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Count on two things that will make Michael Davis smile: Christmas and comic books. The holiday season only comes once a year, but as the creative chief of The Guardian Line, a faith-based comic book series, Davis is grinning every day because he’s fulfilling a long-held dream.
“I always wanted to create a black Disney,” says Davis, 42, a producer who resides in Woodland Hills, California. Searching for a partner to help realize his dream, Davis found the right ally with Urban Ministries Inc. (www.urbanministries.com), a media publisher of spiritually-based content targeting the African American Christian market.
Davis met Carl Jeffrey Wright, UMI’s president and chief executive officer, at the National Association of Television Program Executives conference in 1999. Five years later they reconnected, and Davis handed Wright a business plan that introduced UMI to New Hope City, a fictional metropolis populated with heroes, villains, and everyday souls to be saved. Davis introduced storybook characters such as Code, a cool man of mystery in a black trench coat and hat who helps the needy; Joe, an 11-year-old destined for heroic greatness; and Genesis 5, a band of teenage angels who battle dark forces while attending high school.
UMI loved the vision. “We know this sight-and-sound generation [of young people] is always looking for more, and given the heightened interest in graphic novels, it was something we wanted to approach,” says Wright. The Guardian Line series (www.theguardianline.com), distributed by Diamond Comic Distributors and UMI, launched in December 2006 to rave reviews. It was no surprise to Wright, who says churches are hungry for a unique way to spread the teachings of the Bible. The comic books are sold directly to churches, consumers, comic book stores, and Christian retail outlets.
Are you a graphic artist who is ready to craft a business for yourself? For an aspiring comic creator or graphic novelist, what Davis accomplished won’t be so easy, he says. It takes seed money — usually around $6,000 to $8,000 to publish a “decent” 32-page book; the ability to attract experienced writers and artists, who can charge up to $500 a page; and a lot of networking. Davis suggests attending conventions such as those held by Comic-Con International (www.comic-con.org), a nonprofit organization for the comics industry and lovers of the art form, and talking to retailers to find out what sells and what doesn’t. Finally, be willing to consult, and then work your way in.
Resources to Draw From
Software: Comic Book Creator
Company: Planetwide Media www.myplanetwide.com
This PC-based self-publishing layout program will empower any budding comic book enthusiast to create his or her own original comic. Users are able to turn digital photos or video-game screenshots into comic-style layouts. When finished, you can print it out or save it as a PDF or bitmap file.
Book: How to Self-Publish Your Own Comic Book: The Complete Resource Guide to the Business, Production, Distribution, Marketing and Promotion of Comic Books
Author: Tony C. Caputo
Publisher: Watson-Guptill Publications
Davis creates black heroes to spread the teachings of the bible.