It’s probably my own ambivalence issues with authority, or maybe my impatience with “the system,” but I love the DIY culture we’re living in right now, so three articles caught my eye recently. Two are personal victorystories, and one maybe points to a different kind of future. (Impatient animators can scroll downwards to the graphic novel story at the bottom.)
A lot of people come and pitch me projects and get annoyed when we don’t agree with them on the quality of their work. I usually counsel for them to do them independently, though often that just annoys them more. But, more and more often creators are doing it for themselves. It’s not like I think we know what’s good and what’s not, just what strikes our fancy. Any artist probably knows more than we do, and the people in these stories prove that point in spades.
Artist and illustrator Molly Crabapple is a friend of my ex-partner Tim Shey and with the help of the web has figured out how to avoid the whining in a fading business. Now she’s using Kickstarter as a patron to give herself a 28th birthday present, a Week in Hell. Pulling together then community she’s built for Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School she asked for $4500 and today is closing with over $20,000 in funding.
Even better is the New York Times article about my hero of the month, Amanda Hocking of Austin, Minnesota. Like many of you she’s been writing stories since she was a little girl, but at 21, dejected by publishers’ rejections she took to self-publishing e-books on Amazon.com. It wasn’t that easy, she had to work hard to make her writing more attractive to her readers, and now she’s made over $2 million.
Hocking is at a loss to explain the phenomenon. “I’ve seen other authors do the exact same things I have, similar genre, similar prices” — like many self-published authors, she prices her books radically below what traditional publishers charge; typically hers cost between 99 cents and $2.99 — “and they have multiple books out. And they all have good covers. And they’re selling reasonably well, but they’re not selling nearly as well as I am.”
Talent helps, but it seems to me Amanda worked hard for people to like her books.
Sad that regular folks couldn’t buy her stuff in the places books sell, like Walmart, Amanda just signed a traditional publishing deal with St. Martin’s Press.
What’s all this add up to? Well, to me it means get out of your own way. In the world we’re living in, if you don’t get something made and in front of an audience there finally no one else to blame but the person in the mirror. If you’re talented, don’t wait for someone else to tell you so. Go out there, find your own audience. They’ll tell you what they think, and after all, aren’t they more important than Viacom, or DC Comics, or Random House? You’ll have satisfaction in doing what you think is right, and if you hit the bull’s eye you’ll make some money too.
"The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" are words that didn’t (and don’t) need to taken lightly, and they sure weren’t by their author, Gil Scott-Heron, a musician and poet who tragically passed away at the end of May.
Pull out your Google search and Wikipedia to figure out a lot of the references (Spiro Agnew, “pigs shooting down brothers on the instant replay,” Whitney Young, Roy WIlkins, “Search for Tomorrow”), unless your of a certain age, though Frederator readers will, of course, recognize Bullwinkle.
Others have written more eloquently than I could about Gil’s meaning in the larger scheme of things, but I didn’t want to ignore the moment the way I have for the last few decades, frankly, the way Gil himself did. I’ll only tell you his words never left the recesses of my cranium, a potent fact for someone (me) who ignores lyrics almost completely. He wrote some indelible music (much of it with his partner Brian Jackson). Though some called him Gil a godfather of hip-hop, he disagreed. You decide.