Being good at your craft makes for a good foundation to a career in comics. But good work doesn’t do you any good unless someone sees it. Many creators just sit around waiting for their “big” project to be picked up by Image…or wait around for their break at one of the big two. Why wait? Get some other smaller projects rolling to get your name out there or just start building up an audience for your project. Any work you get out there reveals a lot about you. It’s a little like baring yourself for the world to see, and if it’s good, the exposure will get people excited for more of your work. It’s just good business and marketing. So, why not take a look at people that are the best in the business of exposing themselves? Strippers.

You might be thinking, “What does the business of stripping have to do with comics?” Think about it for a moment…you have people that strip in the privacy of their own homes for their own enjoyment, you have people that strip for others just for the fun of it (often putting their pictures/movies up on the internet), you have people taking on lots of small stripping jobs to earn a modest living (or work their way through school), you have people working their way from smaller clubs to bigger clubs to get noticed and possibly pick up the big paycheck one day with Hollywood. You have the same patterns in comics…and music…and acting. So, let’s look at how strippers “expose” themselves at different levels.

The tease. So, do you think you can walk out on stage naked and be done with it? Well, if you have the perfect body, you might be able to get away with it…but chances are you’ll just lose your chance because they know there are others willing to put a lot more effort into it. A good stripper teases the audience showing a little skin here and a little there. They know how to build up the interest of the audience. They milk every bit of their exposure to capitalize on it. Even strippers with just fair or average (and sometimes worse) bodies can get a crowd excited if they’re exceptionally talented in the art of the tease. And if they’re good at teasing, they have a much better chance of having people toss money their way.

Sure, you could wait for your one project to finally hit the stands, but what if it flubs? What if hardly anyone notices? You’ve just walked out on the stage naked and risked your success on your project being so perfect that everyone will take notice without you putting much effort into it. But why take the chance when you can just build up their interest? Tease them with images, pages, snippets, press releases, a good website, interviews, signings, convention appearances, and more. Work on smaller projects like webcomics, articles, and anthology pieces that reveal a little bit about the quality of your work and get people interested in seeing more. Give people a reason to get excited about you and your projects.

Spice it up. It’s tough to be original in most creative businesses. How many strippers have gone before that strutted out on the stage dressed as cops, firefighters, clowns, business executives, or those friendly and adorable pussycats? If they put in the time and effort, they can still find new ways to twist up those ideas and make them different and intriguing. They might take a basic concept like the cop uniform and bring in a fellow stripper to play the criminal in a mock interrogation/strip search scene. It’s the same basic concept, but it’s a different execution that might make people take notice. They could also bring in props like a fire extinguisher that’s really a fog machine for the firefighter who steps in and out of the fog revealing more and more each time (using the prop to enhance the tease). With tons of other strippers out there, they need to do something to set themselves apart, and it doesn’t have to just be costumes or props. A stripper could go out there with a unique pole routine or an exotic dance or even strip while they sing. They take the execution of the striptease to a new level to make it more involving for the audience…to give them their money’s worth.

Take those ideas and keep twisting to produce a comic that catches people off guard. Mix vastly different ideas together or take an existing idea and execute it in an intriguing fashion. You could take a general premise and spice it up…like showing superheroes from alternative perspectives like Damage Control or Powers. You could show the different sides of superheroes like Hero Happy Hour and Common Grounds. Give the reader a little extra something to grab their attention and make them feel like they’re getting their money’s worth.

Interact. Many strippers like to work the crowd a little before they get on stage to flirt with the patrons and give them something to look forward to. Not only does it help solicit more tips for their stage performance, but they can also pull in extra work doing table dances. If they just sat backstage and waited their turn, they’d miss out on that. Plus, getting cozy helps develop regulars that will keep their act successful even during hard times. Then there’s also the fact that those regulars would talk about them to their friends. If word of mouth spreads, more and more people could start showing up for their shows. If they get a big enough following, a bigger club might make them an offer hoping to secure those crowds…or an agent might see some potential and “make some calls.”

Taking the time to talk with your potential audience can have a great impact on the outcome. Make friends and develop a network of people that like you and your work enough to champion it to the masses. Respond to letters and emails, chat with them about their favorite parts of your comics, and make them feel like a part of the experience. And remember to not just focus on bringing in new readers…you also need to work at building and keeping the interest of regulars that will check out your work time-and-again.


If you’ve worked on your skills, and you honestly feel you’re ready to take the plunge into the world of comics, then go ahead…expose yourself. You know you want to. If you know your project will take a while to get rolling, start building up an audience. Do a webcomic based on the characters or a webcomic that shows the quality you and your collaborators are capable of. Work on some articles for some websites…artists can give tips on drawing, coloring and inking…writers can give tips on writing (or tips on dealing with frustration, rejection, and feeling like you’re invisible). Build a website to promote different aspects of the project–concept artwork, short stories about the characters, news about the project and creators, and other fun stuff. Get out there and tease the world with what you have to offer and get them excited for more.