The American comic book industry has been suffering for years from a shrinking market due to competition from other entertainment venues such as video games and the internet. This competition is fierce, and many stores and comic book companies have closed since the "crash" of the industry in the early '90s. Compounding the problem is the diminished number of distribution outlets, as well as the severe economic downturn following the banking industry problems that came to a head in 2008/2009, which just made things tougher on the remaining distribution outlets, retail outlets and publishers.
What does that mean to you?
The potential for a book having a large initial print run has declined greatly since the '90s. Although there are exceptions to this, the reality is that sales across the board are not what they used to be. A new creator doing a book for an independent publisher can expect to sell only a few thousand copies.
Because many retailers are not willing to take a chance on a book or a creator they've never heard of before. Retailers must budget their money wisely. They must be able to sell the products they order from the publishers. If they are unsure of the quality of the product (e.g., a new and unknown writer/artist), they are reluctant to commit valuable budget money or shelf space for it. This may change as a creator slowly builds a fan base and gets more recognition for his book, but there are no guarantees.
The key factor motivating you to do comics should be your passion for the medium and the desire to tell stories. This desire should far outweigh your need for huge financial gain. Can you make a living doing comics? Of course you can, and many people do, but it takes a great deal of hard work, dedication, and perseverance, especially in today's comic market. Keep in mind the competition is enormous, there are lots of talented people out there who want to contribute to the comic book market, but only those with a realistic view of it and a dedication to it will get in the industry and survive, and possibly thrive. Unless you are exceptionally talented and start off on a book for one of the major publishers chances are you will not find success right away. The runaway overnight success is extremely rare for a first time creator or book. A new creator should at least start with the solid foundation of a book with a certain level of quality, preferably on a regular monthly basis and always be on time. If the initial sales numbers of your first book are low, don't worry. If you have a book that people want they will find it, and the word will spread. The creator should present his work to as many people as possible, as often as he can. This is how you build a fan base. With hard work, dedication, and a little luck, your sales will increase over time. This has been the case for many of our creators. Hard work, dedication, and perseverance produce results.
How OUR company works with talent
Antarctic Press is among the top 10 publishers of comics in the United States. However, the difference in market shares between the top five publishers and the next five publishers is dramatic. Most of the publishers ranked above us have a far greater share of the market place. That being the case, we are an independent publisher with a small staff, and many of our employees have multiple responsibilities. Bigger companies would spread these responsibilities out among a larger staff. Additionally, we don't have the same financial power as a larger company. We cannot afford to pay high page rates; instead, we work on an advance and royalty system which is determined by sales or potential sales of a particular book. We pride ourselves on being a company that gives new talent a chance to get published and take a shot at comic stardom.
We get a huge volume of submissions, so the chances of AP publishing your book, or having a regular job as talent on one of our books is tough, but it's definitely possible with the right mix of skill and dedication.
We do have annuals, anthologies, and specials (swimsuit issues, etc.) that are venues for talent to get their work published. Some of these books are specifically connected to the source material (e.g., the Gold Digger Swimsuit issue will naturally have Gold Digger characters and situations.) Review the guidelines for these specifics before you submit to them.
Essentially, we give amateur and professional talent an opportunity to publish projects other companies might not. You could be the next Ben Dunn, Fred Perry, Joseph Wight, Terry Moore, GURU eFX, or one of many other talented AP alumni who have made a career in comics. All it takes is hard work and dedication.