I was 7 and I wanted to print and sell my own comics
Lighthearted read on how I was setting up, printing and selling comics to my elementary school classmates (for the incredible price of 1€)
Hello there! I’m Gabriele - in art Flygohr - a multidisciplinary visual artist that likes creativity, personal growth, and productivity. This is my journal!
It was 2003, I was 7 and I wanted to print and sell my own comic book. I lived in a small mountain town, I had no internet and the only people I knew were my classmates from elementary school.
I always liked to come up with imaginary worlds. I used to draw maps and creatures and gamify everything with cards, coins, and dice. This continued to the present day, but back then I knew very little about the comic book industry, and, most importantly, I had zero technology in my household. My parents were old-fashioned - the first computer we had entered my home when I was 15, in 2010 - and when I was 7 we had no TV, printer, or internet.
Overall idea 💡
My source of inspiration was the comics from Bonelli, famous worldwide for Tex Willer and Dylan Dog. I didn’t even know American comics at the time. I was neck deep into western and sci-fi books and was a fan of game books such as the Lone Wolf series from Joe Dever. I also had a subscription to Topolino (Mickey Mouse), a weekly comic filled with stories, games, and trivia.
Therefore, I set out to make a weekly comic book that had:
A story, narrated in short chapters
Trivia, often sourced from other books I had at home
Games, usually very dumb, that I completely made up. I spent hours making up small crosswords to add to the end of the comic
For the theme, I wrote a story about a cowboy squirrel - of course. He was aptly named ‘Little Squirrel’ and he was to find treasure chests, fight baddies and slowly uncover the plans of an evil mastermind hiding in the Far West.
The setup 📝
I had a problem, tho. We had no printer, and we were really short on cash so my mother wasn’t really on board with me wanting to print hundreds of copies - as I wanted to do. In hindsight, she was being fairly reasonable 🙈
I had to optimize my processes so as to use as little paper as possible. The town hall had a printer I could use for 10 cents per paper sheet, although it worked only in black and white. My mother gave me a budget of a few Euros per issue, and I was all set. That was enough to cover my target audience, my elementary school mates.
I decided to use just one regular printer sheet per issue. I had to fit everything in it, so I started by laying down the page structure. I divided the sheet in half horizontally and then designed 3cm wide columns for the actual pages. I left some 1.5cm gap on top of the columns to glue the pages together later when I went on to bind the comic later.
I used the first half of the pages to draw the story of that squirrel I was talking about earlier. The rest of the pages were used for games and trivia. And of course, the first and last pages for the outside of the comic.
The story 📖
My stories at the time always started with cowboys reaching a tavern while it was raining cats and dogs outside. This squirrel story was no different. The main character spends the night in a fort, but he’s waken up by noises outside his room. He goes out to investigate, but a mysterious figure knocks him out.
The POV switches to the ‘villain’ in question, that for some reason is maniacally laughing in front of a treasure chest hidden somewhere in the fort. It probably made sense to 7yo me to add some unexplained mystery stretching over several issues. But I probably overdid it, I can’t really recall where I was going with it. Anyway, the main character - the squirrel - ends up waking up, all tied up to a chair.
While I didn’t know about storyboards, outlines, or three acts structures, I had a goal for the story and that was to leave a cliffhanger at the end of each issue so people would want to know how it progressed - and would’ve bought the next issue!
Printing and distribution 🤓
Once a week I’d go to the town hall and get the comic printed. Back home, I’d use a cutter and a ruler to slice up the pages in batches - I may have always been a sucker for optimization. I would proceed by re-arranging the pages in the correct order, then painstakingly gluing each page together. I would use a small strip of paper to seal the small booklet in the end. Here’s a picture of the final result:
The next day I would run around my school, before the classes started, asking if my friends wanted a copy. I have a confession: I think the only person that ever had 1€ to give me for it was just one teacher, all the others got it for free or in exchange of some Pokémon cards. But it was fun to see people care about the story. Some even tried filling in the crosswords or the ‘connect the dots’ games I had prepared 😁
In conclusion 🎯
Sadly, I only have one copy of the first issue of the comic left. The rest is lost forever, or maybe hidden in some long forgotten corner of my childhood home. I don’t remember how many issues I run, probably half a dozen, before the summer break made me lose interest and find other projects to pursue.
I could talk for days about little me and his projects. The next year, I made up a card game, loosely based off Pokémon mechanics, with my own monsters and evolutions. The year after that, I created a fantasy board game with tiles, dice mechanics and enemies to fight. Then it was an entire year spent on making up maps and sprites for a videogame I wanted to make. You might remember I didn’t have any computer or technology at home: I was using small ruled paper to actually hand draw each pixel.
Anyways, thanks for reading this far - really appreciate the support. If you like what you are reading, please consider sharing this with a friend! I wanted to leave you with one final, small piece of trivia. When I was beginning middle school I wanted to write my own fantasy book. I was making up characters, locations and plot points. One of the characters had a completely made up name that stuck with me for the years to come - Flygohr.
About me 👤
I am a self-taught digital artist from Italy. I am a multidisciplinary artist and a huge nerd. It means I can draw, paint, code, write, compose, sculpt, and more. I also like books, RPGs, and documentaries. I might be a productivity junkie.
You could say I started out as a homeless, alcoholic punk degenerate in the early 2010s. Now I have a few assistants, a studio, and lots of work I love on my plate. Most importantly, I’m sober and I can afford takeaway food multiple times a week. This is my journal.
Every few days I dissect some of my most recent projects, activities, and discoveries. I try to make it a 5 minutes read (well, apart from this one here.. this turned out pretty long). You can find lots of links and a bio on my main website, or you can follow me on Twitter where I post daily.
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