Most of us are familiar with the massive blockbuster film franchises that have spawned from great comic books from the last century. It’s easy to be inspired by such popular media, which is why so many people are now trying to start a comic book series of their own.
Obviously, this is an activity that’s easier said than done. Coming up with an idea for a comic book is hard enough – after that, you’ll need to figure out a way to draw it, print it, distribute it, and try to make your operation profitable.
But with the right approach, you can make it happen. Here’s how to start.
Adopt the Right Mindset
Before you begin putting pen to paper, it’s important to develop the right mindset. Comic book sales are booming, but there’s also more competition than ever before. Millions of people are inspired by comic books and eager to break into this industry, so you’ll have to work hard to stand out. Even if you’re incredibly talented, there’s a good chance you’ll never reach a widespread audience.
Accordingly, you need to be prepared for disappointment and failure. You need to be prepared for challenges and hardships. Otherwise, you’ll crumble at the first sign of trouble.
Come Up With an Idea
Next, you’ll need to come up with an idea for your series. Are you interested in creating a new superhero with an interesting personality? Or are you more interested in a slice-of-life type of story? Or are you interested in doing something more abstract and artistic?
There are no limitations here. But here’s a word of warning: your idea has to be unique. There are already thousands of superhero comics, so it’s very difficult to come up with something that hasn’t already been done a dozen different ways. You can’t simply replicate the comics you’ve already read and hope to be successful. You have to have an original idea.
Beyond that, your original idea has to appeal to a target audience. Even with a novel idea, your comic book series won’t build any momentum if there aren’t people interested in reading it.
After you nail down an idea (or two), start looking into printing and distribution options. These days, you can print your own comic books online inexpensively; if you self-publish this way, you can distribute comics however you like. For example, you can sell at conventions, sell on consignment at local comic shops, or even start your own website and sell online.
Alternatively, you can try to get your series printed with a major comic book publisher. While most publishers are open to new ideas, getting your foot in the door can be challenging with so much competition.
Begin Design Work
With a few of the most important pieces in place and a strategy in front of you, you can begin design work. This is the fun part. Whether you’re drawing by hand or utilizing computer software to make things easier, you’ll start with a basic storyboard, sketch out your characters, ink and color the pages, and add the finishing touches (like dialogue).
Ultimately, your first goal should be creating a polished, nearly perfect first issue. This is going to form a lot of first impressions about your series, so it needs to be on point.
If you’re proud of what you’ve done, take a step back and get feedback. Preferably, you’ll be able to get feedback both from other comic book artists and from the target audience you hope will be reading this series in the future. Be open and accepting of this feedback; if you hear the same comments in multiple places, from multiple people, it’s probably a sign that something needs to change.
Starting a comic book on your own is difficult, so consider partnering up. Spend time networking in the comic book artist community and get to know people with complementary skillsets. For example, if you’re a great writer but you struggle with illustrations, consider finding someone who’s a talented illustrator to help make your comic book work.
Get Involved Locally
One of the best ways to build momentum for your series, once you have a first issue printed, is to get involved locally. Visit your local comic book shops and see if they’d be willing to sell your work on consignment. Attend local conventions and advertise your work. Get to know others in your community who are into comic books. It’s the best way to make yourself known.
If you start seeing some promising signs, like decent sales and good feedback from readers, you can keep building momentum on this idea with subsequent issues. If not, try not to be discouraged; you can always start again with a new direction.