THE NEXT LEVEL

As of this posting, The Lorax is the top grossing movie in theatres, and people are still riding high on the new Batman movie and the upcoming Avengers movie. Personally, I think that should be a goal of every creator and storyteller: to have one (or more) of their creations achieve mainstream success at a major level. I know some think that is a shallow, sell-out attitude. However, creators make their creations for the public, and you would be selling yourself short if you didn’t aim to get your creation exposed to as many people as possible. I know that being in the situation I’m currently in financially, I look at the successes of Tyler Perry and J.K. Rowling and wonder “why not me?” On top of that, I think the biggest gift that God has given me is my creativity and the ability to generate unique, marketable ideas, and tell stories. So I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility for one of my stories to get some legs and have some nice support among its target audience. In fact, the two novel manuscripts I’m seeking publication for (Spades, an urban love story, and Godmode, a Sci-fi thriller) are aimed at exactly that.
Ever since the Ninja Turtles turned from a black and white indy comic to a mainstream marketing juggernaut, the stranglehold on comic book success by the big two and the newspaper syndicates has been repeatedly broken. But the properties that have all gotten mainstream looks have been printed comics and graphic novels, and I have yet to see any webcomics receive that kind of exposure. Sure, the “Undercover Brother” series of animated shorts got a movie, and Penny Arcade had its own TV show. But we still have yet to see a webcomic get the kind of support that translates into the kind of continued mainstream success that print comics have gotten. Sometimes filmmakers would see a small graphic novel like Road To Perdition and take a chance on that, but it seems as if webcomics haven’t even gotten a cursory look from the guys in the TV and movie industry.
And that’s not due to a lack of good material. I’ve seen some flat-out brilliant comix on the interwebs. Awesome art, engaging stories, likable and believable characters, the whole nine yards. Quite a few of these could translate easily into a TV show, Saturday Morning cartoon, Anime, movie or video game. And that’s not even including my own action webcomic, which I think has what it takes to gain an audience.
So what is a realistic expectation of the success of a webcomic? I know there are a ton of webcomics on the market, with more new ones being made every day. I also know that only a miniscule percentage of those webcomics are actually profitable. With the publishing barrier having been busted wide open, the publishing houses and newspaper syndicates can now be completely circumvented in getting your material to the public. Problem is, those publishing houses and syndicates are trusted, established sources of exposure which guarantees that your property will reach a certain number of people. With the freedom of not having to get the approval of these entities comes the insecurity of having to find your own audience, get your own exposure and build your own brand. How realistic is it really to believe a webstrip will capture the nation like a Peanuts, Garfield or Calvin & Hobbes? Would The Boondocks have blown up the way it did if the initial comic strip were strictly available online? And how long will it be before one of the webcomics I’ve recommended makes its way to the big screen or small screen? Even a direct-to-DVD video would suffice.
Of course, these properties could also go the indy route with the next level, too. If you can raise enough funding and get the right team, you can get anything made and put out. Once I’m in a comfortable position with The Seizure action webcomic, I already have a game engine set for the official Seizure trading card game. But if you can garner that kind of support, then doesn’t that mean your property has made it to that next level?
I make no apologies for having expectations like this for my creations. I know some creators talk about the creation of art for its own sake, or as a form of expression. That’s fine for them: I’m trying to get paid. I’ve got bills to pay and mouths to feed, and my dayjob isn’t anywhere near enough to cover my expenses. Having a story take off means a nice supplemental income for my family to live off of, and maybe even more leverage and credentials in my search for a decent-paying graphics job. Of course, all of this depends on my stories getting the support of readers like you. So help a brotha out by reading my new strips every week, and referring me to your friends if you like my story. (Clicking the ads wouldn’t hurt, either.)

Okay, Would you believe I just realized that I missed a page on this story? Now I gotta figure out how to renumber all of the posts. I’ve been really off my game since I fell behind. Well, hopefully with chapter 3 of the main action webcomic done and pencils & inks, Chapter 4 almost finished, I can get 100% back on track. Grr.

On a completely unrelated note, I never thought I’d see the day where Cranberry juice and Vegetable Juice get into an ad war. To say I think it’s bizarre would be an understatement.