My thoughts are very similar, especially at the entry level. At the ground floor, the road is far easier for the artist (although that does change at the higher level of the publisher driven pieces from what I can tell.)
One of the difficulties of the whole Zenith Comics experience has been the fact that comics are a visual medium and while the Zenith Comics group has some very talented people helping out as a labour of love, the one piece we are missing is an artist.
While in the world of DC and Marvel (and some of the stronger indie publishers) you can sell a series and develop a following based on the writer, in the world of the independent fan base, the passionate following is that of the artist. The internet is a visual medium, and the casual fan base is for those who provides visuals.
That truth has been part of our struggle to keep momentum for Heroic. We’ve worked with some lovely artists, and they have been excellent professionals. But we are still a part time labor of love, able to pay them (because we firmly believe in paying the talent) only through our Kickstarters. We don’t have artists who are just drawing in the world of Zenith Comics out of a love for the world and a friendship with Andrew, and so we don’t have that constant visual stream that would help build the fanbase and more importantly guarantee people keep seeing the world and investing in it. It has been frustrating.
The first two issues are out. Issue three is perhaps Andrew’s most daring in terms of story structure and plot complexity, but the stumbling block of an artist as a core part of the brainstorming is a problem. We are now ready to get back into it, but determining if we have the audience – something substantially harder to maintain with no fixed artist – is something we’re relying on a twitter count to do for us. (You should all follow us)
I can’t think of another medium that suffers from this in quite the same way, although perhaps musicals and/or opera might be close. You can brainstorm the libretto, but the piece simply isn’t what it is without the feedback of the songs. (Film, oddly enough, can progress rather forcefully on script alone.)
I don’t really have a solution. Obviously, I’d like the comic to continue, but if that isn’t in the cards, it isn’t in the cards. We’re still working on the RPG, and there may be other media where the world can continue to grow and evolve. Nothing is ever truly lost.
But HEROIC! is a comic book, dammit, and that is really the way that story needs to be told. (You should all buy it.)