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.