It used to be that there was sort of an unofficial “farm club” in comics. Folks who wanted to break into the business would approach one of the smaller companies that dotted the funnybook landscape (Charlton, Dell, Gold Key, Treasure Chest, etc.) then work their way up the ladder to finally arrive at Marvel or DC — which were the top of the food chain. Well, these days, with so much of the market producing digitally, much of the industry of comics seem to have become a cottage industry, with individuals or small publishing groups self-publishing and producing books Print of Demand (PoD). With this new paradigm it quite difficult, if not nearly impossible for writers, artists, letters, and others to get published while learning their craft.
Into this new mix comes a very engaging publishing consortium calling itself, Pronto Comics which has made it its home in New York City, the origin place of the Comicbook Industry. Pronto is essentially different than virtually every other comicbook publisher that is currently operating today. Unlike the corporate model (that is backed by a deep-pocketed, mega-corp), or the mid-sized publishing house (one that is still funded by business people), or even the smaller house (one or ah handful of principals who are essentially publishing themselves, some friends and perhaps some talented others, or even the one-man shop (someone who does all or most of the work on one or two titles essentially solo).
Pronto is much different, as it is — quite literally — a loosely-knit consortium of independent freelancers all bound together by their love of the medium itself. This is truly an indie consortium of creative funnybook folk who simply want to get together and produce comics. The members themselves span a wide range of fans, from folks who have never been published to folks who have more experience. In the five or so years that they have been operating they have produced around 40 comics out that are various collaborative collections of their members’ works. Some of the books are themed anthologies, while others are simply one or two members getting together to produce a comic under the Pronto logo.
Not only do they often exhibit at local comic book shows like MoCCA-Fest, but they hold regular, monthly meetings (the first Thursday of each month, at Pearl Studios in Midtown). The comics themselves are produced at least two ways, first in print via IndyPlanet, then digitally as webcomics. Their print comics are generally self-distributed to a couple of comic shops in the NYC area (Lush Comics, Carmine St. Comics), as well as via each member who tend to sell their own books at comic shop and con appearances.
Twice a year, Pronto holds a Phrases to Pages event where members are divided into writers and artists then matched up for two rounds of “play” the object of the exercise is that each team is given a convoluted phrase that they then have to write and illustrate within a 45 minute time frame. The top three from each session are then published in an annual comic (the two sessions of each year are combined into a single comic). The beauty of this exercise is to not only to get writers and artists used to working with each other, but to have fun, and of course get published.
Pronto maintains a presence on Facebook where it not only promotes itself and its many contributors, but keeps members and fans abreast of its many scheduled events. According to Sparano, Pronto has several more books coming out over the next couple of months, including Nap Boy, Perceptions, Manganation #5, Strange Stories #4, and I was a Hippe Comic book Artist.
Robert J. Sodaro has been reviewing comicbooks for some 30 years. During that time, his reviews and articles have appeared in numerous print publications, as well as on the web. Subscribe to receive regular comicbook articles and reviews.