To Infinity Studios: Using Kickstarter to help build a career in independent comics

Curtis C. didn’t want to wait for a publisher to pick up his comics. So he formed his own comics company, To Infinity Studios. That studio is home to several of his mini comics and his longer, dream project, the science fiction saga The Wild Cosmos.

Act 1 of that series will be coming out soon. As Curtis prepared for this, I recently exchanged emails with him about the challenges and rewards of starting his own studio and the joys and struggles that come with independent publishing.

Here’s what he had to say:

Can you give me a bit of history about To Infinity Studios. How did it come about?
Curtis: To Infinity Studios came about as a place for me to self-publish and write my own comics. Today, with Kickstarter and webcomics, the only thing that’s stopping you from breaking into the comic industry is yourself. So being new in comics, instead of searching for a publisher to choose me, I decided to choose myself and create a spot where I can put out my own books for now, building up a portfolio to work with publishers down the line. To Infinity Studios is primarily a spot for me to write my own books, but I am working with a number of line artists, colorists and letterers to create my books with. It’s mostly a commission relationship.

What are some of the challenges with starting an independent studio?
Curtis:  A major challenge when creating To Infinity Studios was funding. No artist wants or deserves to work for free. So I was paying out of my own pocket for art. Quality art also comes at a higher price, and that’s where Kickstarter comes into play.

What have you enjoyed most about publishing your own comics?
Curtis: What I enjoy the most is writing and creating books. That’s why I got into this in the first place. The collaboration process is also pretty amazing. As a writer, I’m working with a line artist, a colorist and a letterer. They each play a part and interpret my script in their own way. There’s nothing like writing a script and seeing it translated into a comic for the first time.

How important has Kickstarter been to you?
Curtis: Kickstarter has been an amazing opportunity for independent creators, if used correctly. This was my second successful Kickstarter, and I definitely see myself coming back to it for future self-published projects.

There’s a ton to consider when getting ready to launch on Kickstarter. First is having an existing audience that will come and support you. Your audience from your past Kickstarters will likely support your future ones, too, if you fulfilled your past Kickstarter successfully. The info you have on your Kickstarter page could make or break your project. Having a video, giving info  about your team, showing completed pages from your book and giving a time-frame for completion are all huge.

If you look at projects that fail, you’ll often see them missing some of those or just having hardly any info on their campaign. I also had 75 percent of my book already finished when coming to Kickstarter. That shows that you are in this for the long haul and gives you a better chance at successfully fulfilling the rewards.

What advice would you give to a newcomer who wants to build a career in comics?
Curtis: I would tell novice writers to self-publish their own work and build a portfolio of projects they’ve completed. More opportunities to get published or other writing gigs will come from that.

I took that route with self-publishing first, and now I’ve had a series picked up with a small comic publisher. Using Taptastic or your own home page is great. Having a webcomic is a great way to build an audience and fan base, without putting out a book yet. Then that audience will likely support a Kickstarter to bring the webcomic to print. I think most traditional publishers won’t take a chance on new writers. So having webcomics and self-publishing to build your portfolio is a great opportunity and way to eventually get noticed by those publishers.

What projects are you working on now?
Curtis: We are still at work on our comic The Wild Cosmos: Act 1. You can sign up for our mailing list at TheWildCosmos.com to check out some behind the scenes, and the book will be available from the ToInfinityStudios.com store in early 2018. I also have a series called The Dragons Kin, being published by In Hiatus Studios that I’m writing. It will be out in 2018 as well.

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