It's All About The Greenbacks

By | Saturday, September 18, 2010 1 comment
I was reading some webcomics earlier today and thought, "You know, I'm really diggin' this. I know they've got some print comics they already did with these characters; I should buy them. I'd get the back-story and help these guys out." And while I'm over at IndyPlanet, I stumble across Dziva Jones, which sounded quite interesting. And wait, that was by Ashley Woods -- didn't she do Millennia War? I'd meant to get that too.

Before you know it, I'd was looking at almost $60 worth of comics (not even counting shipping) and I hadn't even really started poking around to see what I might be interested in! So I didn't wind up buying anything. Because, frankly, that's a decent chunk of change that I can't really afford right now. Especially after already having splurged on a Slave Labor sale last week.

But the interesting twist to things -- for me, at least -- was where my thought process went next. I didn't think "Damn, I wish I had more money I could spend on comics!" Instead I thought, "Damn, I wish I had more money to support more indie comics creators!"

That's a distinct change from even a few years ago. When I was still going to my Local Comic Shop every week, I would pick up whatever comics I was regularly getting at the time (mostly Marvel, and a few from DC, Image and Dark Horse). Those were books where I knew what to expect and could fairly reliably count on to meet those expectations. And if I still had some money left over from comic "allowance" I might take a chance on something more off-the-beaten path to in support of what looked like talented people. But even then, they were generally from publishers you'd at least heard of -- Red 5, Oni, Viper, Antarctic Press, etc.

Of course, a few years before THAT and my comic consciousness didn't even go that far beyond Marvel. Any extra money I had went towards getting more Marvel comics. And if nothing new looked good, I'd dive into the back issue bins.

So as I'm thinking back on that, I'm trying to sort out how that transition occurred. When did helping creators whose work I enjoy become more top-of-mind than simply reading good material?

I suspect some of it has to do with age. Despite not having a lot of discretionary income at the moment, I'm living comfortably and with a fair measure of job/financial security. Some of it, certainly, has to do with a change in my buying habits. I stopped buying mainstream comics a few years ago because they no longer were providing what I was looking for in my entertainment, whereas I was finding that in some indie books. On top of that, a change in my financial situation just before the recession hit forced me to stop buying comics regularly and focus on the really independent work being done online.

At the same time, self-publishing and print-on-demand were becoming more viable options for more creators. You could conceivably put a comic out online for free, and sell books, t-shirts, etc. -- and what's more, you could do it without having to invest a lot of money in warehousing and such. That doesn't necessarily mean it's more likely you'll be able to make a living at it, and it does open up that possibility for a lot more people.

Sure, that also means there's a lot more crap out there than there used to be, but I think all of that coming together more or less simultaneously highlights (to me, at least) how important it is to support independent efforts that you really enjoy. But until my financial situation improves substantially (probably a few years out) I'm left, for the moment, with mostly just providing shout-outs from time to time.

Tozo, the Public Servant
Cool Jerk
Rice-Boy/Order of Tales/Vattu

I have been able to buy a few books from some of these guys, but they all do good work that I think is sorely under-appreciated and I really wish I did have more funds to send their way so they can continue doing what they're doing. I think they've all got great comics, and they're all worth supporting in any way you can.
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Matt K said...

Depending on one's perspective, I suppose, it's either very worrying or very exciting that such a large and growing amount of human creative activity is being produced and distributed more or less completely outside the money economy.

Given that things like food, shelter, medical care, etc., are still firmly inside the money economy, I lean toward the "worrying" perspective...

But I also realize that it probably is and will remain what it is, muddle or no. It's been, what, a dozen years since Scott McCloud's book rhapsodizing about the wonders of micropayments? We'll probably see cold fusion first.