X-POSITION: Bennett Talks "Years Of Future Past's" Teenage Mutant Savior Heroes
My good pal Brian Hibbs, he of the world-class comic shop Comix Experience, has a bit of a once-in-a-lifetime thing for Bay Area Gaiman fans:
Comix Experience is very proud to announce, as part of its ongoing 20th anniversary celebration, a rare San Francisco reading/Q&A/Signing with acclaimed author Neil Gaiman on Sunday, July 19th from 11 AM to 12:30 PM.
Only 100 people will be accommodated, and they must secure a ticket ahead of time. Tickets will be given for free to the first 100 people to purchase Mr. Gaiman’s latest collection, Batman: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader, from Comix Experience. Retail price: $24.99.
Preorders for the book can be taken immediately by visiting Comix Experience at 305 Divisadero St. (at Page) in San Francisco, or by calling 415-863-9258 from 11-7 Monday-to-Saturday, Sundays 12-5, PST.
Full disclosure: I was Mr. Hibbs’ Minister of Propaganda from 1995-2000 and apparently old habits die hard heh heh
I love comics so much, I have to make my own.
In the summer of 1973, our family moved from Dallas, Texas to rural Vermont. To say that it was a culture shock would be understating the situation. In public school in Texas, for example, we had etiquette lessons; the correct way to answer the phone, the respectful way to address your elders, that sort of thing.
The first day of school in Vermont, however, both my sister and I ended up at the principal’s office for being extremely sarcastic to our teachers. Our crime? In answer to a direct question, I had said, “No, sir” to my teacher, and my sister had said “Yes, ma’am” to hers.
We got in trouble for that.
As some of you may know, I started off in comics clerking for Paul Howley’s THAT’S ENTERTAINMENT, almost 25 years ago, now. Paul and Mal Howley and their daughter, Cassy Wood, recently got to be extras in BURN NOTICE. You should be able to spot Cassy because she walks very close to Jeffrey Donovan several times. There will be a few scenes that take place in a nice public park in Miami and Mal and Paul can (possibly) be seen as picnickers sitting on a blanket. (They are such good actors that you’ll be convinced that they are really having a picnic). Mal is wearing a pink plaid skirt and a pink shirt and Paul is wearing blue jeans (what a surprise!) and an ugly yellow t-shirt that the wardrobe department made him wear. They turn up later in the episode in a marketplace scene and they’re wearing the same clothes. In the final scene, Jeffrey Donovan is walking towards his girlfriend and his car and, when that shot begins, Mal and Paul are directly behind him, walking away. Cassy can be seen in one “park scene” as she walks right by “Michael” while he’s using his cell phone. Cassy is wearing a lime-green shirt and a white skirt. In another park scene, Cassy is walking with a guy who has his arm around her. She’s wearing a red shirt and a white skirt. Later, in a beach scene, Cassy is sitting on a beach chair wearing a black dress with purple and white flowers on it. You’ll recognize her because she’s a petite woman with long dark hair. (Cute as can be, says the press release!) “Burn Notice” is seen on USA Network this coming Thursday (February 26th) at 10PM Eastern time. Please be advised that this TV show may not be suitable for young viewers.
Half my life ago, I clerked for Paul at his shop, That’s Entertainment, in Worcester, and I can honestly say I wouldn’t be in comics now if it wasn’t for him. I’ve learned a lot from many folks, but he started me off and that’s a fact. Tune into BURN NOTICE and see a seminal figure of early comics retail having a fun time on a TV set.
Robot 6 would like to congratulate the Fanboy Rampager himself…the Eye-Oh-Niner… Graeme McMillan, himself… on becoming a U.S. citizen.
Nice work, Citizen.
I know I probably have a less elastic view of this issue than most, what with me causing to have produced copyrighted entertainment for sale, and all, but I was tipped off to this site.
I dunno about you, but it’s rare and unique to see such blatant and overt copyright infringement in this day and age. To use a few superfluous redundant pleonastic tautologies.
Well, what you’ve sent is fine, but a publisher can’t determine what they’re getting from this sort of package. Surely you know how hard it is to break in to comics, and, yet, how easy it is at the same time. Do the work, put it out, and people may not like your work; they may not buy it, but at least they know you can do it. Which is important.
I never go through the whole steps of the process for folks who send me stuff blind, but I feel a bit badly we had some crossed signals over the holidays, so I’m going to outline how REDACTED might be the next WATCHMEN but I would never know it based on your email and 12 page pdf.
Firstly, in your cover letter, you say you think the story might be best served by a six issue miniseries. If each issue is a color cover with B&W interiors and, say, a 24 page count and, optimistically, a 3000 copy print run (based on the current climate and the fact that you are unknowns), you’re looking at a publisher committing $30,000 to your printing bill alone. Six full-page PREVIEWS ads will top $7000, and throw in another three grand to round it off for production costs and shipping charges and whatnot, and that’s an outlay of forty grand. Just ballpark, but close enough. If the cover price is $2.95 a unit, and you sell to Diamond at 60% off, you get $1.18 a unit. That means you have to sell an average of around 5600 copies an issue just to break even on expenses before the creators start making money. That’s just unrealistic in this economic environment, where Marvel, Dark Horse, DC, and Image account for 92% of the sales of comics and every single other publisher in the back of PREVIEWS carves up that 8%. It’s just not going to happen.
What do you do now? You can keep soliciting the thoughts of other publishers; you can have a few beers and curse my name. You can believe me or not; me… I didn’t believe all the rejection slips I got from people telling me ASTRONAUTS IN TROUBLE: LIVE FROM THE MOON wouldn’t sell and that there was no audience for that sort of thing, and we’ve got Year’s Best Science Fiction and Best Publisher and real-world press up the wazoo for it. Does that mean those other folks were wrong? Well, no. They were right for how they saw it at the time. But I had a completed work, ready to go, and I thought I could entertain folks and market it to those under-served, and everyone who told me no made me more resolved that I was right.
And, you know, it turned out I was and there were some folks wanting to read science fiction graphic novels and some creators wanting to do whatever they wanted and I was only too happy to point out to those paying attention the quality work. And I ended up not being Kurt Vonnegut like I intended but Stan Lee or Roger Corman. And, you know; I’m fine with that.
But the way I see it, you’re going to have to do the same thing. If you have a story to tell, and a burning desire to have an audience see your work, you’re either going to have to be related to Paul Levitz, or you’re going to have to do it yourself until they offer you a chance to write KAMANDI based on the strength of your indie-darling reputation.
But either way, keep at it. If you love comics as much as I do, you’ll always find a way to make your own.
Not a day goes by that I don’t receive a request for my thoughts on an academic paper about the retailing of comics, because it’s well-known I’ve baby-sat the cash registers of three world-class comics shops in my time; not a day goes by that someone doesn’t ask me just how I launched the creative careers of folks like Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan and Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba and Matt Fraction and gave a leg up to Jason McNamara and Kirsten Baldock and Kieron Dwyer and Adam Beechen and all.
But more than a few times a day, people pitch me stuff to AiT/Planet Lar, hoping my publishing house might put their work out into the world, what with us having such a good ratio of quality versus quantity of story-telling, over the past ten years. And I have to tell them, you know, I’m not so down with their twelve-volume graphic novel cycle about a cybernetic jellyfish and his newly articulate urban zebra who team up to fight the onset of gingivitis and other awkward dental trials in the mouths of preternaturally-aware Blue Spruce trees moving, slowly, westward, on a trip of self-discovery. Ya gotta tailor your work for the publishing house that might make a go of it, yeah?
So, I don’t have any insight into any of all of that. I don’t know what sort of thing Karen Berger of Vertigo is looking for, or the kind of book that will make the boys at Oni swoon. I couldn’t tell you what Eric Stephenson at Image would greenlight, or the particular thing that might strike the fancy of the lads at Top Shelf.
I can tell you that the first thing that any would-be comic book creator should understand is that it is hard.
When you create something… that moment is a time when you are not working towards the things you need to eat and drink and live and breathe. Creation is not necessary, and yet it is vital, if you know what I mean. And if you know what I mean, you’re probably a creator. And if you’re a creator, you’re creating, and you don’t really need to hear what it is I’m going to say.
But those of you on the fence; those of you who need a bit of a push… here’s this: get yourself in the game. Do a little trash-talk. Pick up your favorite book, and know you can do better than that. “Don’t come in here into my comics world with that weak stuff,” you should say to the comic book open in front of you. And then craft your own story, or draw your own artwork, or color your page, or letter your word balloons; but do the work to put it down on paper. It is the business of art to glorify life, and you have to bleed and suffer to illuminate and instruct and entertain.
If you’d like me to tell you something different… some sort of secret the rest of us are keeping from you, I could. But it wouldn’t be true. Just make your comics, and put them out into the world.
If you’re reading this blog, you know probably know who Rich Starkings and John Roshell are. If you’ve been to the San Diego con any time in the last ten years or so, odds are you’ve shaken their hands. If you’ve talked to them about their early days as the pioneers of comic book lettering, congratulated them on the triumph that is Elephantmen, or complimented them on the graceful letterforms they offer up for connoisseurs, I’m guessing you may have even lifted a pint or two with them at the top of the Hyatt.
And if you’re reading this blog, you probably know I’m not shy about getting the word out about the good comics. I’m a little insistent about it, even. It’s a damn lie our son’s middle name was going to be STAR062407, though.
It was always going to be “Douglas.”
But I love shining the light on people who do quality work with a passion, and I’m not shilling. I’m doing a damn public service letting you know that if you’re working on your own comics, there’s not a better gift you can give yourself, here, at the beginning of 2009, than to sign up for Comicraft’s output this year.
Click the link, and send ‘em your money before January 14th, and all year long, you’ll get a Comicraft font in your mailbox as soon as JG is done crafting it up. Twelve all-new fonts for $129.00. What is that? Seventeen, eighteen bucks a font? Display fonts, lettering fonts, character voices, special effects, the works. You’re going to spend more than that on take-out in the next six weeks. Might as well save your waistline and make your comics look a little more good-looking at the same time.