The Comic Company:
How to Start a Comic Book Empire

I became obsessed with making comics when I was in high school during the late 1970′s. I wasn’t content with just drawing them, however. The process of making comics was not complete for me until the comics I had drawn were read by an audience. 

I would make comics and print them on an old mimeograph machine then distribute them around school, usually selling each copy for a nickel. I always considered my calling to be that of a cartoonist but in reality I was a born comics publisher. 

CARTOONING THE HEAD AND FIGURE By Jack Hamm

 I read a lot of comics and I read a lot of books about comics and their history. I read books on how to draw and how to draw cartoons. My favorite books were two by Jack Hamm. Drawing the Head and Figure and Cartooning the Head and Figure published by Grosset & Dunlap in 1963 and 1967 respectively. These books are so great they are still published today by Perigee Books. Get them if you can.

 I considered myself self-taught and I was constantly on the prowl for more material to learn from. Unfortunately, there were no books that I found that actually taught how to make comics.

THE COMPLETE BOOK OF CARTOONING By John Adkins Richardson

In 1977 Prentice-Hall published The Complete Book of Cartooning by John Adkins Richardson. My world had changed. The secrets to making comics were out of the bag and brilliantly collected in just over 250 pages of lavishly illustrated, intelligently composed and detailed instructions. More important to me was that this book paid specific attention to creating comics for reproduction.

The publisher in me was percolating. 

Though the production information in this book is completely outdated today, all of the other content is a must read for anyone interested in creating comics. Copies can be found online. Trust me, if you have not read it, it belongs in your library! 

I tell my children to constantly be aware of and use all resources to achieve the most success. When I was coming up there was no internet with a seemingly infinite knowledge base as there is today. I had to search for information in strange and unusual places. Sometimes the knowledge found me. 

FREE ENTERPRISE Magazine

In the summer of 1979, the year I graduated high school, I opened my mailbox and found a magazine that had been placed there by my next door neighbor. It was an old copy of Free Enterprise “The Magazine That Makes You Money” originally published in April 1978. The cover featured Poster King Ted Trikilis who had cashed in by selling the famous Farrah Fawcett poster. 

HOW TO START A COMIC BOOK EMPIRE By Don Rico

Inside, however, was my gold-mine. A comic feature titled How to Start a Comic Book Empire by Don Rico who had received an Inkpot award in 1976 at the still young San Diego Comic Con. 

The comic adventure of Captain Free Enterprise chronicled the hero showing an aspiring entrepreneur how to publish comics detailing how to buy art, manage expenses, sell advertising, print and distribute product. 

BIG BOOM IN ADULT COMICS By Len Andrews

Following the comic were two articles, Big Boom in Adult Comics by Len Andrews and Best Buys in Comic Collectibles by Cara Greenberg. Both gave a stunning outsiders view of the early days of the Direct Market. 

BEST BUYS IN COMIC COLLECTIBLES by Cara Greenberg

All three features are posted here for historic reference. 

The Publishing Monkey in me was bouncing off the walls! 

I quickly called two of my friends who were also aspiring comic creators, Vince Argondezzi and Phil LaSorda. Both of them had graduated the year before. We got together and laid out a plan. We had a distinct advantage over the business model that Captain Free Enterprise described. We would create our own art, eliminating half of the expenses he outlined. 

Comico the Comic Company was conceived. 

I spent the rest of that summer cavorting around comic conventions in my Thing costume as seen in the wildly popular film that we posted here on CO2 Comics. Those conventions represented a lot of networking, education and maturing. Comico was a solid idea that would require a lot of nurturing, planning, and development especially since the three original partners were all now enrolled in separate colleges. 

Notice in the Captain Free Enterprise story he is seen flying into the San Diego Comic-Con International were many of you are this week 32 years later! While you are out there, look for CO2 Comics contributors Raine Szramski and Mitch O’Connell, also keep an eye out for all CO2 Comics updates

Captain Enterprise descends on The San Diego Comic Con

Making comics because we want to! 

Gerry Giovinco

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14 Responses to “The Comic Company:
How to Start a Comic Book Empire”

  1. The Comic Company:How to Start a Comic Book Empire « CO2 COMICS BLOG http://bit.ly/9dMtQQ

  2. [...] HistoryWatch: Ah, happy capitalistic days… [...]

  3. Raine Szramski says:

    The Jack Hamm books were the first how-to-draw books I ever bought and I STILL have them–though over the years and with lots of perusals the pages are falling out!

  4. Joe Williams says:

    I love these articles, Gerry. Of the hours of chitchat going back and forth in the office of DUCKWORK and other places, I don’t think I ever got the complete story of the genesis of Comico. It nicely dovetails (or is that ducktails?) with my series of posts on my entree into DUCKWORK.

    http://willceau.com/news/?p=1224

  5. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by CO2 Comics, Eric Michaels. Eric Michaels said: The Comic Company:How to Start a Comic Book Empire « CO2 COMICS BLOG http://bit.ly/9dMtQQ [...]

  6. [...] of Comico, has been posting historical flashbacks to those earlier days of the 70s and 80s. The latest post covers some very early “how to” information in comic form. You might also enjoy this [...]

  7. Jenn Dolari says:

    I had that book. Lotta good it did me. ;)

    Actually, a lot of this post reminds me of a conversation I’d had with a friend a few years ago. She had a story but couldn’t figure out how to get it “out there” but didn’t have a business model

    I’d casually mentioned I had an idea (The one based on the old Comico Primer) for publishing, but published in a way that would make the book either pay for itself right away, or fold gently (and without hurting ourselves in the process) if it failed. It’d been something I’d wanted to put together, but simply haven’t had the time to do.

    She just looked at me and said “you have a business model!”

    Dunno if that book will ever get done, but it’s not dead. Not at all. :)

  8. Steven says:

    The Comic Company:How to Start a Comic Book Empire « CO2 COMICS BLOG http://bit.ly/atOXZU

  9. Jenn,
    The key to any business model is found in three words “Just Do It.”

    When we chose to move forward with Comico our biggest incentive as proposed by our old partner, Phil LaSorda, was that we didn’t want to look back when we were older and be sorry that we had not taken the chance when we had the opportunity.

    Phil died at a very young age two years ago and I’m sure he left this world happy about his accomplishments in comics.

    Bill and I still have more to do. CO2 Comics is our new opportunity.

  10. JK says:

    The Comic Company:How to Start a Comic Book Empire « CO2 COMICS BLOG http://bit.ly/akLCB5

  11. Rob Anderson says:

    Fun article – How to Start a Comics Empire: http://bit.ly/bE84fR by Gerry Giovinco on Comico #makecomics

  12. That’s looks pretty impressive.

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