Welcome to the weblog of the writers and artists of Ferret Press (a publisher of fine comix) and PANEL (a Columbus, Ohio comic creators collaborative.) Here you will find our musings on comics, art, the creative process, politics, the web, and life.
Following up on Tom's post where he points out some good ComicCon write-ups, here's one from the always enjoyable column by Steven Grant. In a nutshell:
"I didn't bother pitching much at San Diego this year. Like I said, it's a selling convention now. A carnival, complete with barkers always trying to lure passing rubes into their little sideshow. (Restaurants all up and down Fifth St. did the same thing, like barkers outside strip shows in San Francisco's Tenderloin.) But I spoke with quite a few freelancers who did, and they all came back with the same story:
It has never been as hard for comics companies to sell original series, as opposed to endless slews of licensed and franchise series, as it is now."
1. Everyone who reads comics wants to make comics. Everyone who's there on Wednesday has a whole universe of characters in his head, and probably a six-issue Moon Knight pitch.
2. Comic shops and gaming shops have always hosted game events, thus satisfying the demand and creating the supply for gaming.
3. The web sites that are popular allow people to do stuff. They not only post articles, but they allow you to comment on them and discuss. They not only show videos, they allow you to make your own.
4. In a world where you can subscribe to comics online for a discount, and get thousands of comics on the web for free, comic shops need to focus on service and community to keep people coming through the door.
So here's my proposal: All comic shops should host comics-making workshops. Get a couple of drawing tables, and set them up in the back. Surely one of the employees is qualified to teach, or at least give feedback. Anyone who finishes a comic (this will be a small number) gets their book on the rack. You can do one session for kids and one for adults.
If you have drawing tables set up somewhere, you could even have open time for people to come in and draw.
Well another Comicon has passed. Mile High has the most realistic status the comic folk at their own convention: exstinction. Dealers and other exhibitors getting priced out of the convention spots. This firms up my suspicion of Comicon... don't table at it. The majority of the crowd are there for the freebies and to check out the Twilight panel. After the fans pay for plane tickets, show passes, hotels and food, what's left? It's sad. It sounds like there were a lot of really great comic panels there at the show. Now the question is, where do you go if you're an indie guy wanting to promote and sell your comic? MOCCA has jacked up their table rate so freaking high. Who can recoup the $400 plus for a table? People that live in Brooklyn? Jim Steranko?? SPX is just as bad. Mainstream shows it seems like the crowd largely ignores anyone not working on Superman or X-fill in the blank.
I had a lot of fun putting together last week's 7 Covers post, so I've decided to make it a weekly feature. Plus, I'd like to invite you to contribute to the feature. Send me 7 covers. They can be unified by a theme, character, publisher, artist, genre, art technique, or whatever...even random ones that you happen to like (or dislike). Just make sure they're small files (i.e. 72 dpi for the web). Send them to ferret at ferretpress dot com and include "7 covers" in the subject line. Also, let me know if you have a blog or website you'd like me to link to.
Ok, so this week I'm featuring 7 covers from Pacific Comics, one of the first breed of indie publishers to take advantage of the then newly formed direct market.
Tom stopped by a few minutes ago to scan the latest batch of Brainbot strips on my Mustek 11x17 scanner. But something wasn't right. And so it's with a heavy heart that I announce that after 7 years of faithful service, my scanner has kicked the bucket.
At the time, these suckers were hard to find. From what I recall, Mustek wasn't making them anymore, and I lucked out by finding a used one on ebay for $300. Sure, it had a serial connection and was slow as molases, but it worked well. The artwork for most of my self-published comics was scanned on my Mustek. In fact, a good portion of the PANEL books, as well as comics by the various PANEListas was scanned on my Mustek. The large 11 x 17 scanning bed made it ideal for comic pages. No cutting and stitching in Photoshop. No need to reduce the original art before scanning.
Well, I was afraid I'd have a hard time finding a replacement, but what a difference a few years make. Not only is Mustek still making the scanner, it now comes with a USB connection. And it's cheaper. I just bought a brand new one for $168, with free shipping.
The Mustek A3 is dead. Long live the Mustek A3.
(By the way, if you're interested, you can buy brand new Mustek A3 11x17 scanners on ebay for under $170 (they supposedly retail for $250). There are even some used ones starting at $50.)
A couple jewels I picked up while visiting my brother in Miami last week:
I joined my brother and a friend of his on their weekly Sunday morning flea market excursion. Nothing caught my eye there, but on the way back we hit a yard sale where I found a few things, most notably this:
It's a reprint book of pre-code horror stories from the likes of Joe Kubert, Dick Ayers, and Gardner Fox. That's not the reason I bought it, however; I just liked the title, Wall of Flesh, taken from the requisite narrator that links the stories-- a slab of skin that hangs on the wall. Ooh, creepy.
A stop at a tourist plaza in Virginia on the way home yielded this gem: a comic biography of John Brown published in 2006, illustrated by "affable" Al Milgrom himself.
Poor Al. Unable to draw his childhood heroes in soft porn scenarios for a shrinking fanboy market, he's stuck drawing all-ages books appealing to a broad audience which are found in a venue that sees a gazillion times the traffic of a hole in the wall comic shop. What a chump.
This Sunday’s Columbus Dispatch has a cover story in their Arts&Life section about pulp books and magazines. Specifically, they talk about a pulp convention that will be held here in Columbus next weekend, called PulpFest.
Yes, those old pulp covers are horribly sexist and exploitative. But damn, there’s something so appealing about them as well. While not a fan of the fiction itself, I could spend hours and hours looking at cover art galleries.
PulpFest runs July 31-Aug 2 at the Ramada Plaza Hotel and Convention Center in Columbus, Ohio. Admission is $15 a day, $30 in advance for a three-day pass, or $35 at the door. Those ticket prices seem a bit steep to me, but then again there are few of these types of shows around, so there's that whole supplu-and-demand thing. More info at the PulpFest website.
Dracula seems to be a very popular public domain character featured in many crossovers. So this week, we take a look at yet another vampire conflict in the world of 4-color comics: Dracula vs. Zorro. .
Topps comics, from what I remember, had a very lackluster output, focusing on licensed properties like The X-Files and Zorro. I can't speak to the quality of this particular mini-series, but it is notable for the beautiful cover art by the much underappreciated Tom Yates.
Caught this article off the CU forum. They have 4 or 5 spots open and it's rent free except for utilities. The catch is it's a juried spot where you have to state how you draw attention to the place. I don't think they'd like my proposal where I set an effigy of Brutus on fire in the alley. Seriously, it'd be an ideal spot to get away from the internet, screaming kids and other distractions. They're dubbing it 'Art's Alley' which brings up different connotations for me.
Here's a demo on the Longbox software that Rantz has been working on. The pitch sounds like he's covered all the bases I could think of. (Just so you know, it's an hour long). I like to think of it as the audio book for the comics reader. The goal is to be able to read and enjoy comics on multiple digital platforms at no additional cost: home computer, iPhone, etc. and make $$$ from it.
edit: a site has been launched. Rollout for this is in the fall. It will be available for PC & Mac. Other apps coming within a 2 year timetable.
While Googling for Barack cover images for my previous post, I ran across this conservative site with a rather humorous rant against the commie leftists who dominate the comics medium.
"Projects like these should surprise no one with even a passing familiarity with the comics industry. The Left has dominated this medium for decades. Those within the industry, however, should not celebrate this. The Left-wing ideology that currently throttles the industry has stunted storytelling, and turned humor into childish name-calling. It also blinds the industry to a wealth of material that has the potential of broadening the mediums appeal beyond the body-modifying, radical Left-wing fringe."
This weekend, in honor of the 40th anniversary of the moon landing, we bring you the supernatural slugfest you have been waiting for: Werewolves on the Moon versus Vampires.
That's right. On the friggin' moon!
(Conspiracy theory time: I'm pretty sure this cover is a hoax, and that werewolves never battled vampires on the moon. The first clue is the US flag. How can it be rippling in the wind when we all know there's no atmosphere, and hence no wind on the moon? This comic is an elaborate government cover up.)
This is Comics rolls out on August 1st and runs through the month at the Mahan Gallery. Featuring local Phonzie Davis, Anders Nilsen, John Porcellino, Nate Powell, Ron Rege Jr. and others. Reception is August 1st from 6-10pm. Wear your white belt and ironic scarves kids, it's going to be a slammin' good time.
The Big Two publishers have not had open submissions for many years now, especially for writers. Not that I'd ever consider sending them unsolicited pitches. I know that's just a one way trip to the circular file.
So a while back I decided to adopt a different strategy: with some higher profile indie books under my belt, I decided to send them published samples on a monthly basis. I included a very brief cover letter, introducing myself and stating that I was sending them my books "in hopes of opening a dialogue with DC Comics". I was hoping that my tenacity would pay off with at least a simple "ok, we'll talk to you" email. For 5 months, I sent them a package with a small mix of my self-published PANEL books alongside the Image and IDW books. I even sent in a copy of my Lifelike graphic novel.
Not surprisingly, there was no response. However, today I came home to a packet in the mail addressed to me:
Now, maybe I'm a "glass half empty" kind of guy, or just a realist, but my first thought wasn't "cool, finally!" No, my first thought was "I bet they've sent back my books."
Sure enough, that was the case. But not all the books I had sent in over the 5 months. Just the few from last month. And accompanying the returns was this rather standard form letter (redacted by yours truly for posting on the blog):
Now, I knew it was a long shot to try and garner any interest in my writing by just sending in copies of my books. So I'm not really surprised at the rejection. A bit disappointed, sure. But the part that bugs me is the standard "unable to accept any unsolicited proposals" verbiage. I wasn't proposing/pitching anything. I was just trying to get a dialogue going with DC editorial, as a precursor to hopefully being invited to pitch something. Back in 2003, I received a rejection letter from DC that was much more personalized, saying something to the effect of "thank you for your writing samples, we've read through them but unfortunately we currently do not have any opportunities for writers..." But then again that was 2003, and this is now.
Oh well, whatever.
I'm keeping to my current plan of polishing up the Brainbot and Twilight Order pitches, and keep pursuing the creator-owned angle.
I will say this for DC, though. Their letterhead is very cool. Here's the back of the letter:
Now look back at the front of the letter, and visualize what happens when you hold the whole thing up to a light.
Here's an interesting article about Augmented Reality, with a brief note at the end about how it could help you get laid.
"Augmented Reality" is the practice of using web-based applications to add metadata to real-life objects. For example, imagine pointing your smartphone at a shop and finding out what they sell, what their hours are, and what's on sale that day. To really implement it, you'd need to put some kind of smart chip into just about everything, or else have some kind of GPS database that generally knows where everything is.
Or, pointing your smartphone at a person and using it to call up their public facebook page. Then you could walk up to that person and deliver a personalized pickup line, based on their tweets.
Fiction-wise, this has a lot of story potential.
1. Near-future rom-com meet-cute: A guy attempts to pick up a girl using one of her twitter posts, not realizing the tweet is about her dad dying.
2. Fish-out-of-water: In a country as big as America, it takes a while for a technology to get rolled out everywhere. City kids get sent to stay with their country cousins, in an area that doesn't have augmented reality. They have to learn to relate to the real world -- and learn lots of interesting lessons.
3. Brazil-style near-dystopia: Farther in the future, after tons of information has built up over each location and no one's really maintaining the databases anymore. A fellow has a series of amusing misadventures when his smartphone keeps taking him to the wrong places.
That's just off the top of my head. I could do better once I've had a chance to push past the cliches.
During the "bad girl" craze of the 90s, venerable indie sexpot character Vampirella made a big comeback, and it seemed like every other month she was involved in some sort of crossover or "special issue". This week, we take a gander at Pantha vs. Vampirella.
Yep, this very special issue was written by current Marvel darling Mark Millar. And no, I don't know how Pantha gets into (or keeps on) those crotch-high boots. It's probably part of her panther powers. Or something.
No, it's not a weird veterinary school prank. The guys at CowTV Productions were at Comfest 2009, interviewing various vendors and festival attendees. Ferret Press is featured prominently in their video diary, starting at the 7:00 minute mark (Tom Williams makes a cameo at around 8:00).
I usually feel uncomfortable being filmed, but for once I feel like I was pretty coherent.
You might recall that last year I promised to administer brutal punishment to anyone I saw dressed as the Heath Ledger Joker at MidOhio Con (fortunately, Tony was there to physically restrain me.) This year, I've already decided to issue a warning to this fall's candidates: anyone showing up wearing this "Wolverine Collector's Accessory" deserves whatever happens to them. Even when I was ten I would have called the guy wearing this a douchebag.
The most tragic thing about this? Most of these will likely be sold in adult sizes.
Robot Comics is bringing my comic book adaptation of "Anda's Game" to your Nintendo DSi. That's right, you can now read my various comic book works on your Sony PSP, iPhone, Android phone, and now the Nintendo DSi.