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Sunday, December 29, 2013

Plans for 2014

Well, it's the end of 2013 and when I look at the output this year, it doesn't seem like a real productive year, but actually it was.  I had my anthology, NIGHT PIECES, come out, but that was a collection of reprint material albeit one of the stories, "A Mother's Beauty",  first appeared in Chillers vol. 2 which was a 2013 release as well. I was happy to see the response to it and Decapitated Dan, the noted horror enthusiast and reviewer, tabbed it as the Best Archival/Collection of 2013. I had planned on releasing another collection, Street Shadows, but figured I'd space them out a bit more.

I also did two books which featured a multitude of artists contributing and those are always much more work than it might seem.  ZELDA'S ZOMBIE ZOO was a kid's book about Zelda who is a caretaker of a zoo full of zombiefied animals.  Each animal is drawn by a different artist, about 30 in all.  Originally, it was just to be a gallery of the zoo animals but as it was developing, I decided to do it as a kid's book and wrote scenes of Zelda interspersed and those featured the continuity art of Terry Pavlet who also did the cover.  It was a fun little book and seemed to get a pretty good response.  I also did a new edition of the BOOK OF TAROT, based on a comic I did with Caliber a lot of years ago.  I had 22 different artists draw a Major Arcana card and I supplied a bit of information and history about the cards.  Definitely, a primer on the cards and not anything in great detail.  Both of these books will be available soon but I held off so the creators that contributed had a chance to sell their limited editions first.

Of course, towards the end of the year, the first issue of DEADWORLD: RESTORATION shipped with the subsequent issues shipping in 2014....but I did write all 5 issues in 2013.  I also wrote some issues of two other series set to debut in 2014.  SAINT JAMES INFIRMARY already has the first three issues drawn and the next two issues are pretty much written.  Another series, THE RAIN PEOPLE, has the first issue complete and the next four issues are a bit rough but nearly ready.  So, even though I had three books come out but only 1 comic, I essentially wrote 15 comics in 2013 so it was a much busier year than it seems.

In addition to the comic series coming in 2014, I have two other books that I will be releasing and of course, as the year progresses, more things may pop up.  I have to determine what to do with the next storyline of Deadworld and a lot will depend on the reaction to the current series.

Outside of writing, Transfuzion released a few books and Binary Publications, which I am co-publisher, had about 6 titles released and it looks like Binary will step up production for 2014.  There's another company I'm involved with that is only peripherally aligned with comics that I think will be moving along this upcoming year as well.   Of course, I still teach my college biology courses full time.  My main areas in those classes are evolution and genetics and both of those areas are changing so rapidly that I have to redo my lectures almost every semester.  There is a lot of work to set up each 1-hour lecture...a lot more than most people think.

One of the key aspects that I'm constantly evaluating is how fast the dynamics of the comics market is changing...not just the direct market but all phases of distribution and retail.  There are a lot of things going on "behind the scenes" attempting to deal and anticipate those changes.

That's the crux of what my 2014 will be, I think.  I plan to be making an announcement soon that will coincide with my next blog post (so you know, it doesn't really have a time frame then...) and that will likely be what most of my time will be spent on in 2014.  Most of the activities in that area have been set in place but I don't like to talk much until its ready.

One last thing...this last year, I have been asked a lot about attending conventions and doing store appearances...seems like the requests have quadrupled.  I do realize that I should be out there supporting things more and even though I never like doing cons, I usually enjoy them when I get there...but the crucial factor for me is the time involved.  Doing a 3 day show sucks up a lot of time so I have to balance out the number of shows I do.  I'd like to do more shows in areas where I haven't been too much previously as I think I'm stale material in the Detroit and Chicago area.

Until next time, I hope everyone has a great New Year's and it capped off a great holiday season.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Night Pieces gets Best of 2013

NIGHT PIECES, the anthology that collected some of my earlier short stories, was announced as Best Collected / Archival Book for 2013 by Decapitated Dan's annual list.  Decapitated Dan, aka Dan Royer, is a horror enthusiast and runs a variety of websites, blogs, podcasts, and the Ghastly Awards in order to build and maintain the awareness of horror comics.

Night Pieces features a variety of stories, most prominently from various Caliber editions (High Caliber, Caliber Presents, Negative Burn) but also from more recent editions such as Chillers.

Here's what Dan had to say about the collection:

"I love Gary Reed. He has to be one of my favorite writers around, so when he put out Night Pieces I was excited. This book collects some of his short stories from over the years by various artists. In this collection is a recent story found in Chillers Vol. 2 that I absolutely loved called “A Mother’s Beauty”. This story alone, is worth the cover price on this book, and you should own it twice, so go buy Chillers too! There is also a fantastic story illustrated by Mark Bloodworth and a Deadworld story that everyone needs to read. I am very happy that this collection came out because some of these stories were hard to find in their original comics. This is a great book, that is well worth every penny " 

But be sure to check out Dan's blog (link) so you can see what other great horror titles were honored by Dan.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Busy Year After All

It was a year that started off slowly as far as getting my written works out there but it's coming together pretty fast towards the end of the year.

March saw CHILLERS volume 2 come out and that had one of my short stories in there, a tale called "A Mother's Beauty".

In September, NIGHT PIECES, a collection of some of my short stories came out from Transfuzion.

October saw ZELDA'S ZOMBIE ZOO from Binary Publishing and BOOK OF THE TAROT from Transfuzion.  Both were projects done featuring primarily local artists.  Zelda was a children's book with a zookeeper giving a tour of her zombie zoo and was a fun full color book.  Tarot was similar to books I did in the past with Caliber as it was an overview of the tarot cards and each of the major arcana was drawn by a different artists.  Both books will be available soon from Amazon.

In a couple of weeks, the first issue of DEADWORLD: RESTORATION will be coming out from IDW.  As with War of the Dead, it will be full color from artist Sami Makkonen.

I have three projects that should be coming out at the beginning of 2014.  One of them will be going the kickstarter route early in the year and I'll be announcing it here, of course.

Lots of other stuff coming along for later this year and/or early next year.  Just waiting for a couple of things to get lined up and then they'll be announced.  I'm hoping...and expecting...2014 to be a very good year.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Deadworld from IDW in December.

The new Deadworld mini-series, Restoration, will be coming from IDW in December which means it will be in the October Diamond Previews for ordering.  IDW will also be releasing variant covers for it.

The art is from Sami Makkonen who did the last series, War of the Dead, and Slaughterhouse prior to that.

This story picks up from War of the Dead but I did try again to make it reader friendly.  Like War of the Dead, I don't know how well I succeeded.  Obviously, you want new people to be able to step into the storyline but when you have a history of some 100 issues, it's not easy to bring everyone up to speed without sacrificing a lot of the current storyline.  And with Deadworld, there has been some dramatic changes...but while I'll agree a newbie might have some questions, I think they can step right in and enjoy the story.

I'm not going to say too much what it's about but the title of Restoration is a clue...but it may not be exactly what some people think.  Some things will be restored but of course, others won't. 

But here's some preview pages and I'll be putting up some more information soon about it.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Updated Updates

You know, I keep saying that I’ll get more frequent on these blogs and I can do that by doing shorter pieces.  But usually once I do actually get started, I tend to ramble. 

There’s actually a lot going on behind the scenes even though I haven’t been too present in the comics market this year thus far.  My last release was late last year and that was the War of the Dead graphic novel from IDW.  There’s lots of stuff being worked on but most of my time has been spent on the “bigger” picture.  If that sounds ambiguous, that’s because it is…to me as well.   But it involves lawyers, accountants, and other business stuff and maybe next time, I can delve into that.

For now, a few updates, mostly on what I posted last time.

Night Pieces is a collection of my short stories and should be hitting Amazon and other sites any day now.  It collects stories from Negative Burn, Chillers, High Caliber, and other places.

Subversives is just about ready for the printer and should be out late August or in September.

Street Shadows will collect ALL the Street Shadow stories that appeared in Caliber Presents and that one is due out in September.

I’m doing two special collaborative books that will debut at Detroit Fanfare.  One will be an overview of the Tarot Cards with each card of the Major Arcana drawn by a different artist.  This is the third time I’ve done something like this, with the first two from Caliber.  This will be an all new edition of Book of the Tarot.  Another book will be a children’s book, again featuring contributions from a number of different artists and this is Zelda’s Zombie Zoo and I think the name pretty much says it all.  Again, both will debut at Detroit Fanfare and every contributor to the two books are planned to be in attendance at the con.

The new Deadworld series, Restoration, is nearly finished.  IDW has pushed it back to December as the artist, Sami Makkonen was put on a special project as IDW is working with Microsoft Studios on the digital and print comic book RYSE: Sword of Damocles.  Since War of the Dead, Sami has also been doing covers for Clive Barker books, the art on  Hatter M, and some other stuff, yet he has most of the new Deadworld series finished.  As usual, it looks great.

I haven’t announced the name yet of the mystery series I’m doing but will shortly.  I keep going back and forth between two names and will have to decide soon, of course.  Issue three of that is nearly completed and when that’s ready, I’m going to do it as a kickstarter project.  I’ve never done a project on kickstarter so I have to do some ground work on that.  I will also send it out to publishers to do as a comic series but I want to be sure the artistic team (artist, colorist, letterer) can get some guaranteed money and I really want this to be an ongoing.  Not since I did Saint Germaine have I been so attuned to a project so the goal is to keep it going.

See, I knew I could keep it shorter…now let’s see if I can get it more frequent.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Projects Forthcoming

It's been a busy couple of weeks as I moved ahead on a number of projects. I find that as I get ready for vacations, I like to get to a certain point where I can map out a current series that I'm working on. For me, the first issue (or equivalent) is the hardest as I have to decide where to start the story and how to bring all the characters into play and how all that weaves together. Once I'm done with that, I find the rest so much easier. 

The Deadworld mini-series coming from IDW in the fall is just about finished on my end. I just have a few scenes to retool and the artist, Sami Makkonen, has finished the first three issues and all the covers. So, that's nearly a wrap. 

 I'm doing a mystery in the 1900s with artist Wayne Reid that ties into an insane asylum. I'm not sure of the name of the series yet so I don't want to announce it but I've written the first three issues and Wayne is just about done with the first. I've worked with Wayne numerous times in the past, most recently on a Sherlock Holmes story that was in The Curious Cases of Sherlock Holmes that came out from IDW and right before that, A Murder of Scarecrows. Both of us want to get back to the Scarecrow storyline and do another installment of that. I think I will take this mystery series to Kickstarter and I've sort of been waiting for the right project for that and I think this is it. 

 I have four issues written, and the story arc will go to five, on The Rain People. This is a self contained spin-off of my Raven Chronicles which was sort of my shared universe as the characters have appeared in many other titles I've written (Red Diaries, Saint Germaine, Seeker, Helsing) as well as some other titles. I have an artist working on it and will be announcing that as soon as he gets most of the way through issue two. The Rain People refers to certain people with enhanced mental abilities that is triggered by a drug from the Amazon Rain Forest, hence the name. 

I've pretty much got the graphic novel, Subversives set to go. A few stories to touch up and then lettered. It's a mixture of text, illustrations, and photos but over half of it will be traditional comic storytelling. This will likely be the first one out from me and I'm shooting for July. 

Mentioned before were two short story collections. One is Street Shadows from the pages of Caliber Presents. The second is Night Pieces which is a collection of most of my other short stories and these are primarily horror but not always. I just have to find artists to do the covers as I get them together. 

 I'm also doing two special projects that will tie in with Detroit Fanfare. Both are ensemble pieces with lots of different artists contributing and I have one geared for a more serious tone and the second will be orientated towards kids. I always hate to reveal too much until something is well underway but when I get back from vacation towards the beginning of July, I think that they will both be ready to be announced as will some of the contributors. I want to make sure that all the contributors are those that are attending Detroit Fanfare with the goal that anyone that buys either of the books can get it autographed by everyone who participated in it. 

On the publishing side of things, prepping a lot of books coming from Transfuzion. Battron was just released and I think the next will be another war tale, Winter War, and I personally like that book a lot. There will likely be a flurry of releases from Transfuzion this summer and heading into the fall as so many are near ready production wise. 

The other company I'm involved with, Binary Publications, just had the Bettie Page book released. This book has been getting good feedback and in addition to being on Amazon, it should be able to be found at Barnes and Noble, Baker and Taylor, Bud Plant, Last Gasp, and others and it just got printed. A follow up to The Art of Jack Davis will ship at the beginning of July, and this is Jack Davis: Some of My Good Stuff. that gives Binary three Jack Davis books as we also have the kid's book, Bobby's Magic Pen, which features never seen before color illustrations from Jack. Binary has some interesting titles in the pipeline and should have a few titles out this summer and fall. 

The business aspects has been active as there's been some interesting conversations going on regarding a number of different things. Too early to talk about but I think it could be something really cool if it works out. 

No news on the movie front so I won't say anything about that. To me, its sort of something that's just running out its course.

Monday, May 20, 2013

On those writing projects....

I actually am making headway on some projects that I've wanted to work on and it looks like 2013 should be a busy year as far as the writing goes.  I do have some OLD business (in terms of projects) to finish which I plan to this year.

First up, I will be finishing the last bit (mostly modifications) for the Deadworld mini-series coming out.  The artist, Sami Makkonen, has already drawn the first three issues but he was brought in on a hush-hush project that he just couldn't turn down.  So, Deadworld: Resurrection will start up in November of this year.  It will ship monthly.

I plan to finally finish off Subversives, a trade paperback in mostly comic format, although there are a variety of illustrations and photos used and this covers stories of traitors, spies, and other malcontents.  This will likely be the first project I finish.

Coming in October will be a special illustrated book which I don't want to reveal much on but I will be enlisting the aid of some 25 different artists to contribute to it.  There will be a special edition released at Detroit Fanfare and the plan is to have all the participating artists be in attendance at Fanfare so someone could get every contributor to autograph  it at the show.  I am thinking of doing an indiegogo project for it so the artists can at least get some money up front and not have to wait for royalties only.

A project that I actually wrote awhile ago called The Rain People and is sort of an offshoot of The Raven Chronicles (but meant to stand totally on its own).  The first issue is actually drawn but I don't know if he will be able to do the rest at this time.  If not, I have another artist in mind who is raring to go.  This project was actually commissioned by a publisher who after the first issue was pencilled had to back out because their funding didn't come through.  At least the artist was paid for his work.

My most ambitious project is geared towards an ongoing series which is set in New Orleans during the early 1900s.  At once a detective type series, it also delves into the time period and treatment of criminals and the insane. The artist is Wayne Reid and he's already through part of issue one.  When the second issue is done in a few weeks, I may launch this as a kickstarter project.  I think those that liked Saint Germaine and Red Diaries will like this least I think they will.

Speaking of Saint Germaine, I really want to get back to doing at least a limited series on that, if not an ongoing .  But its a tough market out there for this type of material, I realize that.  But I'm structuring the storyline and hope to find an artist and will check to see if I can land it with a publisher.  Yes, I have Transfuzion but that is not geared up to do comics.

Another comic series I'd like to get back to is A Murder of Scarecrows.  I did have a publisher express some interest in it but their plans seem to be moving into a different direction.  In today's market, that seems to happen a lot...reality can waylaid the best of plans.

I was hired by a company to write a novel centering around the Biblical tale told from Lucifer's point of view.   I have completed about 60,000 words of it and then company folded due to a totally unrelated problem.  I have been in discussion with the remainder of the company about either finishing it or doing it as a graphic novel.  They paid me in advance, and paid me well, so I'd like to finish it in some form and get it out there.

Another novel that I really plan to get to is the Deadworld novel.  I have been putting this off for a couple of reason.  One is the potential movie deal which looks to be pretty much a non-starter at this point but mainly because I wanted to get Deadworld to a certain place in terms of story.  I wanted to move it far away from the beginning days into where its headed now.  I understand a lot of fans love the early Deadworld, as do I, but I think for a good story, it has to be more than that.  I don't want it to be just another "humans running form the dim-witted zombies" tale.  One of the reasons that I plan to get so much done in the next month or so is that I plan to devote almost all of my time to the novel as now I know where its going.

So, that's my summer plans.  How's yours shaping up?

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Keeping Busy

Been planning to update sooner than this and wanted to go in depth on a couple of topics.  It's kinda funny, I don't think many people read the blog but I'm always surprised how many emails I get regarding something I said in the blog and often times, it leads to some curious circumstances.  One of these days, will have to explore that.

The main reason I haven't blogged recently is the same reason I'm virtually non-existent on facebook...just way too busy.  Maybe because its I'm getting older but I just can't seem to juggle things as well as I used to and I have found myself for the last couple of months in a deep pit of  behindness that I just can't seem to climb out of...although this last week made a lot of progress.

It makes me realize I have to start adjusting some things.  Just too much going on.  School is a huge demand and that has to take priority.  I have some 200 students and there's a sense of responsibility that can't be lessened just because I'm behind on something else.  So, school always comes first.  I never know why some semesters seem to operate on cruise control almost and others, it's everything I can do to stay on top of things.  Every semester I redo my lectures somewhat...after all, if you're teaching subjects such as Genetics and Evolution...the information they find out each year is stunning.  I read 4-5 journals (or try to) each month and I can't keep up with all the changes.  What we've learned in the last year in each of those fields completely shakes up what we knew before.

Running two publishing companies was maybe more of a strain than I had anticipated.  The simple act of publishing isn't hard but each project requires handling and some are more labor intensive than others.  Of course, as Transfuzion expands and Binary grows, you end up dealing with a lot more people.  I am probably n touch with a few dozen creators on a weekly basis and then you add the students, the orders and inquiries about the various books, and it ends up with a 1,000 or more emails a week...and that doesn't include the spam.  Some creators like to talk on the phone, but man, I just don't have the time.

But maybe it was just a rough patch.  I do sort of see daylight approaching where I'm not scrambling from on thing to the next so hopefully, things will just go back to being hectic...and no longer crazy hectic. I need things to lessen as my DVR is getting full as I rarely even glimpse TV and I don't really watch that many shows to begin with..  All the shows I watch have shifted to folders because I have the last 4-5 episodes to watch.

The most frustrating thing is of course not being able to spend time writing.  I'm managing to squeeze in another Deadworld mini-series and I have this mystery series that is coming along well...but there are still quite a few projects that I just have to look longingly at while I shuffle them to the bottom of the pile continuously.

Guess the purpose of this blog was to at least update it and bitch a little.  Next time, I'll give the status of the Deadworld series forthcoming as well as information on two other projects that are getting close to announcing.  I think one of them will go the kickstarter route so of course, that means I have to be more active online.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Industry Year End Thoughts

Last time,  I took a look at what 2012 held for me personally and I got immersed in a couple of conversations about the industry as a whole so I figured I’d take a look and give my impressions of the entire comics market.  Of course, this is just my opinion and comes from my little corner of the comics world and yes, mostly anecdotal. On one hand, I’ve been involved in many aspects of the industry- as a creator, as a publisher, a freelancer, did work for hire, conventions, retailing, VP of a toy company, dealing with licensed properties, etc.  On the other hand, even though I am “part” of the comics industry, there are huge portions of it that I know next to nothing about, i.e. - what goes on in the current releases of Marvel and DC.  

I guess that’s the first point I want to make.  The comics industry is broken up into a lot of small arenas and oftentimes, one group has no awareness of the others.   You have web comics bringing in readers that Marvel would be jealous of yet most people in the “biz” are unaware of them.  You have creators who work on small projects that primarily sell at conventions and they seem to have their own network yet it is far removed from what you might read on the popular new sites.  It’s a very fractured market in terms of product and creators.  There are all these little pods of comic creation that may overlap with some but will often be completely oblivious to others.

I don’t know what the major impacts on the market were this last year.  I know Karen Berger leaving DC (or DC evicting Karen, not sure what the actual story is) was a major event but not sure if it’s more symbolic than actual effect….at this time.  Obviously, her impact in the beginning days of Vertigo was immense and as a retailer and reader, to me, Vertigo epitomized what comics could be.  But I’m not sure of the influence it carried in recent years but it surely does signal the end of an ear.

I do think that one thing the incredible success of movies like Avengers, Spider-Man, and Dark Knight that built on the previous success of X-Men, Thor, Captain America, Iron Man, etc have shown is that the comic book hero is attractive to mainstream America.  However, the lack of any kind of dramatic crossover of those fans into reading comics will, I think, cement the idea that people are aware of comics; they just don’t have a strong desire to read them.  I do wonder how much the self indulgent universes of Marvel and DC restrict the entry of new readers.  I’m familiar with the two universes from a long time ago and even though I haven’t read any of them in well over a decade, I at least have a basic idea of the heroes and titles.  But when I’m in a comic shop, I get dazed and even if I wanted to check something out, I wouldn’t even know where to start.  One thing I do know, from keeping at least a fraction of interest in the goings-ons, is that whatever is happening in the titles right now is irrelevant because next year, it will all be different.  Heroes will die, dead heroes will return…revelations of who is who’s father will be revealed and then it will be found out to be a lie…so and so will turn evil and another so and so will turn good, and then in a year or two, it’ll flip flop again.  I think Marvel and DC would’ve been better to just expand their “What IF…” and “Elsewhere” worlds and left a more streamlined canon.

But then again, the word is that comic sales are up and not just over the near extinction of the late 1990’s but sales are heading to the levels prior to the implosion.  That’s in sales, not units…and with cover prices just about doubling from some 20 years ago, plus the heavy reliance on trade paperbacks, it’s safe to say that there are a lot less readers and issues being sold.  But that’s okay as fewer units produced and high sales mean more profits.  Perhaps.  Costs have escalated as well, not only in printing but shipping.

I don’t see a big shift (and I’m not privy nor inclined to investigate deeply- again, this is just an anecdotal observation) of new readers coming in.  I’ve done a number of signings this last year and most of the customers I see are older…in fact, I often come across a number of customers that used to shop at my stores and I left the retailing business around 1999.  Sure, there are some new readers and one store I been to on multiple occasions consists primarily of readers who are under 30 and never really bought comics until the store opened.  But I don’t see that at many stores.

This last year had another renewed call for some kind of organization for creators and whether it’s called a guild, a union, a consortium…whatever, it’s not likely to happen.  It would be like all actors forming a new group that would include everyone from film stars to TV to Broadway to the guy that performs at the local kid’s event…all becoming into one entity.  That’s what comics are in terms of creators; they’re all over the place in terms of what they’re doing and what kind of audience they have.  I get asked often about joining some kind of group or coalition regarding comics and it always comes down to when you have to include some, you also have to exclude others and what determines the criteria?  A creator who produces his creator owned titles has a different reality than a work for hire artist at Marvel or a webcomic creator or a colorist bouncing from one small press comic to another.  I get the idea and can appreciate it but it seems way too much dialogue is given for something that structurally just wouldn’t work.  Perhaps some kind of voluntary group with a small membership fee and strategies for building up methods of health insurance or something (but I guess Obama Care will take care of that).  As for setting some kind rates in the industry, that will never happen.  

A more amusing aspect of the industry was the attack on the fake fans and cosplayers which spiraled out of control in tweets and facebook.  It seemed odd that someone would be against any kind of fan of the industry and one thing the movies have done is to bring in new fans, yes, even ones that don’t read comics.  It reminds me of the “Sports talk” fans that always complain of fickle fans…fans that only support a local team if they’re winning and leave them when the team starts to lose.  Well, those fickle fans buy a lot of tickets and memorabilia and the sports leagues would have a lot of financial difficulty if it wasn’t for them.   How many sports teams are ready to fold or move until a winning season props them back up for a couple of years.  A good example is the Detroit Tigers.  In their record setting season of losses, they had attendance of 1.3 million but last year, as they headed towards the World Series, attendance double to 2.6 million.  I think the “true” sports fans need to recognize the importance of fickle fans and the comics industry should as well.  Being involved in the Detroit Fanfare convention, all those cosplayers buy tickets which help support the convention(and so afford to bring in “real” comic people) and many of them buy original art sketches from the creators.  One thing I’ve noticed is that they will buy from anyone that draws something they like and they don’t really seem to care about the artist’s credentials.  They like the piece, they buy it.  I think that has provided a lot of unpublished artists a great revenue stream.

Creator rights continue to be topical especially with the ongoing lawsuits about who owns what.  I’m always torn on this as I recognize creator rights first and foremost…after all, Caliber Comics was one of the leading companies for creator owned titles during the 90s and after Caliber closed, some 25 titles from Caliber stayed or renewed printing because the creators owned them not Caliber.  Of course, I was also a creator but I am and always was, separate from Caliber.  Yet, I get the idea of “work for hire” and have done it and also contracted for it, so I’ve been on both sides.  Perhaps the problem comes from not being clear cut yet in some of these cases that occur, it does appear everything was spelled out.  If I were to do more work for hire, I would understand that I do not own the characters that I create under payment for someone else.  Obviously, I would try to include some kind of royalty payment on any ancillary revenue on those characters but each situation would be different.  I don’t know what happened in the past so it may not have been so concise on what was the actual structure of those contracts.  With Deadworld, I worked with a number of creators who wanted to do some “creation” within Deadworld and over the years, I avoided any kind of problems by not incorporating those characters into the official canon of Deadworld.  I get asked numerous times from creators who want to write or draw Deadworld and I am now reluctant to do so because I don’t want it to become a problem later.  I may have solid ground contractually but that doesn’t mean some lawyer won’t pull it into a lawsuit.  On the rare occasions that I bring a contributor in on anything I do, the only characters that will be officially part of anything I write will be ones that I create.

It is great to see so many creator owned books having some success in the market.  I am quite surprised though at many fans lack of understanding that even a successful creator owned book is not likely to provide a good income for a creator.  There seems to be a tremendous shift of reality in evaluating sales and how much a creator actually makes to many fans.  This topic has been covered quite a bit recently with some numbers floating around that will hopefully fill in some of those false impressions.  But still, it’s great to see that some creators can at least venture into creator owned territory and sufficient sales to keep doing it even if they have to go back to one of the big companies that pay a page rate to subsidize their income.

Kickstarter has given quite a bit of opportunity for the creator owned comics and some of those campaigns have delivered incredible support.  I worry the bubble will burst, any by worry, I mean before I launch a couple of projects using crowd funding.  There’s a lot of negative rumblings from a lot of creators protesting that too many “big” name creators are sucking up the dollars by launching their campaigns and thereby making it tougher for the lower tiered creators have a shot.  I figure everyone’s entitled to do what they can and so don’t really understand the complaints.  However, I know of a couple of cases of relatively known creators who have collected their funds and as of yet, have not produced the work that they were paid for.  One of them is at least a year overdue.  Now, this is what will kill the crowd funding aspect…if supporters start to feel like they can’t count on the material to be actually delivered.  

And of course, the digital world continued to be the top area of conversation in comics.  As of yet, it’s still hard to get a handle of not only how much money comes in from digital but how its filtered down to the creators and what kind of impact, if any, it has on the print market. Sure, print sales are doing well at the moment but how many bags of tricks do the publishers have to keep pushing out these event comics?  With the publishers jumping into the digital market so they won’t get left behind, it seems that they are the ones accelerating the growth in order to ensure that they benefit from the anticipated windfall.  I wonder sometimes if it will end up like the bookstore market where everyone jumps in big time only to find out that the new market can only support so many.  I remember the days when getting graphic novels into the book chains was the savior of the comics market.  Will digital follow suit in that the digital suppliers focus on what works in the comics market is what they’re push in the digital market so it will be constructed around the superheroes?  I hope not because I think that’s shown already to have a limited appeal.  It may be the 300 pound gorilla in the direct market but it is not the growth outreach that will bring in new comic readers.

I guess it comes down to 2012 being another year of flux in the industry but that’s the way it is, not only in comics but in all aspects of life.  Everything is at an accelerated rate compared to the past.  I look back at the early days and it astounds me how much things have changed and how quickly.  But overall, the medium of comics is still here and while I don’t like some of things going on in the comics world, I still love the medium.  To me, it is the best way for a creator to tell a story and I enjoy immensely the process of creating comics.  I really do believe that creatively, the industry is at the top of its game right now and it’s great to see comics heading towards a status of going beyond superheroes to tell stories of any genre or any topic.  As we continue the shift of labeling comics as a method of telling stories rather than a definition of the entire medium, it can only get better.  More profitable?  I don’t know.

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