It was interesting to see how comicsgate came and went, and how fast it went from something that was growing with momentum and then how fast it just went into contract mode. It was a leadership issue at its heart, as how leaders go so goes the movement. It’s easy to break down into its three phases as a lesson for growth and how to manage it in the future for various movements and causes:
Phase One: Identify The Problem and Raise Awareness
This was arguably the most fun time in the movement. We all had a cause together. We rallied together. The big companies are making shit books with left wing politics riddling them and we just want to buy our funny books for us and our children! It was easy at this stage. We all had very clear problems to point to, very clear solutions to propose, and it shook the industry to its core. Great youtubers like Doug Ernst, Cap’n Cummings, Weaponized Nerd Rage and Diversity & Comics did their thing, and journalists like myself and Megan Fox pushed to the mainstream what was happening and helped them grow their platforms tremendously.
It became so big the industry couldn’t ignore it and started fighting all of us, the customer base. They told us “go make your own comics” eventually after trying to blame us for their problems.
So we did.
Phase 2: Alt-Hero ushers in a revolution of crowdfunds
As it was really heating up and D&C was getting harassed at conventions, Alt-Hero was launched as an alternative to the mess of Marvel/DC. It raised $230K in september last year. This was used to launch a comics company, producing hundreds of pages of comics over the next year based on the profits from this. It was all plowed back in, Arkhaven Comics became a juggernaut where comics are nearly being released on the weekly basis just like the big companies, landing great talent like Chuck Dixon and Gary Kwapisz (and me, of course).
From its success we saw Jawbreakers boom. Other comics followed. the summer of 2018 proved to be a group of creators rising from the ashes of this destructive industry, showing there is a better way. We can stand together for books. We can produce the content and make it work. We can do everything the industry can do and better.
And then the indiegogo campaigns from the big name creators ended.
Phase 3: A movement falls to contraction and fighting
The summer high faded. The honeymoon phase is over. customers looked up, hazy eyed after staring at screens and spending $100, $200, $500 and more on comics over the summer… and they don’t have any books.
People started to get mad. People pointed fingers at each other. Alt-Hero seemed a good target because the creators really weren’t around to put up a defense. Day in and day out became just sniping, fighting. The biggest books weren’t coming out, and it was taking forever.
The movement changed overnight from “we’re going to sell books together, make this about FUN, and laugh” to “we’re going to point fingers as to what we’re going to call the problem, we’re gonna be all about angry politics, and we’re going to try to get people NOT to buy books.”
It divided the audience, made everyone angry. There was no more to it than that. It didn’t help people sell books. A lot of small time creators who were not seeing the indiegogo returns as the bigger names got angry. They were promised a new day in comics, it didn’t come. Books started to fail in their goal, and all because the youtube crowd moved from trying to help everyone and lift all boats… to trying to protect their increasingly shrinking corner of fandom.
The lesson is, when you lose the fun, you lose the followers. Fun is what we’re selling. Books is what we’re selling. We’re not running for office. We’re not world leaders. We’re comic creators. That’s what we tried to tell all the big names like Mark Waid and Dan Slott — don’t block readers cuz of their politics. Don’t put middle fingers to half the country in your work. Don’t divide like this.
Unfortunately, when a couple platforms got too big, it became just that.
So i’m going to back to Making Science Fiction Fun Again. That’s why I’m here. I still see a bright future where indie can lead the way, but it’s gotta be about the books. It’s gotta be about producing them better, faster, cheaper than the competition. And that’s what I aim to do.
Why don’t you join me?
My books are going to come out on Patreon before they get released to general audiences. You’ll see what I’m up to in comics, short stories, novels all the way around. It’s going to be a crazy 2019 where I try to even double my output from this year. Join me and my friends and also come hang out in my private discord!