This is the second part of the interview with Stratum Comics that Comics Forge has been able to do. Stratum represents some of the better ideas in independent comics so they are worth listening to and seeing what their opinions are in regards to the market. Mark’s interview was yesterday, so sit back, pull up a cup of your favorite drink, and take a quick read of Vince’s ideas on the independent comic book market. This article has been edited for grammar and spelling.
You are running a project on Kickstarter and are still short of funds, what made you decide to go to Kickstarter and how you chose to fund your project?
Let me start by thanking you for taking the time to speak with us. As I’m sure you are aware as a startup it’s hard to get you foot in the door. Most company’s only want to speak with established groups.
Advertising cost is one of the reasons we decided to try Kickstarter. Yes we have not seen the response we were hoping for but we are only 14 days in. The main reason for our choice to try kickstarter is because it is about ideas and others helping to realize those ideas or goals.
As for funding the work we have done so far, we’re self funded.
What influence do you think Kickstarter will have on the comic book industry as a whole for artists?
It can give aspiring artist and writer access to funding that has never been available to them before. This will allow more artistic styles to make it in to publishing. With the advent of the web, and the ability to self publish we are kind of seeing a renaissances for the indie comic.
What can we expect from your Kickstarter project?
Hopefully, one of many such successful collaboration!
What other projects are you working on with Stratum?
Well currently we are trying to complete the project we have set before us. Our goal is to put out a good clean book on a quarterly schedule that meets the high standards we have set for ourselves. At the same time we are working to release a full color version of the book in the future.
We are also working on expanding universe with one-shots that provide the reader with some insight in to the individual characters that make up the cast of “The Threat”. At the same time we are working on other stories, for example I’m working on a western.
Also after our debut at Comicpalooza we were presented with several freelance opportunities but our overall commitment is to “The Threat”.
What does your convention schedule look like this year? Where can we check out your stuff?
We will be at the Texas Comicon June 22 -24, Space City Con August 10-12th Wizard World October 26 – 28 as well as other cons we are working to get in to.
What advice would you give to new comic book artists just starting out in the industry?
One of the things we have found while looking for artist was that most were immediately priced out of our range, even those who had limited public exposure. We ended up using an artist out of Spain who has done a wonderful job for us.
I would just let them know that there is always a tradeoff between pay for services vs. exposure to a greater audience!
How did your comic book career start? Is there one person or a group of people you look to for day to day inspiration?
All of them! I was introduced to comics by an uncle. I grew up reading and then working for local comic shops and then eventually owned my own shop for a short time. My kids grew up with the industry and now my grandson is the fourth generation to read comics.
It was through one of the stores I met Mark and we became friends. I have always wanted to create my own book but had several false starts. I guess, if I look up to anyone it would be Mark because he never let me give up on my dream, sometimes dragging kicking and screaming along the way! Ha-ha.
What would you say are the challenges to being an independent comic book person?
Making contacts, getting into wider markets and getting people to take you seriously. I guess that’s because so many try to break into the field and fail. You need to be tenacious and believe in yourselves and your work!
What would you like to see different about the comic book industry?
Not wanting to sound like a broken record, I think the biggest change that could improve the industry is better access to distribution. No one knows where the next big thing is going to come from. We’ve all heard the story of how Elvis and the Beatles were told they’d never make it. Then someone took a chance and made history.
That and access to more affordable, quality printing.
Where do you think the comic book industry can improve on getting new readers?
Get more diverse quality products into the market to help break the hold some companies have on the industry.
Digital comics, the best thing ever for independents or a disaster waiting in the wings?
All things have the potential to be abused. It has already opened the door for so many independents out there. We will have to wait and see if some form of standards may need to be put in place.
How could comics appeal to women better?
Stronger female characters with less stereotyping, I like to see more women getting into the industry. I would also like to see more real people in comics. Not all heroes need to look like superman.
Do you use Tumblr or other sites to promote your comic work? What are the links and what can people expect to find there?