Newsarama recently broke the news that David F. Walker is launching his own comic book company, Solid Comix. Walker plans to self-publish the company’s first creator-owned limited series, One Fall, this spring. The five-issue wrestling series, created by Walker with artist Brett Weldele, will be the first of a variety of limited series and original graphic novels.
Interestingly enough, David started his writing career as a self-publisher. The 1996 zine BadAzz MoFo was his first foray into the comic industry. BadAzz MoFo currently functions as his personal blog, but the original publication contained his first published comic book stories.
Never one to rest on his laurels, the co-writer of Naomi has several projects in the works. Walker confirmed he’ll keep writing for other publishers, but he had some projects that made more sense to publish himself, which is a common drive to self-publish. Countless writers dream of writing for the big three—Marvel, DC, and Image—but numerous writers just want to see comics that are, for whatever reason, absent from those companies.
The industry is arguably at its most diverse and creatively competitive period. There’s a demand for representation, and creators working harder than ever to provide new and distinct stories. That’s thanks in large part to the growth of the indie comic community.
Granted, the re-emergence of Image over the last 10 years changed the market as well, but self-publishers are making more of an impact than ever before. Kickstarter and crowdfunded projects have given platforms to work that might not have reached as many readers before. In addition, more big-name creators are venturing out and producing creator-owned books.
Walker just finished up the first volume of his recent creator-owned work, Bitter Root, with artist Sanford Greene. The book focuses on a family of monster hunters set during the storied Harlem Renaissance. The project seems like the perfect marriage of his passion for African American history and horror comic book tropes.
It will be interesting to see how his enthusiasm for black history, blaxploitation characters, and social-political commentary plays into the content he publishes for Solid Comix. The name of the publisher is so distinctly steeped in black culture, so it probably wouldn’t be a leap to assume he has relevant stories in mind that may fit outside of the superhero genre. There’s certainly an audience for it.
The common kneejerk reaction is to pit self-publishers against large publishers. Let’s face it, fandom has this tendency to act like they have to be against one facet of the industry in order to remain loyal to another. However, that doesn’t have to be the case and seems far from the goals of creators like Walker. The end goal is perhaps to exist as an alternative, not as competition.
To some fans self-publishers still seem like a niche. In fact, there are thousands of webcomics out there, and hundreds of potential Kickstarter projects waiting for backers. Creators like C. Spike Trotman, the owner and editor at Iron Circus, have been creating their own lane while adding to an industry in need of diversification. There are also collectives of like-minded creators, such as Kugali Media for example, stepping in to tell contemporary versions of African folklore.
It’s unclear if David plans on publishing other creators’ work through Solid Comix or just focusing on his own. If he does plan to reach out to other creators, it would be good to see some potentially new names develop under his tutelage. In any case, the adjunct professor also teaches comic writing at Portland State University; his new class is scheduled to begin in Spring 2020.
There are still more questions than answers about Solid Comix and the projects he plans to publish under the name, but David Walker’s return to self-publishing could inspire ever more black creators to follow his lead. As stated, the old barriers of entry don’t exist anymore. There are so many ways to reach an audience and create a following. For that reason, it’s a great time to be a fan and a creator.
Phil is a comics, wrestling, movies and music enthusiast. He knows more random factoids than he probably should and is more than often in his feelings. He can often be found dying on a hill to prove a point most people don’t care about.