Feedback on Comics
Hey there, it has been a while since the last time I posted here, but I have been awfully busy. Well, I'm still being really productive, so I guess I finally crossed that line many artists need to go through where they have a hard time finding motivation to draw or work in any personal project. I've finished a 22-pages comic, which can be found here: https://tapas.io/episode/681448. And I also finished about 24 comic strips I still don't know where I should I post, since I'm in doubt if I really should try a comic syndicate in this day and age. Here's a few samples:
Well, about a week or so ago I started a new comic, putting together everything I learned from these past experiences, this is what I have so far:
Well, despite all this, I still don't have much of a following online. I don't know how to engage with people. It's like I have been doing these comics just for myself, really. But I really want to make a career doing what I like. Any help or advice would be appreciated!
It has been over a year since I decided to dedicate myself into becoming a cartoonist at every cost, because this is the only thing I feel like I'm good at. At first I had my family support, but now even them are looking down on me and trying to convince me to pursue another kind of job. And the same goes for my wife's family. Still, I'm trying to keep optimistic about the future!
Marsha Kay Ottum Owen
I enjoyed your comic. Keep it up!
Really well drawn and laid out,they seem really professional,I did enjoy reading your comics ,but I am no expert so i can just give my opinion.
Great work, quite the project to see at this level. I think there is a good consistency throughout the work with the characters and the style is solid. I might suggest looking at the type and the way it interacts with the word bubbles. I am a comic or graphic novel novice and I am only looking at the white space and type as objects. The type choice looks great and I think the same size throughout is the right choice, I think changing the size of the 'bubbles' might be something you can look at, is this done traditionally or digitally? I would love to hear more on your activity with syndication or how to monetize your ideas here. I might suggest watching the movie/documentary: Stripped. ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S-sKf3KCRY4 ) I really enjoyed watching it and it opened my eyes to the current options and possibilities, and maybe @Jake-Parker over here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QFDaXryAL10 has a few good things to say in the movie www.strippedfilm.com. Great job again on your work, very impressed!
@Marsha-Kay-Ottum-Owen Thank you! I really appreciate that!
@DOTTYP Thanks! And don't worry, I really like getting feedback from people who are not experts themselves. In this day and age we have so many "rules" to follow, I feel like a lot of modern artists forgot how to be creative. They spend too much time trying to impress other professional artists that they forget it's not only the veteran artists who will be reading and enjoying your comic, it's meant to be read by everyone! And most of the times people don't mind if you follow established rules or not, they just want to have a good time and enjoy reading a comic!
@WhiteboardJim Thanks for your words! Like I mentioned in my previous thread, I really don't know what my level of skill is, I was self-taught and never had too many chances to share my work with other artists. I also tend to be very critical of my own work, so it's nice to hear what other people have to say! Ohhh, and I might have noticed the bubble thing myself... Well, one reason for that is that I got used in reading comics translated from other countries since I was a little kid, I don't have a very good hand-lettering and never put much thought into it while doing my own comics since I never read them with the lettering made by the original artist, anyway. I usually storyboard everything instead of writing a script, so sometimes the bubbles don't match the space I originally had in my original draft... This is something I will need to find a way to fix eventually... One solution is adding a few more lines of dialogue, but sometimes it feels out of place so I just let it as it was originally. Everything I do is traditional, I'm a little skeptical about going digital, some artists I like made the transition and it never looked right for me, so I still do everything in pen and ink. I know there's some great digital artists out there, but I think I would definitely miss a certain roughness in my style if everything looked too smooth. Most of my favorite comics were made back in the 60s and 70s, so I guess I just want to resemble them the most.
That's funny you mentioned Stripped, I just watched it the other day! I'm still a bit reluctant about the syndication, though. It's so hard to find information on how the copyrights are distributed and everything... I really came to enjoy the characters I created to be syndicated, and I feel I could do a lot of great things with them if I was not limited to the 4-panels format. A lot of my favorite cartoonists like Floyd Gottfredson and E. C. Segar were syndicated artists, but things changed so much since those days... When I look at the funnies, I don't really see myself among them, they became too political, not-so-funny or adventurous. I enjoy some social commentary, but not at the cost of those other elements. Also, I have a lot of different ideas for comics, but being syndicated seems to mean you need to stick with that for the rest of your life. Once sold to a syndicated, would I be able to pitch it as a animated series one day or that would be for them to take the decision? I want my characters to live up to their full potential, but I'm not very good of a businessman like Jim Davis, for example, to make sure I still would have full control on what happen to them. I feel a bit insecure in that regard.
Thanks for posting your comics here. I really like your Mira Purcell character. I think your story is fun!
So your two big questions are:
What you should do with these comics?
Is there anything you can do with them to move you closer to having a career in comics?
I'll do my best to answer them.
What to do with your Comics strips
You mentioned syndication. That is not an option. Nobody is getting syndicated, and the few that are syndicated aren't making enough to support themselves. You watch Stripped, which is a film about how the syndicate model is dead. So get the syndication thing out of your mind.
What are your options for a strip? Webcomics. That's pretty much it. That's a steep hill to climb to success, but it can be done if your are relentless and good. If you want to go that route I suggest you go over to http://webcomics.com and read EVERYTHING there.
What do to with your comic books
I've seen the landscape of comics change over the years and it seems like right now for a creator who wants to do an all-ages comics project (like Mira Purcell) you have 3 options:
1)The Direct Market (selling comics in comic shops)
You have two companies playing in this area: Image Comics and Archaia
The Up: Image has the best contract for creators. It's a nice balance of independence and the backing and support of a publisher. My friends Skottie Young and Jason Howard have had a lot of success there. If you’re a name that’s well known with people who buy books at comics shops, and/or the buyer for the shop you can sell pretty well this way.
The Down: But the problem there is all-ages stuff tends to tank with Image just because the nature of where their comics are sold. I know they are trying to make inroads with bookstores and other distributors, but I have good word from people in the publishing industry that they are still a ways off from making that work.
In short, you get your comic published, but it’s hard to get it in the hands of your audience.
2) Go to a book publisher. (selling comics in book stores)
It seems like every major publisher has a graphic novel imprint these days, but really your best two options are Graphix or First Second
The Up: You get the backing a support of a publisher! Editors, marketers, and art directors are all working with you. And the publisher takes all the financial risk! Kazu Kibuishi and Raina Telgemeier have had pretty good success that way.
The down: Kazu and Raina are the outliers. I don't know anyone who's fully supporting themselves on graphic novels. The problem here is advances are in the $20K-$30K range and royalties are pitiful (albeit standard for publishing). Something like $0.05 - $0.10 per book sold. And due to the glacial nature of publishing you finish you book a year in advance and you only get a month or so to really promote it before the publisher moves on to their next book in their library.
You'll also need a literary agent to get past the publishing gate keepers and negotiate a contract for you.
In short, it's a great way to get 20k - 50k books in the hands of people and libraries, but not a great way to make a ton of money.
3) Self publish (selling comics online)
Using a combination of Kickstarter, cons, Patreon, and an online shop, it is feasible for a creator to make the same amount or even more than they would with a publisher.
Pro: Great way to build a community around your work. Full creative control. You keep all the profits from your sales.
Con: You need to build a community around your work. You have to be a business manager, publisher, art director, and marketer. It’s all on you. You need space to store and ship books. And there’s a limit to how many books you can actually ship yourself before you need to either hire help or use a distributor.
In short, using Kickstarter, Patreon, cons, and an online shop I've seen the potential of making this work for creators. It's just there's a lot of work and time that's spent not creating.
All of these options are available to you if your comics look professional. And I think that is the biggest problem you have right now. They still look very amateur. You've got anatomy problems, problems with your compositions and graphic design, your rendering isn't polished. But what I see here is a great start. I see potential.
@Jake-Parker Thanks, that was very informative and clarified a lot of doubts I had regarding the current industry. Unfortunately, I think I already spent all the time, energy and money I could into becoming a comic artist or a cartoonist. And I see no future for me in this career anymore. I'm not really passionate about the current comic book industry and I see no place for me in it. Even the artists I look up for are long gone and probably would have no appeal in this day and age. I feel like I got myself trapped in old-fashioned ideas and refused to change. Now might be a little too late. I need to start pursuing another career. I would not mind if it still can be in the creative industry at the very least. But I no longer intend to become a professional comic artist, I will still draw my comics because I love doing them and it makes me feel good, but I will do it just for fun. I've met Kazu Kibuishi in person and he recommended me to start publishing web comics, I guess that's what's left for me to do. I really have a great time drawing my comics and this way I can still share it with at least a few people, but I have no ambitions beyond that. And that's alright for me right now.
@felipeonodera I think that's a healthy attitude. Keep your passion for comics, but follow opportunity where it takes you. Following passion can be dangerous if there's no opportunity there. The most successful people I know are people who followed really good opportunities that overlapped their passion at some point.
I have a friend who loves film, loves watching films, loves making films. He went to film school, graduated, but he never had much success in filmmaking. After years of being stuck he decided to go to business school, learn marketing, and get a job in the film industry marketing films. He's so much happier now. He found more opportunity for his own strengths on the marketing side of film and he gets to be in an industry he loves.
I think there's room in publishing, film, comics, animation, and video games for all kinds of different creative people You should look into it some more.