I fell in love with comics as a kid and eventually it became my dream to be a cartoonist. All I knew was that comics were incredible and the writers and artists were my heroes! The people that created the comics I loved stood on a pedestal in my eyes and were as big a any celebrity.
Surely the people that were responsible for the adventures of my favorite superheroes were as rich and famous as I expected.
I wanted to make comics and be like my heroes, so I immersed myself in everything I could find about the medium.
In the 1970′s there were not a lot of options. There were only a few comic book companies and there was not much information on how to actually make comics. If you wanted to make comics it seemed that the only opportunity was to learn to draw in the acceptable style of those few publishing houses and don’t dare create any new characters unless you were willing to give them away to those publishers for a mere page rate that was as skimpy as could be.
How was it possible that the comic industry was the ghetto of the entertainment field? Most creators looked at working in comics as a slimy stepping stone to a bigger career in advertising, television or film. Achievement wasn’t breaking into comics, it was breaking out.
Fortunately there was a generation of comic fans that had the same starry-eyed perception of comics as I did and were unwilling to accept the cold, hard truth that working in comics was a dead-end street.
One by one, these comic enthusiasts struck out into the world championing the medium that they believed in. They knew that the simple combination of words and pictures had power and was able to capture the imagination of large audiences. They believed that the people that had the ability to create these comics deserved to control them and to profit from them. They believed in creative independence.
It is not surprising that this independent movement began in head shops where underground comics gained a foothold in the imagination of popular culture and etched out a business model for grass root distribution to seedy establishments peppered around the country.
Soon comic shops began to spring up in similar fashion offering a fix of a different nature. The Direct Market for comic books sprouted in back-alley garages, flea market booths and trunks of cars. It was this testament to the love of comics and independent entrepreneurship that created opportunity for independent comic publishers to begin to achieve success and compete directly with the giants in the industry.
The Independent Comic movement has been going strong now for nearly forty years and has changed the face of comics forever. Comics are no longer a dead-end street but are now a viable art form with venue opportunity lurking at every corner.
Comics is no longer a medium controlled by just a few publishing houses with strict style limitations. Comics can be published by anyone and distributed globally thanks to current technology. Like any medium or business, it is a delicate balancing act between success and failure but it is invigorating to at least have the opportunity to try.
When I think back to how I imagined comic creators as rich and famous I realize how naive I was to believe that talent equaled wealth. I am glad however that I never lost the dream that making comics might equal happiness. Those of us that have that need to make comics know that it is the same obsession that drives every artist, athlete or professional that does what they love.
Independent Comics created the opportunity for anyone with that drive to actually be able make comics. Independent comics opened the door to an endless possibility that did not exist unfettered in this medium when i was a kid.
This is why CO2 Comics continually celebrates Independent Comics and deliberately was founded on Independence Day. We are determined to acknowledge that there is always more to comics than what the big companies have to offer.
Independent Comics have proved that comics are a unique form of creative expression and their richness is not found in the money they make but in the people that make them.
At CO2 Comics every day is Independence Comic Day!
Making Comics Because We Want to,