“Be brave! The world needs more Comics” Leigh Jeffrey on how to succeed via new indie comics hub ComixCentral
As the world of indie comics grown bigger every week, the decision of where to look for the best new indie book becomes ever more difficult. If only there were a central resource where indie comics fans and creators alike could get together in one place to sell, buy and share the best new indie books from all over the world? Well that is the goal of ComixCentral founder Leigh Jeffrey and we caught up with her to find out more.
ComixCentral is a new indie comics community that is looking to bring together creators under one umbrella, so tell us a bit about the inspiration for this project and what you’re hoping to achieve with it?
Leigh Jeffrey: The inspiration for ComixCentral came out of my own experience as an indie comic creator. Learning the skills, meeting people to collaborate with, building an audience, publishing and selling work was all a struggle. And the end product was more struggle and difficulty, not the big payoff I was hoping for in the way of getting picked up by a publisher or getting to work with one of the “big 2”. So, in the spring of 2016 as I was starting a new Indie Comic project with close friend and co-founder of ComixCentral, Jamie Moran, the idea for ComixCentral was born. It came straight out of our mutual frustration with the industry and the lack of resources for self-publishing creators.
So we pooled our skills, reached out to our contacts that would become our team and created ComixCentral.
We are creating a website and company that brings all elements of Indie Comics into one central marketplace and community without having to compete with corporate brands. A place to learn, connect, collaborate, find work, display, sell & buy artwork, read, buy & sell indie comics. Really one big circus tent full of creative amazingness. We want to give creators everything they need for success while giving fans access to fresh, unique and uncensored content in all Comic Book formats; web comics, print-on-demand issues, direct from seller and digital.
Who is involved in it apart from yourself?
LJ: We are currently building our team, but those on board at this moment are a group of talented and Comic loving creators with vast experience in the publishing, web, graphic design and marketing industries.
Jamie Moran, a writer, business strategist, marketer and all around swell guy. My brother Chad Jeffery, a promotions and marketing wiz and boundless creative. Kirsten Nelson, a writer, project manager, SEO expert and marketing strategist. Steven Rosia, comic creator, writer, illustrator and consultant. And last but not least, my mentor and father, Marty Jeffery. An expert in the fields of publishing, advertising, marketing and between you and me.. has some kick ass comic stories we will be collaborating on soon!
How can creators and fans get involved with ComixCentral and become part of your community? And what can they receive in return?
LJ: The best way to become part of ComixCentral at this point is to visit the website, ComixCentral.com Sign up for our newsletter, follow us on Facebook, Instagram and twitter @comixcentral and just say hi! Tell us your thoughts, your concerns with the industry or just show us your comics! We are listening and taking notes to make sure that when ComixCentral goes live, it ticks as many boxes as possible. This site is for the community, so we really want to get this right.
Depending on when this article is released, our indiegogo campaign may still be active. igg.me/at/comixcentral With this campaign we were hoping to engage creators and fans and bring them into the community by offering them the chance to be part of the creation the site and have their names immortalized for all eternity! The campaign is not about the money raised, but more about the awareness, market research and community involvement that came out of it.
What is it that makes ComixCentral different from other comics marketplaces and communities online? Is it the content or the services you offer?
LJ: ComixCentral stands apart from other online Comics sites in a number of important ways. For instance here are just a few:
Centralization. We pulled all elements of Indie Comic creation, sales and communication into one central place. A Hub.
Our site serves two distinct purposes.
To create a marketplace of self-published indie comics and artwork uploaded and sold by their creators in every format.
To create a community of support and education, where anyone can learn or teach the craft of making comics, collaborate on projects and even find work with publishers.
We offer the opportunity for creators to upload their entire body of work to share or sell. Prints, comics, webcomics, podcasts, blog posts and more.
There are no contracts and accounts are free.
We advertise. The majority of our founders are promoters and marketers with vast amounts of experience in both web and print advertising. We know how to drive traffic and create buzz.
We are connecting with retailers on behalf of our creators and working hard to get their books on their store shelves.
What are the most interesting or most high profile comics you have on the platform at the moment?
LJ: Although we do have a number of high profile author and illustrators on our list, we can’t release their names just yet as we are still in the development stage. We are doing the groundwork, getting our name out there and building a core audience. We are aiming for a launch date of late 2016.
One thing I’d like to mention at this point however, is that we are building a site where all creators have equal footing to get their work seen. The readers will decide what is popular and what isn’t. We have no intention of promoting only high profile books or creators. We believe that this is the power of a community like ours, a free market where anyone can become the next big star.
You’re based in Canada, so is this just a North American project or is it open to UK creators and readers? And how do you select who gets involved and how do you get the word out to creators to join and how do you support them online?
LJ: We are open to all readers and creators anywhere on the planet. However the print on demand services may be limited at first to North America for cost and distribution reasons. We are looking into this right now and will know more in a few months.
As an open platform, we don’t select who gets to be involved. You want an account, you get one.. Free.
We are in the process of getting the word out now, and I’m thrilled with the response we are getting. We have reached out to close to 10k people at this time and surveyed a large portion. Excitingly, 100% of those surveyed responded that they will use ComixCentral once it’s live. We have been nothing but encouraged by the response.
What tips can you give to creators on how to stand out from the crowd in the ever growing world of indie comics? Especially with it being a global marketplace?
LJ: I would tell creators to be daring. Don’t go for safe. Safe is boring. Let your edges shine. But really, exposure is key. I would encourage people to put their work in as many places as possible, you can’t sell what people don’t see. Share your process too, people love to see how things are made and some of my most surprising and best connections I’ve made have been from some of my process drawings.
Also don’t be scared to reach out to fellow creators and make connections. That old adage, it’s not what you know, but who you know is unfortunately very true.
Be brave! The world needs more Comics. (Despite what some jerks think)
Why do you think indie comics are so popular right now? Is it the trickle down effect of geek chic and the Marvel movies, or is it the growth of digital publishing?
LJ: I think the availability of digital publishing and creation has really pushed indie comics into the limelight. It’s easier than ever to become a comic creator and Indie is a place you can really use your imagination, it’s personal and satisfying as a creator. I also think part of the appeal lies in belonging to a group of “underground artists and fans”. I believe that people are looking for new and interesting things and find a home where they feel safe to be themselves within such an inclusive community.
The Geek Chic question is very interesting. I do believe that the popularity of the “big 2” is driving new fans our way and for the indie comics industry that is great news! Come on in and get comfy! More fans means we get to make more comics, it’s a big win in my books.
How important is the world of digital publishing to ComixCentral? And conversely, how important is print to you?
LJ: Digital publishing is a big part of the ComixCentral platform. More and more readers are turning to digital and we wanted to make sure the comics on our site can be purchased and read in a digital format.
But there are those of us who are holding on tightly to our floppies and trade paperbacks for dear life! (myself included) That’s why we wanted to make sure that traditional printing has a good home with us. We are setting up print on demand resources so creators can sell their printed books one at a time on the site, order large amounts and even have Comic stores place orders. We also wanted to make sure that creators could sell their own inventory through our site, sort of like Esty. We knew it was important for creators to be able to sell their books however they are most comfortable doing. This way, I think we’re going to satisfy both creators and fans.
And finally if you could sum up ComixCentral in 5 words, what would you choose?
LJ: The Hub for Indie Comics.