NYCC 2019: Innovation In Indie Comic Publishing

by Tito W. James

At NYCC 2019 I attended a panel about innovation in indie comic publishing. Panelists included Tom Bilyeu (Impact Theory CEO), Damian Wassel (Vault Comics CEO), Tze Chun and Sebastian Girner (TKO Co-Founders) and David Hedgecock (IDW Associate Publisher). The panel also featured a live drawing by Kim Jung Gi.

Here are some choice pieces of advice to indie comic creators. We are currently underserving the kids and young adult market. If people are going to be life long comics readers they need to be trained from an early age. Superhero comics alone are too insular and their audience will either grow-out of them or be aged-out due to constant reboots.

Wassel said that creators need to focus on sincere, risk-taking stories, with endings. There’s nothing more annoying that having a series get cancelled before it concludes or having a tie-in book that’s just an ad for a bigger title. Indie comics strength is their ability to tell intimate personal stories in fantastic genres.

Bilyeu advocated for looking at the success of One Piece and Japanese manga. Many of the marketing struggles indie comics face have been solved in Japan. Bilyeu’s candid advice to aspiring creators is that “If you are not where you want to be in your creative career it just means that you’re not good enough yet. Work on getting so good that publishers will have no reason to say no.”

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