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New Worlds Comics - Be Different!

All-New, All-Different Avengers – Do Fans Want New or Same?

What do YOU hear when you read “All-New, All-Different Avengers?”
What I hear is: “All-New, All-Different Same-Same.”

Clearly, yes, this is a marketing thing. Based on the marketing premise that works, called “Loss Aversion”, where people are more afraid to lose out on some event or detail than to risk buying something new. (Full details here: http://newworldscomics.com/?p=672)

But that’s not what I care about. What I care about here is the point of view of the readers.

New or Same?

Continue reading

The 3 Reasons Why Indies Should Never Use Superheroes

The longer I’ve been an indie comic book publisher, the more I became convinced of the very simple rule: Indies should never use superheroes. Never.

Most indies do use comic books. Some think they can do better than Marvel and DC. Some just want to write superheroes but  don’t work for The Big Two. And others want to get The Big Two’s attention.

But many indies actually want to create something special, something unique, something artistic.

Well: Superheroes are not the way to do it!

Here’s why.

Are you using superheroes? Bad indie! Bad indie!

Are you using superheroes? Bad indie! Bad indie!

Reason #1: You Will Always Be in the Shadow

Marvel and DC, together, have more than 100 years advantage on you.

Look at superheroes as an environment – a vacuum that can be filled and has been filled by The Big Two: You’ve already got the super strong one, you’ve got the fast one, the invisible one, the stretchy one, the spider one, the octopus one, the vulture one, the cat one, the bat one, the dark one, the funny one, the sad one, the psychopath one, the boy one, the girl one, the dog one, the future one, the past one, and literally thousands more.

DC and Marvel have had decades to fill the ‘vacuum’ in the ‘environment’ – each one has his or her own niche.

Anything you do in a populated environment (overpopulated, actually,) will be just a teeny tiny spec in that environment. You will be a shadow on the wall, if you’re lucky.

Reason #2: You Will Never Be Big

If you look at superhero stories as an environment, you’ll see that all the big spaces are occupied.

You were hoping to carve out a big space for yourself? Well, if you write your own superhero, you won’t get one. The positions have been filled.

Reason #3: You Will Never Own Your Success

In the unlikely event that you become successful with an indie superhero comic book, you will never own your own success.

The ‘superhero’ is not trademarked by The Big Two. But the concept might as well be.

You will always be ‘another superhero’. You will always be a variation on decades of comics, TV, and films that have already been done.

Your success will be The Big Two’s success, as well. And they’ll profit more from it than you will. Any superhero you use, will feed their brand. Because even thought they don’t legally own it, they physically do.

 

So what’s the solution? How can indies succeed? How can indies become big?

There is a way! Here it is:

 

The Solution: OWN Your Success!

The solution is to write into an ‘environment’ that’s not over-populalted.

In fact, there are so many genres, so many types of stories that could be explored and created, so many tales to tell – that there are thousands of empty environments for you to choose from!

We are so stuck in our belief that comics should be about superheroes, that we can’t see that ‘superheroes’ are just a miniscule part of what can be done and achieved in comics.

Own your success!

Own your success!

Rather than play in someone else’s enviroment with superheroes that are all-but owned by Marvel and DC, why not carve out your own empire with your original material?

If you write about superheroes, you won’t carve out any empire, not even a small one. You’ll just be a shadow on someone else’s wall.

Sure, it’s hard to do. But did you really think you could become big by doing something easy?

 

What do YOU think? Let me know in the comments!

 

 

Check out these related articles: 

The Big Future of Indie Comics and What It Could Look Like

How I Had to Kill My Own Comic Book (Because It Was a Superhero Comic)

The Ten Comic Book Commandments

How Marvel and DC Can Get Back Millions of Readers

If you’re a Marvel/DC fan, you’re probably thinking: “Marvel and DC don’t need your help, they’re doing pretty well!”

If you’re an indie that’s out to create something new and better, you’re probably thinking: “Don’t help Marvel and DC. They’re the competition!”

And if you’re Marvel and DC, you’re probably thinking, “Who’s this pipsqueak?”

But here’s the truth: Marvel and DC are not the indies’ competition. The $3 spent on my comic book is not $3 that would have been spent on Spider-Man or Batman, and vice versa.

We’re not actually competing with each other. Actually, we all have the same purpose: Creating something great!

But: If you’re thinking The Big Two are doing pretty well, you’re looking at it backwards.

Let’s look at the numbers: According to Diamond Distribution numbers, most bestsellers sell around 100,000 copies a month and another 100,000 over the next year. We’re used to thinking those are great numbers.

However, over the last forty years, there have been millions and millions of fans that have bought Spider-Man (as an example) religiously for a few years and stopped.

Imagine if they hadn’t stopped.

Imagine if all the Spider-Man fans who wanted to read his adventures and probably still do would buy the next issue. There would probably 7 to 10 millions sales that month, wouldn’t there?

Now that 100,000 seems pretty low, doesn’t it?

The question is: Where did all these readers go? Why are they no longer buying Spider-Man? (I use Spider-Man only as an example of an ever-popular and fan-loved character – there are more, of course.)

First we’ll talk about what went wrong. Then we’ll talk about how it can be fixed.

What Went Wrong?

Here’s the thing. The Big Two aim their wares at teenagers.

And that’s great! Teenagers are the age to get into comic books.

The problem is: The more the teenagers grow up, the less the comic books they fell in love with talk to them.

As the fans get older, they slowly drift away from the title that they loved so much, the titles that they had to run to the comic book store to get.

It’s not that the fans grow out of comics, it’s that the comics stop talking to them.

Sure, you’ll still find forty-year-olds and fifty-year-olds buying Spider-Man. But most won’t. It’s not aimed at them anymore. It’s as if The Big Two are begging their fans to not continue reading.

How to Fix It

Imagine a comics world that works differently.

Imagine yourself falling in love with a character (Spider-Man, Batman or whatever) and then, as you grow up, the character grows up with you.

Now, I don’t mean that the character has to age. I don’t mean that at age thirty-something (on average) the character should have a kid, just so that most people that age could identify with her/him.

What I mean is:

  • The complexity of the story needs to become more complex as the years go by.
  • The dilemmas and conflicts that the character goes through age with the readers.
  • The character needs to grow up emotionally. I don’t mean that the character should just learn a lesson here and there: But to truly grow up and to truly change.

Imagine if Marvel or DC would have done that to Spider-Man or Superman (for example). Most of the 100,000-200,000 new readers that they accrued each year twenty years ago would still be reading them today – which means that millions would buy each issue!

And while Marvel and DC become even richer – so would we. Emotionally, at least, as the quality of stories would no doubt improve.

Think about it. Think what that would look like.

 

This Is Advice for Indies, Too

I don’t think The Big Two are going to take my advice – it’s too big a change, and therefore scary. I don’t even think they read this pipsqueak’s blog.

But I do think that we indies can behave the way they can’t.

What they don’t do because they are such huge momentum machines, we indies can do without a problem.

Let’s change the landscape! Let’s involve all our readers! Let’s talk to them like they’re adults! Let’s create new types of stories that have the depth of emotional growth, of learning, of change!

And, yes, this pipsqueak is definitely putting his money where his mouth is. Sure, with our flagship title, Wynter, and the upcoming Time Warriors. But even more than that: We’re going to completely change the landscape with the upcoming Lost in Dreams.

But this article isn’t about that – and news about Lost is Dreams is to come. So if you want to keep updated with how I plan to change the comics landscape, sign up for the weekly newsletter at the top right of this page!

In the meantime, think about this the next time you pick up a comic from The Big Two. Think how you should be treated like an adult.

And then start acting like it – and demand stories that are suited for you!

 

And join our revolution! Sign up for the newsletter! Help us change the world!

How I Destroyed My Career and Made Comics My Last Stand

Well… Time for a confession.

For those of you who don’t know me: I’m Guy Hasson, CEO and head writer of New Worlds Comics.

I’m 43 years old. I’ve been a science fiction author, I’ve written and directed plays, and I’ve worked as a scriptwriter for a few years. And only after I created New Worlds Comics, at age 40, twenty years after the premiere of my first play, did I realize what has gone wrong with my career.

Apparently, I’ve done everything possible to tank any success I’ve achieved in the last 20 years.

Six months ago I was on the verge of doing it again with New Worlds Comics.

For the first time in my life, I realized what I have done. And I found it in me to act differently. For every bad choice I had made, I tried to make the right choice with New Worlds Comics.

I chose to not repeat the patterns ingrained so deeply within me.

I chose to do what’s hard. And I decided that comics, and New Worlds Comics, would be my last stand.

Here are the terrible mistakes I made and how I tried to fix them.

Mistake #1: Changing Direction Every Chance I Got

If you had met me as a teen or in my twenties, you’d have met a fireball. It was clear I was talented – I could write well in any genre, and I did, because I wanted to write everything, everything, everything.

But I would never stick to a genre or any medium. My first play was a drama for adults. My second was a comedy for children. My first book was hard SF for adults. My second book was an adventure for Young Adults.

Fans couldn’t cope with the changes. Every fan I’d gather along the way, I’d lose in my next project. With every premier or book launch I’d have to start gathering the fans from scratch.

Mistake #2: Disregarding Fame

Despite my best efforts, I did become a famous SF author at least in my native country, Israel, in my early thirties.

It’s ridiculous-sounding for a person to say he was famous and it’s always hard for anyone to really understand how people perceive them. So rather than give you the whole long story, I’ll share with you two incidents that symbolized for me that my status was better than I had thought:

When I was at WorldCon at some party, two of the big SF publishers, talking to a French SF publisher, suddenly looked at me and said: “Him!”

I said, “What the hell are you guys talking about?”

The French publisher said, “I asked who the top SF author in your country is.”

Another incident: It was award season again, and in forums people were begging to stop putting me up for awards. “Stop talking about him like everything he does is good! I’ve had it with Guy Hasson!” wrote one, among many, who immediately afterwards confessed he never read anything of mine.

 

I’ve learned that when people want to take you down because they can’t stop hearing their friends talk about how good your stuff it – that, also, is a mark of fame.

But then I took all that, and threw it away. I disappeared into film, working as a scriptwriter (writing SF and horror) for a few years, then writing and directing my own indie feature-length film.

I disappeared for seven years, and when I came back, I had been forgotten by all except the old generation and the publishers who were willing to publish my next two books. But the fans, with the momentum of churning out book after book, had vanished.

Mistake #3: The Work Doesn’t End When You Finish Writing It

I could work tirelessly and endlessly on a project. I worked on one theater show for 3 years. I worked my butt off to get the indie film I wrote and directed done and premiered.

But once a project was done: That thing in me that needed it, that needed to create it, was also done. The project didn’t interest in me anymore. I had done the thing that was important to me: created the art for art’s sakes.

I created a film, but never actually had the wherewithal to send it to festivals other than the one that had agreed to premiere it.

I created a theater show, written and directed two experimental webseries, published a new book – but after those things were done would not spend the months needed to promote them.

And so, without marketing, without my name being already worth something to many people, none of these things had a chance. They all died after their birth.

Mistake #4: If It’s Good, It’ll Spread Itself

As Bones would say, “I’m a writer, dammit, not a marketer.”

I’m a writer, through and through. In my eyes, I create art. Marketing was never for me. Speaking to the fans or to potential audiences was never my thing. Once something was done, I moved on to the next piece of art I could create.

And I always thought: If it’s good, it’ll speak for itself and will spread itself. One person will see it and be so amazed that it will spread.

But that almost never works. Not without a little fanbase to start with. Not without talking to your fanbase and letting them know what’s going on. Not without actually sending your stuff to venues where it could be seen.

You have to carry through with the work you’ve done. You have to introduce people to it again and again and again.

And that’s the precipice I found myself standing on – again! – with New Worlds Comics.

What’s Different This Time, with New Worlds Comics?

  • I realized that for New Worlds Comics to succeed, I would have to do the hard work I never wanted to or could do: I would have to introduce people to the comics again and again and again. And I have done. For hours every day, for weeks and months.
  • I realized I must never stop, or New Worlds Comics would never grow. And I haven’t.
  • I realized that I must never turn my back on the fans that have gathered and the communities that are growing.
  • I realized that I can fulfill my craving to always do something different by simply writing different series simultanously and being super original within every issue.
  • I still think that fame is unimportant, but I realize it’s a tool that helps people find and read your next piece of art.
  • I’ve stopped shifting directions in mid-flight.
  • I will not disappear. I’ve realized that starting from zero in another medium, again, would just mean the same trouble all over again. Here I am. Here I stand. And here I give you the best writing and the best art in comic books today, whether it’s from me or from other writers.

Has Anything Changed?

Yes. The change in me has had a massive change for New Worlds Comics.

For our first 8 months, New Worlds Comics has had only 1,400 followers on Twitter. Since I made the change, we’ve had more than 1,000 new followers a week. Today we’re up to 17,000. Next week we’ll be at 18,000. By the end of the year…

People are talking about our flagship title, Wynter. Communities are forming. This website is steadily growing in popularity. Sales are way up.

We’ve got a weekly newsletter. We’ve got a podcast coming, taking a truthful behind-the-scenes look at how to create and grow an indie comic book company. We’ve got two more series coming out in the next few months: Time Warriors and the graphic novel series, Lost in Dreams – and another towards the end of the year.

Everything’s changed because I would not shoot myself in the foot again, and I would not repeat the behavior that has brought me this far.

Here I am. Here I make my stand. Here I’ll remain until the medical examiner takes my body away and checks it for signs of murder.

Will you take this trip with me?

Tell you what: Want to see what this is all about? Check out our flagship title, Wynter. It’s been called “The best SF comic book on the market today” by quite a few blogs. Check it out for yourself!

Then come back and stick around. There’s so much more coming.

The Big Future of Indie Comics

Who Controls the Comic Book World?

Almost all indies today feel the shadow of the big comic book companies: Marvel, DC, Image, etc.

These companies control almost ALL of the market. Not only that, but they control readers’ expectations: What readers expect to see is what these companies have to sell.

But the truth is the exact opposite!

Here’s why:

The Truth

The truth is that that more than 90% of all the comics that have ever been done fall into a tiny niche called Superhero Comics.

The truth is that Superhero Comics are a tiny fraction of what’s possible to create with comic books.

The truth is that comic books can be about anything, in any style, in any genre.

The truth is that of everything that’s possible

The truth is that the ones who are prepared to tackled all that big space of What’s Possible is not Marvel or DC or any of the big companies.

The truth is that Everything Else belongs to us indies!

Imagine the Future

Imagine a future, where you walk into a comic book store, and the shelves are filled with great comics.

Imagine how only one tiny section (4, 5 shelves at most) are filled with the latest Superhero Comics. Imagine how everything else is not: Everything else is fantasy, science fiction, funny, dramatic, tragic, crime, and whatever new genres in comics haven’t been discovered yet.

The truth is that we indies own those shelves, and the Big Companies don’t. We can carve our new styles and new stories to new audiences, while the Big Companies are stuck, unable to move from their niche, because that is what their readers expect from them.

So come on! Stop feeling small! Indies, look at all that land! Let’s conquer the Earth!

6 Harsh Truths About Indie Publishing

During my first six months as an indie comic book publisher, everything I thought I knew about comics was shattered.

Harsh Truths

I’ve been an avid comic book reader for more than 30 years, and it turns out I knew nothing. Not about why fans really buy comics, not about what matters to them, and not about what makes the successful comics I loved successful.

In this article we’ll face some harsh truths about the life of the indie publisher and about the fans. In my next article, I’ll show you how you can the harsh truths around to become a successful indie publisher and to reach the fans who would really love your comics.

Ready for some harsh truths? Here they are:

Harsh truth #1: Reviews don’t help sales.

One of our first series, Wynter, was immediately called by reviewers an “SF extravaganza” and that reading it was “necessary for you to exist”. Increase in sales? Zero.

All right, I thought to myself. It’s issue #1, people are wary, they need to see I can do it again.

Wynter #2 came out. Reviewers across the web started calling it “the best sci-fi comic on the shelves today”. Increase in sales? Zero.

All right, I thought. That’s just two issues. People need to see more.

Wynter #3 came out. It was again hailed as “the best SF comic book on the market” across the board. Increase in sales? You guessed it: Zero.

Conclusion: Positive reviews don’t help sales.

Harsh truth #2: Ads don’t help sales.

We placed ads on CBR, a comic book website with hundreds of thousands of unique visitors. The results: 14 visitors a day from CBR.

Turns out this is a well-known fact in start-ups. If you’re totally new, ads don’t work. You have to get people talking about you, create communities of readers, and then ads would work.

Conclusion: If you’re an established comic book company, ads may work for you. If you’re an indie, don’t waste a cent on ads. It’s a waste of money!

Harsh truth #3: It doesn’t matter that you’re good.

The fact that people think you’re good will not get them to recommend your comic book to their friends in any meaningful way.

The reviewers that called Wynter such great things did not successfully recommend it to their friends. The fans that emailed and tweeted about how much they loved it did not recommend it to their friends in any meaningful way. At least not at first – not until we grew.

So: Being good doesn’t make you viral and doesn’t increase sales. Not when you’re new and small. And not on its own.

Harsh truth #4: People will refuse to read you for free.

Undeterred, I was throwing pasta at the wall to see what sticks.

New Worlds Comics offered a free Wynter #1 through two reasonably popular comic websites. All the readers had to do was email to get a free copy.

An average of 14 people per website emailed.

Conclusion: God damn, this is tough!

Harsh truth #5: Fans don’t care about previews

Don’t take my word for it. You can do the research for that right now.

What’s your favorite super-popular comics news blog? Go to its Facebook page, where you can see how many people actually click ‘Like’ on every post.

Now compare the number of Likes of posts about previews with the number of Likes on their other posts. The Likes on the previews are always low.

Conclusion: Sharing awesome, unbelievable, magnificent art or previews from your awesome, magnificent, unbelievable indie book will not get you more sales. It’s not what fans really want.

Harsh truth #6: Talking about your comic makes people want to not buy it

I think you should read that line again: Talking about your comic book will make people want to not buy it.

Look at every indie publisher out there. What has s/he got to talk about? Their comic book, of course! How else will people learn about it? How else will they learn that it’s awesome? (Warning, warning: We’ve already seen that your comic book being awesome will not get people to buy it.)

The problem is that ALL your Twitter/Facebook/website/Pinterest/Tumblr/Instagram/etc. followers know that you’re here to sell.

So when you try to sell, it turns them off.

I’ll say it again: When you try to sell your comic book by telling people about it, you are turning people off. It just doesn’t work. It doesn’t.

 

In Conclusion

Yes, those harsh truths look bad. Really bad.

But don’t despair, because the good part’s coming.

Although what we think gets people to buy does not actually work, fans still spend their dollars on comic books. So there are ways to get them to spend money on yours.

Here’s the results I can attest to:

  • After 9 months of slowly gathering 2,000 Twitter followers overall, I changed my tactics and now I’m now getting 1,000 new followers a week.
  • People are starting to talk about our comic books and actually recommend them to each other visibly online.
  • Traffic to the website is increasing weekly.
  • Sales are increasing drastically.

This isn’t happening because I’ve been around for some time, or because of the quality the comics (which has remained the same from the beginning). Things are changing because my attitude is changing.

In the next article I talk about how to change to bring the change.

See you next time!

 

And one last thing. If you’re an indie publisher, join our #IndiePower initiative. Together, we can become stronger!


This article was originally published by the Comic Book Illuminati Magazine.