The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing Comics
There’s something magical about comics. The unique blend of words and pictures to tell a story captures the imaginations of people of all ages, genders, and nationalities. No matter who you are, there are comics for you. No matter the style or substance, whether you read them online, make weekly pilgrimages to the comics store, or thumb across the brightly colored spines of
the comics at your local library, sequential art draws you into its world. Call them manga, call them webcomics, call them whatever you like—comics are comics wherever you go.
We were children when comics got their hooks in us—Adam at six years old, Comfort closer to thirteen. Our eyes were opened to something so new, so different; we changed as human beings. We wanted to be storytellers. We wanted to create new worlds, new characters, to reflect our experiences, hopes, fears, dreams, and ideals. We wanted to draw, we wanted to write; we wanted to make comics.
Maybe you have a similar story. Many do; it’s one of the magical things about comics. Many love music, few start to play. Many love movies, few become actors. But so many people who love American comics, manga, or webcomics start thinking up stories of their own, even if only for a little while. Comics inspire us to imagine, and that is one of the most wonderful things a medium can do. Imagination is among the greatest powers we humans possess, and comics encourage this thoughtful daydreaming as good, or better, than anything else.
We wrote this book because we felt we had to. Knowledge must be passed on. Passion must be shared freely. We feel that the spark that a great comic ignites in people to create stories of their own should be fanned into a flame. Now is the time! Be not afraid of the perils of striking out on your own. This is the golden age of the self-publisher. It has never been easier, cheaper, or more convenient to make comics, publish comics, and build an audience.
What This Book Will Do
We have self-published comics since 2008. Each of us has been teaching comics since 2002, and we travel the country presenting panel discussions and seminars on making American comics, manga, and webcomics. We both write, we both draw, we both color, we both letter—we do everything but physically print the books. We want to share what we’ve learned and hopefully help people avoid some of the mistakes we made when we started out.
This book is the ultimate “nondenominational” guide to making comics. Whether you love American comics, Japanese manga, or webcomics, this book is for you. We’ll mostly refer to them all as “comics” going forward—as a blanket term to cover all the different formats and styles. In the pages ahead, we’ll address some of the finer points for each style, and we’ll also include sidebars from some of the most talented professionals in each field to support those points. Pay attention to all of them! Just because a particular pro tip might come from a webcomics creator doesn’t mean it won’t apply to your manga. We think all kinds of comics creators can learn from one another—American artists and writers have been influenced by manga for decades, and Japanese creators have been doing the same with Western art and storytelling styles since Walt Disney started making cartoons. And webcomics? Welcome to the future, kiddies—in no time at all, everything is going to be a webcomic. The digital age has permanently changed the way comics are being made and read, and it must be a part of your strategy from now on.
We will teach you how to take the skills you have and go from somebody who talks about making a comic someday to somebody who publishes comics right now
. This book is for those hobbyists ready to go pro who still think they need a big fancy publisher’s permission to do so. Stop waiting for permission and start making comics! Your time is now; the only thing standing in your way is YOU
What This Book Can’t Do
This book isn’t about how to draw or how to write—there are a lot of good books out there on those topics. A few of those titles are truly exceptional. If you don’t know how to write, we can’t change that. But we will
show you how to refine a concept, turn it into a story, and then turn that story into a comics script. If you don’t know how to draw, this book isn’t going to change that. It will
show you how to take your drawing skills and use them to draw better comics pages.
This book is about professionalism. It covers how to make a job out of your hobby, and it requires you to bring your own determination and hard work to bear. A lot of people out there just want to doodle around in their sketchbooks and get paid. That ain’t happening, buddy.
Success goes to those who work hardest, work longest, and turn lucky breaks into career stepping stones. This book can’t show you an easy way to make comics because making comics isn’t easy. In some ways, it’s the hardest job you’ll ever do.
But if you’re like us, if you’re somebody who has the heart and mind of a storyteller, then making comics can become the most rewarding job you’ll ever have. There will be challenges, and it will be disheartening at times. Maybe even miserable. But at the end of the journey, you’ll have created something only you could have made, and that matters.
Make comics. C’mon—let’s get started. Comfort and Adam