Make Comics Serazard The City

How to Make Indie Comics: Project Management, Marketing and Sales


Congratulations on taking the first step towards bringing your story to life as a comic book! Managing a team and budget can be daunting, but with the right approach, you can ensure your project is delivered on time and to a high standard.

Every indie comic project is unique, so it’s essential to tailor your management approach to your team’s needs. As the creators behind The City, we understand the challenges of collaborating without pay and having to manage a non-profit business. However, by implementing some basic project management principles and maintaining a professional, passionate, and accountable team, we were able to overcome these challenges.

Let’s begin with some super basic project management. Most likely, as the writer initiating this project, you will need to learn how to do this. There are some foundational principles, techniques, and tools used to plan, execute, and monitor a project from start to finish, some of which you already performed during the team creation and fundraising phase of your project. Watch a Youtube video on the project cycle if you want technical details. Here I’ll describe a few steps in comic book project management terms:

  1. Project planning: Establish clear goals for your project, including deadlines for each stage of production (storyboard/thumbnails, pencils, ink, colors, etc.). Make sure everyone involved is aware of the timeline and expectations. Consult with the stakeholders of each responsibility to ensure goals are realistic and achievable. Planning also involves defining the scope for each task. Scope is the specific boundaries and goals of a project, outlining what tasks will be completed and what won’t be included. For example, a project scope could be maintaining minimal level of detail in foreground or background objects, or limited the number of colors used per issue. The project plan should also identify the resources needed to complete the project, including personnel, equipment, and materials. Create a simple financial sheet and recording the date, item name, what it’s used for, and the budget.
  2. Project organization: Break the project down into smaller, more manageable tasks, and assign specific responsibilities to team members. This can help ensure that everyone stays on track and knows what they need to do to complete the project. Consider using project management software such as Asana, Trello, or Monday. Using a Kanban board allows everyone to clearly see how the project is broken down and where they fit in. For example, for The City, we use Asana to monitor each stage of production from script, storyboard, pencil, ink, letters, to color, with the person responsible for it coming up with their own deadline. We also record every meeting we conduct and update a master log of the project’s progress. Remember, the project manager is responsible for overseeing the team and ensuring that each member has the support and resources they need to complete their assigned tasks. 
    • Communication: Communication is key when managing a comic book project. Make sure to keep in touch with your team members regularly, whether through email, phone calls, or meetings. For The City, we use a group chat on Instagram for immediate and small messages, and a group email chain for important messages or news. At the moment, everything in our project is transparent and can be accessed by our team members.
    • Content management: Keeping an organized file and folder system becomes vital as your project grows. In the beginning, our team shared the freemium version of Google Drive, and now we upgraded to a fancy plan. Our folders are split into 2: The City and Company. In The City folder, we have folders for each issue which is split into each stage of production (script, storyboard…color, print ready). We also have a folder containing all the concept art, mood boards and references. As for the Company folder, we have our finance sheet, operations & marketing projects, and a media folder containing photos of videos of our team during our journey. I’d recommend keeping at least the date for your file name extension. Everything is transparent and accessible by our team.
  3. Project execution: This involves implementing the project plan, which includes assigning tasks, monitoring progress, and making adjustments as needed to keep the project on track. It also involves managing project risks and addressing any issues that arise during the project.
    • Monitoring and control: This involves tracking the project’s progress against the project plan and making adjustments as needed to keep the project on track. This includes monitoring the project budget, timeline, and quality, and identifying any variances or issues that need to be addressed. It’s difficult to balance work, life, and a comic book project. Make sure to consult with your team on expectations and deadlines, and be flexible with delays -it’s not the end of the world. Try to hold weekly syncs (short 15-30 min) or longer form meetings (45+ min), to catch up with everyone and track progress. If there are delays, investigate the possible blockers and figure out how you can remove them.
    • Positive & Constructive Feedback: Provide regular constructive feedback to your team members on their work. This can help them improve their skills and stay motivated to produce their best work. Foster a positive team culture by keeping your team members motivated and engaged. Champion teamwork, celebrate successes, and be supportive of each other’s work. For The City, we try to break industry standard rules in each issue and we encourage each other to do something ‘crazy’. It’s a fun way to not take the project ‘too seriously’ and flex everyone’s creative muscles.
  4. Project closure: This involves completing the project and delivering the final product which in this case would be printing or publishing your first single issue. There is also another step called ‘Project Landing‘ which studies and measures the success of the project, but that’s not the point of indie comics in this sense. Once the comic book is done, now it needs to be marketed so people can read your dope story!! This step also involves conducting a project evaluation or a retrospective to identify lessons learned and opportunities for improvement in future projects.
    • SCRUM: SCRUM is a project management framework used by teams to work together and complete complex tasks by breaking them down into smaller, more manageable pieces. For The City, we split the tasks (script, storyboard…inking, colors, etc.) and we try to complete them as soon as possible. At the moment, the tasks are lined up chronologically with myself writing and storyboarding future chapters, Dicky Siregar penciling and inking the latest storyboard, and Dave Praetorius lettering and coloring the chapter Dicky has finished inking. Everyone is busy with their respective tasks and makes the progress faster. When a task if finished, there’s always the next task immediately to move onto. There are definitely errors due to this, but we consider them ‘learning experiences’ and try to mention them during our retrospectives. However, in our next iteration, we keep them in mind and try to avoid making the same mistakes.


By applying these project management basics, you can effectively plan, execute, and monitor a project from start to finish, and deliver high-quality results that meet or exceed the project goals and objectives. Make sure to celebrate milestones (if budget allows). It took us about a year and a half to secure some cash for a team dinner, but it was sooo worth the wait!


Let’s Get Your Comic Out There!!

Marketing a comic book is the hardest part. Especially with digitalization of pretty much everything, you should consider which route makes most sense for your project. One thing that we learned from The City is that print issues are more or less novelty collectibles, and collectibles are for true comic book geeks and collectors. For the rest of the market, it’s all about growing a fan base first, which is why The City is online for free. But for each their own. Here are a few marketing strategies that can help you get the word out and reach a wider audience:

  1. Online foundations: Create a website and social media accounts for your comic book with all of your team’s contact info and upcoming events. If you can, write and schedule a blog article each week, as well as content for your social media. You can use Meta business suite to pre-schedule all of your Instagram and Facebook content. This can help you connect with potential readers and promote your work to a wider audience.
  2. Conventions and events: Comic book conventions and other events are great opportunities to showcase your work and connect with readers. Be sure to have copies of your book on hand to sell, and engage with attendees to build buzz for your project. However!!! Be wary of mainstream ‘comic book’ conventions such as Fan Expo or Comic Con. They’re really not about comic books anymore, but mainstream pop culture. Smaller local comic book events may be better, or best of all, small press events. Take your comic book where people are there to buy comic books!
  3. Comic book influencers and reviewers: Find influencers and reviewers in the comic book community and reach out to them to see if they would be interested in reviewing your book or promoting it to their followers. For The City, we contact social media reviewers on Youtube, Instagram, and TikTok, as well as blog writers that we find through Google. To be completely frank, I’m not certain how much impact it has other than maybe boosting your website’s SEO a little with backlinks (Youtube and Blogs).
  4. Offer free samples: Provide free samples of your comic book to potential readers to generate interest and excitement about your project. Better yet, partner up with other creators or comic book shops to do a free giveaway bundle in exchange for email signup or follows. For The City, I always carry a few sample copies with me to give to someone I meet. One thing to always be mindful of is that you should always target demographics that are likely to convert into a success metric such as a sale, or engagement. From our experiences, we had some giveaways that were complete flops so definitely take your time into planning it right.
  5. Host Popups at local comic book shops: Partner with local comic book shops to sell your book and promote it to their customers. Consider offering discounts or other incentives to encourage shops to stock your book. Every issue we launch for The City, our awesome local comic book shop, The Sidekick Comics in East Toronto, always hosts us for a popup. It’s a great time to network and socialize with local comic book readers and to sell some comics! We also had the opportunity to meet many other local creators that we’ve become very close with over the years.
  6. Build a mailing list: This is probably one of the most important ones. Create a mailing list of fans and interested readers, and use it to keep them updated on your project’s progress and new releases. Offer exclusive rewards and perks to backers to entice them to support your project. Continuously feed your fans with email updates on your comic books progress. You will notice drop offs but don’t be discouraged. As you grow your mailing list, you will start to maintain a solid trustworthy group of fans that are looking forward to reading updates and convert into sales!
  7. Just go out on the streets: I mean, why not?

Hope this helps! Marketing is something that we are also working hard to improve, so if you have tips let us know as well!



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