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UNTETHERED: Life Veins of the Indie-stry


UNTETHERED: Life Veins of the Indie-stry

Indie comics and small press publishing is a growing market with an ever-growing and dedicated fanbase. It can be intimidating for new creators, but the reward is worth the effort.

When you look at an industry, such as “indie comics”, you will quickly realize that the tendrils protruding from this beast are much more far-reaching than you may have originally thought. This is not to say that it is a monster, merely that it is not often as cut-and-dry as many people make it seem. The industry is booming, and it has been propelled into the spotlight through the intense marketing machine that is independent creation. Crowdfunding has become truly paramount for almost every creator, and the benefits of this method of distribution are nothing to be laughed at. 

When publishers like Boom! Studios joined the crowdfunding mechanic with the Keanu Reeves led BRZRKR; an influx of first-time backers came to the platform, and, as a result, comic books had the highest sales to date on Kickstarter. Even further than that, Boom! Studios took the initiative to back $100 on multiple first-time projects as a way to pay back into the industry, as well as, up and coming creators. Crowdfunding is a tool created to fund projects before they are produced, and in recent times, it has become a true sales outlet. Integration within these websites allows you to launch multiple projects after each previous one is fulfilled. Those who have already given to your previous endeavors will know when a new project is coming up. This feature alone shows the value in the ability to grow your audience, and in return, revenue.

Everyone is trying to build an audience, regardless of what it is that you create. Youtube is still as integral as it has ever been, even with the policy changes that have affected many channels. Social media demands creators’ attention to grow, and engage with, one’s audience. Email lists still reign supreme for news and behind the scenes information, and even discount codes and specials for your customers. Websites like Patreon and Buymeacoffee add an extra layer of engagement and fan experiences, even allowing access to special resources that wouldn’t exist otherwise. It can feel taxing at times, like an uphill battle that you were not previously aware that you had to fight in. There is a comfort to be found if you take a step back and realize that even creators who have been making comics for decades are now having to readjust their platforms to begin using these tools. It has taken the creators, often looked at as reclusive, and forced them out into the light. With the pivot in society to focus more on screens, digital outlets, and celebrity-esque mentalities, now it is often the name of the creator who brings in the audience.

The point to take away from this is that there is always work to be done, and your attention to these avenues has a direct impact on the effectiveness of your product. We shudder to think of the number of comic books that never made it past their first issue, not because they were bad, but because they were not marketed correctly. The indie comics industry takes persistence, and patience; to both break into, and to begin to see growth. All kinds of creators will be met along the way; some of those experiences will be good, and some will be less than favorable. In the end, it will fall on each creator to decide what is best for their craft, and their business. The comic industry is always in a state of flux, sometimes a company will put their finances behind a project only to have to cancel it after a short run. Everyone makes mistakes, which makes it so important to surround yourself with other creatives. Other creators are often the best to talk to about the pitfalls and high places of the creative process, and many of them are willing to lend a voice to help you find your footing. The growth, in recent years, of podcasts, and books centered around comic book creation is a valuable tool for anyone looking to break into the industry. The reality is, if you take all of those things away, the biggest thing that completely changes the game comes down to your determination. #DoBetterBeBetter

Aaron Dowen is a comic book writer, ICD News Editor, and owner of Catalyst Comics Studio LLC

  1. “BRZRKR by Keanu Reeves, Matt Kindt, & Ron Garney by ….” 1 Sep. 2020, Accessed 22 Jan. 2021.
  2. “Pow! 2020 Is the Best Year Yet for Comics on Kickstarter ….” 20 Oct. 2020, Accessed 22 Jan. 2021.
  3. “BOOM! Studios Pledges $100 to First Time Comics Kickstarter ….” 14 Oct. 2020, Accessed 22 Jan. 2021.
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