Sunday, September 17, 2017

On the lineup for a new comics company

Yeah, I'm going to continue from yesterday's post. Because a lot of people want to get things moving, and more of them want to write or perhaps draw, everyone wants to read, but very few want to build a whole picture.(Not that I have the funding to manage this).

Yes, the bulk of your books are going to be hero titles. Because that is the type of story that comics tells better than anything else. It's also the most expected thing. But take care to make unique characters, and not just ripoffs, though one or two will of necessity be derivative. Yeah, I don't care about your archer or gadget guy or martial artist. Shoot, use something like Mutants and Masterminds to create characters, so you've got real limits of power, and know how everything works.

But, you need some other books. In fact, I'd say close to half should not be hero titles.

Let's say you start with 10 titles. Yeah, that's a lot to manage right off. Shops won't take you very seriously without a variety. So, four or five at launch should be hero books. Perhaps 3 solo titles, one team book, and maybe an anthology for widening your world.

So you've got 5 books less. Sff/horror should be likely three of them, maybe even four. But you might want to make one for each of  the  marketing genres(yes, it's ok to play that game initially, we know it's a lie). And if you have an author that can tell a good story in it, have a western, it can be straight or weird. If you can, try for a sword and sorcery book, Robert E. Howard is still having adaptations done that move well enough, same with Edgar Rice Burroughs.

There's your 10 book start, if you can get all that. Three months after launch, you add another hero title, and maybe another sff book.Or you can add something like a spy story or a crime book. It's not like there's any restrictions on what you publish unless you want there to be.

Another note: There need to be very clear terms for writers and artists on what they're paid for, and their royalty returns for any creations they add(which would be subject to approval). This shouldn't need to be said, but as most comics guys are lousy businessmen, I'm saying it.

Yes, finding all the talent needed would be a big challenge. That's not to mention getting listed in a distributor(Daiamond right now, by default, but I know there's something in the works). And you have to build word of mouth. This in fact will require a good bit of startup money, because you want about 3 months ready to go BEFORE launch. So you can hit up a few small cons, talk to stores and readers, and show them what you're doing. Have an issue or two pre printed(not final, maybe just pencilled and lettered) to give a shop owner, so they can talk to their customers. Build Buzz.

Yeah, I put all this rant out there in the lame hopes that somebody might be paying attention and do it. Maybe even offer me a job to help keep things in line, because comics would be cool to work in. I'm not going to hold my breath, but 4 color dreams are nice.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.


  1. Okay, so what do you need that you don't have? Forget the talent end for the moment, if you have the platform you'll attract the talent.

    What does it cost to publish a comic book? How would you go about marketing your distributor to shops, and what would you need to accomplish it? What sort of business acumen do you need that you don't possess personally? How many full time workers do you need for the fulfillment?

    Write a business plan. Work on recruiting the people with the skills you need. Figure out how much money you need and add a healthy margin for unforeseen expenses. Then crowdfund it.

    1. Mr Burnett -- I'll take a shot at this, though I'm sure I'm missing some details:

      - How will the book be produced once the art and and dialog (final pages) are completed?
      ** Print.
      -- Need printer who can do 4-color separation printing (including scanning/photography, or find a separate company to do this)
      -- Printer must be able to do square bind or saddle-staple binding, boxing, and delivery to you or to your distributor(s).
      -- Currently Diamond is your singular option for comic book delivery, but there are numerous regional periodical distributors in the US. (Link) One would have to make deals with each of them to (1) agree distribute your book, and (2) keep their minimum number of print copies low enough that it doesn't destroy your bank account.
      -- Figure out the payment schedule and factor that timeline into your plan. If your printer or distributors don't get paid, you are out of business.

      ** ebook/PDF.
      -- Need people skilled in ebook production, with appropriate skills in a PageMaker-like program, HTML/CSS and related skills. PDF is less flexible on mobile platforms, though would work adequately on desktop systems.
      -- Electronic delivery and payment system (such as Amazon, 3rd-Party web delivery system + payment processor) is needed.

      - Print-on-demand may be a way to combine print and ebook formats. Produce monthly/bi-monthly/quarterly comics, then perhaps 8-12 issues of a title could be rolled up into hard or soft cover graphic novel format on an annual or biannual basis. Possible that some printers would do shipping, but likely a direct-from-company shipment to the reader.

      - Don't forget to include some small measure of admin support to take orders, handle phone inquiries, do some shipping and receiving (depending on which format and delivery direction you choose), and help the manager keep the creative cats in some semblance of a herd.

      - Critical here is a strong manager to keep the creatives on track and on schedule. The biggest mistake a small comic company can make is to over promise and start busting schedules. Easier to make a bi-monthly comic a monthly than vice versa when it comes to the customer expectations.

      None of these are new recommendations, and people like David Lillie are rethinking the comic distribution paradigms, so some new wine skins may be on the horizon.

      My 2 cents.

    2. Oh, yeah. Get a flatter and a letterer on permanent staff. That will be a huge help to the artists' speed in the production of color books.