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Old 12-04-2013, 02:02 AM   #1
Steven Forbes
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Week 154: Top Ten Reasons You'll Fail At Making Comics


Itís not only Tuesday, but itís also December! Where has the time gone? I have no idea, but weíre here, itís nearing the end of the year, and you know what that means. Countdowns!

So for the next few weeks, weíre going to do countdowns. Letís get settled in, shall we?

This week, weíre going to talk about the top ten reasons youíll fail at making comics. Letís go!

10. You Arenít Ready To Work With Others
This is pretty self-explanatory. You may think youíre ready, but you arenít. You have to learn a lot of things in order to be ready to work with others. You have to learn how to accept criticism, you have to learn how to both lead and follow, you have to learn what is good enough from others when they do their jobs. You have to know your real self-worth, in order to gauge the worth of others. Once youíre able to do all of that, youíre ready to work with others.

Click here to read more.
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Old 12-04-2013, 09:20 PM   #2
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Hey Steven,

I don't have any specific feedback on this piece, but I wanted to take the opportunity to tell you how much I appreciate what you're doing.

I've been reading your Bolts and Nuts columns for a few months now, as well as working my way through the archives. There's a great deal of useful information and thought-provoking questions in here. What I like best is the sense of definiteness -- that's not quite the word I want, but it'll do -- about the process of publishing and marketing comics. You've helped fill in the nebulous void that existed in my thinking between the original pages leaving my desk and the finished book arriving in a reader's hands. That makes the whole process seem more feasible.

So thanks, Steven. When (if) I do get close to my goal of making actual, marketable comic books, you'll be the first editor I call on.
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Old 12-05-2013, 03:22 AM   #3
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Hey, Newt.

Thanks for the kind words. I truly, deeply appreciate it.

I remember when I first decided to get into comics. There was nothing there to fill in the gaps. There were vast oceans of information that were missing. I couldn't find it in books, and there weren't many places online to look for it, either. It was crazy. Information superhighway, indeed!

So I had to do it the hard way. Go out and do it, learn it, explore it. That's the information I'm presenting here. I still don't think there are many (if any) places that has the information I've been presenting for the past few years. Not any that don't gloss over the information, or don't go in depth with it the way I believe it should be.

I'm just glad that you and a few others find the information useful.

So, again, I truly, deeply appreciate it.

And when you're ready for me, let me know.
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Old 12-05-2013, 11:21 AM   #4
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I just finished reading B&N Week 154: Top 10 Reasons Youíll Fail At Making Comics. It's a good summary of common reasons that comic books fail. I don't know that I would agree with the ranking order of the reasons posited, but that particular quibble aside, there's a lot of truth contained within this article.

If one hates to read, this is also a brief article. Perhaps Steven is on a word diet, this week, and is trying to keep his character caloric intake down. Not sure. Regardless, it is an article that doesn't take a lot of time to consume in its entirety.

From my own first-hand experience, while I don't actually read a lot of comic books these days (compared to when I was a kid growing up), most of the ones that I do read (or just browse through, as the individual respective case may be) tend to be ones put out by independent comic books, ones put together by individuals or by small teams of collaborators.

Most of the comic books that I encounter, by way of such, fall directly under one or more of the ten points of this article of Steven Forbes.

Because Steven is in count down mode, he only listed ten points of consideration. Yet, the stark reality is that there are far more than just ten reasons why a comic book will fail. Even many well done comic books will fail, where their actual number of sales is concerned. That one does everything right is no guarantee of success.

Furthermore, on top of the things that Steve highlights in this article, one should also consider the additional obstacles that individuals encumber their comic books with, of their own creation.

The comic book that you publish is in immediate competition with not just every other comic book on the market, in all formats and in all mediums, but also, it is in direct competition with every other form of entertainment vying for one's dollars.

There's nothing wrong with comic book artists wanting to receive fair compensation for their toil and sweat and skills rendered. However, that core concept is one that the comic book uninitiated must put into play in a world that virtually anyone and everyone could tell you is not a fair place. If life, itself, isn't fair, then what makes you (the one trying to put your own comic book out) think that the world is fair? Or that the market is fair?

For that matter, which market? The one that you see? Or the one that you can create?

On both your left and your right, there are countless legions of artists, writers, letterers, and colorists who are in the same boat that you just willingly climbed into. Many of them are willing to undercut your profit margins. Some have a choice. Many don't - at least, not if they want to be realistic about things. Sure, they sympathize with you. Positively, as a matter of discussion, they wholeheartedly agree with you. As a reality, though, they want that slice of the business pie that you already have your eye on. They've been eying it long that you have, in fact. They want it. They intend to have it.

So, as one can see, you have a fight on your hand. Many fights. Thousands upon thousands of them. Fighting to eek out a place on the comic book pecking order. It's not pleasant to watch. But, the beauty of it is, the vast majority of these competitive fights, this competition in motion, happen outside your field of vision. You only know about those that you know about.

There is supply, and there is demand.

Let's explore just one site on the Internet very briefly. deviantArt boasts artists from over 190 countries, over 29 million artists (that's 29,000,000+), and over 273 million (that's 273,000,000+) original works of art.

Sure, that site isn't a comic book store, per se, but again, if you want to sell comic books, you are in competition with every artist, everywhere that is seeking to capitalize upon opportunities that present themselves.

Fortunately, the unfair reality in which you exist and live and operate is so big, so gargantuan, that it is impossible to compete against every last force of competition in existence - simply because they can't all target each and every opportunity that localizes itself around you, in your immediate proximity.

Thus, be timely in pursuing opportunity. Beat your competition to the punch.

All things considered, it's the HOW of your approach to publishing comic books that will define whether you succeed or fail in your venture. Even after you finish your comic book, you still have to market it.

Much of what is on the comic book market, particularly form solo artists or small groups of collaborators, is what I will tactfully describe as crap.

If you focus upon nothing else, then focus upon quality.

Of course, that's basically the same thing that Steven has said in his more scenic journey in his B&N Week 154 article.

His entire Bolts & Nuts compilation of articles is a voluminous tome of positive advice. It's just buried under the collective weight of its own word count.

To publish a comic book that will be a financial success is the equivalent of climbing a mountain. It's can be a worthwhile journey, to be certain - but, it is also a trek that is fraught with perils at every turn.

Those "perils" are the risks of failure that may materialize at any moment along the way of the undertaking.

You have the option of hiring a guide, or going it alone. The choice is yours.

If you hire a guide, you might still fail. If you go it alone, you might still succeed.

If you want to know what the law of averages says, then by all means, consult it.

Sorry for the ramble, Steven! Hopefully, your next article in this series won't be such an exercise in brevity.
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Old 12-06-2013, 11:44 PM   #5
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Thanks for the breakdown, Charles. I appreciate it.

And next week, I'll try to be more wordy. (I think.)
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Old 12-08-2013, 07:29 PM   #6
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...more top ten reasons?



Hi Steve,

I read with great enjoyment your weekly Bolts and Nuts, certainly brightens up my Tuesdays.

Possible new top tens:
  • Top ten best images writers can use in comic book panels that lend themselves to the medium (i.e. shattered glass, water splashing, person sliding into dirt kicking up dust...)
  • Top ten WORST images writers need to avoid in comic book panels because they don't lend themselves to the medium (i.e. couple kissing, door slamming, news anchor on T.V.)

And possible new article: Vanity Projects/clients... ...when the money's there but the idea is so BADDD!

Thanks again,

Tim Larsen
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Old 12-08-2013, 09:25 PM   #7
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Hi, Tim!

Thanks for reading and commenting! I appreciate it!

I don't know if there are images that do and do not lend themselves to the medium. Just about anything can be bad if used incorrectly. The opposite of that is also true. It really depends on the story, and the level of craft of the storytellers.

Thank you for the suggestions, though! Keep 'em coming! If there's something you'd like me to talk about in future installments, let me know!

And yes, I've been in a place where I've taken money when a story idea is terrible. I do what I can in order to mold the story into something passable, but don't always succeed. I try not to put myself in that position, though.

Hm. Maybe a top ten of horror stories? I think that could be interesting.
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