Thursday, August 15, 2013
Who are those guys?
Hi I contributed a post to the Electric Man blog. Electric Man is an independent super-hero film based in Edinburgh and is well worth checking out. The guys have plans to fund and publish an Electric Man comic, which is also worth checking out.
My blog is based on the unsung heroes (the scheduler, letterer, editor, producer & printer) who help put a comic together. It can be seen in all its glory by clicking on the following link, but I thought I'd just repeat it here, this being my blog and all.
Okay let’s discuss the bits n bobs that contribute towards producing a self-published comic. The creative process is a given. I’m assuming that writer and artist are already in place and raring to go. But there are several more aspects to consider when putting together a comic. I’m talking roles here. They may be taken up by wholly different people, or multi-tasking may be involved. For my sins I’m a writer and co-publisher and reliant on a team of tremendously gifted and dedicated individuals who I won’t name here (although there are all listed in the credits page of any Planet Jimbot comic), but they know who they are.
So, in no great particular order:
Okay so you want to do a comic? How many pages? How many issues? Is your creative team up for it? Are they even aware of it? What are the deadlines? The thing is that you have to be flexible and realistic. Communication is very important as well, but what I’m trying to get at here is that you need to have a plan; you need to have a schedule.
An editor can concentrate on the writing and/or artwork. The Planet Jimbot editor chiefly looks at the writing, but also supplies feedback in conjunction with the writer on the artwork. A lot of self-published writers tend to edit themselves. I would say that no matter how objective a writer tries to be about his or her writing, there will always be an element of subjectivity. That’s unavoidable. An editor needs to be someone whose opinion you the writer can trust and is prepared to both argue their case and listen to you arguing your case. A good editor can only make you a better writer, which means a better story and comic.
Lettering is a specialist subject and should be treated and viewed as such. I have worked with artists who prefer to letter their own artwork, but primarily I work with an industry standard professional letterer. If you are looking to do your own lettering, there is plenty of help out there. It is something that you can improve on, but please hone your craft first. While we all can’t be Garth Ennis or Frank Quitely, we can at least aspire to be a good letterer.
You need someone who can produce a print-ready PDF that can be sent off to the printers. The person in charge of production needs to take on board everything he or she is hit with. Formatting, bringing the cover to life, typefaces, logos, title pages, putting the pages in the right order and equally important make them look like they belong together. Like a letterer, these are technical skills that can be acquired and improved upon, but ask/look for help first.
You now have a print-ready PDF, so get it to the printers. As you’ll see by the huge amount of self-published comics out there, there are printing companies now specialising in the dear old comic format. Equally important you can now order a manageable number of copies in two or three figures, instead of four as was previously the case back in the day. With the quality of printers and photocopiers out there these days, you could put something half decent together yourself. Be realistic. How many copies do you think you can sell? How many do you intend to give out to editors/publishers?
The above assumes of course that you’re making printed copies. You may decide to go digital, but I think that’s for another blog for another time from another person.
So there you go, all pretty harem scarem, but hopefully plenty of scope for discussion and general musing. If you’re starting out I’d recommend you concentrate on putting out the one issue first and learn from the experience. It’s all about going up that learning curve. I’m still on it. It’s hard work but immensely awarding. Now it’s time to get the thing out there and spread the word. And that again is another blog in the waiting.