Saturday, August 14, 2010

Reflections on the DIY COMICS CRASH COURSE

Earlier today at GEEKS Comics in Whittier, I conducted my DIY COMICS CRASH COURSE. I was really satisfied how the class turned out. The attendees were all really interested in the material I covered, as well as with one another's planned projects.

The companion book to the workshop.
This is the second time I've taught this particular workshop. With the 2 1/2 hour time limit, there was a definite amount of material I wanted to make sure I covered for the attendees. Not much chance to devote the whole time to the actual principles of storytelling, but I do focus on what I consider the practical aspects of publishing one's work. And there was no shortage of questions and contributions from the attendees, which I feel makes for a real robust, immersive experience for everybody!

Establishing the final form of one's story, whether it be a web comic or a printed publication of some sort, requires the artist to invest plenty of time in researching costs and time tables for web sites, printing fees, targeted convention dates, etc. What I did before I published my first book back in 1998 was to target an actual comic convention (APE) to debut my book at. This forced me to develop a schedule in which to finish my book, which in my case is always a good thing. (The ol' 'gun to the head' routine, so to speak!).

I honestly don't recall if I obtained quotes for my first printed book while I was still working on it, but it's something I recommend to the novice publisher. At least getting some type of ballpark figure gives them a leg up on saving up for their future printing bill. To finish their comic book, then realize they have to wait another 4 months to save up, for example, $500.00 to cover printing costs...Well, that's something that could be addressed with an early quote.

Like a lot of artists, I get inspired by other creators both within my field and from other mediums as well. Besides strongly recommending Dave Sim's new, revised, CEREBUS GUIDE TO SELF-PUBLISHING

I also recommended REBEL WITHOUT A CREW,  filmmaker Robert Rodriguez's account on filming his no-budget indie film, EL MARIACHI. There are a lot of parallels in trying to make a film with a mere handful of collaborators and a pittance of money with creating and publishing your own comic book. I found enough inspiration and instruction in the book to keep it on my 'Recommended reading' list for DIY cartoonists.

I really do enjoy this type of instruction, in that I'm conveying information and my personal experiences to adults who are planning to publish their own comics. I've taught lots of 'how to draw comics' classes to kids, and that's rewarding in it's own way. Teaching a youngster basic storytelling principles and seeing them apply some of that information to the way the create is a wonderful experience.

But knowing that someone has their own story to create, and is specifically looking for instruction and insight in how to approach all the publishing aspects (costs, marketing, presentation, etc) involved, that makes me feel like I'm giving someone a very practical set of tools. Sure, it's based on my own feelings about approaching DIY comics, but since I'm making the effort to provide my services, I don't have to teach anyone else's methods. I'll refer to other things that some creators have done, but I speak best about my own experiences and what's worked, or hasn't worked, for me.

Here's a pic of the 'graduating class':
Thanks to Neil Segura for sharing this pic! (You can read his post about the workshop here)

Like I mentioned earlier, there was a lot of interaction between these guys about what they were working on. I think that's very helpful because it let's people see that everyone is in a different stage of working or planning their books. A nice comment someone made was that it would be neat to see, in another year or two, where everybody is at in their role of self-published cartoonists. I agree!

Thanks to the attendees, and thanks as always to GEEKS Comics for hosting the workshop.


gonzalexx said...

Impressive endeavor, Javier! That's golden content. The attendants were very lucky to have your expertise. I knew it would be a success. Congratulations to you, and to the graduating Crash Course class!

Dinoff said...

Hi Javier,

I would love to attend one of your workshops, but I don't live in California; any way that you are going to sell that booklet that comes along with the course, or post it online? I would love to see it, if at all possible!

Keep up the good work my man!

Javier Hernandez said...

Dinoff: Thanks for the good words, they're much appreciated.

As far as the Handbook, since it was created as an actual companion to the DIY Comics Crash Course, I'd want to add additional material to it so it gives those who didn't attend the Course a more in-depth look into self-publishing.

I've been wanting to do a longer-form book (this one is 16 pages), so I think I'll take some time to draft up a much more comprehensive, stand-alone book and put it on my publishing schedule for 2011.

Stay tuned here on the blog, and the JAVILAND podcast, for news and content on self-publishing.

Gonzalexx: I'm glad this workshop turned out so well. Thanks. I want to see some of the books these Crash Coursers put out in the future!