If you've been reading comics for any amount of time, you’ve no doubt heard of creator owned books. Newer readers may have heard this and may not have understood the meaning. To gain an understanding of this concept, an examination of the publication of most books is needed.
Marvel Comics and DC Comics are the two biggest comic book publishers around and have been dubbed "the big two." The stories and characters they publish, such as Spider-Man and Batman respectively, are owned by them. These two companies have been active for so many decades and have gained extensive fan bases. The characters are loved by fans and creators want to work on them; writers and artists want to become part of their favorite character's histories. While the term creator is a correct label because they do in fact create stories, they don't however receive royalties in the normal sense.
Here is where the creator owned books come into the picture. These books are published by creators who wish to produce the stories they want while retaining the rights to them as well. The characters and stories will belong to original creators and are free to be used however they see fit. Exceptions may include the rights being sold for television and movie production. There are several companies dedicated to the publication of created owned works. Company dependent, creators may not be responsible for publishing costs. Some smaller companies will publish these books also, but at the creator's expense directly. With these books being released on a smaller scale, the risk is much more defined. They often rely on word of mouth and reviews to broaden their audience.
The people behind these books vary greatly as you will find many popular and well known writers and artists producing smaller books while also maintaining work at larger companies. These books also serve as a method for aspiring people to get into the industry and spread their name around. For those who seek work with one of the major publishers, this type of work is often a requirement.
Now that you know what the phrase means, spread it to others who may not know. The subject of smaller publishers usually leads to very interesting discussions about the industry. For anyone who thought it would be too hard to get into the industry or were unsure of how it worked, I hope this helps you in your journey.