Joe Ball: Iron Age Marketing Podcast Episode 016

In today’s episode of Iron Age Marketing, I talk to Joe Ball, creator of the genre-bending comic Death Death Death.

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Let’s Meet Iron Age Creator Joe Ball

Joe ball is a comic creator out of Ohio and the founder of King Toad Comics. He is currently working to complete and fulfill Death Death Death, a 300 page first installment to what he hopes to make a multivolume sci-fi/fantasy/manga crossover.

Superjail, Hellraiser And The X-Men

The interview begins with Joe giving a detailed explanation of the world in which Death Death Death takes place. Nicky’s initial impulse from the artwork is Superjail meets Hellraiser but Joe let’s him in on some of the true inspirations like Berserk & Transformer and Bible lore. Joe name drops He-Man and is brought to mind the savage lands of the X-Men.

Joe’s Origins And The Hidden Time Suck

Next, Joe and Nicky P get into what inspired Joe’s love of anime in the first place. Turns out it was the gifts his military family would bring back from overseas. While we had plenty of good cartoons here in the US, something always stuck with him. As he grew as an artist, he found himself needing something more challenging than superheroes and found himself tiptoeing back into manga.
With Joe’s creative origins out of the way, we are allowed to dive further into the actual creative process and the Indiegogo experience. Here, we discover the reality of producing a complete book when you’re used to being the artist. We learn how easy it is to misjudge fulfillment when the process usually ends for you before editors. While he has been taken aback a little by the experience, he’s enjoying the lesson and still getting the work done.

What’s Success? And The Simplicity Of A Cover Band

Given some of the struggles of the crowdfunding process Joe has gone through, it makes sense to take a bit of a meta-analysis of the process and determine what exactly defines success for a creator these days. The truth is it’s going to be different depending on your goals. While Joe, like myself, is worried about keeping food on the table and cash is the objective whereas, a loss might make sense to build your core audience for a newer creative.
Moving along, Joe tells me about his time running a comic book shop as the industry really began to decline. Struggling to do what you love sometimes doesn’t pan out like you hope. Sometimes the bills just need to be paid. From here, we begin a conversation about weighing out Walmart Vs. a comic book shop and lusting over the lack of stress that Walmart employee has. I bring up how some musicians look down on cover bands when I think getting paid to practice your instrument while drinking sure beats factory work.

Decentralization, #Comicsgate & No More Superstars

Detailing his adventure in the decline of the retail comics industry, Joe shares with us what came next. He discovered a YouTube channel, Diversity In Comics, which was airing the frustrations of what he calls a consumer revolt. This movement went on to be called #Comicsgate and became maligned in much the same way Gamergate already had. What it really is looks to me more like the growing pains of the radical decentralization of an industry. I’d witnessed much the same thing happen to music almost twenty years earlier, leaving a space void of superstars but full of more specialized content than you could ever dream possible.

Relationship Building And Realistic Expectations

To round out this episode, Joe goes into detail about his life situation. It didn’t make sense to pour his time into a YouTube channel. He took to building relationships with the influencers by becoming a friend in the scene. Who knew being a rad dude for others could pay off so well (I would.) The one drawback to Joe’s grassroots approach is that it’s not quick. It can take years to become a trusted fixture in any group. This becomes even more challenging when we watch our fandoms splinter because corporations have made trust so hard to come by.
Hopefully, our conversation today will give you some realistic framing on how to build relationships in the industry and utilize them to grow your audience.

Shilling In The Iron Age

Need help connecting with your audience for your book, comic, TTRPG, or other creative endeavor? Check out Nicky P @ ironagemarketing.com 


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