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BEST INDIE COMIC BOOK PUBLISHERS ACCEPTING SUBMISSIONS (2023)

Updated: May 4


These are focused on people who are looking for a publisher for their creator-owned comic series. And for this, I’m focused strictly on typical English mainstream genre comics to release in comic shops. Not manga, or alternative genre books, or full graphic novels.

I’m going to go over 10 publishers that accept submissions for creator-owned material. And I’m going to go over general sales numbers along with my own summary of the companies and what they’ve published, audience size, and other relevant info.


1. Image Comics

2. Dark Horse Comics

3. Black Mask Studios

4. Scout Comics & Entertainment

5. Sumerian Comics (formerly Behemoth)

6. Mad Cave Studios

7. Antarctic Press Comics

8. Blood Moon Comics

9. Red 5 Comics

10. Source Point Press





SCOUT COMICS


Known for my book, IT EATS WHAT FEEDS IT, Phillip Kennedy Johnson’s SMOKE TOWN, STABBITY BUNNY, THE ELECTRIC BLACK, WHITE ASH, and countless others.

Scout, like other big indie publishers, have a distribution partnership with Simon & Schuster for bookstores, and they act as a talent agent for their creators – giving creators a direct line to Hollywood studios and production companies. Their entire executive team has decades of experience in high-level positions withing the film, comic, and finance industries.


The downside is that while they are still one of the smaller publishers, and although have a solid consistent audience, their core audience isn’t that big on the mainstream scale. Basically, what I’m saying is that just because you get a book published by Scout, you’re not guaranteed to sell many copies, and unless you have a core audience of your own, you may not break even on your book through the direct market alone.

However, this is the downside with literally every indie house publisher out there including the biggest ones like Image and Dark Horse. And you’ll see going forward as I start to give some of the sales numbers, you’ll see that Scout actually sells quite well for the indie space.


SCOUT SALES:

Vanity – 4,101 David Byrne’s Canceled – 3,741 Cult of Icarus #2 – 1,122


IMAGE COMICS


Image is the biggest and most known creator-owned comics publisher that was founded in the early 90s by some of the most legendary names in comics. Known for the some of the biggest titles in history including Spawn, The Walking Dead, Saga, Kick-Ass, and tons of others.


However, what may be interesting to early career creators is that Image has multiple imprints and does publish a lot of books every year, including books from lesser-known and even first-time creators, although very rarely.


I haven’t really heard anything bad about Image other than that sometimes creators are unaware that they have to do their own marketing. I believe when you get a book published by Image, all you’re really doing is licensing their logo, so you’re basically just getting the official stamp of approval from Image, but all the marketing and promotion lies in the hands of the creators. However, this is pretty much true with every publisher out there, not just Image.


IMAGE SALES:


Blood Stained Teeth – 44,805 A Town Called Terror – 27,373 Slumber #2 – 11,578

BLACK MASK STUDIOS


Black Mask was founded about 10 years ago in 2012. It’s had many big names involved with it and has a distribution deal with Simon & Schuster. It’s known for best-selling books like 4 Kids Walk into a Bank, Godkiller, and Young Terrorists.


I think I would say with Black Mask, the pros are that they publish a wide variet of content, even more obscure and erotic books. Much like many of the other indie publishers, the founder Matt Pizzolo, has large following and connections to the film & entertainment industry.


I would say my biggest note with Black Mask is their large swing in sales depending on creators and their association with politically motivated comics. Some of their hits launch at huge numbers, well above 20k while others fail to break a few thousand. It’s one of those companies that you’ll definitely want to read check out their content and see if you sort of match their vibe. If you do, if you’ve got more stylized, alternative, message driven stories, you could do better with Black Mask than you would with someone else. But if you’re trying to sell a typical action, horror, sci-fi, fantasy – someone like Scout might be just as good if not better.


BLACK MASK SALES:


Hecate’s Will #3 - 1225 Destiny NY #10 – 936

However, according to Wikipedia, books like 4 Kids Walk into a Bank launched at over 31k sales for their first printing.

DARK HORSE


Dark Horse is one of the mainstream indie publishers founded in the 80s. It’s probably biggest publisher after Image, most known for Hellboy along with Frank Miller’s classics like Sin City and 300 and Gerard Way’s The Umbrella Academy.


However, much like Image, they do publish creator-owned comics by new creators and lesser known creators. A good example is James Powell’s HOUSE OF FEAR comic, who actually did a sort of expose of his experience being published by Dark Horse in his email newsletter including his sales numbers, contract details, marketing mistakes, etc. His book was sort of a teen and pre-teen targeted book that started as a Kickstarter campaign and was ultimately released a large print run for Free Comic Book Day.


Dark Horse, much like every other publisher, I think it’s important to stress that the high sales numbers associated with their celebrity creator books and licensed material does not translate to a lot of their creator-owned material. But because of their name, you can pretty much still guarantee that publishing a book with them will result in consistent decent sales numbers compared to other indie publishers.


DARK HORSE:


Break Out #1 – 8,096 British Paranormal Society #1 – 7,940 Stranger Things #2 – 8,475


MAD CAVE


Mad Cave was founded in 2014 and they publish almost all creator owned mainstream genre books – horror, sci-fi, fantasy, crime, adventure, etc.

I believe they also have a deal with Simon & Schuster for book store distribution. I feel like Mad Cave is still really new in the space and not widely known yet, except for fans specifically seeking indie comics. I know them from their best-selling series Nottingham.

But much like Scout Comics is signed with a Mosaic Management for film/tv, Mad Cave is signed with Echo Lake Entertainment to manage and develop their IP. So Mad Cave is definitely a rising company in the space, that seems to consistently put out quality books.


MAD CAVE SALES:

Nottingham #6 – 8,961 The Last Session #5 – 1,212 Speed Republic #3 - 766 RED 5


They don’t really have any break-out success stories that I’m aware of, or any series with well-known creators but they’ve been around in the indie space for quite a while since the early 2000s. I think they’ve had some titles optioned for TV, and they’re definitely a professional company with good books in their line-up. However, I think they’d be on the lower-end of the spectrum when it comes to publishing regarding sales and exposure.


But they do have a distribution deal with Simon & Schuster for books stores and they release mainstream genre comics, so for an early career creator they’re definitely worth submitting to.


RED 5 SALES:


Lead City #1 – 1,108 Lead City # 2 – 579 Download # 2 – 854 Download # 3- 688 Download # 4 – 583


BLOOD MOON COMICS


Blood Moon is very new, like within the past year or two. So I don’t know too much about them but I know they’re small, focused on horror and trying to grow. The founder has been on Twitter spaces talking to indie creators about their books and publishing options. Since they’re so new and niche, they’re probably on the lower end of the spectrum. However, they have books with some established creators and the quality is professional grade, so for creators focused on horror you’ll definitely want to research some of their books and consider submitting.


Blood Moon Sales:


Usher of the Dead #2 – 1,117

SOURCE POINT PRESS


Source Point is one of the better indie publishers focusing on horror, scifi and fantasy, with multiple books from established creators like Cullen Bunn along with new and lesser known creators. They’ve had a few of their series optioned for film, such as No Rest for the Wicked, Cold Dead Hands, and The Curse of Cleaver County.

They have an exclusive deal with GlobalComix (with an X) for digital distribution. They’re definitely at the top of the list for creators who maybe got passed by the bigger names, but have a quality horror or scifi book. They have a steady fanbase and although you can’t expect too big of sales numbers, you can at least expect to build a fanbase.


Source Point Sales:


Corollary #1 – 2,004 Cover of Darkness #4 – 1643

SUMERIAN COMICS


Sumerian was formerly known as Behemoth until they were sold to Sumerian Records about a year ago. Sumerian Comics is now a division of Sumerian Records & Films, so they’re well connected to both the film and music industry, and their books often sell very well compared to other newer publishers.


Behemoth itself was founded only about 5 years ago but they very quickly made a name for themselves when they released the hit comic A GIRL WALK HOME ALONE AT NIGHT created by the director of the hit horro film with the same name. They state on their website that they selling over half a million comic books yearly with global distribution from Simon & Schuster and others.


Damian Connelly’s You Promised Me Darkness was one of their biggest successes, launching at over 50k copies and earning critical acclaim. Many of their other titles launched at over 20k issues and even some of their lesser hits still consistently sell 5-10k issues. If you write dark genre comics, Sumerian should be at the top of your list to submit to.


Sumerian Comics:


Strgrl #1 – 9091 Dark Beach #1 – 7916


ANTARCTIC PRESS


Antarctic Press is known for pretty long running titles like Gold Diggers, as well as hit series like Rags and Punchline and although they release all creator-owned comics, they don’t release very many new titles and when they do, they’ll release stories a zine or anthology format, including manga. So rather than an issue by issues series, it’ll be like they release part of your story or your short story in their zine, month to month. So, if you’re a new creator or specifically an early career artist, they could be looking into submitting.


Their comic shop sales for new and unknown books are typically lower than many of the others on this list but they do put you in front of a lot of eyes so they can be a good way to bridge the gap for early career creators.


AP SALES:


Patriotika United #3 – 2,015 Horror Comics #9 – 1,206 Alias Black and White #4 - 498



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