Cartoonist Cooperative Launches To Support A Sustainable Creative Future
PORTLAND, OR (February 2023) – Comic artists and writers Reimena Yee, Sloane Leong, Nero Villagallos-O’reilly, Joan Zahra Dark, Zach Hazard Vaupen, and Aaron Losty are happy to launch a new groundbreaking initiative with the CARTOONIST COOPERATIVE. The intent behind the cooperative is to make the creative practice more sustainable and successful. The cooperative will be both a curated comics aggregator and a community where members will contribute to a mutual marketing effort of each other’s work. Taking inspiration from Panel Syndicate, Shortbox Comics Fair, and comic collectives, the website will promote new comics on a shared schedule with other members, thereby allowing all to contribute to its promotion.
The CARTOONIST COOPERATIVE aims to disrupt mainstream publishing practices and trends by empowering each other through shared promotional efforts, industry information, pooled resources and skill sharing. From early development to final work, the CARTOONIST COOPERATIVE will be active in supporting its members throughout the creative process through an exclusive Discord server, forum, and educational writing on craft and career hosted on our website.
“Publishing is a mercurial beast; capitalistic trends dictate what stories and storytellers get supported and anyone who doesn’t adhere to the trends get ignored. In a creative industry that simply regurgitates the same stories over and over, you also get unsatisfied, disconnected readers. The system rewards homogeny and conservatism,” says committee member Sloane Leong. “On the business side, even with a deal in hand, publishers can choose to push back your launch date, pull marketing efforts and otherwise cease supporting the very person they’ve contracted. People bemoan the lack of the avant garde in media, that there’s nothing new getting made. But that’s because the avant garde is pushed to the wayside, hidden in the margins, in small, cheap art with no backing or funding from institutions. There’s also currently no website or database that centralizes minicomics, graphic novels, or webcomics, they’re spread across various platforms, separating audiences that would be more useful combined. The Cartoonist Cooperative’s goal is to cultivate an active and mutually supportive environment where unique storytellers of all stripes can be bolstered and made visible.”
“Anyone who’s worked in comics for long enough has stories or knows a few people who have stories about publishers taking advantage of artists fresh out of college with their contracts or multiple companies overworking their artists for not enough money. Comics have been selling better than ever and cartoonists aren’t seeing a fraction of that success paid back to them, with self-publishing still incredibly cost-prohibitive and many folks still working themselves into chronic health conditions or worse for larger projects. Whether you’re just starting out or have been working at this for a while, it’s our hope that the Cartoonist Cooperative can make things just a little bit easier for everyone to make comics!” – Joan Zahra Dark, Committee Member
“The lack of centralization and organization in the comics industry has made it difficult for working cartoonists to share resources and knowledge – even more so if one is marginalized, young, disabled, part-time, or/and overseas. The Cartoonist Collective is built in solidarity with our fellow creatives who exist outside the margins; we aim to empower each other to go beyond the walled gardens, algorithms and corporate market pressures that have dominated the comics scene today.” – Reimena Yee, Committee Member
“Niche, experimental, and often adult-focused cartoonists are also too frequently pushed to the wayside- the first to be kicked off social media platforms, stuck in confusing gray areas with credit card processors, and rarely ever commanding the kind of attention from publishers that more mainstream comics get (especially in the anglosphere). They’re forced to endure last-minute rejections from book printers, potentially having their websites pulled overnight, and can even have their bank accounts jeopardized if their art is deemed too risky. With The Cartoonist Cooperative, we hope we can provide as many cartoonists as possible the tools they need to ensure that they can keep making the comics they want to make for many years to come.” – Nero Villagallos O’Reilly, Committee Member
The Cartoonist Cooperative can be reached for interview or other publicity requests at firstname.lastname@example.org.