Why I have failed at comics for 8 years.
While working in video games, I’d like to think I’ve become quite successful, having worked as a concept artist on games like World of Warcraft, and Diablo3. Which begs the question… Why have my Indy comic efforts not succeeded? After working on Twilight Monk, and meeting with some success for the first time in this new world of digital web comics… I believe I finally have an answer.
I used to think that I could just save up a fully painted 80 page book, get it printed in 1000 copies, and drop this huge bomb on people that will remember Creed and somehow word would spread, and I’d sell every copy in a few months. But it didn’t quite work that way. I spent 4 years on Creed imaginary, painting every page. It was my best script, with the best painted art I’d ever done in a comic. And it has sold under 300 copies to date (compared to when CreeD was selling 30,000 copies per issue). This was a heartbreaking failure, and most importantly… it didn’t work. That’s because today’s comics and the business of comics is about having a relationship with your audience. Now I’m not talking about some pillow talk and smooching under the stars. What I realized is that… I didn’t keep my audience satisfied with regular content throughout the development of these books. I hadn’t built the trust with my audience yet. And just “making something great”, wasn’t enough if nobody cared about it. I wasn’t reaching out to new audiences. I didn’t even advertise it… anywhere. I had a deviantart page, and a blogspot. Needless to say, I became very depressed. I felt like a failure… like maybe I don’t even deserve to be successful at my other job either.With Twilight monk, I decided to do something different. I decided to just take my time, to deliver the content efficiently. WordPress was a huge step forward for me. You don’t have to wait very long for pages to load, and you can jump all over the place, or read through story arcs… its a far superior delivery method to the old flash players that I used to use. Secondly, I decided to have a regular delivery schedule. I may not be able to post very much content every week, but I can promise that I WILL post… EVERY Monday with at least one new page. Also, I read, and try to reply to every comment that I can. Thirdly, I am reaching out to people who have never heard of me with advertising. I spend more money than I make on this site, in fact… I haven’t even thought out how to monetize the site yet. But my audience grows by about 300 new readers every week.
And if you are making your own comic, my advice would be not to do what I did with Creed imaginary, and assume that just because you make something great, THAT will be enough to raise awareness. Build a community, advertise during development, stay consistent, and build a relationship with your audience.
Perhaps this is obvious to most of you, but I stubbornly did not want to adapt to the new business of internet web comics for far too long.