Thursday, December 6, 2007

One Banner #6- The Elephant in the Room

Gonna get this out of the way first, since it is the most common reason cited for the failure of Christian comics, the most common reason provided for not supporting Christian comics, the most common reason cited for not printing the comics that have been created.


What a lame-ass cop-out.

First of all, the argument has already proven invalid if we were to use the scientific method. A few years ago, a guy had come upon a decent sized sum of money and decided to start a Christian comic company. He promised to collect the best talent available, and pay them, and crank out some quality comics. He did none of these things. More than half of the talent acquired was unimpressive at best, he failed to pay what he promised to many of them, and the comics sucked with a capital S. Thus proven, simply throwing money at it won’t make it work. One company had money, one company did not. The one with money, poof gone. The one with no money, still kickin’.

Secondly, the “prohibitive” cost of printing comics is hogwash. That is more of a mindset that the artist just has to get over.

There are two options an artist has to see his book get into print- (1) pay to print it himself or (2) get someone else to have enough faith in him to foot the bill. The latter option is an entirely separate issue. I won’t pretend to know a lot about it. What I do know about it is that the main motivation to pursuing a publisher or backer is money. It’s a mindset that’s tough to get over in this day and age of six-and-seven figure artists. Unless you’re willing to go through the steps of being a success in the industry (schooling, pounding the comic con circuit, collecting the mountain of rejection letters, prepping a portfolio, etc etc) that’s likely a steep uphill climb. Not insurmountable of course, but not easy.

Let’s go back to option A, self-publishing. “I don’t have the money to print.” Most artists could if they wanted to. I’m very frank about that and I believe it. The truth is not that the artist does not have the money- rather, that he chooses to spend the money in other ways. This is plain old budgetary stuff.

Let’s assume that the artist is your average fanboy at heart. It costs him at least $20 to go to a movie alone and buy a drink and popcorn. Bring a date and it’s a lot more- but hey, we’re talking average fanboy here, so dating really isn’t in the cards, is it? Ten mainstream comic books will set a collector back $30-$40 easy. A video game costs $20-$50 (without the system). Could we safely say that your average fanboy making a few sacrifices could scrape together $100 within one month? Then YOU can print 100 copies of your book, for about a buck a copy. Sell them at $3 cover and you just have to sell a third of them to make your investment back (selling 33 copies to friends and family is a piece o cake).

If you’re wise with the revenue, you won’t just turn it into another night at the movies and trip to the comic shop and PSII game- you’ll print issue 2 with it.

Money, like most everything else, simply boils down to choices. If God is leading you to write a draw a comic, which is LOADS of fun, isn’t it also logical he might be asking for a less pleasant sacrifice as well?

Now you could tell me that you barely scrimp by and eat Alpo, play an old Atari 2600 on a b&w TV and don’t have a dime to spare. But really, be honest with yourself. You don’t have to convince me. If I’m never gonna see your comics then the excuses don’t much matter to me. It’s your choice. Your elephant.

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