Writing and designing comic books have always fascinated Brad Potts, but finding a way to fund his hobby has been his nemesis. That was until a year ago, when the Internet saved the day. Today, Potts produces his online comic book, Sunday Superheroes, from his home in Belleville. He recently talked with business writer Will Buss about it:
Q: What is Sunday Superheroes?
A: "I publish every Sunday and it features Stalker. Stalker is a young woman who is an athlete and wants to be an Olympian, but her parents are murdered. As she goes through her parents' old things, she discovered her mother's old costume and mask and that her mother used to be a masked crime fighter years before. ... The story's first four chapters are the story is her steps along the way to becoming the new Stalker. It is an origin of the story. Her mentor has been keeping secrets from her about the days her parents were killed and she has discovered those secrets. That's what's making her re-evaluate her life and look back these moments that have shaped where she is today."
Q: How long have you been creating comic books?
A: "The character has been around for a long time. I created the character in late 1990. The character is almost 25 years old. There was an early attempt by my college friends to create a comic book company in 1995-96, but we didn't have enough funding for it and we had under estimated the expense to create the comic books. So that didn't last very long and it folded. Then, about a little over three years ago in June, I was reading comic books again and had a new story in my head. I said to myself, 'I have more money, now. I can make a comic book now.' I hired an artist and wrote a script. There have been a bunch of ups and downs. I tried to do digital comics and print comics, but both did not work well because people do not like to pay for stuff on the Internet. Then, I discovered the wonderful world of Web comics in January 2013. I started to publish a weekly comic book and put a new page up every week and advertising over social media."
Q: How has the Web helped?
A: "It lowers the barriers to entry. You don't have to pay for printing, you don't need to get a distributor and you don't need to get a publisher. You need $10 a month to host your Web site and material to put on your Web site."
Q: How do you fund it?
A: "Web comics are a little strange as a business because we give away our product away. Every single week we put these pages up for people to read for free. There is no charge to go to the Web site. There is no charge to read the comic. In some ways it's like broadcast television. Please, lots of you, come read the comic for free. We have advertisement and advertising revenue. It's not very much for a small guy like me, only $30 or $40 a month. The other thing we do is most web comics will do, every four to six months, is Kickstarter (an online crowdsourcing web site). We ask fans to help us out. We'll get you print books, we'll get you the posters and the original art. Come and support our Kickstarter. That helps us keep going. For those big successful guys, they can make a living. For smaller guys like me, it helps pay an artist and print some books and keep the thing going. That art is not cheap. You can't do this for free forever. You need some sort of income stream to make it work."
Q: How do you create your comic books?
A: "I'm a writer. I create the stories, the settings, the characters and I hire artists to draw them for me. I do some of the design work. I don't pay artists to design my characters for me. I draw my own characters and give them to the artist. I've also partnered with an artist in Edmonton, Canada who is doing Hellenistic Mysteries, another Web comic I'm doing. Hellenistic Mysteries is retelling the classic Greek myths starting with the creation of the world."
Q: What is your day job?
A: "I'm an IT guy over at Scottrade."
Q: Could you make comic books a full-time vocation?
A: "If I became that successful, and some web comics have, I would be interested in doing it full time. The reality is most Web comics never reach that point. There are a handful that explode and become huge and make their creators literally hundreds of thousands of dollars, but most of them stay very small. I'm kind of mid-sized right now, as far as Web comics go. I haven't broken into that upper tier yet."
Name: Brad Potts
Job: Owner, Gateway Comics at 3421 Sheridan Ave. in Belleville (618-222-0176/www.sunday-superheroes.com)
Outlook: "If I became that successful, and some Web comics have, I would be interested in doing it full time."
Contact reporter Will Buss at firstname.lastname@example.org or 618-239-2526.