Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Remembering The Self-Publishing Movement

Self-Publishers Limited Edition Print (1993)
Art by Dave Sim, Colleen Doran, James Owen, Martin Wagner & Jeff Smith
(from 'Remembering The Self-Publishing Movement', February 2008)
...To be honest, I don’t know where the name Self-Publishing Movement came from... but it refers to a distinct period of comics that began in 1993 and went roughly until 1996 or so. Still, having Sim, one of the first, along with Marder, and Veitch, two from the days of the first independents - as well as members of the Creators Rights Summit in the late 80s, I’d say our pedigree was all right. I think at the time we felt like we were part of an ongoing shift in comics that had its distant roots in the American Underground...

(from the Boneville Blog, Part 1 and Part 2, February 2008)
...It all started with a small band of creators who, for the most part, either wouldn’t or couldn’t be published elsewhere. Jeff Smith, knowing nothing about the comics scene, sprang full grown from the head of Zeus. He was The Complete Cartoonist and wowed everybody. Dave Sim was the old man of the group and styled himself The Guru. James Owen was The Salesman. Martin Wagner, The Huckster. Larry Marder, The Machiavellian. Steve Bissette was Mr. Sensitive. Rick Veitch, The Dreamer. Me, I was just The Girl. This wacky crowd of self publishers broke all the rules.

Wild rumors circulated about drug use and romances: I saw none of that. There was no time for goofing around. We worked seven-day weeks, and went for months (or years) without breaks.

At some shows, Dave Sim provided the core self publishers with limo service, as well as other ruffles and flourishes that supported a successful image. All base expenses were our individual responsibility, but limousine service made us look good, and The Guru of self publishing wanted to look good. Making self publishing look good was more important than the objective reality that self publishing was unlikely to be good for almost everyone trying to do it.

When I got home after tooling around in a limo, I didn’t have enough money to buy a car. The public never saw the trips to the Goodwill to buy a decent outfit to wear, anything to save the money to get that next issue published...

...Self publishing was a major source of income for me for nearly six years. But in 1995, the direct comics market imploded and most of the comics distributors went bankrupt. Anyone can self publish on the web now. All of the computer equipment and webspace one might need for a year is roughly the same as the cost of printing one issue of a comic book...

...Cerebus creator Dave Sim (whom I had met after A Distant Soil was first published) and I had several arguments over the possibility of my self publishing, with his view being that I should “Just do it!” and my response “With what money?” falling on deaf ears. We parted ways and didn’t speak for years while I planned to publish my way. I drew more comics for Marvel and DC, and with the settlement money from one of my publishers over rights to A Distant Soil combined with a small loan, I finally had enough cash to get my A Distant Soil comic printed myself...

Colleen Doran is the writer/artist of the fantasy series A Distant Soil and illustrator of many other comics and graphic novels. Please support Colleen's restoration project to complete 'A Distant Soil'.

No comments: