On Business: How to Help

By | Monday, March 02, 2015 Leave a Comment
O Human Star
Last month, Black History Month, you may have seen any number of people (myself included, hopefully) talk up a variety of comics, both online and in print, that were created by Black creators. Maybe you discovered a new artist whose style you really like, or maybe just a new work by someone you were already familiar with. Either way, I hope you were exposed to something cool that wasn't by a white, gisgendered, hetero male.

Genius #4
March is Women's History Month. I expect you'll see a similar set of recommendations throughout the month highlight female comic creators. And I hope you are once again exposed to something cool that isn't by a white, gisgendered, hetero male.

But that exposure is only part of the what needs to happen.

The other part is making sure these creators can get money by doing more of what you liked about them. That is, making comics. And the way you get them to make more comics is by encouraging them with your wallet.

In some cases, that means buying the books that they work on. Essentially telling their publishers that you like this and and want to see more of it. Whether that's through your local comic shop or Amazon or whatever, the publishers get those sales numbers and see that these creators are doing something people like. That generates dollars for the publisher, so they hire those creators again.

Pre-orders count pretty strongly too! Even if the book won't be out for months, pre-ordering it (again, through your LCS or Amazon or wherever) tells the publisher you're really eager to see the work in print. Just because a book is solicited doesn't mean it will actually see print, but pre-ordering helps to ensure that it will. And, hey, it doesn't cost you anything until it's finally printed. Here again, this encourages publishers to continue hiring these people.

A lot of creators are putting stuff out on the web for free as a way to garner your attention. But the way the make money is by selling printed copies of their work and/or other items related to their comics: t-shirts, coffee mugs, stuffed toys, etc. Crowd-funding falls under this category too. In these cases, the money you drop on their work goes directly to them. It's like being at a convention and handing a twenty dollar bill directly to the creator and them handing you a book. That twenty bucks might buy them lunch. The point is that you are telling them very directly that their work is of value, and you are willing to suppor them financially.

Now, obviously, we can't all pay all the money we want to all the creators we want, right? I know I sure can't! But I am willing to pay what I can afford to the creators I like the most. Depending on what they're doing, that might involve different strategies. I've got Adam Freeman, Marc Bernardin, and Afua Richardson's Genius TPB on pre-order at Amazon, I contribute to Blue Delliquanti's Patreon campaign, I recently backed Darryl Holliday & E. N. Rodriguez's Kedzie Avenue Kickstarter.

I can't afford everything I'd like, or support everyone that deserves it, but I try to put what money I can where my mouth is. If you discover a creator or a work you really like, particularly those that aren't well-served by the comics industry in general, try to do what you can to support their work. That's really the way that we're going to make real progress: by doing more than just saying we need more diversity, by actually paying for it!
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