By Travis Gibb
September 24, 2023
Metal Ninja Studios is dedicated to providing free, high quality education about the comic book creation process. Topics include writing, lettering, production, print prep, and more!
So, you want to make comic books? You’ve been reading comics all your life. You’re following your favorite creators online. You researched how to write, draw, color, letter, etc, and now your idea is going to be the next epic title to change the landscape of the entire industry! But there’s one thing you haven’t thought about. You can’t do it alone. You are going to need some support. How do you get that? You start by giving it.
Creators tend to have a stigma of being isolated, introverted, and working in our own little cocoons where no one can hurt us. Perhaps, you’re an outlier who doesn’t fit this stereotype and play well with others. Maybe. Or, you think you’re not operating in a separate silo from everyone else. You might be drinking your own Kool-Aid. Regardless, I’m here to remind everyone of the importance of supporting each other instead of thinking about you all the time.
Let me start with the most obvious (and easiest) way to support your fellow comic book creators: social media. Without this turning into a How Do I Facebook? guide, I’m going to point out what you’re probably already doing before emphasizing what you should be doing more. First, follow creators. This is a must. Find those who you admire and have something you want! Second, interact with them beyond “liking” their posts. Engage with them! Most importantly, share what they are sharing.
I want to translate this behavior to another platform, crowdfunding. You launched your first project. Everything is very exciting and super scary! Your inner circle has pledged support, but you are still shy a few grand of your funding goal. Those pledges are the equivalent of likes to a post. Don’t get me wrong. They help, and you need them. But a like and a share, or a pledge and a share reaches more people. Are you doing this for the community you follow? Do you want the community to do this for you?
Okay, we got social media out of the way. Now, we’re going to talk about real life events like comic conventions and in-store signings. You’ve been collecting comics for awhile and have been to some shows to meet creators. Nothing to it, right? Wrong. Have you been on the other side of the table? It’s not as easy as it looks. A fancy banner and strategic placement of your books will only get you so far. How about an extra set of hands from the community?
Chances are, you won’t be the only one at this show with a title in a genre of its own. Find creators who are going to be in attendance that have a similar audience. Then, when you make a sale, recommend that creator! Even better, walk the customer to the creator’s table and make an introduction. That creator is going to remember you for doing that. Maybe, they’ll do the same for you. Wouldn’t that be nice?
You are going to need some support...You start by giving it.
Don’t forget about signing events at comic book shops. Sure, they are much smaller than a convention, but you can still offer your support. It’s easy when you visit a shop where a writer or artist is there to sign the latest book they’re promoting, but how can you support another creator when you are the one doing the signing? Start during the planning phase by asking the shop if you can have someone else come with you. If they’re local, or not too far away, it should be a no-brainer. This store could gain more attendance by marketing not one, but two, comic book creators that are going to be at their place of business!
If it does work out, both of you can promote to your individual circles and reach more people. Plus, the other creator builds a new relationship with a comic shop and their clientele. Everybody wins. The next time that person is invited to a store, perhaps they’ll return the favor. The “scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” philosophy should be obvious, but, surprisingly, it doesn't always happen from what I’ve seen in the years I’ve been involved in the community. That’s a serious issue.
What I’m really trying to drive home with this column is that you must give before you take. If you want people to buy your book then you should buy theirs. You want them to back your crowdfunding campaign? Back theirs. Want people to share your posts? You’re going to have to share theirs too. Of course, no one expects you to be able to financially support every creator on the planet, but what can you do? You’re a creator, so get creative! Think outside the box. What’s the worst that can happen? No one will fault you for trying to offer support.
At the end of the day, we are so lucky to be able to make comic books. We have a world of support at our fingertips. Don’t hesitate to ask for help. You’re not reinventing the wheel, here. There’s a good chance someone out there has been through the same circumstance. It’s not shameful to reach out for assistance, but it is a shame if you don’t take the help when offered.
You're a creator, so get creative!
We cannot do this alone. When I say “we,” I mean the comic book community. It’s a structure that has already been built, but it’s up to all of us to keep it standing. Each of us plays a part in keeping it together. If you don’t want it to come crashing down on top of you then you need to become a pillar of support.