“Copyright is fundamental to creative industries, those who believe it’s not relevant are mistaken”
I find that interesting on a few levels. And by “interesting” I mean “bullshit.”
Konrath is an author who escaped the midlist wilderness of traditional publishing to do extremely well for himself (to the tune of about $3,000 a day) by self-publishing on Amazon. As you may expect, he’s become an advocate for self-publishing and a strong critic of the traditional model and those who defend it. His quote above is in response to a tweet by the U.K’.s Publishers Association from the London Book Fair.
The digital comics juggernaut comiXology is having quite a week: Mark Waid put his Insufferable, which is also hosted on his own Thrillbent site, onto the service, and the company signed a deal with Andrews McMeel for digital versions of Doonesbury, Dilbert and Big Nate. And today comiXology debuted something that was initially announced in October: ComiXology Submit, which allows creators to submit their own creator-owned comics to the platform. Here’s the deal, fresh from the press release:
Sacrifice, the self-published fantasy/adventure comic by Sam Humphries and Dalton Rose will return Jan. 16 with Issue 4 after a nearly year-long delay. The final two issues of the acclaimed series are scheduled to arrive in February and March (or, in the words of the teaser, “Now Monthly Until the End of the World!”).
“The whole Sacrifice team has been working hard this year to allow us to return to Sacrifice without additional delays,” Humphries, whose first issue of Marvel’s Uncanny X-Force goes on sale the same day, said in a press release. “Issue 4 is ready to go to the printer, issue 5 is completely drawn, and Dalton is hard at work on issue 6. We’re well within schedule to ship the final issue in March. The book is looking better than ever — we thank our awesome retailers and devoted readers for their patience!”
“I thinks it’s a truly different world now in that getting out and publishing your own work is paramount rather than just another strategy. A lot of these companies have so many options that digging through the horrors of a submissions pile is never going to match getting an impression from what people are seeing out there and then pursuing the best of it”
I’m still catching up from being offline all last week, so I apologize for leaning heavily on Mr. Spurgeon today. He makes a great observation, though, about the choices that comics publishers have and how that should affect creators hoping to be published by those companies. If I were looking for stuff to publish, I’d be scouring festivals and the Internet for awesome self-published stuff too instead of digging through my slush pile. Better to see what creators are already actually doing than what they claim they can do in a pitch.
(Cover detail from Dave Ryan’s War of the Independents)
Ryan Sands recently revived his alt-comics blog Same Hat, and he has a nice post up at the moment of self-published zines that use the two-color Risograph process.
Risograph is a digital printing technology that allows artists to get similar results to offset printing at a much lower price, and by using interchangeable drums, they can print more than one color. This is a very different look from standard four-color printing, though, as the colors stand on their own rather than combining to form a number of other colors; in work like this, the initial color choices really define the look. Sands, who also publishes the Electric Ant zine, has his own Risograph printing business.
If you like these, the Same Hat page has a list of links to the artists’ sites as well as to the website of Dosei magazine (all in Japanese), where these pages were published.
And for an American example, check out Hannah K. Lee’s Shoes Over Bills, which is printed by Sands.
Passings | Italian comics artist Sergio Toppi has died at the age of 79. Most of his work seems to have been in Italian and French, but Archaia has plans to publish an English-language edition of his version of the Arabian Nights, Sharaz-De. [The Beat, Archaia]
Comics | Brian Truitt marks Spider-Man’s 50th anniversary by talking to creators from Stan Lee to Brian Michael Bendis about the 10 traits that make the web-slinger special. On a related note, Complex runs down the 50 most iconic Spider-Man images. [USA Today]
Publishing | If you’re interested in self-publishing, Todd Allen’s latest article about Ingram’s new, lower-cost color print-on-demand service is a must-read. Allen does the math for several different scenarios, in terms of format and distribution method, and boils it down into several handy charts. [Publishers Weekly]
“Radar” is an occasional spotlight on interesting and entertaining comics and creators that are fairly new to the business or may have escaped your notice.
Today brings the release of Dracula World Order, the self-published comic by Ian Brill, Tonci Zonjic, Rahsan Ekedal, Declan Shalvey and Gabriel Hardman. It’s broken into four chapters, each drawn by a different artist, with a cover by Shalvey and colorist Jordie Bellaire. The story revolves around Dracula’s son Alexandru leading a rebellion against his father and the one-percent “vampire elite.”
It’s available on a limited basis from a handful of retailers, as well as online from Things From Another World if you want a physical copy, and comiXology if you want a digital one. I caught up with Brill to talk about the comic, his publishing plan and more.
Following up the teaser we received earlier this week, former BOOM! Studios editor and Darkwing Duck writer Ian Brill has revealed the details behind Dracula World Order, a self-published one-shot that will be available next Wednesday at select retailers and digitally through comiXology.
Joining Brill in creating the comic are four different artists — Tonci Zonjic, Rahsan Ekedal, Declan Shalvey and Gabriel Hardman. The comic is broken into four chapters, each drawn by a different artist, with a cover by Shalvey and colorist Jordie Bellaire. The story revolves around Dracula’s son Alexandru leading a rebellion against his father and the one-percent “vampire elite.”
From a publishing/distribution standpoint, Brill seems to be following the model that worked very well for Sam Humphries last year with his self-published comics Our Love is Real and Sacrifice (Brill even mentioned Humphries in his press release). The one-shot has a print run of 300 copies, creating a collectible item, but it’s also available digitally so anyone with a mobile device or web connection can read it through comiXology. (If you’re interested in more about Humphries’ approach, he spoke extensively about it at Comic-Con last year at a panel we were both on, which is available for your listening pleasure here).
You can find some preview artwork and a list of shops selling the comic below. I have some questions out to Brill about it, so watch for an interview soon.
Retailing | The retail news and analysis site ICv2 contends sales of graphic novels in the direct market may be better than recent numbers indicate because of the way Diamond Comic Distributors reports those figures. While the distributor’s calculations are based on the wholesale value of shipments, ICv2 based its estimates on the retail value, and found graphic novel sales rose 24.4 percent in March, rather than declined 5.7 percent (versus a year ago), and climbed 27.7 percent in April, rather than just 12.6 percent: “The big differences between the wholesale and retail rates of change in recent months appear to be caused by big increases in the number of graphic novels liquidated through Diamond in March and April. So retail dollars were up, while wholesale dollars lagged. ” [ICv2]
Conventions | Audrey Gillan previews this weekend’s Kapow! in London by casting a spotlight on organizers Lucy and Sarah Unwin — they’re partnered with Mark Millar — and their efforts to create a female-inclusive comic convention. “We ourselves as women organising the show have been accused of misogyny because of the obviously male guest list, but there is just this lack of female creators and it’s the nature of the industry,” Lucy Unwin said. “There’s no point in taking it to heart because I don’t employ the creators. I would love there to be more women at the show in terms of guests.” [The Guardian]
I was first introduced to Zak Sally’s work via Recidivist, his collection of short stories, which knocked my proverbial socks off. I remember in particular being struck by his gravitas and willingness to poke at uncomfortable and dark places, not to mention his pitch-black sense of humor.
Sally has only gotten better since then, a fact most easily verified by his work on Sammy the Mouse, an ongoing, ostensibly funny-animal story that was initially serialized as part of Fantagraphics’ Ignatz series.
Now Sally has collected those three Ignatz issues and collected them into a smaller trade paperback, published via his own imprint, La Mano 21. In the true D.I.Y. spirit, Sally didn’t just stop there, but went on to even print the comic himself, using a 2-color press he bought.
I recently talked to Sally over email about the new Sammy collection, his decision to become a printer as well as a publisher and how his experience as a musician (he was a member of the band Low and recently released a solo album) informs his work as a cartoonist. I was touched and gratified by his candor and thoughtfulness, not to mention his willingness to answer my prickly, annoyingly personal questions with honesty and aplomb.
I wanted to start by asking you about your decision to not only publish the book yourself but print it as well. How did you get ahold of a printing press?
Well, in 2004 someone told me about one that’s been sitting in a basement here in Minneapolis, and it was going for $250. at that point in my life, it seemed like an idea worth trying, and a natural extension of doing zines/ self publishing etc. and the price was certainly right. Six years later i found a newer model, with 2-color capabilities, for $500. I sold my old press and quickly found out why the new one had gone for so cheap.
Retailing | The inventory Arizona retail chain Atomic Comics, which abruptly closed its four locations in late August amid the bankruptcy of owner Michael Malve, will be sold at auction
Jan. 3 Jan. 10 in Phoenix, both live and online. Known nationally for its in-store signings, innovative marketing and sheer size, the 23-year-old chain gained international exposure last year when its name and logo were featured prominently in Kick-Ass, the film adaptation of the comic by Mark Millar and John Romita Jr. Photos of the inventory to be liquidated can be found on the website of the auction company. Update: The date of the auction has changed to Jan. 10. [Sierra Auction Management]
Publishing | Tim Stroup, co-founder of the Grand Comics Database, recently dug up some old comics sales figures from the 1940s; John Jackson Miller analyzes them and reaches an interesting conclusion: “comics may be reaching far fewer eyeballs, but it’s a more profitable business to be in today.” [The Comichron]
Awards | The Visual Effects Society has named Stan Lee as the recipient of the VES 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award, which honors individuals whose “lifetime body of work has made a significant and lasting contribution to the art and/or science of the visual effects industry by way of artistry, invention and/or groundbreaking work.” Previous recipients include George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Ray Harryhausen and James Cameron. The award will be presented Feb. 7 at the 10th annual VES Awards. [press release]
Organizations | The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund reports it raised $12,500 last weekend at New York Comic Con. [CBLDF]
Awards | Comic-Con International has opened nominations for the The Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award, which awarded to “an individual retailer who has done an outstanding job of supporting the comics art medium both in the community and within the industry at large.” [CCI]
While the rest of the world is going digital, Box Brown is heading in the other direction: Last month he launched Retrofit Comics with plans to publish 17 print comics by new and independent creators in the next 17 months. He got the seed money for Retrofit with a Kickstarter drive, and the launch comic was James Kochalka’s Fungus. All the books are by different artists, and most are one-shots, although Brown said he is open to creators incorporating their Retrofit comics into their ongoing series. This month’s release is Drag Bandits, by Colleen Frakes and Betsy Swardlick, which Brown describes as “kind of like The Scarlet Pimpernel, a woman dressed as a man and a man dressed as a woman, and it’s really exciting.” Comics by Pat Aulisio and Josh Bayer round out this year’s offerings, and plans for the future include an anthology in the spirit of the Japanese underground-manga magazine Garo, a project that Brown says was the brainchild of Ian Harker, editor of the free alt-comic newspaper Secret Prison. The comics are sold both in selected retail stores and by subscription, and Brown estimates he has 150 subscribers to the four-month package and a handful with six-month or twelve-month subscriptions.
While he is handling all this, Brown, who recently won two Ignatz Awards, continues to self-publish his own work, and Blank Slate will publish his graphic novel The Survivalist in December. We talked to him this past weekend about the genesis of Retrofit Comics and what it’s like to run a really, really small press.
There’s not much I can say by way of an introduction to Tom Neely that the above image can’t do better. Combining the gangly, jaunty character designs of classic comic icons like E.C. Segar’s Popeye and Floyd Gottfredson’s Mickey Mouse with a take on horror that’s equal parts metal album cover, ’70s horror mag, and sexualized Surrealism, Neely’s comics, paintings, and illustrations wed a high level of craft to intense imagery that often literally tears its characters apart. It’s a style Neely has deployed with surprising versatility since the high-profile release of his self-published graphic novel debut The Blot in 2007; in that time he’s riffed directly on his influences with the Popeye reinterpretation Doppelgänger and the horror-mag cover collection Neely Covers Comics to Give You the Creeps!, adapted the songs of punk mainstays the Melvins in Your Disease Spread Quick, created a series of strip-format comic poems in Brilliantly Ham-fisted, put an alternative spin on the gag comic in the anthology Bound & Gagged, and most famously helped craft an ode to the timeless love affair of hardcore legends Henry Rollins and Glenn Danzig in Henry & Glenn Forever. I’ve enjoyed all these comics. But The Wolf, Neely’s new self-published full-length graphic novel, is the leader of the pack.
It’s easy to enjoy (if that’s the right word) The Wolf as a thrilling, chilling onslaught of monsters, bloody combat, and graphic sex — and indeed I do. But beneath the werewolves and zombies and tree-headed monks is a moving exploration of couplehood, as our male and female protagonists deal with the pain of the past and the threats of the present in order to build a (literally) brighter future together. As with The Blot, The Wolf‘s wordlessness emphasizes Neely’s powerful images, with a clever use of single splashes and double-page spreads propelling us through a story that at any moment can toggle between nightmare, wet dream, and peaceful reverie. It’s like life with the volume cranked up.
With The Wolf‘s release party scheduled for this Friday, July 8, at L.A.’s Secret Headquarters (although you can already purchase a copy through Neely’s website), Neely has provided Robot 6 with a selection of preview pages from throughout the book, and took the time to answer a few questions about its origins, influences, style, substance, subtext, sex scene, and more.
Faith Erin Hicks is the creator of Zombies Calling and The War at Ellesmere, as well as the artist for Brain Camp, so she has already had quite a bit of success with commercial publishers. Now she’s reversing the usual order of things with her first self-published comic, a collection of strips from her webcomic The Adventures of Superhero Girl, which is sort of a slice-of-life comic about a semi-successful superhero. She plans to have it to sell at TCAF in a couple of weeks, and the comics shop Strange Adventures, in her home base of Halifax, will also carry it.
If you’re not already familiar with Hicks, start watching her now, because she’s on an amazing trajectory. She has a two more traditional projects in the works, including another graphic novel for First Second and a collaboration with J. Torres, and her blog is worth checking out just for her manga fanart (and the commentary that goes with it).