Participate in your Community

Sac-con Artist Alley 2006

The comics world is a fairly small and enthusiastic environment.  I didn’t actually know much about the scene until I started hearing about local and major conventions around the Bay Area.  I realized, “Oh wow, anime/manga-loving kids actually get together every year!” Here are a couple of ways you can engage in the community and start developing a platform for your own work in the future.

1. Utilize social media.

Here’s a tip I found has worked for me on Twitter, my favorite social media site. Be a real person. That means don’t just broadcast all your updates to your feed. Talk to people and especially your fellow artists.  Follow your creative heroes and have conversations with them. You’ll find a lot of people chatting about industry news, sharing tips and tools, and just hanging out. If you place nice, offer thoughtful comments or questions that spark a good discussion, you’re off to a great start.

2. Attend and/or table at conventions.

You don’t live in a vacuum. And you shouldn’t have to! I’ve attended a few conventions since college and I’ve always had a fun time. I’ve had the opportunity to meet my favorite webcomic artists at SDCC and have tabled next to other aspiring comic artists at Anime Expo. Let me tell you other artists trust you more online when they’ve met you face to face and are assured of that fact that you’re not a psycho. I’ve also met people who have followed my work for quite some time and it’s always nice to keep in touch.

3. Look out for contests and join them.

Final Track was a submission entry for Yen Press’ first Talent Search back in 2011 and The Dark Horse Fan was the winning entry to a short contest held by Dark Horse. Both stories were a challenge on my time, organizational skills and comicking efforts but they pay off because you get your name out there. People start seeing your work and understand you’re someone to watch out for.

Even if you don’t win (as in the case of Final Track where there were no winners), I made friends with my fellow entrants, follow each other on social media and we support each other through the good and bad.

4. Support your favorite artists by buying art, commissions or comics.

I’ve made it a point to support my heroes financially when I can afford to. Since I am not rich and don’t have much space, I’m quite limited in this endeavor but when I can’t throw cash at people, I offer them my time and effort when I retweet, reblog or share their work. People remember good deeds and you build goodwill in the community by doing so.

5. Be nice!

I’ve heard this over and over again from creative people everywhere. The community is small and artists warn each other about people to watch out for. It pays to not be so negative all the time either. We all have bad days but when you’re known as the “artist that____,” you have to consider the association that does for your work.

You are certainly free to be yourself but if you want to be taken seriously as part of the industry, conduct yourself as a professional as much as you can. (I make exceptions for fangirling/fanboying over other artists’ work because there’s just never enough of that to go around! ^_~)

The items listed above are not meant to be a strict laundry list of things you need to do to succeed in the business but they have been especially helpful for me. If you’re shy for example, it can be quite hard to approach other artists at cons for the first time. But believe me, it helps to move out of your comfort zone once in a while and reach out to others. It’s definitely made me feel less alone in my artistic endeavors and it’s provided me a stronger sense of belonging in my own tribe.

This post is part 2 of my blog post series, How to Run a Successful Kickstarter for your Manga.

Do your homework.

My Google Reader Feed

Self-publishing comics is not a route for the lazy.  I’m sure you can get away with exerting the minimum amount of effort but you shouldn’t expect blockbuster results and immediately at that. No, pursuing this endeavor requires patience, an open and curious mind and the willingness to experiment and take on unique challenges.

To understand how to be good at it, you have to learn about the different components involved and how to do perform well in each of them. I’m still figuring out many things myself and feel it’s a continued learning process. The good news is that they are not usually mutually exclusive and achievements in the beginning can create a snowball effect for the future.

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How to Run a Successful Kickstarter for your Manga

Polterguys Vol. 1's Kickstarter Campaign in progress

Running a crowdfunding campaign through websites like Kickstarter or IndieGoGo can be incredibly exciting and rewarding. There is a genuine rush seeing friends, family and yes, even complete strangers provide monetary support for your creative project.  It’s especially empowering for a beginning creator who doesn’t have the financial backing of a professional publisher and must publicize, produce and sell their beloved works out of their own pockets.

While I think there are far more exhaustive posts on the subject out there, I’m interested in sharing the steps which I felt really worked for Polterguys’ campaign. I’ve witnessed the benefits of following these bits of advice firsthand and I truly believe with hard work and patience, anybody can achieve the same results.

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Have a Social Media Plan for Your Comic

Growth of Traffic on Laurbits.com

I’m coming up to my first year anniversary of blogging! In the interest of transparency, I thought it would be fun to talk a little bit about my social media plan throughout last year and see what works for me and what doesn’t. I’ve been looking into building a platform on the web ever since I discovered the power of webcomics and I wanted to do everything I could to ensure a successful book launch for Polterguys.

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Polterguys update, Art & Webcomic Recommendation – The Fox Sister

Gryffindor Quidditch Victory

Polterguys update

I was wondering how I was going to approach this post because coming into this project, I knew I’d make the mistake of announcing something and was going to have to revise it. It makes me think I should set up some kind of rewards system every time I run into technical issues like this. (Oh, you guys are going to be so spoiled! XD) I’ll set up a new request post on DA and tumblr.

If you’ve been keeping up with me on Twitter and DA, you’re probably aware of the state Polterguys is in. I just completed the first draft of thumbnails for the book and showed them to my editor (i.e. Nathan) who says, they need work. Not just cleaning up work as thumbnails need but actual story-rehauling (this-isn’t-going-to-be-easy) work.

Thumbnails

Completed thumbnails for Polterguys

Which puts me in a bind, you see, because I had previously announced this Polterguys entity to be an online series that would start in mid-July. I had originally envisioned completing a chapter each month and publishing them subsequently but I couldn’t get a grasp on the book as a whole, cohesive story. As they say, the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry! I was advised to thumb the rest of the book and treat it like a standalone story. Admittedly, I’m sure not everyone else treats their comics in a similar way but I think it was a useful note for me personally because I’ve never been that strong of a writer.

So, that leaves me in the nebulous place of rewriting: a dark, lonely territory especially for a new writer. I venture forth somewhat reassured that the next state form Polterguys Vol. 1 becomes will be stronger and better than it’s previous incarnations. I thank you for your patience and hope you stick around to see how it comes along.

Art updates

In the meantime, I leave you with two recent pieces. A small tribute to the legacy of Harry Potter as you can see above and fanart of Tony Cliff’s  delightful Delilah Dirk below.

Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant

Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant

 

Webcomic Recc

Art by Jayd Aït-Kaci

I just started reading The Fox Sister, a new webcomic by Christina Strain and Jayd Aït-Kaci (AKA Chira) the same artist for Sfeer Theory. I’ve been a fan of Chira’s fluid and dynamic style since I first saw her Bleach fanart pieces on Deviantart. From there, I watched as her manic and often hilarious doodles and fancomics boosted her confidence as a fantastic character designer and brilliant storyteller. The Fox sister starts off with a dramatic bang and I can’t wait to see what the creators have in store for us.

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