My Awesome Fan Letter to Independent Comics (Opinion)
Dear ComicsGate and Anti-CG Comic Creators:
Hi, my name is Bobby Sharps and I’m a paying customer. Great news- there’s a lot to like/love about your IP’s. Though I’m starting to wonder if I like some of you. I’m too old for EVS to be my uncle or to directly participate in Warcampaign’s lampooning (I can find it really funny though). I’m a customer of theirs with the ability to be your customer, too. Who am I? I’m a dude that might give you dollars in exchange for escapist entertainment.
ComicsGate is and always will be a consumer movement. Why? Because it cannot be anything else. For instance, I can create 500 comic issues a month and call the venture ComixGateKeeper Publications all the while distributing zero comics. People won’t take comics they don’t want. Sure, you can pay people to take all the free books you produce, but you can’t make the customer read or keep the book. Not to mention, that’s not a productive arrangement (Losing money is bad – get it?).
So it’s pretty simple that those that spend the cash own the movement, right? Otherwise, nothing exists. Please (Heaven help me) say we can agree to that concept at a minimum. Seriously, I have my doubts.
Can we also accept how humbling it is that anyone wants to possess something you created? It’s an honor to have any individual listen to your words (period). Now consider convincing people to pay to hold and own something you created. It’s still a free choice economy, as of today at least. Consider the simple fact that someone sacrifices a possession to possess what you make. Heck, I’m just hoping you’re reading this piece free of charge. If you are, wow, thanks for your time. How much more fortunate are you if someone spends good money on your work?
Trust me, nothing you make has any intrinsic value. Without divine powers you can’t create precious metals, land, or anything of universal value. Someone has to value your work, and maybe you as a person, before you profit. A simple concept but absolutely true.
Back to me – the customer. I’m mature. I’m highly educated with an inescapable curiosity of history, economics, theology, psychology, finance, people management, sports, warfare, geology, physics and Mrs. Bobby Sharps (to name a few interests). I don’t give advice or assume I know what’s best for anyone. I’m writing this simply because I’m really getting annoyed.
Over thirty years ago, progressive politics in Sci-Fi entertainment convinced me to stop funding their lunacy. Around 2011, a life-changing event created a desire to return to the characters and stories I loved as a youngster. I jumped back in with enough resources to make any local comic shop owner swoon.
After spending an embarrassing amount, I learned my lost love underwent gender surgery, put on 200 pounds, quit bathing regularly, dyed their hair fuchsia, and began molesting small children with unreadable garbage. Still, I attempted to reconcile by writing to Marvel, DC, Image, and IDW. Just to let them know that I had money to spend. They were welcome to it if they cared to produce entertainment free of politically radical views and moral ambiguity.
After multiple fruitless e-mails, I realized that my opinions provoked more of what I didn’t want. The final message received after a creator working for Robert Kirkman called me a sociopath (carefully to avoid libel while still using the word) in a letters page. My sin? I simply pointed out that profit isn’t evil. Profit is what feeds the creator as the absence of it leaves nothing to use for life’s necessities. Seriously, that was it. Just that simple and innocuous (More details some other time, perhaps).
After slamming me in their book, I sent an apology explaining I had ZERO desire to upset them in anyway. My aim had simply been to try to add some perspective which might help defuse the incensed anger in an otherwise enjoyable book. After putting me in my place a second time, they accepted that I sincerely meant my apology. They avoided accepting the apology or any sense of shame for their actions. All of this published in the letters page of a comic!
I finally realized the nature of this group: anything less than total capitulation smattered with effusive praise was inadequate. I was funding hatred and evil (a word not used lightly) in buying their books. This was happening to me around the same time that EVS and Zack (a.k.a. Ethan Van Sciver and Richard C. Meyer, for the uninitiated) were learning their own public lessons.
By chance I found ComicArtistPro Secrets and ComicsGate after being let down by a few crowdfunded Kickstarter comics. From there, EVS led me to creators who weren’t evil. Just good people using their gifts to produce good entertainment.
I began supporting the CG books as a political statement. Regardless of concept, my money was spent in support of the stand being made. While this is good marketing for a start, it’s not a sustainable business model. At some point books have to carry themselves outside of political messaging.
Unfortunately, some creators don’t seem to understand that. The days of getting paid for making a stand are ending. The real work of creating something special and interesting is now necessary. Just as customer service and showing the customer how valued they are, good stories are needed.
Fortunately, CG creators have a lot of talent – hungry talent who are working to produce great products. Those that understand the lessons and read the tea leaves can support themselves by telling the rest of us stories. The others can make bitter YouTube rants after working their shift at Popeyes.
You have the opportunity of a lifetime before you. The chance to be the master of your fate. To live life on your terms. All you need to do is focus on the work and deliver product people want. You’re really lucky to have a direct line to the customers. All you need to do is ask what we’ll buy and then listen, learn, and deliver. Don’t miss out on the opportunity. We want you to succeed, so shut up and just do it.
Special shout-outs to Kyle Ritter, Doug Ernst, Rob Cacy, and Benjamin Combes for their recent exemplary efforts.