The road to becoming an accomplished comic book writer and artist is a long one, but for Derek Knierim it’s the new form of a lifelong passion.
A local Denver artist, Knierim has attended Denver Comic Con three of the four years since its inception, offering attendees a varied array of prints and comic samples.
This year, his booth was covered with original prints and a stack of his comic, “Manifest Future.” They sat to his left for attendees to leaf through or take a copy.
“Each year I usually have a comic book ready. This year I’m showcasing the second issue of my own comic book. I wrote it and illustrated it, it’s my own original idea,” Knierim said.
The comic is not like many of the other comics available on the show floor. Having never been a fan of super hero protagonists, he instead focused on a more fallible human character.
“It’s basically about a guy who’s trying to find his future,” Knierim said. “In the world he lives in, the future is manifested as a physical entity that you have to go and find. You have to find your future and destroy it in order for your timeline to progress.”
This wasn’t an idea that came over night. A lifelong artist, Knierim only started pursuing making comics four years ago.
“It started with a few sketches in my sketch book, and I’ve always been really intrigued in building stories with my artwork. I realized that I liked showing an image and having a story behind it, so that led into ‘Well, why don’t I just try doing comic books, have more sequential art and have some writing in there?’” he said.
This proved easier said than done though. Without a publisher behind him, Knierim had to self- publish his creation. He supported his art through crowd funding among friends and family. Even then, creating even one issue requires intensive dedication.
“It’s definitely a lot of work,” Knierim said. “The first issue took about 560 hours and the second issue took about 700 hours total. It’s a lot of work, a lot of blood, sweat and years.”
Even with a booth at Comic Con, it’s a gamble whether people will be interested in his work.
“It’s kind of hit or miss. Sometimes you have good days where everybody’s talking to you, sometimes you have people just glance at you and keep walking by,” Knierim said.
Knierim has made friends through his art and displaying it at Comic Con. He even inspired one attendee during his first year to pursue making his own comic.
“The next year, he had a booth and had his own comic book. He told me once he saw my comic book, it made him want to do comics. That was really cool, and really flattering,” Knierim said.
It’s moments like these, as well as seeing the finished product, that provide the biggest payoff of making his own comic.
“It’s totally worth it when you get to hold it, when you realize you put all this work into it and now it’s this physical thing you can share with people,” Knierim said “Especially when you can inspire other people with it.”
Editor’s note: This piece was originally published in The Metropolitan on August 31, 2016.