Karl White on creating an independent comic series

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Creating a universe isn’t easy.

That’s what independent comic book writer Karl White, 35, learned while developing his Legends of the Night (LOTN) comic series, which is available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

LOTN is a collection of stories White first started creating 15 years ago. The stories reinvent our world’s history with dark, fantastical elements such as connecting a zombie outbreak to the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings and linking vampires to the fall of Rome.

White works on this series whenever he has a chance. Even during weeks when his freelance work in TV and film as a producer and writer takes up the majority of his time. This work pays the bills, but it’s the comic series that is his true passion.

“I can work 40-60 hours per week or 4-6 hours per week, it just depends on what freelance jobs come along,” said White via Skype. “My writing, however is something I do everyday.  Sometimes I can fit in a few hours here and there, but most often I will write 6-8 hours a day regardless of what I have going on.”

In addition to writing the comic series, White often refines the world he created for LOTN. He’ll spend some days writing out story arcs or further developing his characters. White even has a 250-page encyclopedia of the LOTN universe, which he updates frequently.

To create and distribute his comics, White relies on social media, artists hired out-of-pocket and the help of his wife MaryAnn White who lives with him in Los Angeles.

“She’s a very talented graphic designer, and I’m very lucky in that respect,” said White. “That’s something I learned early on. It’s easy to write, and it’s somewhat easy to hire artists and to manage that process. But once you have the art, to create a book layout . . . I don’t know how to do that.”

One of the biggest challenges White faces is promoting his work. For this, he primarily relies on Facebook and Twitter. Discovering how best to utilize these sites has been a learning experience for White.

“At first a lot of your friends and family ‘like’ your page, and that’s nice, but you really need to seek out friends that are interactive, like what you do and are interested in comics,” said White. “They’re going to tell their friends and their friends and their friends. That’s been a learning process for me to reach out and find people who are really interested.”

White also found that the two social media sites serve different purposes in promoting his work.

“Twitter is good, because you can reach out to a lot of people very quickly,” said White. “I find with Facebook that I sort of have more dedicated fans. Fans that when I post something they’ll respond to it, or ‘like’ it, or share it on their page.”

White considers fan interaction as one of his favorite parts of producing the comic series. His fan base is currently at a size where he’s able reply to questions and listen to the feedback he receives. He feels that he would miss this relationship if he worked for a major comic book publisher.

“Not only is [fan interaction] important, it’s the most important,” said White. “Nobody’s going to read my material unless I go out and present it to people, and find people who are interested in it. I embrace that and I like it. If I was removed from that, I don’t think it would be as fulfilling as interacting, finding the fans, finding what they like or don’t like . . . I love that kind of stuff.”

While producing an independent comic book series has been challenging, White takes comfort in knowing that success as an independent comic book writer is not much different than success in any other profession. The people that work the hardest and create the best material usually gain recognition in the long run. White’s passion for LOTN ensures that he’ll put in the necessary effort.

“Any chance I get to work on Legends of The Night stuff, I do,” said White. “Nights, weekends, at the coffee shop, even some holidays I’ve spent hunched over my keyboard, building and polishing what I have.  I’m sure that may sound excessive, but if you are a writer and are not constantly shaping or improving what you’ve written, then you are not doing your readers or your stories justice.”