Do It Yourself (Or With a Friend!)

I have a love/hate relationship with do-it-yourself projects.  On the one hand: total control, from beginning to end.  I love that part.  One the other hand: you have to do everything, or find someone to do it for you.  Everything.  From beginning to end.  Hate that part.  Well.  Kinda.

When I was younger, I did a lot of DIY comics: write the story, pencil the pages, ink them, letter them, make the masters (tape and paper at first, then digital in Illustrator and Pagemaker), go to Kinko’s and copy the comics, assemble them.   I went through the gamut of emotions during this creative process:  despair, denial, rage, joy, exhaustion.  If you’ve never sat up with a friend or two at 3 am hand-trimming comics and stapling them together, well.  Try it some time.  The blisters are almost worth it.

In all seriousness though, that glow when we looked at the filled box of homemade comics, it was worth it.  We didn’t really notice the one with a slightly crooked cover or the one missing pages 1,2,15, and16.  There was nothing like that feeling of having made something, having poured your love and caring into it, and doing it like we meant it resulting in such a lovely result.  I don’t have kids, but maybe that’s how new parents feel.  At least until the kid starts crying in the middle of the night.

So when Die Booth and I decided to turn a journal-based monthly horror fiction project into an anthology, I figured, what the hey, it’ll be worth it, no problems here!  In fact I won’t even have to draw every page so it’ll be a cakewalk!  I’m gonna have such a great time!

But of course everything’s easier said than done.  Turns out doing a DIY fiction anthology is no easier than doing a DIY comic.  You’re still chasing people down for content.  Cleaning up artwork for printing turns into editing fiction for consistency and flow and grammar.  You’re still doing layout–hey, learning Pagemaker and Quark and InDesign for comics gave me a leg up, but then I had to learn all about line spacing, good font size, justifying the text, stylesheets and how to set up automatic page numbers.  You’re still running off test prints and contacting printers.  One easier thing was that distribution channels for indie fiction exist (maybe they exist for comics now, but they didn’t at that time): Lulu, Smashwords, CreateSpace, Kindle Direct, and more.  You’re still making flyers and–well–my most dreaded, loathed part of DIY–publicizing it yourself.

Was it worth it in the end?  When I held that lovely book in my hand, freshly torn out of the package from the printers? You bet.  I didn’t even have to staple it myself, this time.  That’s pretty badass.

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  1. So worth it! But only after all the individual page headers are done D-: ps I still have some of your comics ❤

    • Oh god, those fucking headers! Hahahahha. I have GOT to figure out if that can be automated from sections or something. I feel like they must. I’m pretty sure book designers don’t enter in the headings by hand in a 500-odd page book. I hope.

      And heeee <3. Sometimes I think about doing comics again, but dear lord, they are a lot of work.

      • There MUST be a simpler way, I agree… it’s so convoluted D-:

        Lots of work, but lovely. I really want to do some kind of – not comic, but perhaps illustrated mini-books, almost zines, which I can hand-type and photocopy and generally not use a computer for at all, really limited edition 🙂

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