Our Love is Real writer Sam Humphries sits down with the Outhouse to discuss his newest series, Sacrifice.
Sam Humphries charged onto the comic book scene with Our Love is Real, a book that examined society's views on sexuality via dog sex. Our Love is Real became one of the most sought-after comics this year, leading Image to pick up the self-published book and redistribute a new printing. Now, Humphries is back with Sacrifice, his newest self-published work. Humphries sat down with the Outhouse to discuss his newest book, his distribution strategy and how to get your hands on what's sure to be one of the harder to find books this winter.
The Outhouse: First and foremost, congratulations on your success with Our Love is Real. When you began to print your first run of 300 copies, did you have any idea that the book would wind up being one of this year's most sought after comics?
Sam Humphries: No, I had no idea. I mean, it's a self-published book about dog sex. I basically printed what I thought I could sell, and what I printed I expected to last through November. Instead, it lasted nine hours.
OH: What lessons did you learn from writing and publishing Our Love is Real and have you applied any of those lessons to your upcoming series, Sacrifice?
SH: For any project, first define and articulate extremely specific goals. Then beg, borrow, or steal strategies that can get you to that goal, and ignore everything else. Then, work your ass off.
Oh, and find amazing collaborators to work with and handcuff yourself to them. I was very lucky to have Steven Sanders draw OUR LOVE IS REAL and I am very lucky to have Dalton Rose drawing SACRIFICE.
OH: For readers who aren't familiar with Sacrifice, what's the general premise of the series?
SH: Hector is a guy who got plucked from the 21st century. Without warning he was dropped into the middle of the Aztec Empire, a very exotic and brutal place to be. There is no ticket home.
OH: What's the appeal of a book that's set in the Aztec Empire? What sort of research went into the creation of Sacrifice?
SH: The Aztecs are a sci-fi/fantasy epic that actually happened here on Earth. They bring together the thrill of the alien with the recognition of the human. If we discovered an alien city the size of Singapore on the dark side of the Moon tomorrow, we might begin to feel what Cortes felt when he encountered the Aztec Empire.
Almost a decade of obsessive research fueled SACRIFICE. I don't think I can fully explain my obsession with the Aztecs except to say when I started reading about them, something clicked, and clicked hard. I caught a fever I can't get rid of. Reading tons of books and plowing through piles of research and watching video and studying poetry and art and even their cooking has only fed the fire. SACRIFICE is taking that fever to the next level.
OH: There have been several references to Joy Division in the promotional press for Sacrifice. How is Joy Division relevant to a series that's set in 16th century South America?
SH: I don't want to spoil anything, but there are two specific ways in which Joy Division, and Ian Curtis in particular, are significant to Hector.
OH: You chose to self-publish Sacrifice and distribute the series independently from Diamond. What do you see as the advantage of going this route as opposed to the traditional publication and distribution route taken by many publishers today?
SH: You don't have to play by everyone else's rules, and there is strength in that. You have more room to improvise and innovate. When we wanted to do OUR LOVE IS REAL in a square format, there was nobody to say no. The Aztecs aren't like zombies, they're not setting the pop culture landscape on fire, and that wasn't an obstacle in this case. You have flexibility to turn the weaknesses of the market into strengths. I didn't have to meet anyone's minimum order but my own.
OH: Are you worried that some fans won't be able to get their hands on a copy due to its limited run and availability? What's the best way for fans to convince their retailers to order some copies of Sacrifice?
SH: The best way is to develop a relationship with your comic book store in which you have a consistent habit of pre-ordering ALL the books you are interested in, not just SACRIFICE. Retailers have to order books two months in advance, and it's not always easy. It's not always possible for one team to keep tabs on everything that is going on, or to divine the future, or to read your mind. Make your wishes known! Don't be shy! Represent your favorite books! Show your support with your wallet!
In an ideal world, I would love for every fan to be able to get their hands of a copy of SACRIFICE, but it's just not possible. I'm just one guy, not a publisher or distributor. I can only handle a print run up to a certain size, and there's a limit to the number of stores I can ship to.
Making it available everywhere to everyone is impossible for me, so I try not to sweat it, I just try to mitigate it. One way we are doing that is same-day digital distribution on comiXology and Graphicly. If you have the internet, you can buy SACRIFICE.
Another way is by making it available for mail-order with our exclusive online partner, the kick-ass TFAW.com. These guys not only run one of the best comic book stores on the internet, they're also huge supporters of SACRIFICE. They are THE online source for the book and the ONLY online source anywhere of the Obsidian Edition cover variant. They ship everywhere in the world, so if you can't find it at a store near you, SACRIFICE is still only a few clicks away.
OH: Do you think that Sacrifice will enjoy the same popularity that Our Love is Real did?
SH: No. Two different books, two different situations, two different strategies.
I don't believe that OUR LOVE IS REAL could ever be duplicated, and I don't want to repeat myself anyway. Not on a creative level and not on a business level. It's time to build on that, learn from that, and try something new. I think SACRIFICE will enjoy its own popularity on its own terms. Will it have more or less popularity than OUR LOVE IS REAL? Stay tuned.
Sacrifice hits stores December 14th!
Written or Contributed by: Christian Hoffer