Although Kickstarter has been helping independent comics get published, the launch of another recent digital program might be just as revolutionary for the future of creator-owned comics.
In fact, the two can work hand-in-hand.
Case in point: Rachel Deering's innovative horror series Anathema. Initially, Deering went to Kickstarter to fund her passion for the story of Anathema. Written as homage to classic Hammer horror films, the comic is filled with scary monsters and creatures, but the subtext of the story is that mythical "true love" can be portrayed even in lesbian relationships.
Deering's Kickstarter campaign succeeded, but she soon discovered the achievement wasn't all she thought it would be. Instead of funding all six issues of Anathema, the money came up short.
"I'm not a business person. I'm a creator," Deering said. "So I hugely underestimated how much money I would need. So I put all that [Kickstarter] money into the first three issues. And the next three are going to be funded by me going to the bank and taking out a loan."
But that burden might be alleviated now that Anathema has been chosen by comiXology to launch its new digital "Submit" program. Through a portal launched by comiXology this spring, independent comic creators can upload their work for approval as a digital comic on the platform.
And best of all, there's no cost.
Once creators send their comics to comiXology, the company transforms the material into their "Guided View" technology, allowing the work to be sold digitally alongside the work of major publishers on comiXology's many digital platforms from computers to iOS and Android devices. The company splits the profits with the creators, who retain ownership of their work.
Newsarama talked to Deering about Anathema, her experience with comiXology Submit, and why she thinks the new platform could not only help alleviate her costs, but help other comics creators reach a wider audience.
Newsarama: Rachel, how did you end up having Anathema become one of the debut comics on the initial launch of comiXology's new Submit portal for indie comics?
Rachel Deering: John Roberts from comiXology called me and asked me to be one of the launch books for the Submit program. After we went over a few details of what the program was going to be, I said, "Sure! I'd like to be part of the launch." So it was really easy for me.
It's just the first three issues right now, and it's going to be a six-issue series. So I've got three more to go.
Nrama: For people who have never heard of Anathema, what's the premise of the story?
Deering: It's about a woman named Mercy who falls in love with the daughter of the local reverend, and when he finds them together, he takes his daughter out and burns her at the stake to make an example of her. But as Mercy is watching her lover burn, these vile creatures come out of the woods and steal her lover's soul. So she travels to the darkest corners of the earth, battling dark creatures, to get back her lover's soul.
Nrama: What were your influences as you created the story?
Deering: It's my homage to Hammer Horror and older '70s horror that rely more on atmosphere and tension than gore or violence. And I took inspiration from some of my other interests, like creature features and adventure games. But the main thing that I wanted to touch on in the book is that lesbian love is not just a shallow sort of thing, that it runs deeper than that, and we will go to great lengths to do things for our love. That's all subtext, though. At the surface, it's just a cool monster story.
Nrama: And this was something you initially funded through Kickstarter?
Deering: Well, you would think [it would be "funded"], but I was one of the early people to adopt a Kickstarter. And I'm not a business person. I'm a creator. So I hugely underestimated how much money I would need. So I put all that money into the first three issues. And the next three are going to be funded by me going to the bank and taking out a loan.
Nrama: So it would help if these first three issues would do well on comiXology.
Deering: Yeah. It would definitely help.
Nrama: What did you think of the process of getting your comics ready through Submit?
Deering: It was really simple. I just made a good quality pdf, but not quite print quality. And I put all that together and sent it to them. And I don't know what sort of magic they do over there to turn it into the guided view, but they just make it straight from a pdf, so it's really simple.
Nrama: comiXology is talking about this Submit program being revolutionary for independent comic creators. Do you feel like it's a big help to you as you try to get your comic out there?
Deering: Absolutely. They give you a platform that people know. People are familiar with comiXology. So when you say, "Hey, you can go buy my book at comiXology," people are like, "Oh, this is legit." You know? It's not some crappy thing you've done and put on a copy machine, trying to pass it off on people to make a quick buck. This is a legit thing.
And when I tweet about buying the book, comiXology will retweet it. And they've got like, I don't know, somewhere between 30,000 and 50,000 followers [Newsarama Note: At press time, they were at 39,950]. I can't remember exactly how many it is. But, you know, it's huge. I get new followers every time comiXology tweets about the book, and I get new sales every day.
So I just hope that readers support indie comics and the passion that people have. And if you have a passion of your own, look into comiXology Submit and see where it goes. Because if I can do it, anyone can do it.