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Dave Sim's Notes About Self Publishing
September 8, 2009 - Tuesday
These days you often hear about the print versus web debate when it comes to comics. Probably more appropriately, it should be referred to as corporate versus independent. In a lot of ways, this mirrors the self publishing movement that was underway during the late 1980s and early 1990s. During this time, most famously with titles such as Cerebus, Bone, Love and Rockets, A Distant Soil, Hepcats, Strangers in Paradise, Bacchus, Thieves and Kings, and Starchild, many comic book creators began publishing their own titles with the business model that if you sold to fewer people, but kept a bigger slice of the profit (because you're not splitting it with a corporate entity), you can make a decent living and retain total creative freedom. Unfortunately, at this time creators still had to rely on the distributors to get their comic books into the shops, which made self publishing a big uphill battle. These days webcomics are continuing the fight that the self publishing movement started, but with the decided advantage that we can interact with our readers directly online, so that we aren't beholden to the distributors.
Nevertheless, there is still a lot webcomic creators can learn from the self publishing movement. One of the most outspoken leaders was Dave Sim, who used the covers of his very popular self published comic to advertise for other comics. He also wrote a series of helpful essays. Although he was talking about self publishing, many of the lessons can easily be transferred to webcomics, so they still have a lot of relevance today. He writes about everything from what kind of pens to use, to the importance of sincerity in your work, to making the choice between drawing comics and being a plumber. Back when I read these at the age of 15, they made a huge impression on my outlook of what it meant to create comics. Hopefully they'll inspire some of you a little bit too.