Six years ago, finding myself in a set of circumstances – both personal and professional – that could be viewed as either a challenge or an opportunity, I decided to pursue thinking of it all as the latter, and began weighing my options. It was that options-weighing that ultimately led to the creation of OpenDoor Comics, although both the name and the site didn’t come into being until a bit later.
The one thing that my mind kept going back to during this period was – Surprise! – comics. My love of comics is hardly a secret, nor is the fact that in addition to reading comics I would love to make comics.
Throughout the years, I’ve read and heard countless pieces of advice from pros about how to go about breaking into comics, and the main thing I’ve taken away from it is that there is no one way, no singular path to achieving that goal. It’s a different journey for everyone, one that is often twisty and circuitous, and seems to involve an ever-changing mix of hard work, determination, timing, and simple luck.
One of the other things I’ve taken away from it is the realization that at no point in my life have I ever been on any of the paths that would lead there, and if I ever wanted to find a path that leads to making comics I was going to have to make my own; my own path and my own comics.
And then it occurred to me that I’m hardly the only one. Who knows how many people there are like me who would love to make comics, but, for whatever reason, are unable to find a path? Maybe they have the ideas, but not the drawing ability, or they have the drawing ability, but not the ideas, or…well, you get the idea.
What if, instead of just trying to make my own comics, I did something to help others make theirs? What if I created a space – one that was open and inclusive, because one of the things I love most about comics is that they are for everyone – where they could post their comics, find others who share their love of comics, and find the support they need to achieve their goals?
And then it expanded from there, with an entire trajectory laid out before me, and I could see how it all would progress from that initial beachhead, adding new ways to support creators and connect fans, helping to spread the love of comics and open the door to new ideas and new voices, growing to become…
And then the idea started to become overwhelming. It was too much. I didn’t know how to do all of that. I mean, come on, I couldn’t even break into comics as an artist or writer, how was I going to become some kind of multimedia publishing magnate?
The thought, “I don’t have the money or the expertise to do all that!” kept me paralyzed for a long time, but eventually I decided that if I didn’t do something I would never do anything, and that the end goal was not the starting point.
I couldn’t do all of the other stuff, but I could do that first part, creating a space where people could post their comics, working out a method for creators to generate some revenue from those comics, and present my vision to the world, at least at a high level. So I did, and it was at least a start.
However, in the time since, it hasn’t moved much beyond that starting point. It may be that I jumped the gun – what I thought I could do was more than I actually could. Certainly, there’s been a learning curve, and frankly, false starts, along the way.
Part of it has been a reluctance on my part to spread awareness and promote the site, and a big part of that has been that I’m really not very good at that sort of thing.
I think, however, that the biggest problem is that I just haven’t made a compelling argument for the vision. I knew going in that I wasn’t going to be able to start off with a compelling experience – the idea was to provide some basic functionality that would serve as the foundation, with customization and improvements added as the community I hoped to build grew, and revenue came in – but I thought that I had at least made the vision compelling, offering something that would encourage people to get involved and build up a groundswell of support that would help the vision become reality.
But I realize that I haven’t done that, and that is something I need to work on.
This post has already been more than long enough, so I will get into that work in some future posts, providing more details about my vision and the path towards it that I’m trying to follow. (And it’s not lost on me that it’s possible – likely – that my tendency to get bogged down in parenthetical asides and deep-dives into details are part of the reason my attempts at presenting a compelling vision are for naught. Still, I like to think that it’s all part of my charm.)
Also, I do want to take this time to thank everyone who has provided support along the way, and I hope you know that I don’t take you for granted. I just wish there were more of you.
But hey, it’s a start, right? Truly and sincerely: THANK YOU.
In closing, I will mention that while I haven’t achieved what I hope to, and there’s a lot more work to be done, I have managed to make some comics, and you can actually buy one of them right now!
Again…it’s a start!
Part Two: A Stall