Friday, April 18, 2014

Changes

We've been anxious to get things moving forward. 

Dustin, our previous colorist, seems unavailable, so we've sought new talent. We've contacted a potential replacement (more details next week) and have high hopes to finally complete our first Lil' Ninja book. Creative team changes can be a challenge, but it's awesome when a nice fit comes along.

We continue to feel that having finished books will jumpstart us in sales, and getting STP off the ground.

I'm also reworking Slam McCracken as a comic strip pdf; I think the format works extremely well, and I'll probably retry Kickstarter to gather funds for that concept. At the same time, I'd like to get moving on other concepts (not enough hours in a day!).

The name of the game is being focused, and finding the steps to get things done!

Friday, April 4, 2014

The past couple weeks have been continued fun. I've reformatted Slam McCracken as a strip, and really like the results. It ties in with my great love for classic comic strips like Calvin and Hobbes, and I discovered that syndicated strips were collected in 40s comic books as loose anthologies. I now realize that having the right concept presented in the right format is key, although nothing stops us from expanding to other media once one takes off.

My wonderful partner continues to move forward on Lil' Ninja. At the same time, we're dusting off The Temp, but with an entirely new spin. Once again, I'm excited by the potential of the concept, it fits in with our goal of producing comics that aren't easily pigeon-holed. Later, I'm working on character designs for the next Lil' Ninja book, and we should have Dustin finishing colors on the Victoria tale asap.

 Busy indeed!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Animation gets it right

Like a lot of folk, I've been binging on Netflix (thanks to my lovely wife); in particular, I've  been watching a couple cartoons: Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes and Batman Brave and the Bold. I find both showcase the coolness of their comic book roots, but in a format that is more appealing than its source material.

Animation demands consistency. Characters always look on model, and stories tend to be self-contained (the Avengers is an exception with subplots spread throughout a season, but the effect isn't as confusing as a typical modern comic book). On account of time limits, plots must be concise and to the point, as well as breezy and entertaining. Characters are distilled to easy-to-understand versions, with dialogue serving to move the story forward while defining said characters.

Today's comic books are quite the opposite; plots drag on sluggishly, and individual issues act as story 'beats', part of a massive 'epic' (while ultimately could have been told better with less issues). Characters spend pages chatting, with witty, precious, hard-boiled dialogue that rarely advances the plot. I understand that by forcing readers to buy a series of issues in order to get the whole story the Big Two are trying to prop up stumbling sales. It does seem crass to me, and I miss the days when a typical issue had stories with a definite end (although sub-plots percolating behind the main tale were effectively left to be resolved at a future date).

I also wish comic books featured clearly defined, heroic characters who look roughly the same from issue to issue, like their animated counter-parts. On any given run, art teams constantly redesign characters (usually for no good reason, and mostly straying too far from clean, iconic designs) and writers peel back 'layers' in their characters with 'never-before-revealed' past events, leading to complex 'motivations'. The result is an inaccessible, pretentious mess, with new readers the casualty.

I realize that comic books are a fluid and creative field, unlike animation which requires tight 'regulation' to achieve the final product. Still, I can only observe that I have a lot more enjoyment watching a typical episode of the above mentioned series than trying to wade thru any recent comic book. Hopefully, comics will learn from their mistakes before the medium is damaged beyond repair.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Numbers

Our recent failure with Kickstarter gives us much to consider. There are flaws with the site as a fund-raising tool, but perhaps it could be helpful as a promotional source. We'll mull how best to use the site and return with solid strategy.

The factor that was most troubling was the tiny number of pledges (20 something). In order to succeed, our publishing endeavor would need a solid group of core readers; I'd always envisioned 1000 as a good place to start. Considering the wealth of folk out there who read comics and/or graphic novels (including our target demographic of young readers), that number should be easily attainable.

The challenge is to find these readers. With clever promotion and a gradual grassroots build up of a fan base/readership, I can see us achieving those numbers, and hopefully a lot more.

Kickstarter was a good experience so far. I'd assumed it would facilitate our dream, but the truth is hard work and perseverence are what's required.

And we've got that in spades, True Believers! (sorry Stan!)

Friday, February 28, 2014

Almost over

We're winding down to the end of our campaign, and it doesn't look good for success. Folk would argue that I haven't harassed every single person I could have, nor taken advantage of services for promotion; my answer would be that for the amount Kickstarter takes from each successful project, it doesn't make much sense to do all the work myself.

In the end, I was curious about it, and am glad to have tried it. Like everything, the system has its flaws and it's difficult for a small fish to compete against whales.  Regardless, I don't regret our efforts, and look forward to Plan B (which we're still mulling).

I never assumed self-publishing would be easy, and nothing good is ever achieved without sweat!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Finding an audience

Kickstarter continues to be a humbling experience. I honestly thought that the all-ages appeal of Lil' Ninja would easily attract pledges, but there isn't much interest thus far in our 'baby'. 

It seems I misjudged KS on several levels: with a limited pool of members, there are so many comics fighting for attention that mine has gotten lost. At the same time, harassing folk to pledge is unpleasant for all involved, and usually results in indifference.Thousands have been exposed to the link to my project, with no results. It's rather frustrating, but strangely enough, only strengthens my resolve.

How do I explain this paradox? I'm too old to give up quite so easily on my self-publishing goals; also, my ego has been worn over the decades to withstand a lot worse than this! I'm using Kickstarter as a learning experience, I've been given much to consider.

In the end, my challenge is to find an audience. I need to have the folk who'd be genuinely interested in supporting Lil' Ninja aware of her existence; this seems incredibly daunting, but I've always felt that a grassroots approach (word-of-mouth) coupled with a great product will ultimately find success. It's just a question of time and determination.

There are still days left, and we'll see how things turn out.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Rollercoaster!

It's been a busy week, with downs and ups.

Working on our Lil' Ninja pitch made me realize that funding for Slam was trickling in at a glacial pace. Compared to other projects, it didn't look good about reaching our goals within the time allotted, so I decided (after a lot of soul searching) to pull the plug.

A depressing decision indeed, and yet with a positive upside.

It's clear to me that my cross-hatched graphic novel featuring an egg detective is a hard sell, compared to generic super-hero fare. In order to find an audience, I'd need longer exposure, and a much smaller (and attainable) monetary goal; rather than shooting for a 100 page book, I may reformat the concept as a daily strip, eventually to be collected. As a huge fan of Calvin and Hobbes, the idea is certainly appealing, and I'm looking forward to this phoenix rising from the ashes of my Kickstarter defeat.

Once Slam was out of the picture, I was able to replace it with Lil' Ninja, which I believe has much more market appeal and a smaller dollar goal. Later, I'll ask folk to check out the new pitch, and have high hopes that the first issue of our pint-sized heroine will be completed.

All in all, I'm discovering the ins and outs of crowd-funding; it's not what I (naively) expected, but the reality is that I either adapt or find alternatives. The learning process has been a roller-coaster, but well worth the experience.

Onwards!