WHOA! What a whirlwind of a couple weeks! So many awesome things to cover, so here we go:
CAKE was… awesome. I had a fantastic time talking to everyone who stopped by the table and meeting the other amazing artists that were tabling. Here’s what it looked like:
My table, in all its glory.
Table buddies! (with Beth Hetland).
It was great to finally get Victus out into people’s hands. If you picked up a copy, I’d love to hear what you thought of it! There were some new and old faces, and everyone was showcasing some great comics. There are so many and I’m sure I’ll forget some, so please forgive me. I’ll start with a snapshot of the books I picked up:
Here’s what’s up there:
Upgrade Soul: Ezra Clayton Daniels (check out the paper version of this digital comic. The story is phenomenal sci-fi)
Last Mountain: Dakota MacFadzean (table pal! gorgeous inks!)
Titus and the Cyber Sun: Lale Westvind (will melt your mind)
The Reverie #2: Malachi Ward (Malachi pretty much rocks it again)
Dear Dear & Sorry Sheets: Eroyn Franklin (‘slow core’ comics with no equal)
Tiger Beat Exclusive: Gina Wynbrandt (mega funny follow up to her first love affair with Justin Beiber)
King Crow Comics (and others): Scott Kroll (new to the scene, but super funny books)
Next World Over & Equilibristics: Ian McDuffie (these book are bonkers. I love it)
Roots: Mita Mahato (beautifully hand0crafted book)
Glamera & Werewolf anthology: Penina Gal & Betsy Swardlick (table pals!)
Dumb #1: Georgia Webber (amazing book about losing her voice)
Copulate & The Excorcist: Lyra Hill (of brain frame fame!)
Library: Marnie Galloway (Marnie told me this was a true story)
Depictions #2: R. Hendricks (of Stranger to Stranger!)
Dig: Isabella Rotman (I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: keep an eye on this creator!)
Hasty Pastry: Ali Cantarella (adventures in customer service)
1-800-Kravlox: Isabel Reidy (oh my oh my. silliness abound! 🙂
Fire Messenger: Penina Gal (the other side of having super powers)
Drag Bandits: Betsy Swardlick & Colleen Frakes
Whew… Lots of great stuff, as you can see! I also was able to see some other old pals: Sean Dove, Beth Hetland (table-mate!), Kyle O’Connell, Kenan Rubenstein, Emi Gennis, and many more! What cool comics did you get at the show?
The show was a success! The gallery was filled with some amazing artists and appreciators of art! Here’s a couple snap shots:
I pretend to know what I’m talking about as Marnie Galloway’s beautiful work can be seen adjacent to mine.
If you haven’t checked out the show yet, you still have some time. Head on over to Ugly Step Sister Gallery: http://www.uglystepsisterartgallery.com/
GARY: BOOK ONE on COMIXOLOGY!
Some folks have been asking, and it finally happened: Gary is available for digital download via the Comixology app! Click the link to download:
For now, only Book One is available. But Books Two and Three should be coming in the next few months. If you go download it, please take an extra moment to give it a rating, as that helps the book’s visibility on the site. And actually it’s worth mentioning, this is currently the only place you can get Gary: Book One, as I have sold out of the paper copies. The fine folks over and IGN gave the book a “B”, which ain’t bad either: IGN Comixology Reviews
So head over and check it out!
Justin and I did another episode of the Back Issues Podcast. We discuss the incredible All Star Superman, by Grant Morrison & Frank Quitely. Just in time for the new Superman Movie, Man of Steel! Listen to us ramble & then subscribe:
I assure you, I’m plugging away on Victus #2. But don’t hold your breath. I’ll have some process pics soonish. In the meantime, Victus #1 is available at these fine retailers:
Graham Cracker Comics, Chicago (downtown)
Challengers Comics & Conversation, Chicago
Star Clipper, St. Louis
Thanks for reading all! And now your moment of Zen…
So, before I tell you how collaboration has saved my butt on multiple occasions, a couple announcements:
1. I’ll be speaking at the best comic book store in the country, Quimby’s, on May 30th at 7pm! I’m speaking as part of the Laydeez Do Comics series (I know I know, I’m not a lady). I’ll share the proverbial stage with Sarah Morton. These talks are always a lot of fun, so if you are in the Chicago area, I hope you can attend. I promise to share some juicy secrets! Here is the info:
2. As this post is about collaboration, I think it fitting to announce that I’ve had the privilege to collaborate on a podcast with the amazing Justin Fah of In This Issue Podcast. It’s called Back Issues. On the show we analyze older comics that we’ve always wanted to read, or always loved, or know to be essential. First we did Green Lantern: Willworld. Our lastest episode is focused on the classic X-men storyline ‘Days of Future Past’. You should subscribe to the show In This Issue Podcast on itunes or listen directly on their website:
Now, on to the meat!
So… I always wish I could do everything myself. That’s cuz I’m dumb. One of the areas I struggle with the most is graphic design. It’s an area that folks that who self-publish often under-utilize or ignore. It’s unfortunate, because I think it keeps their (my) work out of a large number of consumers hands. We live in a world saturated by design. As Steve Jobs said, ‘design matters’. Very true. No matter how much your comic rocks, if you can’t put it in a package that communicates that the work is professional, you’ll have a hard time selling it.
Since I struggle so much in this area, I often lean on my friends for help. In particular, I know this dude named Gerald Proctor. Gerald is a college buddy that has quite a talent for graphic design and all things digital art related. I got to know him through many a long night of Halo death matches in the dorms (yes I’m a nerd). The first time we collaborated was in college on a poster for my comic Simon. I gave no specific direction, so Gerald brought his own style to the piece:
It was really exciting for me to see someone take a concept like Simon, that up to that point only I had done, and explore it in their medium. Years later, Gerald helped design the cover for my Simon 10 year collection:
I’m fairly sure this cover has helped in me selling out of the first printing of the Simon Collection. Now, to the untrained eye, this cover might not look too complicated. Which, honestly, is the beauty of it. It just works and you see it as another piece of fitting design. The same way you see a book on the stands of any bookshop and just ‘get it’ at first glance. Now, without Gerald’s help, the cover would have turned out much different. To give you an idea of how bad this cover would have been if I had created it solo, here are some of my cover designs before Gerald joined the project:
Pretty bad, right? That’s because DESIGN IS HARD. Gerald used texture and subtle color to accentuate the feeling the black and white line art had. This was much more effective than just simply coloring the cover in a traditional style. Not only that, but this design adds to the feeling that this book is a collection of work over time. You get a sense of history when seeing the cover, which is exactly what a collection of 10 years of comics should feel like.
Gerald also helped give cohesion to my Gary series:
When looking at the series as a whole, it becomes even more obvious how consistent and direct design helps in catching the eye of potential buyers. Gerald also created the interior layouts for the Gary series. Picking font families, alignment, and page placement is not as intuitive as it might seem to the layperson. It requires a keen eye for detail, and a knowledge of the language of graphic design.
Collaboration is not always easy. Gerald and I tend to disagree about almost everything when working on a project. But I’m a firm believer in “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” The disagreements lead to discussion and honest critiquing of what’s working or not working within the piece. Hopefully, after the dust settles, you have a great piece of design in your hands.
Gerald continues to be a monster of a digital artist. I highly recommend you check out his gallery of work on Society 6:
I particularly like “If I walk to you”.
I plan to do another post about collaboration soon, delving into some other working relationships. I’ve had the chance to work with some amazingly talented people. Most recently, my brother Logan and I collaborated on a new Simon comic. It went so well, we are already working on another. And of course, John Wright and I are still working on our epic cage fighting comic NUMB:
I’ll leave you with a sneak peek at 6 pages of Victus #1:
Holy cow, folks! What a weekend! Stumptown Comics Fest was fantastic! Thank you to everyone who came by to show support or purchase some books from the amazing artists exhibiting. Before I launch into Stumptown details, a couple quick announcements:
I have started a (hopefully) ongoing podcast with Justin Fah of In This Issue Podcast, where we analyze older comics that we find interesting or declare “must read’s”. The first one was released this week. Check it out as we discuss Green Lantern: Willworld, drawn by one of my favorite artists, Seth Fisher. Click below or subscribe to In This Issue podcast on iTunes:
REVIEWS & SUCH
Those fine folks over at Spandexless saw fit to finish up the Gary series with another kind review:
They also took the time to explore one of my older Simon comics, “Mercy”
Now on to the wacky exploits at STUMPTOWN…
Manning the table with me was my trusty sidekick (and younger brother) Logan.
He also helped create the newest Simon comic, which we had available at the show.
I did a few throughout the weekend, including this Simon piece.
I’d like to think this is just our first collaboration.
Speaking of Brandon Graham, I geeked out at how he one-upped Simon Roy’s signature on my
Prophet TPB. Farel Dalrymple also added his own touch. Dirty fellows.
including Mr. Jack Bracken, who did this wonderfully racy poem for me.
Reid Psaltis took a time out to show me around Portland’s very own IPRC. Cool joint!
And of course, there was much food and drink to be had. From left to right/top to bottom:
Broder, Pacific Pie (x2), Little Big Burger, Biwa, Blue Star Donuts, Lardo’s, Teardrop, more Blue Star.
Not pictured: Bunk, Luc Lac, Pine State Biscuits, Wurst
I’m not great about taking pictures, so you’ll have to look through the Stumptown Tumblr to find more shots of me and other exhibitors.
In the 11th hour, I was invited to participate in the famous Art Battle at the Stumptown afterparty, hosted by Ezra Clayton Daniels! My team was doomed to lose as we were the ‘away team’ vs. the Portland home team. But we gave it our best shot, fighting through language barriers (I’ve never had to explain auto-erotic asphyxiation to a frenchman before), shake-weights, and insults. Really, I thought including Robocop in our G.I. Joe team drawing would ensure our win. But hey, it was all in good fun.
I had an awesome trip. Special shout out to The Con Crew: Josh Shalek, Neil Brideau, Reid Psaltis, Kenan Rubenstein, & Jack Bracken. Finally all of us in one place! Couldn’t ask for a better group of creators to share a convention with. Also it was great to see the incorrigible Beth Hetland, the lovely Nomi Kane, and the edgy Ezra Clayton Daniels.
I have some BIG announcements coming in my next post. So stayed tuned next week for the details!
Hey hey hey…
So Con season has officially begun. I’ll be tabling at my first show of the season this weekend, March 1st-3rd at Emerald City Comicon in Seattle, WA.
You can find me with the awesome Josh Shalek at artist alley table S-09:
Josh is the man behind the extremely amusing & poignant Welcome to Falling Rock. I hear he might be premiering some brand new printed comics at this show. I highly recommend you pick one up! I will be filling my part of the table with the complete series of Gary (books 1-3), as well as the Simon Collection, and a new Simon mini comic. I’ll also have some promotional handouts for my new project, Victus. Here’s what the back looks like:
Woops… Did I just announce when the first issue is coming out?
Speaking of Victus, here are some sneak peeks at my progress…
I’m very excited for Emerald City Comicon and I hope you pacific northwesterners can come out to the show! I’ll leave you with a breakfast moment of zen, courtesy of Walker Brothers Original Pancake house…
The fine folks over at Buy Indie Comics were kind enough to do a nice review of Gary. Click to see:
I really appreciate these guys taking the time to give Gary a read. If you haven’t picked up all three issues yet, they are still available at the store.
Victus is coming along. Here are some random snaps of pages in progress, and my (messy) workspace:
coffee and drawing in the morning
Go ahead and JUMP!
It’s always exciting when drawings come together and turn out the way you want. It seemingly only happens about 10% of the time for me, but that 10% success rate manages to keep me coming back for more.
What have you guys been reading lately? I’ve discovered Study Group recently. How did I miss this?? It’s filled with work by some of my favorite artists working right now. Check it out!
Stay warm out there!
It’s opened up a lot out there. This is good and bad. The good is that the entry into printing up your own stuff in a professional manner is easier than ever. The bad is that there are a lot of places/methods to choose from. I’m not going to give you an overview of all the print on demand places (there are tons of great articles on that topic which are easy to find). I’m going to tell you what my method and experience has been.
Printing your own stuff is not exactly Publishing in the true sense. Basically, if you go the route of printing and distributing your own work (whether by choice or by necessity), you are your own publisher. You’ll be making all the calls, paying all the bills, and doing all the advertising. ADVANTAGE: Total CONTROL
DISADVANTAGE: Money, connections, public awareness
Everything’s a give and take. For the last 10 years, I’ve been producing, printing, and distributing my own work. It’s hard. I don’t make any money doing this. But at the moment it’s my only real option. I’ve had the chance to experience both ‘at home’ printing and used a couple Print On Demand services.
Part 1: Print on Demand
A hot phrase. I think it’s died down and most people have realistic expectations for these services now. I decided to print Gary with a print on demand service due to the length of each issue, binding preference, and number of copies. These factors combined to be a bit too much for me to handle printing at home. I barely have time to draw my comics (hello dayjob!) let alone print and bind longer projects. Print on demand seems to be good for folks that:
– Don’t want 1000 copies around their house
– Have a little more money to spend
– Have a project with appropriate content for print on demand formats (standard size, a lot of pages, images reproduce well on digital printers, etc).
I did a lot of research on many different options. It was apparent to me early on that there are places that want to basically be publishers/distributors for you, and other places that are happy to just print things for you. If you are using a place that does the ISBN and distribution for you, they will usually charge you more for those things or take a bigger cut of the sales prices. I arrived at two main competitors for Gary‘s printing: Ka-Blam & Lulu
I had a pretty lackluster experience with Ka-blam. I have heard they turned things around in the last year or so, but I had issues with their communication and timeliness. After initially uploading my files and requesting a job, I didn’t hear back for 2 weeks. After 15 days, I emailed them to ask what’s up. I got a response (2 days after that email) saying my files were corrupted. The files were exactly the same files used for lulu, so i’m not sure what happened. If I had known this when it happened, rather than 2 weeks later, when I reached out to them, I might have continued on with the order. So in the end, I cancelled my order and never even saw their print quality or options on my book. I figured, if this is how just getting my files uploaded goes, I don’t want to bother with actually ordering a print job!
Lulu is huge, and mostly automated. Responses and quotes were given to me promptly and made perfect sense. Getting a demo copy of my book was super easy. I literally had priced out my print job, uploaded my files, and ordered a proof copy in a couple evenings. I had my final book within 2 weeks.
As for the quality of the books…
Honestly, it’s just passable. It’s not great. I’m not embarrassed by the quality, but I wished I had more options. They don’t offer many paper options, and the cover stock default is glossy. The perfect binding is actually pretty good though. None of my Gary books have fallen apart. The biggest issue I had with them was the dot patterns I used would consistently print kinda spotty (that’s confusing), and the line quality on thinner lines was a bit jaggy.
Once I did get an entire order of books that was printed poorly. There was a huge mark across 4-5 pages of the issue from the printer roller. Lulu required I take pictures of these defects to officially file a complaint (which is reasonable). They let me talk to a person on the phone very promptly so I could describe the problem. Then they sent me new proofs from another printer. When I wasn’t satisfied with those, they had another printer send me proofs. This might seem like a hassle, but I was able to discuss this with a real person on the phone (big plus) and this all happened within 10 days of the original order. Once I got a proof I liked, they sent me a whole new batch from that printer, free of charge. And I got to keep the messed up copies! (btw… if anyone wants a severely discounted copy of Gary: Book 2, let me know).
Now, I’ve moved on from Lulu to Rink Printing. I decided to use them for all of my Gary re-prints once stock ran out. Hallelujah! I am currently singing the praises of Rink! I have had a stellar experience with them. I found Rink at their booth at C2E2 here in Chicago last year, and was very impressed with their quality and friendliness. Following the show, I reached out to them to inquire about printing my book. Within 24 hrs (!) I received 4-5 sample books showcasing the different options they could produce. I am a freak, so I had a million questions, from paper quality, to binding, to what types of printers they used. Every question was answered promptly and thoroughly by a person (not a generic email address).
I proceeded to upload my files and request a proof copy of my book. It arrived within 2 days (!) of the order. The proof copy is free if you proceed with your order (which I did). All concerns/questions I had about the proof were addressed personally by the print technician prior to the final run. Please note: I had not been charged anything at this point.
Once all was set and finalized, Rink called me to finalize payment. It was great to put a voice with the name of the print rep I had been emailing. She was fantastic (thanks Teri)! Now, The price quoted to me originally was about 50 cents cheaper per book than Lulu had been. But I expected to pay a shipping fee, especially since I had requested a specific delivery date that had to be met. Here is the best part of the whole thing: the original price quoted to me included shipping and taxes. That’s right folks, there were zero hidden fees. This made the order more than 75 cents cheaper per book than I had paid at Lulu! Teri assured me they could meet my requested due date, so no rush charges would be required. The books arrived right on time!
Rink’s quality is head & shoulders above what I got from Lulu and what I’ve seen from Ka-blam. The paper stock is nice and thick, holding the ink very well. The covers are durable, but not stiff. The binding is clean and professional. They had many options on paper stocks and cover stocks. And when I asked what sizes they could print, they just said ‘any size you want’. They stressed that they want to work with the artist to bring their vision to the final product. Since my last order, they have actually updated their online ordering system and added tons of new options, included cover coatings. I’m very excited to try these options as well.
I HIGHLY recommend Rink for print on demand. Please give them a shot if you are working on anything that seems appropriate for this avenue of printing:
That was a bit long winded. I’ll have another part to this up for the ‘print at home’ options I use. Thanks for reading!
Your moment of zen:
I’ve been wanting to do a ‘wrap-up’ post regarding Gary ever since finishing Book Three a month or two ago. It was quite a journey finishing a book about a serial killer. I never anticipated how draining this process would be mentally and emotionally. I am a person with a pretty strong stomach and a long history with all types of horror films. In creating this book, I was no longer allowed to have that disconnect that makes some gruesome things easier to process. This was always my intent for the reader, but I never anticipated how much this would carry over to me (and how much I needed it!)
Below is the conclusion from the final pages of Book Three. I’ll put that here for any of you folks that haven’t got the book yet. Don’t worry, it doesn’t show you how the book ends, it’s only a compilation of my thoughts.
Book Three is the final chapter of Gary. This graphic novel started as a way to explore something I didn’t understand. We share the world with individuals such as Gary Ridgway, and this can be an extremely difficult fact to come to terms with. He seems to feel little or no empathy, a trait that certainly contributed to the large number of victims he left behind. Conversely, he was someone who led a fairly unremarkable life that many of us can find relatable. We often take comfort in the myth that all serial killers are “insane” or “mentally unstable”. However, the facts of Gary’s case make it difficult for me to dismiss him as such. I intended to directly confront this contradiction of identity in Gary. We gain an understanding of each other’s identities in bits and pieces. Each moment spent with another person builds on the previous, slowly forming our picture of their identity. However, many times we are met with incongruences that re-contextualize our perceptions. This constant battle between knowing and questioning is something we all struggle with as we engage with others. Gary is also a presentation of this struggle, as it happens internally, and as we perceive it externally. I do not mean any disservice to the victims, their families, or the authorities. I do not condone any action of Gary Ridgway, nor do I wish to make him the protagonist of this story. He has been apprehended and judged thanks to the work of brave and diligent members of our legal system. I hope you are confronted with some tough questions when you read Gary. But I also hope you see the connection to our everyday struggle to truly understand one another. I believe that forming deep bonds with other people is the most worthwhile and rewarding aspect of our lives, but it is also the most difficult.
So I have two projects in the works. I am very excited about both, so I wanted to introduce you to some of the characters. First up is the book I’m writing/drawing/etc:
Also, I’m working on a book with my long time friend and sometimes collaborator, the infamous John Wright II. John will be handling the art, and I wanted to showcase his sketches below:
The Brenner Brothers
Look for more about these two projects in the coming weeks/months/years (?).
I realized most of the blogs I really enjoy take the time to just post up some stuff they are looking at lately. I love this peek into the inspirations that trickle into their work. So…
Paul Pope‘s Battling Boy is FINALLY coming out… sometime…
Why not another pope?
Durer Monogram. You’ll be seeing a lot of him here in the next couple years.
Yoshiaki Kawajiri’s Running Man. Intense.