Blogging on my birthday!
Last night I had the pleasure of being invited to the Digital LA event at Meltdown Comics on DIGITAL COMICS. I had an absolute ball and met some great people. Everyone was so nice and it was great to see the spectrum of people that had sold out the event. Also on the panel were:
- Sam Humphries, creator of MySpace Comic Books
- Jermaine Turner, Disney XD, Director- Original Series
- Rich George, IGN, Comics Editor
- Jonah Weiland, Comic Book Resources, executive producer
- Chip Mosher, BOOM! Studios, Marketing and Sales Director
I think it was a fun panel, but I just felt that I wasn't informative enough. Kevin assured us that we wouldn't need to prepare anything, just field questions from him. While I have a fairly good general understanding of comics, there's a lot of numbers, facts and ideas that I don't have off the top of my head. As a future note to people going on a panel - bring a piece of paper to job one word notes down. Losing your train of thought is a serious hazard as you try and remember what you have/haven't told people.
Here's a bunch of thoughts from the panel and some I've added with the beauty of retrospect and the @digitalla & #digitialla Twitter feed:
1. Don't use comics to launch a screen play unless:
a. You are an already established comic book storyteller. You might be a great scriptwiter but chances are you're just going to create a crap comic.
b. You can convince a professional artist that their spare time is well invested in your venture. The more established you are, the easier that is.
c. Take the time/years to LEARN how to be a good comic book writer. But be aware this is going to take time from your script writing and marketing. And if you're not passionate about comics, just stick to what you're already doing. Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud and Comics and Sequential Art by Will Eisner are two good placed to start. Then read and study heaps of good comics.
NB Jermaine from Disney said his senior executive won't even look at a comic. In fact, they will say, "Nice comic, but where's the script?"
2. Jermaine from Disney surprised me and said that companies will put up with your lack of experience and unprofessionalism if you're THAT DAMN GOOD because if they don't spend the time, someone else will. (Me? I wouldn't rely on that.)
3. Twitter has been exceptionally helpful for promotion for CBR.
4. Social networking is a cheap and effective way to promote your comics.
5. Comics are where the "cool hunters" hang out. They are voracious for material. If you're doing a comic give them material to find and consume. But they can smell crap from a mile away if you're faking it.
6. There is room for a missing link between comics and cartoons - but right now everything to me looks like a bastard medium with a combination of the weaknesses of both. Look for Spiderwoman by Bendis and Maleev from Marvel to possibly fill the gap.
7. Funny quote from Chip "They're artists. If they could communicate they'd be writers."
8. Keep your eye on Longbox to do an Itunes with comics.
9. Open contests are a terrible way of finding artists. Deviant Art, Flickr, Digitalwebbing and Pencil Jack are great places for creators to hook up. Get your stuff on there if you want to be found. Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith met on the Spawn.com forums.
10. There is virtually no comic market for young kids ie. about 6 years old. The comic market is getting older.
11. Put your comics out on as many platforms as possible to maximize exposure.
12. Comic movies are being made because the geeks are now in charge (from Jenny).
MY THOUGHTS SUMMARIZED AND ELABORATED:
1. Companies should be using the low entry cost of comics for cheap narrative visual online content.
2. . Online comics are an affordable means to test your comic and its market before you go mortgaging yourself to get it in print.
3. Aspect ratios and storytelling: Your screen is wide, your page is tall. Don't use tall vertical panels as it creates a tedious need to scroll back up. Lay out comics in rows for easiness to read. Check out Bryan Hitch's layouts.
4. Fonts - shell out for a good font. DON'T USE COMIC SANS!!!
5. Don't be scared of asking an unprofessional artist (and by that I mean someone who is untried and has been unpaid to do comics) to produces 3-5 complimentary pages within 10 days to prove they can do the job. Skill is one thing, reliability is another. There's hundreds of potentials out there. Make them work for it to prove they want it or you're just going to end up in trouble.
6. If you're a comic book writer, while your artist is drawing you should by hyping the hell out of your upcoming comic. Get on Facebook, Deviantart, Myspace and any forum you can find and WRITE! Promote your stuff while your art-monkey is drawing. Become a sales person.
7. 50% Energy to create. 50% energy to market yourself and/or your product.
8. Free online content does not inhibit actual sales. HEROES and BOOM! have proven this. The HEROES graphic novel sold 30,000 copies at $30 a pop while the content is all still free on their websites for download in pdf format that you could take to your local Kinkos and print out.
9. Drawing digitally makes you fast, but you lose the option of selling original artwork. You also don't have the rights to make any prints.
10. 30,000 copies is considered successful by Marvel and DC. If you sell that as an independent comic your profit margin is virtually equal to that of a 60,000 selling book for Marvel and DC.
If you want actual numbers, take a look at this link:
Pretty low huh? There's been a 19% drop in sales generally. Here's May 2008 to give you an idea.
Interestingly enough, in January of this year, Amazing Spiderman 583 sold over 500,000 copies over two months (as it featured a cameo by Obama). This proves:
a. The President is able move mountains more comic books than the entire Justice League and Xmen combined.
b. There is a serious market out there... somewhere.
Hi to Mel, Rachel, Michael, Crystal, Loren, KW, Ken, Remy, Shannon, Chris, Jenny, Tim, Dale and everyone else I met... and of course Heather and Kasey for coming out and saying "Hi" last night. I really appreciate you all turning up and hope you got something out of it.
Thanks also to Ollie Grigsby who stopped by beforehand. You should really check out the 4 pages that Ollie did for Penny Arcade. The boy genii at Penny Arcade, Jerry and Mike did three page 1's for three various ideas. One of them was THE LOOKOUTS. Here's page 1:
Ollie approached them about pursuing an extra 4 pages. He wrote it up, Mike found an amazing artist called Becky Dreistadt and the magic was born. I'm warning you though. This stuff is Art, and you need to work for it to truly appreciate it:
Swing by Ollie's blog for his excellent write up and insights on this comic. It's worth it just to see how his brain works:
ps. I will post about page 3 of WANTED next post. I've included it here so next post isn't too picture heavy. I've been so busy with a bunch of professional writing gigs that I haven't been blogging. Bear with me, it's just something else I have to get my head around.