With any luck, comic artist Brian “Box Brown” will get a little closer to paying off his student loans with the delivery of the latest web and print installments of his Everything Dies comic series.
When Brown, 30, moved to West Philly near Clark Park in August 2008 for his then girlfriend (now fiance), he planned to work on comics for a few weeks before getting a day job in communications. Funny thing about late 2008, looking back, it turns out the economy was headed for the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.
Unable to find full-time work, Brown dug back into freelancing. He now works on comics “every single day including weekends” and also continues taking on illustration and design work on the side.
“So I kind of fell backwards into this as a career,” Brown tells Technically Philly. “But, in many ways, I’m thankful because I might not have had the courage to do it otherwise.”
In August, Brown, a 2002 University of Scranton English graduate — “Still paying off the loans. It’s awesome” — finished off a popular, 805-strip webcomic called Bellen!, which had become something of a signature of his. Soon after, he launched Everything Dies, a new print comic series ‘about religion as myth throughout the world’ that was funded by a campaign on a popular online pledging platform.
Box Brown on advice for aspiring artists and illustrators.
Keep your head down and power through. You should always be working on your art. Or, not, I don’t know. That’s what I do.
On the Everything Dies concept.
I [find] it interesting that it seems that people of a particular religious belief might think that their beliefs are the only ones that are true and powerful. I thought it would be interesting to depict all different types of religious stories on an even playing field.
On the Philly art scene.
There are a ton of outlets for artists and a ton of great resources like Fireball Printing and two Punk Rock Flea Markets a year. There are also a ton of independent galleries and interested people. The Philly Comix Jam meets once a month to draw and discuss comics and we’re thinking of starting a podcast.
“I was able to raise funds for the printing of the first two issues of Everything Dies through the use of a Kickstarter campaign. But, Twitter is the real hero to me. I use it to promote, rant, goof around and link to stuff. It’s mind blowing how fast word can spread on it,” Brown, who tweets from @boxbrown, says. “I’ve come to the conclusion that any artist must have a Twittter account with a link to their work on it. Even if they never tweet, it makes it so much easier for people to link to your work and talk about your stuff.”
Brown uses the internet to sell original artwork, and he’s finding his way balancing printed comics and their web counterparts. Everything Dies was meant to be just a print product, but he later added a web component.
“I had come to the conclusion that only a few hundred people had read the print comics,” Brown says. “But on just the launch day of the webcomic something like 15,000 people read them.”
While the metrics are compelling and the technologies transforming, Brown is clear in his stance that the past was gentler to a man in his line of work.
“It was a much a more acceptable career path back then,” he says of what he’d be doing if sent back in time 50 years ago. “I’d be making comics and probably making a much better living doing so.”
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