Soulfinder: Infinite Ascent released, succeeds on its own merits: Zero boogeymen needed for new readers

It was one year ago that your friendly neighborhood blogger-turned-YouTuber-turned-indie comics creator came out with Soulfinder: Black Tide. The May 2021 piece I penned upon its release talked about zigging while others zagged; the series about combat veteran exorcists skipped crowdfunding and went straight to the Iconic Comics website.

Soulfinder: Infinite Ascent continues the direct-to-reader approach, but this year the book first came out via an Amazon Kindle digital release and then to a saddle-stitch offering in the lead-up to a hardcover.

One reason for that decision: calculated risk. Hardcovers are trickier to print, and the theory was that getting the book out to as many people as possible at a great price would result in positive views prior to the hardcover’s availability. The key, of course, is that the book must be good. Everything hinges on the quality of the product meeting or exceeding readers’ expectations.

Did it work? Short answer: Yes.

Amazon Kindle feedback has been good. YouTubers have offered substantive (positive) reviews. The same goes for readers who prefer to voice their opinions on Twitter.

As it stands, any potential hardcover buyers who are on the fence once that version is released — complete with artist Matthew Weldon’s colors and inks — will have plenty of objective reviews to consider. Given that it is on the hardcover books where costs can quickly be recouped and profits made (and then those profits recycled into the next installment), the good word-of-mouth for less expensive saddle-stitch versions will be a huge asset for my sales pitch.

Given my approach to selling the series, dear reader, I now ask you to look across the social media landscape and consider the approaches used by other creators to sell books. It is my assertion that what you will see, for all intents and purposes, are a lot of professional victims across the ideological spectrum.

Creators on the left claim that their books should be supported because the evil boogeyman of conservativism threatens to destroy everything we hold dear. Similarly, a population on the right rants and raves about how left-wing boogeymen are out to destroy everything we hold dear. Each rage-fueled population offers a purely emotional appeal instead of talking about the merits of their writing, art, and overall packaging.

It is my stance that ideologues on both sides of the political spectrum are cancerous to creative endeavors and, ultimately, any cultural body they inhabit. Years ago I lamented left-wing ideologues within Marvel who used rage to market their books, so it stands to reason that I would reject right-wing ideologues who do the same thing while essentially saying, “Well, it’s different when we do it.”

Am I a conservative man? Yes. The key difference, however, is that I’m a writer who just so happens to be conservative; I’m not a conservative who happens to write.

If you’re looking for a series in which the creative team puts the characters and their motivations at the top of the priority list, then Soulfinder is for you. If you’re looking for a writer who does not want to shoehorn his beliefs into books and browbeat readers with personal politics, then you should check out my projects.

If, however, you want a conservative man to validate your worldview with painfully on-the-nose messaging, then I promise you those creators are only a few clicks away. They are on every social media platform and they’re begging to tell you that your wallet is the key to saving the world from a laundry list of super-scary men.

Thank you for reading and your willingness to give me your time after all these years on WordPress. I don’t post as much as I used to, but I’m going to try and get here on a more regular basis with thoughts on my time working in corporate media, living in Washington, D.C., and as a creator trying to publish quality independent comic books.

‘Soulfinder: Black Tide,’ ICONIC Comics, and the case for zigging while others zag

It was only a few years ago that your friendly neighborhood writer was regularly critiquing the comic book industry for its unprofessional creators and partisan politics shoehorned into stories. A lot has changed on this blog since then — namely the release of Soulfinder: Demon’s Match and Soulfinder: Black Tide.

Given that, I’d like to share some thoughts on creating comics for anyone who is thinking about taking the plunge.

The indie world is like other endeavors in many ways, in that there are always so-called “experts” who believe they have the definitive roadmap for success. Some creators come from the mainstream industry and charge big bucks for advice. Is it worth it? Overall, the answer appears to be “no.”

First, let us consider some of the advice, both explicit and implicit, floated this way over the years:

  • Avoid politics and religion at all costs.
  • Add “sex appeal.”
  • Creators must have a large YouTube channel or the support of a popular figure on the platform.
  • All roads to success go through Indiegogo and Kickstarter.

Now, let us consider the Soulfinder series of combat veterans-turned-exorcists:

  • Father Retter and Father Crane are Catholic priests; the books do not shy away from religious issues at all.
  • Rosaries are literally sold with Soulfinder books on both the ICONIC Comics and Rugged Rosaries websites.
  • Soulfinder focuses almost exclusively on male characters and arguably has zero “sex appeal.”
  • My YouTube channel is not large by any means. The series has grown by positive word-of-mouth through the grassroots efforts of readers.
  • The Soulfinder: Black Tide launch went directly through ICONIC Comics — — instead of Indiegogo or Kickstarter, and is handily out-pacing the 2019 Soulfinder: Demon’s Match campaign ($33,000) on Indiegogo.

The key to success has far less to do with following a one-size-fits-all blueprint and far more to do with a.) having an objectively good product, b.) creating a clear, concise and personalized definition of success, c.) properly prioritizing important tasks, d.) possessing organizational skills, and e.) having a willingness to take calculated risks.

Readers generally don’t care if politics or religion works its way into stories — provided the author isn’t condescending, rude, or willing to sacrifice good storytelling for partisan (i.e., predictable) propaganda.

Similarly, the man who promotes heroism and virtue in a digital world of vacuous eye candy can do well for himself if he plays his cards right.

One way to stand out from a crowd is to zig while everyone else zags, but doing that requires a certain level of discernment. The more mastery a creator has over smaller and seemingly mundane tasks (e.g., budgeting), the more likely it is that he or she will have an accurate assessment of the “bigger picture” challenges that may be addressed through the aforementioned calculated risks.

If you’re looking to see evidence of this approach in action, then please head to ICONIC Comics and check out Soulfinder: Demon’s Match (2019) and Soulfinder: Black Tide (2021), along with the ongoing Kamen America and Black Hops series by Timothy Lim and Mark Pellegrini.

ICONIC Comics is where you can find creators who are always looking to glean valuable lessons from the successful campaigns of others, yet open to forging their own path when it may be appropriate.

With that said, I’d love to hear your thoughts on creating indie comics. Share your feedback in the comments section below, and please consider spreading the word about Soulfinder if you’ve appreciated the art and storytelling in the first two volumes.

‘Soulfinder: Demon’s Match’ — one writer’s response to a lost and confused comic book industry

Soulfinder Demons Match Dave Dorman Cover

Long-time readers of this blog, which started roughly a decade ago, know that for many years the content was focused on the slow-motion collapse of the comic book industry. Writers and artists started to see themselves as activists and, as a result, they abandoned the classic hero’s journey.

A small (but vocal) group of bloggers documented the mean-spirited, unprofessional, and partisan antics of creators — the most glaring examples often at Marvel — and in time a similar network formed on YouTube.

The history of what became known as “Comicsgate” is too long for a single blog post, but what can be said is this: Soulfinder: Demon’s Match is a direct response to an ailing industry that seems determined to throw itself into an abyss of irrelevance.

For years, critics of this blog and my YouTube channel have said: “Write your own comic if you can do better! All you do is complain!”

Last summer I silently responded, “Will do,” and then penned a tale about a major order of exorcists — all combat veterans — who take on levels of evil that most of the world cannot fathom.

Soulfinder: Demon’s Match is about a man named Father Patrick Retter and his recruitment into the order of Soulfinders.

  • He is flawed, but his moral compass is sound.
  • His faith is tested, but he strives to take the hard right instead of the easy wrong.
  • He has many crosses to bear (like all of us), but he knows that virtue exists in carrying them with grace and dignity.

Along the way, Fr. Retter is mentored by a Vietnam veteran — Father Reginald “Reggie” Crane — and both men are aided by a young police officer named Gregory Chua.

In short, Soulfinder: Demon’s Match is my attempt to entertain people without lecturing them. It is my attempt to tell a tale of Good vs. Evil in a way that isn’t cheesy or preachy. It is my attempt to honor all the writers who inspired me throughout the years, and it is a “thank you” to everyone who encouraged me to enter the creative arena.

The book features covers by the legendary Dave Dorman, art by the extremely talented Timothy Lim, and is colored by industry veteran Brett R. Smith. I can’t thank them enough for all their hard work. They have consistently blown me away with their efforts.

I hope you consider buying Soulfinder: Demon’s Match when our IndieGoGo campaign launches June 14.

Again, thank you to everyone who has followed this blog for years, subscribed on YouTube, and interacted with me on Twitter. Your enthusiasm has been infectious and certainly played a part in bringing this book to fruition.

Related: The guys at Bleeding Fool were kind enough to ask me a few questions about the book. My responses can be found here.

Soulfinder Demons Match