For the next 10 weeks I’m going to detail our process behind launching a comic or graphic novel into today’s rapidly changing marketplace. We have a book (Rex) coming out in 9 weeks and I’m going to take you step by step up to that point. I’m not going to talk much about the writing and drawing process in this series but I will cover all of the things that have to get done before a book hits the stands.
I got back into comics quite heavily in 1992 when Image was exploding and the independents were thriving. Brian Bendis and David Mack were still at Caliber Comics, Jim Lee released comics that had a big “i” in the upper left corner, Todd M. still drew Spawn and self publishing was starting to take off as a movement. The top selling comic books clocked in the millions of units. That all came to an end in the mid to late nineties. The bubble burst, publishers and stores folded and a new era was ushered in.
During this time I was tucked away in my apartment re-teaching myself how to draw after a 5-year hiatus. I bought a drafting table, and a lot of art supplies. I experimented with different pencil leads, dipping pens, technical pens and every kind of India Ink under the sun. I amassed a huge volume of art books, trying to unlock every secret that I could. I read Wizard, Hero, The Comics Journal and any publication where an artist or writer would dish out the goods on making comic books.
I was determined to enter this industry one way or another. Back in the day I could picture myself at DC Comics. Either Vertigo or their mainstream side. Didn’t matter. That seemed to be where all of the action was. It was the place where all the wilder more experimental artists seemed to have made a home. But I didn’t want it bad enough. I didn’t send out many submission packages and I stopped going to conventions.
Around 2002 after a big move out to the west coast (Vancouver, Canada) from Montreal, Quebec I decided I had to shit or get off the pot. A lot of time had passed since I became obsessed with the comics biz and I didn’t want the dream to start fading away. I started drawing again more than I ever had. I screwed up the courage to email Tim Bradstreet, John Van Fleet, Danijel Zezelj and Jordan Raskin asking them questions. I even ended up talking to Jordan on the phone at one point.
And Danijel sent me a huge hardcover Italian Edition of Rex. I didn’t write to Danijel again for five years.
Edizioni Di edition of Rex, Italy
More years passed, I built up a large group of people to photograph as reference for artwork in my comic Battles, made a lot of friends because of that and started Optimum Wound Comics shortly after with my old friend Rich. In 2005 Sean Fidler and I traveled back to Montreal to hook up with Rich for the Fantasia film fest and distributed 2000 copies of our first Op Wound Sampler. We didn’t know what we were doing but it sure seemed like a good idea at the time.
A meeting of the minds back in 2005, Montreal, when we all felt 100 years younger.
I built up Op Wound online by launching Rich’s comic Memento Mori at webcomicsnation.com and then finally started my comic Battles Without Living Witnesses. Didn’t get too far with that one, but that’s another story for a different day.
I contacted Danijel again in the spring of 2007. I felt ready to tackle Rex. Felt I’d learned from a lot of mistakes made over the years. To be a little cheeky I replied to his last email from 2002. I proposed that we release Rex. He was hesitant at first. He prefers to work on new material. He asked me how serious I was. I sent him back a 3-page email outlining my plan. I was serious.
He grabbed the original artwork from Croatia in May of last year and ended up mailing it all out to me in June.
So far this has been about me me me. But I just want you to see where I’m coming from. In the following nine weeks I’m going to pile on a lot of useful info, links and approaches to comics that may not have occurred to you.
You don’t need to be penciling Aquaman every month to have a viable future in comics. It’s not going to be easy but nothing worthwhile ever is. Come back next week and I’ll start dishing out the good stuff. The 21st century is a beautiful place for writers and artists.