Independents’ Days

Ahoy creators and createttes! And readers and writers aplenty!

I saw a few tweets today, as well as some posts and articles in the recent past relating to “indy” comics, and what exactly makes a comic book independent. Is it the number of books sold? The fan base? The publisher? Or the type of genre/story?

The whole conversation made me think of independent films, and how the classical definition of an independent film is a film that is made outside of the major studio system, i.e. a film that is funded by sources other than major studios. Now, some people equate that with “cheap” films, or “under $ XX Million” budgets. These days, it’s easy to make that argument when a lot of movies in the theaters are over a million dollars at least.

But then you have an example like Looper, a film which had around a $30 million budget, and yet still qualifies as an “indy” film because it’s investors were all outside of the major studio system. The filmmakers had to find investors, find backing, and find their own distributors.

If they’d made it within the studio system, distribution is all but guaranteed and funding is right there, but at what cost to the creator’s vision, if any? Is it possible to make a studio (aka “mainstream”) film and still maintain originality in vision?

The next question is: when an independent work (film, comic, etc.) becomes popular, does that change the intent of the work, or the status of the filmmaker, or the goals of the company involved? When My Big Fat Greek Wedding hit $250 million, did people suddenly call it or consider it “mainstream” and hack away at the idea that it was ever an independent film? Does it suddenly graduate?

This past year, Beasts of the Southern Wild was made independently, found distribution through the Sundance Film Festival, and earned a hearty amount of money, attention, and accolades. Yet I would argue it’s still an independent film.

The comic book in question is The Walking Dead. Some would argue it’s now a mainstream comic, it being the #1 comic out there, having a TV series built on it, and basically becoming its own franchise. But if a once-known-as-Indy comic can become mainstream, why doesn’t it work in reverse?

Is a Batman comic considered mainstream no matter how many sales?

What I would like to do is start a series of conversations on this blog — not interviews, not Q & A’s — with artists, publishers, producers, executives, writers, creators, etc. who are familiar with their various areas in visual and storytelling media, and talk about the state of independent creation in various fields (TV, Film, Comics, Books, Art, Fashion, Manufacturing, Photography). What does it mean to make an independent film? Is the goal for an indy to become a success? If you’re an independent fashion photographer, what does that mean exactly? Do indy comic creators only self-publish, or are their independent publishers that remain on the fringe?

If you would like to participate and take part in the conversation email me at Joe.Pezzula@Gmail.com

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