We are experimenting! No, don’t worry, no mad scientist kind of experiments – at least not yet. We’re wanting to expand and spotlight our weekly content, to better engage our fans, build interest in our properties, and give folks a chance to connect with our creators in ways other studios and publishers don’t.
To that end, we’re introducing My Comic Life Sundays! Basically, a chance every week to connect with little ol’ me, Visionary’s CCO C. Edward Sellner. Every Sunday I’ll debut a brand new My Comic Life comic strip. I’ll also be rolling out the My Comic Life Column, a weekly column on building a freelance career. Hopefully, together, we’ll build a public forum for aspiring creators to learn and discuss, as well as a place for fans and myself to connect other than conventions.
Now, the first four columns were ‘published’ but not as blog posts, and not linked through this, so if you did read those, you will have a little wait until column five, as I want to push each one in the MCL Sundays venue. But you do get a new strip each week and some random ramblings from myself.
I’ve got to mention Visionary’s Power Scourge Kickstarter which is going on right now! This first volume of Visionary’s own original properties is an origin story done as an epic crossover!
On a normal world, in a single day, thousands of people manifest out of control super-powers. Will it be a new Golden Age, or the last day for humanity?
Now, I’m most excited about this because it introduces some of my main characters, as well as the Visionary Universe. Check it out and support if you’re so inclined.
My Comic Life Column 001 – It’s a Comic Life After All
“A COLUMN?!?” I remember saying rather acerbically. “Yeah, been there, done that.”
“And it was a good thing, so you should do it again,” replied Charlie Hall, my business partner and one of the few guys I trust to run Visionary, my little creative studio paradise.
It was another of our conversations about raising the profile of the studio and myself as a creator, and about getting out there in the media focused on our initial industry of choice. All of which was well and good, but I struggled with what exactly I could wrap a weekly column around that would be a worthwhile contribution to the comics world in general. If it couldn’t be new and different and stand out from the rest, as far as I was concerned, what was the point? Beyond that, where would I go with it? Where could I set up my little corner of the internet to feature my ongoing rants?
So I started thinking about it and trying to come up with a different angle on things, something others hadn’t done before, at least not in the same way. The more I thought about it, I realized the most unique thing about my comic life experience… has been my comic life experience.
I’ve read a lot of columns that talk about a professional creator’s road to “breaking in” (I’ll talk about why that’s a lousy expression next time). Others share reflections on various experiences along the way, and still others dig into different creative aspects and focus on the “how-to” of making comics (which I did myself for a while). I’ve also read a lot of opinion columns that focus on different aspects of the industry, from indie, to digital, to retailing, etc. But most all of them feel like pieces of a larger puzzle that don’t even try to fit together into a whole.
These approaches, by themselves, never seem to incorporate the broader perspective, to show how things do indeed fit together. The creator is all about creating, the business guys all about the numbers, the big guys about a scope and scale beyond most of us, while for the little guys, it’s just the struggle, and never shall any meet in the middle. At worst many seem either blissfully unaware of other aspects of the bigger picture or at the least they rarely discuss how all those other pieces should tie together.
On one level, this is understandable given people’s varying expertise and the format of a weekly column. But on another level, I’ve often thought it would be nice to see something more holistic and integrated, which might focus on a given topic in any given column, but would do so in a way that encompasses more of the totality. Something that over time, brings many of those disparate elements together to paint a complete image of the comic industry, one that peers into all the little corners and brings them to light, and even more important, in focus in relationship to one another. The simple fact is, especially for us ‘little guys,’ we need to understand most all of it because we aren’t just a creator, we’re also our own agents, marketing team, legal consultant, etc., etc.
I then started thinking about my journey on this road and realized some things. First, my story ain’t like any other story I’ve ever heard about getting into comics, which, truthfully, all of us in the industry can say to varying levels. Sure, it has its touchstones that are similar, but overall, it’s been a unique path that falls a little further outside the norm than most.
Second, I have something of that broader perspective because I’ve been involved professionally in so many different aspects of the business at so many levels. I’m a published writer, colorist, artist, and editor. I’ve worked indie and have credits from major publishers, on my own work, as well as collaborating with others, and also been a paid professional working for hire. I’ve worked with brand-new creators doing their first paid work in comics, helping to bring them up in the fold, and with literal legends in the industry. I’ve also worked the business angle for a few companies, doing everything from marketing to management to licensing work, so I know both sides of that coin as well. Now, with Visionary, working from scratch, I’ve built a growing studio and digital publisher, which has created its own niche in the industry and made an impact. No wonder I want a column that tries to connect the dots to all these different aspects of the industry, and no wonder I find some of the others out there narrower in their perspective than I like. Don’t even get me started on our move into other media and now balancing multiple industries in our daily operations.
Third, I’m walking this path at a time the comics’ industry is at several very major crossroads. In many ways, NOW (I don’t think Marvel has trademarked that yet) is probably the most exciting time in comics since their original inception. A lot of what I’ve done COULD NOT have been done just five years ago. A lot of the opportunities that Visionary has jumped on—sometimes even led on—have been new opportunities that didn’t exist for long before we were there. In a couple of those areas, I like to think that we helped light the way for those who came after us.
What we’re doing at Visionary is different, it feels different, and it’s working for us, as our recent expansion announcements make clear. It’s opened amazing opportunities and allowed me to look back and realize that somewhere along the way, by my means of measurement, I’ve become successful in comics. By that, I mean I’ve accomplished a lot of the goals I originally set out for myself when I started pursuing this career. As we roll into the rest of 2016, I realize that this year marks the point where I can focus on the work I want to be doing, be picky about my jobs, work with an excellent team of top professionals, and have a blast on everything I’m doing. All that, and still make more than enough to support myself responsibly as an adult without outside employment or assistance. Imagine that!
It’s All About Success Baby!
Now, maybe you define success as working for Marvel or DC, and having everyone in comics know your name. Fair enough, I’m not there… YET. Which may be one reason you’re wondering if I really have something valid to say.
But if you consider success to be multiple published credits, from multiple publishers; multiple current projects doing writing, coloring, and art; each of which is a book I’m invested in as a creator, love working on, and getting paid decent page rates for? Then yeah, been there, doing that!
If you consider success being able to focus more and more of my time on my creator-owned work from a foundation that gives it a good shot to phase in as my primary source of support within three years while making enough as a freelancer to live comfortably? Looks that way from where I sit.
Or if you consider success as having worked with some of my idols in comics, working with top publishers and having a lot of friends throughout every level of the industry, many of whom have made a point of telling me how much they enjoy working with me and admire my work? Bagged and tagged.
If you consider success as having enough paid work to pay all your bills and do what you want, having work lined up for the next four years, and having launched a studio that has generated well over a quarter of a million dollars in contracts and investment? Yep, done that too.
So, column? Yeah, I think I can come up with something to say every week, something to share that will come from a different angle. Some will focus on my personal experiences; some will be my take on new developments or various aspects of the industry. Others will focus on looking at a solid path of getting into comics (actually the next few will do just that). Some will spin out of questions from you readers, or hit topics suggested by you. Some just might be random rants. But all of them will paint a bigger picture; all of them will look at any given topic and how it relates to the whole. I’ll also no doubt develop features and additions as we go, just to liven things up. Feel free to make suggestions, by the way. I’d love your feedback.
Hopefully, these forays will be insightful and entertaining. Heck, hopefully, they’ll be unique and a little more holistic ways of thinking about comics as an industry. As for where, well, that became obvious, right here on Visionary! Now we’ll get to see how it goes, and if anyone finds my ramblings worthwhile. (NoI’mnotnervousatallthankyouverymuch.)
I certainly hope you’ll continue to join us and join the discussion that I hope will grow out of it.
What do you mark as measures of success in the comics industry? When is someone successful or not? What would you like to see this column focus on? Share your story or add your thoughts. Let’s make it lively but respectful, because if I can’t get you people talking about stuff, I’m not doing what I set out to do.
Not for the faint of heart! I dismantle the myth of “Breaking Into Comics!” There will be bubble-bursting galore!
About C. Edward Sellner
A full-time professional freelancer, Sellner has credits as a comics writer, prose author, colorist, artist, and editor from multiple publishers. He is the co-founder and Chief Creative Officer of Visionary Comics, one of the best known comic studios and digital publishers in the industry. The studio opened in 2006 and since then has published over 70 different titles in its digital line, and been involved in over a hundred different projects in production. Its clients range from Hollywood producers to international sports stars to other studios and publishers. It became the first independent studio to enter the licensing game with the announcement of its Deadlands license, which has since been published in comics from Image and IDW and novels from Tor Books. The studio also hosts a successful internship program where interns get practical, real-world freelancing experience, including paid work on actual jobs fitting their skill levels. Learn more at www.visionarycomics.com!