How Not To Make Money In Comics

My Self-Publishing Adventure

Part 5 & 6: 2006 & 2007 (Serious Spin-Off & First Artist Hire)


      The Webcomic I created (Wesleyan World) was continuing to be a source of enjoyment, even though one would say the art is pretty below average (that’s being nice…to myself). At one point, I wrote a comic script based on the idea I had for the serious storyline, but it was just too boring. I eventually found a short story I wrote in undergraduate college that I realized I must have gotten some subconscious inspiration from, and decided to place the idea of another self clawing it’s way to the surface of a human mind to guide it’s user to what it should be as a representation of the ‘id’ that most people contain. After writing my first comic script, I then placed it in a folder on my computer and forgot about it, because getting an artist was considered unrealistic to me at this point in my life.

      Many months later (this was later 2005), I brought up the idea of a comic book I wanted to make to my friend Michelle Balze (a fellow graduate student at Long Island University’s Southampton College) and she said she was actually making a comic with (or for) someone at the moment. Later, we met so I could describe the plot of my book and she could show her some art samples. I then realized it was a perfect sketch-style for my diary-esque comic book. We then later talked about doing the comic and the page rate.

      I will list the pay for next year when the project was actually complete for easier inventory processing. She started drawing, and eventually finished in the next year. Though I would leave New York and move to Maryland.

      After moving to Maryland, I commissioned her for 3 covers and a replacement panel for one of the pages. The total cost of the project was $???.?? for a 3 issue mini series (22 pages each, 3 Covers, & a replacement panel)

      After the project was done, I had 3 finished comic books (a 3 issue mini-series), but had no idea what to do with it. I was able to find a very large photo scanner to scan the pages into the computer so I could get them in my email, and then they sat on my computer for a few months.

      Eventually, my salvation came when someone told me about the Small Press Expo (2008). An independent comic convention sounded like the perfect place to get help with people who had done it before. I tried to ask people questions about how they printed their comics, but mostly I was still confused and felt way out of my league. Someone I had talked to behind the counter (I wish I could remember this person) told me to speak to Evan Keeling, as he had a local group called the DC Conspiracy. Upon talking to him, I learned that the DC Conspiracy was a group of artists & writers (or both) that met once a month. It was something I started attending every month, and I met lots of people and got some good advise. Eventually, I just hired someone who knew computers to format it for ComixPress.com’s specs, as they were well known and looked the best to deal with at the time. I have no skills when it comes to computers, so hiring someone for this minor action was pretty much a necessity. He offered to do it for a small amount, stating it would only take a few hours to format everything. After he aligned my comic to their specifications, I submitted them, then weeks later had a preview copy sent to my house for all 3 issues. Holding in my hand was the comic I had started 2 1/2 years ago.

      From the DC Conspiracy, I had heard they were going to get everyone together for a table at SPX 2009 and split the tables based on full, 1/2, or 1/4 tables. I immediately signed up for a 1/4 of a table, as I only had 1 comic book (even though it was 3 issues).

      Next article (and next year) I start showing you actual numbers with my comic costs, and how I started making more comics from there (and hopefully stop sounding so dry and analytical in my speech). I will only mention the total cost of a project the year the project is completed.


Total: You know this will be blank; check the next article for the numbers.

How Not To Make Money In Comic Books

My Self-Publishing Adventure

Part 4: 2005 (Wesleyan World)


      In late 2004, I started making comic strips that were 1 page (pretty large) and then I would scan them in with my Lexmark photoscanner and edit them in MS Paint. I would remove splotches of pencil, then increase the gamma so it looked like the art had been inked, and finally added word balloons.

      I had already finished 30+ comic strips, but had no way to show them off. After talking to Rob Baden (mentioned in my first How Not To Make Money In Comic Book post) he graciously offered to host my comic book on his website DownTimeComics.com, where he had created a new webcomic, as well. And an even greater bonus was that his webmaster even made a logo for me (it’s on the Wesleyan World page in my website – http://shawnpmurphy.com/?page_id=1219)

      The DownTimeComics site was still the same web address as the old one (with the older comics from college now stored on another page called “Old DTC”. Unfortunately, this website no longer exists online or at WayBackMachine’s archive, either.

      The comic would be posted on his website weekly for 3 1/2 years. I have since put the entire collection of strips (215 strips) on my website (http://shawnpmurphy.com/?page_id=1219) separated by storyline (though half of the storyline are just one-shot strips with a central theme) and individual strip. If you click on the Story title, you can read the entire storyline on One Page.

      I had fun doing this. There was no money in this, but luckily, there was also no cost (I did not buy pencils, paper, or the scanner for the comic strips, and will state when I have to buy something for a specific project). And so, I started working on these comics for years, but about 3 months in, I realized that I had a storyline that was way too dark and didn’t match the tone of the comedic Wesleyan World. Eventually, what spiraled as many strips of a darker saga just became it’s own comic book storyline. I was still doing comedic strips and generating more funny storylines, but what would I do with this serious tale featuring some of the characters (and myself) from the strip? Find out in the next post.

2005
Total Cost: N/A
Gross Profit: N/A
Net Profit/Loss: N/A

All Years (2002 – 2005)

Total Cost: N/A
Gross Profit: N/A
Net Profit/Loss: N/A

How Not To Make Money In Comic Books

My Self-Publishing Adventure

Parts 2 & 3: 2003 & 2004 (I Made No Comics & The WebComic Emerges)


      The year 2003 (spring of junior year & fall of senior year at West Virginia Welseyan College) I spent most of my time at college doing my Psychology Thesis and Writing Thesis and generally just enjoying life. Though I continued to buy and ready Spider-Man & Transformers comics every month (and could continue to do so until 2011) I never considered doing them in the foreseable future.

      In the Spring of 2004 I obtained my degrees in Psychology & Writing, and still spent most of the semester spending time with friends while working on my final year to earn these degrees.

      In the fall of 2004, I was starting my first semester at graduate school at Southampton College in Southamton, NY. During the coming months, I was already misssing my friends from undergraduate college and created a few comic strips called “Wesleyan World” that were just me and my friends messing around at college and going on adventures. They were one page strips that had a punchline at the end. However, all I did was draw them and nothing became of them that year.


2003 – 2004
Total Cost: N/A
Gross Profit: N/A
Net Profit/Loss: N/A

All Years (2002 – 2004)

Total Cost: N/A
Gross Profit: N/A
Net Profit/Loss: N/A

How Not To Make Money In Comic Books

My Self-Publishing Adventure

Part 1: 2002 (DownTimeComics & Demon Heir)


      In this Blog series, I will be breaking down my comic book expenses and profits (ha, that’s a good one) by year. My hope is that people will see that putting together a comic book requires a great deal of work and a lot of start-up capital; you will rarely see any return in profit. If you get into comic books, it’s because you want to publish them for the love of it (though hoping it leads to being picked up by the major companies or get a movie deal is a nice dream, too)

      My friend at college, Rob Baden, had been doing a webcomic online called DownTimeComics (http://web.archive.org/web/20050430040909/http://www.downtimecomics.com/dtc/). He had wanted to expand the website to include others.

      I had an idea about a Demon Hunter, called Demon Heir, that I got my friend RL Shawver to do some art for. I had already written an entire universe along with 8 major storylines leading up to an epic conclusion for the entire series. The comic strip lasted around 1 ½ months and 8 pages. I was a junior at college at the time and only 21 years old; my ideas for that story were pretty ambitious and unrealistic since we were both at college at the time with our own degrees to work on.

      The webpage no longer exists, though you can still see the main page on Wayback Machine. Unfortunately, none of the comics are available online anymore. I have now input the old Demon Heir comics on my website (http://www.shawnpmurphy.com) under Webcomics, where you may see the first comic I ever did.

      That’s it for this year. It doesn’t start to get more advanced until 2006. I will be tracking everything, from my website fees, printing costs, artist payment; everything! If you have an interest in making comics (and you are a writer with no artistic skills) then you will want to follow this.


2002

Total Cost: N/A
Gross Profit: N/A
Net Profit/Loss: N/A

All Years (2002 – 2002)

Total Cost: N/A
Gross Profit: N/A
Net Profit/Loss: N/A

I uncovered this long lost book from my distance past; a book full of words and pictures created by Shawn Padraic Murphy, Age 7. What did I write about? Dinosaurs of course. There wasn’t a kid who wasn’t into the dinosaur craze. So, how does my book still hold up?

What you about to watch is my natural reaction to the book, as I filmed it all in one take to see how I thought upon seeing text I wrote over 24 years ago.

BlipTV / YouTube / Vimeo / TGWTG

Murphy’s Media Memories – 4th Grade Dinosaur Book from Shawn Padraic Murphy on Vimeo.