A week and a half ago, Adrian Tomine, creator of the graphic novel Shortcomings and the mini-comic Optic Nerve, spoke at Syracuse University. While I'm not the biggest fan of his work (although I've only read Shortcomings and 32 Stories: The Complete Optic Nerve), I think his is an interesting story, especially from a mini-comic publisher's standpoint.
Tomine first published his mini-comic Optic Nerve while in high school. Tomine said the initial print run of the first issue was about 20 and were distributed to his mom, dad, a few friends and that was about it. Tomine was a big fan of Drawn and Quarterly, and influenced by some of the artists published by D&Q, especially Julie Docet. He sent each issue of Optic Nerve to Drawn and Quarterly in hopes they'd want to publish him, which they eventually did, I believe, four years later.
What I find interesting is that now Tomine is illustrating covers for the New Yorker and although some might feel as if he sold out, working toward a high-profile illustration career has always been his goal. He sent Optic Nerve to D&Q in hopes of being published and later sent illustrations to the New Yorker in hopes of being published. Selling out, to me, would mean initially wanting to keep things DIY/underground and then reneging on this ideal by having your work published or being featured in a large publication.
Tomine has worked hard to get where he is and I'm glad to see he's been successful in achieving his goals.