Hello again! Time for another post it seems. This week I thought it would be fun (fun for me anyway) to go over the things I learned from producing our first comic book. I was going to try and make a “Top 10 things I learned,” but I think I will stick to three for now. Game art and comic art are very different So as you may or may not know I am a game developer / designer, with the experience I have gained from that world; I thought that a comic book would be a really easy straightforward process. It kinda is, but not in the way I was expecting. Typically in the game development world a single artist can produce a simple 2D asset from concept to final, with only animations and effects to be sometimes done by others later. So I assumed a comic book artist would handle, well, the art. One person to do everything! Create concepts, color it, copy and paste the text in, and there! We’re done! No, no, no. This is not the way a comic is created. It’s a process usually made by a minimum of four individual people, and from what I can tell, sometimes up to six and maybe more, who knows. But let’s focus just on art here. You need someone to storyboard, pencil, and ink. This can be and for us is one person. I suppose you could have three people do it, whatever makes you happy. This process takes about 2-3 weeks depending on the artist and their workload. Next stop is coloring. This is what I found most surprising. I remember thinking to myself what do you mean you don’t color?! That’s all art is isn’t it?! Haha well in the comic world each artist specializes in a specific part of the pipeline for both quality and speed. After looking at a number of different colorists, I quickly appreciated how vastly one illustration can change depending on who did the colors. Which I think is very cool. They can add a lot of depth to the piece, set the mood, draw the eye to certain spots, I now understand why it’s broken down like this. After the colorist is done lettering! They make all the bubbles of text, obviously, but in a way that looks much better than something done in notepad; also, something I never considered were sound effects (still makes me giggle, there’s no audio in a book!). There is a lot more to it and they add text that immerses a reader into the story and create text that visually stimulates the imagination to create a sound. Finally the cover! There are people that only do covers, we didn’t go that route because personally I have never liked when a cover does not reflect the internal material (let’s all consider NES game covers), but maybe we will for issue 3 or 4 just to see how it turns out. Distribution? Ok great, the comic is done! Now how are we going to get it where it needs to be. Ideally you ask this question before the comics are done. Lucky for me, I did! This is a very convoluted problem actually, now you see there’s this company called Diamond and they essentially hold the comic book distribution business in a monopoly. Ok, ok, that’s fine, everything’s fine just get into diamond right? They have a catalogue where people can order your book kinda like steam, and they will print and ship, easy right! NO! They have quite the stipulations, first you need to have been active for a year in the comic world, you need to have 2k for marketing, and you need to have a comprehensive marketing plan laid out for their approval. Yeah so we don’t really fit the bill. Ok, pack up we’re done. HA! Never! So without Diamond how do we get books in stores? Digital is easy enough but i really believe we need books in stores to get our story off the ground. Ok, so this is a multi-step problem, and we need a way to get the books printed at a reasonable rate, so we need a way to get these books from A-B, and also at a reasonable rate, and we need to be able to do it coast to coast to capture our full market. We also need to be able to get location specific shipping rates. Oh and let’s not forget we need an easy way for a store to actually buy one of our books. The best way to do this that I found was our local print shop Syntrak and NetParcel for shipping. NetParcel can be used with both paypal and Woocommerce! Great! With this website based point of sale with netparcel, we can take an order when one is placed and we get a code that the netparcel site uses to auto fill our shipping form and provide our shipping label. The hardest part is now creating shipping zones for each state and province, and actually packing orders. But packing orders as of today, I take great pleasure in doing, so that’s good! The world of digital It would be silly to not use every possible route to sell our book, so we also went with digital. Comixology is the best way to do this and appears to have the market cornered. Be very aware that the process to get on their platform is months. It’s simple to do, just a very long process time. Google Play Books is another option, but they don’t appear to be a common platform used by comic book readers, and IOS also suffers in the same way, only it’s by far the most painful to get your book on it. One, IOS wont allow pdfs and requires special epub files….We will not be using google or IOS again, literally not worth the grief. It is also worth noting that comiXology ranks poorly in my books for analytics, you get a report from them once a month-ish stating how many books were sold, to what countries, and how much you get from that. That’s it, there is no way to see if any of your marketing efforts are effective until a month later, and no way to know what marketing effort converted the best. So as of today I think that getting books in stores is the best way to go. Well I think that’s all I got in the tank today. If there’s anything you are curious about the world of Indie comic production / publishing that I didn’t touch on or anything else for that matter never hesitate to reach out to us! Have a good one and stay safe! -Scott Humes