Author, illustrator and publisher Eric Adams seems to march to the beat of his own drum — much like his comic book series’ protagonist, Fahrenheit. Adams had little to no experience with self-publishing prior to the initial release of his wildly successful seven-issue comic series, Lackluster World, in 2004.
The author started taking art classes when he was five, but freely admits he’s never taken a writing class in his life. “Everything else I’m self-taught,” he says. “I went for two years (to The Art Institute of Ohio - Cincinnati), got my associate degree, and I regret going that long.”
Upon graduating from college, Adams worked as an art director at an ad agency where, as he explains, he “had pretty much given up drawing to work on computers.”
When Adams began to realize that he was more interested in telling stories than drawing, he started seriously investigating film school. But friends who read comic books introduced him to graphic novels like Daniel Clowes’ Eightball and Charles Burns’ Black Hole, which eventually spared him the move to L.A. and years of college.
“I got into comics thinking it was a gateway to movies,” he says, “and it’s never panned out to be that, and I think it’s just because I’ve really come to love comics.”
And it’s easy to see why. Despite Lackluster being Adams’ initial foray into comic book self-publishing, he made a fairly big splash right away. Shortly after the first issue came out, Diamond Comic Distributors, the largest global distribution network for retailers, publishers and vendors of comic books, picked up the first-time author’s series.
He sold about a thousand copies and got a few issues in with Diamond before they let him go for not selling enough. “The total normal story of how it works there,” Adams says. “But now I had an audience there that I didn’t even know.”
Readers sought Adams out when they could no longer find issues at their local comic stores. And having that kind of direct relationship with his customers also helped the author galvanize his fan base.
Being released from his contract with Diamond also freed him from giving the company 60 percent of his cover price. “They all came to me afterward and bought it direct from me at full cover price,” Adams says. “So from that point forward, that’s why I knew this was far more successful than I’d (previously) thought.”
And those same fans — and some new ones — helped Adams fund a Kickstarter campaign this past spring to collect all seven issues of the Lackluster World series in a hardbound version with about 100 additional pages of new comic content. They reached their financial goals — the project was funded 133 percent ($10,657) and the collection comes out this October.
Promoting the Kickstarter campaign also allowed Adams to engage with his audience and get them excited about the series again. And while he is pleased with his run of Lackluster World, the series has been over for a few years, and the author now publishes the work of other creators with his new project, Narrier, a portmanteau of “Narrative Carrier.”
Together with his colleagues from Turnstyle, a creative web development and design firm, Adams is trying to create a niche for “primetime” web-based comics, wherein viewers tune into their online devices at 9 or 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday evenings — “When everybody’s sitting on their couch watching TV anyway,” Adams says — and Narrier releases new episodes of comic online content.
Unlike the usual one-page-per-week web-comics release, however, Narrier would broadcast longer chunks (four or five pages with cliffhanger endings) of original content every weeknight — merging the traditional passive TV-watching paradigm with the more interactive expectations of the Internet.
The long-term goal is to build up multimedia broadcasting content: videos, podcasts and real-time online discussions with the creatives involved in the graphic novels, prose and otherwise that Narrier is publishing.
Adams has big plans but a pragmatic approach, and a ton of confidence that can only come from years of hard work and dedication.
“I still would love to get into filmmaking,” he admits, “but I’m in no rush to get out of comics.”
Eric Adams will make an appearance at the CINCINNATI COMIC EXPO Friday-Sunday. More info: ericadams.net or narrier.com.