2020 Indie Comics Vendor Survey

SURVEY!? What Survey?

I sprung this survey on vendors at a small annual Indie Comics Fair that I run in Columbus, Ohio. I am currently enrolled at the John Glenn School of Public Policy to get a degree in Public Management with a nonprofit management minor. My broad goals are to use that degree combined with my two decades of administrative work at nonprofit organizations (NPOs) to give back to the community of comic artists and fans. My specific goals for this survey were two-fold:

1) Begin the complex work of defining comic artists in terms stakeholder identity, and

2) start the conversation about what the relationship comic artists and NPOs should look like.

Here is a link to the survey as presented to the vendors: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1nHHacebhGAHu8tnyaB7A38HTkmCqmMQI

More about the Indie Comics Fair

First and foremost, I should say that the Indie Comics Fair is NOT a nonprofit event. I make a little bit of dough from it every year. It is, however, a very DIY event uses many of the values I learned through work in the nonprofit sector. Artists bring their own tables and are only asked to pay “what it was worth” at the end of the day. The Fair is held at a nonconventional space (the Ace of Cups bar) in order to facilitate bridging between the comic arts community and the wider Columbus community.

The Fair is co-sponsored financially by Bob Corby of the Small Press and Alternative Comics Expo (SPACE), with any funds Bob kicks in going towards paying an artist for a poster and on-line advertising of the event. This year's poster, above, was created by Renkorama.

Notes on Survey Response and Methodology:

A printed version of the survey was given to vendors at the beginning of the show with instructions to return the completed survey to me by the end of the Fair. 22 of 24 total vendors were given the survey. I did not take my own survey and did not administer it to one vendor who was a retailer, but not an artist themselves. 14 of those 22 responded to the survey.

The responses on the survey can not be applied to the comic artist population as a whole as this is a small sample and not a random sample. The responses, however, may be looked at as providing some insight into CCAD Comic Majors, nine of whom were admitted as a group, and into my network of local comic artists, which is fairly extensive. (As I said above, this survey was meant to be the first step in a much larger and more complex project! If anyone wants to fund a comic artist census, I’m here to do the work!)

Below are the responses presented without much commentary. I am working on a much larger essay.

Part One: Establishing Comic Artist Identity

  • 13 out 14 of survey respondents reported either having a full-time or part-time job.

  • One vendor reported having both full-time and part-time jobs.

  • 13 out of 14 respondents reported having multiple sources of income with an average of 2.7 and median of 3 sources of income per vendor.

  • Only 2 respondents reported gaining income from on-line sales.

  • 5 respondents didn’t list freelance work, on-line sales or cons as sources of income, suggesting that they don’t consider comics a source of income at all.

  • 5 respondents listed their day job as comic arts related. This specifically included student as a sample day job.

Answers ranged from 3 to 32 years, with an average of 9.5 and a median of 8 years.

Answers to this question showed the wide range of: 5(x3), 8, 10, 20 (x2), 5-10, 10-15, 10-20, 1-20, 0-20, 40-60 and an unspecified “varies.”

This question was purposefully framed with as an open answer rather than bins such as a firm 1-5, 6-10, et.al. to illustrate how widely the amount of time may vary.

Do you see a clear path to achieving your artistic aspirations? 10 of 14 (71.43%) of respondents said that they saw a clear path to their achieving their artistic aspirations.

Do you identify as a member of a community that is frequently and/or historically the victim of discrimination and bias?

10 out of 14 (71.43%) identified as being members of a group that experiences bias and discrimination.

Part Two: Nonprofit Organizations, The Community and You

What types of activities would you like to see NPOs take part in to address the problems facing comic artists?

  • The number of services desired ranged from as few as 1 and as high as 9 per artist with the average number of services desired being 5.6 with a median 5.5.

  • Every service got at least 5 votes from artists surveyed, pointing to artists seeing a plurality of problems in the field.

What functions do you wish to see comic arts NPOs performing to address problems facing the comic arts community?

Services and Resources: 57.14% The NPO provides services and goods that mirror for-profit services and goods, but use the advantages of nonprofit status to achieve positive outcomes for artists.

Innovation: 57.14% The NPO provides services that are substantively different from similar for-profit services to achieve positive outcomes for artists. Research into possible alternative market models for the comic arts.

Value Guardian: 71.43% The NPO champions the creation and consumption of the comic arts to the general public to create greater understanding and deeper interest.

Advocacy: 78.57% The NPO speaks to power on behalf of comic artists, including but not limited to the government, courts, publishers, reatilers, distributors, and other NPOs.

  • The median number of values from the provided list that respondents wished to see in NPOs guided by was 7 (6.8 average).

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