Over the last several years, I’ve been fortunate in that I’ve met many Indie comics creators who have been expanding the boundaries of comics storytelling. Superheroes have long been the dominant type of comic in the industry, so it’s no surprise folks are pushing the boundaries in that genre. I’ve been happy to buy these products at conventions, through Kickstarter projects and Comixology.com, among other ways.
Well, two of the folks I’ve previously interviewed I’ve stayed in touch with, and both submitted their superhero books for insertion into the Diamond Previews catalog. They both recently told me they received rejection letters from Diamond largely because they were superhero books.
TOO MANY SUPERHERO COMICS
Granted, not every superhero comic is a gem. I remember coming across a booth at a convention in which the woman standing in front of it put their volume in my hands to read. I started glancing through it only to find it was scantily clad woman with superhero-like costumes and masks draped across the counter at a bar from a northern city you’d recognize if I mentioned it. “Isn’t it great?” she purred. I told her the book needed a plot. She was still puzzling over that when I left to check out another booth nearby.
I understand that DC and Marvel largely own the market on superheroes. They put out a goodly number of books featuring well-known heroes each month. This level of success attracts other creators who believe they have a new twist on the genre that people would buy. Some are simply terrific, while others are … not.
The response from Diamond seemed to indicate that they are outright declining to carry superhero comics from lesser-known or new publishers. One of the letters encouraged the creator to “consider working in partnership with another company on this project to reach its intended demographic.” In other words, if the same title came out from, say, Image, IDW, BOOM! Studios, Oni Press or Dynamite, they might easily accept that very same comic, apparently.
THE ‘MOUSE GUARD’ EFFECT
Every month I sit down and go through the Previews catalog, and that includes the Marvel version as well. I make a list of the things I want, then get that to the comics shop I frequent so they can order it all.
One month, I was reading through when I came across this fascinating entry called Mouse Guard. I had never heard of it before, so I read the entry in the Previews and ordered it. A love affair was born that day as I buy David Petersen’s product every time it is released.
That’s the kind of thing Indie comics creators want for their wares – the chance to attract a following through an entry in that monthly publication. It can mean the difference between being a hit and only printing limited runs of your comic that appear in local stores. I understand that nearly every comics creator wants in, but I don’t think a blanket “no entry” policy towards superhero comics from other companies really helps the industry and its fans.
Over time, Comixology.com has grown, in my opinion. First, I used it when I couldn’t find a paper copy so I could keep up with a series. Then I added to that by looking for books I’d heard about but local shops didn’t carry.
Now I look at this website as the ultimate comics shop. If you are an Indie creator, your book gets included with all the DC and Marvel comics out that week. It gets the same space as Action Comics or Avengers. You’re with the big boys. And they have unlimited shelf space, too!
I have often looked through the various pages of what was released each week. I’ll come across Indie books (and mainstream ones as well) that I stop to find out more about, then buy and download issues to peruse. Sometimes I even sign up for a Subscription to keep up with the book moving forward.
But I wouldn’t have come across it if not for Comixology.com. If you haven’t used their Submit program, I highly recommend it! There are technical aspects you must follow, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be able to appear and hopefully attract new fans just like the “Big Two” do.
I know that many people prefer a paper copy of their comics to hopefully read, then store in their collections. Digital just isn’t part of what they do… yet.
I’ve seen attempts at creating an Indie version of the Previews, but it seemed that you had to pay a pretty penny in order to place your entry in it. And it didn’t come out as regularly as I would have liked.
I’d love to see this idea make it – a monthly Previews containing the wonderful and powerful Indie comics I know are out there for fans of the genre to discover. There are so many terrific comics that many of us haven’t found yet. I know that because I go to conventions and find them as I walk around the floor. If we had a monthly catalogue with these books in, I’d be happy to add that to my monthly ritual as well as my regular purchasing.
This would take a LOT of work, of course, and a system would have to be developed in which creators could place their books. I know I can’t make it happen, but it would be great if someone else could run with this idea and make it fly. Maybe you could do that?
Please don’t get me wrong about Diamond Previews – I appreciate all they do for the genre. I just think the industry has changed some recently, and they might consider changing with it.
So if you have a superhero comic and want to get the word out about it from your smaller or new company, I would say you should seriously consider connecting with a “name” company who can get your book into the Previews. Otherwise, submit to Comixology.com, attend genre conventions by getting a booth in Artists Alley or in the exhibitor’s section, and approach the comics shops in your area. If anyone else has any suggestions on how to get Indie books noticed, please feel free to mention them below! And do you think there are too many superhero comics out today? Be sure to share your thoughts on that, too!