100 Hour Tour: The Panel & Pixel Forum Stop
What follows are the posts from Dave Sim made to The Panel & Pixel message board as part of his "100 Hour Internet Tour".
Hi. Well, here we are. Thanks to Rantz for the waffles. The apple butter and honey combo was a nice surprise.
Anyway, before we get started, since I suspect most of this will center on how to become a success in the comic book biz -- either as a self-publisher or as a freelancer -- I've always said that the most important and most often underrated route to success is, simply, reliability.
Shared Risk, Shared Responsibility and Shared Rewards. If you are entering the comic book field on the creative end, you have to realize that what you are doing is participating in the day-to-day business of roughly 3,000 other businesses -- that's how many comic book stores there are. With a handful of exceptions, these guys are all incredibly reliable: that's why they're still in business after four years, eight years, ten years, twenty years. A big part of any success story is just showing up for work in the morning and then giving it your level best from the moment the door opens to the moment the door closes. Put as plainly and as simply as possible: if we had even half the work ethic on the creator side that we see on the retailer side, this business would be functioning at a much higher level of success.
When you solicit a book in PREVIEWS, you are asking 3,100 retailers to Share the Risk with you that there's an audience out there for what you do. You're asking them to bet $5 or $10 or $15 on what you do, usually based on a cover reproduction the size of a postage stamp and two lines of copy.
If you're one in a hundred guys whose book actually clicks: the retailer sells out of the three copies or five copies he ordered, you have now Gone to the Show, you are playing in the Bigs with Neil Gaiman, Jeff Smith, Brian Michael Bendis and everyone else. There is no other field in he world where that opportunity exists.
That's were Share the Responsibility comes in. If you take your entree, your entry level success and fritter it away being a Cartoon SuperStar at every convention that summer and don't even get started on your second issue until Christmas, then you have not only frittered away your chance, you have frittered away the investment in you of 3,100 other businesses.
If you let anything get in the way of getting your book out on time, what you are doing is saying, "I choose to be a failure. I had the chance and I blew it and I have no one but myself to blame." Whatever you think you're saying, whatever excuses you come up with (and anything besides "Here's my new issue, right on time" constitutes an excuse. There is no REASON that qualifies) that is what you are ACTUALLY saying.
Okay. As Joe Matt used to say, "I love talking to Dave. It's like this exhilirating Nuremberg Rally".
The conflict between hand-lettering and a computer font, for me, gets settled by the fact that as a writer I can "letter" the book and then change things right up to the last minute. When you hand-letter something, you have to "settle for" whatever you've hand-lettered more often than not, or make a correction that fills the same amount of space as what you're taking out. What the writer has to say is more important than what the letterer's lettering looks like. I'd consider doing a computer font of my own lettering, but frankly -- when it comes to basic narrative lettering -- Joe Kubert buries my stuff six ways to Sunday.
I still do specialty lettering in glamourpuss. But the style is modeled on the great photorealist newspaper strips which all had Ben Oda or Ben Oda looking lettering.
Secret Project One is done with Joe Kubert's compute font as well.
The Skipper is JFK, Gilligan is RFK, Mr. and Mrs. Howell are Mr. and Mrs. Joseph P. Kennedy, Ginger is Marilyn Monroe, Maryann is Jackie and the Professor is Robert McNamara.
The idea is that it's the Kennedy White House from McNamara's point of view. He's the computer genius, he's the normal one, all the rest of them are cartoons of one kind or another.
The most dispassionate metaphor, I think, is the Munsters. Herman is JFK, Lilly is Jackie, Grandpa is Joseph P. Kennedy, the kid is JFK Jr. and Marilyn is Marilyn Monroe -- the only actual normal one in a family of out-and-out monsters.
I can't believe you remembered all that for that long.
Rantz: Hope all the SUVs and ATV's in the convoy didn't give your daughters nightmares. I thought it would just be a dozen Honda Civics or so...
1. Yes, a stylistic nod, but also an attempt to make something of interest in the real world. One of the big complaints women have about comics is that the women all wear either really slutty or ugly clothes (or both!) that are usually as old as whatever photo reference the artist is using. I think it's worth getting it right (on a six month delay anyway) for that very reason. Whatever entertainment is watching or reading, some part of her is going to be saying, "Whoah, nice purse" or "I love those shoes". If the purse and shoes are from 1985...mmmm...not so much.
2. Yes, the moment in the restaurant when I asked him about Johnstone & Cushing, the advertising agency that specialized in doing comic strip ads. Here it is: this is the question for Dave -- tell me, King Arthur, what was Camelot REALLY like?-- and he was in full-matter-of-fact Neal Adams mode. "I can't imagine that anyone in this day and age would really give a -- about that."
Basically, "This is your interview, Dave, and I don't like to tell you your job but why don't we talk about something people are actually interested in -- like guppies or goldfish or something."
I got full value for my several questions but walked away thinking "If I don't do something about this, personally, he's going to be right. That whole School will just get forgotten by the Church of Charles Schulz Generation."
I'm going to post this and answer in sections.
3. Yes, the Gillott 290 pen nib. According to Tom Roberts' new ALEX RAYMOND HIS LIFE AND ART book, Raymond used them as well. You can get them online at John Neal books somewhere in the Carolinas.
They are time-consuming to use because they don't have the latitude on either side that the Hunt 102 does. Unless you have both flanges touching the page at the right angle, you aren't going to get an ink line out of it. So it's a self-disciplining tool: it makes you pay much closer attention and to be very specific in your touch. As a result when you do get a line out of the 290, it's a perfect line. But it does mean you have to wash it off and dry it a lot of times without having gotten anything out of it. That's where Neal calls it an instrument of the devil. You feel like screaming at it, "I do TOO have both flanges on the page!" Uhuhuh. Not EXACTLY both flanges. Not at the proper angle.
But when you get into a groove with it? Lookitme Ma, I'm Neal Adams, I'm Dick Giordano, I'm Al Williamson! Absolute heaven. I used it a lot more on Secret Project One than on glamourpuss because ofthe scheduling thing. If you're just learning to use it, it's best for repeating patterns -- Berni Wrightson style vertical hatch-lines. Anything you do over and over and over and over because you do get into that groove
4. Pretty much the same with the exception of more thin brush inking. On CEREBUS I'd use the 102 like a brush -- hold it a little further back on the penstock and almost level with the page and then pull it alternating the pressure. You can open the flanges up without breaking them or bending them permanently. Ger still maintains that isn't possible.
Next: phoning retailers
5. Phoning retailers, I think, does work. If you have a certain name value, you can phone and just tell them that you're sending them something. It's a good idea to have a streamlined pitch ready to go. You are phoning a business and you're not looking to buy anything so you've already got two strikes against you.
In my case, I had a new bi-monthly title AND the fourteen-year monthly track record (1990 to 2004). I was also telling them I was sending them a comic book two or three months before it was coming out which is unheard of. A key point of the retail campaign is to treat the retailers as part of your team and not as part of your audience. If you want them to pitch your book, you have to show them your book. The ENTIRE book not "Here's pages 1 to 5 -- aren't you just A-TREMBLE waiting to find out what happens next?"
These are retailers. They got over being A-TREMBLE reading a comic book back when you were in rompers. Their assessment is going to go from "Crap...throw it away" to "Nothing about this sucks overtly" to "this is better than I thought it was going to be" to "I could probably sell three/five/ten of these." But it has to be the whole package. No, they aren't going to give away your Big Surprise Cliffhanger. In fact, I would strongly suggest forgetting about a BSC on your first issue. The odds are about 1 in 1,000 that you'll get issue 2 out...EVER. Give them a self-contained package with a beginning middle and end and they'll give you the benefit of the doubt.
I also had the website to refer them to.
Most of them appreciated it, I think. They don't have a whole lot of people treating them as full partners inthe process. Marvel and DC phone them but they don't do a whole lot of listening from what I understand and they're really just spin doctors and salesmen.
6. When you see Secret Project One I think you'll understand why I thought there should be a lead-in with a lighter tone to it.
To be honest, I really need to get back to the drawing board and relearn how to put out a bi-monthly comic book. I had almost gotten the skill level back up there in mid-November and, with the three month promotion campaign, that was it.
If I said yes to all of the offers I've gotten so far, I'd be on the road every weekend between now and June.
I really, really appreciate the offers. I'm flattered and I'm honoured that people are willing to pay my expenses to go somewhere.
But it's far, far more important to me personally, to the retailers and to the comic field in general that glamourpuss comes out on time.
I'm beginning to think that passing on enticing travel offers is Job One in this business now.
There are definitely positives and negatives. I can get my foot in the door a little more easily, but I'm also in a narrow little box marked CEREBUS for most retailers. "I have five FOLLOWING CEREBUS customers I can think of, so I'll order five copies of glamourpuss." That's a big reason to do the Preview Edition and send it out two months before they place their orders, four months before it ships. It at least raised the possibility that they might give it a fresh look.
For an unknown, I think the biggest thing weighing against you is how unreliable everyone is. It's a safe assumption that you, too, will be unreliable so the stores have really stopped pushing anything. They just look stupid, getting everyone all worked up and then "no second issue" a year later.
It's the reason I would suggest for the complete novice, take your comic book to a store owner you DON'T know. Preferably as close to Comic Book Guy on THE SIMPSON's as you can get. Somebody who sells cards, too, if you can manage it. Cards and toys. Give him photocopies of your book and ask if you can leave it with him for a week so he can read it and then tell you if he thinks it will sell and if not, why not.
In fact, you can say to him, "Can you just flip through it and tell me if you would order it? Don't worry about hurting my feelings. I'd rather you hurt my feelings and saved me a few thousand dollars on a printing bill." Don't show your work to friends or family or store owners that you know. All you're doing is stacking the deck in your favour and resisting facing reality square on.
Then pay attention to what he says.
I'd also strongly recommend a self-contained work for the complete novice. 24 pages, 32 pages, 48 pages. No cliff-hanger. Beginning, middle and end. Accept the fact that it is a 99% chance that all you've produced is a learning experience. Try not to suck that badly next time. Compare your work to the best that's out there, because that's who you're competing against for shelf space.
I've never read CEREBUS all the way through. There really isn't time when you're also running a publishing company, promoting a new title, etc. If I have to refer back to the story because of a Yahoo question or for an interview, I'll often find myself chuckling because most of the comedy was improvised. "Three pages of funny" so I don't really remember doing it. I still like the Oscar vs. Aunt Victoria in JAKA'S STORY.
Acting out the Lord Julius vs. The Abbess with cerebusfangirl was fun. It's always nice to know that comedy you wrote to be read can be performed. You can check that out on YouTube.
We're doing issue 51 at S.P.A.C.E. this year so I'm looking forward to seeing how that reads, live.
Hi, David. Well, you'd really have to ask Ger since he's the one who left.
I don't like to put words in anyone's mouth.
I will say that he was never really a comic-book person and being a famous person in comics when you're not a comic-book person is pretty excruciating.
He also never got very much credit in the field for how unbelievably good he is: I mean, not just how good and detailed and accurate, but on a monthly schedule. When you aren't a comic-book person in the first place, all of that doesn't really add up to "Wow! Comic Books! More for me, please!"
More like: "'Kay. 'Bye."
The writing on glamourpuss is really improv comedy. While I'm doing the fashion pictures, I'm trying to think of a way to make them funny. It takes a long time to get them right so I have a lot of time to improvise something.
The scholarly stuff about the Raymond School is just me distilling what I think down to caption-sized points. Again, I was getting pretty good at it in November when it was time to take a break for three months to promote the book.
Well, that was what I was trying to say and to be nice about it so thanks for being not so nice.
Look at it this way, guys (and gals): Which would you rather do, produce a move single-handedly and get it distributed out inthe real world or produce a comic single-handedly and get it distributed out inthe real world?
And you don't necessarily have to publish. You have to release a movie because by the time it's done, you're down by a million dollars or so so you have to make the money back. If you DON'T publish your comic book all you are out is a few bucks for the paper you drew it on, pencils, ink, etc. You can produce a 50-page comic for about 50 bucks. And while you're drawing comics you aren't spending money so make that part of your accounting as well. "I bought some groceries, I paid my rent and I wrote and drew 50 pages in 50 days."
Most people spend a lot of money because they don't have something cheap and interesting like drawing comics to devote their time to. Consequently most people are broke or in debt. If you can write and draw comics and you enjoy it, you don't need to spend money on anything else.
Okay, I have to go pick up the Day Prize plaques, package them and mail them so I might not be back for a while.
Smoke 'em if you still let yourself.
Well, I'm not really a good person to go by. Most of what I read is what comes in through the post office box. I try to actually pick stuff out of PREVIEWS when it comes in and phone Andy at Carry On to reserve my picks (it's usually not something that he'll be ordering in depth).
I picked up the BANNER (art by Corben) collected the other day, thinking that I had just read a couple of installments and I'd find out how the whole story went and then realized it was the same collected issues 1-4 of STARTLING STORIES that I already had.
So, what's the deal? This is a What If? story? That happens to me a lot with the mainstream books where they're doing so much with turning continuity upside down that I can never tell what exactly it is that I'm reading. But, in the case of BANNER it wasn't really important since the whole point, for me, was primo Corben. And it is definitely primo Corben. Definitive Hulk as far as I'm concerned but I don't see him on the roster for World War Hulk.
We still haven't scratched the surface of what you can do with words and pictures together in a 7 by 10 image area.
I think veteran creators and veteran retailers need to really make more of a pain about themselves when it comes to explaining to wannabe guys: look, this isn't rock 'n' roll. Spend two months recording your album and ten months doing victory laps and all the summer conventions and scoring heavy with the babes and building an entourage. This is comics. This is actual work, time-consuming work.
Somebody asked me about my doing an auto-bio comic. As far as I'm concerned, you stack up all of the CEREBUS pages, point at them and say, "There that's the story of my life" -- not hidden in the sixteen volumes, but "You want to know what Dave Sim's life was like: there's Dave Sim's life." On any given day, I was inthe studio and pencilling and inking as fast as I could either to get a bit ahead or catch up. This is an exceptional three months: doing the Preview Editions and shipping those out, then four weeks of phoning the retailers and now 100 hours on the Internet. But, this is not how I live, how I intend to live or how I need to live to have a successful comic book.
Years ago Neal Adams said, one of the biggest job skills in comics is being able to look outside and see that it's going to be a beautiful day and turn around and go inside and work for twelve hours with fifteen minutes off for lunch. THAT's comics, kids.
There will be a CEREBUS MISCELLANY volume somewhere up ahead but it is definitely not on the front burner.
That sort of ties in with your second question. I didn't even begin to think about glamourpuss seriously until Secret Project One was done and then it just happened very quickly. A big part of being a comics professional is keeping your eye on the ball. By that I mean, you work on what you're working on and give it 110% of your time and attention. There'll be plenty of time when it's done to think about what you're going to do next.
The ranks of failed comic artists are filled with "planners". The successful guys are usually "doers". Stop planning and start drawing. Get the drawing done and get it printed. And then start drawing again. It's pretty basic. Whatever you're doing the clock is ticking and you are rapidly running out of time. Make the best use of the time that you can.
As to your third question, you'd have to ask Gerhard. We're two different people.
There's no control group for that.
I mean, think about it: the people who are making that criticism probably haven't drawn 800 pages in their entire lives so I don't know where they would get the expertise to criticize someone who did 6,000 pages in 26 years and three months.
All we can do is wait for the next guy to do a 6,000 page story and see what he has to say when he's done.
I wanted to do the equivalent of a number of Russian novels in comics form. Having come out on the other side, I think I did the equivalent of ONE Russian novel in the course of the 6,000 pages.
Mm, judging by my recent experience at Marvel, the answer is no. One of the ground rules is that you have to sign a waiver laying no claim to your story idea if it turns out that Marvel is already working on something similar.
I'm too mindful of what happened with Barry Windsor-Smith when he did his "on spec" Hulk graphic novel about Banner being molested when he was a kid and how that figured into the whole Hulk scenario. It's a beautiful, amazing looking piece of work (Craig Miller ran some pages and an interview about it in SPECTRUM). Marvel decided it was too far outside continuity and passed on it, but then Jim Shooter did his cheesy "raped in the shower stall" version and then molested Banner from what I understand became part of the Ang Lee film.
No, I just couldn't face having that happen. Even the possibility of having that happen dries up my creative faculties like the Sahara Desert. SHHWOOOP! How Barry can keep going after stuff like that is beyond me. The man is literally made of steel.
Jimmy Stewart moment: Well...well...whaddayaknow about THAT?
How's Jana, how are the twins? Jeez, they've gotta be what-- in their teens by now?
Yeah sure. You've got a fax machine at work, just fax me the address at 519.576.0955 and I'll send one out to you. I prefer faxed questions that I can answer at 3:00 am if I already have to get up to shovel snow. Is that okay? Mainstream media, I'm trying to time for late March or early April when the book actually ships (with a specific store listed if possible).
Let me know!
Well, I did drag Joe Kubert out of the OTHER Toronto comic convention for a cup of coffee so I could pitch him on teaching at the Kubert School. He suggested that I pitch SVA instead since they could actually pay me and cover my expenses. Aw, but Joe -- I want to teach at YOUR school.
Joe's more than a little ambivalent about the self-publishing thing since he's got a school full of kids all bound and determined to grow up to be Dave Sim. So, that's the category that I'm in for him. I'm really more trouble than I'm worth without actually letting me up there in front of his students.
I did teach at SCAD, Savannah College of Art and Design for a couple of days years ago. I'm not sure any of this can be taught. It can be learned but it can't be taught. What I ended up doing was going student by student and looking at their stuff and figuring out the most obvious thing to fix. Usually the space between the words and the outline of the word balloon. Leave more space. The most effective way to teach that one is to reduce the text in one of their word balloons on the photocopier (usually 75 to 80%) and then paste it back in with the white around it.
OHHHH! They see it right away. It looks more like a comic book page, it looks more like comic book lettering. But if you just tell them to leave more space, you can tell they aren't actually listening. No, I want to know a REAL secret!
I just gave it to you.
What Joe Orlando did for Berni Wrightson: put a sheet of tracing paper over the page and revise it on the tracing paper -- this needs to be further down, this needs to be at a different angle. That way Berni could take the tracing paper with him and really absorb the lesson. Which he obviously did.
Yeah, I know "BerniE" -- I'm old. Sue me.
I'm really not making any long-term choices this early in the game. The Raymond School scholarly stuff is already jumping around pretty good, but that's part of the turf. A lot of things were happening simultaneously and I'll be getting more information as I go along.
I'm the one who has to write and draw it and I can't really see any percentage in being 100% organized and sequential as I was on, say, FORM & VOID -- nobody really notices -- so I might as well have fun and improvise the whole thing. The point of the book is getting to draw pretty girls in my best Al Williamson style. It would be nice if it turned out to be more than that, but that's the big mental post-it note
"Dear Dave: Pretty Girls. Al Williamson. Don't Forget. Best, Dave"
Well, I appreciate that a great deal, Donald!
I really can't see any good reason to revisit an old approach or theme. I mean I could have done FRONTLINE WOMBAT -- and I may yet -- but not right after CEREBUS.
North Adams. You're kidding! The day after the opening at the Norman Rockwell Museum was Veterans Day -- Remembrance Day here in Canada -- so I was looking for wherever the service was in Stockbridge. 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. Terry Moore didn't even know what I was talking about. The people at the Red Lion Inn didn't know what I was talking about. Could not believe it. I mean, yeah, The People's Republic of Massachussets but YOU DON'T KNOW ABOUT THE 11TH HOUR OF THE 11TH DAY OF THE 11TH MONTH!!???
I got a local paper and the nearest ceremony was...literally...all the way up in North Adams.
So I called the guy the Museum had pick me up at the Albany airport and arranged to have him drive me up to North Adams.
I knew I was there when I saw the sea of Old Glory hanging off every house and in front of every building.
I actually missed the moment of silence, but got about the last third of the ceremony with an officer talking about incidents that had happened in Iraq. I was right behind a Marine (sparse turnout) and when the ceremony was over I shook his hand, told him I was from Canada and thanked him for all that he and his comrades were doing for freedom and democracy around the world.
"Oh, well, thanks," he says. And then, "Welcome to North Adams."
So how far is 53 Jackson from the War Memorial?
Yes, I may have gotten off-topic there a bit. But the bottom line is that when it comes to writing, if I've actually worked up a head of steam conceiving of something and they starting to flesh it out, the last thing I want to do is stop.
I had the same experience writing a couple of film scripts on spec. I got it this far and now nothing is going to happen with it. That doesn't tend to happen in self-published comics. If I've taken it this far, eventually it's going to get "made". Same with SPAWN 10 -- Todd said he'd draw and publish whatever I wrote so the whole thing was done in a day or two.
After my two experiences with film scripts, I've never felt a single urge to write or revise a film script. "What happens at the end of this process is exactly nothing." That dries up the creative juices pretty good.
Okay, prayer time. I shouldn't be quite as long this time.
Sorry, I stopped off for a decaf and a couple of cookies. And I was thinking that I really forgot to move forward on the "is it worth phoning the retailers" question.
I see it in stages: as I said, show your stuff to an unfriendly retailer in order to get an honest assessment. That's the first stage. Now, suppose that he says, "Yeah this looks okay. This looks pretty good." or he takes it home and reads it and when you come back the next week (and you definitely want to leave him) (or her -- I keep saying him, but then if we're talking about unfriendly retailers...)(a week or so: there is nothing that is going to rub a retailer the wrong way as thinking that he owes it to you to read your book on the spot or that night -- you need him a lot more than he needs you) he says, "That was actually pretty good. Yeah, I'd carry that."
EXTREMELY unlikely (and don't kid yourself otherwise), but if he does say that, then you can start thinking about actually promoting your book, basically (in this day and age) proving yourself to the retailers. Working your butt off to get your book talked about.
I can tell you right now that the glamourpuss announcement was Dec 26 and a month later I was still talking to very successful retailers who hadn't heard anything about it -- at a point where it had been on and was being talked about on any number of high-profile websites. Now, just picture that and then measure that against "Okay, I've got my website and they mentioned it on Newsarama". An hour after they mention it on Newsarama it's going to have sunk down to he fifth item that day, then the twelfth, then the fiftieth. Nobody is going LOOKING for your comic book that hasn't even come out yet. I promised he retailers 100 hours of me on the Internet to try and generate some interest. I'm up around 50 hours at this point and people are just starting to seriously talk about the book.
I have been doing nothing else but promoting the book for the last ten weeks, most days 12 hours a day (including my regular business work). Ten weeks and you're just starting to get that, "Dave Sim's new book, yeah I heard about that a couple of places..." That's how it works. The more websites, the more threads there are, the more difficult it is to get heard about. And all I'm doing is saying, "Go into your store and ask to see their Preview Edition of glamourpuss No.1" 50 hours and I've just heard indirectly from the first person that they did that.
That'll give you an idea of what you're up against. It can be done. It's easier than trying to do it in movies or music. But it is, under no circumstances, a day at the beach. Not if you're doing it right.
Again, I think this is worth pointing out as a "cautionary tale": being offered a teaching position or something similar can often be the same as any other piece of poisoned fruit in the garden. Keeping what it is that you want to do front and center in your life gets more difficult as the opportunities proliferate. PARTICULARLY now that the field takes it as a given that everything is late. Since there don't appear to be any meaningful consequences for lateness, everyone has just decided to be late.
That probably isn't going to change but it does represent a real opportunity for guys to stand out by contrast. In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. Bust your own hump (for a change) and get a dozen issues out on a regular schedule and the retailers will forgive a lot of other shortcomings and so will their customers. Somebody told me about a webcomic that everyone was complaining about and criticizing. "Well, why do you read it then?" Turns out it was the only or one of the only daily webcomics. You take my point.
Whatever your schedule, whatever your page count you don't have it nearly as hard as, say, Al Williamson on SECRET AGENT CORRIGAN. Six dailies a week, three weeks lead time. It's a daily newspaper -- you can't run two on Wednesday because the Tuesday one didn't come in on time. You get dropped. That's what I mean by consequence.
Hi, James. Thanks again for the apology on the first page of COLLECTED LETTERS...never to be forgotten.
You might want to talk to James about that. He wasn't very happy with our one phone conversation when I asked him what exactly the Centre can do for the aspiring and tuition-paying cartoonist. I mean, Joe Kubert can get you some work at DC if they're in "trolling for talent" mode or hands on experience on PS MAGAZINE. What are the students at the Center getting for their money?
Call me old-fashioned, but I'm inclined to just take $2000, buy them 2000 pieces of illustration board and say "You have 2,000 bad pages in you. Draw them on these and after that you'll start doing good ones. That'll be a hundred bucks for the advice. You're welcome."
No. The last time I saw Kim was when he brought all the negatives and the fire-retardant cabinet up. I see his daughter Tiff in Toronto from time to time. She's working at the Silver Snail and will probably be doing the power point stuff for my appearance at the Victory Cafe April 30 as she did for the CEREBUS LIVE! I did at TCAF two years ago.
Gee, I hope it's scandalous enough. I really did my best. I thought I owed it to him since Rich was interested in an interview very early in the process. So early that he realized that each of his questions would have been answered a dozen times each by the time he ran anything. My typewriter ribbons still haven't come in so that's how I'm communicating right now.
I wonder if everyone is going to start freaking out about Dave Sim all over again.
Oh well. Keeps them off the streets for the most part, I guess.
I appreciate the compliment. It was really my attempt at an actual piece of journalism but it was, as you guessed, in a way directed at the Comics Journal. "This is the kind of stuff I think you should be getting people to do, part interview, part profile, part magazine piece."
I'll take you up on the STARCHILD book. Space is becoming a consideration with the Cerebus Archive so I might have to pass onthe novel. Likewise on the get-together in Toronto. Let me know when you're going to be in town and I'll see how my schedule looks, but I am deadly serious about getting my bi-monthly title out on schedule. Usually when I go to Toronto it's for a Chester Brown visit, but until I find out how fast or slow I am, I'm really not going to be planning much of anything.
Take care, James.
Okay, we're down to the last hour here...Lookin' For Heroes closes at 6 pm on Mondays and I have a prayer time at around 5:50, so let's see if we can limit things to creator/self-publisher questions. There's at least one guy who can't wait to get off work so he can read this thread so I'd like to think that he'll get some useful advice out of it.
Okay, I just scanned through my "promoting to retailers" answer and I think I should point out that I meant no criticism of retailers that a lot of them didn't know about the new book coming out. I'd be willing to bet that a lot of them were very attentive to the Internet for a long time and then realized that it was eating their lives when coupled with the PREVIEWS grind -- just get finished with one catalogue and the next one comes in. Retailer lives are heavily PREVIEWS centered as a result. There is really no need for them to know about a book before that.
A lot of them have full-time or part time guys who ARE Internet oriented. Chris Butcher fulfills that function for Peter Birkemoe, basically keeping his eye out for news that might affect the store's business. I asked him for a f'rinstance. He said a good example is a new edition of a book coming out that is going to be better than the current edition. The Beguiling stocks a lot of hardcovers and softcovers in depth. If you suddenly have an edition coming out with extra bells and whistles and you still have thirty copies of the non-bells, no whistles edition, you're going to want to start blowing them out before the new book shows up because there isn't going to be much of a market AFTER the new book shows up.
So, as I've been trying to do, you have to actively get "in their faces" as politely as possible if you want to come into their consciousness anywhere but the PREVIEWS route. And lead time is important. After the phone call it would take a week or so for them to get the book I sent them, so it needed to be done way ahead of time. I wouldn't be mailing them out now because they'd be getting them with only ten days left inthe solicitation period.
Lead time is king.
Well, yes and I think that's a persuasive argument in favour of the OGN as self-contained commodity. It just started sinking in to me a while ago that I'll have to come up with my own multi-purpose promotions for glamourpuss or the whole thing is more than likely just going to slide from whatever the No.1 numbers are. You can never JUST write and draw comics in this day and age -- there's too much competition out there.
With an OGN, your have a fixed commodity and can say, "Okay, where can I sell this? Where is a good fit?" You try everything you can think of and somewhere along the line you'll find an unexpected good fit, but only by trying everything you can think of. Secret Project One has some obvious target markets and I've got a mailing list of people that I hope will give me a Real World quote or two. But it's very likely that I will be mailing out copies of SP1 for a year or two before I strike oil.
It's more common than not to take a decade or more to become an overnight success.
I can't rule it out. For one thing, that's one of those computer font advantages. There is no lettering on the artwork and the Joe Kubert font is readily available from Comicraft. Since glamourpuss isn't the quest for Truth (or at least reality) that CEREBUS was, I'm not nearly as concerned about nuances being lost or translated into something else.
However, I still don't trust corporations so it would probably be a matter of printing the translation here in Canada at the overseas outfit's expense and then shipping it to whatever country it was to be distributed in.
That way I know how many copies were printed and, consequently, how much money I would be owed.
I'll bet you dollars to donuts NOBODY will go for that. :)
Pretty difficult. It's never a day at the beach. But then I didn't spend a lot of money on booths at conventions and stuff like that. If you're paying $400 for a table (back then) and $100 for hotel rooms and meals and $500 for plane fare, well, that's a lot of funnybooks you have to sell just to break even. And you're using up your inventory in doing so. Lots of great memories of great parties in Chicago and San Diego -- even greater because I wouldn't go unless the con was paying for it.
You have to think in terms of lifestyle. There are a lot of people in China living in wire cages with nothing but a bowl of rice a day to live on. The closer you can keep your lifestyle to that the more successful a comic book artist you're going to be. I always looked at money as insulation, something to keep the wolf from the door, something to throw at problems so I could put in more hours on the drawing board. I'd splurge on, say, limousines going to Toronto but if you add up every penny I spent on stretch limos it was probably about a tenth what it would have cost me to keep an average sedan on the road for those years if you factor in the cost of the car, insurance, gas, repairs. If you think you NEED a car, you've already decided your overhead is tens of thousands of dollars above the wire cage and bowl of rice frame of reference.
People think I'm crazy, but I'm not the one having to give up the comic book dream because I'm financing a Detroit assembly-line scam that I've decided to run on myself.
It's got its advantages and its disadvantages. You can drive to x number of stores in an hour in any direction in most Metropolitan areas which you couldn't do before. You can reach a lot of people on the Internet which you couldn't do before. You do something funny that as soon as someone downloads it, they laugh, and that will go like wildfire. If TMNT came out today for the first time it would probably have sold five times what it did in 1984 just because of that ping-pong ball in a roomful of mousetraps quality.
It's worth thinking about from that angle, I think. What can I come up with that everyone who sees it will have to download and it will stick in their minds forever. Working backward from there, selling the stores on it would be the easy part.
Well, again, it remains to be seen. Let's just say that this is where the "meme" started and that what Dave Sim is looking for is a way to do translations where he has absolute control but has to do none of the work. The offer is on the table.
I can, at least, find the Spanish for glamourpuss since my RIP KIRBY reprints are in Spanish and I got the name from the 8th RIP KIRBY strip where he talks Honey Dorian into going undercover as a photographer's model and she says "Gee! Imagine. Me -- a glamourpuss!"
I'm also trying to be a lot more commercial with glamourpuss. Unapologetically so. I'd like to have a hit book. I think the stores would rather have a hit book from me than something that gets a lot of critical attention but sells bupkes. I think, in a lot of ways, the retailers are owed that: if, as creators, we're so all-fired and smart and so all-fired clever, why can't we come up with books that sell 50 copies instead of 5 copies.
Okay, okay We're ARTISTES and we can't lower ourselves blah blah blah.
Let's make it into a game, a challenge, like the 24-hour comic -- the 24 day comic. In twenty-four days I'm going to produce the most fun, best selling single comic book of 2008. then I can go back to being Tolstoy. It would certainly help the bottom line of a lot of stores -- 24-page three dollar comic books. Fifty guys do them and five of them actually become perennial sellers.
It's an idea, anyway.
Oh, hey, thanks for having me. I only wish there really was a Magic Secret that I could impart to everyone so everyone could enjoy the success that I've been blessed with.
A big part of it is just the hard work and the self-discipline. Even if it turns out that you just don't have the chops for comic books, the DNA level whatever you call it, just pushing yourself the way you need to push yourself to even imagine you can compete in comics -- in just about any other field it's going to give you the jump on everyone else when you apply it over there.
Like in hockey -- you gotta WANT it!
1. Oh, you're more than welcome. Thank YOU for all the money.
2. There's always something new to learn about the tools and that's particularly true of the Gillott 290 and the Hunt 102. Practice on scrap board just seeing what your tools can do. How hard to you haveto press to actually BREAK a 102. It's better to know that to be afraid of it and never find out where it is. when you know where the breaking point is, you can go right up to the precipice and lean over, fearlessly. Same as with the brush. Instead of being afraid of screwing up your smooth brush line going down the side of a leg or the curve in the cape, practice it on scrap. LEARN how to do that curve fearlessly, getting your wrist and your forearm into it. Until you see yourself do it, you'll alwaysbe afraid of it and if you're afraid of it, you'll never do it properly.
3. Pace yourself. Get a good night's sleep. As Hemingway said, "Quit when you're going good" so you're eager to get back to the board the next day. All-nighters are for kids. Work two days without sleep and you'll crash for two days so you're really no further ahead. You have to learn how to do more in the working time you have allotted for yourself, not how to torture yourself because you didn't get enough done. The one I always recommend is work for a while and then picture what time it is. If you picture it's 6 pm and you look up and it's 7 pm, then you're much slower than you think you are. Draw faster! If you picture it's 6 pm and you look up ad it's 6:05 you're on the right track.
Speaking of which.
Okay, Comics Bulletin, formerly Silver Bullet Comics tomorrow. 10 am EST 3 pm Greenwich Meridien Time.