Speaker: James Taylor of Rorshach Entertainment
by Georgia Ball
May 9, 2005
On April 16 Cartoonists Northwest welcomed comics publisher James Taylor as their April speaker. James focused on giving CNW members further insight into the process of getting a book published, distributed and sold nationally.
James Taylor began his career as a comic book inker in 1997. He founded Rorshach Entertainment in 2000 to help other talented comic artists overlooked by major pusblishers get their work distributed. At the end of 2003, Rorshach published its first comic Sprecken, a science-fiction cop story by local Lynnwood artist Brian Meredith. Their second book was published in 2004, and their most recent and best-selling book is the crime caper Grave Digger, formerly a webcomic.
Once material is ready to be made into a published comic, the book is sent to a distributor such as Diamond. The book has to be accepted by Diamond first, and recently they have become more choosy concerning accepted material. Once accepted, James recommends promoting the book until the Diamond catalog comes out six months later. The independent section of the catalog is competitive to Marvel and D.C.
Retailers then have to be convinced to order the comic through Diamond. Local shops do tend to support local artists, but a good way to get national attention is to advertise in the catalog. A color column generally costs around $750, and Diamond also charges for Retailers Lists. Another option is to send postcards via Diamond directly to the comic shops. You can also send out free copies for review to retailers. When Diamond has received their orders for the comic, the material is sent off to be printed. There are a number of inexpensive and reputable printers that specialize in comics, and many artists recommend printers in Canada for a lower price. After printing the books, the merchandise is shipped back to Diamond for distribution. Some other possible distributors include Cold Cut, Last Gasp, and Hobbies Hawaii.
James advises attending conventions to advertise your comic, an excellent avenue for spreading the word about your book to potential buyers, retailers and other creators. It's essential to be sociable, because you aren't just selling your book, you're selling yourself. Pick your conventions carefully he admonishes, since some are too far or too costly to be profitable for a published artist. San Diego Con, while the largest convention of the year and a sure way to get exposure, is also the most expensive to attend or have a booth at, and first time exhibitors typically receive the worst placement. Some viable options are conventions are APE in San Francisco and Wizard World Chicago Con, but Emerald City Con is particularly beneficial as a local event.
Sending out press releases is another important tool for the aspiring seller. Rorshach sends free copies of their books to reviewers for publicity purposes, some of which are online. Possible venues for review include Comic Book Resources by Steven Grant, Comixtreme.com by Andreas Speed and Sequential Tart.
Most of all, its essential to get your book in the hands of as many people as possible. That's more important in the long run than how much money the book makes in the short term.