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Is Creating Independent Comics Worth It? A Lifelong Comic Book Fan and Artist’s Perspective

Is it still worth it to draw your own independent comics? For those who don’t know me, I’ve been a lifelong comic book fan and artist. Like many of you, I’ve harbored dreams of working for the big publishers. Over the years, my ambitions guided me through a maze of pencil sketches, ink stains, and storyboards, always with an eye on joining a massive comic book universe.

Onu color preview
Color artwork preview of “Onu, the Ethereal of Constant.” Artwork by Rene Arreola.

However, something changed when I turned 50. Reaching this milestone made me reassess my priorities and creative inclinations. Here, I’ll share why creating my own characters and comic books for The Realm Ethereal as an independent creator has brought me an unparalleled sense of fulfillment and reward.

The Dream of the Big Publishers

Growing up, I immersed myself in the worlds of Marvel, DC, and other major publishers. The characters, the stories, and the art resonated with me deeply. These comics weren’t just entertainment; they were a lifeline, an escape, and a future I desperately wanted to be a part of. Like many aspirants, I spent years honing my craft, attending a few conventions here and there; always trying to inch closer to that dream job.

But it wasn’t just about the allure of working with brand names. It was about contributing to stories that have shaped generations and becoming part of a legacy I greatly admired. The idea of seeing my name alongside iconic artists and writers was intoxicating. And let’s be honest, the financial stability that often comes with working for established publishers is also a significant draw.

Facing the Reality

Reality, however, rarely aligns perfectly with our dreams. The closest I ever came was receiving dozens of rejection letters (admittedly from really nice Marvel and DC official letterhead) to getting an actual phone call from a then Marvel Comics submissions editor, who I will only list here as “John L.” By the way, I happened to miss that call, but my brother did get the message and John L. told him I still needed to work on things and that I should not “get my hopes up.” Still, how cool was it that I got an actual phone call??

I never quite broke into the stable, high-profile roles I envisioned. This is an incredibly common experience and one that can be disheartening. The competition is fierce, the industry is ever-changing, and sometimes it feels like the stars need to align perfectly for everything to fall into place.

In retrospect, I realize these experiences were preparing me for something more personal and rewarding—creating my own indie comics. The frustration of constantly bending my creative vision to fit within established universes and editorial guidelines slowly morphed into a burning desire for artistic freedom.

The Turning Point

When I hit 50, something clicked. Milestones like these often bring introspection, and I took a hard look at my journey. Did I really want to spend the rest of my life trying to fit into someone else’s world, or did I want to create my own? The answer became crystal clear.

Is drawing your own indie comic still worth it thumbnail artwork
Click the image above to watch a video of me talking about why I love drawing my own independent comics. Or, click here.

I knew the road of an independent creator was fraught with challenges. There’s no safety net, no established fanbase to fall back on, and no guaranteed paycheck. Yet, the idea of complete creative control, the freedom to tell the stories I wanted to tell, shone brighter than any potential obstacles. Today, I feel my skills as an artist and storyteller are at their peak, and I am excited to see how far I can push myself creating and realizing the ideas and characters I am envisioning in my Realm Ethereal universe.

The Joy of Independent Creation

Creating independent comics allows for a level of self-expression that’s hard to find in more mainstream avenues. My characters, stories, and even the worlds they inhabit are untouched by external influences. They are purely mine, birthed from my imagination without compromise. The artistic freedom is invigorating. There’s no mistaking that I am influenced by all that I’ve consumed in the past, as well as continuing to be inspired by what is being produced today, no doubt!

When you’re working independently, every decision—from storyline arcs to character designs—is yours. This creative autonomy is both a blessing and a responsibility. The passion required to sustain such creativity is immense, but it’s the kind of passion that fuels long nights and drives relentless innovation.

Navigating Challenges

Of course, being an independent comics creator isn’t without its hurdles. Marketing, distributing, and selling your work can be daunting. You’re responsible for everything—from creating the comic to getting it into the hands of readers. And let’s not forget the financial aspects. Independent creation often means funding projects out of your own pocket initially, which can be stressful.

Moreover, the workflow when you’re doing everything yourself can be overwhelming. Storyboarding, sketching, inking, coloring, lettering, printing, and marketing—each stage requires a different skill set and a lot of time. Finding a balance is key, and believe me, it took me years to develop a manageable workflow that didn’t lead to burnout.

Direct Reader Connection

One of the most rewarding aspects of this journey is the direct connection with readers. Unlike working for a big publisher, where you might be several steps removed from the audience, indie comics allow for an intimate relationship with your fans. Social media and comic conventions have made it easier than ever to interact directly with readers. Their feedback is immediate and genuine, helping guide future projects and refining your storytelling craft.

The Financial Reality

Let’s be honest; independent comics aren’t usually the most lucrative endeavor. Especially starting out, it’s difficult to compare financially with the salaries in big-name publishing houses. However, the financial model is changing rapidly. Crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Patreon offer new, viable ways to earn money and get your work noticed.

The potential for owning your intellectual property remains one of the most compelling reasons to stay independent. By maintaining full rights to your work, you have the freedom to expand it into other media—whether that means merchandise, adaptations, or other exciting opportunities.

Tips for Aspiring Indie Creators

For those of you thinking about venturing into indie comics, here are some tips:

1. **Perfect Your Craft:** Whether it’s artistic skills or storytelling, aim for excellence. There’s no substitute for quality.

2. **Start Small:** Don’t overwhelm yourself with a sprawling epic. Begin with shorter stories to build up your confidence and skills.

3. **Network:** The indie community is incredibly supportive. Engage with other creators, attend conventions, and be active on social media.

4. **Utilize Technology:** There are numerous digital tools and online platforms available for creating, publishing, and marketing your comics. Learn to use them effectively.

5. **Be Persistent:** The road is long and challenging, but consistency and passion will see you through.

Is Making Your Own Independent Comics Book Worth It?

So, is it still worth it to draw your own indie comics? For me, the answer is a resounding yes! While the journey is far from easy, the rewards are immense. Creating my own characters and stories has been the most fulfilling experience of my life. It’s not just about the end product; it’s about the process, the passion, and the connection with readers who truly appreciate your work.

If you enjoyed my dive into the world of indie comics, don’t forget to LIKE this post and SUBSCRIBE to my blog for more insights and stories. Your support means the world to me. And if you’re curious about my own independent comics, visit my website to read my latest works and connect with me.

You can always read my Realm Ethereal comics for free (as I release new pages) here at my website: https://www.renearreola.com/the-dream-awakens/

Thank you for joining me on this journey. Keep creating, and never stop dreaming!

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