This Is Who We Are
As it is the beginning of the year, I thought I’d do a piece with some advise for aspiring and novice Irish creators. “Wait”, you say, “who are you to offer advice?” I know I know. I have, however, managed to pick up some pieces of advice from some proper creative types which I will now proceed to claim as my own. Ok. Ok. I promise to name drop people when I remember where the advice come from though. That might mean you actually follow it.
The first piece of advice comes from writer Michael Carroll (taken from an Arcade 2014 panel). Paraphrased as I can’t remember it word for word: Don’t tell people about the story you want to tell otherwise you’ll lose the motivation to put it down on paper. I’d add the caveat that you should tell them that you are writing a story. I use that one a lot a motivator to actually get some writing done (I have used that one with ICN a few times). Once you do have it down, you need to get some honest friends to poke holes in it. (I think the Eclectic Micks do this as I’ve heard them make mention of it a few times). They often act as an editor which a lot of Irish comics don’t officially have. Lightning Strike are one of the publishers that do and you kind of notice. There are some quality books out there so you need to make sure that you are produce something that doesn’t come off as overly amateurish. Hell you can contact me and ask me to take a look (something which, surprisingly to me, several creators have done in the past). That being said, I think you’re allowed to make some mistakes on your first outing (I always take that into account when reviewing first time books). Comic shops, and their staff, are also a good source of feedback too. After all, they know what sells. I also think creators should look at other books on the scene and see if their potential story is something new or at least has something new to say.
On to publicity, you need to have Twitter, Facebook (an artist page will do), Tumblr and a website. A central website that has links to all your social media is essential. It gives fans a one stop shop to follow your stuff. (I stole that one from Maura McHugh I think). For artists, various social media give you a chance to show off sketches, WIP and commissions and keeps your work in peoples’ minds during the inevitable gap between issues (or the wait to get issue one published). Tumblr is a great app for this but I think it works for writers too. Writers can do pieces about the inspirations behind their book and can do pieces giving extra bits of information about an issue. You might call them “DVD extras”. The “DVD extras” in the Half Past Danger hardcover was something that I thoroughly enjoyed. Greg Rucka has written some great essays about things that have an impact on his series, Lazarus. He has also used extras to build his universe and get the fans involved. I think Tumblr would be more effective for this for Irish books than, say, a letters page given time constraints. Two final bits of publicity advise: mention the shops that are selling your book (one post per shop says The Big Bang’s Bruno Batista) and give us a shout and we’ll plug your book at the various stages of production. It’s why we are here. This is who we are.