Hi everybody!

I'm new here so please be gentle with me. :) I've been a comic book reader for most of my 44 years and a TV sitcom writer for almost half my life.  Later this year, I'm launching a publishing company that mixes my experience in comedy with my love of comics.  It's called Sitcomics and the build-up to launch continues to be both exhilarating and terrifying!

Though I don't hate modern comics, I'm definitely in the camp that fondly remembers the way comics were made before the direct market took over the business.  I want my books to reflect that Silver/Bronze Age sense of fun while remaining firmly in the 21st Century.  Among my eight initial titles are four super-hero comics that take place within a shared universe.

Artists on board include industry vets like Ron Frenz, Sal Buscema (who drew the above pin-up), Tom Richmond (MAD Magazine), Jeff Shultz (Archie), Joe Rubinstein, Craig Rousseau and many other. 

From reading other discussions here, it's clear that most of you are extremely knowledgeable about the comics industry and I'd love to get any feedback on certain things I'm planning to do to help my comics stand out in a very crowded marketplace.   Please understand I'm not selling anything - my books won't even be on sale for another six months.  This is just a request for honest opinions, specifically about the super-hero line of titles and the way I'm producing them.

Here's an example:

I personally feel decompressed storytelling is a big reason why the many fans of Marvel's movies haven't migrated en masse to the comics that inspired them.  I mean, imagine being asked to pay four dollars to see the first twenty minutes of the Avengers movie and then being told you must do the same thing every month for six months in order to see the whole movie.   Nobody in their right mind would go for this and yet comic publishers have no problem asking their readers to do exactly that month after month.  As a result, anyone with a casual interest in Marvel's characters who throws down four bucks for a random issue, soon realizes this is not a satisfying experience and wisely spends their next four dollars on some other form of entertainment.

In light of this, all the books I'm publishing will be 64 page quarterlies, costing $5.99 each.

Each will contain a single, self-contained story broken into three, 17-20 page chapters.  Yes, there will be cliffhangers at the end of each chapter but you won't have to wait 30 days to find out what happens next.  The idea is that Sitcomics will look and feel like a comic book, but read like a trade.

Alright that's just one of many things I'm planning to do differently from the industry's conventional wisdom.  So what do you think?  Is the page count too high?  Does that price seem too high?  If anyone has strong opinions positive or negative, I'd love to hear them. 

Thanks and have a great day!

--Darin Henry --

(Sitcomics )

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@Border Mutt, that's correct.  There are also print editions of both 64 page Sitcomics being test-marketed exclusively in Central Pennsylvania this summer.  You can find out more about them at www.sitcomics.net or www.facebook.com/Sitcomics

Or you can just ask me any questions on this thread.  :)

Here’s me, joining the conversation a little late. First of all I would like to say that I really like your business plan and I will definitely try your comics when they are released. The caliber of talent you have already attracted is impressive. I know you are aware of the risks of a quarterly release schedule and a six buck price point, so ‘nuff said about that. Moving on to some of your other questions…

“One thing I'm also curious to ask is if you even read comics from Independent publishers. And if so, how do you find out about them?”

I do read comics from independent publishers (more than I do from the “Big Two” combined, these days). I find out about them mainly by reading Diamond’s Previews catalog, but also by word of mouth on this board.

“My next question to you all is regarding continuity. The four super-hero books feature characters who appear in each other's books (mainly because they all belong to the same super-hero team). I'll be referencing events that happen in the other books and even putting in the little editor's captions a la the old Marvel books. Does that kind of continuity hold extra appeal for those of you who read super-hero comics or is it a thing of the past that should stay in the past?”

Regarding same universe continuity, the one piece of advice I can give is don’t rush it. Let it happen naturally, and gradually over time. I think Marvel’s 1980s “New Universe” rushed it; 1990s Valiant got it right.

“Also, my covers will reflect the actual story content as opposed to just being beauty shots of the characters (a la most Marvel and DC covers now). I feel as though a compelling cover that shows some drama is more likely to draw people into a book than iconic poses featuring characters that most people have never seen before. Again, does the story-specific cover idea appeal to you or does it seem like a thing of the past?”

I would love it if more comics today reflected the content of the story within. As I understand it, that’s difficult to do these days because the solicitations must appear so far in advance of the release date, but maybe the quarterly release schedule will allow you to circumvent that problem. Just because ideas such as these are “things of the past” doesn’t necessarily mean they should stay in the past. You run the risk of being labeled “retro,” but I think a cover depicting the action within (maybe even with a couple of word balloons) will help your comics stand out among a group of generic “beauty shots.”

Best of luck, and I’m really looking forward to your first releases.

Hi Jeff and thanks for bringing your perspective to this discussion.   I'm glad you are open to what I'm doing with Sitcomics.  These are my first comics but I've written sitcoms for the past 20 years with writing/producing credits on Seinfeld, Futurama, The War At Home and many others, including my current series KC Undercover for Disney.  My day job is keeping me from expanding too fast though I do have another seven titles in production.  Retro is a risk but in a crowded marketplace and with a company publishing comics about all-new characters, it seems wise to have a link to something familiar and the artists I've chosen do just that.  Above are the covers to my first two titles, The Blue Baron and Super 'Suckers.  They're already available to download (DRM-Free) at www.sitcomics.net (with a free preview), comixology.com and limited edition print copies are available via mail order from The Comic Store, West in York, Pennsylvania.  A lot of talented artists including Ron Frenz, Sal Buscema, Jeff Shultz, Joe Rubinstein and many others put in some amazing work and I think anyone open to new, fun comics is gonna love them.


 
Jeff of Earth-J said:

Here’s me, joining the conversation a little late. First of all I would like to say that I really like your business plan and I will definitely try your comics when they are released. The caliber of talent you have already attracted is impressive. I know you are aware of the risks of a quarterly release schedule and a six buck price point, so ‘nuff said about that. Moving on to some of your other questions…

“One thing I'm also curious to ask is if you even read comics from Independent publishers. And if so, how do you find out about them?”

I do read comics from independent publishers (more than I do from the “Big Two” combined, these days). I find out about them mainly by reading Diamond’s Previews catalog, but also by word of mouth on this board.

“My next question to you all is regarding continuity. The four super-hero books feature characters who appear in each other's books (mainly because they all belong to the same super-hero team). I'll be referencing events that happen in the other books and even putting in the little editor's captions a la the old Marvel books. Does that kind of continuity hold extra appeal for those of you who read super-hero comics or is it a thing of the past that should stay in the past?”

Regarding same universe continuity, the one piece of advice I can give is don’t rush it. Let it happen naturally, and gradually over time. I think Marvel’s 1980s “New Universe” rushed it; 1990s Valiant got it right.

“Also, my covers will reflect the actual story content as opposed to just being beauty shots of the characters (a la most Marvel and DC covers now). I feel as though a compelling cover that shows some drama is more likely to draw people into a book than iconic poses featuring characters that most people have never seen before. Again, does the story-specific cover idea appeal to you or does it seem like a thing of the past?”

I would love it if more comics today reflected the content of the story within. As I understand it, that’s difficult to do these days because the solicitations must appear so far in advance of the release date, but maybe the quarterly release schedule will allow you to circumvent that problem. Just because ideas such as these are “things of the past” doesn’t necessarily mean they should stay in the past. You run the risk of being labeled “retro,” but I think a cover depicting the action within (maybe even with a couple of word balloons) will help your comics stand out among a group of generic “beauty shots.”

Best of luck, and I’m really looking forward to your first releases.

John Buscema said Sal was his favorite inker.
 
Luis Olavo de Moura Dantas said:

I happen to be, indeed, a fan of Sal's art.  But I had no clue that he was _that_ good an inker!

One of the best parts of making these comics has been getting to know some of my favorite names from the credits boxes I read in comics as a kid.  As amazing as Sal B. is as an artist, he's an even more amazing person.

Hi again, everybody!

Sorry for not following up on this thread but with full-time writing for a TV show and two young kids, something's got to give and it's usually my time online.  It's only because the rest of my family is watching Scrooge the musical for the umpteenth time that I was able to sneak off and follow up on this long-dormant thread.  I'll start by thanking you all again ('thank you very much,' sings Scrooge even as I type this :)  )  for all the wonderful feedback I received about my business plan last summer.  There was a lot of great advice handed out and it was all extremely helpful. 

For those who are interested, here's where things now stand with my comic book company.

The Sitcomics publishing launch in July was a great success.  My ugly mug was plastered all over Central Pennsylvania with about a dozen newspaper articles and three TV interviews and even a one-hour NPR interview.  The books sold very well during the ten day marketing test and I've continued to have restocking requests from a few of the coffee shops six months later.  The national launch via Diamond Distribution will be in July 2016 with a different 64 page title following every month.  To give people who want to sample the books at a lower price point, I've opted to sell each 20 page chapter individually on Amazon's kindle store or on Comixology.  For example, my next title, Startup, is being released in three digital chunks over the next three months as Startup #1.1, Startup #1.2, Startup 1.3.  There will then be a print release next July simply called Startup #1, incorporating all 61 pages of the 3 chapters in a single edition.  The hope is that folks who sampled the lower-priced digital release will enjoy it enough to seek out the eventual print omnibus.  Fingers crossed, right?

Anyway, here's the cover for the first of those three chapters:

And here's the solicitation text:

Synopsis: After TV news footage of her humiliating rescue by a super-hero goes viral, 300 pound single mom Renee Garcia-Gibson agrees to try an experimental diet drug.  But the change to her metabolism comes with an unexpected side-effect: super-speed!  Veteran TV writer Darin Henry (Seinfeld, Futurama) teams up with artist supreme Craig Rousseau (Batman Beyond, Harley Quinn) to bring you the origin and first appearance of Startup - the newest star in the Sitcomics galaxy of heroes.  Sitcomics - it's TV you read!

The main character's weight isn't played for laughs, but her size is pivotal to the story.  Here's the series' promo image:

Startup #1.1 is a fun little origin story and Craig's art is phenomenal throughout.  It's now on sale at Amazon.com's kindle store and on comixology starting next Wednesday. 

Anyway, thanks again for all the advice and help with the initial launch.  Fingers crossed I can pay you back with some very entertaining super-hero stories that mix Silver and Bronze Age sensibilities with all new present day characters.  Please ask any questions about the plan and I'll try to check back more regularly to fill in the gaps.  It's a terrifying yet thrilling enterprise and it's got a long way to go before it's done.

Merry Christmas and best wishes for a wonderful 2016!

- darin

Hi all,

I'm resurrecting this thread because, after a long time and a lot of work, the comic book company I started six years ago is finally making its debut in Diamond's Previews Catalog under the publishing name of Binge Books.  The first release comes out in August and it's The Heroes Union #1 by Roger Stern, Ron Frenz and Sal Buscema.  Binge Books reflects the fact that it's a 68 page story for $4.99. 

I want to thank everybody here for their helpful feedback in the early days and hope that what I'm doing may still be of interest to you.  I'd be happy to answer any questions about the process or the decision-making or anything else you care to know about running an Indie publishing company in 2021.

Here's the solicit from Previews

Here's the announcement from comicbook.com

And here's the write up from CBR

Hi. Darin. Welcome back.

I want you to know that I have already pro-ordered issue #1 of The Heroes Union. when I read the solicitation, it reminded me of this thread but I didn't realize it was the same venture. I never read comics online, so I'm pleased that your comics will be an actual physical product. As it happens, I have just recently re-read a run of Hulk by Stern and Buscema and am currently reading a run of Ka-Zar by Ron Frenz, so I am primed for The Heroes Union. I wish you the best of luck and you have my support.

NOTE: Your links aren't working, but the solicitation in the print Previews catalog is on page 266.

"I have already pro-ordered issue #1"

Make that "pre-ordered"...

Links now fixed!

Richard Willis said:

Howdy, Darin! So glad to see the big day is coming! (For print, anyway.)

Would you be interested in doing an interview for my Tribune column? I'm just talking 5-10 questions, which we can do via email. We can do it any time, and I'll file close to the August release.

If you're interested, shoot me an email at capncomics@aol.com. And if you can think of any other way I can help, let me know.

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