A Status Report & Some Thoughts on Making Art
So where are we with all of this exactly?
We’re over 18 month in to producing Abducted. We’ve released 3 issues, about 75 pages total. We have another 13 pages banked, with issue 5 mostly written and issue 6 in very early stages (having reviewed it this morning, I can tell you, if the first 5 issues were carefully constructing a house you’d want to live in for a while, issue 6 burns the house down. I cannot wait to get Jay’s pages back from it.
We’ve gotten about 550 unique readers to the site so far. Hedonic treadmills not-withstanding, I’m pretty okay with it right now. I would’ve been thrilled to have 550 unique readers halfway through Abducted’s publishing, with very little marketing done on our end (mostly just zero-cost Instagram follow trading etc). We’re considering some smaller ash-can editions to send out to comic retailers around to drive up readership but we’re still weighing the cost vs. the readership opportunity.
From issue to issue,* we seen about a 48% drop from issue 1 to issue 2 (and substantially less from 2 to 3). I’ve heard that in traditional series, where you gotta pay for it, a 50% drop from issue 1 to 2 is understandable. And I realize that we’re asking a lot from readers in those first few issues. 30 pages to get to a car wreck is…well, it’s a lot to ask readers. I’ve learned a whole lot from this endeavor. While a series is still a series, being economic with your pages is still essential, both for your reader’s attention as well as for the artist you’re working with.
So anyway, a 62% readership retention for something that starts with this
…and takes roughly 60 pages to get to this…
…not too bad, all things consider.
A Quick Reflection On “Making It”
Getting older being constantly reminded that you’re just not as clever or as interesting as you’d like to be.
Ira Glass had the perfect diagnoses when he called it “gap between your taste and ability”. As a kid, limited as my access was to the full width and bread of culture, I (felt like I) was very well aware of what the pinnacle of the arts I cared about. For comics it was Mackie/Romita Jr.’s Spiderman, for writing, Chesterton’s Man Who Was Thursday and for music probably Pedro the Lion’s Winners Never Quit. And yet I made my comics, and wrote my stories, and played my songs and never let them out of the top drawer, because what I was doing wasn’t “at that level” and I was embarrassed to let it get out. And this was before I had discovered Wu-Tang, Watchmen, and Blindsight.
I don’t know if anyone talks about the day after putting something out into the world. You forget the ecstasy of creation and only remember the awkward, terrible exposure of self. People think I think this is good” is running through my head the day after. And on one hand, apologizing or the art you put out in the world is the kiss of death for keeping people interested but on the other hand, it’s hard not to. Today, more than ever; the internet is stuffed to bursting with amazingly talented people out there, and we’re all standing on our respective corners like street buskers trying to get people to just stand around and pay attention for a minute and a half of attention.
Throwing something out in the world today, some real act of urgent self-expression coupled with studied, meticulous craft is rebellious these days. People watch movies with their phones out, for God’s sake. It’s brave and probably a little stupid to commit yourself to an art with such a high bar of effort to clear to hit “excellent,” with content as disposable and people’s attention’s as fragmented.
The people who ultimately make it are the people who are f**king fearless. They know they suck and they put themselves out there anyway. So be fearless.
*“Make it” in this context means anyone who hits the level of work they aspire to. The audience is fickle, and commercial success a poor judge of actual artistic merit, so let’s focus on the only thing we can control when we talk about
Music I’m Writing To
My little brother sent me Archspire and, oh my God, this is a good baroque metal album.
Comics I’m Reading
Bendis and Derington’s Batman: Universe Rules Everything Around Me. Especially with pages like this.
That’s it for this week. Got questions, opinions etc? Feel free to reach out on Twitter or Facebook.