Business Development Step 1: Identify

A column article by: Ace Masters

Column One of Three

Before I get into the meat of the column, I want to clarify something first--my goal in writing these business aspect columns is three-fold, to give advice, to inform and to make you think. Topics and questions will be posed that will challenge you. Not every question will have a single answer, or even a right answer. Sometimes, the answer will be personal, something you must uncover yourself and which no one else can tell you.

Last column, I wrote a piece briefly breaking down business plans. Starting with this column I want to delve more deeply into the business aspect of comics, beginning with what I once called ”baby steps,” but now are best called business development steps.

For or comic project, you will be 'In Development' before going into 'Production.' Development is the stage in which you write the script, map out your project in all forms (format of project, advertising, marketing, promotion), attach talent (penciler, inker, colorist, letterer) and prepare for production. In short, it is everything that needs to be done before work on the physical comic begins.

You want to do the same thing on the business end: develop your business before you go into business. Research, plan, understand your market and the audience and understand your project. In this case your business plan will be your script, only instead of telling a story about characters, it tells the story of your business. It’s what any smart businessperson would do.

The first Business Development Step is to Identify. What needs to be identified is the following:

    1. What needs to be identified?
    2. What are comics?
    3. Why are you doing comics?
    4. What is your motivation?
    5. What is your goal?
    6. What type of comics?

      This isn’t as simple, or as complex, as it may seem. Why do you need to identify anything? The answer is simple, it will help you succeed—in the following steps, and, ultimately, in building the all-important business plan that will cover the who, when, why, where and how of your project.

      In this column, I will cover the first two steps: what needs to be identified? and what are comics? The other four steps will be covered in the next two following columns.

Identify - 1. What needs to be identified?

      This may seem redundant, but the first thing to do is to identify what needs to be identified, which is pivotal to everything you are going to do from this point on. Try this, think of questions someone may ask you if they find out you are doing comic books. If you think someone would ask you “why?,” write that down. Then answer why. Guess what, you just identified one step.

      Continue on like this, but keep focused. You may come up with more things to identify then my list of six things above, but what needs to be identified should always be the top of the list..

Identify - 2. What are comics?

      This is the big bad question that needs to be answered before you can move forward. Depending on who you talk to, comics are: modern day mythology, one of the few true American art forms, juvenile revenge fantasies, funny books. No one said the answer to this question had to be positive!

      I look at comics this way: A true and unique art form that combines the artistic disciplines of writing, drawing, inking, coloring and lettering to create a tapestry. This tapestry can be anything from horrific to stunning, from an abysmal failure to a literary triumph. I identify comics as a literary and visual art form, the best of which engage me on an emotional and/or intellectual level.

      On a intangible level, comics speak to me. There is, and always has been, something about comics that draws me in. The dynamic characters, the sense of wonder. The fact that, in comics, all things are possible and there no limits.

      Is this how everyone should feel about comics? No. Even those who believe comics are “juvenile revenge fantasies” are right to a degree--there are some comics that are just that.

      What you need to do is Identify what comics are to you.

      So, how would you answer: what are comics? Think about it. See what you come up with as your answer. Come up with something meaningful; try starting with why you began reading comics.

      Hopefully, you will learn something about your project – and maybe yourself. Identifying what comics are will also help you identify your passion for comics, and this will lead you to what your motivations and goals are for this project, two more important things you must identify.

      If you can’t come up with a meaningful answer, or don’t read comics at all - maybe you are one of the many fans of 'Comic Book Movies' who read sites like this for info and think it would 'be cool' to do comics - then maybe you shouldn’t start a comics-related project.

      Until next time I leave you with this Burning Question: What are comics – to you?



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