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B&N Week 42: How Are You Getting Seen?

| October 11, 2011 | 4 Comments

It’s Tuesday! Exciting times, folks! Exciting times! The again, maybe I’m just excited about it being Tuesday…

But we’re not here to talk about me. We’re here to talk about you, and your career in comics. And to start out, I have a question. Pretty simple one, really, but the answers can be challenging. The question is this: What are you doing to get your name seen?

A serious question, and it deserves some serious attention. So, with the question asked, let’s get into the Bolts & Nuts of it, shall we?

So, just what ARE you doing to get your name seen? What are you doing that puts yourself ahead of the pack? Anything? Nothing?

I’ve seen discussions on Digital Webbing that went somewhat along this line, but really, this is a question that you should all be asking yourself. “I’m Kremator-9! Everyone knows me!”

Do they? Do they really?

There are certain things that, as a creator, you simply MUST do in order to separate yourself from the pack. There’s no way around it. You must do these things in order to be viewed in a positive light. Because a positive light means work for you, and if you’re good, nice, and hit your deadlines, you’ll continue to get work.

But you have to stop being an asshole first.

(Steven? Did you just call me an asshole?) Kinda. What I meant to say was “cowardly asshole.” My apologies. (STEVEN!!!) What? I apologized.

Look, we already know how I feel about screen names that aren’t your real name. They’re too easy to hide behind. They’re too easy to “slip into character.” They allow you to be a dick/bitch, with little in the way of accountability—until it comes time for you to start looking for work. Then, it becomes an entirely new ball game, and you’re going to be stuck on the sidelines, wondering what it was you did wrong.

That flame war you had with Male-Factor Nein? That didn’t look good. Calling all rabbits everywhere nothing but your personal fuzzbunnies? That was kinda weird. Getting outraged over the length of Superman’s cape, and calling everyone that disagreed with you names that not even an old crusty sailor would use? Yep. That certainly helped cement yourself as a first class asshole/bitch that no one will work with.

All because of Kremator-9.

Now, if you used your real name, Kletus, you more than likely wouldn’t be such a douche. You’d have to be extremely talented and have a fan following in order to overcome your personality—and even then, it’s not guaranteed.

So, use your real name, folks. This will hopefully have the benefit of causing you to think a little before you post. Your name is the only thing you have [besides your talent], and in the selling of your name [your brand, if you will—or even if you won’t], you want people to know that you’re a professional and are serious about the work. And no, I don’t think that adding your real name to your signature is enough. Not in order to make a lasting impression. Those of you who use your real name, bravo. Congrats. You get it. Hopefully, you’re building your brand and will go far. For the rest of you, what are you waiting for? There’s no time like the present. Get off your duff and do it. So, your real name is first.

Second, you have to get some webcomics done—preferably on your own site. Writers, I’m looking at you. Yes, you. If you want to show you have the stuff, you have to show you have the stuff. That means getting something done that has eyes on it. You submit your scripts to The Proving Grounds [thank you], but how many of you are taking those scripts and actually producing them? Not many of you, I’ll wager. And why not? (Because you said they’re wretched, Steven!) And you’re going to let that stop you? Really? Is it that easy for you to become disillusioned? (Well, you’ve been telling us for nearly a year that making comics is hard work, and you’ve been telling us for more than six months over at the Proving Grounds that we suck—what do you expect? We’re getting hit upside the head from the left and the right!) So what?

For those of you that quit, you deserve what you get. (STEVEN!) You know me. I’m giving it to you straight. Making a name for yourself in comics is hard. Boo hoo. Writing scripts that are producible isn’t easy. Waah. I’m not “nice” when I go over a script—and you want to make a noose, throw it over the rafters, and hang your career before you ever get started. Know what I say to that? Good! Get out. We don’t need damned dirty quitters and dabblers clogging up the lanes and making the slush pile even larger. Making comics is serious work, and only those with serious minds need apply.

And why webcomics? Because they’re CHEAP. Damned near free, when you get down to it. The only thing it’ll cost you is some time, which is GREAT. Do you know what you’re doing when you’re spending that time? You’re creating, collaborating, and LEARNING. Can’t pay an entire creative team? Get that artist to ink, and learn to letter! If you have the patience and the will, learn to color, too. If you REALLY want to do it, you could be your own one-man/woman-show. Draw it, color it, letter it, and put it up.

But the key to the entire thing is just to do it. Web hosting and domain names are dirt cheap. You have little to no excuse for not taking advantage of these prices and getting on the stick. (Waitaminnit! Whatchoo talkin’ ‘bout, Willis? I’ve got a family, bills, and am barely making ends meet as is! Where am I supposed to get this mystical money to do this?) [Do you smoke?] (…) [There’s your money right there, literally going up in smoke. I’ve got no sympathy for you. You’re online, able to read this, right? Do you eat out a lot? More than three times a month? You’re bleeding money out all over the place. Basically, I don’t want to hear it. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.]

A web presence puts you in the game, ladies and gents. It gets your name seen, it gets your work seen, and once you get a fan following, you may be able to take it to print, or to a publisher, or wherever you want to go. But you HAVE to get that presence first. And you’re using your real name to do it [unless you prefer to work under a nomme de plume, which is definitely a possibility]. But you see how one ties into the other?

Now that you’ve got your real name online in forums and on your webcomics, it’s time to step out from behind the computer and get to some actual face time with people.

This, my friends, is really where it’s at.

You NEED to hit some conventions. I cannot say that often enough or be more strident about it. If you go as an attendee, that’s great. Go around and mingle. Meet up with your peers at the various bars and parties and such that go on. (But I don’t drink.) Good for you! But I didn’t say you had to drink, did I? I said to go where your peers are. You can meet and mingle on the convention floor, but that’s not really the place to do more than to just say hi and see each other for the first time. No, the after parties are where it happens.

However, in order to get there, in order to NOT be a drag, you CANNOT be the asshole that Male-Factor Nein is. You have to be Kletus Jerkovitch, and you have to let [what is hopefully] the real you show. Because the guy that who was in the flame wars, the one with the unnecessarily dirty mouth, the one who got put on ignore on the forums because there is never anything remotely positive or helpful being put forth—no one wants to see or hang out with that guy. Not by accident, and definitely not on purpose.

Remember the kerfluffle over Yellow Hat Guy? This was a guy that was SUCH an asshole that he got people to rally around Rob Liefeld. Rob frickin’ Liefeld, possibly the most polarizing figure in current comicdom. You have to have done something pretty damned horrible in order to get people to rally around Liefeld. And if this guy was a wannabe creator, he’s more than likely just sabotaged himself for a good long while. Years, more than likely, no matter what his talent. Don’t be that guy.

So now, the question becomes, just what are you doing to get your name seen? To get yourself out in a position that people will remember it and you? Our own John Lees has a story that was nominated for an award, just as he himself was nominated. He’s also writing deep, well thought out reviews and getting Big Two creators to read them. Tyler? He’s got books that are done and being sold, and has been in a Zuda competition when that was still going on. That’s not even mentioning the annual 30 Characters Challenge, that has more people signed up this year than ever before.

Me? I’ve got a couple of columns, a couple of webcomics, and a comic I wrote with Cary Kelley.  I have a comic coming out through Markosia, as well as one that will be making its debut at this year’s NYCC. I edit, and am doing what needs to be done there. I do a lot of behind the scenes work in order to make sure the projects I’m working on with creators are the best they can be.
What are you doing? How are you positioning yourself to get seen and to take advantage of the opportunities that come?

If you’re a writer, stop thinking you’re going to eat fil-let mig-nen [I separated them on purpose] on a dollar menu budget. Find some way to pay an artist SOMETHING for their time and effort, and put something up on the web. Be honest about what you can and cannot afford, and then stick to the deal. [In general, writers don’t flake. In general.] Come up with something that’s not extremely labor intensive on art, and then start looking for an artist to fill the role.

For the artists, hook up with a writer and get some things done. Trust me, editors know when you don’t work from a script. If you need one, there are tons of writers who are ready to beat down your door to get something made. You have your pick from the cream of that crop.

(Is that all? Use my name and get some work done for people to see?) If you’re nice and the work is decent, yes. That’s it. Oh, there are other things that happen organically because you’re using your real name: you’ll be more true to your personality, so anyone you hook up with will know what to expect; when you start getting work seen, you should start being able to move from strength to strength, until you make that first sale.

People are watching. Even when you think they aren’t.
So, what are you doing to get your name seen?

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Category: Bolts & Nuts

About the Author ()

Steven is an editor/writer with such credits as Fallen Justice, the award nominated The Standard, and Bullet Time under his belt, as well as work published by DC Comics. Between he and his wife, there are 10 kids (!), so there is a lot of creativity all around him. Steven is also the editor in chief and co-creator of ComixTribe, whose mission statement is Creators Helping Creators Make Better Comics. If you're looking for editing, contact him at stevedforbes@gmail.com for rate inquiries.

Comments (4)

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  1. Lance Boone says:

    Still here…still lurking…still writing bad scripts. I’ve been too busy to post much, but my schedule should be freeing up soon’ish.

    Be good.

  2. Jules Rivera says:

    Honestly, I don’t think I’m doing a great job these days of getting seen, per se. I get so bogged down with creating work and balancing the rest of my life in that I forget to promote myself as an artist and create the extra content necessary to get people to take notice. I’ve done some side work here and there with some folks on the webular circuit, but as far as creating articles, I can’t say I’ve done much of that.

    I’m good at creating the content itself, but promoting myself beyond that has always been a hardship.

  3. Brad Huffman-Parent says:

    This is exactly why I started writing reviews again after a long break. I’ve gotten some thanks from a few creators so far, boosted up the amount of people circling me on Google+, and I’m getting more practice at writing while I do it.

    Next step is to get a blog going again, link that to my reviews now that I see people are actually reading those, and get bits of my own creative work up there among the reviews.

  4. Conner MacDonald says:

    I took a break from working on my webcomic, to read about how I should be working on my webcomic? lol.
    Actually you convinced me of something Mr. Forbes. I’ll probably buy my own domain name to host my comic. And, I’ll submit something to the proving grounds again very soon. No guts no glory.

    Also, will Comix Tribe be getting its own forums any time soon?

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