Phew! Almost thirty pages in the can, now. I have more pages sitting here on my hard drive, and I would show them to you, but that defeats the general conceit of the thing… mwu ha ha ha!
I am going to hold a contest this month, and for a little bit on the rationale for that, feel free to look behind the following cut! If you don’t care about my rationale, just read on…
I am relatively new to digital comics, and I’ll be honest with you, the process and learning curve is daunting. There are so many good comics out there that make money, so many good comics out there that don’t make money. There’s one thing that’s universally true, and that’s the fact that the industry presents us with an almost insolvable dilemma, an impossible situation, that of framing the dilemma of how a comic costs money to be made next to the fact that you do it out of love and don’t want to care if you cover costs, but must.
I’m a writer. I love my work. I love this comic. I’m proud to be collaborating with Dexter, as I’ve been proud to collaborate with many artists over the years out of sheer love for the work at hand. I compare it to the punk DIY ethic. You get your fifty dollar guitar, you write the words you love, and you belt it out because it’s just what you do. If you say, at the end “Hey, guys, there’s some CDs in the back, and I know you all are broke like us, but…” it’s usually followed by BOOOOOO and then some glass breaking on the bass player’s forehead.
I’ve been talking with friends and colleagues about what the rules are. For instance, was I stupid to put a donation button out there after the first month? Should I have been more patient, and waited until the comic has 100,000 hits per month, and people are tearing down the door? Am I the dude telling people to buy his CD in the back before I’ve been signed by a major label? Before it’s worthy, in other words? I have no idea, because I can’t judge my own work. I can judge Dex’s, but that’s why I pay him for it. It’s damned good work.
And there were (and are) all of these ideas floating around in my head about what I can do to share this comic with you. I want to make extra-dimensional translocators. I want to print copies of the book after page 25 (but I won’t, that’s bloody insane). I want to hire a colorist to color the pages, and on the other hand, I want to let Dex’s work in black and white shine through. Honestly, I am unsure and insecure about the whole thing.
As I work the pages and letter them, my head swirls with the work and possibility inherent in any creation. That’s why something as shallow and awful as money is something I’m reluctant to broach, and look at. There is only one thing I want to do with this story, and that’s to do a good job. Whether I do is your business, to take or leave as you please. My fondest wish is to be that guy in the punk rock show without a CD to sell. I want to travel the United States by plane and give anyone who asks extra-dimensional translocators, free copies of the book, and just share the sheer joy of creation for what it is. That would be the best possible world.
I did, once, with other projects.
Through my twenties, I went bankrupt travelling the country, working up debt, giving my books to anyone who asked. Sometimes people would give me a promise to send money and never do it. Sometimes they would buy the book for more than it cost. Once, a great person bought everything I had ever done, and I had to pack a pretty large mailer. Most times, however, if anyone took any interest (which is hard enough to achieve), I would be bilked and/or lose money trying to share my art with other people.
That’s the way these things go.
I don’t begrudge them that, because, as crazy as this is to say, I’ve never really cared if I make a dime so long as I have a table to sit at, something to create upon, and the potential (not even the actuality) of some mechanism to share it with others.
This has been at times equally noble and foolish, I suppose, though it’s not for me to judge. The reason I bring it up is because I’m presented an interesting dilemma by this comic. Do I let it fly for a few years before I even move toward that dreaded word, monetizing? Or do I put out tee shirts the first week in the hopes of making back the tons of money I’m throwing into this? Both options seem kinda sucky, and not the kind of choices I’m comfortable making.
Other friends of mine have presented the fear (and a good one) that if I ask for anything, of yet, the audience will think I lack some kind of integrity, that this contest idea isn’t about creating something, it’s about cash. All I can offer is my word that it’s not.
It’s really damned if you do, damned if you don’t. If I don’t confront the realities that I am outputting money and seek some way to allay that by donation, I will eventually suffer as I have before, and right now I struggle for gas and food, so that’s a sucky option. If I ask for cash, however, and scare away those of you who righteously see this as something that should simply be a labor of love, that’s equally bad, if not ten times worse.
I’ll put it like this. If you read this comic, and if you enjoy this comic, and if you want to continue enjoying it for free, then DO. Please. Feel no obligation to drop any money my way. Let me be clear, I don’t care if this comic ever makes a dollar. It’s all gravy if it does. You are not a fink. You are not stealing from me. You are my friend simply for being here and/or reading this. I value you.
That said, I am trying to find a way to pay for pages, and maybe you can help, if you’d like, and get something out of it in the process. Bearing that in mind, head over and check out the contest!