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Find Your Blue Ocean


There’s a book by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne called Blue Ocean Strategy. It’s not a comic book or a graphic novel. Heck, it’s not even fiction. What it is is a business book. “Ramon, why are you writing about a business book?” you may ask. Well, because if you’re trying to make money in comics, then it’s not just an art it’s a business!

So what is the Blue Ocean Strategy? Basically the concept is that you want to start a business in a blue ocean versus a red ocean. In a red ocean, there’s lots of competition. A lot of blood in the water already. Hence the red color. But in a blue ocean, there’s little or no completion, so the water is still blue. How does that apply to the business of comics? Perhaps its best to give some examples:

Open Calls vs Personal Relationships
When you submit to an open call, you’re competing with hundreds of other creators. But when you submit to an editor whom you’ve built a relationship with, you’ll probably be only competing with 20 other guys (If you’re lucky.) I’m not saying don’t submit to an open call, please do. Just know that your chances might actually be better if you take the time to network within the industry.

Comic Book Readers vs Non-Comic Book Readers
We often promote our work to industry press, bloggers and comics related social media. And we post our webcomics to Tapastic, Smackjeeves and Comixology. But the fact is, those audiences usually already have a full reading list. But a person who doesn’t normally read comics might be open to trying something new. And even if only a small percentage of them bite, there are still lot more regular folks than comic book fans. So upload to Amazon, Scribd and Issuu too!

Superheroes & Zombies vs Adventures in _______
I left that last word purposely blank because the possibilities are endless. Mainstream superheroes and the undead may be big in Hollywood right now, but everybody and their mother is doing it. So come up with something completely different! Something that’s uniquely your perspective. Who knew there would be an audience for a detective who eats corpses or people marrying their pets?

Mike Mignola style vs Your Own Style
I’m only using Mignola as an example, who is awesome by the way, but there are a lot of artists who try to emulate their favorite creators. Even I’m guilty of it. But really, we should be finding our own voice, our own style. A very successful advertising guy once told me “Either do something better than everyone else or do something nobody else is doing!”

So there you have it! The difference between Blue Oceans vs Red Oceans. In the book The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing, Al Ries & Jack Trout say that it’s better to start a product for a new “category” rather than in one that’s already dominated by another product. Coke already owned the “cola” category so Seven-up proclaimed itself “The Uncola.” So what’s your “Uncola”?

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