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B&N Week 154: Top 10 Reasons You’ll Fail At Making Comics

| December 4, 2013

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It’s not only Tuesday, but it’s also December! Where has the time gone? I have no idea, but we’re here, it’s nearing the end of the year, and you know what that means. Countdowns!

So for the next few weeks, we’re going to do countdowns. Let’s get settled in, shall we?

This week, we’re going to talk about the top ten reasons you’ll fail at making comics. Let’s go!

10. You Aren’t Ready To Work With Others

This is pretty self-explanatory. You may think you’re ready, but you aren’t. You have to learn a lot of things in order to be ready to work with others. You have to learn how to accept criticism, you have to learn how to both lead and follow, you have to learn what is good enough from others when they do their jobs. You have to know your real self-worth, in order to gauge the worth of others. Once you’re able to do all of that, you’re ready to work with others.

9. You Don’t Know What You’re Looking At

When it comes to art, be it pencils, inks, colors, or letters, most of the time, you don’t know what you’re looking at. Perspective, planes, holding lines, color theory, letter placement, balloon construction, and more…you don’t know what you’re looking at, and until you do, the books you put out are going to look amateurish. The more you educate yourself, the better your books will look.

 8. You Aren’t Studying Your Craft

Another simple one. You just want to create comics, so you jump headlong into it. As a writer, you aren’t making sure your stories are up to a level where people would actually be interested in reading your stories, and as artists, you mistake ignorance of basic things such as anatomy, vanishing points, and perspective as style. You steadfastly refuse to pay anyone to help you with your craft, yet you refuse to do the work that is available to you for free, such as doing simple comparing and contrasting from one book to another to see what makes them tick, or looking around online for articles that will teach you how to do things.

7. You’re Listening To Friends And Family

Friends and family are great things. They’ll buoy you when you’re feeling low. They’ll give you the support you need when you face obstacles. However, they’re also invested in your emotional well being, and generally don’t know what the hell they’re looking at when you show them something. It may be good to them, but is it publishable? More than likely not. But they love you and don’t want to hurt your feelings, so they say that it’s beautiful or reads well. Might as well put it up on the fridge for everyone to see…

6. You Think You’re Getting A Hollywood Deal

You haven’t even created a book yet, but you’re already looking past the first step and looking at Hollywood. Two Guns, Hellboy, Men In Black, Spider-Man, Superman, A History of Violence, The Walking Dead, Arrow and more… All you know is that these projects got movie deals, and you want one, too. Know what Hollywood typically needs in order to make a movie or a show? A finished book. Once you wrap your head around that, you can get your head out of the clouds and start to actually produce a book. A producer might even look at it, but don’t hold your breath.

5. You Think You’re Getting In At Image

It’s getting more and more challenging to get an Image deal. Your book has to be top notch in order to gain their interest. Creators who have a much higher profile than yourself are going to Image with their creator-owned books, and as long as you continue to be an unproven commodity with a shoddy book, you’re going to continue to spin your wheels, hoping your five pages and a cover will actually get you somewhere.

4. You Don’t Understand How Diamond Works

Diamond isn’t the goal. It’s a step in the journey. They just make the journey a little easier. You still have to do an amazing amount of work if the book gets accepted by Diamond, and after that, you have to get retailer interest. Getting in is the easy part compared to getting retailers to order your book. You have to understand Diamond’s place in the industry, as well as those of Marvel and DC. Without these three companies, the comic market as we know it would be unrecognizable.

3. You Don’t Understand The Nature Of Business

For comics, it’s all interconnected. The goal is to get books into the hands of readers, by hook or by crook. There are a lot of avenues to do so: Kickstarter, Diamond, comiXology, direct sales, webcomics, and more. Each is a trunk that branches off into many different limbs, and they all end at the reader. However, you’re not taking all of these trunks into account, and the ones you do happen to target aren’t fully understood by you. How many copies do you need to sell in order to turn a profit? What are the creative and production costs? Do you even understand how these questions aren’t even the tip of the iceberg?

2. You Haven’t Hired An Editor

Want to get rid of a lot of headache? Hire an editor. Let them take on the headaches while you sit back and create. They deal with the personnel problems, the problems with the art [writing, pencils, inks, colors, letters, cover], and getting everyone to do their job to the best of their ability. The only thing you need to do is cut the checks once things are approved. What you do instead, though, is balk at the idea of needing an editor, because they just get in the way of your vision. You think them more of a hindrance than a help. Once you understand the role of an editor, you’ll be more apt to hire one.

And the number one reason you’ll fail at making comics:

1. You Haven’t Saved Your Money

Creating comics is an expensive endeavor. There are few creators who can get a publishing deal without paying anything out of pocket. More than likely, you’re going to be self-publishing, and that means you have a creative team to hire, printing to pay for, a website to create to help showcase your wares, and that comes with domain registration and hosting fees, some advertising, and more. The creative team you hired? There’s more to it than just creating the twenty-two pages of the book. You have the logo to contend with, the front cover, your company logo, and whatever backmatter you can think of, let alone placing something on the inside front cover, the inside back cover, and the back cover itself. Then there are the ISBN’s you have to pay for, too. All of that costs, and if you haven’t saved your money, you haven’t done yourself any favors. As a matter of fact, you’ve made life more difficult for yourself.

Those are the top ten reasons why you’ll fail at making comics. You will more than likely see yourself in more than one of these numbers. I know that I was. If you abolish these ten, you will have a greater chance of success than if you didn’t.

That’s all for this week! No homework. Enjoy the break.

Click here to discuss in the ComixTribe forum at Digital Webbing!

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Category: Bolts & Nuts, Columns

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.

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