Indie Cover Spotlight: Infestation: Ghostbusters #1

And we wrap up this week’s look at Kyle Hotz’s work with the cover to IDW’s zombie crossover, Infestation, featuring the Ghostbusters crew:

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This book came out in 2011, and featured a “non-crossover” crossover between some of IDW’s big licensed property books, like G.I. Joe, Star Trek, and Transformers. Oh, and Ghostbusters.

Joe Kelly on his X-Men experience

Writer Joe Kelly talks about quitting the high-profile gig of being the writer of the X-Men comic, back in 1999:

The final straw was when it was time to do the ‘Hunt for Xavier’ story. We hammered that out and again it wasn’t what they wanted, and we had problems. By the time we’d come up with something we could all agree on it was time to do the next big crossover story, which was this Magneto arc, and we were basically called up and told that the main office was gonna write the overall story for us and we were just going to execute it in the books. There are situations in which that works fine: soap operas and television series do it all the time. Except, that’s how it has to be from the start. To go from, ‘Hey, we want you guys to lend your voices to these books and make them different and unique’, to ‘We’re gonna write the stories for you’, you know you can’t go any lower. We had to quit. It became a self-respect issue. This was a fight that we knew we couldn’t win, because who do you argue with?

Selling comics at a gaming con

Over at Comic Book Resources, Brigid Alverson has a fascinating (to me) look at PAX East, the gaming convention started up by the Penny Arcade webcomic guys. While not a fan of their work, I’ve been quite impressed with their business acumen, and especially the success of their PAX conventions. Just check out these photos, which document a show that easily rivals some of the comic book world’s biggest conventions:

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After reading the article, two things struck me. First, shows like this can serve as a great middle-ground for the general genre fan to be exposed to comics and graphic novels. Smart comic book publishers with books that will appeal to gamers are already at the show, introducing their products to a whole new audience (and market segment)”

At the publisher’s booth, Oni’s Director of Business Development George Rohac presided over a wide range of books; people are often drawn by the Scott Pilgrim books, he said, but then Oni’s other titles, such as The Sixth Gun and Sharknife, catch their eye.

At the Udon Entertainment booth, video-game art books and Street Fighter graphic novels were moving briskly; at the end of the weekend, Marketing Director Christopher Butcher said he had sold almost his entire inventory.

Gaming fans are just like comic fans: they love to spend money on ancillary products based on the games they like. We buy Batman statues and Spider-man hoodies, and they do the same for products based on the characters from their favorite games. So why not sell them comics based on their games? Or at least, in the same general wheelhouse? And in turn, if they happen to like the comics, they may continue to seek out more works by the same creators, or same publisher. The way I look at it, this is a perfect example of “a rising tide lifts all boats,” or as they like to say in the jargon-obsessed business world, a “win-win.” The comics publishers can expand their marketplace, while the game publishers expand their brand and licensing potential.

But what if as a publisher or individual creator, you don’t have the funds or the quantity of products to be able to field a (presumably expensive) booth at a show like this? Well, that’s the second thought that came to mind: here’s a niche for a smart, enterprising person to fill. You could potentially make a business of being the middle-man for parties interested in selling their comics at a convention like this, but who are limited by their finances, geographical location, or simply don’t have that many different books to make getting their own booth a viable option. You pay for the booth, have your clients ship you the books, sell them at the show, and take an agreed-upon cut of the profits. Theoretically, you make money, and your clients make money (or perhaps they just break even, but they consider the exposure and awareness boost a reasonable return on their investment).

Granted, there are logistical and practical problems galore, not the least of which is whether this scheme would even be profitable. But hey, that’s the job of the entrepreneur, right? To figure out how to make money from an under served (or ignored) niche market, and to take the chance.

So there you go, consider that a free business idea from me to you. Just remember me if you ever put this idea into practice, and give me the “friends” discount rate for your services, OK?

Cliff Galbraith on comic cons

The Beat has a nice interview with indie comics creator Cliff Galbraith on founding and running the relatively new Asbury Park Comicon. I especially liked this quote:

What’s your personal philosophy behind Comic Cons?

CG: Don’t be boring. Don’t be predictable. Don’t call yourself a Comic Con and fill the bill with wrestlers, actors, and other people who have nothing to do with comics. Respect and honors those who make comics, especially those who came before us. I see a lot of bullshit at cons and I just don’t get it. If somebody wants an autograph of somebody from Twilight or some guy who played a storm trooper 30 years ago — that’s their business, but it really has nothing to do with comics. It detracts and devalues comics as something that is supposed to be celebrated. My feeling is if you’re not here for the comics then shove off. Go to a horror con, go to a sci-fi con.

Amen, brother.

Indie Cover Spotlight: The Agency #2

This past weekend, at the Gem City Comic Con, I had the pleasure of participating in (and moderating) a panel on the comics business. One of my fellow panelists was artist Kyle Hotz, whose work I’ve enjoyed for a long time. So I thought this week I’d put the spotlight on his indie comics, starting with his 2001 collaboration with writer Paul Jenking, The Agency:

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This planned monthly series from Image/Top Cow sadly ended after 6 issues, but it definitely played to Hotz’s strengths: dark settings, creepy creatures, twisted people.

Indie Cover Spotlight: Stargazing Dog

I forgot to post this on Friday, but I’m currently sitting at my table at Gem City Comic Con and they have free WiFi here, so might as well take care of some business, right?

Closing out our look this week at covers of graphic novels from NBM Publishing, here’s Takashi Murakami’s Stargazing Dog:

NBM-Star

This book is one of NBM’s best-reviewed graphic novels, and is currently on my “to read” stack. However, knowing the basic premise of the story, and as a dog owner, I’m somewhat reluctant to start, because I know it’s going to be a heartbreaking story.

Persia Blues: Sequential Underground podcast

In this 22 minute podcast, Sequential Underground’s Nick Marino talks to NMB’s founder/publisher Terry Nantier about the digital/print release strategy for Persia Blues, the library market, challenges faced by artists, and more.

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“This formula here, with the e-comic books, gives the artist the capacity for some input, some availability of the work as it’s coming out…and a revenue flow. It’s a means of helping the artist to get through a very long process.” –Terry Nantier

Indie Cover Spotlight: Moby Dick

Continuing the spotlight on graphic novel covers from NBM Publishing:

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This adaptation of Moby Dick is by legendary comic book creator, Will Eisner. It was published in 1998.

And heck, this is Eisner we’re talking about, so a cover isn’t just enough. Here’s an interior page for your enjoyment:

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Happy Nowruz – Persian New Year

Today is the vernal equinox, the first day of spring. Which means it’s also the start of the Persian New Year, known as Nowrūz in Iran (pronounced no-rooz, literally “new day”). You can read all about this 3000 year old celebration, and its associated festivities and practices, on Wikipedia.

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My favorite part as a child growing up in Iran was Chaharshanbe Suri, which is celebrated on the last Wednesday of the year, prior to the new year. Bonfires are lit and everyone celebrates by jumping over the fire, singing a verse that translates roughly into “take my sickly yellow, and give me your fiery red.” Fireworks and firecrackers are also involved, so you can just imagine how much fun it would be for a kid, not to mention the adults.

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The most ubiquitous mark of Nowrūz is the traditional table setting known as Haft-Seen, where seven items starting with the letter “S” in Farsi are arranged in a decorative and festive manner.

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Nowrūz was officially registered on the UNESCO List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2009. In 2010, the UN’s General Assembly recognized the International Day of Nowruz.

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So even if you’re not Iranian, take a moment out of your day to celebrate the coming of spring, and Happy Nowrūz!

Pre-order Persia Blues from your local comic book store

My graphic novel from NBM Publishing is currently being solicited in the Previews catalog for distribution to comic book shops in May. The listing is on page 331, and earned the “Spotlight On” designation.

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Please consider supporting your local comic book shop by having them pre-order a copy for you, and a few for their shelves. The Diamond item code is MAR13 1230.

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It’s hard to stand out when you’re one of the thousands of products offered in the massive 500-page catalog, but I’m hoping the spotlight designation will help. Already, we’ve caught the eye of Greg Burgas, who had these kind words to say in his monthly “Flippin’ through Previews” column at Comic Book Resources:

I haven’t read a lot of Dara Naraghi’s work, but what I have read is pretty good, so I’m intrigued by Persia Blues from NBM. It’s about an Iranian woman who lives in both the real world and a fantasy world, but is either of them the real woman? You’ll have to read it to find out! I’m always a little wary of “volume 1″s, but I’m still interested in this.

To find a comic shop near you, drop on by the Comic Shop Locator site.

Of course, you can also order the book through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, any indie bookstore, or even through NBM itself. Whatever floats your boat, as the kids say*. For links and options to buy the book – and support me and Brent Bowman in the process – drop on by the official Persia Blues website.

*The kids don’t actually say that.

Indie Cover Spotlight: Corto Maltese #4

Sorry I’ve been lax in updating the blog lately, especially the ICS feature. It’s getting down to the wire for finishing my latest book, so needless to say something had to take a back seat. But I’m going to try and get back to the M-W-F schedule of posting this feature again.

Speaking of my graphic novel, it’s currently being solicited for publication, so I thought I’d use this week to spotlight some covers from my publisher’s vast catalog of indie graphic novels. So let’s kick off NBM week with a European classic:

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Created by Italian cartoonist Hugo Pratt, Corto Maltese was first published in 1967. This NBM US translation is from 1987.