Axel-In-Charge: "Secret Wars" Jam Session Talking "A-Force," "Ultimate End" and More
In interviews I typically stay away from the “how did you get started in comics” question, but periodically I’ll delve into a question about a book dedication, hopeful for an interesting answer. I was hopeful with good reason with this week’s interview with writer Sam Humphries about the new Dark Horse hardcover collection of Sacrifice, by Humphries and artist Dalton Rose. To learn the death of his father was the push Humphries needed to pursue writing comics was a moment that gave me pause.
In fact, the book itself — about Hector, who through an epileptic seizure departs from modern time and space, back to when the Aztec civilization was in its prime — stopped me in my tracks. Storytelling that maps a psychedelic journey in a coherent and fascinating manner is no easy feat, but Humphries and Rose have accomplished it. Dark Horse’s collection of the self-published series will be released Wednesday.
Tim O’Shea: On a most rudimentary level, let’s talk about the logo design for Sacrifice. Who designed it, [comics designer] Dylan Todd or Dalton Rose?
Sam Humphries: Dylan Todd. Sacrifice largely takes place in the past, but it’s not a stodgy period piece. I wanted the design to reflect a modern sensibility without ignoring the core of the story, which is the Aztec Empire. It was a difficult balance but Dylan killed it. He gave Sacrifice a “face” to people who had never seen the story.
Think of the shelves of your local comics store as a crowded room where everybody is shouting for your attention. It’s difficult to rise above that din, and that’s why being unique — in tone and in presentation — makes you stand out quickly in the market. Writer Sam Humphries got his start in comics in summer 2010 with shorts for anthologies like CBGB: The Comic Book, and then self-published his first book Our Love Is Real the following year. Fast forward 14 months, and he’s writing two of Marvel’s top titles in Ultimate Comics: The Ultimates and Uncanny X-Force. How does that happen?
As I learned in my interview with Humphries, a lot of it has to do with his background but also his drive and know-how to tell stories. Humphries initially crossed paths with the industry when he oversaw marketing for MySpace’s comic book portal, which lasted for several years. From that, he began participating in the comics community on podcasts and through contributions to anthologies. After being turned down by more than a dozen publishers, Humphries decided to self-publish Our Love Is Real with artist Steve Sanders and found a way to cut through the noise to become a prominent new voice in comics. He followed that with the first issue of Sacrifice, and then was quickly pulled into other publishers like Marvel and BOOM! Studios to tell stories on a larger platform.
The newly announced writer of Uncanny X-Force, Humphries is also at the center of the buzz surrounding the development in Ultimate Comics: The Ultimate‘s making Captain America president of the United States (Comic Book Resources has a preview of Ultimate Comics: The Ultimates #17). CBR spoke with him in-depth about those issues, allowing us to talk about Humphries’ career and his whirlwind of success.
Digital | Archie Comics will begin selling its comics through its Facebook page, which connects readers with Graphicly. With almost 120,000 fans, the page does seem like fertile ground. “It’s really a major move toward connecting the potential reader to the product,” said Archie Co-CEO Jon Goldwater. “We make it easy and hopefully create a new, lasting part of our fan base.” [The Huffington Post]
Retailing | Matthew Price takes the temperature in the room at ComicsPRO and says that retailers want stability — they credit the consistent shipping schedule for the New 52 for part of that line’s success — and creativity. The overall mood seemed to be optimism, with Diamond Comic Distributors reporting that comics sales were up slightly in 2011. [NewsOK.com]
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a “Splurge” item.
It’s a slow week, this week; if I had $15, I’d use it to catch up on some recent enjoyments like Action Comics #3 (DC, $3.99) and OMAC #3 (DC, $2.99), two of my favorite titles from the New 52 relaunch–OMAC in particular has been a really weird and wonderful joy–as well as the final issue of Marvel’s great and sadly underrated Mystic revival (#4, $2.99). I’d also see if the parody-tastic Shame Itself #1 (Marvel, $3.99) lives up to its potential, because “Wyatt Cenac + Colleen Coover” sounds pretty promising to these ears.
Earlier this summer Sam Humphries and Steven Sanders teamed up on a self-published one-shot called Our Love Is Real. Available digitally and at a handful of shops, the book sold out of its print run in a day, with a second printing selling out within a week. And earlier this month we learned that the little science fiction comic that could was picked up by Image Comics, who will publish it in November.
But just because the book’s been picked up by a larger publisher doesn’t mean that Humphries is taking a break from getting it into people’s hands. I spoke with him about the comic’s success and a fancy new pre-order app he’s developed that’ll help connect fans with retailers who can sell them a copy.
JK: Congrats on the Image deal– how did you come to work with them?
Sam: Once Our Love Is Real came out, it made a lot of sense for both sides. They wanted to be a part of the book, and we reached a point where we couldn’t go much further via self-publishing.
JK: Working with Image obviously brings wider distribution through Diamond, with the potential to reach a lot more shops than you could on your own. What are you doing to make it easy for people to request the book from their retailer?
Sam: There’s is an experiment I’m pretty excited about — we’ve developed a pre-order app for Our Love Is Real, which can be found online at: http://bit.ly/OLIRpreorder. Pre-order online, and pick up at a comic store near you.
Our buddy Sam Humphries sent over word that his recent self-published science fiction comic with artist Steven Sanders, Our Love Is Real, is getting a third printing that will debut at the San Diego Comic-Con this week. The first and second print runs of the comic sold out in less than a week.
Our Love Is Real: The Mineralsexual Edition , will debut with a variant cover (above) and can be bought directly from Humphries at the Geekscape booth (#4016) from 11 a.m. to noon each day of the show. And if you won’t be there, you can still buy it from the book’s website or through comiXology.
And you can also see Sam on the Indie Comics Marketing 101 panel on Thursday at 6 p.m. in room 8 — I know I’ll be there, because I’m on the panel, too. We will join Chip Mosher from BOOM! Studios, Laura Hudson from ComicsAlliance and Ben McCool of Choker, Memoir and Pigs fame to talk about how to market your comic, get the attention of comics press and that sort of stuff.
As we noted a week ago, Sam Humphries and Steven Sanders self-published a science fiction comic called Our Love Is Real, which subsequently sold out in print in nine hours. A second print is on the way (that’s the cover you see to the right) and it’s still available digitally through their website or comiXology.
Humphries, a former Robot 6 guest contributor and my fellow panel member in San Diego next week, agreed to share a list of what he considers to be some of the great science fiction comics. Note that he chose not to use the words “best” or “favorite” to describe the list. “‘Favorite’ or ‘best’ implies more commitment than I’m ready to give,” he said.
So without further ado …
Six great science fiction comics, by Sam Humphries
1. AKIRA by Katsuhiro Otomo
A giant of science fiction, often imitated, never surpassed. At its heart is a tale of a bromance gone wrong, two best friends who carve their years of brotherhood and resentment across Tokyo, Japan, and the Moon. The anime adaptation is superlative, but the manga, sprawled across six thick volumes of meticulously drawn, hi-octane pages, is a true monumental achievement. I’ll be gunning for this No. 1 spot ’til I die. G.O.A.T.
As Tim mentioned in What Are You Reading? this weekend, Fraggle Rock/CBGB writer (not to mention friend and past contributor to this here blog) Sam Humphries has teamed up with SWORD and Five Fists of Science artist Steven Sanders for a new science fiction comic called Our Love is Real.
Here’s the description of the comic: “FIVE YEARS AFTER THE AIDS VACCINE…Plantsexuals riot in the streets for equal rights. Humans fall in love with dogs. And crystals are more than just jewelry. A chance encounter on the job changes a riot cop’s life forever as he finds himself caught in a bizarre love triangle that blurs romance, crime and lust beyond recognition.”
The self-published one-shot is due tomorrow from “a select group of retailers,” as well as via mail order and digitally. Check out the website tomorrow for more information.
Update: After the jump you’ll find the list of retailers carrying the book.
To see what Tom and the Robot 6 crew have been read, click the link below.