RU was present on "press night" of the Cincinnati Comic Expo. Did he do anything worthwhile?
Cincinnati Comic Expo: Independent Creators
Friday Night (5pm-8pm) at the Cincinnati Comic Expo (CCE) was specifically for those who purchased VIP passes to the show and the press. Although I would have loved to spend the night looking through long boxes with very few fan boys around me I had a job that paid me nothing at all to do. With that in mind, I spent my time talking to some of the many independent / self-published / undiscovered comic book creators who attended the show.
(On an unrelated note – I would like to thank all the artists who let me “jump in line” with my commissions before Saturday morning)
First up was Sean Forney, an artist I would like to call “a friend of RU”, whom I have met at two other local shows (North Coast Comic Con and The Akron/Canton Comic Convention) in NE Ohio. This was the first time I sat down, figuratively, and talked to him about his craft.
RU: What is it you, as an independent creator, hope to get from comic book shows and conventions like this?
Sean: The primary purpose of shows like this are to get noticed by fans and pros.
RU: Most of the shows I have been to have been smaller than this, but I know that the CCE is still considered a “small” show, are there opportunities to gain “main stream” attention at shows like this?
Sean: Yes. Not only are small press publishers looking for artists, but so are self-published writers, RPG creators, and small and large publishers like Zenoscope.
RU: Speaking of Zenoscope, I see on your table that you have worked with them in the past on Grimm’s Fairy Tales. I have never picked up an issue of that is it as… skeevey as the covers make it seem?
Sean: [laughs] No. Yes, the covers are there to draw the eye, but all the characters keep their clothes on. Once you get past the sexuilization of the characters there is a fun story in there that we are proud of.
RU: Would it be fair to say that Zenoscope views covers in the same way that 90’s Image did with the sexed up poses and whatnot?
RU: What are you selling?
Sean: Commissions, Grimm’s Fairy Tales, and my self-published work, Scarlet. Scarlet is a throwback to the original Little Red Riding Hood tales where, in some cases, the Wolf was a werewolf and Grandma was actually eaten alive, requiring Red and the Hunter to gruesomely cut open the Wolf to get her out. My wife and I did massive amounts of research to make sure we got this as accurate as possible.
RU: How are sales?
Sean: Good. At the last show we sold out of #1 and we have not had the time yet to go back to the printers.
RU: How do the finances of self-publishing work.
Sean: In a nutshell, you should be able to have half of what you print pay for the printing of that print run and the other half counts as profit. That profit is then used to finance the next issue.
RU: have you embraced digital downloads?
Sean: Yes. Issues one and two are available through the ITunes store and drivethrucomics.com.
UPDATE: On Sunday I went around to everyone I talked to on Friday to see how the show went, Sean said that it went very well with commissions and comics doing as or better than expected.
Next up was Chat Taylor, creator, writer, and artist of The 5ive Footers, a comic about five teenagers growing up and coming to terms with the fact that life is not what they were told it would be when they were young… with a little bit of superhero stuff thrown in.
RU: What do you think the “purpose” of shows like this is for a self-published creator?
Chad: To get the attention of fans, creators, publishers, but also to pay my dues.
UPDATE: The show went well for Chad. Not only did he sell some comics and commissions, but he was also able to network with many artists that he respects and looks up to.
BIlly Tackett is the creator and writer of the self-published zombie book Dead White and Blue.
RU: What is it you hope to gain from smaller shows like this?
Billy: Attention. Attention from fans, from other artists, and from publishers.
RU: Have you been to many comic book shows?
Billy: [laughs] Yes, about 50 of them, I was even a guest at Dragon Con this year.
RU: What makes this zombie book different than the flood of zombie books we have right now?
Billy: I don’t understand why horror, movies or books, have become so gory. This book is a zombie book, but the blood and guts is “off screen” for the most part so that, when the reader does see something, they are scared and shocked. All the blood and guts that permeate horror nowadays, it doesn’t add to the genre, it takes away from it.
RU: You are an artist, but not the artist on this book?
Billy: Yes, I know my limitations and I am too slow and not well equipped for the job of sequential story telling. Also, I wanted my book to look like an old school horror book, and Kurt Belcher, the artist, captured that better than I could.
UPDATE: The show went very well for Billy
Gerald Cooper is the creator and writer of Genecy.
RU: What is the comic about?
Gerald: “Conan is a slave who escapes to become the Silver Surfer.” Kind of. Kazaks (the main character) is raised as a slave and is given these powers before he has a sense of right and wrong. He is an immoral character who has to learn how to be a hero. I based the art direction of the character off of John Buscema's Conan.
RU: This is self-published?
Gerald: Yes, I am the writer and owner of Genecy and Invision Comics.
RU: What advice do you have for other up and coming writers?
Gerald: To think of your writing as a business. This is a mistake that I made early on; you own the character. Most artists would rather get paid than to be a part owner of an independent character. To that end, it is your money that pays for pencils, ink, the colorists, the letterer, printer, artist, etc. You cannot be “nostalgic” about writing; you have to act like the creator and a professional.
RU: How do you approach the scripting process?
Gerald: Full script, art direction, letterer notes, colorist direction, everything is written down and provided for my employees. Page One Panel One, Page One Panel Two, etc.
RU: What pays for what?
Gerald: Issue one should pay for itself and issue two, issue two pays for issue three, and so on. At shows I tell people that the money they spend goes to making it possible for the next issue to come out.
RU: Have you been able to keep the same artists and team from issue to issue?
Gerald: No. DC loved my first artist so much they stole him to work on Superman - Eddy Barrows - and Dark Horse loved my second artist, Diego Bernard, so much that they stole him from under me as well. [NOTE – Gerald is not bitter, “stole” is used tongue in cheek]
RU: Have you thought about being a talent scout?
Gerald: [laughs] Yes, and someone should hire me for that. Honestly, after the second time I began to believe that “they” were unofficially using my comic to do just that, find good talent.
RU: Anything else?
Gerald: Let me show you issue #1. The art direction I gave was for the colors to gradually become more and more vibrant. At the beginning it is colors over pencils, and you can see how that makes it less “poppy” but as the book progresses, the colors start to go from over pencils to over inks. Also they become more vibrant until the last page where “POW!” you can’t help but notice the power of the character. That is how I script, and Barrows along with Tim Ogul and Oren Kramer (colorists) were wonderful in getting what I intended.
UPDATE: The show went great for Gerald, and we found out that we went to the same high school, ten years apart.