The idea began as a conversation among friends holding beers in Long Beach apartments.
Their plan was to create their own universe with superheroes, villains and stories full of conflict and adventure. And they wanted to create their own publishing house for the new characters they planned to create. Birds Eye Comics was eventually born from these meetings, an upstart still finding its feet.
I honestly hope they didn’t go the cliched route of creating yet another superhero universe in the end, because there’s simply too much of that already. It’s always possible to develop stories starring characters wearing all sorts of surreal outfits in surreal worlds without making it yet another superhero spectacle.
The friends all had different personalities, interests and voices, and a universe was the perfect way to branch off in different directions without separating altogether.
The pandemic changed their strategy and taught them a lot about how to gather interest and raise money for projects. Their initial plan had been to attend comic conventions known fondly by attendees as “cons.” There, [Franky] Sampieri expected to encounter a critical mass of people who all love stories and the art that goes along with them.
Instead, he noticed more enthusiasm for existing characters and stories from blockbuster brands like Marvel Comics.
On this, it’s disputable, based on the sales for modern Marvel output, littered as it’s become with far-left politics and pandering. Even whatever success the movie adaptations have had may be weakening, if the Eternals serves as indication. Here’s where things get a bit better:
Other comic book publishers have brands as well as a host of fantasy and science fiction book series. It’s a competitive type of storytelling with many beloved, well-established characters and stories.
Birds Eye Comics started by launching “Aydyssey,” but after pushing a few books decided to add a new annual anthology it’s calling “The BeBop.”
One of the founders, Jeremy Askegard, is still developing Aydyssey, but Sampieri said they needed to add something smaller and more accessible.
BeBop follows in the footsteps of other comic book companies, like Dark Horse Comics, now a major name in the business. Dark Horse Comics also began as a publisher of anthologies and now is one of the best-recognized brands in the industry.
Yes, I know Dark Horse began their business with an anthology or two in 1986, though in recent years, anthologies have definitely become a rarity for the mainstream. And I’m sure there’s advantages to it, even though I do believe full-length graphic novels can be too. I just hope that, unlike Dark Horse as they could currently stand, this new publisher isn’t following political correctness in any way. Birds Eye also uses crowdfunding to their advantage:
The first issue of “The Bebop” featured over 100 pages produced by 26 creators, including writers and illustrators. And it showed Sampieri and company the power of Kickstarter, not just as a money-raising platform but as a means of advertisement. A whole community of indie comic enthusiasts exists there, he said. Their initial fundraising goal was $1,500, the funding response surpassing that number to the tune of more than $4,000.
It was more than enough to make their plans work.
“You have to have a love for it and you have to be okay if it doesn’t pay the rent,” Sampieri said. “But we do see a path forward to make some money.”
Comic book writers and illustrators have limited opportunities to earn some money while learning their craft. Even talented, working artists can struggle to find outlets that pay for anything. But Birds Eye Comics has managed to establish a small foothold in the market through crowdfunding platforms allowing it to pay all of its creators something.
Good for them if crowdfunding paid off. And it’ll be even better if they avoid following PC patterns for whatever type of stories they plan to develop in the future, so long as they’re around. While it’s great to earn money though, I’d still strongly recommend doing it as much for the glory of storytelling, and maybe even more. For now, if Birds Eye is dedicated to entertainment value, that’s a definite plus.
Check out the book here.
Originally published here.