Friday night I had the honor to speak on the Beer and Comics Panel at New York Comic Con. The panel was created and moderated by Matthew Waite, and joined by Ben Abernathy of Madefire, and C.B. Cebulski of some small publisher no one’s ever heard of. We illuminated many of the interesting parallels between our two worlds so for those who couldn’t join us I wanted to write a brief recap. It will probably be too long. I love these things.
Both comics and beer have long storied histories. We here at the Brooklyn Brewery always bring up how the Ancient Egyptians had passages on drinking beer, and those passages of hieroglyphics were some of the first sequential art. The act of creating something for a consumer to experience is an art regardless if it’s something to taste or something to read. Art and beer have gone together for as long as time can remember but the modern incarnations correlations are almost creepily similar.
Both industries have their “Big Two” which came from decades of consolidating other brands, until the 80’s when young upstarts started showing up with more adult and experimental fare. The ’90’s exploded with new breweries and publishers, leading up to the ’00’s where it’s not surprising anymore to see multiple publishers fighting for shelf space with the Captain Americas and Wonder Womans; your local beer aisle probably looks just as diverse. Breweries and comics are getting hyper local with a comic shop producing their own comics for the local markets, or a couple of homebrewers only creating one batch to sell out of their apartment. The experimentation has gotten so popular that one of the big two has started emulating the independent and craft styles, while the other is slowly trying to compensate by rebooting their message to a fresher more contemporary look, in both industries. Both industries are in the middle of a renaissance.
Few industries have the three tier distribution system or specific locations to browse and purchase that week’s latest shipments. Comic book shops and bars are staffed with a cultish elite that are uber-informed and are more excited about the rare limited releases than the standard brands that they constantly have to stock. The public can name most of the big players in the industry but there are worlds of info we could still teach them. Hopefully, Brooklyn Brewery will be the first brewery to open a movie studio because that seems to be going pretty well for the comic book industry.
We talk a lot about how a good beer should be a story with a beginning, middle and an end. You’d better hope a comic does. We’re both products that go through multiple phases and people; you do the best work you can to your part of the process and then send it on, hoping for an amazing outcome. Whether you’re brewing a beer or producing a comic you have the lowest bar of entry in almost any creative industry. With under a hundred dollars of equipment you have the capability to make a product as well crafted as the best stuff on the shelves. The collaboration and checks and balances at the larger scale producers is an equally beautiful ballet. The variety and subtlety that can be executed in either are innumerable.
In every Con or Beer Festival panel there’s always one thing I hear over and over: There is nothing stopping you from creating either. Do it. Stopping thinking about it or dreaming about it or saying you don’t have enough time. Just start doing, making, creating. If you’re no good, with practice you will get better. Take your passion and make it your life. You and the marketplace will be better for it.