LOVES PARK - Manufacturers get the majority of the focus in our weekly "Made in the Stateline" report. But, other things get made here, like comic books. One man turned his passion into a second full-time job and its earned him a lot of attention.
"I saw this number and the first thing I said was, "Oh my God. That's insane," said James Munch. "My wife goes, "What, your comic book?" I started thinking...Insane Comics!"
Munch is a numbers guy. He makes a living in the finance world. It's his job. He teaches it. So, he knows a long shot when he sees one.
"I never intended it to go to this level... to get the publishing part of it going. I anticipated it was just for my book."
James has also been a comic book fan for as long as he can remember. He used to own a comic store in the 90s. James had his own idea for a story, but didn't have an artist. But, thanks to the internet, he found one in Brazil in late 2014.
Since then, Insane Comics has seen some insane growth, going from that one title, "Miss Conduct", to 60 titles.
"I deal with creators from all over the world. I have a gentleman out of Slovakia who does writing and artwork and everything. I deal with individuals out of the Philippines, Brazil, [and] Canada."
They Dropbox files to James. He compiles them all and sends them to the printer. James spends a lot of time at conventions. In the past two and a half years, he's hit close to 60 of them. His displays have grown from a single table, with one or two titles, to big eight foot racks. Most people have heard of the big events like Comic Con.
"There are so many local, regional type conventions that are much smaller, much more intimate and have a tendency to not focus so much on entertainment like the bigger ones do. But, focus more on the comic book industry and support the comic book fans."
Hitting all those shows really paid off. Insane has sold 15,000 books. Its been recognized by leaders in the industry, like one of James' heroes, former Marvel Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter.
"What people don't realize, between the big three, Marvel, DC, and Image, they only have 15% of the comic book industry. 85% of the comic book industry is owned by the small independent publishers and individual creators.
Some with humble beginnings, like a Loves Park basement.
"You're not going to get rich. You have to do it out of passion and enjoy doing it. You have to enjoy meeting people [and] talking to people. It's a labor of love. If you treat it like a hobby, you'll get hobby results out of it."
Insane Comics recently signed a deal with Imagination Park Entertainment to market some titles as possible movies, TV, or augmented reality projects.
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