How to Draw Comics the Small Press Way with The Imperium

The Imperium - Promotional Image

Tzvi Lebetkin and Stefano Cardoselli’s IndieGoGo campaign to fund for their Imperium (“a love letter to Sixties telefantasy”) draws to a close today. We interviewed Tzvi about the campaign and his other comics recently and here, he explains why he’s offering a low rent small press comics school by “a low rent small press comics guy” as part of the perks of backing his project…

One of the best ways of learning anything is to just do it – That’s the attitude I took when I decided I wanted to forge a career for myself in the funny books business. So I did just that – I did what everybody tells you to do if you want to make comics… I made comics.

And, boy was that a education!

But what everybody said was right – the more you make comics, the more you know how to make comics.

Another, maybe even better way to learn how to do something, is to watch someone else do it. But I mean really watch them do it, close up, and be able to ask whatever questions you want.

Art from Imperium by Stefano Cardoselli

Art from Imperium by Stefano Cardoselli

And that’s exactly what I’m offering bundled into my IndieGoGo comic book campaign. A low rent small press comics school by a low rent small press comics guy.

So, many of you out there may be asking yourself, why you should give up twenty or so of your hard earned bucks to me? What’s it gonna get you (other than an awesome comic)? How did I even get here to be able to offer this service, and why????

Well, rewind the tape a couple of years and I was at my wits end with my day job of graphic and web design. Doing another pointless website for an idea that no one would ever care about… great!

Biblical #1 - Cover

One of Tzvi’s other comics projects, Biblical, has gained a good following after much hard work

Don’t get me wrong – having a pay cheque is an awesome thing, and nothing to be sniffed at. But one reaches a point in life where you have to ask yourself, is this what I really want to be? (‘And what do you want to do when you grow up, Timmy?’, ‘Oh, I want to have a mediocre middle management position in human resources’ said no one, ever!).

Now, I’ve been an avid reader of comic books my entire life. Because of this (or maybe vice versa) I’ve always been able to communicate visually, and tell good yarn – and more importantly, tell what was a good story or not – so I thought why not? Why not become one of these fabled start-ups I’ve heard so much about.

So I did.

I started making comics – and to my amazement, they didn’t suck! Today I have a modest small press company, publishing several ongoing comic-book projects – all of them with strong, loyal audiences and glowing reviews. Hey, don’t take my word for it – click over to and check them out! Lots of them are free and online.

OK, I said my comics don’t suck, and the truth is that I do understand that’s a pretty subjective judgment. But one definitive thing that can be said about my comics, without any fear of contradiction is that they’re slickly produced, professional products, that can sit happily on the same shelves with the best of them.

The question I get asked the most, now I have several ongoing comics books on the go (and a bunch more on the horizon), and have been lucky enough to build up an audience – is how did I learn how to do it?

And the answer isn’t magic – it’s simple trial and error, plus some decent intuition sprinkled in.

So for my latest project, Imperium, I wanted to take the lid off the process and give an insiders look at how you can make a comic book of your very own. Or, if you already are making your own books, share a few tricks I picked up along the way – which would more than justify the entrance fee.

A secret I discovered is that today, literally anyone can make a comic – and I mean a real comic. A physical printed masterpiece that you can hold in your hands. The advent of new technology has made the whole process reachable on just about any budget.

You still need the blood, sweat and tears – and steely terminator like determination. But you don’t need a fortune to be able to tell your story.

The Imperium Promo - AssassinSo, with the ‘Inside the Creative Process’ perk on the Imperium project, you get to see everything. Every stage from inception to completion, and all the many and arduous steps in between. I’ll share all the practical hands on knowledge that I’ve built up over the last couple of years – with tips on what software to use to do which job, where to get premium fonts for lettering for low low costs, or for free! How to get your files ready for print and Comixology. How to make CBR and CBZ files, how to set up online stores. How to promote your book and reach an audience. You get to learn how to deal with creative talent (which is like being a sheep dog for a heard of blind, brain damaged sheep) and publishers/financiers (who you have to dazzle like P.T. Barnum selling a broken watch).

Most importantly you get to see failure, which is an invertible part of the process of creation – but more importantly how not to let that stop you getting your book to market, and be a success.

This very IndieGoGo campaign is a great example of that. This is the first one I’ve ever run, and even though we’ve now raised enough to produce our comic – but the next one…aha!…The next one I do will be much more successful, precisely because of the mistakes I’ve made.

So, for aspiring comic book creators and entrepreneurs (and here’s a little free hint – to make it you’ve gotta be both!) this is a must. And you know what? I’ll sweeten the deal even more – because as one of my backers my door will be open to you to consult on whatever projects you’re working on – or how to get over whatever specific impossible hump you’re facing.

The Imperium - The ExileTruth be told I’m happy to do this because opportunities are almost always only ever born out of relationships…and what better way to network and connect to fellow aspiring creators than helping each other out.

“Say…Wait a minute, fella, isn’t this all just another elaborate pitch to get me to back your IndieGoGo?”

Well of course it is! You’re a potential financier, and I’m trying to dazzle you like P.T. Barnum selling a broken watch. But as you’ve read this far, I must be doing a pretty darned good job at it!

So come one, come all… roll up, roll up, roll up… Step right through these doors and enter the wackiest reality show ride of all time. Take your seat at small press comic book school, or just sit at the back and let yourself be dazzled as you see one of the most bonkers and brilliant comics books come to life. Stick with us through the harrowing journey of making a pilot. See what goes wrong (which will be everything), see what impossible hurdles we hit, and then watch us work out how to get over or around them (because we always do). And at the end of the day, hold the tangible deluxe edition of this comic-book in your hands, and know it was you who made it happen.

Come with us on this journey – and teach yourself how to draw the small-press way!

• Check out Imperium and the journey offered in detail at


stoner-promo-02• Check out BIBLICAL and other strips at | Tumblr | Facebook | Follow Biblical Comix on Twitter @BiblicalComix | YouTube

• Check out Tzvi’s adult-oriented strip, Stoners, on Comic Book and Movie Reviews (Warning! We mean adults!)

Categories: Creating Comics, Crowd Funding Projects, downthetubes Comics News, Featured News

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