Friday, 29 July 2011

Independent Need Not Mean Undiscovered

I've been thinking a lot recently about the freedoms and restrictions of independent comic book creating and story telling, and whether or not creators have or even need an end game in mind.

A small caveat - I am using independent creators to describe those who do not work professionally in comics at present, and am avoiding creator owned creators for the sake of this discussion.

Are you trying to emulate the established model and show the big boys that you have the same skills they do? Some things to bear in mind -

  • You have 22 pages in which to tell your story
  • You are competing with established professionals, companies and intellectual properties - often with some 8+ decades of established history and recognition
  • Your art work will need to match theirs in terms of quality as much as possible
  • Any story you try to tell, will probably already have been told, and so you will need to present a 'hook' to get attention, and you will need to do it fast
These should all be remembered if your intention is to pitch an idea and move from independent to company published.

However, being a comic book creator, and an independent one at that, doesn't mean that your only aim is to write in an established stable.

There are so many freedoms afforded the independent creator, which can really work to our benefit. Mainly that the restrictions need not apply. Long form story telling can be employed, and utilized to great effect.

I think indie creators need to adjust their thinking. The independent arena is a place to learn your craft - make mistakes - find quicker, easier ways to tell stories. But it needs to be worked through.

I think a lot of creators forget this, and do themselves a great disservice in not working through this process and learning these steps - thinking of themselves as undiscovered finished articles, rather than up and coming.

The danger in trying to match established comics is that creators become myopic. The good and great ones can reference and create something new - the bad become copies of copies, retreading the same ground.

I love independent comics, because of their freedom, because they are often times new and different and not what one expects - and because the story being told more times than not is a story someone wants to tell, rather than a story someone thinks someone might want to read.

It's a small distinction, but for me it shows through.

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