M. Heitkemper

M. Heitkemper

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Making Freedom Fighter: The Surprising Superhero With A Surprise Ending!

Ladies and Gentlemen, it’s been a long time coming, but the first full story arc of Freedom Fighter is now available for purchase!  With the release of Freedom Fighter #4 from Insane Comics last month, it’s all out there and ready for you to divulge!  If you’re one who hasn’t got a copy yet, here’s the link: Click Here

The task of getting Freedom Fighter onto the page has been a long and at times an uncertain one.  Not exactly sure, but best guess is eight years ago, AJ Fulcher and I met online and pretty much instantly, a friendship in making comics was born.  We were both novices (still consider myself so) and we knew just enough about the business of making comics to be dangerous.  Sadly, I don’t know how Freedom Fighter was truly conceived.  I remember we wanted to create a superhero book, and we wanted to build a history with the character.  I’ve always liked conspiracies, so wanting to do something along those lines clearly had something to do with Freedom Fighter’s creative birth.  At the time, AJ and I had both considered the book to just be a practice book; something to get our feet wet.  We figured we would break out with something much bigger in the future; but as we built our story and creative team, Freedom Fighter took on a life of his own.  When I finished the first drafts of the scripts I was pleasantly surprised with how it turned out.  It tuned into something much more exciting and original than I had expected for a superhero story.  Weird, right?  Shortly afterwards, AJ finished the character designs; at that point it was clear that Freedom Fighter was more real than we had anticipated he would ever be.  He was there to stay.

Obviously, we thought that our book was going to be great at that point, but the big question was: Would we be able to convince anyone else that they should check it out?  Reality was sinking in, and we realized that an Indie Super Hero comic book was going to be a hard sell.  There are so many bigger mainstream options out there, there was no doubt our little practice book would be swallowed up.  But once again Freedom Fighter was destined to surprise us.  We submitted Freedom Fighter #1 to nine publishers at first (Three of which were bigger publishers that were most likely out of our meager reach).  About a month later, Freedom Fighter was picked up by Outpouring Comics.  AJ and I felt like we had made it.  We were going to be published comic book creators.  And just as amazing, Freedom Fighter was going to see print. 

A few more months passed and we were knee deep in promoting the release of Freedom Fighter #1!  It was an amazing feeling to have a printed copy of our character’s book in our hands.  And the feeling was only amplified by the fact that we had a team of people inside out publisher’s company that were supporting us and helping us push the book out there.  The whole experience was extremely satisfying.  But even with a great publisher helping us promote the book, AJ and I still didn’t know if we were making the impact we needed to.  I had promoted my books in the past to book sellers and readers on the internet, but selling a comic book felt like an entirely different animal.  But more on promoting later…

Outpouring Comics took our book to several shows in the course of our time with them.  In all honesty, I had low expectations of how the book would perform; I wanted to keep them that way in case of a massive failure.  But once again, Freedom Fighter pulled his surprising tricks.  Sales were great!  Better than great, the publisher informed us that Freedom Fighter was one of its top 3 sellers in print!  And to ice the cake, Freedom Fighter #1 held the number 3 spot on DriveThruComics.com for digital sales!  Talk about feeling on top of the world!  How was that for a surprise?!  Alas it’s true what they say:  The higher you are, the further you have to fall.

I wasn’t ready for what would happen next.  We were gearing up for the release of Freedom Fighter #2 which was less than a week away.  I’d scheduled appearances to a few cons in the near future, and ordered plenty of copies of Freedom Fighter #1 to stock up.  Out of nowhere, (No Warning Signs, Period!) I get a call from our publisher.  He explains to me that they are changing the direction of their company to publishing books of their own creations, rather than everyone else’s.  Long story short, Freedom Fighter, along with a handful of other books, would be dropped from their roster.  Yeah, that happened!

I felt betrayed, left out in the rain, screwed over.  There’re a lot of euphemisms that I could use to describe my feelings of the situation, but I think you get the point.  The question was, how was I going to handle it?  Certainly, cursing the publisher and going public wasn’t a great option; it wasn’t going to help my situation, it was only going to make us look like some unprofessional whining babies.  Perhaps we had grounds to sue, but for what?  The minimal cost of the books I had preordered?  The cost of my show passes?  Emotional distress?  Was a legal battle really going to be worth it?  No.  AJ and I decided that it was best to dust off our feet and move forward, and that’s exactly what we did.  But where would forward take us?

Re-submitting Freedom Fighter to other independent publishers seemed like a dead end to both of us.  It wasn’t long ago that we were realizing that an Indy Superhero book was tough sell, and on top of that, what publisher was going to pick up a book that had apparently been dropped by another publisher?  That being said, we sent out about a dozen more submissions for the hell of it.  In the meantime, AJ and I had decided that self-publishing Freedom Fighter was our best option.

For the next few weeks we worked on page formatting and placement building the print files for Freedom Fighter from scratch.  We worked out the numbers, and it appeared to be most profitable and suitable to publish the entire story as a graphic novel.  It wasn’t what we preferred, but it was what made the most sense.  After finally formatting the book to our liking, we sent the file to be proofed.  There was nothing more to do but wait.  It would take a few days before we heard back from the printer, even so, I checked my email daily hoping to find the final proof ready.  What I found instead was that Freedom Fighter had yet another surprise in store!

Opening my email one afternoon, I found that Insane Comics, a fairly new publisher that was making big waves in the industry, was interested in publishing Freedom Fighter.  After answering a few questions and a little back and forth through email, Freedom Fighter had found a new home!  Insane, right!?  And as it turns out, it was the perfect home.

We’ve now published Freedom Fighter #1 - #4 with Insane Comics.  I’ve attended two comic cons with the publisher, and have tables reserved at a few shows later this year to promote the book.  We’re also talking about putting together a Trade Paperback of the first story arc which will include a ton of extras!  More on that later…  But Freedom Fighter in TBP form will open several other sales platforms for the book which is nothing short of super!  And get this, later this year we’re expected to release Freedom Fighter #5!  That’s right, surprising us once again, this little indie superhero practice book has warranted a second story arc, at least!  Surprised?  I’m not anymore.  In fact, I think Freedom Fighter is going to be turning a lot more heads in the very near future.  Let’s see what else this little book that could has up its sleeves!

Read on…

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