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Rich Tommaso Bummed Spy Seal Didn't Sell Well

Written by Tim Midura on Wednesday, August 02 2017 and posted in News with Benefits

Rich Tommaso Bummed Spy Seal Didn't Sell Well

The first issue is out August 16.

Source: Comics Beat

Rich Tommaso is the creator behind Dark Corridor and She-Wolf for Image, and has previously worked for Fantagraphics Books, Dark Horse Comics, Top Shelf Productions, Chronicle Books, Hyperion Books For Children, Boom!town and Alternative Comics. He took to Facebook last Saturday about his disappointment with low sales for his new Image Comics titled Spy Seal. As of this writing, the post has 318 likes, which might be more than the people who pre-ordered his book.


Let's break down Tommaso's post.

In my 24-year "profession" as a cartoonist, I have never felt more angry, depressed, frustrated, confused, disenchanted, burned out, suicidal, and just plain fed up working in the comics medium than I do right at this moment.

He opens with profession in quotes, as a way to downplay the career of cartoonists. Making comics isn't for everyone.

After a grueling, 3-year-long, 7-day-a-week work schedule of writing, hand lettering, penciling, inking, and coloring various original projects at IMAGE, I have just experienced a total meltdown after discovering the narrow sales figures for Issue #1 of my third series for them, SPY SEAL, now mere weeks from its release date.

Tommaso voluntarily chose to work 7 days a week, for 3 years doing something that it seems he doesn't love that much, according to his opening statement.

Sure, I could've hired someone to do one of those tasks for me, like coloring, but they would have done that work for close to nothing--and I don't believe in hiring people to do a job like that for free. And I know--there are a lot of cartoonists working for nothing out there, the indie or art-house or whatever cartoonists.

Tommaso feels that after 24 years in his "profession", he deserves to get paid. That's understandable. I've been doing this for 4 years without getting paid and I've already realized it.

Well, if you're going to bring up that old, "you're not supposed to make money making comics" argument, don't bother. I've heard that bullshit for years and I'm tired of it, so you can stop reading this now and go back to reading your R. Crumb comics, you little curmudgeons.

No one brings up this argument except for 15 year olds on their iphones paid for by mommy and daddy.

Reminder: R. Crumb is the underground artist who bought a villa in France for a suitcase of sketchbooks--and whose first ZAP comic book sold a million copies.

Crumb got lucky. So what? So did Kirkman. So did Lee. So did Liefeld. Motherfucker can't draw feet after 30 years.

So, anyway, what the hell happened?

Yeah, let's figure out why a European-inspired book about anthropomorphic animals in a spy setting didn't sell in America.

Did comic shops pass on the series because it's not a blood and guts, gore-fest?

They might have passed on the series because people didn't pre-order it because pre-ordering is how the broken industry works.

Is it because it's not based on a movie or television show?

Have you tried the title The Walking Dead: Spy Seal?

Is it because I have never written or drawn a high selling MARVEL or DC comic?

It certainly doesn't hurt.

Or maybe I just don't understand the comics business at all.

You might be onto something here.

And just what is the point of using ALL of these social media tools to promote your work when they only lead to such abysmal, diminishing returns?

This we can both agree on.

I don't mean any of this as a slight against my publisher--I feel like IMAGE has done everything they could to promote this series--certainly more than I have. They've helped to get my work reviewed, they've set up interviews for me, highlighted my work on their website and podcast, kept costs down on my books, and ultimately have afforded me the time to work solely on my own comics, something I'd always dreamed about doing ever since I was a child and, eventually got to do, only these past few years. And I more than appreciate the confidence and support that Eric Stephenson has given me and my work during my brief time with IMAGE.

Well, if Image isn't to blame, who is?

But I have definitely hit a wall here--when sales on a first issue are this low, one wonders and worries about paying the rent in the coming months--and much more work needs to be done before the series is even completed.

We all worry about rent and living paycheck to paycheck. Have you tried getting a grown up job?

I wish I could pin point just what the hell went wrong as I sit here, racking my brain to think of just what the hell I'm even qualified to do for a j-o-b these days--besides going back to making pizzas again.

Aha. There you go. I can relate. In 2007, I made $6 an hour under the table making pizzas. For an hour's worth of work, I could buy one and a half copies of Spy Seal #1. But I digress.

A job I'm no longer even physically equipped to do, since I suffer horrible back pains whenever I stand on a hard surface for more than an hour.

Oh there's the catch. Maybe you could make pizzas while sitting down? Like one would at a computer? Where they draw comics?

But a job, nonetheless, that right now seems strangely like an oasis compared to one where I continue to place my livelihood in the hands of the comics buying public.

Imagine a future where a job could provide someone with a steady amount of money each week, instead of relying on a consumer in a dying industry. That's the world I want to live in. To quote Joe Dirt, "It's not what you like, it's the consumer."

Sample pages from Spy Seal are below. See if the book is for you.


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About the Author - Tim Midura

Born in the frozen tundra of Massachusetts, Tim Midura has long possessed a love for comic books and records. After stealing the beard of Zeus and inventing the pizza bagel, a much more heavily tattooed and bearded Tim Midura has finally settled in San Diego. He's the world's first comics journalist who doesn't want to become a comics writer. Find him on twitter, facebook or by email.

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