Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Let's run this up the flag pole...

I've been thinking a lot about new comics projects lately, and ways to circumnavigate the sometimes torturous approval process of the comics publishing companies. I don't fault this process--having been a submissions editor at Dark Horse Comics for about a year, I understood that my role was to act as gate-keeper. And even though I now have (a precious few) contacts, editors to whom I can go directly with new material, the approval process is still cumbersome. I believe I've mentioned that once I turned in the pitch for Gear School, it was more than a year before I was told it was approved and I could go ahead and start writing it.

Now when I sit down to start making notes on a project, I think about that theoretical year-long wait and I become discouraged. For the past few months I've been thinking of a way to produce comics and to get them in front of people in a more timely manner. The answer, maybe: web comics.

Being as I'm not artistic, in fact I have a medically diagnosed case of lack of drawing skills, I'd need to con convince some artists to join me in this endeavor.

I've been thinking that I'd work with four artists on four different stories to minimize the impact on any one artist's schedule. Eight page stories would update on Fridays, with a different story updating each week. Story A updates week 1, story B on week 2, etcetera. Some months are five weeks long and we could build in skip weeks where no stories are updated--this would give everyone, especially me, the occasional week off. Or a skip week could feature a self-contained story drawn by a guest artist. Following this schedule, we (the artists and I) would produce 32 pages, or a floppy comic's, worth of comics every month. And each story would produce a collection's worth of material every year.

One would hope that these stories would be popular enough to warrant collecting, whether it be on a POD site like Lulu.com or to shop them around to traditional publishers. One would further hope that we could merchandise these comics as well--you know, t-shirts and the like.

The inspiration for this came from a few different places. A few years ago, when I worked at Dark Horse Comics, I created and administered something called Strip Search which was a weekly web comic that featured up-and-coming artists. There's Warren Eliis's and Paul Duffield's FreakAngels which updates six pages of new comics free every week and which has had one book's worth of material collected and printed so far. Finally, a whole host of web comics have attracted a wide following and seem to make a profit selling merchandise--Diesel Sweeties, Overcompensating and Penny Arcade come to mind. My reasoning is, of course, "if they can do it, so can I." This may be flawed logic, but that's the kind I like best.

The final reason for this little venture would be to work on a variety of projects, some of which might not be as commercially viable as the mainstream publishers would like, but that might find a niche audience on the Internet.

And it would always keep me working, too, which is a good thing.

Obviously, these are initial thoughts and I'll need to do a lot more thinking before, and if, I move forward with this. But I would appreciate any thoughts anyone reading this might have.

Internet, I await your judgment.


Lani said...

My initial reaction is: Cool, can't wait to see it!

The other couple thoughts that jump to mind are:

Do you have enough time to commit? What will happen if/when other gigs come up?

There will be a lot of work done before you get any financial return and the financial return may be minimal. Will that feel ok in the longrun?

You already have a bit of a fan base to spread word of this around, right?

It sounds like you have thought about this a lot and have a good plan, so I say go for it.

Greg said...

I'd read that!

adam jk gallardo said...

Hey, Lani,

Thanks for the comment. I'm probably going to turn my response to your points, as well as some comments I got via email, into another post either tonight or tomorrow. I hope folks don't get tired of this.

And, Greg, thanks for the vote of confidence!