The webcomics blog about webcomics

Because It’s Never Too Early To Start Planning

This was going to be a post about the megathread that David Malki ! did on Twitter end of last week, about the benefits of incorporation for self-employed types come tax time. Of course, end of last week was too late for anybody to get in on the tax benefits for this year’s filings, but see the title.

Then he went and turned the 70-plus tweets into a nice writeup, and that was even better. Planning for next year, get on that now I was going to say. Don’t let I’m so sick of taxes, I’ll do it in a couple of months tendencies keep you from getting this done. Make it a to-do item for May! But about three hours ago something bigger popped up. Suitably enough, it also deals with looking at the long term.

Lagies and jenglefenz, allow me to introduce you to Ascend Comics.

Ascend is a new publishing company, courtesy of Der-shing Helmer and Taneka Stotts, dedicated to the proposition that comics are created by all sorts of people, and if you don’t look like the folks that have traditionally been published by the comics world, that doesn’t mean you aren’t making some damn good comics. Not getting where you know you could be? Well, if there’s one thing that Spike Trotman taught us, it’s that you can build a publishing company up into a force of nature if you commit to bringing new voices and new kinds of stories to print. Also, that if you Kickstart anthologies, you can find those voices before anybody else snaps them up.

Ascend is starting off with an impressive bench, too: the Elements anthology (for stories by POC creators, edited by Stotts), The Meek and Mare Internum (webcomics by Helmer), and the Alloy anthology (for stories by mixed-race creators, edited by Helmer and Kiku Hughes, with an assist by Stotts).

At the heart of it, though, is the mutual respect and hard work of Helmer and Stotts; read their respective launch announcements and tell me they aren’t both going to work as hard for each other (and whoever else comes along for the ride), and that’s where the planning comes in.

Ascend is brand new; right now, it’s a platform for two creators and their works, but look at the mission statement right there in their logotype:


Iron Circus started as a way for Spike to make her comics projects, and then here and there she picked up a story for reprint, or an original, or the first of a series. With anthologies under their belts, Stotts and Helmer will have a roster of creators whose works (and work habits) they know; give ’em enough time to find their feet, give them one or two projects to show what they can do in this new structure, and I’ll bet you Five Dollars American Cash Money that they start following the path that Iron Circus blazed¹. Got a story that you think would be a good fit for Ascend? I’m gonna say start polishing your craft now so you’re ready when they make the inevitable announcement down the line.

Better yet, since Iron Circus has shown that distribution works for independent creators and publishers, Ascend will find it a less onerous process to get to that point themselves. It’ll be even easier for the next company after (and so on, until somebody screws the pooch very badly and the business of comics community gets cautious again; that won’t be Ascend, it’ll be somebody with less time in the game and fewer hard-won skills). So if you’re at a slightly differently inclined, or have done the work that Spike, Stotts, and Helmer have done, start planning for what your company is going to look like, and decide what’s going to set you apart from those that are already there.

But above all, start planning. Whatever move you’re going to make — tax wise, working with a publisher, becoming a publisher, whatever — it’s not going to just all in your lap. Want it to work to your favor? Figure out how to get there from where you are now. Fortune favors the bold rather less than it favors the well-prepared.

Spam of the day:

Jenny — Satisfy her like never before (no body)

Oh man, the disembodied, uploaded computer consciousnesses are getting in on the pornspam game. I got this one five times in the past eighteen hours.

¹ I see them as running parallel paths rather than competitors. It’s gonna be a bunch more indie publishing concerns seeking out new creators and stories before they start getting in each other’s way and threatening each other’s lunch.

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