Episode 17: (After) Shocking the Comics World with Lee Kramer

April 27, 2016

Today on theprogram we have Lee Kramer. Lee is the President of Aftershock Comics. This ishis first podcast interview and he kicked its butt.

If you haven’theard of Aftershock comics, you will. They’ve only been publishing sinceDecember, but they’ve got a list of creators that will make you giddy.

Here’s theremissions statement: Launched in April 2015, AfterShock Comics is a comicbook company that combines the creative edge of an independent comic bookpublisher with the strengths and experience of a traditional powerhouse.

And boy dothey have the power behind the scenes. You might know Aftershock if you followcomics from the big splash they made hiring Mike Marts away from Marvel to betheir Editor-in-chief.

However, Leeand publisher Joe Pruett have been working on launching this company for years.You might know Joe as the Eisner and Harvey winning writer who wrote for tonsof book for Marvel, or his own publishing company Desperado which had dealswith Image and IDW.

Long storyshort, they have a lot of muscle behind them that legitimizes them. Enoughmuscle to land our good friend Paul Jenkins to create for them, along withEnnis (Preacher), John Layman (Chew), Brian Azzarello (Dark Knight III), Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti(Everything good in the world) among others.

That’sreally impressive for a small press publisher, but we’ve seen that before.There have been tons of publishers with tons of muscle, who get into the gamequick and flame out. They get some steam, make some deals, have some bigcreators, and in a couple of years they are gone.

And I wantedto talk to Lee about what makes Aftershock different. Boy did he deliver. Forthe first few minutes he rattles off his impressive lineup of books coming out.Every single one of them is a gem with a fine pedigree, but what I reallywanted to know is how he attracted such amazing talent, especially with thetrack record of indies coming into the space and flaming out.

What itcomes down to is really the idea of being a family with their creators andfans, treating them better than any other company does, and being publishingfirst.

Let’s behonest, most people get into comics to turn their books into movies and TV.That’s the main thrust of the company, and the comics are a byproduct. However,where Aftershock is different is in this idea that the comics come first. It’san idea that even Marvel and DC struggle with these days. It shows in a lot oftheir numbers.

Aftershockbelieves that in order to generate all that other interest, you must have apublishing company that works, and if you have that rock solid foundation allthe rest of it will come. I think this is an amazing idea, because it’s one wetry to implement with Wannabe Press. In fact, Aftershock sounds a lot likeWannabe Press with money backing them.

I actuallymet with a couple of producers recently and told them exactly that. I amfocused on making Wannabe Press the best publishing company it can be. If weget enough fans and people following us then the rest of it will follow.However, it won’t happen until we can get an audience built. And that onlymakes sense, when you think about it, because if you don’t have fans nobodycares. If they option your book you will get almost nothing from it. However,if you have some oomph behind you, then you are in a different ball game. Ifyou can show there is interest them you won’t only get offers, but those offerswill be much bigger.

It all comesdown to building the audience though, and focusing on doing your thing well. Ifyou are in the game to turn everything into a movie and aren’t in it for theprocess, people will see that and turn off.

This idea offostering your creators as a family is an incredibly valuable idea. In fact,the creators and fans are your most valuable commodity. They are the reason youwill be able to grow, and most indie publishers don’t see that. In fact, theybelieve the property is the most important thing, and end up taking on too manyproperties at the detriment of the creators.

Then thecreators get pissed and quit creating content. Without content the structurecollapses and there is nothing left. It’s a tale as old as time.

We alsotalked about building an audience, and he said something that rang so true forme. You have to rely on the weight of your creators first, and then once youare buoyed and people know you, then you can start to support the creatorsmore. It’s this idea that a rising tide lifts all boats. They started with thebiggest, baddest names first, and made sure that once they were establishedthey could lift up younger creators. I mean that is incredibly business senseto me.

Then we sortof shifted into this world of indie, and how can you stand out from the crowd.It comes down to just one thing, honestly. It’s about building your audience.If you have more audience, you will have more power and leverage. It’s not thatyou don’t need amazing content. That is a given. But the more you have onlinethe better chance you can be found and the more power you have when pitchingideas.

Aftershockdoes not take submissions at all. However, it’s important to see behind thecurtain and what they would look for from an indie creator. Bar none, it camedown to content. If you have content online then people can find you. So getout there and create.

If you wantto find Aftershock online, check out their Facebook page @ https://www.facebook.com/aftershockcomicsand on twitter @aftershockcomix.And of course their website is www.aftershockcomics.com.

They arebuilding a great brand and I can’t wait to see how high they climb.

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