I grew up reading the likes of Uncanny Xmen, Incredible Hulk and disturbingly, Watchmen, among scores of other super hero titles. For better or worse, those comic books help shape much of my personality and imagination.
Spending six years contracting for the Department of Education, I repeatedly ran into educator innovators, centering student learning on comic books. See Columbia’s Comic Book Project for an example.
Reading comics, I absorbed massive amounts of knowledge: the basics of quantum physics, chemistry, astrology–naturally my vocabulary and word usage was improved. To boot, comic stories were my only source of highly creative drama long before I could afford cable (I still can’t) or take in a Broadway show.
With so much rich foundational learning, I’m not surprised to still learn a thing or two. It’s been a decade since my golden years of collecting comics. (Geek moment: The heights of which include owning 1st editions of the death/rebirth of Superman, the meld of Bruce Banner with the green and gray Hulks and issue #1 of the initial Image titles. Woot!).
My latest lesson from comics came as part of attending New York Comic Con 2010. It was an awesome event for Shinta. The fans loved her and she loved the crowd. My first time, I was awe struck as both a fan and a professional. Under the guise of the latter, I truly appreciated the DIY-spirit of comic creation.
Striking out on your own, producing new creations toe-to-toe with rival, likely more popular, offerings and selling them directly to your audience. The entire industry embodies the spirit of independent publishing. And why not? That’s practically how any popular title or line begins.
Stan Lee may need to do little more than give a nod of approval these days, but the godfather of Marvel got his start taking orders from someone with half his creative flair. Lee began his comic book empire feeling like he had nothing to lose, so why not try doing his own comic.
Comic Con gave new meaning to enjoying comics as an adult. I may have to start reading them a little more. Ah, the refreshing spirit of that independent artistic flair.
Somehow, when you put graphic in front of the word novel (or ‘comic’ in front of ‘book’), it’s like a golden fleece opens up and blocks any misjudgment.
By the way, how did book publishing get so snobby anyway? Seriously, someone please tell me.
In the comic world, if a book is good, it’s good. End of story.
Now, us independent creators have our own part to play in this, despite the snobs. Just like comic creators have techniques and practices that make books viable, things like lettering (typography), sketching (drafting), inking (editing), coloring (page design)-all of which happens after you write a story to begin with.
Clearly, there are lots of independent no-picture book creators that get all of these things right, and offer viable products as a result. But until we independently unite, and create some basic point system of book viability, there will be no golden fleece vibe that’s so common in the comic industry. You know, because of the snobs.
Seriously, and more importantly, without a set of-dare I say-standards, those playing in a sandbox won’t know little castles can be mashed like potatoes. Isn’t that the worst thing of all? Think of the kids who aren’t learn anything about publishing. What do they have to live up to? It’s so sad!
By the way, if there are benchmarks for independent publishing, tell the world! If there isn’t, I’m with anyone that wants to work on building something reputable. Contact me.
Somehow, I’ve got to tie this all back to where I began—the educational value comics still offer me as an adult. I’m not really sure how to do that. Hopefully, something else I’ve said so far has been useful.
I’ll end on: The merited air of book publishing can and should match that of comic publishing. As independent creators, it’s in our vested interests to piece together the necessary precursors to making this happen.
End of story.