Alterna Comics is celebrating their 10th birthday… and you’re invited!
– By Peter Simeti
“It was a dark and stormy night on January 6th, 2006.
I had $600 to my name… and no idea what I was doing.”
Well, it wasn’t that dramatic but all the facts remain the same.
When I signed all the papers to turn Alterna into a functioning legal business, it was during a snowstorm and I did only have $600 in the bank at the time (working two part-time jobs without much to show for it) and barely any idea as to what I was going to do but I knew I had to do something.
How did I end up in that situation?
Let’s go back to the beginning before the “beginning”…
I had created my own comic in 2005 (almost around the same time I graduated college) and used the “Alterna Comics” name as an alias because it sounded better and less self-serving than “Simeti Publishing” or whatever else I could think of at the time. The book sold about two hundred copies or so at a few conventions and a handful of stores (online sales were almost non-existent back then) but what resulted was something I never saw coming: people were sending in submissions to me, thinking that Alterna was a legitimately established publishing company.
At first, I sent letters and emails to people with apologies attached, explaining that Alterna was mostly just a moniker I used for my self-publishing. But eventually the stories of rejection from other creators wore me down and I started to learn everything I could about publishing, editing, marketing – every facet of the business – because I just wanted to help however I could. It was just an awful feeling, seeing so many talented people that were turned away; told their ideas or skills were no good. A few months later, I filed the paperwork to turn Alterna into a real, official company.
I knew what I wanted to do, but I didn’t know how I would do it or what I needed to do to get there. There’s no training manual when it comes to running your own business (especially in an industry that is mostly dominated by two very well-known and well-loved companies). It’s a trial by fire from start to finish and you have to do your best not to get burned too badly (I say “too badly” because you will get burned). Still, I knew that there were A LOT of talented creators out there that I wanted to help and I believed that there was strength in numbers. So with that belief, I did my best to help others succeed.
Fast forward ten years later (and spare you all the boring and not-so-boring details) and Alterna has grown to a point that leaves me in awe. We’ve managed to survive against the odds with the help of people like you (apologies for sounding like the end of your favorite PBS program). So many publishers came out in the mid 2000’s (I knew most of them in some way, shape, or form) and it’s sad to think that so many of them are no longer in business. Alterna was almost at that point about 5 years ago when I launched a failed Kickstarter campaign (and relaunched as a successful IndieGoGo campaign) to help save the company (oh the IRONY!). “Luck” would be the wrong word but it feels appropriate in times like these. Everyone works hard, so hard work isn’t exactly the end all be all. Everyone in this business is talented and creative too so that’s not it either. Whatever it is, I’m grateful for it and the fact that I’m writing a “so it’s been ten years…” piece, just emphasizes it even more.
It’s surreal, is what it is.
As we move further into 2016, I’d like to stress that we will continue what we’ve been doing in the past ten years as well as expanding on it. We’ll continue to publish creator-owned works (licensed comics are great but you won’t find them at Alterna) and we’ll also be publishing more titles in print & digital with half of 2016’s books being in full color. We’ve got a feature film coming out this year as well (based on my graphic novel THE CHAIR) and it’s currently at the tail end of post-production. We’re also in the process of finalizing a deal that could see the expansion of Alterna Comics titles into book stores and retail chains across the world. Exciting times! And all of this would not be possible without YOU and your belief in us. Thank you for that.
Thanks again for the past ten years and we hope you’ll join us for the next ten (and more).
Follow us on Twitter @ALTERNACOMICS
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Peter Simeti is the founder and publisher of Alterna Comics, the creator-owned comics publisher of titles like FUBAR, Metaphase, The Last West, Complex, NOVO, The CHAIR, Lilith Dark, and many more. Peter’s graphic novel THE CHAIR is currently being adapted to film and is in the final stages of post-production. You can follow Peter @petersimeti and Alterna Comics @alternacomics on twitter.