(Image: AT Fionna & Cake by Colleen Coover)
Okay, so I spent the first day of this year's Emerald City Comicon giving in to my fandom. For Day Two, (Saturday, 2 March 2013), it was time to get serious and attend some how-to sessions.
One of the first seminars I attended was the Small Press Comics Forum, hosted by Travis Hanson, Tyler & Wendy Chin-Tanner, "Reece" Friesen; along with Shawn Cruz, Sean Hollenhors and tatoo artist AnnMare Grove, from Corrosive Comics. (I think someone was absent from the panel, but I can't remember who).
The panel discussed their triumphs and tribulations of developing, or working with, small comic companies:
First, treat your project as a profession and not merely a hobby. Consider your work as a business. So keep "business hours." Or, as I've heard in all the writer's workshops I attended: Write every day. And if you're uploading your work on line, then you need to post on a regular schedule, otherwise, your fans will loose interest.
Seperate yourself from your work. People will criticize your material, but that doesn't mean they're criticizing you. Be open to advice and talk to people who are doing what you're doing. But keep in mind someone may be merely expressing their opinion. Research the critiquer to determine their level of expertise, then decide if you want to follow any of their suggestions.
How do you get started?
Well, to copy the Nike motto: Just do it.
But of course, research anything before you start.
Build a website, or at least a web presence. Some templates are free. Wordpress offers a Comics Press download that can be utilized with their web format.
Putting stuff on line will attract fans. You can still earn an income doing this, because fans still want books and are willing to pay for printed products.
Speaking of printed material, comic book stores cater to the major publishers. So if you wish to see your comics on the shelves, then its best to develop a (professional) relationship with the store owner. Since comics are a visual medium, writers tend to have a harder time breaking into the industry than artists.
Finally, one of the panelists, (I forget who), stressed that you should have six weeks of material archived before you set up. This gives you flexibility enough to maintain your regular postings, while dealing with "Life-getting-in-the-way" issues.