Dear, Content Maker–
Being published by someone else does not legitimize your hard work. And, the financial advance hardly pays the rent. Think about that the next time you sign a contract for your original ideas. I trust a firm handshake over most of the jargon they write into those binding contracts, anyway.
Sadly, the death rattle of print is shivering its way towards the way we currently package and distribute our wares, and marketing is a publishing luxury of the past. The good news? There is a new dawn on the horizon where the author will become the provider, publisher and publicist. Don't let it daunt you. Continue to network, make strong allies, be aware, show up, and be gracious. The digital age was created by us, for us. If you can procrastinate one hour a day, you can certainly keep track of what's what. Train your eye and keep tabs and make something new.
Bottom line: keep making original content and stop giving it away to publishers. If you're going to give it away, then benefit from it. Meanwhile, hold on a little bit longer for the paradigm shift to settle in. Exclusive content, destination points, and perceived value is the name of the game. Meanwhile, watch how many publishers close shop in 2011 and know that we're on the cusp of a publishing revolution. Be armed with your stories and get ready. People love to read.
You might know Haspiel from his work with Act-i-vate, or his Vertigo work like Cuba: My Revolution or The Alcoholic, or his creator owned work, Billy Dogma.
He makes some bold pronouncements, such as predicting the folding of several publishers and the actual death of print. While there are certainly signs of things like this happening, it feels like he's being a little too hard edged. We're getting used to seeing these grand pronouncements, and the odd thing about this one is that it feels like it's sort of coming from a different era. I was of the mind that, in all but a few circumstances where bad deals were made, these publishers-ripping-off-creators stories had become much more of a rarity. The industry had learned from the past, and the wealth of available resources on the web had made it very easy for prospective creators to get the best shake. But this is coming from a long time industry veteran, both of creator owned and work for hire jobs.
The problem with statements like this, just like Robert Kirkman's manifesto, coming from a completely different perspective, is that they can't and don't take into account the situation of every kind of current and prospective comic book creator. Maybe some of these folks want to do superhero work for Marvel and DC. Others might not, but just want to see their work in print. Still others love the thrill of creating comics, but don't have the resources, time or otherwise, to self-publish. There's not a one-size-fits-all approach to creating comics.
Still, I admire the optimism for the future contained in the message. While all signs point to a sort of epochal shift of everything we know, there is a future. We don't know what it is, and Haspiel is right that the best thing creators can do is have their stories ready. Keep making comics then.