Sunday, May 22, 2011

Comic Buying Preferences

I had an interesting conversation with MariNaomi and the owner of Comix Experience the other day. I hadn't really considered before the number of challenges I have to face as a cartoonist in terms of reaching my audience. Customers (specifically people who buy comics) have many buying preferences that traditional print book customers don’t necessarily have:

-Art style
-Genre (i.e. superhero / mainstream vs. indie)
-Subject matter preferences which to me is somewhat different from genre - more specific, maybe? (i.e. travel log, memoir, horror stories, romance, comedies, tear-jerker, thrillers, animal stories, etc)
-Font style (i.e. typed verses hand-lettered, readability, etc)
-paper (i.e. slick commercial print vs. 8 1/2 x 11" folded and stapled zine)

This conversation happened after I'd already been perusing comics at Comix Experience and had picked out a few comics and a graphic novel to buy for myself. And it's true. I definitely have my own preferences with all of the above. The challenge is in the fact that I may like a particular story, but decide not to buy the comic because I don't like the art style or the font. Or, on the contrary, I may like an artists illustrations but decide not to buy a comic because I don't like the subject matter.

Somehow thinking about this has both been discouraging in realizing what a small audience I am writing and drawing for (those who like my art and my story and my font, etc etc). But there was also some relief in thinking about this. Because it's not personal whose comics I buy. I buy the ones whose art/plot/font match my personal preferences. So... not everyone loves my comics and well, that's okay. *sigh* What a relief! I don't have to try to please everyone!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

My Talk at City College of San Francisco

Last night, I had a wonderful time at City College of San Francisco, giving a lecture on "The Art & Craft of Making Comics." The audience consisted of students who are studying design, type and illustration. I *love* public speaking and did my best to make the talk as interactive as possible. Along with the obvious explanation of how I make comics (literally), I shared what motivates me to make comics and solicited from the audience information about what motivates them to create. We talked about the question of style verses skill. This has been an interesting topic for me when working with cartoonist groups (who like writing groups give one another feedback), particularly the Sunday Night Comics Group whom I met with for a couple of years. That group was amazing and I grew so much as an artist from my time with them! But back to the lecture... I talked about distribution and the pros and cons of paper verses digital mediums, including the differences in formatting for a paper comic or zine verses formatting for a digital medium and how I had to go about reformatting and often re-drawing images when I have translated my physical comics that had already been printed to be used in a digital format (for my iPhone app). And then... dun dun dun dun... I went over the COST of making and distributing comics (an unpopular topic for any artist). And reviewed how to determine the monetary value of a comic when deciding on sale price. That was an interesting piece for me to prepare for. Kind of discouraging to realize my prices would not even pay me minimum wage for the time I put into my art. But then I talked about success and asked them to tell me "What is success?" And that helped a lot. Because for me, personally, success is if one person reads one of my comics and hears something in them that resonates with them and they feel less alone in the world for even those 5 minutes it takes them to finish the comic. That alone is success.

Giving this lecture was a wonderful experience for me, talking with these students. I hope I get to give talks like that again. I've already been thinking of other topics to cover for next time!