Sunday, September 20, 2009

My Magnificent Failure Pt.I

So, I'm knee deep in my current cartooning project (see previous post) and I can't help but keep thinking about my last venture as a cartoonist. Hysteria: One Man Gang.

OMG came out of two things. The desire to build on the Hysteria series I had started my career with and to give myself a huge artistic challenge. Namely, to make a one hundred page action scene that still built upon the characters. It actually proved to be a lot easier then I had expected, and at one point I even considered bumping it up to two hundred pages. I also found I could tell readers more about a characer by showing their decisions while in action then I could have with talking heads.

OMG was originally to be published as a graphic novel by Oni Press, where it wasn't a great fit. If I'm not mistaken this was before Scott Pilgrim, and Oni wasn't known for this kind of fight comic type of material. I later jumped to Image, where it worked less. I won't go into details now, but I'm mentioning it now because I want to set the stage for some of these images I'm sharing. You'll see some of them have publishing information, and knowing the history will make it easy to follow the article.

I'm going to talk first about how we tried to promote this book. I know it's an odd place to begin an article about a creative work, but I feel it's fitting because SO much art and thought went into trying to get this book off the ground. I felt, and still feel, that this book had huge potential if I could build an audience for it. Hysteria had failed as a self published series, and the first volume at Oni had done OK, but not Good. For this to work, we needed support. To gain that, I needed to give fans something special. Something that DESERVED their support.

When we started to do some grass roots marketing for this book I had already started the book it's self. I had been working on the book when it was at Oni, and when I switched to Image I already had a good bit of the book done and was ready to switch over to doing some promo work. I went all out with this stuff. You have to understand, I loved this book and wanted to show it to the world. Doing these promo pieces was like taking kid's photos. I wanted to make comic fans fall for this book.

My partner Erik Swanson ( who lettered, and toned the book) and I tried like hell to sell this book. I designed a series of mailers that I sent to retailers, as well as free promotional posters. Erik even went from store to store in LA and dropped off promo material with store owners, as well as discussing the book with them. I did the same here in Pennsylvania and New York. We showed these folks advanced previews of the books too. Anything to get them excited about the new series.

I also made the rounds at conventions and handed out promo cards and free mini posters. I handed out a thousand posters, and a couple of thousand promo cards. Everyone that saw this thing loved it, but in the end the orders were very low. In the areas of the country we reached out to the orders were stronger then the areas we couldn't. I still believe if we could have reached farther, we could have made this work.

I was also lucky enough to have friends willing to run ads in their books for Hysteria. Here's one that ran in a few Image books.

I'm going to end Pt.I here. Stay tuned for more on my Magnificent Failure in a week.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

"I do it Ror da Hood."

I was out the other day taking reference photos of my old neighborhood in York City and ran into this. Somehow it's fitting of the book I'm working on, and I wanted to share.

I'm honestly not showing this to make fun of the bad spelling, or the person who wrote it. To me, this is a great snap shot of the City and it kind of shows it's "soul". I took an instant liking this mystery person who's trying to run this low budget car wash for his neighborhood.

I blurred out his number so none of you jokes call it to to tease him/her. ;)

More photos of York soon.


Saturday, September 12, 2009

Comix Creator Cookout SUCCESS!!

The 2nd Annual Comix Creator Cookout was a huge success! We had a great turn out, fed lots of folks, got to shoot the breeze with friends and fans, but most importantly we filled a big barrel full of food donations as well as raising some real cash money for the Central PA Foodbank!

I want to send out a sincere thank you to everyone that came out and helped make this even so great, and help support the food bank. You all warmed my heart, and for that I thank you!!

For lots more Photos of the event, go here.

Can't wait for next year!


Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Hey everyone,

The second annual Comix Creator Cookout is this weekend. I'll be there grilling like hell, so swing by and grab a bite to eat for a good cause!

More info, from the Comix Connection website.

On Saturday, September 12th from 12 noon until 2PM, Comix Connection - Mechanicsburg will be hosting our 2nd Annual Creators Cookout! We'll be offering free hot dogs & hamburgers with a side order of a few special guests:
Marvel/Vertigo/Image/IDW and all-around swell artist, who is currently wowing us with his pencils on G.I. Joe Origins, MIKE HAWTHORNE!

Two time Bram Stoker Award Winner, 2004 Shocker Award Winner for non-fiction, and writer of Marvel Comics' Dead of Night: Devil-Slayer , acclaimed horror and crime author BRIAN KEENE!

Author of several acclaimed novels of terror and suspense, including Clickers I & Clickers II, and over sixty other short stories, J.F. GONZALEZ!

Last year our Creator Cookout raised a sizable donation for the Hero Initiative, but with this year's event we chose to focus on a cause that's immediate to the mid-state, so we are seeking to collect charitable donations for the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank. A donation barrel for non-perishable food items will be available in our store starting on Friday, September 4th, 2009. Cash donations may also be made during the cookout event on Saturday. All donations will be collected by the Central PA Food Bank on September 14th. So please as you come in to our store next week, make a donation if you can of a food item, or if you're joining us for our festivities on Saturday make a donation then! Folks in our area are really depending on the Central PA Food Bank now more than ever."


Sunday, September 06, 2009

The "game changer"

I don't know how many of you have followed my career since the beginning, but if you have you know that I started out as a cartoonist (Which I define as a person who creates their comics on their own). Lately I see folks using the term Writer/artist, which I'm not fond of as it defines it's self by this separation duties that is uniquely the creation of an editor.

After being a good father, and person, being a cartoonist is my dream. I hire myself out as an illustrator because it allows me to do what I love while providing for my family. But it's not my end goal. Although I respect what he's accomplished as an artist and businessman, I have no aspirations of being the next Jim Lee. I always wanted to be the next Wil Eisner.

However, somewhere along this path I went astray. I focused more and more on doing work for other folks and less on my own projects. It wasn't planned, but with three children to provide for I had to be more practical then I would have liked. I'm not ashamed of that, but it wasn't my plan.

I always balanced my work-for-hire comics with my creator owned comics. For every 'Queen & Country', there was an 'UMBRA'. For every 'Machine Teen' there was a 'Hysteria'. For every 'UN-MEN' there was a 'Sturgeon River'. But I still wasn't always"cartooning". And when I was, as in the case of Hysteria, the projects often failed because I couldn't really and truly focus on them. So I decided to change that.

I had the opportunity to pitch a book to my long time editor Jon Vankin at Vertigo, and after more then a year of writing and rewriting, laying out re-laying out, I've started the principal pages of my new book with them. This new book marks my return to cartooning, something I 'm so excited about I could burst.

This one is a game changer for me, much like self published Hysteria of 1998/99 which started my career and body of work.

I can't give you any details yet, other then to say it follows a family's history much like One Hundred Years of Solitude or The Brief and the Brief Wondrous life of Oscar Wao. The story's scale is big, but intimately told through this family - specifically it's flawed Matriarch and her equally as flawed son.

I can tease, but I can't give you full pages. So, enjoy and be ready to get your socks knocked off in a year or so ;)