The Road to Comic Book Publication: Steps 1-4

So far we’ve been regaling you with tales of our experiences in getting a board game published. While we still have a few more steps in the actual process to divulge to you all, I’ll be taking a few side steps on this blog to tell you about another project I’m working on: getting a comic book published.

Tim Reinert, who’s responsible for writing a fascinating blog about comics and movies (and music I think) at Four Colours and the Truth, and I have been writing comic book scripts for the past 6 months. Whereas our post have so far been about our actual experiences that got us published in the board game world, the posts about the comic book world will be more about our process of trying to get published.

So looking back over the Steps to Publication, I can say that steps 1-4 are the same for comic books.

Step 1: Read a lot of comics.  This is tip number one for a reason. You have to be familiar with what works in the medium that you’re creating in, so just like a board game designer should play a lot of board games then so too should a comic book writer read a lot of comic books. It will also give you an idea of what’s been done before and what’s selling/working right now on the stands.

This is a passion for both Tim and I, so we’ve got this one in the bag. My reading tends to be almost anything that’s not superhero. That is, until I met Tim. Tim reads everything. Everything! His knowledge of superheroes is second only to Mr. Stan Lee himself. Then add to that his love for indie comics and you’ve got yourself a well-rounded bunch of comic readers!

So if you’re planning on making board games, play games; writing comics, read comics; painting pictures, see a lot of art; making music, listen to a lot of music…etc..!

Step 2: Motivation. Same as in the board game Step 2 – staying motivated is key to success. I took what I learned with my board game designer buddy, Sen, and sought out Tim as a partner to work together with on writing comics. I personally find that I am more motivated when there’s another cook in the kitchen. We’re even piggy-backing the same forum that Sen and I use to communicate on board games, to keep track of our comic book ideas. Fortunately, Tim lives down the street from me, so it’s not as challenging as it is with Sen to get together to write!

Step 3: Versatility. We love all kinds of comics, and we want to write all kinds of comic stories. Our one main mantra is to ensure we’re taking advantage of the medium, meaning that we want to tell stories that can only be done in comics. So far we’ve written a fun adventure tale, a quiet noir story, a time travel story and even a superhero story. If one doesn’t light the world on fire, then we’ve got 5 more ideas ready to go!

Step 4: Persistence. So far we’ve been quietly writing away, and tweaking our scripts for the past 6 months or so. We’re just at the beginning of our journey, but if there’s anything I learned from board game designing it’s that if you believe in yourself, then you have to stay in it for the long haul.

So this blog will now bounce back and forth with updates on our board game progress (Sen and me) and news on how we’re proceeding with our comic book aspirations (Tim and me). Enjoy!

Step 2: How to stay Motivated

I like to credit my success to this acronym: MVP. Seems like any good “How To” Blog needs to have an acronym!

So what do you need to do in order to be an MVP?
You have to have
Motivation
Versatility
Persistence
This post is about Motivation.
First of all, what’s your motivation in making games? If you’re main motivation is to make money, then you are in the wrong line of business. I can’t count how many people respond to me telling them that I design board games by asking how much money I’m going to make.
I think everyone knows the Trivia Pursuit story by now, and ever since then everyone equates board game design with hitting the jackpot. Think of it in terms of authors. For every Stephen King and JK Rowling in the world, there are a million other authors who can’t scrape together a couple of nickels.
As a side note I’d like to say that we all do dream of a day where our side interests and hobbies can provide for us financially, but I’m just saying that it shouldn’t be your main motivation.
So what is your motivation? For me it’s the need to share my creations with the world; to spread joy and entertainment to as many people as possible! Ah so selfless!
That’s the first aspect of Motivation. The second is: how do you stay motivated? It gets challenging some times, especially after a poor play test, to go back to the drawing board and make yet another prototype.
My main motivation is my partner, Sen. We’ve been gaming buddies forever and like many of you, decided we could make our own games. At the time we were living quite close to each other and it was easy to meet up to work on our game. We had an idea of making a tile laying game that also had movement, similar to Drakon. We wanted to make a game about finding treasure using treasure maps, but we wanted the treasure hidden in a different location every time you played.
We did probably what happens to most people: we came up with a super rough prototype and played it a few times, but came up with some hitches that we couldn’t solve and soon lost interest.
Fast forward a couple years and I move half way across the country due to my job. A few months later and my buddy Sen comes out for a visit and we decide we should give this game design thing another shot. Trouble is, now we don’t live down the street from each other. What to do, what to do?
We decided to start using a forum. We had a friend set one up for us and we were off to the races. This forum allowed us not only to communicate to each other across the country but also keep track of our thoughts on a variety of games.
That was one thing that kept us motivated. The other was the fact that we worked on dozens of ideas at the same time. We have one section of our forum that is called “Brain Farts” and it allows us to jot down any random idea we have that would be interesting in a game. If one of these ideas intrigues both of us then we keep writing more and more about it until it gets promoted to it’s own separate thread.
This way if our interest starts to wane on any specific game or topic then we can easily move onto another game.
I met a fellow designer who was getting bummed out on his one board game design and he asked me for some advice. I said why not shelve it for awhile and work on some other games, just to keep your interest running high. He indicated that this was his one idea – his one chance to make a lot of money. I told him that I didn’t have any more advice for him.
So having the right motivation is important but finding a way to stay motivated is also important. Let’s assume you’re in this for the right reasons (whatever reasons they are), now you just have to find a way (or ways) to keep yourself motivated.
How do you stay motivated when designing board games?