July 2010

With all the news about 27, my new Image series (see the post below this for more info on that), I feel like I’ve been neglecting my OTHER big project on the way – Strongman 2.  That’s no good, of course, so I decided to post something special – a deleted sequence from the script.  As with any big project, the first draft isn’t usually the final draft.  Things get cut, things get changed, things get added.

In this particular case, I cut two pages from the script because the scene, while cool, is redundant with the scene that follows immediately after.  The information conveyed here is handled in a slightly different but equally effective way later, so there’s no reason to have Allen draw two pages he doesn’t need to.  Now, unfortunately, I figured that out AFTER he had already done layouts for the sequence, so while it meant a little extra effort from him, it also means you get to see a deleted scene with some rough art, as opposed to just seeing it in script form.  I have a number of scenes like this, but thus far, this is the only one that had any art done for it.

Art first, script pages beneath:

Page 52 - as it once might have been.

More detail on the vanished page 52 layout.

Script for the unused page 52.

Panel layouts from the deleted page 53. Love that moustache.

More panel layouts from page 53.

Detail from final panel of what would have been page 53. TIGRE!

Page 53 script.

So maybe this was interesting, maybe it was a bunch of images with little context, but perhaps someone will find it useful to see how script gets translated to pages.  Allen’s not above making tiny changes here and there if they seem warranted – the layout stage is where we get to see if my script can be improved by the art, and it often is.  It’s a fun process.  Allen’s layouts have evolved into a sort of shorthand now that we’ve been working with each other for years – he used to give me full-page layouts with fairly detailed sketches, and now he basically just gives me the figures, their positions and the occasional bit of detail (usually when a new character is introduced, or a specific setting.)  I trust him to nail the details, as long as the basic setup is right.

More soon, about something!


Long-ish time readers of my blog (those who’ve been reading it earlier than this past April), may have noticed that I stopped talking about 27, my big music-related graphic novel project, just after I went to C2E2 in Chicago.  The reason for that is simple – 27 was picked up by Image at that con, specifically the fine folks at their Shadowline imprint (Jim Valentino and Kris Simon.)  The book is finished but for a little tweaking, and will be presented as a 4-issue limited series in “Golden Age” format (that is, a little taller and a little wider than a standard comic, which I’m happy about because it should help it stand out on the shelf a bit.)  The currently-planned street date for Issue 1 is November 10, 2010, with subsequent issues to follow one-per-month after that.

I COULD NOT be more excited about this.  I made some vague references to this all happening in my post-con blog entry this past spring, but now that I can talk about it in more detail (which, by the way, is because the book is being announced at the Image panel at San Diego Comicon this very afternoon, which frees me up to start promoting it), I can go into a bit more detail about what this means.  For those of you who are not comics-world aficionados, Image is a company that was started back in the early 90s by seven extremely talented artists who were at that time employed by Marvel and DC.  They felt that they were doing work for the big 2 on characters they did not own (Spider-Man, Superman, etc.) and would never own, and even creating characters for those series that they ALSO would never own.  The Image creators broke away from the Big 2 and started their own company, making comics history in the process.  The titles and characters these guys created sold millions of comics, and they controlled them 100%.  It was a landmark moment in comic book history, and it paved the way for a (mostly) new business model in comics storytelling, where writers and artists could create, publish, promote and hopefully profit from their stories on their own.

Some of the titles that have come out through Image… man… you’ve got The Walking Dead, Spawn, Savage Dragon, Shadowhawk, Astro City, Bone, Hawaiian Dick, Invincible, Chew, Powers, Wanted and many, many more that I’m sure I’m forgetting.  The point is, to have a book out through Image is a tremendous thing, and I am thrilled to be adding my little book to the roster.

I’m sure I’ll post more about the book in days to come, but let me start by showing you the amazing cover drawn by Scott Forbes (who did a pinup in the back of Strongman Vol. 1, interestingly enough), with logo work by John Rubio, a long time pal and fairly frequent collaborator.

Cover for 27 Issue 1.

Versions of this image have been posted deeper down in the blog if you want to search for them, but I think it turned out marvelously.  Covers for Issues 2-4 have a really neat unifying theme, too – I can’t wait to show them to you as well.

Lastly, then, here’s the little writeup I did to start promoting the book:

27 is…

…about music. About fame. About burning out, or fading away. About what it’s like to know you had it all, and lost it, and what you might do to get it back. It’s about living to see 28.

Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain, Jim Morrison and a host of other brilliant musicians and artists died at age 27. Will Garland absolutely fits in with that list talent-wise – he’s a hyper-famous guitarist, the closest thing our generation has to an Eddie Van Halen. His only problem is that his left hand stopped working months ago, and conventional doctors haven’t been able to get it going again. In desperation, he’s consulted some UNconventional doctors, who used their arcane arts to determine that he’s slated to be the next member of the 27 Club, and his hand issues are just the start of one hell of a year. THROW YOUR TV OFF THE BALCONY – 27 is almost here!

Creative team: Me on words, the brilliant Argentine artist Renzo Podesta on pictures, Scott Forbes on covers and Shawn DePasquale on letters.

Can’t wait to see what you all think of it when November rolls around.

I received word earlier this week that my big non Strongman 2 project, which was supposed to be coming out around the beginning of 2011, would be moved up several months due to scheduling issues with some of the publisher’s other books.  The formal announcement for the book will be at San Diego Comicon, in just a few weeks.  I had originally considered going to SDCC, but it’s an expensive trip, and since I didn’t think I would have anything to announce or pitch (based on original scheduling, announcements were supposed to happen in the fall), I didn’t book anything.  SDCC gets booked up at all levels (commoners, creators, exhibitors, hotels, flights, even restaurants) months in advance – like, many months.  So, with roughly three weeks to plan a trip, I decided just to let it slide.  I’m bummed about it – even though there are going to be a lot of announcements planned for SDCC, and my book might even be lost in the noise a bit, so what?  It’s my book, coming out from a publisher I’m very excited to work with.  I wish I could be there.  Even my book aside, it’s one hell of a party.

Anyway, once the announcement comes out, I can start to formally promote it – I can do interviews, I can post on message boards, Facebook and Twitter, I can blog about it (funny thing there is that I’ve already BEEN posting about it here fairly extensively, but once I got things set up with the publisher I went radio silent to avoid over-hyping too early – some smart detective work should let you figure it out, if you’re curious) and do whatever else I can think of to feed the hype machine.  I’ve been caught slightly left-footed on this whole thing, though.  I thought I had many months to get word to owners of shops to order the book, get some buzz going, but now I’ve got about a month.  So, I’m trying to spend time (when I have it – I am BUSY right now) thinking up creative ways to promote the book in the little time I have.  I need something clever, something new, some angle people haven’t thought of before.

It’s a tough thing to do, and I can understand why people or companies with resources have entire marketing departments.  It’s hard enough to focus on making a good creative product, without being forced to sell it as well.  And keep in mind that based on the way the comics industry works, you have to sell it twice – first to comics retailers and shop owners so they’ll stock it in their stores, and then to the customers several months later.  Tricky, tricky.  The publisher helps to a degree, but every one is different in terms of what they’re capable of and willing to do, and unless it’s a Marvel or DC book, a lot of weight falls on the creative team.

As soon as this book is set up and hyped properly and stocked in stores and all that, I’ll have to do it all over again for Strongman 2 a few months later.  Here are a few things I’m planning – don’t consider these “tips,” but they’re things I hope will help get my books somewhat more in the public eye:

1. Make a huge spreadsheet with contact information and notes for everyone I know in the comics industry, broken out by creators, editors, retailers, press and others.  I’ve managed to make a lot of connections in the last year and a half since Strongman came out, and I’ve got a huge stack of business cards.  It’s silly not to have all of that organized in some way.

2. Once I have (1) finished, I’ll send targeted emails asking appropriate people if they would be interested in getting a preview copy of the book.  It’s a way to get pullquotes – if you’re lucky – and a good quote can be INVALUABLE.  I’ve written about this before, but I got an amazing set of quotes on Strongman, and they continue to move that book for me to this day.

3. Try to set up interviews and press opportunities.  I know some people at some of the various outlets, and hopefully I’ll be able to set up some chances to talk.  I like giving interviews – it’s always fun to speak with someone about your work.  The holy grail here is non-comics media outlets.  VERY tough to do, since there’s not always a lot of interest, but there are certainly more angles to exploit than there used to be.

4. Targeted mailings to retailers – this is the “postcard campaign.”  I’m not sure how well it works, and I’m sure that for retailers it’s pretty easy enough to ignore the hundreds of postcards they have to get, but I have some ideas about how to do something unique. This new book is music-related, and I think perhaps there’s something there I can exploit.

5. Whatever else I can think of.  This is the one that separates the men from the boys.  The really creative marketing ideas can get a book noticed in a way the other four items on the list would never be able to do.  If I could do it, this would be where I’d get indie music guys to read the book and/or endorse it, or put on concerts, or film a music video starring my main character, or record an album… who knows?  I don’t have a ton of time to do anything too elaborate, but I’m working on it.

So, to end with a little positivity, yes, I do recognize that I’m incredibly lucky to be in the position to have not one but TWO books coming out within the next six months to promote.  I can’t wait, really. Exciting times.

For next time (perhaps – I realize I rarely stick to these “coming soon” things at the end of my entries – for example, I still haven’t written up my appearance on Jeopardy!) I’ve got a number of things to write about: a deleted scene from Strongman 2 (with art, as painful as that is), the Strongman movie, some fantastic new opportunities, and, assuming I don’t get an entry up in the next two weeks, more on the project that will be announced at SDCC.    Like I said, exciting times.