Are you an independent comic book artist who wants to create a comic book, but you’re not sure where to start? Do you have quick-witted characters and raw talent, but lack the experience to get your ideas off the ground? If so, this article will help you publish your comic book with no prior experience in marketing or publishing.
1. Don’t think big too soon
When you think of brands like Marvel and DC, it’s hard to imagine gaining their level of following. Although all companies start small, Marvel and DC were launched by experienced industry experts. Marvel Comics was founded in 1939 by an experienced magazine publisher named Martin Goodman. At the time, comic books were rising in popularity, so Goodman created a comic book featuring superheroes like Human Torch and Sub-Mariner. The famed Captain America first appeared as one of Goodman’s characters in 1941. DC Comics came onto the scene with superheroes in 1956, and until the 80s, Marvel and DC were the top players (and rivals) in the comic book industry. Although Marvel filed bankruptcy in 1996, they relaunched in 1998 with products to reach an expanded demographic.
2. Don’t try to recreate Marvel and DC comics
Your characters are probably just as amazing as Spider-Man and Thor; however, don’t focus too much on trying to recreate the same level of fame created by Marvel and DC. Your comic might get picked up by a popular comic book company, but don’t place your bets on it. Don’t think too big too soon. Stay focused on creating your content for your niche audience and don’t measure your success by numbers. Measure your success by how much your market enjoys your comics.
3. Look into high-quality comic book printing methods
There are many ways to print your comics, but running down to the office to use the photo copy machine isn’t one of them. Unless you’re distributing samples to friends, you should get your comic books professionally printed. Printing your comic books in full color isn’t expensive, and you can do it online. Printing Center USA offers high-quality, affordable comic book printing for standard comics and graphic novels. If your friends tell you they know someone who can print your comics cheaply, be wary of jumping in with your money before you can see their results. It’s not worth risking a bad print job just to get a better deal, especially when online printing is already so cheap.
The other option you have is to go through a self-publishing company like Balboa Press, Kindle Direct, or Lulu. The problem is, you’ll probably want more ownership over your content than a self-publisher is willing to give. Just like big name publishers, you’ll be required to sign a contract for publishing rights for a certain amount of time. If you decide you want someone else to publish your book, you’ll have to wait until the end of the contract or buy it out for a large sum of money.
4. Learn from other comic book artists
There are other artists who have been exactly where you are, and they frequently share their experience on YouTube and personal blogs. Find other comic artists and learn from them. For instance, Chris McQuinlan published a YouTube video with tips for starting a new comic, and his process for turning ideas into a script. Remember, being able to draw your characters and come up with general ideas is wonderful, but you need to understand how to write your scripts so the storyline flows and doesn’t leave readers with a disconnect.
Some notable books to read include:
- How to Make Webcomics by Eisner award-winning Scott Kurtz and several others
- Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art by Scott McCloud. This book is praised throughout the cartoon industry, and examines the history of comics including cultural significance.
5. Strengthen your storytelling skills
Comic books are stories. Just like a novel, your comic book needs a storyline. Wonderful art isn’t enough to hold people’s interest. Check out Pop Culture Classroom’s Storytelling Through Comics program and learn how to engage and hold your readers’ attention
6. Start wherever you are
Don’t wait until you have all the answers to start. You’ll have to learn as you go. Learn enough to start creating your storyline and characters, and start getting your hands dirty. Don’t be afraid to fail – you might need to make several mistakes before getting it right.