However, the benefit of Print on Demand and the Indyplanet model is that the book is evergreen in print. Low numbers at the moment do not indicate the failure that they would if the book was in a limited run.

These numbers may change with Long Beach Comic Con, where I will be tabling later in the year. Conventions are the indie and self-published creators friend in a way that traditional comic book stores are not.

Is the book being read though? It has had good reviews so far, and is now on-line at http://www.omnitarium.net where page counts are registering, so I think it is.

Is this enough? For me, yes. I really have been in love with comic books story telling since as long as I can remember. It is what I’ve always wanted to do. I am now doing it.

My day job can take the slack of this being my hobby for a while at least, and maybe it will lead to something more.

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