Comic book publishing is a difficult world to survive in, particularly for small and independent publishers. C. Spike Trotman and her Iron Circus Comics, however, has found a way to thrive. When we spoke with Trotman earlier this year for Hire This Woman, we spoke primarily about her role as a creator. Today, this is only a small part of the role Trotman plays in comics, as the slate of books from Iron Circus continues to increase.
As a publisher, Iron Circus places a high value on inclusivity and publishing books that are too often ignored in mainstream comics. To wit, the publisher has a currently-running Kickstarter for Poorcraft: Wish You Were Here written by Ryan Estrada and drawn by Diana Nock. The 130-page black and white book is the the followup to Trotmans original Poorcraft, and is available in a variety of formats at eminently sensible price/reward tiers.
With less than one week left to pledge to the Kickstarter, we reconnected with Trotman to talk about webcomics, publishing, smut, and paying the bills.
In the overwhelmingly male comic book industry, it has been a challenge for some editors and readers to see the ever growing number of talented women currently trying to make a name for themselves. With that in mind, ComicsAlliance offers Hire This Woman, a recurring feature designed for comics readers as well as editors and other professionals, where we shine the spotlight on a female comics pro on the ascendance. Some of these women will be at the very beginning of their careers, while others will be more experienced but not yet “household names.”
Spike Trotman is probably best known for her webcomic Templar, Arizona which she creates entirely herself, and the sex-positive Smut Peddler anthologies she's published through crowdfunding on Kickstarter.
Spike Trotman is a visionary. She sees possibility where others throw their hands up in defeat. She sees innovation where others see stagnation. She is fundamentally optimistic about the future of comics — and why shouldn't she be? Trotman has conducted massively successful Kickstarters — plural — organized some of the best talent in comics into anthologies like Smut Peddler and The Sleep of Reason, made money-producing Poorcraft (a comic about not having money), and, all the while, maintained Templar, Arizona, her long-running and beloved webcomic.
Comics have been good to Spike Trotman, but her success is very much the result of hard work and fresh thinking rather than chance—hard work that has left her one of the most interesting people in the industry. So, naturally, ComicsAlliance tracked down her booth at San Diego Comic-Con to talk Kickstarter foibles, “porn for chicks,” and a new golden age for comics.
If you're a ComicsAlliance reader, then there's a pretty good chance that you're already familiar with Spike Trotman, especially when it comes to her success on Kickstarter. As the creator of The Sleep of Reason and Poorcraft, Spike's had Kickstarter success funding her own comics, and as the editor of Smut Peddler, her latest campaign pulled in an overwhelmingly successful $180,000. If anything will make you an expert on how crowdfunding works, that's the kind of track record that'll do it.
Now, Spike's back with her latest comic, Let's Kickstart A Comic (And Not Screw It Up), featuring harsh truths and solid tips on how to help artists get their own projects off the ground without being financially devastated as a result.
I coordinate an erotic comic anthology called Smut Peddler. The 2014 edition is on Kickstarter right now, and it's slaying. Owning. Knockin' 'em dead. Far and away, the most popular KS project I've ever run. And I'm glad its been so well-received, because otherwise it wouldn't be worth the aggravation.
Have you ever tried to print comic book porno? Not a picnic. I know where to look, thanks to two years of experience and the aid of a freelance print production manager, but it still took two weeks and a dozen price quotes. I had to assemble a PDF of what I call "the black diamond pages," or the most potentially objectionable content, to send around with the quote requests. I had to double and triple-check. "There is sex in this. There are sex organs in this. There is penetration in this. Is that okay? Are you sure? Very sure? Did you see the PDF?"
In 2012, the first volume of Smut Peddler, the "ladycentric, sex-positive erotic comics" anthology with a roster of female creators ,was crowd-funded on Kickstarter, racking up a grand total of $83,000 after a month of funding. With that kind of success, and with reader interest only growing over the past two years, a sequel is pretty much inevitable. Last week, the second volume launched on Kickstarter and met its predecessor's total in just five days, taking in over $80,000 with 25 days left to go, and passing the money that was raised on to the creators as a bonus to their page rate.
To find out more, I spoke to Smut Peddler editor Spike Trotman about the difficulties of putting together an erotic comic and getting it out to readers, why porn isn't always the answer to how to make a quick buck, and how one contributor's teenage fan-fiction gave a boost to the funding just after it launched.
Comics as we know it is wide and fractured. There's Direct Market comics, bookstore comics, webcomics, indie comics, manga, Eurocomics, and several more subcultures. I'm curious about what working under the broad umbrella of "comics" is like for creators, publishers, critics, academics, and more. Over the course of this month, I'm going to interview several people whose work, position, or goals I find interesting and attempt to paint a picture of what "comics" means today.
For the month of February, I'm taking over the Inkstuds podcast in order to introduce Inkstuds Spotlight, a focused look at what it means to be in comics. A comprehensive look isn't my goal. My goal is to show you several different slices of life in comics, as the people I'm interviewing this month play a wide variety of roles in comics. I'm speaking to Spike Trotman, cartoonist and publisher, about making money in comics.
2014 promises to bring a flood of amazing work from a raft of talented cover artists, writers, web cartoonists, interior artists and mangaka. ComicsAlliance has looked at the new projects on the horizon and made a pick of 14 comic creators who we think will make an impact in 2014. Our hope is that this is just the tip of the iceberg, that there are 140 amazing creators on the cusp of creating something great in 2014 -- but these are our picks of the creators to keep an eye on.
Following the success of the 2012 installment, Smut Peddler -- the anthology featuring woman-made, sex-positive comics -- is returning in 2014. The newest edition will feature work from creators Spike Trotman, Faith Erin Hicks, Jess Fink, Jen Vaughn, Kate Leth, Niki Smith and, quite possibly, you.
Womanthology may have gotten the bulk of the press, but there's another woman-driven comics anthology that fired up Kickstarter this year. Smut Peddler collects more than two dozen pornographic comics by women (and a handful of their male collaborators). These are sexy tales of the unexpected: a pair of xenobiologists stranded
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