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Indie Insights: On Big Plans

Written by Ken Eppstein, Outhouse Contributor on Friday, August 05 2011 and posted in Columns

Ken Eppstein reveals his

Ken Eppstein is the editor, writer and publisher of the independent comic Nix Comics Quarterly, a small press anthology.

Bought a lottery ticket today.  Not because I think I'll win, but because I found myself daydreaming about what I'd do with the money if I won.  Somehow in my mind actually buying the ticket justifies the wasted time spent thinking about how cool it'd be to go into a fancy cheese shop and be free to buy whatever cheese I wanted... regardless of price...

Of course, that's not my only elusive dream.  I have big plans to put into action if I ever break on through to the other side, most of which have something to do with starting a comic book company.

"Don't you already publish your own comic book?"

Well... yeah.  Every three months I scrape together enough money to put out my little book.   You should read it.  Its pretty good.  But believe you me, that's not the sum total of my ambitions.  When I say I want to open a comic book company, I mean I want the whole deal.

I want a building in downtown Columbus with "Nix Comics Headquarters" written in giant neon letters on the front.    And I mean I want it...  I want the deed to a 3-4 story building with retail space on the ground floor and offices above.  The spare space not taken up by Nix Comics will be rented out to other businesses to defray the costs of maintaining the building and running the biz...  Just because I've hot my numbers, doesn't mean I want high overhead!

Every day my staff artists would file in.  That's right.  Staff artists, coming in and punching a clock and sharing the same work space.  I want a vibrant work space where my rabble can come in and feed off of each other's talent and energy.  Nothing beats the input of talented coworkers, unless maybe its a healthy set of friendly rivalries.  I really think this is something missing in today's entertainment fields like comic books and music.  Where would comic be historically without the "Usual gang of Idiots" busting up against each other in the same room? Where would music be if the Funk Brothers hadn't been all cooped up with each other in that tiny Motown basement?  Artists can be great on their own, no doubt, but they can be freakin' heroic if they are working in concert.

I already have my initial hire list in mind.  I want guys like Bob Ray Starker, Ryan Brinkerhoff and my brother Dave who, thanks to their jobs, are already familiar with design and printing.  Why?  We're bringing printing in-house baby!  I'm fine with the printer I use for Nix, but it kind of gauls me that that I need to go out of town to get my book printed.  It goes back to that overhead thing...  Right now I have to order 2500 copies to get a good price on my books.   Why not be able to print what I need at cost as I need it?  It saves cash on shipping too.

I think the most interesting piece of taking printing in-house would be the ability to offer deals on short print runs to indie comics.  Right now the pay for print services out there are pretty expensive for short runs.  (If you haven't picked up on it yet, I'm not a fan of tiered wholesale rates.  So the business model you have is to charge the people who have more money less?  That gives you fewer customers and a big problem when they start dropping off.  If you have a flat wholesale rate, then you'll have lots of little customers and attrition is not as big a deal.  Get your heads on right, wholesalers.)  I would even be willing to investigate payment plans.  Got a good job, good references and decent credit rating?  Well I have monthly overhead that I want to have matching revenue for, so lets talk about us.

It would also be fun to yell "Stop The Presses" from behind my gigantic editor's desk when I find a typo.  I suppose that I'd need a cigar for full effect on that... But smoking is gross.  Maybe crumbs of expensive cheese flying from my lips would sufficiently demark my status as the Big Man In The Office.  That wouldn't be gross at all.

You know, while I'm at it fantasizing...  I need to bring distribution and marketing in house.   I've seen the Sam Adams commercial:  Sam Adams didn't sit around crying "Why does nobody like my beer?"  Hell no. He hired Paul Revere to go bar to bar selling his beer to the British.  Or something like that.  Maybe it was William Dawes. Anyways...  That's what indie comics really need but can never afford: A staff person dedicated to showing the world that they are stars, even if it means doing so one store at a time..  When you get right down to it, making a comic book is a lot easier than selling a comic book.  That's a job for professionals.

So basically, my ambitions can be summed up as "Create an independent comic book publishing company that has some tangible assets and sources of revenue outside of solely selling comic books."  Unfortunately, in this big bad world, stealing artists away from their current jobs, buying buildings and setting up printing and distribution facilities takes money.  Who knows how much money?  Well, actually I have a pretty good idea...  When I day dream I also do research and make spreadsheets with info on start up capital and pro forma budgets.  That's a little weird, I know, but it all goes back to me somehow wanting to justify any time I spend daydreaming.  Things may never swing my way to reach these goals, but if I ever do win the lottery (or I suppose find some sort of beneficent art patron.  That'd be a hint, if I thought any of youse guys had money.), I want to be ready to GO GOGO!

For more information about Ken and Nix Comics Quarterly:

Written or Contributed by: Ken Eppstein, Outhouse Contributor

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About the Author - Christian

Christian is the exasperated Abbott to the Outhouse's Costello. When he's not yelling at the Newsroom for upsetting readers or complaining to his wife about why the Internet is stupid, he sits in his dingy business office trying to find new ways to make the site earn money. Christian is also the only person in history stupid enough to moderate two comic book forums at once.


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