When I decided that the story of Code 45 could only be told in the graphic medium of sequential art – also known as comics, or graphic novels – I was in for a crash course in a slice of the publishing world I knew very little about.
Unlike the magazine, book, and online publishing I’ve been involved in for many years, there are costs associated with producing a graphic novel that aren’t found in other mediums. Specifically: art. I am not at all talented with a pen or tablet, and as a result I needed to find an artist, a colorist, and a graphic designer who would not only be intrigued by the story of Code 45, but who would also be willing to dedicate a significant portion of their professional lives to make it a reality.
It might sound like I’m exaggerating, but I soon discovered how much of a time commitment drawing a graphic novel truly was. A talented, professional artist needs between one and two days to produce a single page of work, largely dependent on the amount of detail required and the layout of the page itself.
Considering that the average comic book issue is 22 pages long – not including a cover or any other supporting pages – and you’re looking at a solid two months of work for laying out, drawing, and inking a book. A colorist then needs about a month to add the reds, greens, and blues, to make the issue pop.
Multiply that by the five-issue count of Code-45, and that meant my collaborators would be working with me for close to a year in order to bring Code 45 to an audience of readers. And that’s just the art – afterwards there are the promotional, printing, distribution, and other tasks associated with birthing the project into the world.
It’s completely unreasonable to ask professionals to dedicate that much time to a project and only compensate them by offering them a percentage of the eventual, way down the line profits.
I was very fortunate in having a friend like Joe Ng, who is well established in the comic book world, be willing to jump on board with me and help me crew this project from beginning to end. Given the amount of time he’s already spent, and will continue to spend, creating the world of Code 45 with his stylus, I am of course paying him a per page rate as though he were contracted to any of the other publishing houses that he works with.
I’ve already paid for the first issue’s art out of my own pocket, and it was this investment in time and cash that secured an independent comic book publishing deal that will see Code 45 have mainstream distribution by the end of this year. To get the entire series completed, however, we’ve decided to use Kickstarter.
Kickstarter will allow us to fund the art costs for the remaining four issues of the book. It will also allow us to bring special editions of each Code 45 issue – with unique covers and other goodies – to those who are willing to support us by buying the issues directly via Kickstarter once our first campaign starts on March 1, 2020.
Kickstarter is a popular choice for independent comic creators like myself, Joe, and Angela, because it allows the community to support itself and tell stories that major comic book publishers aren’t interested in. It’s a proven funding model, and the best part is it’s not charity: everyone who supports us is buying a book, a signed copy, a commissioned art piece, or something else that’s tangible. Every little bit of this gets us closer to the pile of cash we need to get the next issue in the can.
I know a few of you are probably asking yourself, ‘wait, if they have a publishing deal – why isn’t the publishing house paying Joe and Benjamin a page rate for the story and the art?’
It’s a great question, and it’s one I’m often asked when discussing the project. It’ll be the subject of my next post about what it’s like to create, fund, and publish the Code 45 independent comic.