Sunday, November 27, 2011

2011: Year in Review

Hey gang,

Now that I've finally processed the pounds of turkey and pumpkin pie in my system from our Thanksgiving feast, I thought I'd take a pause to reflect on 2011 from my perspective.

This time last year I was considering whether I wanted to take my talents and experience toward doing public speaking to church and christian youth oriented groups about Eye Witness and my decade long journey with it, or focus more on creating new artwork and working primarily on the comic/pop culture convention circuit...which would still allow me to promote and sell EW to those it was designed for (mainly the unchurched and skeptical comic fan out there).  After much deliberation on this, I went with the latter!

So...what this the right decision for me?  Hmmmmm....

I speak with a lot of young aspiring writers, artists and self-publisher's at my appearances and through my various pages on the web and get a lot of questions in regards to the financial viability of creating your own comics and graphic novels.  Truth be told, like any indy creative endeavor (film making, music recording, fine art, novel writing etc....) creating and publishing comics/gn's is a risky endeavor where there is no guarantee of financial bounty...or for that matter, breaking even.  If one decides to go down this creative path, it must be with a clear understanding that this is something you feel compelled to do, a project you feel passionate about and that you have funding in place you can afford to do without (kind of like how my Dad always told me to approach going to Las Vegas..."don't gamble what you can't afford to lose").  In other words, it should something you'd do 24/7, even if no one ever paid you for doing it!

In most cases if you're approaching the comic/gn publishing industry from an indy perspective with the belief that your creative properties going to make you rich, (or just maybe financially independent) then you're setting yourself up for a rude awakening.  Is there precedent to the contrary?  Sure... Jeff Smith (Bone), Todd MacFarlane (Spawn), Dave Sim (Cerebus) to name a few...but when you look at the shear number of indy comics that have come and gone each and every year for the last couple decades, these are truly close to "one-in-a-million" scenarios! Am I sharing this because I'm trying to keep young talent from even trying?  Absolutely not!  I'm merely sharing what is (from a financial perspective) the reality of what you're taking on when you go down the self-publishing route. 

If you have a burning desire to tell a story in comic/gn form, then sometimes self publishing is your only, and best, option (especially with the rise of digital publishing...but that's another topic all together).  But just go into it with a firm grasp on what your goals are.  For me with Eye Witness, it wasn't about the financial return I might make (though everyone who heard about the concept I was undertaking or saw the advance artwork assured me I was going to sell millions of copies....I kid you not).  It was about my fulfilling what I saw as a divine directive for my creative talents.  I was extremely passionate about this project and set down the path to create the book (then the series) no matter how much it costs me, or how much I received in return.  My main payoff was determined by how many people I would touch with the story!

I was fortunate that the Lord was at the helm of this particular endeavor and more times than I'd like to admit, He helped keep food on my table and money in our bank account.  But for the better part of a decade I slaved feverishly to complete what became something of an epic (400+ fully illustrated pages) while basically earning enough for the publishing to pay for itself.

Getting back to my original point (in a real round about fashion)...I decided I needed to create a model where I could continue to share Eye Witness with people (since most people still are unaware of it, despite my efforts) while earning extra income from other creative work I was producing.  And since, my target audience for Eye Witness was mainly the unchurched it just made more sense that I should continue to have a presence at comic/pop culture events, rather than "preach to choir", so to speak, by limiting my self to only Christian events and churches.

So yes, this was the right decision for me!  In 2011, it has allowed me to create a decent income from sales of my prints/posters and landing of commissions and contract assignments, while still being able to not only sell Eye Witness, but also continue to inspire and counsel other writers and artists I meet that likewise feel compelled to use their talents in the service of the Lord, but just don't know how to do it.

Will I one day travel down the other path and begin to speak with young believers about my mission with Eye Witness?  That's always possible and like I've operated pretty much for the last decade...I'm leaving that in God's hands.  He'll let me know when it's time to change gears!

Hope to see many of you all again in 2012.  I've have a bunch new comic and pulp culture inspired prints and posters to share (like this one):

RJ Luedke

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