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B&N Week 176: Are You Doing Your Part For Comics?

| May 7, 2014

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It’s another Tuesday! We’ve actually got a cooling trend here in Tucson, and I’m happy for it. It’s going to get in the triple digits soon enough. Let the cooler weather prevail for a while.

Anyway, let’s get into some Bolts & Nuts! This week’s question holds up a mirror: are you doing your part for comics?

(Steven, I don’t get it. My part? I’m trying to turn this into my livelihood! I’m trying to get noticed! I have to do more on top of that?!)

Well…yes and no. Yes, you can always do more [and we’ll get into that], but the things you’re doing now can also be part of doing your part.

Remember, comics doesn’t owe you anything. It’s a business of “what have you done for me right now?” There are going to be dark times when you’re frustrated as hell and you want to quit, angry at the world and thinking that you’ve banged your head against the wall long enough that something has got to give. I’m going to tell you that you’re going about it the wrong way.

Just like in life, you have to give in order to receive.

Giving can take place in a number of different ways. Here’s a short story that kind of illustrates what I mean.

A friend of mine who’s in my writing circle asked me to edit something of his. He had a contract with a company, but they wanted to break his book into three parts, and he couldn’t figure out where to put the breaks. A good portion of the book was already drawn and colored, and he wanted to cause the least amount of work for the artist as he could. So, he came to me for help.

So I helped him. I read the story, told him where the breaks were, and how to re-pace it so that there wouldn’t be that much extra work needed. He thanked me, got the contract, and the book is now on sale. My payment? I helped a friend in need. [And, really, go read Scum of the Earth by Mark Bertolini. It’s a fun grindhouse tale.]

How else do I give? Well, you’re reading this, aren’t you? You can read this, and hopefully you’ve read the 175 installments before it. All for free. And then there’s The Proving Grounds, which I do every week, with the able help of editors Steve Colle [who’s on sabbatical], Samantha LeBas, and we’ve just welcomed back Yannick Morin to the fold. That column has been going on as long as this one, and I’ve been there every week, through some adverse conditions that extremely few were privy to, so that I don’t disappoint.

Another way I contribute is that I’m pretty free with ideas. I don’t hoard them, as though I’m never going to have another good idea evah a-gain! Of course, it isn’t like people are coming up to me asking me for ideas, but when asked, I try to guide a creator into something I think would work for the story and for the readers. Sometimes they take my advice, sometimes they don’t.

I don’t mean to talk about me, because that’s not what this is about. I’m just trying to give you ideas of how you can give back.

You can also follow through with new ideas by bringing them to market. This is tough and expensive, but you’re doing it anyway, right? Why not make sure that these ideas are new, your best, and are executed to the best of your ability? I’m not talking about a predictable, boring twist on an old favorite, I mean something unforeseen. Tyler James is doing it twice with Epic and The Red Ten. One is basically, “what if a Miami-based Superboy’s kryptonite was beautiful women,” and the other is “Clue meets the Justice League.” Kind of a “why didn’t I think of that” moment, right? And he did it twice.

And then, there is always the “more.” Another way you can give back is to give to charity, such as the Hero Initiative and the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. It can also be a tax write-off. Simple, right?

You can do what Joe Mulvey does, and talk to people about comics that you think they would like by suiting the comics to their taste in popular culture. You may get converts, and you may not.

You can not be that arrogant comic book person that we all know and loathe. That arrogant “comic book guy/gal” does more harm to and for comics than all of the horrible comic book movies combined.

You can vote with your wallet. People say this all the time, but it’s true: voting with your wallet will get businesses and creators to change their minds/practices. I bought a six issue run of Superman/Wonder Woman, and I didn’t like it, so I’m not buying any more issues. Voting with your wallet means that you reward the good stories not only by buying them, but by pre-ordering them, as well.

This is not meant to be an exhaustive list. This is merely a starting point to how you can do your part for comics. I’m quite sure there are other ways you can give so that you can receive. Let’s discuss them in the comments.

See you in seven.

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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