Brian Michael Bendis was an unloved worthless nothing before he self published a few crime comic books. Now? He’s Marvel’s top writer, recognized by dozens of people the world over and he probably got to meet Stan Lee once or twice.
Harvey Pekar was just a shlubby file clerk from Cleveland, but after self-publishing his award nominated comic book “American Splendor” his sad, pathetic life was turned into a movie. COOL!
Forbidden Planet favorite Steve Mannion was just another sex addicted race-car driver before he began self publishing his own comics. Now he sits in a room in New Jersey and draws comic every day…and if he ever stops he’ll starve. I bet he hasn’t seen the sun ONCE this month!
Yes, the fun and rewards from self-publishing your own comic books are evident to anybody with access to an electron microscope. Follow these simple instructions and you might be trapped in a special, private hell all your own because You Too Can Self Publish Your Own Comic Books!
STEP 1: LIE TO YOURSELF
Perhaps the trickiest step in this entire endeavor (next to step number 2) is to actually convince your self that this is a good idea. For every Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are thousands upon thousands of horrid wastes of paper that no one has ever read and no one will ever care about. Comics destined not for the Silver Screen but to be carted around by the box load, unopened from your printers, as you move from one flea infested apartment to the next, ducking creditors and avoiding your family/backers.
The best way to do this is to attend a big comic book convention. The San Diego Comic Con is perfect for this! Once there, take a look at the HUGE booths big publishers like Marvel, DC and IDW have. Gaze longingly at the long lines of fans that popular artists like Adam Hughes and Arthur Adams have to lined up at their booths, all eager to buy their self-published sketchbooks. Check out the huge banners for the movies Hollywood is promoting based on small books like Scott Pilgrim or Kick-Ass.
Stare into the sun of success until you become blinded to the hundreds toiling away in the thankless obscurity known as “Artist Alley,” where smelly broken creators fail at selling smelly, broken comic books.
Tell yourself “I’m better then all of them. I’m going to be somebody.”
Tell yourself this over and over like a mantra. Tell yourself this lie until you believe it in your soul.
Now you’re ready for stage 2.
STAGE 2: FIND ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS
Borrow money from your parents, your parent’s friends, your college fund and your dog’s retirement fund. Take out loans against your car, your braces and your future. Pawn your expensive guitar you never learned to play, ‘cause you’re going to need the cash!
Don’t worry about how you’ll pay that nice bookie back, or how your little brother might feel once he’s discovered you took his college fund. You’re going to be rich, remember? Mr. Big shot comic book publisher man!
Got the money? Good!
STAGE 3: THROW THE MONEY IN A HOLE AND BURN IT
I sincerely hope you did that step as you were reading it, otherwise you might have had time to think about it before you took action. This step might seem cruel, but it is for your own protection.
IF you are deterred in any way from continuing on with this operation knowing you are now hopelessly in debt and forever shamed with the stink of financial ruin in the eyes of the people who believed in you, well then I have only one thing to say:
You didn’t want it enough.
If you didn’t care about the money and this is just some sort of ego trip then you are ready for stage 4!
STAGE 4: GET MORE MONEY
This is self evident.
STAGE 5: BOOK A TABLE AT A COMIC BOOK CONVENTION
By spending this new influx of cash on locking yourself into appearing at a comic book convention, ostensibly to sell your new magnum opus, you are burning the rope you are climbing up from the bottom to the top.
There is no going back now. It is publish or perish. Meet your deadline or else you fly halfway across the country to sit at a table with nothing.
STAGE 6: SELF PUBLISH YOUR OWN COMIC BOOK
Again, this should be self-evident, though if you need more help with this step I hear you can read about it on internet blogs.
STAGE 7: SUCCEED!
You did it! The most likely scenario is that your book was a huge success and that you are now riding the gravy train for life! Hello, Hollywood! Hello, Gold plated Taco Bell trays! Hello, using mint copies of Action Comics #1 as pooper-scoopers to pick up after your genetically engineered pet, the hypo-allergenic Tigerkeet!
If, for some strange reason you are not now a multi-millionaire then please continue on to the following, harrowing steps:
STAGE 8: FAIL AND BLAME EVERYBODY BUT YOURSELF
In this penultimate step you return to your parents basement in defeat. Own your failure like a cold, wet fur coat. Drape it on. Sit in the drippings of your own soggy failure and conjure demons to blame for your short comings.
“It wasn’t my fault.” You can reason. “The printer screwed up the gray values in my book. Plus the cover was too dark. Plus the market has shifted. Plus the stupid convention gave me a table outside of the floor traffic.”
In the years to follow make sure you talk big about your own petty accomplishments in the field of self-publishing. Tell everybody how much of a true visionary you were when tiny slivers of your ideas are recognizable (only done better) in superior works from big professionals.
You are now faced with two choices. The wisest of these would be to learn a valuable life lesson about “working hard to achieve your dreams,” to put this unfortunate chapter behind you and to slowly work your way out of debt and back into the financial stability of, say, a postal worker or a retail manager. We all make mistakes, we all learn as we go. To this I can only say:
You didn’t want it enough!
THAT’S RIGHT, THIS WAS ANOTHER TEST! You left the movie theater before the cool bit after the credits.
STEP 9: START AGAIN FROM STEP 1
Repeat until death or success, whichever comes first.