Flint, MI — Despite the disastrous effects on business during the COVID-19 pandemic, including a freeze on comic distributions, local comic artist Josh Harris has found a silver lining.
“This has definitely been a very unique situation,” Harris said.
Harris normally works at a paint store to pay the bills, and spends his time at home working on his art and business. The pandemic has changed that and, for Harris, it’s working out.
“The cool thing about this—-when I say cool, you know what I mean—the best part of staying home is I can literally apply myself to a full-time art schedule. It’s given me the opportunity to work on more than one project at a time and it opened up these doors that otherwise would have been more like windows that I would look out of. But now they’re doors that I can open, walk into, and explore,” he said.
Harris has been writing and illustrating his own comics for the last few years, making appearances at Flint Comix Con, and self-publishing his works. He’s now pivoting to making the best of his unfortunate situation by working as a full-time artist and releasing his latest comic, “Astronaut Highschooler,” now up for pre-order on his Etsy page.
“It’s a 22-page comic, but I plan on expanding it,” Harris said. “It’s about a high schooler with a baseball bat who fights off evil–evil the size of planets, easily, and it’s ridiculous and it’s a blast. I’ve never done anything so wacky. I’m always working on very serious projects.”
Pre-ordering the book helps him pay his collaborator Simon Rodriguez, the cost of the printing, and the shipping. He’s also writing and illustrating the sequel to his detective series “Henry Graves,” and with his newfound time, taking on even more projects.
“I’m doing writing on a lot of my stuff, but now I am working with various writers,” says Harris. “Sam Moore came up with the idea for this jellyfish brain picture I had drawn in Chicago. He said, ‘Hey, I have an idea for that. We should do a short comic.’ So I was like, ‘Heck yeah!’ That’s one thing that’s nice, other people are having opportunities to work with me. So they can come up with these stories while I’m writing and illustrating my own stories.”
For other comic creators having trouble marketing themselves, Harris offers some advice after dealing with the ups and downs in the industry.
“You have to talk to people. If you just go on and post stuff, you’ll get some feedback, but it’s very minimal,” says Harris. “When you put your art up and someone talks about really liking it, engage in conversation with them. For artists especially, people are drawn so easily to visual things you already have a one-up. You don’t have to try very hard for people to see what you’re talking about so you have that advantage so take advantage of that.”
With Diamond putting a freeze on distributing new comics as the industry is at somewhat of a standstill, indie comic creators are able to release their own works into the world. Although job security and other scary roadblocks come to mind, Harris is embracing the camaraderie of the art community as they embrace and uplift each other in the time of need.
“The sense of community is what’s helping indie artists the most right now,” says Harris. “We’re all banding together and like making sure we’re all holding onto each other and making sure we get through this. Because of times of crisis that’s when people, hopefully, react in a communitive way in the sense of we need to keep the industry going ourselves, so we’re gonna pick it up, and keep moving forward.”
Learn more about Harris at www.jrcomicart.com