Managing Your Expectations as a Comic Writer. Plus, Kickstarter Talk!

Last week, on Outside the Panels #2, I wrote to people on the fence about becoming comic writers. This week, I would like to help a bit more because when some people begin their journey as comic writers they expect to take the industry by storm. They think their idea for a comic is going to be the next big thing. They can’t wait to hit some kind of comic celebrity status. Either that or they think the whole world is going to buy their book and they are going to be some kind of breakout star with their first book. They can see the AMC show above the horizon. They set really “high expectations” for themselves. The problem is… what they call “high expectations” are actually fantasies.
Just had a dumb argument about links in emails and it just got out of hand for no freaking reason. Now, I’m annoyed. Sometimes I get into bad moods and then I can’t snap out of them. It pisses me off because it takes over my brain and thus hinders my productivity. Or in this case, makes my productivity become a spawn of my bad mood.
I’m here to tell you the truth about your first work as a comic writer, whether it is a comic or webcomic. Honestly… Nobody gives a shit. Except the art team you will be paying, because they will be making money. Other than them… and maybe some of your friends and family, nobody cares about your idea. It’s the truth. So, handle it.
Now that you know the truth, let’s get over it and keep moving. Because we have a comic writing career to start.
Being a new comic writer is not about taking the world by storm, it’s not about making critics love you, it’s not about buying a new house off of your comic income, and it sure as heck is not about getting a movie deal. It’s easy to see the success of Robert Kirkman, Matt Fraction, Scott Snyder, Brian K. Vaughn, and Brian Michael Bendis, and say to yourself, “I can do that.” I think a lot of people who want to start or have began writing comics don’t realize how much work goes into it. I’ve said it too many times to count, but I’ll say it again –Writing comics is 50% emailing and reviewing, 30% promoting and marketing and 20% writing plots and scripts.
Being a new comic writer is about learning, writing a story because you can’t stop thinking about it, writing something you want to read, and most importantly, completing the comic. Everyone starting out should understand that its about making a good product and hopefully, with patience, time, and skill, getting your story noticed by someone… anyone.
Don’t think that I am bashing anyone for dreaming. I’m not. I’m also not trying to make people stop the attempt to get started. I’m simply trying to wake you up before you get caught up in the dream, and distracted from the goal. The goal of starting your project.
The best thing someone starting out could do is manage their expectations. Think of some achievable short-term goals. For example: Coming up with a clear plot. Write the script. Have people you know (comic readers preferably) review the script and give their opinions. Rewrite. Find an art team. Come to terms with your art team. Send the script to the art team. Keep a weekly productivity log of yourself and the art team. Email members of your art team once a day. Get the first issue of your story done. Put your first issue out into the world for people to read. Get feedback. Write down all your mistakes or hardships in the process. Write down your successes in the process. Review all of the above. Move on to the next project.
Your expectations should be to: Make a story you enjoy. To be a good collaborator. Maintain and meet deadlines. To make a story people enjoy reading. Expect some people to hate it. Expect some people to like it. Expect some people to not care. Expect people to troll you. There are plenty of other things to expect, but you get the point.
Can I make a suggestion? Do yourself a favor and make sure the first thing you write has a beginning, a middle, and an ending. Make sure the first thing you write is a one-shot. Trust me on this one. You have to rollover before you crawl, and crawl before you walk, and walk before you run. You might think you know what you are doing because you’ve read comics your whole life, or you’ve written in other mediums. That’s cool, it’s just not right because if you did know everything you would be doing this for a living, ya’ know?
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My work is going well. I can’t complain. I’m hitting my deadlines and having a ton of fun on my projects. Ibai Canales and I have been getting really good feedback on our webcomic C U NEXT TUESDAY at cunexttues.com. (cheap plug, I know)
That reminds me… So, I just want to say, if you are offended by the title of our webcomic, you shouldn’t be. We publish a story about a strong female protagonist who can probably whoop anyone’s ass who is reading this. –If she was real of course.– I thought about whether or not the title of “C U NEXT TUESDAY” is offensive after I got feedback saying it was. I don’t think it is. We publish it every Tuesday and when you read the last panel the only thing left to say is, “See you next Tuesday.” Furthermore, with a crazy-popular book like “BITCH PLANET” from Kelly Sue DeConnick, published by Image Comics, being reviewed and raved about by everyone under the sun, how can our title be any worse? In addition, C U NEXT TUESDAY is a “PG-13” styled webcomic, that is totally SFW. So, BOO-YA! (Thank you 1990’s!)
Kickstarter has been a huge thing for a few years now. People are making tons of money, like that “EXPLODING CATS” card game! $6,000,000 is a crap-ton of money! That’s awesome for those guys. Man, I wish I could do that.
Speaking of Kickstarter, Ibai and I have been working on a comic called, SOUL MEN, for a while now. We pitched it to a bunch of different publishers and got great feedback. However, we decided that we want to go to Kickstarter for SOUL MEN #1, and we are launching on May 31st, 2015! You can find out more and get preview art all the way up to launch day by entering your email at soulmen.launchrock.com.
I’ve always been fascinated with Kickstarter, crowd funding and start-up companies. Something about the huge middle finger to “the man” that really gets the Rage Against the Machine songs flowing through my head. I think it is awesome to go out and try to do something on your own. Scary… but awesome!
Due to contrary belief, running a Kickstarter is not easy. It’s a lot of work. Yet, like most things, you get back from Kickstarter what you put into it. I’ve been reading a ton about KS (I’m too lazy to type Kickstarter anymore. It will be “KS” for the duration of this entry.) and what every successful campaign seems to have in common is the prelaunch stage. The more prelaunch promoting, marketing and advertising you do, the more likely your KS campaign will be successful. That being said, LaunchRock.com has been the biggest help next to Twitter.com to help us raise awareness. (not paid plugs, but wouldn’t mind if they were)
Launch Rock is a site that hosts landing pages for KS as well as other crowd funding sites and products or companies in their pre-public stage. The sign up is easy and I highly recommend it to anyone planning on doing a crowd funding campaign. It allows you to gather emails from potential backers, so you could set up a newsletter or send them helpful reminders about your projects launch. I’m using it and I love it. Not only are we gathering emails and letting people know about the KS for SOUL MEN #1, we are also sending free downloadable preview and promotional images to everyone who submits their email to soulmen.launchrock.com!
If you are fan of Outside the Panels we would love for you to submit your email to soulmen.launchrock.com and keep up with the SOUL MEN #1 Kickstarter launching on 5/31/15! And, don’t forget about reading C U NEXT TUESDAY every Tuesday at cunexttues.com!

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Thanks for reading!
Sal Brucculeri

 

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