Find your voice and get your story straight
So you think you’ve got a community? (Three uplifting social success stories – Part 2)

So you think you’ve got a community? (Three uplifting social success stories – Part 2)

So you think you’ve got a community huh?

Does your community really give a damn whether you are making a living out of what you do?

Would your community feel guilty if it felt it had done something to adversely affect your livelihood?

Steve Lieber has this kind of community.

Or rather, through his actions, he ended up with a community feeling that way about him.

Underground is a graphic novel drawn by Lieber and written by Jeff Parker.

I haven’t read it yet but, as with Machine of Death, the book discussed in the first of this series of uplifting social success stories, I shall be buying it entirely because of the behaviour of its originator.

The behaviour in question is his reaction to his labour of love being scanned and posted, page by lovingly crafted page, on a popular comic book discussion forum.

Rather than throw his toys out of the pram and rant about copyright theft, he jumped onto the thread in question and chatted openly about his work, his inspirations, and his favourite comics. I really urge you to read the thread in its entirety. But, to cut a long story short, it results in comments like this…

The conversation is also joined by one Erika Moen, the lady that runs the online store for Periscope Studios (cartoonist studio that Steve Lieber helped to found). She describes in detail the ins and outs of comic book publishing to an obviously interested forum. (Click on thumbnail to expand).

I doubt that Lieber thought much more about all this afterwards.

Until he checked his book sales that is.

What he found moved him to publish this post about what happened in the 24 hours following the 4chan discussion.

I am endebted to the Techdirt blog for drawing this story to my attention.

And it’s well worth reading the sometimes heated discussion in the comment thread associated with the Techdirt post.

The rights, wrongs and semantic, nay pedantic, details of intellectual property theft, piracy and copyright morality are discussed in detail.

Erika Moen jumps in again and gives full transparent detail to those commenters who were speculating that Lieber had got rich from his 4chan intervention. This wasn’t the case but the lack of scale on Lieber’s hand annotated graph had raised the question in several people’s minds.

But, for the purposes of this post, the killer comment is this one…

That, to me, is so obviously the moral of the story.

Selling books wasn’t Lieber’s objective when he jumped in. But that’s what happened.

His primary, indeed only, aim was to create something that he would be proud of. In the 4chan comment thread, someone states that the “only thing that matters is the audience.” Lieber jumps in and says…

And here I just have to flat out disagree. When it comes to comics like Underground or Whiteout, I’m not drawing for “the audience”. I’m drawing for me. I’ve got a whole other career as a storyboard artist and occasional mainstream comics artist where I worry about other people’s opinions, and that pays my bills just fine. But when I do an indy comic, my one and only job is making something I want to read. Sorry if that annoys you, but it’s the truth. Worrying about what the audience wants is how you get Whiteout the Movie instead of Whiteout the Comic.

The morals of this story aren’t really very surprising but it’s good to see what you believe to be true actually come to pass.

  • You’re more likely to succeed by focusing on content than by focusing on success.
  • In social spaces nice things tend to happen to nice people. (If only many brands could drop the advertising message mindset and get their heads round this concept).

If you found this post interesting, you might also want to take a look at Uplifting Social Success Stories – Part 1.


  1. Wow – that thread was, indeed, truly interesting. I know more about publishing comics than I ever thought I would, and Steve comes over as a really cool guy.

    Again, thanks. Made my Saturday night of dog-sittting a crazed bitch who is freaking out at the fireworks (Bonfire Night and Divali have convergence this weekend!) much more interesting.

  2. Pingback: So you think you’ve got a community? (Three uplifting social success stories – Part 3) « Sawdust

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