A man said to the universe:
“Sir, I exist!”
“However,” replied the universe,
“The fact has not created in me
A sense of obligation.”
– Stephen Crane
No, your eyes are not deceiving you: Write or Wrong is back as an online column… and yes, at a new online home.
Just to get the potential rumors or gossip out of the way (we are at Bleeding Cool after all now, right?), there’s no drama or bad blood to be had.
This is the new online home of Write or Wrong, and the plan is to be here for the long haul (up to 100 columns, perhaps?), where I can interact with all ya’ll in the comments below and post new columns on a regular basis again.
Oh… and speaking of “interacting” with people, I’ll be at C2E2 at Artist Alley Table H8 (yes, as in “Hate”) all weekend, so feel free so swing by, say hi, and perhaps pick up a book or two.
(If you won’t be attending that show, the following three weeks I’ll be at Packrat Comics in Hilliard, Ohio for Free Comic Book Day, Appleseed Con in Fort Wayne, Indiana on May 11th, and Motor City Comic Con in Novi, Michigan May 17th-19th.)
After that I think I’m going to collapse. You heard it here first!
Anyway, for those of you unfamiliar with this column, Write or Wrong is a column geared specifically for writers who want to create comics. Other things will come up here and there, of course… but that’s the general flavor of things.
As for the seventy-one columns that preceded this one, a sizeable quantity of the online versions were lost at their old online home during a massive server migration a few years back.
That’s the bad news.
The good news, though, is that I spent the bulk of 2012 going through a bulk of those same columns (especially the early “nuts and bolts” ones), revising and editing them for a book collection entitled Write or Wrong: A Writer’s Guide to Creating Comics that was released by Transfuzion Publishing in October and now, having already been sold out through Diamond, is available exclusively at Amazon.com (or from me at a comic convention or book signing, of course).
If you’re a writer who wants to learn more about creating comics than just writing scripts (such as how to successfully find and network with artists, economically print your comics, and actually get your comic work published), well, Write or Wrong: A Writer’s Guide to Creating Comics is the best $17 you’ll ever spend on yourself.
If you don’t believe me, click the link above and check out the quotes/recommendations by all the editors and publishers on the back cover.
Go ahead… I’ll be here when you get back.
If that doesn’t convince you, well, I don’t know what will.
As I’ve discussed at length in the earlier columns (henceforth known as simply “the book”), creating comics – not just writing scripts and hoping you’ll somehow miraculously stumble across an artist willing to draw them – but actually creating comics is a long and oftentimes lonely process… Fortunately, it’s a lot simpler than it used to be.
Seriously, folks: we’re at a point in human history where’s it easier than ever for aspiring writers (like you?) to connect with likeminded artists, create comics, and then get them published online and/or in print in both a quick and economical fashion.
That’s the good news.
The bad news, though, is that no one is going to care about your comics when you’re first getting started.
OK, OK… maybe “no one” is a bit extreme.
But most people won’t.
And really, why would they willingly take the time, energy and/or money to read your new comic – which is completely unknown to them – when they could take that same time, energy, and/or money and spend it on comics they’re familiar with and enjoy?
(Or, admittedly, comics that are habitually bought merely because of the irrational fear of “breaking the run” of the dozens (or hundreds) of issues of the comic that have already been read (maybe), bagged, and boarded to date.)
Harsh, words? Perhaps… but it’s all about keepin’ it real around here, my friends.
Speaking of keeping it real, ask yourself: When’s the last time you spent money on a book/creator that wasn’t released by one of the publishers at the front of the PREVIEWS catalogue? Or, if you do support “indie” comic creators… how much of your comic budget goes into this category?
For most of us, the answer to those two questions probably lies somewhere between “not much” and “none”… and, hey, there’s nothing wrong with that.
Truly, folks, I’m not trying to “shame” any of you for liking what you like or, conversely, for not “supporting” up-and-coming creators.
After all, we should all spend our time/energy/money the way that makes us happiest, and there’s no shame to be had in liking what you like – be you a comic fan, a sports enthusiast, a foodie, a clopper, whatever.
(If you don’t know what a “clopper” is, please, well, you’re probably better off for it, so just move on.)
(To those of you who just took the time to Google it… don’t say I didn’t warn you!)
Most of us comic fans are notorious creatures of habit. In this regard, we often end up only reading the books we’re already familiar with, even if we are indeed buying them more out of habit than true passion for the material.
Because of this, “independent” comics (which, as I define them, are all non-Marvel/DC books and most Image and Dark Horse titles) tend to not sell as well as even most of the lower-tier Marvel and DC books.
(If you’re one of those people who routinely supports even a few “independent” comics and/or creators every month, though, I most sincerely tip my (cyber) hat to you. Every little bit counts, my friends! Keep it up!)
I bring all this up not to “rage against the machine,” but rather to paint a picture of what the scenery is like for you, the aspiring (and most likely fairly unknown) comic book creator.
Once you start on the road to actually creating comics, the first thing you need to realize – and/or will learn very quickly – is that the majority of comic readers won’t care about you or your work not out of apathy, nor because they’re bad people who want to see you fail… but because they already have their own stuff they already like to read and spend their money on.
When you finish your first comic and publish it – be it online or in print – you’ll be uber-excited about how you cleared all the hurdles it takes to make and publish a comic of your own with an artistic collaborator (or three).
You’ll be ecstatic… and you should be!
Remember: the canyon that divides those who talk about making comics versus those who actually do so is miles upon miles wide.
Let’s say that you make it across that canyon, though. You did your research, worked your @$$ off, made all the right connections, were in the right place at the right time and had enough talent, dedication, and enthusiasm to make it happen… and then you did!
I encourage you to imagine this, because it can – and if you push hard enough – it will happen.
That’s the good news.
The bad news, though, is that when you’re just getting started with publishing your own comics, the rest of the world, for the most part, won’t even notice.
Again, it’s not that the world (or even just comic fandom) is filled with bastards who want you to fail or feel worthless – despite the fact that, in your lower moments, it may feel like that way a bit.
Rather, all us comic fans are just busy pursuing our own interests, dreams, and (admittedly) distractions in this crazy world – and as a result it will take more than a simple link or snazzy banner at a convention to get us to seriously consider reading your work – let alone supporting it.
Hey all! Three of my comic series – Nightmare World, Tales of Mr. Rhee and Love Stories About Death – are all available to read for free(!) online at the Image Comics/Shadowline website right HERE! Check ’em out!
Now… how many of you clicked that link and went and read some of the comics I just mentioned?
I’m betting it was maybe 5% of you.
And that’s to be expected, because you’re busy reading this column – which is why you came here and clicked the original link in the first place, right?
Now imagine if this were Facebook (for example), and there were all sorts of sexy/funny pictures, music videos, and/or Grumpy Cat memes also dancing around the page (as opposed to just the text on this one) in competition with that measly little link.
That, my friends, perfectly encapsulates your struggle as an up-and-coming comic creator.
When you reach the point in your journey when you’re actually making comics, to expect that the masses are going to give anything more than even so much as a fleeting bit of whimsy (if that) about the fact that you’ve sacrificed hundreds of hours (and possibly hundreds – if not thousands – of dollars) to attain your dream of creating your own comic is wishful thinking (at best) and delusional (at worst).
The key, you see, is to make people care.
Hrrm. Sorry… That’s a slight misnomer.
After all, you can’t make anyone care about anything.
Rather, you need to work towards getting people invested in what you’re doing… and it’s a long and arduous process that, honestly, is even longer than the one you will have to make (or may have already taken) to meet likeminded artists who will commit to (and then follow through on) making the comics with you that you now want people to notice, care about, and ultimately support.
It’s a necessary one, though, if you want to begin to build your “brand” as “[Insert Your Name Here], Comic Writer/Creator.”
As I mentioned a moment ago, the world (and the Internet) is full of people who say they “want” to create comics… but if you’ve read this column all the way to this point, well, I’m guessing you truly want to be known not just as a guy/girl who talks about creating comics, but rather as “[Insert Your Name Here], Comic Writer/Creator.”
If that’s the case, I applaud you for your dedication and, again, assure you that it is indeed entirely possible. It’s going to take a lot of effort… but, hey, all good things in life do.
For what it’s worth, though, I’m here to offer my advice, anecdotes, experiences, and opinions of how to make this process – and the whole process of successfully networking with others to create comics as a whole – as painless as possible.
If you’re new to this column, welcome. If you’re an old friend (or reader), welcome back. The first Write or Wrong book (which, again, is available for purchase exclusively on Amazon.com right here, talks about how to start – and complete – your journey in becoming a comic creator.
Here, now, in these new bi-weekly (as in twice monthly) Write or Wrong columns, we’re going to spend some time talking about how to maximize your chances of success as an up-and-coming/independent comic book creator so that you can happily afford to create comics, attend conventions as a professional, and perhaps even gain/create a certain amount of “name brand value” (and perhaps even financial compensation!) along the way.
Thanks for reading, all. The next column will be online here at Bleeding Cool in two short weeks and, like I said at the beginning of this screed, we’re here for the long haul. In the meantime, if you haven’t read Write or Wrong: A Writer’s Guide to Creating Comics yet, well… you should. Pick it up from me at a show soon or from Amazon.com.
After all, your dreams and aspirations are worth it.
QUESTION FOR DISCUSSION: How do YOU find out about non “Big Two” comics that might be worth reading? Friends? Social Media? Other websites? Comixology? “Free” downloads? Let us know in the Comments section below!
IN TWO WEEKS: Write or Wrong #73: “Sandwiches vs. Comics”
Dirk Manning is the writer/creator of the Nightmare World trilogy of graphic novels (from Image Comics/Shadowline – all available to order from your local comic shop) and Write or Wrong: A Writer’s Guide to Creating Comics (from Transfuzion Publishing – available exclusively from Amazon.com). He is also the writer/creator of the online comic series Tales of Mr. Rhee and Love Stories About Death (both of which are available to read at online for free at www.ShadowlineOnline.com). Along with the aforementioned comic-related work, he has also written several short films for BlackBox TV and has some other cool stuff in the works that he can’t talk about yet. (Damn contracts.) Dirk lives on the Internet and can usually be found lurking around Facebook, Twitter and even his own website www.DirkManning.com on a fairly regular basis… when he’s not busy writing, of course. Feel free to follow him at one or all such locations if you’re into that sort of thing. Cthulhu is his homeboy.