Independent comic creators, particularly ones from marginalized groups, have served as a necessary part of the comic world. These writers, artists, and publishers are comic book fans at heart who have a keen understanding of what readers want to see. They organically develop characters from all walks of life not for “diversity’s sake,” but because it is a fair representation of the world around them. These creators pour their time and talents into creating new stories that are innovative and compelling out of love for the art of comics and to fill niches that are often overlooked or non-existent. And, they are building their network and fan base online as well as receiving signal boosts via the power of social media movements like #BlackComicsChat.
#BlackComicsChat (hosted by a team of comic makers) is an active podcast with one goal in mind – promoting diverse comics through live chats with comic creators, in-depth conversations about the intersection of comics and Blackness, and sharing information about the best comics created by Black people. As indicated by the hashtag, listeners are able to spark discussions and ask questions with each other on Twitter. #BlackComicsChat not only encourages conversations about comics – they also remind readers to support comics with feedback/ratings and financial support.
Some of the creators featured on the podcast have webcomics that they want to translate to print editions. In their case, #BlackComicsChat has been a great resource to amplify their voices and inform people about their Patreon and Kickstarter projects. Sure, there are some writers that hope for a shot with Marvel or DC Comics, but there have always been few Black artists and even fewer Black writers with these corporations. It may change, but creators aren’t waiting around for it! Now, the power is largely in the hands of the artists, writers, readers, and the websites who work tirelessly to support them.
Image Credit: BlackComicsChat
For example, #BlackComicsChat has featured Mildred Louis, the artist/writer of the popular webcomic Agents of the Realm. Louis launched the Magical Girl series about an ensemble of college-aged women who are brought together to defend the Earth and beyond as Agents back in March of 2014.
In the story, each woman has been gifted a special Amulet which holds the energy of past Agents and can be used by the owner in the form of unique weaponry. Now, Mildred is looking to put Volume 1 into a 3D book and she turned to Kickstarter for help. Agents of the Realm’s Kickstarter was launched on February 1st, 2016 and aggressively met its 17K goal in SIX days! Supporters were given different pledge tiers that all included different types of swag beyond the print book exchange for financial support. And, all additional funds raised by Mildred are going back into the hands of fans in the form of limited edition items:
“The initial goal is to raise the funds to get Volume 1 and the additional rewards produced and shipped around the world. Any money raised beyond the initial goal will get more specialty Stretch Goal items into your hands, including limited-edition prints illustrated by some fantastic artists, a foil-embossed upgrade to the softcover books, and even a hardcover edition!” (Source: Agents of the Realm Kickstarter page)
Image Credit: Chuck Collins/BOUNCE!
Another webcomic favorite, BOUNCE!, has made already made a move toward print media. The writer and artist, Chuck Collins, is a perfect example of how a creator can use art to imitate life. Chuck developed the comic in 2012 and based the overall concept on his crazy experiences as a bouncer in NYC.
The webcomic takes his experiences and adds a layer of both comedy and social commentary through the eyes of the main characters The Bouncer and Yemaya. The first volume of BOUNCE! is available in print format, but Collins (who still works as a bouncer) is hoping he can have more time to write BOUNCE! He has recently set up a Patreon page so supporters can help him achieve his ultimate goal – a BOUNCE! animated series! Like many webcomic artists, he has dedicated a lot of time and resources into the comic with no financing. But, with loyal fans and the support of social media influencers, BOUNCE! has the potential to become Chuck’s full-time venture.
Image Credit: Stephane Metayer/Tephlon Funk
The self-proclaimed “dopest manga,” aka Tephlon Funk, has been an innovative comic journey for Stephane Metayer since high school. He developed the concept way back in 2004 because he didn’t see enough stories that mixed his love of Hip-Hop music with anime.
The comic is a coming-of-age story about a young woman named Inez who lives in Queensbridge, a housing project in Queens NY. She meets a person who changes her life and forces her to tap into a higher level of emotional strength. Stephane finally took it to the next level in 2015 with a successful Kickstarter campaign to self-publish a 130 page book. The campaign raised over $22,000 dollars and the book is expected to ship in October 2016! Stephane not only created his own lane with a comic unlike any other, he also created a channel to publish his own creation (with a signal boost from sources like #BlackComicsChat). Now that’s a boss move!
Of course, there could never be an exhaustive list of dope comics by creatives who develop their own unique stories and put the power in the hands of their fans via crowdfunding sources. And with resources like #BlackComicsChat and other podcasts and websites that are willing to support indie comics, the creators are opening their own doors toward success.
Do you have a webcomic favorite that you would like to see in print? What are some of your favorite podcasts that support diversity (in all forms and intersections) in comics?
Featured Image Credit: Mildred Louis/Agents of the Realm