Sunday, December 6, 2015

Writing Plans for 2016

It's that time of the do my weekly blog which is only 3 months behind.

As I'm clearing the semester out and almost finished with my five finals, I am trying to figure out my schedule for 2016 as far as my writing goes.  Of course, I have lots to consider with Caliber Comics as well as the Deadworld Zombie Soda and a few other things, but one thing at a time.

Coming next year are two short stores that I wrote for two different anthologies but I'm not sure of the exact schedule.  I have a series that is already underway coming from Source Point Press called "The Savants" and that is being drawn by Seth Damoose.  There will be much more on this in a couple of months as we'll wait until issue 3 is nearly finish before we formally start to push it.

I get asked about Deadworld all the time and yes, I am working on the next script for well as other Deadworld "stuff".   When I can be more specific on the series, I'll discuss it more but there is so much other Deadworld material that should be arriving before then.  First off, there is the complete collection of ALL Deadworld material in a series of graphic novels, newly printed.  It will be 22 books in all (that's a lot of zombies).  Also, a new series from writer Gary Francis and artist John Marroquin along with Christopher Sanchez and Tony Miello, should debut soon.  That will be dealing with the duo of Punk and Eddie.  The "Art of Deadworld" should be coming in the spring sometime.

There will also be a new book for Deadworld featuring an anthology of prose and I will be joined by a great cast of writers to give some varying views of Deadworld.

I am also working on a new Saint Germaine series but too early to get into many details but it will likely be called "Faith".    I have a couple of other projects that I need to finish and/or add a short story to flesh out  and these include "Subversives", "No-Man's Land", and a few projects that I created but turned over to other writers to develop such as "Disciples",  "Level X", and "Searchers".  These will finally see print although have been available on digital platforms.

Two books I'm thinking about and I get asked all the time about these are not comic stories.  One is the History of Caliber and I may put together a small book on that.  I get asked so often about the details and so many requests to do a history of the company.  I plan on it to be a chronicle of everything that happened but not necessarily a "tell-all" book because there was very little drama involved through the history of the company.

The second book is harder for me to tackle and that's a book on writing comics.  Again, I get asked often about doing something like this as I imagine a lot of comic writers do.  I feel a bit egotistical in tackling this but I plan to approach it as how "I" write comics and some of my thoughts regarding being a comic scribe.  I don't plan to get into the mechanics of writer per se, but just some of the guidelines I use and some things to think about.  On one hand, so much of it seems obvious, but then I remember, it wasn't to me when I started.  Also, I see so many of the same mistakes when I get submissions, I often think about putting a guidelines together and it seems to be growing.

I figure that should keep me busy for a few months.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Grand Rapids ComicCon and other Cons

Just got back from the Grand Rapids Comic Con.  I planned to post this on Facebook but figured that since it was more than a paragraph, might as well make it a blog since I’m failing so miserably at keeping up with that.

No idea what the attendance was but the show was at the Devos Place which is a great facility.  I went solely with the Deadworld Zombie Soda and I’ll explain that decision in a minute but first just wanted to thank all the fans in attendance for the great reaction to the soda.

At first, I was a bit put off as we were placed in the lobby as we were considered a “food” vendor.  Not only that, we were put at the very far end so there was no reason for anyone to walk all the way down to where we were.  On Saturday, the Speaker’s Room opened next to us so that brought more of a flow towards us but it didn’t seem like we had anything to worry about.

I was there with Eric Reichert who is not only part of Caprice but also Caliber.  The soda company is small and we had one person in Las Vegas for a trade show and another person in Florida for a Zombie Fest (no, not the one with the shooting).  So, I decided to go to Grand Rapids with Eric as I know how busy the cons can be.

We had some intermittent periods of lull when the speaker room was full but when it emptied out, it was sheer madness.  Sometimes we had 3-4 lines going 5 deep for people to check out the soda.  We were servicing some 40-50 customers per hour during the peak periods and sometimes that would go on for three or four hours straight.  It might have been the most exhausting show I’ve ever done.  It was about the same as Cincinnati Expo but there, we had four people manning the booth instead of just the two of us.  The credit cards took up a lot of time so in the future, we’ll have to establish a separate line for cash versus credit.

So, we sold out of everything except I think we had a couple of bottles of Grape Soda left when the con closed.  We pushed the soda to local stores that carried it so customers could get more so it will be interesting to see if our distributor in that area gets more reorders for the product.

I mentioned that I decided to forego Caliber and just concentrate on the soda line and that is something that I have to evaluate each convention.  It’s hard to do Caliber unless there is enough room, after all, we have about 100 graphic novels released and that takes up room.  My feeling is that if I can’t do Caliber right, I’d rather not set up at a show and try to squeeze into a small space where I can’t even display most of the books. 

And I’ve also noticed the direction that cons are heading to and comics aren’t the focus area, even for these “comic cons”.  Of course, there are still some that are comic-centric but so many of them now are the family affairs with cosplayers and celebrities.  No, I’m not heading into a rant about how the cons aren’t about comics anymore because I realize that for the most part, these huge attendance numbers are in addition to the comics, not replacing them.  But it does give a whole different vibe to the shows and I think it’s important to recognize that.

What I’m seeing now is that the bigger “small” shows (which means newer and less established ones) are hitting attendance figures of 20.000-40,000 and most of them are NOT centered on comics.  There are still some of the large comic shows, of course, but it seems that the comic centric shows are hitting the 3,000-5,000 mark and that’s where you’ll find all the independent comic artists as well as a sprinkling in of the more mainstream creators.

As I’m writing this, just saw a post from Master Plot Comics regarding the same thing as they review Grand Rapids Comic Con here.  They have the same response as I do.  It’s not a bad thing per se, but it is different.  I guess if it brings attention to the whole medium, overall that’s good.

One disturbing trend that I have noticed and of course, other people have been talking about this for a while, is the use of prints produced on company owned characters.  Of course, mostly it is Marvel and DC but when approaching these other shows, it seems like a lot of artist start producing prints of top level movies and television shows.  I know Marvel and DC have turned away from coming down on artists as it’s a tricky situation of restricting someone promoting your product but when it comes down to selling prints of licensed characters, I think with the expansion of the medium, the big guys are possibly looking to start clamping down on it.

I’ve always been ambivalent about it since I’m not an artist but I think I’d be pretty pissed off if I saw someone selling prints of King Zombie or other Deadworld characters or other creations like Saint Germaine, Baker Street, etc.  Usually when I work with artists, even on jam sessions, I generally let them make prints and they can keep all the revenue because they don’t get much of a rate for doing the initial job.  That is part of the package and if they can sell a print of the art they did for me, good for them and I also feel better that they’re getting some additional revenue.  But if it’s someone who didn’t do work for me or who I don’t even know, I have to admit, I don’t think I’m going to feel too happy about that.

It should be interesting to see how all that shakes out with the growth of the characters into the mainstream (even though it really hasn’t penetrated the comics themselves to any reliable and great extent).  I wonder if a crackdown will happen sooner than people expect.

In a related note, I do get asked a lot to attend shows as Caliber…as well as Deadworld Zombie Soda.  Although time is the main concern, I do have to think about expenses.  I pretty much won’t do a show unless we are given space and that’s the main priority.  Travel and lodgings…that’s all negotiable but I’m not one to expect a full ride to most shows but I have to have the space.  And of course, the time factor.  Shows just eat up a lot of time and I am always at a show wondering how much I’m not getting down because I’m at a particular show but I do recognize the importance of doing shows at the same time.  So, it’s always something I have to take everything into consideration.

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