Sunday, November 10, 2019

Alan Moore Tells You To Self-Publish and Why It Is Not A Solution

So this is a bit of a rant from me about the following article where io9 presents Alan Moore's speech about self-publishing as a solution to all the publisher rejection letters piling up on your desk, cramming your inbox and crushing your soul.

Of course this is all just my personal opinion but you already know that. While I think self-publishing can be really amazing, it's also really silly to expect that writers are going to get anything except debt (often times) out of self-publishing. The issue is that the vast majority of independent artists and writers have zero clue about how to market their books, get them seen, read, reviewed, shared, DISTRIBUTED. Not to mention that there are hurdles that make it impossible to get self-published books in stores,but that the internet has also become a hostile place for self promotion unless you're already successful in some way.

That whole saying about "if you build it, they will come" is not true about business and it not's true about spending loads of money and putting out a printed book yourself. Don't get me wrong, you still get into debt (run the risk of it) when you're picked up by a publisher but you also stand a much better chance of selling books with a publisher that has great distribution. And while I think Moore is right, if publishers are turning a blind eye to you, that maybe you should just publish something yourself (start digitally). I also think that MAYBE you should take a more critical look at your own work and maybe if EVERY publisher is rejecting you, maybe it is YOU. The timing isn't right for your book, maybe that bandwagon of post-apocalyptic YA books has passed. Maybe Vampires aren't in right now. Maybe your run-on sentences are making editors vomit.

I think this article is over-simplifying a very complicated process. Self-publishing is not easy, it's not really a solution. What it is, is an incredible difficult work-around in a hostile industry that is saturated with J.K Rowling wannabes and of course, actual amazing work that publishers just can't pick up RIGHT NOW. Yet this work-around of publishing your books yourself requires more than just finding a printing company or getting accepted by amazon's self publishing dept. It's about understanding the marketplace and MARKETING, understanding how to sell books (YOUR BOOKS not just any books), understanding that you need to be bashing the internet over the head with your work EVERYDAY, developing a community, finding a place in the community and understanding the most important thing- DISTRIBUTION.

I'm no expert, but these are things that I've seen people be successful at and most importantly, I've carefully noted the ways people fail at the self publishing gig. In the comic book world, I've seen previously-unknown authors gain notoriety because the author toured with their books like crazy, had small (numbered) runs which they didn't spend loads on in printing. They constantly posted on IG, Facebook, interacted with other industry creators, WERE FRIENDLY, did podcasts, made their own podcasts and honestly a lot of it did come down to "I met this person in the industry, we were friends, they liked my work and asked me to do stuff with a publisher they worked with ON A BOOK THEY WERE WRITING". Yes, comics in my meager, shitty opinion, looks to be very much about who you know like LOADS of other industries, or you know-getting a job at Tim Hortons.

Now after saying that I feel like I should tell everyone that the above statements do not mean that you should be beating other creators over the head with your work and FOR GODS SAKE, DO NOT go to conventions with the intention of hitting up every creator and publishing table with your books. That's seriously not cool. While some creators don't mind you dropping off things for consideration, it really is TERRIBLE form to go up to someone who's spent an awful lot for a table to sell their books and use their time to sell yourself. Most creators, yes probably some of your favorites who've gotten some level of decent success in the industry, don't actually make all that much money and they use their time at conventions to MAKE MONEY. They're not there to read your books and help you in the industry. You need to respect that. All too often I've seen this happen and it pisses me off because frankly it's rude and insulting. Especially since you probably didn't buy anything after taking up all their time.

There's not EASY way to get your work published. You can spend money on agents, spend money on printing really lovely books, you can do crowdfunding/kickstarters, and yes some people will be successful but it's not without incredible hard work and tireless effort. My only advice is to start learning as much as you can about publishing, about the industry online and in the brick and mortar retail world. Education and talent... That's all that can really help you if you're some schmuck like me living in nowhere's ville Canada. But unlike me, you'll need to get rid of that fear of failure cause that's what will ultimate leave you at a stalemate. I'm still struggling with that bit. Cheers and good luck! 

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Frogcatchers by Jeff Lemire

Here's my video review and if you would rather just read my thoughts then please read the full review article below!

Get ready for a deeply personal and sentimental graphic novel when you pick up Jeff Lemire's latest book FROGCATCHERS. This book leads you on as a pictorial story and then abruptly changes into a journey that is not quite what you would expect. I knew absolutely nothing about Frogcatchers going into for my first read through. The book was sent to me by Simon and Schuster Canada and attached was a 1 page letter from Jeff Lemire about the books creation.  I saved this letter until after I read the book. Otherwise, how might I go into this book and thinking what exactly? I wanted to go into the book without any expectations, or as little as I could possibly control as we all know I am a fan of Lemire's past work. That being said I certainly haven't read EVERYTHING he's done. When I did read the letter included with the book I was surprised to read that Jeff feels FROGCATCHERS marks the beginning of a new stage of work for him as a cartoonist. I have to say I agree and I think Scott MacLeod would as well.

The story starts out with what you would expect given the title. It quickly departs into a surreal quest  the point of which is definitely lost on our main character. It's not too long before intrigue brings on nightmarish characters and the true reality of what is happening begins to be known to the reader. It all feels very mysterious for the larger part of the book.

So here's your spoiler warning: This is the story of a man's journey as he quite literally journey's within himself. We realize that our main character is actually a man dying in a hospital bed and everything he encounters appears to be a metaphor for obstacles and regrets from his life. At least that's my interpretation. What's interesting is that FROGCATCHERS manages to be a journey of reconcilliation within oneself rater than what you see of most soul searching type stories where often the focus is on religious and spiritual progression outside of ones own psyche. I really enjoy that this story refreshingly focuses on self reflection rather than forgiveness from a higher power for instance.

It's also interesting how the art changes throughout the book. Starting out as what feels very much like a sketchbook penciled comics, and truly even Lemire admits this how the book came together, that it poured out of him quickly. Color is reserved for end panels, everything feels extremely organic and fluid. This is the way you tell this type of story, with raw and simplistic organic mediums. With attention to what's happening in a panel and not overly detailed looking settings and characters.

Frogcatchers is one of the most touching, poignant and jarring stories. Through the main character, Jeff Lemire has crafted the perfect vessel for any reader to fit comfortably in. Through his eyes, the reader is forced to face the reality of our own mortality, and all the tribulations that go along with that such as the complexity of regret and the simplicity of mourning ones youth. This is the pen-ultimate of story telling, when you can slide into a character, and become that character without realizing it.

I've talked about this type of story telling in many other articles. The simplicity behind Lemire's character design is important for just how easily we can use that character as a representation of ourselves. His features and yes even the information we received about the character is generic enough to be the perfect vessel for any of us to inhabit to experience this story. Frogcatching itself, is a pretty relate-able childhood passtime and yes something I had spent hours and hours doing every summer with my sisters and a couple kids in the neighborhood. We had a great catch and release program.

You can get FROGCATCHERS right now on Amazon or from your local comic shop !

Monday, September 23, 2019

Something is Killing the Children #1

I feel as though SOMETHING IS KILLING THE CHILDREN has been out long enough for me to be able to talk about it in detail. It was one of those books that was so hyped (with 5 printings after the initial run), that spoiling the story might get you stabbed or worse, doxed. Maybe I shouldn't joke about that but oddly, it isn't really a joke. I mean fandom has never been more dangerous... for creators and commentators.

SIKTC is written by the amazing James Tynion IV who's work has been celebrated throughout the industry. Not to be an elitist (cause I hate that shit) but if you're a big comic book fan, I'd be a little surprised to hear that you hadn't heard of him. However in case you haven't heard of him, he's best known for his work on Batman:Detective Comics. Artist on the series is Werther Dell’Edera who is no newbie either. You should check out their tumblr and I think you'll find some familiar images. 
Colorist Miquel Muerto brings Werther's illustration to life and defines the mood for the entire book.

The story opens with some kids playing Truth or Dare. It ends, you guess it, real bad. The whole story cuts to one of the children being interrogated by law enforcement. He's a suspect and of course the police do not believe his story. SOMETHING killed his friends. Ripped them apart. So far none of the characters seem that interesting but this is just the first few pages. It's when we're introduced to two young girls, one missing an arm, an eye and legs, moving around in a little red wagon... THAT is when things getting interesting and that's when you are hit over the head with what I like to refer to as expert character design. Honestly I dunno what else to call it. These characters look B-A-D-A-S-S (pictured on the right).

These brave and mangled girls are travelling around hunting whatever it is killing the kids. That is pretty much the mystery here. I like a concise story. So our characters meet each other and by the end of the issue they've decided to work together to go monster hunting. And... that's kind of it. It's a simple plot and the comic itself look pretty unique. I'm a big fan of this type of artwork that looks more pencil than ink. It actually manages to feel dreamy and creepy like much of the work of say.. Vanesa R Del Rey (Redlands, The Empty Man).

This book was sooo hyped to the point where my local comic shop employees were annoyed at how often it was requested and how irritating it was to try and order with it's 5 printings (and still being on back order). That's the main reason why I went digital. I didn't want to wait or go through the hassle. What motivates you to choose digital over paper? Is it simply the fact that comics don't really appreciate in value much anymore, or is it a physical space issue? Or maybe it's just the inconvenience perceived in trying to get the titles you want? Let me know how you feel about it and hey, let me know what you thought of SOMETHING IS KILLING THE CHILDREN #1. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2019


"GLAAD Award-winning author James Tynion IV (The Woods, Justice League) and artist Werther Dell’Edera (Briggs Land) about a close-knit community rocked by a series of murders and the appearance of Erica Slaughter, the mysterious figure who rides into town claiming she can stop the brutal attacks turning their lives upside down."

Monday, September 16, 2019