Saturday, January 14, 2012

Amazing Arizona Comic Con PM

I've been reading a lot about app developers who run postmortems on the build and launch of their apps. This is extremely useful for creating a knowledge base for others to learn from.

I'm going to start my first convention postmortem with The Amazing Arizona Comic Con.

Arizona was very good but not over the top great for me. I did better than expected so I was happy with the show and will definitely be back.

Side Note: this show is strange because the artist alley people out number the retailers 2-1. I think people come to the show with x amount of money to spend and they end up spending in artist alley because there isn't as much traditional retail to spend it on.

 Prints: I had given up on creating prints a few years ago because I thought they had fallen so out of fashion that it didn't seem worth my time doing them. Boy was I wrong. Prints in general have been a boon for me over the last couple of years. The time to cost to price of prints is what makes them attractive. They are easy to make and very profitable. I had a new break out print (Uzimami) which is brand new. The standards keep selling. Pirate Queen, Zatanna. I feel like I did a better job of displaying my prints this time out and it really helped sell them. I clipped them to my banner and put them front and center on my table. I took a page out of the kids at the Anime shows and went for broke in displaying what I am selling.

Side Note: If you take the time to go to one of these shows you might as well go all out. I admit his was something I had to get my head around. I had done so many conventions that they had lost their charm for me. I always like meeting the people who follow my work but I wasn't taking the shows seriously. Over the last two years I've improved and revised what I'm taking to the shows to give the fans more of what they want and to make available products I think will be most profitable. It's definitely influenced my bottom line.

Original Art: Original art is a strange beast. It's not a casual buy for a few reasons. It's usually pretty expensive and it's an item someone has to really want. It's tough to calculate or prepare for what is going to sell. For example, I've sold a ton of sketches and prelims lately. It could be the fact that they are lower priced but in most cases the buyer purchases multiple prelims at a time. This tells me that they are more interested in collecting this type of art vs. getting something for cheap.

At this show there seemed to be a lot of interest in OG art from the series Deity. I toured a lot in this area during that era so it's no wonder the fans who know me are familiar and searching for that art. Unfortunately most of the key pieces from Deity are gone. That being said I sold a couple misc. pieces mostly pin up style art which helped push the show into the very good status. 

I was asked multiple times if I was planning to create an art book or do another sketchbook. I'm listening and I've been putting one together.

Comics: At least in this region I'm still playing to fans of my older work. Which is great because the longer you make comics the more you appreciate the fans and how much they support what you do. Since I don't do a monthly comic that can be easily found in a comic store it's no wonder that most fans are shocked that I have new comics to sell. My impression is that they think ECB is a little too off what they expect from me. ECB for the most part is an experimental piece. I've really enjoyed doing it but I understand it's a polarizing piece of work for my fan base. The ones that love it really love it. The ones that don't keep asking for a new Deity series. Those fans I push towards Me2. Digital comics are still not on the radar at comic shows. It's still very much a paper and print market so talking about digital comics to them is like talking about flying cars and jet packs. Sure it sounds cool but isn't that something that's going to happen in 10-20 years? Digital comics conceptually play better in the internet space but that has not stopped me from promoting what I honestly believe is on a daily basis becoming the present of comics.


Get more organized with my original art. I sort of throw stuff into a portfolio and bring it with me.

More promo material.

Print a new sketch/art book.

Square for my I-Phone was huge. I ran credit cards sales for all three of us. Opens up the ceiling on the convention $.

Consider a display for my digital comics.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Year of the Indie Comic

Indie Comics have always been on that bleeding edge of where comics are going. The type of stories, the level of creative energy is what keeps the industry going and thriving as an art form. For those of you that are tired of corporate comics and looking for something different here are some creators that are pushing the boundaries of Comics by telling different types of stories with different styles. This is the year of the Indie Comic!

Joshua Hale Fialkov
Last of the Greats - A superhero god emperor wants revenge on mankind, and takes it, one poor bastard at a time.
Gerimi Burleigh
EYE OF THE GODS is a psychological thriller Graphic Novel about a man
whose life spirals out of control when he is cursed with the ability of
remote viewing. Original Graphic novel, 144 pages, black and white

MORNINGSTAR - Before he was the devil, He was Lucifer Morningstar, …Marshall of Heaven. Issue one, 24 pages black and white

To buy: "Smif" Smith

Blue Knights
Lord of the Rings meets Training Day.
rookie knight has to deal with a corrupt system while solving the
murders of the city's ruling council before the festival of H'rrk burns
it down.

Buy it straight from the creator for $6.00/$11.00 for a sketch copy (includes shipping cost in USA). email

Jamie Gambell
Hero Code - The first issue in the new ongoing sci-fi, super hero saga. Super-powered
people are popping up all across the world, but what is their purpose?
Are they here to help? What exactly is The Hero Code?

Can be got:

Print - direct from me -
Digital - Drivethru -

Jesse Mesa Toves
Trouble, Guts & Noir - a three issue
future noir adventure in three parts by Battlestar Galactica effects
artist and animator, Jesse Mesa Toves

Available digitally on Amazon Kindle

and in print from
Hal Hefner
Gates is an evolving transmedia franchise centering on a family who creates a form of revolutionary organic technology and the affects it has on the world. Told through various media platforms, the first installment focuses on a dark, dystopian science fiction comic book following the exploits of the title character, Gates, a young man trying to survive the oppression of a sci-tek religious government that wants him dead.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Free Comic Book Day To The Max

I attended Free Comic Book Day yesterday for the recap check out my blog here:
As much as I enjoyed the event I had a few thoughts coming out of it.
I couldn't help but wonder: does FCBD really bring in new fans or is it really about rewarding the families of your regular customers?

I think either of those are fine pursuits but I believe the idea behind FCBD was to bring new people into the store that don't regularly read Comics and get a current Comic in their hands for free in the hopes they will enjoy the experience and start collecting Comics as a hobby. As I looked at the free Comics that were offered by the publishers I wondered which ones were really going to get kids (new readers) to want to read comics. In fact looking at the Super Dinosaur Free Comic I couldn't help but think it was just the Animation pitch bible reprinted in comic form. I wondered if that was the right product for the event.

I would think if you were going to pitch the hobby of comics to new people you would pitch them the very best stories and art the medium has to offer. Perhaps with the release of THOR they could have reprinted a Simonson Thor or a combo book with stories from Kirby, Simonson and Copiel. That would have landed perfectly within the idea of the event and meanwhile piggybacking on the larger mainstream movie marketing. DC seemed to be right in their thinking with a Green Lantern book but am I the only one who thinks photo covers from the movies (GL,THOR, CAP) should have been a must? If you have this huge marketing machine of the film industry behind these IPs why not push those people who have heard about the movies into the store and to these free comics?

Fans don't see the finer points in terms of the difference between what goes on with characters in a movie a video game or the comic books so why not combine the experience for them and use that to buffer the introduction of comic books into their geek/hobby sphere. FCBD is a great idea but with some missed opportunities for publishers to help retailers spread the word on Comics.

In terms of it being a reward for customers and their families. I think it's a huge success at doing that. The Comic fans I met seemed to be really into introducing something they already love to their kids and having an event for the whole family. The discounts/sales combined with the free Comics seemed to generate of ton of excitement. In today's economy I think they should do two of these a year just to remind the local customer fan base that Comic stores are (or at very least should be) a place the whole family can have fun at. Offering a fun experience to the customer is what I think is missing in a lot of stores. FCBD can help reinforce that with loyal and new customers

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Story First....Blockbuster Second

I think this is an interesting opinion piece on the state of storytelling in Hollywood.

I post this because the influence of the blockbuster has by default become the basis for many Comic Books. Comic Books make for big blockbusters so creators seem to be pre-editing their work to fit the movie format. In the end this weakens what Comic Books have to offer as a medium for more complex storytelling. It has generated this strange storytelling loop.

Comics tell stories
Movies are made of those stories
Comics are made to be like Movies.
Movies are made of Comics

A copy of a copy of a copy.

Between the companies that try to pass off "pitch books" as real Comics to the Comics that look like a series of storyboards for a movie that has yet to be made. There is a point where someone has to say it's okay for a Comic to just be concerned with being a Comic. Everyone has their eye on potential outside of Comics. You would be doing yourself and your work a disservice if you didn't. At the same time the art form of Comics has it's own unique style of storytelling that seems to be glossed over in order to tell a story that makes it easier for a producer to see how this could be a movie.

I was once told the best thing about a Comic is that "it's budget is your imagination.". You don't have to put money aside to pay for ILM when you are making a Comic. If you can think it up and you can draw it, it's possible in a Comic. That limitless storytelling potential combined with the ability for a single individual to create a comic on their own and deliver it in a popular format, either through print or digitally is one of the last frontiers for the storyteller with vision. I try and remember that when I go to the board and start drawing or when I sit in front of the computer and dream up ideas.

IMHO it takes a distinct vision to tell a great story. There are many entertaining stories but really there are very few stories that stir something deeper in you. Delivering that vision to an audience becomes the challenge of any storyteller in any medium. When it comes to Movies the cost of delivering that vision has a serious price tag. If a movie fails and statistically most of them do, there is a lot of money on the line. When there is so much money at stake more people want their opinion figured into the final product. Everyone of these people create a layer between the person with vision and the public. Sometimes it can be helpful other times it just pushes the idea farther and farther away from the source. Weakening whatever made it interesting in the first place. As a Comic creator the barrier of entry into the market (because of cost and the layers between you and the reader) are much less. That close relationship with it's level access to each other separates Comics from other visual storytelling art forms. It's an advantage we as Comic creators as well as Comic fans should hold sacred and always be aware of what makes this art form special.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Articles for the Comicpreneur

Some interesting articles I've found related to comic book market, digital comics and marketing you work online. Must reads!

Portland retailers give their opinion on the market and digital downloads.
Portland Comic Stores Sound Off!

Matt Nastos Gives some valuable tips on marketing your comics online.
Nastos Tips on Marketing Your Comics

The numbers suck. How the direct market is shaping up. Perfect time for something new to gain some ground?
Numbers Down!
In the Crapper!

How internet buzz killed the comic book star or hyping a boring comic is still just hype.
Buzz Killed The Comics!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Welcome to The Comicpreneur

Welcome to my new blog "The Comicpreneur".

My name is Karl Altstaetter and I've been working in comics since I was 12. Yes that's right 12! I started working at a retail comic store as a kid where I learned the ins and out of selling comic books. I later moved onto working in comics. I've done work for Marvel and DC as well as Image. I eventually started my own comic publishing company where I published my own comics for almost 8 years. I recently spent 6 years working in the toy industry where I created the Marvel Authentics Die-Cast collectable car line. I walked it from pitch to shelf. I am now working on a new comic project called Me2 with MTV. It will be distributed on various digital platforms.

At least once a week I get an email a PM or note on Deviant Art where someone wants my advice on the business side of comics. There is a growing trend in comic books which I call "Pro Am" creators. Creators who don't do comic books for a living but as a way to express themselves as part hobby part small side business. Many creators are starving for information about the business of comics. They want to know how to get the most out of their work financially and at very least not lose money on what they are doing. I decided to create this blog to to address some of those questions and hopefully create a resource for creators to ask questions and get answers and new ideas on this subject.

I've spent a lot of time on the business side of comic books and I've seen trends come and go and I've seen independent comics be big hits and fail miserably. I've also learned that it's not as random as one might think to create a successful comic. Like any creative endeavor it starts with a strong idea and a dedication to making it happen. There are market factors involved but like most businesses those are issues you must consider and factor into how you will market your product. I use the word "product" loosely. I don't see comic books as a  pure "product" like a can opener or trash can. Yet I do believe that you must consider the product development side of any creation you plan on taking to market. In fact I believe that this lack of consideration of the product development of comics is one of the key factors why so many comics fail or run out of gas.

I see comics as an art form that can tell almost any type of story and has yet to even be fully explored in print form and even more so in digital form. On one level there is a huge amount of creative potential yet very little of it is being expressed to larger audiences due to the structure of the mainstream comic market.

I'm going to start out by doing a series of articles on the business of the mainstream comic business. I want to paint a realistic picture of the market as it stands so we can start talking about how to change it or move around it to reach more readers and hopefully sell more comics.

From there I'll just post ideas and tips I think are relevant and important.

I also hope to have guest blogs by various comic creators talking about their experiences with self publishing as well as people from around the comic world and beyond with tips and information.

Some of the subjects I hope to get at.

Where to find good deals
Digital distribution
Selling directly to consumers
Selling to the direct market
Product development
Selling your intellectual property

I'd like to ask you to help me by posting your ideas and experiences.

I believe in the collective power of creative minds. Let's do this!

Comicpreneurs are GO!


What is a Comicpreneur

What is a Comicpreneur?

A Comicpreneur is a new breed of comic book creators that are dedicated to creating a successful business around their creator owned comic book.

A Comicpreneur is a creative person, an artist, a writer who wants to understand and get the most out of the business side of their creative endeavors.  

They understand that you have to sell your work in order to fund the creation of more work.

They also understand and accept the value in their work. They know that what they create is worth something and should be priced as such.

They understand that one of the keys to success is building a brand around their work and their name.

A Comicpreneur is tuned into the the comic market and the greater marketing world looking for ways to broaden their readership and build their brand.

They are tech savvy and keep up on the latest social networking tools and software to better create their work and showcase it to the world.

A Comicpreneur doesn't wait to be told that it's okay to create their comics. They make them because they believe in the work they are doing and it's ability to resonate with readers.

They are faster than the larger companies and can take advantage of market forces.

They look for ways to cut costs and maximize their profit on their work.  

They watch the margin because your creative future lives there.

A Comicpreneur loves to create comics and loves selling them almost as much.

A Comicpreneur lives on the line between art and commerce and uses them together to be successful at both.