Integrity is achieved when our actions match our values. When I decided to embark on this journey of creating a comic book, I never expected it to take over my entire life like it has. Don’t misunderstand my words, though. I have loved every second of every obstacle and overcoming them to continue progressing forward to my goal of publishing B.U.D. Mostly though, I have found that creating a comic book takes integrity, patience, perseverance, and research. So much freakin’ research.
In the early days of creating B.U.D. (some might argue it’s still the early days) I was soaking in every tip and trick that YouTube had to offer. One of the first things I learned was that my comic would just be a blip floating in the internet ether of failed comics, unless I started building an audience now. So, I set off to build my community, unaware of the lesson in integrity I was inevitably going to learn. I employed one of the tactics I had discovered, email scrubbing. I downloaded programs that promised loads of followers and email addresses for mailing lists. “This will be easy and fast!” I thought.
All I ended up with was a huge list of uninterested people who cared nothing for indie creators or comics, or even zombies! That’s when I realized that these “shortcuts” were not how I wanted to make my comic. In general, I prefer when my actions match my values, and I value my readers a lot. They deserve a comic that I put a lot of hard work into, not a bunch of half-assing. So, I set out to research ways to create a targeted audience. I didn’t want to stand on a park bench with a megaphone speaking to a bunch of people with better things to pay attention to. I wanted my voice and ideas to reach the comic book lovers, zombie enthusiasts, and comic creators like me out there, So I gave up the “quick and easy” way and started building a proper following.
I started small. I created a twitter (@NewZombieComics) to share and connect with the internet community of zombie genre lovers. It was slow at first. Every retweet was something to celebrate as I would call out to my girlfriend “Somebody retweeted a tweet about my comic!” I shared cool, fun, and interesting zombie content from makeup artists to memes. I built connections with other creators and have even collaborated with some, and now that it’s been a few months, I have over 3,000 followers. My phone blows up hourly with twitter notification from zombie lovers like me, and I have a community with a strong core of interactive followers who have seen some teaser content from my comic and are vocal about their support for me to continue. It really is an amazing feeling when strangers begin to demand the content you create for the first time. It’s quite humbling.
So, what was the cost of my integrity towards building an audience without the aid of “easy fix” programs? The main cost was time. As fun as it would be to see my follower count increase like a snowball rolling down a snow dusted hill, I’d rather my followers grow like moss on a rock. Steady, but slow. A snowball gives the snow it collects no choice, but the moss decides where it wants to grow, and now I have followers who are interested in what I have to share.
As I continue moving forward with my comic, I know the easy way isn’t always the best way. In fact, it rarely is. If you’re a comic creator like me and you value the right way over the easy way, then this is the advice I leave you with:
Have integrity. Allow your actions to speak for your values, and if you value the right things, life might not be easy, but it will be good.
How have you displayed/seen integrity within the comic creator community? I’d love to hear from you, so share your thoughts in the comments below!