Image courtesy Jason Brubaker
Jason Brubaker developed his first creator-owned comic book, Phobos, in high school. He began a career as a professional artist when he was 20 years old, and after working in the industry for 13 years, decided to revise and release Phobos. In 2007, he printed a thousand copies, which he attempted to sell at the Alternative Press Expo in San Francisco.
It was a disaster.
He didn’t even sell enough comics to cover the costs of his convention table and still has many of them in his garage today.
Brubaker then tried to find an agent and publisher to help him break into comics but soon realized that his ideas about the publishing industry were outdated.
“What I learned is that nobody cares about what you want to do until after you prove yourself,” he said.
Brubaker started working on a new comic in secret. After developing it for three years, he began posting it on his website in 2009.
He then created a blog to share the information he was learning about how to make comics.
By 2010, he had built an audience for his website by blogging and writing articles, and the reaction to his comic was good. It gave him new motivation to complete the work because he knew there was now an audience that would be disappointed if he didn’t.
“I decided to create a comic that would cater to other artists who were doing what I was doing,” Brubaker said. “People started coming to my website to read the articles and see the comic.”
The comic Brubaker published on his website was called reMIND. It was based on an animation project he had worked on for the previous seven years, which a producer suggested he turn into a graphic novel.
A New Approach
Brubaker’s goal was to publish a beautiful, hardbound volume of his graphic novel but his earlier convention experience made him wary of paying for everything out-of-pocket.
In 2010, he applied for and won a $5000 Xeric grant to help him publish his comic. He also decided to try raising money from the people who read his comic online, a process known as “crowdfunding,” through a website that had just launched called Kickstarter.
His Kickstarter project was a huge success, raising $12,600.
Brubaker knew he was on to something. The funding he received allowed him to finish his graphic novel and ship hardbound copies of the first volume to the fans who pre-ordered it by pledging donations through Kickstarter.
When he later needed funding to print the second volume of reMIND, he created another Kickstarter campaign and raised $107,000.
The comic has since been honored with many awards, including: the Top 10 Graphic Novels Star Tribune 2011 Award, the GGNT List 2012 and LitPick 5 Star Award 2014.