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Creator owned movement gathering steam

There is a movement afoot and it’s not just in Tunisia and Egypt. Last week I posted a blurb about a post by Steve Niles about how comic creators should spend more time promoting comics they like and spend less time tearing comics they don’t like apart. That’s the message that resonated with me, but the broader message of promoting creator-owned comics resonated across social media.

Within the comic community there is a frustration that sequential art is dominated by men in tights. More specifically corporate comic publishers selling super hero comic books. Steve points to this video created by Eric Powell as communicating how many artist feel trying to make a living outside of DC/Marvel.

According to Steve, the video wasn’t appreciated by all – especially those working for major comic publishers.

The point as I understand it is that there needs be a greater push to promote creator owned books and art into the mainstream. I see a few attempts – one by Steve himself. He writes that he’s going to start a regular column to point people to creator owned work.

About the column I’m doing. I need your help, Creators. Send me info on your books to steve@steveniles.com and send me what you’d like me to post. I want your voice to help sell your stuff.

The only requirement is that you own a piece or all of your rights. This isn’t to say I won’t feature a creator who does mainstream work, but the main focus of the column will be creator-owned creators.

I’d also like to spotlight publishers, editors, retailers and blogs, anyone who is out there doing comics.

He’s not the only one. Scotty Young, whom I’ve mentioned before is also committing to make a weekly effort to direct his fans to work he appreciates. He writes:

Starting this Monday and every Monday after that, I’ll give a full rundown on a book I love and think you might as well. I’ll then start an Amazon Listamania with the books I post about so you can buy them if you choose. I’m not going to change the world, but hopefully you’ll buy a few books you may not have otherwise.

And lastly there is now a blog entitled “Creator Owned Comics” specific to showcasing creator owned work.

I don’t believe the movement here will topple Marvel and DC as the king of comic publishing (nor is it the aim), but if a good number of us begin regular touting of work we find interesting and worth our readers time and attention – the number of sales on those work would go up simply by having greater exposure to an audience already in love with the art form.

I’m game. For my part – let me recommend Skottie Young’s digital download The Adventures of Bernard. I bought it last week more as an excuse to get a feel for digital downloads, the check out process (hey, I’m a web designer and I pay attention to web processes), to see how easy it would be to get it on my iPad and lastly to get a feel for his work. Aside from all the technical motivations, I loved his book. The book is a month worth of daily drawings – “cheap gags at the expense of two bit celebritys [sic].” It’s simple and highly entertaining. Well worth the $2.00.

UPDATE: Scott McCloud has written his reaction to the above video:

I complained about diversity with the best of ?em a decade ago in RC and I think there?s plenty of room for improvement even now, but when I look at today?s comics scene, I see great progress on multiple fronts, and somehow that doesn?t seem to be reflected in the more serious rant portion (starting about 5 minutes in) of this otherwise great video.

Graphic novels, Manga, All-Ages Comics, Non-Fiction Comics, Webcomics? all of these have had some genuine success stories in the last decade. Hell, all five largely began as serious markets in the last ten years. When looking at diversity as they define it, I wonder if Eric and Co. really considered Persepolis, Fruits Basket, Bone, The 9-11 Report, or Penny Arcade?

Maybe I?m missing the point, but it seems like kind of a direct market, comics store centered complaint. A bit like saying that TV doesn?t try anything new, based on the fall schedule of ABC, CBS and NBC.

Community Comments

#1 Daniel Boris
February/1/2011
@ 12:38 pm

Right on! Power to the People, baby!

#2 Ben Rankel
February/1/2011
@ 2:24 pm

A couple corrections for you:

Steve Niles not Steve Nile, and Scott McCloud, not Steve McCloud.

I know, I know – now I`m that guy. But these are both pretty big names in comics, might as well spell `em right. :)

#3 Alan Gardner
February/1/2011
@ 2:26 pm

Thanks for catching that Ben. I seem to have other things on my mind today. :)

#4 Jeff Stanson
February/1/2011
@ 4:53 pm

I was for the idea until I saw how they expressed themselves about half-way into the video. If this is the “quality” of what they want to produce, they can keep it to themselves, on the plate the editor mentioned.

#5 Chris Smits
February/4/2011
@ 11:11 pm

Thanks for the mention, Alan!

#6 Andrew Zar
February/10/2011
@ 10:09 pm

I snickered at the video and was not surprised it got yanked. Unfortunately the message got lost in the audacity of it…

I like the overall movement and the idea to focus on creator-owned work – as that is where serious creativity really is.

I don’t fault the big boys very much – I just see them as for-profit businesses and, by definition, profit is king. If recycling 50 year old stories is just a profit center, then that is what they will do.

Taking chances is not really the core value of for-profit companies – even when upstarts (Pixar) can create a string of unique properties that crush the box office – showing you don’t have to be stuck on what was created over 5 decades ago.

But back to the topic – I think the best thing about this movement is to inspire us Indy publishers to help promote and support each other. That is a great thing that I hope continues to gain momentum!

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