Independent vs Corporate Storytelling

| October 1, 2014

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There is a distinct difference in the way stories are told at independent companies vs corporate companies.

Corporate comics have changed over the decades. About 30 years ago, comics used to be a lot denser. You got more bang for your buck. Now, corporate comics are less dense. “Decompressed” is the term you used to hear a lot when it comes to the “new” way of storytelling in comics. (It isn’t so new. About a decade, give or take a few years.) Generally, corporate comics are geared more toward the collected trade editions.

The stories are also very safe. Few chances are taken, and everything is done with the understanding that any changes are temporary. (The Death of Logan? Not going to stick, just like Peter Parker’s death didn’t take.) When it comes to corporate comics, the storytellers are nothing but shepherds. All the toys are put back in the box at the end of a writer’s run, or they coordinate with the next writer to continue where the previous one left off.

Storytelling in the independents is much different. The stories are denser, more chances are taken, and changes tend to be permanent. There is little safety, because the characters are often the products of only that story.

When you’re creating your stories, understand where you’re creating it. Trying to apply a corporate comics storytelling technique to an indie comic is often a mistake. You’ll often either run out of money or the patience of your audience, because they’ll feel like they didn’t get their money’s worth. Trying to apply indie storytelling techniques to corporate comics would be a welcome throwback.

Let’s see what can be done.

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Category: Columns, The Daily Dose

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 for rate inquiries.

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