Thursday, December 27, 2012

Looking Back...and Ahead.

So, we’re headed towards 2013.  With the end of 2012 fast approaching, it reminded me that it was about 12 years ago that I ended Caliber….and that Caliber was around for 12 years, so now the “post-Caliber” days match the “life” of Caliber.  Not that I assign any particular significance to that, but Caliber seems so long ago---in a way.  I’m entrenched in a lot of aspects of it so I’m still involved in although not as a traditional publishing company.  The time at Caliber raced through pretty fast even though it seemed to be such a major chunk of my life.  Caliber released some 1300 comics and over 75 graphic novels and considering the first and last year had very little output, that was about a 10 year period.  My fondest days were when there was a full staff of 6-7 but in reality, that was only a few years in the middle.  Over half of the time, Caliber was primarily me and one other person.

I think back on the time after Caliber and obviously, I’m not nearly as prolific in either the writing or publishing, especially considering that I dropped out of comics completely for a few years.  I am quite surprised at how much this “part-time” work which I always feel is neglected has actually accomplished in the last dozen or so years.  While I realize that I work full time teaching college biology, I always feel way behind in the writing side of things but I guess I keep comparing it to the Caliber days instead of being realistic.  I’ve had six graphic novels from IDW, five from Image, three from Desperado, one from Simon & Shuster, two from Penguin, and 12 from Transfuzion.  Plus I had three kid’s books from Magic Wagon and one from Actionopolis.  So, that’s 33 graphic novels/books released since that time and granted, many were collections but I also released some dozen or so comics plus contributions to a number of anthologies.  Yet, it seems like I never have time to work on this stuff.

2012 was a pretty good year.  I had the Deadworld series of War of the Dead come out on a weekly basis for IDW and it got some good reviews and was nominated for some awards.  I also did the Deadworld graphic novel, Voices from the Deadworld,  which is actually full page scenes with my narrations of the characters who lived and died in Deadworld.  Technically, not a comic per se but I had to write some 80 different character scenes.  I also had to write a chronology of Deadworld for the Breygent Deadworld cards and that was some 75 cards but I had some fantastic help from Dan Royer on that.  I finished off the latest Saint Germaine story and released the third graphic novel in that series.   I lso contributed three short stories for anthologies.  So, that’s a couple hundred pages I did this year but it always felt like I never had time to work on my comic writing.

In publishing, Transfuzion released about a dozen books and I launched Binary Publications with Paul Burke and we got the first four titles out this year.  Both companies have a pretty extensive waiting list of projects to be completed for 2013 so I know that’ll keep me busy so I’d expect to nearly double the 18 books out this year.  There were a few titles that went through Diamond Distributors this year and some books had some good sales.  But because the way the market is, I had one book sell over 800 copies but it didn’t make as much profit as another book that only sold 150.  Of course, the difference is which ones sold to distributors (and then to retailers) and which ones sold directly to consumers at full retail.  We also had another title picked up for the college bookstore market.  Overall, some books continue to sell really well and one mention in a magazine brought in sales well above what comic shops ordered.  Of course, some titles only sold in single digits for the entire year so nothing’s a given.  Some books do well in comic shops and others don’t and same for other markets.

As for writing this upcoming year, I have the next Deadworld series.  I actually have the first three issues nearly done and Sami has the first issue nearly completed.  I really want to get to the Deadworld novel this year and the comic series lays the groundwork of where I want the novel to be.  I tinker with the novel continually and as I shift things in the comic, it will make both more compatible to each other.  Another project I want to finish is the Subversives graphic novel which is nearly complete but I just have to finish it off.    A couple of years ago, I released Of Scenes and Stories, which had many of my short stories along with scenes from specific comics and it came out to some 320 pages.  I plan on updating it with more recent stories and eliminating the scenes section to bring it in around 160 or so pages.

There’s two comic series I want to do.  I never like to talk too much about things in the planning stages but I’m excited about both of these and anxious to get moving.  One is a mystery set in the turn of the century and I want to bring in a lot of elements into it besides the mystery itself.  I really want to do this one as a comic series as it lends itself well to the periodical form.  I had a lot of fun with the recent Deadworld series and found that I enjoy the pacing of the serial format.  Once the first 2-3 issues are complete, I will start to look around to see if I can find a comics publisher.  Yes, I have Transfuzion but that is not geared towards doing comics and I like to try to do this as a monthly comic series with a two month break between storylines.  The second project, I really don’t want to say much about it yet although it would be a historical war focus (ala Troy or Zulunation).  I’m configuring it to see if it would work better as a comic series or as a graphic novel.  I may end up doing both projects via Kickstarter and then take it from there…depending on whether they’re successful or not.

This last year was a lot of work “behind the scenes”.  In addition to getting Binary off the ground, I spent a lot of time with the process of redoing all the websites that I have (my own, Transfuzion, Binary, Caliber, Deadworld, and a couple of others) and setting up a storefront marketplace for all of them together.  I’ve had these sites on servers and used Microsoft’s Front Page but that’s been defunct for a while.  I knew I’d have to redo them some time because less and less servers want to install the Front Page extensions any more.  I decided to take a serious look at Dream Weaver and even took a class for it.  With the websites, like Photoshop, everything I know how to do is self taught by trial and error.  I know I’m probably missing out on some techniques and short cuts, so I figured taking a class would help me with that.  All it told me was that I wasn’t too eager to go through such a learning curve again.  I found myself just resisting the plunge into revamping all the sites into full blown ones so I am just retooling blog sites to serve that purpose.  Again, I have the help of Dan Royer for that.  But it’s a lot of work bringing all the information into the right formats and structures but it’s nearly finished.

I’m also in the process of implementing an easier accounting system which means bringing everything together into a new, hopefully streamlined, process.  As far as other things go, it looks like I will have to find a compatible lawyer.  Right now, I handle everything myself and though I think I’m capable of continuing, it seems that I will need a lawyer to carry the weight of dealing with certain people.  That part of it is something that would be best served by someone who understands the legal system.  I have a couple of contracts that aren’t being adhered to and I think that legal action will ultimately have to be put in play as that’s the only way some folks will listen.  Plus, working with some licensed properties can get a bit more complex.  I’ve never used lawyers when dealing with creators as it wasn’t necessary and I still don’t think it is but there are other situations where I can see they are.  I can complain about not sticking to the contract but it appears unless legal action is taken, there’s no motivation for them to do what’s right and what was intended.

Looking back at 2012, as I said it was a good year in comics for me.  In addition to the Deadworld material coming out and well received, I also received a Shel Dorf Award (for contributions in comics), continued as a co-organizer for Detroit Fanfare, and have a new science related book lined up.  The comics market isn’t what it used to be but there are a lot of areas where one can find different types of success so have to see how those will eventually play out.  Besides, nothing is the way it used to be, and never has been, so just have to keep adapting.  Makes it more interesting.


Decapitated Dan said...

Thank you for all the kind words Gary. I can not wait to see what you have in store for 2013!

Anonymous said...

Wow, I know what you mean about Dream Weaver. I took classes a couple of years ago where I actually got certified in CS4, and I couldn't built you a website now to save my life. That software not only eats up a ton of harddrive space but is COMPLICATED! But it's always great to read about your projects and can't wait to hear more about them. :-)

Steven Jones said...

Oh, that comment above was from me, Steve Jones. (Sorry.)

jd_motownwest said...

Happy New Year Gary. Can't wait to see what you have cooking!

Zombiephile said...

I am a huge Deadworld fan and look foward to 2013!

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