It’s inevitable. The moment that anyone creates a zombie themed project on television, film or in comics, people start bringing up just how over saturated the zombie apocalypse market is. However, as the recent success of The Walking Dead on AMC and Machinima’s Bite Me web series show, there is still life in this genere. Jeff McComsey’s FUBAR series is another addition to zombie comics that any hardcore Romero fan can appreciate.With a mix of World War II history and zombie armies, FUBAR is a unique and compelling look at the undead and the soliders fighting them. McComsey’s anthology FUBAR: Empire of The Rising Dead recently won an IGN people’s choice award for best comic anthology and was featured on The New York Time bestseller list in January. FUBAR is zombie comics at their best, and incredibly, McComsey has published every edition of FUBAR independently.
I spoke with McComsey about being a successful independent publisher, the free comic business model and creating more than just a comic about zombies. To check out FUBAR: The Devil’s Dance Floor, download it here as part of Free Comic Book Day.
As a completely independent publisher, how has FUBAR Press set itself apart from other less successful indie publishers?
One thing I think was huge for FUBAR was letting the brand grow organically. We never printed more then we could afford. We waited until the interest and money was there before we expanded and moved on to multiple volumes.
It’s a great experience to be responsible for every step of the process of publishing. I’ve learned things about printing, advertising, pre-press, marketing and retailing your books that I might not have if FUBAR was under a different publisher. I recommend it to anyone who’s looking to get into making comics. It’s a crash course in the business of making comics which is a separate animal from perfecting one’s craft.
With digital self-publishing playing a larger role in comics, how do you think it will change the landscape for people looking to work in comics?
I feel that digital could be a game changer for Marvel and DC and perhaps some of the larger “indie “ publishers like Dark Horse and IDW, but I don’t see it revolutionizing Small Press indie comics any time soon. For Small-Press indie guys the web comic will probably remain the easiest route to get your work in front of people. Monetizing that work is probably easier to do through web traffic than working with an indie digital distro. The sales just aren’t there, yet.
Do you have any advice for someone looking to self publish and distribute?
Start small and make a TON of content and get it out however you can. Rinse and repeat.
Empire of The Rising Dead won a best comic anthology people’s choice award from IGN. Has that accolade changed what you feel can be done with self published titles?
We’re in it for the long haul so any profile we can raise helps keep us going. The IGN award was huge, but none of us was prepared for FUBAR EotRD to hit the New York Times Best Selling Graphic Novel’s list in January. That was amazing for us. All these things combine to keep up morale, which is critical when working around your passions.
You recently released The Devil’s Dance Floor for free on FCBD. Do you believe that the free comic business model works for up-and-coming comic creators?
I do. I believe the way a book breaks out is to get retailers interested in it or at least aware of it. I learned early on that just because your book is in preview doesn’t guarantee you any orders. You have to make sure retailers know who you are and when you have a book in Previews. Easier said than done, I know. We did the Kickstarter with our fellow indie pub 215 INK where we raised enough money to print up 4000 FCBD books and ship them to about 60 retailers. The idea was to reach out and build a relationship with retailers in the hopes that this translates into more pre-orders for our books when the land in Previews.
I love what 215 INK and Action Lab are doing for organized Small Press pubs. These are two young pubs that are coming out guns blazing. I love Oni Press’s Packaging for their books and the material they print in general. They put out a book last year called PETROGRAD. It’s just a terrific book all the way around.
Any last minute advice for aspiring comic writers and artists?
Be PRODUCTIVE. Nothing impresses me more than somebody who is consistently grinding out work. Be it writing, publishing or producing pages. Be POSITIVE. Having a good attitude is HUGE. It can be a series of ups and downs when you’re working on something you love. Be careful you don’t swing from one extreme to the other because it will burn you out. Most importantly, be PATIENT. It takes years of work to develop the skills and following that allow you to make comics a career. Look at creators you admire. If you look closely, you will more often than not find that they’ve been doing this stuff for years before they “broke in”.
If would like to check out any of the FUBAR titles, you can buy them, preview them and read them at the official FUBAR Press site.