Lea Hernandez Offers Grants to Women Webcomickers

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Women Webcomicker Grant NAN

I am Lea Hernandez. I am committed to being a webcomicker, and have been for over ten years. I put up my first webpage, Pink Radio, in late 1995. On this page was a link to a preview of “Monster Friday,” a short story from the Japanese CD-ROM anthology ComicON Vol. 1. The Web is a force for equalizing audience access for women who want to make comics, but face a still-hostile direct market, and many hurdles (mainly financial), in a somewhat friendlier, but still difficult, bookstore and convention circuit markets.

The Web has been my number one tool in successful promotion of my work. I used it in 1997 to get around Big Three-centric print comics coverage and go straight to potential readers with news and previews of my books. A connection between me and readers was the reason why my first two books, Cathedral Child and Clockwork Angels, sold exclusively in the Direct Market (my publisher at the time, Image, had no bookstore distro), sold well enough for third and second printings at a time when graphic novels were not small-format books, nor priced at a now-typical $10 a volume, and in a market where most store buyers (but not readers) were not friendly to manga, let alone OEL manga.

In 2003, I used the Web to finish a series I started in print, Rumble Girls. I withdrew RG from Image, but accomplished my goal of finishing it for the readers who’d supported it in print. The Web allowed me to quit seeking work from comics publishers and still enjoy a readership and financial success. This is quite a change from the start of my career where wide readership was virtually impossible without sacrificing rights in exchange for the exposure afforded by being published by the “Big Two”, Marvel and DC.

In order to foster women publishing independently, with economy, and as owners of what they create, I will award three grants annually, of a year’s free hosting at WebComicsNation.com, to women making webcomics. The recipients will have unlimited data storage and bandwidth, the ability to choose to support their work with ads, and a storefront for selling merchandise.

The name of the grant is “Nan”, after the “digital person” Nan 1^1 from Rumble Girls. In RG, Nan agitates, comments on, and works behind the scenes to help the heroine, Raven, come to the understanding that being her own girl is the key to her strength.

I believe the Web already has what women wanting to make comics need, and that it has and continues to transform American comics from a work-for-hire Boy’s Club to a stage for everyone to perform on and be seen. The Web is living up to its promise, and comics can, too.

Details and submission guidelines to be announced in early June.