Ken Johnson and Emily Zelasko, the writer and colorist of the comic Corpse Corp took the time to sit down for a Q&A panel to discuss their process and how to make your own publishing dreams come true. Corpse Corp is “a thoughtful and surreal homage to the slasher genre of the 1980s.”
When asked how to start publishing comics, Johnson answered that if you publish your own work, “you are responsible for each and every step of the process.” If you’re just a writer looking for an art team, you have to “set your bait out there…for someone who fits what you’re trying to make.”
However, when your book is finished and you need to print, Johnson recommend not going too crazy. “If you’re just starting out…fifty [copies] will do you a long while.”
Emily added that it’s important to “understand the template” you’re working with, like the bleed and trim on a page.
In regards to advertising a finished product, Ken acknowledged that it’s hard to succeed with limited resources. But it’s possible if you “put money in the right place.” For Johnson, that meant focusing on his covers. For reference, Corpse Corps covers reference everything from Friday the 13th to Sleepaway Camp 2.
Although horror as a genre can stuggle with cliches, Johnson leans into the tropes for meta effect. “That can be an issue with horror in general…we are very referential” but Corpse Corp is “trying to break from [cliches] while respecting it is something we brought into the idea of the series.”
Johnson warned that you have to “make sure that you absolutely vet” an artist or team member you want to hire, otherwise you could go through five creative teams — which he did before finalizing Corpse Corp.
Corpse Corp is currently looking for Kickstarter funding to continue and finalize, and Johnson spoke about the challenges and benefits of crowdsourcing. He advised before starting that “you are rock solid with the creative team you’re working with.” To tantalize potential readers and backers, he had his team make a few pages from the middle of the story that were most exciting and showcased the tone.
Lastly, Johnson warned of how difficult the grind of indie comics is: “Independent comics is not easy,” but in order to succeed, you need to keep some things in mind: “pay your people, understand your comics better than anyone else…learn how to read art even if you can’t make it…start small.”
At the end of the day, Johnson stressed: “It is your responsibility to grab your audience.”
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