Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Exfanding Review: Independents

Well, this is a bit unlike us--another review post! Personally, I've been in a creative mood the last couple of weeks, and I think it's likely due to what I've sat down and either read or watched over that time.

Between the now-bestselling Daytripper graphic novel from Vertigo, and a stack of really great small press comics that had been sitting around waiting to be read, I'm just enjoying the heck out of the things I'm reading. And that makes a difference, I think, in my temperament.

This past weekend, in between work and, uh, work, I even managed to squeeze in a viewing of the recently released documentary on indie comics creators--the aptly named, Independents.

The whole title of the film is actually, Independents: A Guide for the Creative Spirit, and boy, is that title on the nose.

A documentary told almost completely through interviews(there's also a narrator who jumps in every now and then) with some of the best independent comics creators of the past three decades, this film is a must-watch for anyone who has ever even thought about making their own comics. Or writing that novel that's been in your head for the last two years. Or becoming a professional artist.

It's also a guide to self-publishing, and an extremely honest portrayal of the life of an indie creator.

Featured in the film are people like Kevin Eastman (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), Linda Medley (Castle Waiting), Eric Powell, (The Goon), Scott Allie (Dark Horse editor and writer of their Solomon Kane series), Scott McCloud (Making Comics), Terry Moore (Strangers in Paradise), Wendy Pini (ElfQuest), and Craig Thompson (Blankets).

There are plenty more creative people--from artists and writers to publishers and editors--and the whole film, for me at least, worked as a motivational piece.

We get some great stories and some great advice from people who had either worked for the bigger publishers at one time, and became frustrated, or who had simply decided they never wanted to work for a larger company, and instead set out on their own.

In some cases, we get a completely unfiltered viewpoint of why doing things yourself is the right way to go. In some cases, that decision paid off tremendously in financial terms, in others, it paid off in creative terms. And, while there are obvious success stories here, we also hear about the struggles of some of these artists, and the extent to which they suffered for their art.

There's also some very good, very practical, business advice, and a warning that self-publishing is a business, and is not meant to be this fun thing you do on the side. It can be that, sure, but that approach won't get you very far if you're trying to keep the lights on.

The film itself clocks in at 77 minutes, but there are plenty of extra features and bonus interviews with creators, and even comics shop owners who have thought outside the box in terms of growing their small businesses.

This one was a great find, and I'm very happy to have noticed it up on Amazon. It works on an entertainment level, sure, but it's also meant to be a resource, and a guide.

It's available now, and I'd recommend it without hesitation to anyone who might be interested in either self-publishing or the creative process.

You can check out much more info--as well as clips from the film--at the official website.

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