Monday, September 07, 2009

My DIY comics seminar I taught this past weekend

On Saturday, I conducted a seminar on self-publishing comics at GEEKS, our friendly, neighborhood, upscale comic book shop nestled in Uptown Whittier.

The seminar was suggested to my by Sal, our man at GEEKS. Many of his customers had asked him for advice on self-publishing, so he thought I would be a good candidate to approach. I thought it was a great idea, as I like sharing my insights and experience with others, and I was actually curious to see what type of turnout we would have on a Labor Day weekend.

At one point, we had filled all 30 seats, with several folks standing for the nearly 2-hour seminar. It was scheduled for 1 hour, and some folks has to leave at the hour mark, but most stayed, asking questions on everything from copyrights to how much time it takes to finish a book.

There were a few people in attendance who are already creating their own books/web comics, but most seemed interested in learning just how to go about getting started. The one thing I tried to get across is the amount of work, time and passion you have to put into publishing your own comics. And of course to always think of expressing your own voice first, rather than primarily looking at this as a way to make tons of money. Making money is a perfectly legit goal (I know I pursue every time I print a book, but the basis of my comics are creating unique, personal expressions of art).

One of my four talking points was 'DON'T CREATE IN A VACUUM'. Which is a shortened way of saying don't create 32 completed pages of a comic book, and then try to find out about printers, conventions, networking, etc. Think of your comic from every aspect before you decide to self-publish (because obviously, 'self' means you are going to it on your own, and 'publishing' means printing the books, arranging distribution, marketing, selling, etc). Learn from others how to go about getting your book in people's hands, making contacts with retail outlets, internet marketing and more. With the same passion and commitment that you use in creating your stories, writing your scripts and drawing your pages.

The first reward you're going to get is that you created something on your own, and produced a physical manifestation of it with your own money. The second half of the equation is that you have to get the word out about you and your work (because branding yourself and your work as one inseparable entity is your brand!).

These are all my own thoughts on self-publishing. Everyone will have different ways to approach the subject. But my experiences and successes and setbacks all come from my personal way of doing things, and by sharing those with others, it gives them examples of how things can be done. For me, sharing ways to make comics, and encouraging others to do so, doesn't create more competition for me. It just makes more people aware of the possibility to have their own voice in comics.

In my 11 years of self-publishing, I've met every type of creator: some of the miserable, self-loathing variety, others full of pompous hype, the ever present wannabe-Hollywood player, and worse. But I've also seen far more creators who are having fun with their work, working hard to get better and build their audience, and innovative, creatively inspiring artists just trying 'to make an honest buck'.

You can't teach or guide people to fall in any group, but you can do your best to inspire them positively by your example. That's what I hope I do for others.

The photos I used to illustrate this blog were taken by a wonderfully nice couple who attended my workshop. Adonna & Arvie from Agimat Comics (shown below), which features their debut web comic SHADOW CANDY. Looks like they hit the ground running in launching their web comic. I wasn't aware of their work before, but I'm really glad I got the chance to meet them. Check out their site and subscribe to their comic! And don't forget to follow em on TWITTER!

And thanks also to Sal at GEEKS for suggesting and hosting this event. Everyone tells him how much they love his clean, attractive, friendly store, and you should too! And
thanks as well to everyone who attended. The pleasure was all mine!

Now I guess I better get started on my long-gestating handbook I've been meaning to write on D.I.Y. comics publishing, right?!

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