Comics Experience is excited to welcome Bon Alimagno to the newly created position of Creators Workshop Director!
In this new role, Bon will be the driving force keeping our Creators Workshop a comprehensive, up-to-date, and valuable source of online support for comics creators.
Bon comes to the position with an extensive background in both the comics and tech industries, where his roles have included leading Marvel’s talent division and serving as senior user experience producer for Amazon’s retail experience design team.
Comics Experience community member Nicole Boose spoke with Bon about his background, his vision for the Creators Workshop, and what our Creators Workshop members can look forward to under his leadership.
Bon, first, welcome to Comics Experience, and to your new role with the Creators Workshop! How did you (and Andy [Schmidt, Comics Experience founder]) arrive at your new position as Creators Workshop Director?
Well, Nicole, you actually had a lot to do with it and I am very grateful to you (and [CE instructor] Chris Sotomayor) for keeping my name alive with Andy Schmidt and Co. Think you and I first started talking about me joining Comics Experience as a pro contributor some years back while I was still working in tech. The conversation took on more urgency this past summer as I was prepping to leave the tech industry and looking to give back to the comics community. Andy and I both have a lot going on, but eventually we were able to connect and talk over possibilities over the phone and at New York Comic-Con — really it was a matter of perfect timing and mutual needs. Comics Experience was looking for someone to come on and be a driver of the Creators Workshop and I was looking to interface once more with the creative community on a meaningful level.
You spent the first stretch of your career in the comics industry, then moved to the tech world, and now you’re entering a new phase of your comics career. How have your years in tech influenced your view of the comics business?
My time there really opened my eyes to the missed opportunities of the comics industry. We have an entertainment and licensing market, in the US at least, being driven by comics intellectual property. Meanwhile, not a day goes by that I don’t see a comics creator opening up a crowdfunding campaign for their medical bills, or a retailer writing about how they struggle to remain open amid dwindling profit margins. There’s a disconnect there with how creators are connecting to their audience. That’s leading to creators suffering from not reaping the full benefits of their talent, and the audience having to pay higher and higher prices for those creators’ works.
In the tech industry, when there’s a disconnect like that, the approach would be to build the tools that create the needed connections. At Amazon especially, they drilled into us how creating the best customer experience drew in more customers, which meant you could lower prices to bring in even more customers. This led to lower and lower prices and on and on. This virtuous flywheel is how you end up with companies worth a trillion dollars.
Comics can totally learn how to leverage those same product design approaches to building the best customer experiences possible for comics audiences. It’s comics where the ideas driving pop culture are coming from, so why can’t it also be where the solutions, whether tech based or brick-and-mortar based, originate as well?
Meanwhile, I need to say the tech industry would absolutely kill for the level of engagement the American comics direct market, and Japanese and European markets, have. You’ve got thousands of stores with people coming in and making a cash purchase every week. In my previous gig, we’d have meetings trying to figure out how to convince someone to be a monthly customer let alone a weekly one.
Since you began in the role of Creators Workshop Director, you’ve launched Topic of the Day discussion threads on our online forum, where you introduce a thought-provoking topic about creating comics in today’s industry, and invite others to participate. Where do your topic ideas come from, and what are some of your favorite themes to discuss?
A lot of it so far has been seeing what topics in social media that day appear to have the most heat. I figure there are unique discussions the community would want to have in the Creators Workshop that they wouldn’t or couldn’t have on their own social media feeds. What’s the kind of daily discussion we can have in the Creators Workshop we can’t have anywhere else?
I’m most drawn to topics looking at the news of the day from the unique POV of a comics creator — lots of times comics news headlines focus too much on how things are out of our control — some multinational conglomerate is doing a thing and trampling all these folks underfoot. I’d like to instead look at that news through the lens of how we can turn challenges into opportunities. We’ll likely not be able to arrive at satisfactory answers by the end of the day, but it plants that seed that maybe we can solve it with more time and investigation.
What are some of your goals for the CE Creators Workshop, and what can members expect from their experience in the months ahead?
Really, I want it the workshop to be our community’s first check-in every day to get what they need for their own work. Is it advice, support, resources — something else? I’m reaching out to members to get their opinions. I figure my role is to ask, “What problem can I solve for you today?” And go from there.
We look forward to having Bon on board, and for the insights he continues to share with our community! To learn how you can become part of our Creators Workshop, visit the page here.