Knowing Is Half The Battle: Charles Forsman Gives Advice on the Publishing Industry

You’ve been working on your comic for what probably seems like forever and finally, you feel that you are ready to share it with the world. Of course, you can always go the route of self-publishing, but that carries with it a number of obligations and expectations — printing, shipping, marketing — that you may not have the desire or the knowledge to take on. Thankfully, there are a number of amazing small press comics publishers who are constantly looking to expand their catalog and bring new voices into the world.

Unfortunately, though, as much as there are ethical publishers who want what’s best for the artists they publish, there are also bad actors who prey on the talents of young and new creators.

How do I move forward from an idea to a finished book? How should I approach the licensing of print and digital rights for my comics? Who owns the copyright for my work? How do royalties and advances work? There are a lot of questions about the publishing process, some of which are unique to comics, and some of which are standard areas of concern for working artists around the world.

Part of the goal of Fieldmouse Press, the nonprofit press that publishes SOLRAD, is to advance the comics arts. We see the continued social and economic success of cartoonists as integral to that goal. SOLRAD has devoted and will continue to devote resources to this area of focus.

To this end, we are running an ongoing feature at SOLRAD called KNOWING IS HALF THE BATTLE where we both feature an artist every week and ask for their advice about navigating the world of comics publishing, best practices for the business of comics, and other general advice.

For the initial interview series, Sarah Wray from Astra Editorial, who has worked with publishers such as Avery Hill, Liminal 11, and Breakdown Press, reached out to a number of cartoonists that she has worked with and provided them with the following prompting statements:

  • The main thing(s) I expect from a comics publisher is/are…
  • My #1 advice for submitting to agents and publishers…
  • A sneaky red flag or shady thing I would warn new creators to look out for…
  • I think it can be worth it to take a lower-paid illustration job in return for ___…
  • If a publisher/offer seemed too good to be true, here’s how I’d check it out…
  • An organization I’d go to for support if I needed advice or if something went wrong…
  • My best tip for promoting your work online and at cons…
  • To take care of your health / mental health as an artist, I recommend…
  • I wish someone had told me ___ before I started working in the comics industry…

To add to the dialogue, we continue to reach out to cartoonists using this format. Today on The More You Know we’re featuring tips from Charles Forsman


Image Credit: Chris Anthony Diaz

Charles Forsman is a 2008 graduate of The Center for Cartoon Studies and a three-time Ignatz Award winner. His comic books include Revenger, Celebrated Summer, Slasher, I am Not Okay With This, and The End of the Fucking World — the last two having been adapted into Netflix Original Series. His newest serial is called AUTOMA. He lives in Western Massachusetts.



Charles Forsman

  • The main thing(s) I expect from a comics publisher is/are…
    a chance to share my work with a larger audience.
  • My #1 advice for submitting to agents and publishers…
    Keep your pitch short and simple. 
  • A sneaky red flag or shady thing I would warn new creators to look out for…
    anyone asking you to help pay for any part of the process. 
  • I think it can be worth it to take a lower-paid illustration job in return for ___…
    I really don’t know about this one. I’ve never really done many illustrations. 
  • If a publisher/offer seemed too good to be true, here’s how I’d check it out…
    Ask your fellow cartoonists. Make sure to ask more than one. 
  • An organization I’d go to for support if I needed advice or if something went wrong…
    Try to find local arts organizations that help with legal advice and other such things. Looking outside of comics into the arts or writer world can be fruitful.
  • My best tip for promoting your work online and at cons…
    Don’t burn yourself out on this crap. 
  • To take care of your health / mental health as an artist, I recommend…
    Going for walks and stay off social sometimes especially if you are feeling vulnerable. 
  • I wish someone had told me ___ before I started working in the comics industry…
    Making the actual comics is the important part. 

If you like the work we’re doing here at SOLRAD, please consider making a tax-deductible donation to our parent company, Fieldmouse Press, to help keep the lights on. Thanks!

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