Creative Contract Consulting

What is the Structure of Independent Comic Book Publishing?

Added on by Gamal Hennessy.

When I started writing my business and legal guide for independent comic book publishing, I struggled with the best way to present the information.  Quite a few books have been written about the business, but most of them covered one aspect of the industry, or focused on one aspect and then briefly mentioned the other parts of the process. Since my goal was walking the creator from their initial comic idea to a lifelong career in comics, I decided I needed a different approach.

The structure I came up with is largely borrowed from the production and distribution of the most complex and expensive narrative art forms, namely film, television and video games. The overall structure has three stages, each stage has several elements within it, and several of the elements can happen at the same time. The structure has several moving parts, but each one is set up to maximize the commercial potential of your comic.

A.            Pre-Production: Where you put together all the resources and plans for your book before you start making it

1.    The Foundation: Understanding your overall goal for making comics

2.    Intellectual Property Management: Turning your ideas into legal assets

3.    Investment: Finding the funds to pay for your book before it is created

4.    Business Management: Securing legal and financial protection for your book

5.    Talent Management: Finding the best team possible for your book

6.    Marketing: Finding the right readers for your book

7.    Distribution: Finding the best way to get your book to your readers

B.           Production: Making your comic based on the steps you took in pre-production

C.           Post Production: Using your book to sustain your business

1.    Advertising: Informing your readers about your book

2.    Sales: Generating revenue from your intellectual property

3.    Revenue: Collecting the money for your book

4.    Growth: Deciding how to use your book to create a life in comics

You might look at this structure and think “there isn’t much in here about actually making comics”. That’s true. People who are far more creative and talented than me have published amazing books on the creative process of comics. This book is meant to fill in the gaps.

So are there any gaps that I missed? Each one of the elements above is broken down into greater detail in the manuscript, but if there’s something specific you’d like to see in the final book, please let me know.

Have fun.

Gamal                        

 PLEASE NOTE: THIS BLOG POST IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR LEGAL ADVICE. IF YOU HAVE AN ISSUE WITH YOUR COMIC PROPERTY, DISCUSS IT WITH YOUR LEGAL ADVISOR OR CONTACT C3 AT gamalhennessy@gmail.com FOR A FREE CONSULTATION.

Positioning Your Book for the Coming Content War

Added on by Gamal Hennessy.

Comic creators need to make comics because they love comics, not because they're searching for a Netflix deal. The vast majority of books will never cross over into mass media, even in this golden age of comic book entertainment. 

But that doesn't mean you shouldn't keep your eyes open for opportunities and create the business and legal structure to maximize your potential. As Rob Salkowitz of ICV2 writes, the streaming digital content wars will need the type of content comics have perfected. 

 "No one can afford to go into this battle like that half-committed.  Anyone who wants to play needs to go all in to sign up any content, any creators, and any licenses that might help them win – even if it’s only to keep certain projects and properties out of the hands of competitors."

Could your book benefit from the streaming content feeding frenzy? Maybe, but only if you finish your book, get it out into the world, and take the right steps to protect it . 

Have fun. 

G

 PLEASE NOTE: THIS BLOG POST IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR LEGAL ADVICE. IF YOU HAVE AN ISSUE WITH YOUR COMIC PROPERTY, DISCUSS IT WITH YOUR LEGAL ADVISOR OR CONTACT C3 AT gamalhennessy@gmail.com FOR A FREE CONSULTATION.

Cinedigm, ComicBlitz and Your Independent Comic

Added on by Gamal Hennessy.

The world of comics distribution is in a constant state of flux. The tides of change recently shifted again when over the top (OTT) content provider Cinedigm signed a deal to acquire ComicBlitz.

“ComicBlitz gives readers access to 10,000 digital comic books from publishers including IDW, Valiant, Dynamite, Zenescope and Lion Forge. The service is priced at $7.99 per month for unlimited access and is available in 133 countries.” While it’s not on par with Comixology at this point, an influx of cash from an OTT network can expand the potential reach of every book in the service to new readers in new markets.

As you develop and publish your own comics, deals like this should remind you to keep your options open when it comes to marketing, distribution, and sales. What worked in the past might not work today. What works now might not work tomorrow. Take advantage of the shifting sands and technologies. Use them to get your books to your market.

Have fun.

G

PLEASE NOTE: THIS BLOG POST IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR LEGAL ADVICE. IF YOU HAVE AN ISSUE WITH YOUR COMIC PROPERTY, DISCUSS IT WITH YOUR LEGAL ADVISOR OR CONTACT C3 AT gamalhennessy@gmail.com FOR A FREE CONSULTATION.

Independent Comic Publishers Need Independent Bookstores

Added on by Gamal Hennessy.

Experts thought the rise of Amazon meant the death of bookstores. We saw Kindle as the book killer and Comixology dealing a similar fate to print comics. But experts are often wrong.

Amazon has been instrumental in the demise of Waldenbooks and the crippling of Barnes and Noble, but recent economic reports show growth in the independent book market over the past few years (See  Small Bookstores Are Booming). The sense of community and the serendipity of wandering the shelves is something Amazon can't replicate...yet.

But what does this mean for independent comic publishers? It won't eliminate Amazon from most long term distribution models, but it can be another avenue for you to expand your audience beyond the comic book shop and build a stronger fan base. You'll have to do some research on the bookstores in your area to find the shop that works with your stories and your business model, but there are worse ways to do research than wandering the shelves of a bookstore. 

If you want to read more about the business and legal aspects of independent comic book publishing,sign up for my free monthly newsletter today.

Have fun.

G

PLEASE NOTE: THIS BLOG POST IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR LEGAL ADVICE. IF YOU HAVE AN ISSUE WITH YOUR COMIC PROPERTY, DISCUSS IT WITH YOUR LEGAL ADVISOR OR CONTACT C3 AT gamalhennessy@gmail.com FOR A FREE CONSULTATION.

 

Silence May Not Be Golden for Freelance Comic Creators

Added on by Gamal Hennessy.

Page rates (the amount an artist gets paid for each comic book page they create for a publisher) are not uniform across the industry. Factors including experience, skill, professional reputation, established fan base, and relationship to the publisher all play a role in determining what a creator might get paid (See How Much Do You Get Paid Per Page). But if one aspect of the comics industry contributes to the lack of clarity in page rates, it's the implicit or explicit lack of discussion among freelancers. 

 This situation isn't unique to comics. According to Adina Solomon of the Columbia Business Review, companies across the board are trying to prevent freelancers who work for them from disclosing what they get paid. This creates an advantage for the publishers , but it is dangerous for freelancers who lack the information to negotiate their deals in a thoughtful manner. 

"If there are legal restrictions placed over being able to freely share pay information, particularly in the absence of having a union or another entity that can represent you, freelancers are really left on their own. That’s really a hard place to be when you’re trying to figure out how to negotiate, what gigs to take, which ones you need to pass up because they’re not going to be worth your while.”

- Caitlin Pierce, director of the Freelancers Union 

It also opens up the possibility of discriminatory factors like gender, race, and religion to impact page rates.

So what are your opinions about discussing page rates? Are the your trade secrets as a publisher or is it in your long term best interests to disclose them? Let us know in the comments section and if you want to read more about the business and legal aspects of independent comic book publishing,sign up for my free monthly newsletter today.

Have fun.

G

PLEASE NOTE: THIS BLOG POST IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR LEGAL ADVICE. IF YOU HAVE AN ISSUE WITH YOUR COMIC PROPERTY, DISCUSS IT WITH YOUR LEGAL ADVISOR OR CONTACT C3 AT gamalhennessy@gmail.com FOR A FREE CONSULTATION. 

Why Are Comics Better Than Movies (and books, and plays, and video games) for Telling Stories?

Added on by Gamal Hennessy.

It is ironic that I was working on this post during the same week that Stan Lee left for another corner of the multiverse, but since he always loved to fight for the underdog, the timing might be poetically appropriate.

Creators of narrative art have several choices when deciding the medium to tell their stories. Books, film and theater have been the traditional media for the 20th century. They are the benchmarks for masterworks and the proving ground for genius the world over. In the last 25 years, video games have also emerged as an interactive storytelling media with huge achievements and potential.

But all of these storytelling methods have inherent limitations.

At the same time, comics have been disregarded as banal by the mainstream. Until recently, both its creators and its audience were often mocked and ignored. And in spite of the newfound popular acceptance, the masses still fail to see comics as a superior storytelling method, with both an artistic and popular appeal that elevates it above all other narrative art.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Communications theorist Marshall McLuhan once said, “The medium is the message.” This is especially true in storytelling, since the medium that a storyteller uses influences the way the story is told. In his seminal book Story, Robert McKee broke down these narrative constraints into internal, interpersonal, and extrapersonal conflict.

  • Prose: Novel, novellas and short stories are best at showing the inner life and struggles of the characters. The novelist can take the reader inside the mind and thought process of anyone in the story, whether it’s the inner dialogue of Albert Camus or the stream of consciousness monologues of Anais Nin.
  • Theater: Plays and musicals are the perfect stage (pun intended) to display interpersonal conflict. Because all of the action and reaction are played out in dialogue (or song), the playwright and the actors can focus on elevating language to its highest expressive form, whether you’re talking about Waiting for Gadot, West Side Story or MacBeth.
  • Video: TV, film, and video games have the ability to create extrapersonal spectacles that are too cumbersome to describe in words or to impractical to put on stage. One only needs to look as far as the opening scene in Saving Private Ryan, or the inventiveness of Horizon Zero Dawn to see the power of the medium.

Breaking Down Barriers

I’m not trying to say that inner life can’t be captured on film or that grand spectacle can’t be described in prose. Every narrative medium has the capacity to explore all three levels of conflict at a high level. I am saying that each medium has its inherent strengths and weaknesses. I’m also saying that comics can take advantage of the strengths of all other narrative media at the same time.

  • Inner Life: Through thought bubbles and caption boxes, we can know the inner lives of all the characters on the page.
  • Interpersonal Conflict: With facial expressions and word balloons, dialogue can be subtle, ironic, efficient, and powerful all at once.
  • Extrapersonal Spectacle: The art on the page can go literally anywhere and show anything, from the microverse to the multiverse to a quiet kitchen table, all in the blink of an eye.

The storyteller who uses comics can create any story and every story in ways that other medium can’t.

So what do you think? Is there something inherently superior about the other forms of narrative art that I’m missing, or is the mainstream overlooking the multilayered depth of comics? Leave a comment and let us know, and if you want to read more about the business and legal aspects of independent comic book publishing, sign up for my free monthly newsletter today.

Have fun.

G

PLEASE NOTE: THIS BLOG POST IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR LEGAL ADVICE. IF YOU HAVE AN ISSUE WITH YOUR COMIC PROPERTY, DISCUSS IT WITH YOUR LEGAL ADVISOR OR CONTACT C3 AT gamalhennessy@gmail.com FOR A FREE CONSULTATION.

Will Comixology and Digital Distribution Save or Slaughter Comics?

Added on by Gamal Hennessy.

Digital technology has disrupted all forms of media, including comics. On the distribution side of the business, platforms like Comixology capitalized on online distribution and potentially disrupting the direct market.

Since 2014, Amazon has given Comixology significant economies of scale. The Netflix model of unlimited subscriptions and original content currently appear to be gaining traction. Many of the major publishers have launched their own unlimited digital services in response to this new reality, while still selling their books on Comixology.

It is an open question whether this migration to digital is good or bad for the industry as a whole (See Travis Clark’s “Amazon’s Comixology Has Provoked a Fierce Debate”). It is even more unclear how digital distribution will shape the future of independent comics. But with more readers getting their first comics digitally (In his book “Economics of Digital Comics”, Todd Allen reported that up to 20% of current comic book readers read their first comics digitally), platforms like Comixology could be a much needed replacement for the old newsstands in terms of expanding the market of comic book readers.

Independent comic creators need to embrace digital distribution not just as a cheaper alternative to print, but maybe as the only distribution they need to reach their market.

What do you think? Is Amazon trying to dominate the online market the way Diamond has in the print market? Will this help or hurt the market overall and independents in particular?

 PLEASE NOTE: THIS BLOG POST IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR LEGAL ADVICE. IF YOU HAVE AN ISSUE WITH YOUR COMIC PROPERTY, DISCUSS IT WITH YOUR LEGAL ADVISOR OR CONTACT C3 AT gamalhennessy@gmail.com FOR A FREE CONSULTATION.

 

Why am I Qualified to Write a Book about Independent Comics Publishing?

Added on by Gamal Hennessy.

When someone says they're writing a book on a certain topic, the first thing I want to know is what makes them qualified to write the book. Do they have the qualifications to be an expert? Have they done their homework? Where is their information coming from?

Last week I announced my plan to write a comprehensive business and legal guide to independent comic book publishing (See What is Your Business and Legal Guide to Independent Comic Book Publishing?). Now I'd like to offer some background on who is creating this book and where the information is coming from. At this stage, ICP is being built on a foundation that includes the author (me), the editor, the research, and the interviews.

The Author

I've been working in and around comics since 1999. I started as the general counsel for an anime and manga company called Central Park Media. Then I became the International Publishing Manager at Marvel in 2002. In 2004, I opened Creative Contract Consulting and started working with freelance creators, independent publishers and big companies like Amazon. I'm hoping that being in the business for almost twenty years gives me the perspective to understand what this kind of book needs.

The Editor

Although I've been in the business for a long time, I have never actually made a comic. I have no byline and no credits to my name. I asked my good friend and prior client Mike Marts to join ICP as the editor because he's been on the front line of comics longer than I have. For years, he has been the lead editor for Batman line of books for DC and X-Men line of books for Marvel. Now, he's running AfterShock and finding critical and commercial success in a very tight market. If anyone knows what it takes to get comics out the door Mike does, so he can provide a reality check to my theory and ideas.

The Research

A lot of information about the business of comics has been written over the past 30 years. In addition, there are dozens of books and hundreds of articles about the publishing industry in particular and business in general that can be applied to independent comic book publishing. I've spent the past five years researching these sources. I've share many of them online and in my Professional Comics Creator Newsletter (Sign Up Here for the Free Newsletter). Combining the published knowledge of the industry will serve to reinforce the professional experience Mike and I bring to the book.

The Interviews

As an entertainment attorney, I've had a lot of comic creator clients and I've listened to a lot of people at various levels of the industry about their experience in making comics. ICP is going to include information I've collected from several dozen or my own interviews as well as podcasts, interviews, and convention panels I've sought out on this subject. By pulling all these viewpoints and knowledge together, I want to create a comprehensive picture of the industry.

ICP is a major project, but I've collected the pieces to deliver the best book possible. Now all I have to do is sit down and write it.

If you have any questions about ICP, or if there is a specific topic you want to make sure I discuss, please let me know in the comments.

Have fun.

G

PLEASE NOTE: THIS BLOG POST IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR LEGAL ADVICE. IF YOU HAVE AN ISSUE WITH YOUR COMIC PROPERTY, DISCUSS IT WITH YOUR LEGAL ADVISOR OR CONTACT C3 AT gamalhennessy@gmail.com FOR A FREE CONSULTATION.

What Is Your Business and Legal Guide to Independent Comic Book Publishing?

Added on by Gamal Hennessy.

Three years ago, I decided to write a book about the business and legal aspects of the comic book industry (See Your Career in Comics: An Introduction). My original idea was to create a comprehensive book that covered what I saw as the four major aspects of the creative comic book industry:

  1. Publishing independent comics (See the Creator Owned Path)

  2. Working as a freelance comic artist (See the Work for Hire Path)

  3. Getting creator owned deals with publishers of all sizes (See the Creator Driven Path)

  4. Moving your story off the page and onto screens and into merchandise (See the Transmedia Path)

As the research, interviews, and casual discussions among colleagues began to accumulate, two ideas became very clear:

  • Smaller is better: An all-inclusive book about the four major paths in comics is too big for someone with my limited intellect to tackle at once. It makes more sense to start with one aspect of the industry.

  • To Have a Career in Comics Publishing, It Helps to Publish Some Comics: Publishing independent comics is the foundation for understanding and entering the industry. While there are a lot of ways to get into comics, making and publishing comics gives you experience on both the creative and the business side of the process.

Armed with these two insights, my experience in the industry, and a thick folder of notes, it’s time for me to write Your Business and Legal Guide to Independent Comic Book Publishing.

I’m planning to document the growth of the book in this blog, so if you have any questions or comments along the way, please let me know.

Have fun.

G

PLEASE NOTE: THIS BLOG POST IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR LEGAL ADVICE. IF YOU HAVE AN ISSUE WITH YOUR COMIC PROPERTY, DISCUSS IT WITH YOUR LEGAL ADVISOR OR CONTACT C3 AT gamalhennessy@gmail.com FOR A FREE CONSULTATION.

Vault Comics Launches a New YA Brand

Added on by Gamal Hennessy.

The young adult segment of the comic book industry has seen growth in recent years. Gains have been seen in library, book stores and direct market shops.

Independent publisher Vault Comics recently announced a new imprint called  Myriad to cater to this market. 

"The new middle grade and YA imprint will offer original graphic novels and serialized graphic works as well as a lineup of new and established authors and artists. The initial list of titles and creators will be announced in November 2018." (Publishers Weekly)

Myriad can open doors for emerging creators interested in YA comics and signal to other independent publishers that growth can still be found outside the superhero genre.  

Have fun. 

Gamal

 PLEASE NOTE: THIS BLOG POST IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR LEGAL ADVICE. IF YOU HAVE AN ISSUE WITH YOUR COMIC PROPERTY, DISCUSS IT WITH YOUR LEGAL ADVISOR OR CONTACT C3 AT gamalhennessy@gmail.com FOR A FREE CONSULTATION.

 

Can Freelance Comic Creators Form a Union?

Added on by Gamal Hennessy.

One of the recent outcomes of the Chuck Wendig firing (See The Politics of Making Comics) has been a call for unionization among freelance comic creators. The theory is that the collective power of a union could protect individual creators with collective bargaining, litigation, or even a strike under certain circumstances. 

But the concept of a comics creators union isn't a simple thing to create in reality. Rich Johnson of Bleeding Cool addressed the issue last week (See Why Are There No Comic Book Unions). He pointed out legal hurdles including the Taft Hartly Act, economic trends in comics and the historical problems luminaries like Neal Adams and Frank Miller had trying to set up unions in the past. 

One obstacle not addressed in the article is the role geography and technology play in the making of modern comics. Unions traditionally focus on centralized workers in a factory, town, or region. But comics are created by remote groups and uploaded to cloud. If a union were created and decided to strike, what would stop publishers from going to India, Asia, or South Africa for creative scabs? And the competition for comic book work has always been fierce. Union members who walk away from their assignments might be replaced within a week...or even a day.

All this is not to say that unionization among comic creators is impossible or is ultimately bad for the industry. But until the obstacles are overcome, freelance creators need to negotiate the best contracts they can and be flexible enough to withstand the rapid changes inherent to the industry. 

Have fun.

Gamal

PLEASE NOTE: THIS BLOG POST IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR LEGAL ADVICE. IF YOU HAVE AN ISSUE WITH YOUR COMIC PROPERTY, DISCUSS IT WITH YOUR LEGAL ADVISOR OR CONTACT C3 AT gamalhennessy@gmail.com FOR A FREE CONSULTATION.

 

Fighting the Demons of Independent Comics Publishing

Added on by Gamal Hennessy.

Publishing your own comics, like any type of independent creative endeavor, can be an exciting journey of achievement. It can also be a descent into poor health, isolation, and financial stress. Creators who can balance the love for their book with their long term well being have a better chance of enjoying the experience

Jessica Bruder wrote a thoughtful piece in Inc. Magazine called "The Psychological Price of Entrepreneurship." While publishing an independent comic isn't the same as launching a Fortune 500 company, there are simple lessons in this post creators can learn like:

  • Make time for friends and family
  • Ask for help if depression or hopelessness sets in
  • Take care of your body (sleep, exercise, etc.)
  • Don't bankrupt yourself to make your book
  • Don't define yourself only by your book

Publishing independent comics can feel like being a superhero with a secret identity. Both your passion project and your alter ego need to be protected. Neglecting either one can create an imbalance that destroys both.

 PLEASE NOTE: THIS BLOG POST IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR LEGAL ADVICE. IF YOU HAVE AN ISSUE WITH YOUR COMIC PROPERTY, DISCUSS IT WITH YOUR LEGAL ADVISOR OR CONTACT C3 AT gamalhennessy@gmail.com FOR A FREE CONSULTATION.

 

My Interview with On the Reel

Added on by Gamal Hennessy.

Last night Mr. Stephen Johnson and the gentlemen of the R-Square Network show On the Reel invited me to discuss my recent article The Politics of Comics (http://bit.ly/2pQcqOl).  

The discussion touched on Chuck Wendig's firing, Comicsgate, the Trumpocalypse and the potential impact on commercial artistic expression.

What's your opinion?

Have fun.

Gamal

PLEASE NOTE: THIS BLOG POST IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR LEGAL ADVICE. IF YOU HAVE AN ISSUE WITH YOUR COMIC PROPERTY, DISCUSS IT WITH YOUR LEGAL ADVISOR OR CONTACT C3 AT gamalhennessy@gmail.com FOR A FREE CONSULTATION.

The Politics of Making Comics

Added on by Gamal Hennessy.

Comics, like other forms of popular art, have always been influenced by the political climate of the period they are created in. From the mythical stories of Kirby ready to face down nazi sympathizers who threatened him for his work in Captain America, to Seduction of the Innocent and the subsequent congressional hearings, to Comicsgate, politics have always been a part of making comics.

            Against that backdrop, the termination of Chuck Wendig last week is disturbing, but not surprising. I’ve written about the contractual tools parties can use to dictate the private activities of their business partners in earlier posts (See Avoiding the Trump Effect in Your Creative Contracts) and even a company like Marvel, who has been the target of Comicsgate because of their diversity efforts (See Is Diversity Killing Marvel Comics) can feel the reactionary pressure to pull away from an artist they see as too controversial for their IP. The deeper question is what kind of impact this move will have on comic book artists in the future.

            Will this create a chilling effect on emerging artists who rely on the Big Two as their main source of income?  Will it push away established artist who cherish their right to be vocal about their beliefs outside of their professional work? Will fans of fired artists drift away from publishers? Will aggressive elements on any side of a political issue see this as a signal to force more creators to be harassed, censored, or fired?

            What do you think the Wendig fallout will be, and how will it affect the way you make and read comics?

Have fun.

Gamal

PLEASE NOTE: THIS BLOG POST IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR LEGAL ADVICE. IF YOU HAVE AN ISSUE WITH YOUR COMIC PROPERTY, DISCUSS IT WITH YOUR LEGAL ADVISOR OR CONTACT C3 AT gamalhennessy@gmail.com FOR A FREE CONSULTATION.   

So Where Was Captain Marvel?

Added on by Gamal Hennessy.

Marvel Studios dropped the new Captain Marvel trailer this morning to deflect attention away from the "leaked" Joker image.

As an initial trailer, this sets up a mystery providing more questions than answers, but as a film set in the 80's (made clear in the Blockbuster reference) the most obvious question for me is where was this powerhouse hero when Loki was trying to take over the Earth and Ultron tried to drop a country on Europe?

Have fun.

G

 PLEASE NOTE: THIS BLOG POST IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR LEGAL ADVICE. IF YOU HAVE A ISSUE WITH YOUR COMIC PROPERTY, DISCUSS IT WITH YOUR LEGAL ADVISOR OR CONTACT C3 AT gamalhennessy@gmail.com FOR A FREE CONSULTATION.

You Need Two Teams to Publish a Successful Comic

Added on by Gamal Hennessy.

By Gamal Hennessy

I’m in the process of writing a book about the business and legal aspects of making independent comics (See Your Career in Comics). As the book develops, I plan to share parts of it here for your reaction and feedback.

About a month ago, I began the process by asking why you want to make comics in the first place (See What Are You Trying to Do?). Now I’d like to look at who you need to have on your team to have a successful publishing program.

One Book, Two Teams

Independent comic creators often put a lot of time and effort into building the team for their books. They reach out to friends in their circles who make comics. They visit artist’s alley in conventions, pour over Deviant Art pages, explore the overseas options, and ask for referrals on social media. Sometimes, it takes years for them to find the right artists for their project.

But too many creators start their book with only half a team.

If comics are a form of commercial art, then the development of the art requires both business and creative support. Focusing on only one side limits the potential of the project.

The Creative Team

            This side of the equation is basic to the creation of any comic. As with plays, films, and television shows, one or more individuals come together to turn a vision into a reality. Some roles overlap, but the common structure of a comic book creative team includes:

  1. The writer who creates the overall plot of the book and the script in both the caption boxes and the character dialogue.
  2. The artist creates the fundamental images on each page. They may also create the basic character designs, settings, logos and the cover for the overall book
  3. The inker enhances the images created by the artist, altering the tone and weight of the story by emphasizing some visual aspects over others.
  4. The letterer inserts all the words in the book including dialogue, captions and “sound effects” in a way that guides the reader’s eye in a natural progression from one image to another.
  5. The flatter prepares the inked images for the colorist to enhance the color rendering process.
  6. The colorist adds moods, energy, and texture to the images to give them more impact to the eye
  7. The editor oversees the entire process to ensure that the best possible finished product is created on time and under budget.

The Business Team

The creative side of comics is intense and time-consuming, but it is only part of the process. Professional comic creators publish books with one of the goals being the creation of profit. Without someone (and more often several people) running the business side of things, even the best comics will not sell. The elements of the business team vary from book to book, but every book needs to answer these questions as part of the process:

  1. Accounting: Who is collecting the money? Who is paying the bills?
  2. Advertising: Who is in charge of informing the public about the book?
  3. Distribution: Who is handling the relationships with Diamond and the direct market shops for the print book? Who is in charge of managing the online distribution on the website, Comixology, and the emerging distribution channels?
  4. Legal: Who is protecting the intellectual property of the book? Who is handling the internal and external contract negotiations?
  5. Management: Who is in charge of the overall creative and financial success of the book?
  6. Marketing: Who is in charge of creating the website, maintaining the social media presence, running the crowdfunding campaign, and handling the interactions with the comic book press,
  7. Printing: Who is in charge of managing the printing process? (If the book is being printed)
  8. Sales: Who is in charge of using the book to generate money?

Juggling Jobs

Every independent comic does not have fifteen people working on it. Some established publishing companies don’t have fifteen people working on the books. Creating independent comics is a startup experience. It means members of the creative team often take roles in the business team. It can mean members of the business team can fulfill multiple roles within that team. It also means that some jobs will not be done, or they won’t be done with the same time and attention as if someone only worked on that piece of the project. Some creators decide to give up some of their rights and sign up with creator-driven publishers like Image or AfterShock to take advantage of their pre-existing business teams.

As a comic creator, you have the power to decide which aspects of the process will and won’t get done. This power works better when you make conscious decisions at the outset of the project. It does you no good to spend two years making a book to sell and then realizing no one is prepared to sell it or collect the money.

The Cost of Teamwork

No matter how you decide to divide the tasks of publishing your comic, everyone who works on the book is going to have to be compensated at some point. Very few people are willing to work for free, even on something they love, so part of independent publishing is finding a way to pay everyone involved.

There are several different compensation methods available depending on the level of participation of each person, your resources, and the short and long-term interests of everyone involved. Increased involvement often includes increased compensation. Different compensation can be mixed and matched to give each person both a short and long-term stake in the project. Just don’t give away more than you have.

Compensation methods include:

  1. Upfront payment
  2. Revenue sharing based on units sold, ad revenue generated, sponsorships, etc.
  3. Ownership interests in the underlying property
  4. Credit on the underlying work

Better Odds

When creating a comic, the chances of success are greater if all jobs are assigned, everyone agrees on the terms, and the schedules for production, marketing, sales, and payment are established before making the book. All this preparation does not guarantee a hit book. The Big Two have dozens of people involved in each book and some of them still fail. But publishing comics involves a lot of individual tasks to make the machine run. If some tasks don’t get done on the business or creative side, then the machine breaks down fast.

Next month I’ll talk about creating a term sheet for the members of your team and the relationship between the term sheet and the contract.

Have fun with your comic...

Gamal  

PLEASE NOTE: THIS BLOG POST IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR LEGAL ADVICE. IF YOU HAVE A ISSUE WITH YOUR COMIC PROPERTY, DISCUSS IT WITH YOUR LEGAL ADVISOR OR CONTACT C3 AT gamalhennessy@gmail.com FOR A FREE CONSULTATION.  

Your Career in Comics: What Are You Trying to Do?

Added on by Gamal Hennessy.

By Gamal Hennessy

I’m in the process of writing a book about the business and legal aspects of making independent comics (See Your Career in Comics). As the book develops, I plan to share parts of it here for your reaction and feedback.

Since this is the first post, I’m going to start with an existential question:

Why do you want to make comics?

Before you start thinking about drawing, sales or social media, it is important to figure out exactly what you’re trying to accomplish and why. Making comics, like any artistic or business endeavor, involves substantial sacrifice and investment. If you’re going to make comics a part of your life beyond the Wednesday ritual of picking up your pull box, it makes sense to take a step back and look at the big picture.

To answer this question, I suggest you take yourself out for a cup of coffee or a cocktail (if you’re old enough, of course) and figure out the answers to the following questions. Keep in mind that the answers can and will change over time, so don’t be afraid to revisit these questions as your circumstances and the industry changes.

Goals (or What Do You Want to Do in Comics?): “I want to make comics” is a start, but there are different aspects to the industry, and figuring out where you want to be will help you make decisions on which opportunities to pursue and which ones to avoid. Maybe you want to make your own books and sell them at cons. Maybe you want to work for the Big Two. Maybe you want to be the next Stan Lee or Todd McFarlane. Maybe you want it all. You can have any goals you want. The purpose of goals isn’t to limit you. They just guide you on your path.

Reasons (or Why Do You Want a Career in Comics?): It’s one thing to know what you want to do. Knowing why is a different type of insight. Are you doing this because you have a story to tell, because you want to be a part of the comics community, or because you want more money than Tony Stark?

Like your goals, your reasons are personal. They don’t have to define you, but keeping them in mind can motivate you to overcome the inevitable setbacks and pitfalls. You can have any reason or motivation you want for getting into comics. There are opportunities for artistry, creativity, and profit at almost every level of the industry, but at the end of the day, a love of the art form will keep you going.  

Plan (or How Are You Going to Get into Comics?) After you understand your goals and your reasons for wanting those goals, you need to develop a plan to help you get from where you are to where you want to go. As you follow along with this blog and hopefully read my book, you can begin to figure out which path you want to adopt for your own purposes and take the appropriate steps.

Of course, no plan survives contact with reality. The industry is in a state of constant flux. The impact of changing trends will often be outside of your control. You’re going to need to modify your plan to adapt to new conditions, so the plan you make might not be the path you ultimately take. But you have to start somewhere and making your own comic is a good place to begin, no matter where you ultimately want to go.

Resources (or What Do You Have to Offer the Industry?) The secret to success in the comics business involves making consistent ritual sacrifices on the altar of the industry. What you get from comics is based in large part on what you put in. Your offering might be a creative vision, artistic skill, a network of eager professionals, or an investment of time and finances. In many cases, the creators who came before you had to offer all these things and more. Now is the time to figure out what you bring to the table and what you need to find in the community to make your goals real.

Milestones (or How Will You Track the Progress of Your Plan?) No one goes to sleep wanting a career in comics and wakes up where they want to be. Your development as a creator will grow in stages. You get to determine what those stages are and to a large extent, in what order you want them to happen. You can start with putting your first team together, getting your first issue online, or any other basis that’s right for you. You can decide whether your goals are books created, copies sold, or views on your website. Milestones give your goals concrete structure you can use to measure your efforts.

Motivation (or What Gets You Started and Keeps You Going?) Despite the view from the outside, the art and business of comics are not easy. It can be a long road from your initial inspiration to holding your book in your hands and the road isn’t a straight line. There will be obstacles and pressures to stop. This isn’t just true in comics. It’s true in life.

Even if you get your vision into the world, success (whatever your definition of it is) may not come quickly. It is not hyperbole to say some creators did not live long enough to see the characters they created become a fixture in mainstream culture.

So what is it about your comic that’s going to bring you back to the project month after month and year after year? What is going to pick you up when life knocks you down? What drives you might be very personal or it could be the universal desire for fame and fortune.

Yes, they’re movies, merchandise, and money to be made. Yes, comics are one of the driving forces in 21st-century pop culture. But the comics business is not a get rich quick industry. For every Walking Dead, there are thousands of other titles that lose money or never get off the ground. If you don’t love comics, it might not make sense to spend the time and effort of getting into the business.

In the next installment of Your Career in Comics, I plan to talk about the framework for an independent comics company and break down the process into manageable parts. If you’d like to read more about the business and legal aspects of making comics, like my Facebook page or sign up for my free newsletter.

Have fun with your comic...

Gamal  

 PLEASE NOTE: THIS BLOG POST IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR LEGAL ADVICE. IF YOU HAVE A ISSUE WITH YOUR COMIC PROPERTY, DISCUSS IT WITH YOUR LEGAL ADVISOR OR CONTACT C3 AT gamalhennessy@gmail.com FOR A FREE CONSULTATION.  

ICv2 Launches Pro Site for Comic Creators

Added on by Gamal Hennessy.

ICv2 Pro is now offering four key features unavailable on the regular ICv2.com site

1. Comments & Forum, a place for our comic professionals to interact with each other.

2. Internal Correspondence, early and ongoing online access to all of magazine content.

3. Market Intelligence, which will present long-running comic sales data.

4. Pro Articles, exclusive in-depth Pro-only articles and analysis.

Comic creators on all levels should consider using this type of news to grow their own business. Click the link for information and pricing.

http://bit.ly/2vusZQE

 PLEASE NOTE: THIS BLOG POST IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR LEGAL ADVICE. IF YOU HAVE A LICENSING OR INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY ISSUE, DISCUSS IT WITH YOUR LEGAL ADVISOR OR CONTACT C3 AT gamalhennessy@gmail.com FOR A FREE CONSULTATION.