Somehow, amongst everything else going on, I managed to miss the one-year anniversary of the AIM Comics website...almost two months ago. On top of that, it's my own birthday today, so bear with me as I bare my soul a little....
It's been an interesting first year at AIM Comics. We've managed to get out two volumes of our flagship title, "The Brutal Blade of Bruno the Bandit", with a second title, "The Journals of Simon Pariah" coming along shortly. There's been some reviews...mostly good, some not so much...and a small amount of attention from bloggers, retailers and comic pros. We've been able to get our books out in a number of formats, through some good storefronts, and done it without breaking the bank along the way.
Financially, I can't say it's been a success. As a matter of fact, you could almost say that readers are staying away in droves. Through ads that run intermittently on Project Wonderful, and through links from other sites, we're getting a fair number of hits, but not a lot of those are translating into sales. Yet.
If I was a less patient man, I'd probably call it done at this point, or at least be considering it. After all, why bother if it's not turning over the revenue? Well, I suppose to understand that, you'd need to understand something about the nature of AIM Comics.
First, you should know that when I say "we" at AIM Comics, I really mean me. I'm the publisher, the editor, the marketing department, the accounting department and public relations manager all in one, and that on top of being an artist and writer as well. It's my baby, which means if it flies, I take the lion's share of the credit, and if it sinks, I take the blame. That means that it's actually kind of creepy when I talk about myself in the third person plural as I tend to do.
Secondly, understand that I think of AIM Comics as being something more than a vanity press, and something less than a real business. Which means that, to be perfectly honest, if the books don't sell well, it's no skin off my nose. Sure, I invest some of my own hard-earned cash into this venture, but (as proven by the fact that our "site" is hosted on Blogger) I keep things as cheap as possible, and my investment is really no more than any person would put into any other hobby.
I started AIM Comics because I knew of good comic work...specifically my own and Ian McDonald's...that was not being handled as well as I thought it deserved. Ian's strip "Bruno the Bandit" had been recently discontinued and was lying fallow, while my own work had been given up for dead at Comic Genesis years before. I knew I had plenty of ideas for books that I wanted to see published, but also knew that there were not "marketable" in the traditional sense, and frankly didn't want to spend my time trying to convince other publishers to take my books on their terms. Plus, I'd done a few years as a freelancer, all the while chafing at the bit to be creating my own work, instead of meeting the, at times, impractical demands of my clients.
AIM Comics is my way of trying to bring this work to market, to see if I can help it earn the appreciation I think it deserves. It's also my way of giving myself some credentials as a real publisher, instead of another want-to-be; a dream I've carried since childhood. I'd rather be a has-been than a never-was.
I would like AIM Comics to succeed financially. Nothing could make me happier than to make this gig my bread and butter for the next few decades. As Ian has pointed out to me several times in the past, a bad day spent drawing is better than a good day doing anything else. Plus, I'd like to be able to pay shockingly large wads of lucre to the creative people I work with here; they deserve it, and I'd like to be the one to deliver.
Yet, I'm in no rush for it to do so. More important to me at this stage is that I have a creative outlet. I can publish my work, or work that I like, in my own way and in my own time. I get to learn about the business of comics from the inside and I get to correspond on a professional level with people whose work I've always admired, like Roy Thomas, Ernie Chan and Geof Isherwood. I get to communicate with those people who have discovered our books and become fans, and I get the good feeling of knowing that I've helped to create something people enjoy.
There's any number of things working against me so far in this venture. Lack of funds for advertising, lack of knowledge about marketing and lack of time to work on the books as much as I'd like being chief among them.
However, there's several things working for me as well. Patience is the big one. I've spent a lot of time dreaming about doing something like this, and relatively little time actually doing it. Rather than go back to not doing it, I can wait for results. A decent day job is another thing. While most people complain about theirs, I appreciate mine for giving me a decent living wage that allows me to even consider taking on a project like this. Then there's talent; not just my own, but that of the people I work with. Ian McDonald is foremost among that roster at present, but the pool is slowly widening. I couldn't do this if I didn't think the work deserves to be published.
What I hope for AIM Comics in the future, aside from achieving some measure of financial success, is to be able to present more and different books, and to help those books find an audience. I've got lots of ideas of my own that I want to get down on paper (or pixels, as the case may be), but I'd also like to do for others what I've done for "Bruno the Bandit", as I know from reading experience that there's lots of great comics out there that don't find the audience they deserve. Of course, in order to do that, I have to prove that I can cut the mustard. I have to be able to show that I can make the books sell, and that's where you come in, isn't it? How varied a selection I am ultimately able to offer, and the schedule on which I offer it, depends on how these books sell, in any format. So if you've read this far...thanks, but now how about jumping on a link in the sidebar to your right and grabbing a copy of one of our books...even the free ones...just to support this thing we do, and helping me live the dream a little?
Or, if you've already got our titles, how about helping to spread the word? A review, a blog post, word of mouth, a tweet, whatever you've got, we're glad to have it. It's only with your help that this thing can really take off.
AIM Comics, year one. Really, it's just getting started.