Episode 19: Building a Fanbase with Barbra and Bryant Dillon

May 11, 2016

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Today on the
program we have Bryant and Barbra Dillon, the amazing team behind Fanbase Press
(formerly Fanboy Comics). They just went through a rebranding to better align
their brand with their vision. Here’s what they are about, straight from the

Fanboy Comics is all things geek! 
Founded in 2010 by Barbra and Bryant Dillon and Sam Rhodes, Fanboy Comics (FBC)
is a comic book publisher and an online community supporting other creators and
fans through daily reviews, interviews, and podcasts that span the pop culture

FBC seeks to provide an outlet for
up-and-coming artists and writers with a desire to create new works and media.
By facilitating in-house collaborations and providing support and empowerment,
FBC hopes to enable the production of professional and marketable creator-owned

Fanboy Comics’ graphic novels, Something Animal, Identity Thief, The Arcs, Fearworms: Selected Poems, and Penguins vs. Possums, are available online at www.fanboycomics.net.

I make no
bones about how much I love both of these people. The fact that they gave me my
first positive review of Ichabod Jones: Monster Hunter oh so many years ago
doesn’t hurt, but they are two of the most welcoming people I’ve ever met in an
industry full of welcoming people.

But that’s
not the reason I had them on the show. I had them on the show because they have
been doing things the right way since 2010, and they really embody everything I
teach creatives about how to build a business. Here are just a couple examples:

They started
reviewing comics while they waited for the art on their first book Something
Animal to be drawn. That’s so brilliant. So often creatives wait until a
project is done before they start building an audience, but Barbra and Bryant
decided to get their community building happening immediately, even though they
didn’t have any product.

mission statement is really about helping indie and small creators, which gives
them a perfect niche market to focus their energy. Since they themselves are
indies they can speak the language of creation to creators. On top of that,
they build deep bonds with people starting out that can pay off when those
people blow up.

They focus
on positivity. They don’t want a review on their site that is all bashing. They
want to make sure everything at least has constructive criticism. It’s so easy
to go negative with reviews, and focusing on giving constructive criticism is
something different that makes them stand out.

That’s just
a couple of examples of the kinds of nuggets they drop in this episode, but what
really got me jazzed was how their built their brand over time. They didn’t
wait for somebody to give them permission. They started reviewing stuff once a
week. Then they started podcasting. Then they started doing audio dramas. And
they started making comics. Nobody told them no, and frankly they didn’t ask.

That’s the
exact right attitude. But they went even further with it, because they had been
fans of comics their entire lives. They read comics. They studied comics. They
read review sites. They didn’t just go into it blindly. They were strategic
about what sort of business they started.

They told me
a story about how their first book, Something Animal, was going to be a short
film. However, budgetary constraints and time constraints forced them to look
another way, and since they all loved comics they decided to look into a medium
they all loved, which was comics.

This is
funny, because it’s the exact reason I got into comics. I was doing movies and
TV, with budgets ballooning to sometimes millions of dollars a minute, and my
manager at the time showed me comics. When I found out how much more affordable
they were to make and still get a fantastic product, I was sold. On top of
that, the artistry behind them had me enthralled.

I want to
take a second too, and mention how glowing they were about one of their
founders that left the company, Sam Rhodes. They talk very positively about how
their company would be nothing without him being there from the beginning. They
spent a lot of time on this around the 20-30 minutes mark, as we talked about
what it’s like to have partners.

I look at it
quite glowingly b/c I have no partners. I’m doing this myself with the help of
freelancers, and it always seemed like their partnership worked so well.
However, like anything the grass is greener on the other side. They were able
to scale faster b/c they had three people, but they also had to get consensus
from three people, and everybody had a different opinion on exactly what should
be done in order to make the best product.

Then we
finally moved into talking about their rebrand. Since 2010 they have been
Fanboy Comics, and a rebrand is incredibly hard to pull out. It should not be
considered lightly, and they mention how no company should constantly pivot b/c
then nothing will ever get done.

like all their other moves I think this is a good one. See, Fanboy Comics
brands them a) as fanboys (of which there are many girls among other reasons)
and comics (which they are so much more, putting out a book of horror poetry
and doing an audio drama). By moving into Fanbase Press, they fix all of that.
First, they are the Press. Second, they are a publishing company (thus press)
so it works on two levels there. Additionally, they are still fans of things
which is the basis for their company. On top of all that, they build the word
BASE into their title, so people subliminally think of it as a base of

Having a
base of operations is the biggest thing you can have in your business. Social
strategy means nothing if you don’t funnel it back to a base of operations
where you can have your audience gather.

All in all,
I think if you had to pick a company that embodies the ideals of what I teach:
providing value, just doing it, building a fanbase the right way, you could do
much worse and not much better than Fanbase Press.

I will end
with this. What I think Fanbase does best, is exemplify the idea of providing
incredible value for their audience. They have an amazing ability to build
people that know, like, and trust them. Those are the three pillars before
somebody will buy from you. Bryant and Barbra are masters at that.

Find us on Itunes. If you like the show please subscribe, rate, and review it. It’s
the #1 thing you can do to make sure we reach more people.

Enjoy the show.




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