Jason Brubaker recently published a book called “Unnatural Talent” about making a graphic novel that covers everything you need to create a graphic novel in todays digital age. Jason Brubaker created Remind which is composed of two graphic novels that he self published last year and has sold over 8,000 copies (which he printed using funds he raised from Kickstarter, over$125,000)
This book covers the nuts and bolts of how to build your comic or graphic novel from start to finish. The first 1-2 chapters covers Jason’s story and a breakdown of what you want to do with your graphic novel. In the book he gives you all the information you need to start, its just whether you’re going to grab that pen or stylus to start or both. But then he steps on the accelerator and gives us a look into his experience creating Remind, his webcomic which later becomes a high quality printed graphic novel. All of the things he mentioned in the first part are invaluable. When I first started reading part I. I thought, okay here it goes. Motivation..inspiration from the general ideas of doing your comics to the nitty gritty specifics. I thought I could skim over the readings in part I. But guess what? I started to really dig in and read every word. There was something there that hit me. I had heard about Parkinson’s Law, (work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion)but the way Jason explained it in the context of comics and graphic novels made so much sense.
So after reading Jason motivating first part, reading the 2nd part has the title “Where do you go from there”? Publisher or Self Publish, the myths and truths of each one of these. Jason asks the tough questions and answers them. Will you get an advance with an publisher, will your publisher pay to market your book? There are also great sections on keeping books in print, turnaround time, contract negotiation and where the money goes. His argument is convincing in terms of self-publishing, when you compare the pros and cons of being published by a corporation or choosing to self publish.
He’s also got a great section on agents and whether you need one or not, his experience with a good and bad agent as well as how you get one. The book also covers practical aspects of making a graphic novel. Writing your script, character design, what tools you can use to help you finish your graphic novel, flatting, RGB oR CMYK, and DPI. And oh, yes there is a section on outsourcing, when to use it and whether you want to use it. I found the lettering section adequate ,but more helpful in terms of making your own fonts and how to go about producing your own font. Helpful for the new guys, and refresher for others.
Getting your webcomic online can be tricky. Nowadays people are posting their comics on Facebook and Tumblr, but its still extremely important to have your own website. Unnatural Talent gives you some insight on using WordPress, Comic Easel and some WordPress plugins Jason has found success with and ones you don’t want to be without when you get hit with a huge amount of traffic (WP Cache)
In the 50 ideas to grown your fanbase section, Unnatural Talent goes into how to build awareness of your content. This is by far one of the most valuable parts of the book. If you think you have a great webcomic in terms of story and art and you don’t let the world know that you are there. How are people going read your content? Who is your target market? Do you sell your content online or give it away for free? What social networks do you use. One of the most helpful things he uses is a chart that I find invaluable. You can see part of it below.
You’re going to have to read the book to see the completed chart, but it is quite useful in what techniques to use if you have no money or some money some content or no content, or if you have less then 500 visitors a days. I found the subscribe section valuable, with information on Feedburner and how to get you audience to subscribe to you easily. Unnatural Talent covers the importance of using social networks, and give you explicit information on how to increase your Twitter followers. Joining forums is critical and he gives you a list of a forums that are thriving communities to promote your work. There are too many to list of the 50 that I like, some are common sense, but a lot are very specific and he gives concrete examples to each one. I find myself employing some of his techniques everyday as I get ready to launch my webcomic.
The next section is printing, and also very helpful in terms of how Jason printed his graphic novel “Remind” Who do you collaborate with? Do you print it here or overseas? How do you get started.? He goes into an elaborate section on using Indesign and talks about hiring the right designer. He also covers quite a bit of information on Prepress, Proofing, ISBN numbers and Copyrights. The question is also raised about what printer you should you when printing your graphic novel and suggestions about using POD and Offset printing are clarified. Again Jason gives you some of the names and websites of printers he’s worked with, so you have a good starting point.
When he goes over copyrights, he goes over two things, Copyrights and the Internet, and Fan protected copyrights. There is some real helpful information about protecting your image and how your fans can help you protect your work.
The chapter called streams of income is really the most important, because really how do you make money with your online comic? Advertising? Affiliate LInks. How much can you make from direct sales, and from various sources. Lots of good specific information here based on Jason’s experience with Remind.
His Kickstarter chapter goes into detail how he ran his campaigns. What kind of incentives he had, and what kind of stretch goals were the most effective? What kind of promotion did he use to raise over 125,000 for the two Kickstarters he ran? He goes into international shipping and really helpful points on the time required to run a Kickstarter. Last but not least he goes into selling, selling and selling. What distribution channels do you use. What are the major distributors and what if you want to go with an Indie distributor, and other distributions channels. How do you deal with digital downloads, and who do you deal with.
There is a ton of useful information in this book that will help anyone get their webcomic seen and get brought into print It could help possibly make you money with your comic by making it into a graphic novel, and help you find multiple streams of income with your intellectual property or comic. This book is a complete guide for anyone deciding that they want to self publish their own comic. There are a ton of resources in the book. What’s particulary valuable is the last 2-3 pages which list all Jason Brubakers resources. Everything on making comics, from lettering,anatomy, outsourcing, website creation, growing your fanbise websites,mailing lists, advertising , blogging information, journalists reviewers, printing companies in America, Canada and overseas and more.
I couldn’t have asked for a better book to use as a manual to prep my webcomic for release in the next year. Sure there are other books on the market, but none that really focus on todays climate in comics. I hope I’ll be ready, after reading this book not once, but twice, maybe even thrice. As a creator and an educator, I can say that this book will be a boon to anyone thinking of getting a graphic novel or online comic out there. I hope to have it by my side when I get my content done. Without good finished content, this book is rendered useless. So its off to my drawing board and my Wacom to finish my graphic novel!
Jason Brubaker will be speaking at Nucleus Gallery (Along with Ethan Nicolle,creator of AxeCop and Travis Hansen (The Bean) in Alhambra on Saturday March 1st from (1-5pm) about how he makes a living with webcomics and signing his book Unnatural Talent and his graphic novels 1 and 2.
You can sign up for it here
We’re also streaming it live here