In an age when nearly all of our entertainment is fueled by social media, keeping up with your favorite celebrities has become a new normal. But unlike Hollywood or the music industry, the world of comics has been somewhat resistant to change. Although they are more visible than ever—and have even enjoyed a recent boom in popularity—the comic book industry has yet to fully embrace modern technology. That’s why when Andrew Schulz (popularly known as “Crazy’Cuz”) recently released his own special comics, it was part of a larger effort to transform this niche industry into something that’s more accessible and inclusive for everyone. To learn more about Schulz’s groundbreaking work, keep reading!
Who is Andrew Schulz?
Andrew Schulz is a comedian and host who lives in New York City. He is the co-host of the podcast The Brilliant Idiots, and regularly appears on The Breakfast Club and Red Bar Radio. Schulz is also the author of the comic book special The Haunting of the High School Dropout, which became the first ever comic book released on the same day it was released in stores. Schulz has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and BuzzFeed, and was named one of “2017’s Most Fascinating People” by Paper Magazine. Schulz was born and raised in the Bronx, New York City. He was a high school dropout who left school to support his family, and later went back to get his GED, and earned a degree in Communications Studies from SUNY New Paltz. He then worked as a programmer for a domestic violence hotline and a substance abuse rehab center, before becoming a stand-up comic in his 30s. Schulz was occasionally profiled during his rise to fame on VH1’s reality show My Crazy Obsession, and has also been featured on MTV’s Ridiculousness, TruTV’s Comedy Knockout, and Viceland’s The Therapist. He is currently the host of a new show called Broke and Famous on VH1.
Why was Schulz’s decision to go direct-to-consumer important?
The Haunting of the High School Dropout, which was released as a comic book, became the first ever comic book released on the same day it was released in stores. Schulz was able to make this happen by forgoing the traditional route of publishing his comic through a major comic book company and instead distributing it himself. In other words, instead of going through an intermediary company like Marvel or DC, Schulz published his own comic on his own terms. He then offered it directly to fans through his website at a cheaper rate than they would have found at a comic book store, and allowed them to pay what they wanted if they couldn’t afford it. This was part of a larger effort to disrupt the comic book industry, which has traditionally been inaccessible to marginalized groups.
What made this event so special?
Schulz’s decision to go direct-to-consumer not only made his special accessible to fans who might not have been able to afford it otherwise, but it also made it available for purchase in a new way. Instead of making the special available for purchase online or in a store, Schulz made it available for download through something called a “website.” This website, which could be accessed from someone’s computer, tablet, or mobile phone, allowed fans to access his comics without having to leave their homes. This was especially important for members of the queer and disabled communities, who sometimes have trouble getting to a comic book store. It was also significant for people with low incomes, since comics can often be really expensive. In fact, some comics cost upwards of $200. Schulz’s decision to make his comic available for download through a website made it accessible to a much larger audience.
The importance of representation in the comic industry
Although comedy is a multi-billion dollar industry, most of the characters featured in the industry are straight, cisgendered, able-bodied, white men. This means that, despite their popularity, comic books aren’t very inclusive or representative of diverse audiences. According to a 2017 study, published by the Nielsen Company, only 27% of comedy fans are women. Additionally, a survey of the top 100 comic books from a 2014 issue by the Comics, Arts, and Education Association found that only 15% of characters were people of color. The study also found that only 10% of characters were LGBTQ. This means that, for many years, comic books have been targeting a very specific audience. Schulz’s decision to go direct-to-consumer was a small step towards changing this. By making comics available for download through a website, he was making them more accessible to people who might otherwise not have been able to afford them. This is because, while comics are relatively inexpensive, they can still be prohibitively expensive if you can’t afford them. This can make them inaccessible to lower-income readers who might otherwise really enjoy them. By making them available for download, Schulz made them more affordable for readers who might not otherwise have been able to afford them.
How diversity can make audiences feel included
One of the hallmarks of a good artist is that they can make their audience feel included, even if they are very different from them. They can make us see ourselves in their work, and understand our own experiences in a new way. This is especially the case in the world of comic books, where characters have been given the ability to do all sorts of fantastical things. But while comic books have the ability to be transformative, they don’t always reflect the real world. This can leave readers feeling as if they don’t belong, because they don’t see themselves in the stories that they’re reading. Comics have the ability to make audiences feel included, but they first have to exist. It’s impossible to make audiences feel included if they don’t see themselves reflected in the stories that they’re reading. This means that it’s important to have a wide range of characters who represent different groups. It’s also important to make these characters as fleshed out and human as possible. This lets readers see themselves in the characters, and makes them feel included. Click here
In an age when nearly all of our entertainment is fueled by social media, keeping up with your favorite celebrities has become a new normal. But unlike Hollywood or the music industry, the world of comics has been somewhat resistant to change. Although they are more visible than ever—and have even enjoyed a recent boom in popularity—the comic book industry has yet to fully embrace modern technology. That’s why when Andrew Schulz (popularly known as “Crazy’Cuz”) recently released his own special comics, it was part of a larger effort to transform this niche industry into something that’s more accessible and inclusive for everyone.