GOING BIG FOR THE MINI
“Ghod-damn, comic book man! You try to kill me!”
The truth is that I’m not out to kill anyone, but one look at that huge stack of manilla envelopes under the mail carrier’s arm and in his hands and I understand why he might think so. Stacks and stacks of the mini-comics are coming in the door of the Isotope on a daily basis these days.
Oh, you thought this column was going to be about mini-skirts?
Yeah, well, I like a nice looking woman in a miniskirt, too. But this is the Comic Pimp so we’re talking about comics.
My mailman asks me what I’ve got going on that’s been overloading his bag and breaking his poor back, so I let him know that he’s played a vital role in getting your mini-comics in for the Isotope Award for Excellence in Mini-Comics, the annual award that I throw a huge celebration for every spring. “What’s a mini-comic?” he wants to know, a question I’m positive he wasn’t ready for the answer to.
But you already know what mini-comics are. You’ve probably seen mini-comic creators at conventions pimping their xeroxed wares at the farthest table from the door or hustling copies like old time snake oil hucksters straight from their backpacks. You’ve probably had a friend who made one or perhaps you made one of those mini-comics yourself. If so, you also know those things take a lot of work and tend to be a rather under-valued medium within our industry.
“No one gives a crap about those stupid things,” I was once told by someone who obviously thought that their opinion was important to me. He was talking to the wrong person, because I give a crap about those things.
You may remember that I’ve ranted at you about mini-comics before in my eternally popular “Comics Kill Nazis” article. And now I’m going to rant at you again… because I fucking care about mini-comics.
Mini-comics can be ugly, crude, misshapen beasts crafted by untalented hands and containing nothing of interest to anyone outside of its creator… but this doesn’t mean that all mini-comics are ugly, crude and misshapen. And even if they were all ugly, crude and misshapen, that doesn’t mean that they don’t have value.
I believe that mini-comics have so much value that I took money that I could’ve been spending on suits, shoes, and cocktails and created the Isotope Award for Excellence in Mini-Comics. I believe in mini-comics so much that I celebrate them by giving away a sexy stone and steel trophy. I believe in mini-comics so much that I refuse to ghettoize them at my store and shelve them right in with the other comics.
Mini-comics are like the basement tapes of the comic industry. They strip the medium down to its bare bones and expose raw talent and the bleeding edge of comics innovation. Huge comic creators of today started their careers making mini-comics. The raw talent that they poured into those minis showed publishers what they could expect from future works from these creators. And just like basement tapes land garage bands multi-million dollar record deals, mini-comics can be a comic creator’s ticket to a career in the industry.
And here’s the best part.
I know you’re out there. I know you’re out there reading this column and you’re either thinking about making mini-comics or you are already doing it. You’re making comics.
And if you’re making mini-comics, you’re making those comics without any of the factory-installed safety features. You’ve got no power steering or anti-lock breaks and in the city where they built your car, they don’t even know what an airbag is. You’ve got the top down, your seat belt off and you’re barreling down the sequential art highway with the stereo turned up to ten and the gas pedal nailed to the fucking floor. You could’ve stayed at home like all the others and wrote about the state of the comic industry on the internet from the security of your bedroom, but instead you’re blowing through small towns, risking life, limb, and the wrath of the local authorities and you are living the state of the industry.
It might not be smart and it might not be safe, it might not even be legal, and it sure as hell isn’t what your momma wanted for you when you grew up, but you don’t give a good goddamn because you’re making comics.
And that’s what it’s all about. Making comics.
Let’s make one thing perfectly clear, when I talk about the Isotope Award for Excellence in Mini-Comics, I’m not talking about the award or the trophy (even though I think the trophy’s damn cool). It’s about making comics. It’s about rewarding, encouraging, and inspiring the comic industry’s next generation. And that’s you.
So, if you’ve been kicking around ideas for a comic or you put down that mini you were working on, pick it back up. Even if you don’t think it’s any good, even if you don’t even want to submit your comic, or even if you can’t get done by deadline, it’s time to hit the open road and get that shit done! Because the real trophy is the comics. Take this opportunity to let someone who loves comics see what you’re up to. You are the industry’s future and the comic industry is waiting for you to get your comics made so we can read them. Retailers like me are waiting to put those books on our shelves. Hell, even Hollywood is waiting to headhunt you from the comic industry at it’s earliest opportunity. And the fastest, cheapest, down and dirtiest way for you to get your voice heard is to make a mini-comic.
Make some comics, do it for the industry, do it for yourself, or just do it to break my mailman’s back… I don’t care. Just get out there and get those comics made!
I know that when it comes to creating works of art, either high or low, that sometimes it’s easy to end up cutting those deadlines pretty damn close. So when I say we’re taking submissions up until the end of the year, I mean we’re taking submissions up until the end of the year. Although I haven’t gotten around to solidifying my New Year’s Eve plans yet, when I do I’ll be sure to let you know. You’re welcome to hand-deliver your mini-comic at whatever San Francisco bar, club, or dive I’ll be drinking at.
Want to know more about mini-comics?
Although it’s getting harder and harder to find copies, absolutely essential mini-comic reading is Ignatz award-winning “LowJinx #2 Understanding the Horrible Truth About Reinventing Mini Comics, The Bastard Format” by Kurt Wolfgang, Tony Consiglio, Sam Henderson, Jef Czekaj, Dave Kiersh, and Johnny Ryan. Reviewed by the fine folks at iComics, and available directly from Mars Import.
Sequential Tart’s Lee Atchison has written two very informative articles on the mini-comic which are great reading for anyone interested in learning more about minis. Mini-Comics: Bringing Creative Freedom to the Masses and To Create Without Boundaries – Mini-Comics.
I also suggest checking out Austin English’s amusing personal mini-comic journey from the conception to completion of his first mini “The Tenth Frame” (including a bus ride to Kinko’s) Making A Mini-Comic. Great stuff!
Speaking of cool mini-comics, our friends at Green Brain Comics in Dearborn, MI just had an event with mini-comic superstar Matt “Cynicalman” Feazell. Green Brain owner Dan Merritt told me that he was inspired by a previous Comic Pimp column when I discussed using an ashcan to help promote a creator’s comic during an in-store event. Dan took this idea and ran with it, making a mini-comic that acted as a flyer, an invitation to the event, a preview of the creator’s work, including a biographical story about Mister Feazell, and even had a page for Matt to do some original artwork on.
As always, feel free to pontificate on industry issues, preach the gospel of great comic books or discuss this article on the Comic Pimp Forum.