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Jun 4, 2016 10:39 AM ET

Archived: Neil – Radiator Comics distributes hand-made and self-published comic books to individuals, institutions and stores around the United States

iCrowdNewswire - Jun 4, 2016



Chicago, United States / Retail



Borrower image



A loan of $4,000 helps Neil publish our first book, which will create a new income source, and expand the company’s mission.



Neil’s story

Growing up as the middle child of a large and supportive family in Rochester, NY, I learned the importance of working to make the lives of those you care about better. With an overactive imagination and a love for drawing, I became obsessed with comics at an early age, drawing throughout my childhood and becoming the comics editor at my college newspaper. When I moved to Chicago in 2003, I discovered self-published and small press comic books, and knew I had to create my own. Soon I was photocopying my comics, selling them at local bookstores, and sharing them with friends!

When I started exhibiting at comics festivals in 2008, I was exposed to a community full of comics makers who shared my enthusiasm. Chicago lacked a small press show of its own, so along with three friends, I founded the Chicago Zine Fest in 2010, bringing together self-publishers from all over the United States and Canada for a weekend of workshops, panel discussions and a book-fair-styled marketplace. After organizing the zine fest for three years, I worked with a group of local comics artists to start the Chicago Alternative Comics Expo (also known as CAKE). CAKE has grown in the past four years to host over 200 exhibitors and 3,100 attendees over three days of programming. We’ve become a 501(c)3, we run workshops in the community, and manage a micro-grant called the “Cupcake Award” for self-publishers.

Working to promote alternative and self-published comics, and the creators behind them has become a passion in both my personal and professional life, as I worked for six years at Quimby’s Bookstore, an epicenter for comics and zines! I am constantly looking for new ways to benefit the self-publishing comics community.



This loan is special because:

It supports local, self-published artists and writers in Chicago.

Kiva staff



More about this loan

Business Description

Radiator Comics distributes hand-made and self-published comic books to individuals, institutions and stores around the United States. In addition to bookstores and comics shops, Radiator finds nontraditional venues where our artists’ titles can thrive: arcades for a zine about pinball, toy stores for kid-friendly comics, and record stores for music-themed comics. By seeking out new venues, I expand the audience for alternative comics.

Since its launch in July 2014, Radiator has sold 3,000 titles to shops, libraries, and individuals. I am energized when I am able to talk about the qualities of storytelling and art in my catalog. Getting comics into the hands of new readers excites me, and I am filled with a sense of accomplishment when it is time for me to pay my artists for sold titles. So much effort goes into writing, drawing and publishing these titles, it means a lot to add to the financial sustainability of my artists’ work.

At this time, most of my wholesale clients are comic and bookstores. Placing titles in stores that don’t usually sell comics has been my biggest challenge, but it’s also my most exciting opportunity. After researching stores and approaching them with specific titles appropriate for their shop, I am often met with skepticism, so I work to educate store owners about the value of my product.

I am driven to grow Radiator into a business that supports the comics community as well as me and my family. My immediate goal is to begin publishing original titles, and continue to expand my distribution operation. Within three years, I envision Radiator Comics in its own office space, which will also host work-space for self-publishers, so Radiator’s home is an active center for alternative comics.

What is the purpose of this loan?

This loan will cover the printing costs of Radiator Comics’ first book, The Chronicles of Fortune by Caroline Picard.

The cost of offset printing 1,000 copies of The Chronicles of Fortune is $3,500. The $4,000 from the Kiva Zip loan will allow me to print a professional, high-quality book without putting a strain on Radiator’s finances. The additional $500 will go to covering shipping ($200) and storage costs for six months ($300). This will free up funds for promotion of the book, such as shipping review copies, advertising, and expenses for book events.

As a distributor, most of the titles Radiator Comics carries are sold on behalf of the authors who publish the titles themselves. The author dictates the retail price of the comics, and most of the money from sales go back to the artists I represent. Artists receive 50-70% of the cover price of distributed titles, and Radiator receives 10-30% of the cover price (the lower percentage is when books are sold wholesale to stores, the higher is when they are sold at full price to individuals).

The exception to this percentage breakdown is when Radiator Comics sells the comics that I publish in-house. Radiator Comics receives 60-100% of the retail price for these comics. Publishing comics allows Radiator Comics to set the retail price on those titles, and to earn more from each title sold.

Publishing Radiator’s first book also redefines my company and broadens its scope. Within the alternative comics industry, distributors are an important engine for sales, but are certainly not as well regarded as publishers. Publishing titles gives greater weight to Radiator’s overall curatorial vision, and increases the company’s stature.

Radiator Comics has become the primary vehicle for my passion to support and promote the alternative comics community. While I find great emotional reward in the work Radiator Comics has accomplished, I still have a lot of work to do before it is financially sustainable. It is my goal to support myself, and contribute to my household through the work of Radiator Comics. Publishing The Chronicles of Fortune with the assistance of Kiva Zip puts me one step closer to that goal.



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