It’s been far too long since my last update, especially since I promised to post something weeks ago to several of you who had been asking. The large part of the wait was that I had become settled into a holding pattern, waiting for work from the new people I’d asked on board to come in. By and large, it didn’t. That’s not really an acceptable excuse, I know. It got me thinking though that there is a part of the process with this book I should put to words.
The process of dealing with freelancers.
As you may remember from the video for our Kickstarter campaign (it’s been so long, I barely do), we originally were going to publish the book as a six issue series distributed to comic shops. We lost our original colorist and had to take the book off a publishing schedule. That was a simplified version of the story. What I’d left out (to keep the video short, mind you) was that the original colorist left just after we’d sent out the retailer preview and about four weeks before we had to send issue one to the printer so that we could deliver it to Diamond Comics Distributors, who service all the comic shops in North America (and a couple other countries, too!). This put us in a bind because we were now faced with having to switch colorists in a short amount of time. The replacement guy screwed us over and we were forced to pull it from a publishing schedule. Between then and now, we’ve gone through a number of colorists trying to get the book finished. There were various circumstances behind how they joined up with us, what they agreed to and how they left us. So I’ll go through them now and get you caught up to the present day, which will leave us on a positive note.
The colors for the first 25 pages were done by a gentleman we’d found on digitalwebbing.com (a resources for indie creators looking for collaborations) named Matt Green (name used only because it’s easily found in the credits) . He was a stay at home father of three from the southern part of the US who dabbled in coloring work and music. When he joined on with us, he offered to do the book basically for free. He was more interested in the practice and the promise of having 160 page portfolio of proven work to show potential employers. This appealed to Gilbert and I because we weren’t getting paid to make the book either and we felt it showed that the guy, like us, wanted to earn his stripes. It was decided that we’d give him a chunk of any profits from the book (not usually possible in the world of indie comics, but I dream big) and a decent amount of free copies to give away or sell. While waiting for pages from us, he started to see some movement on the music side of things. His want to finish began to wane and just as we were receiving the printed copies of our preview book, he told us that he would have to leave the project.
I never blamed him for this, but it still left us stuck with one issue of a mini-series colored and a in-store date to meet. Being young and prideful, I decided that I wanted the book to have a uniform look and sought a colorist who could redo the work on the first issue before moving on to the rest. We returned to the site we found Matt on and after looking at a number of submissions, settled on an artist from Italy who assured us he could handle the workload and found the terms agreeable. After sending us a few pages, he stopped sending pages and blew his deadline. He then blew his backup deadline. Once that had happened, he stopped communicating with us altogether. Now, even if we used the original colors to print the first issue, we would have find someone for the other issues and be completely behind the eight ball. With that, I decided to throw in the towel and remove ourselves from a publishing schedule.
After what had happened, I decided that we wouldn’t offer the book for solicitation again until it was complete and ready to go. With no schedule hanging over our heads though, and the demands of normal life calling, Gilbert and I took another two years to complete the script/pencil art for the book. During that time, a number of people voiced an interest in coloring the book: friends who were learning the craft, buddies who worked in the indie publishing scene, et cetera. They all wanted to come on for little to no up front pay, which worked for me. Not only did it satisfy our desire to work with people who wanted to do a work for the love of the form, but not long after taking Super off a publishing schedule, I had switched to a lower-paying job and would need to save everything I could just for publication. Invariably though, these people would end up dropping off without providing anything substantial (some gave up after page one)!
Despite a lack of funds, the obvious pattern of no pay yielding no color work was starting to wear on me. It was a little after the penciling work had been completed that I learned about Kickstarter. The timing had me excited and since I had a fairly robust network of people and the mailing list of the comic shop I worked at at my disposal, I thought getting the money to finish the project would be a cake walk. This time, we choose an artist who had a proven track record of work and was willing to come aboard for a rate that was reasonable. Our first attempt to raise money on here failed. The deal with the colorist was void and I hope he went on to other lucrative work.
It was at this time that I thought the best course of action would be to pay someone out of pocket and then retry for funding to cover just the printing. Seeing as how I had moved over to a comic shop that was paying me much better money than the one I was at during the first round on here, I thought this wouldn’t be a problem (plus hey, even more people to promote to). It turned out that throwing in with the other shop was a bad idea (another long story) and I was let go just before the end of the second campaign. As you may recall, this one was a success. I also lucked out and was unemployed for mere weeks. My new (and current) job was very rewarding (I work with disabled adults), but not as financially so as the previous one. With that, I resigned myself to slowly grinding it out and paying for the work as I could.
A friend had recently graduated from art school and he signed on. Not only was he talented, he had a rock solid work ethic and was also working for himself as freelancer. After awhile, we both discovered that a freelancer spends most of his time looking for freelance work to survive. Pages would come in small bursts, and once he had secured a position as a graphic artist at a high-end gaming company, not at all. We both knew he was too busy at this point to stay on in any real capacity.
After some time and thought, he realized he had two friends who were also looking for work and in a move that is so classy that I’d swear it wore a monocle, he took some of the money he was now making at his new job and offered to help pay for the colors. He didn’t have to do it, but he felt bad about making me (and by extension you) wait, and wanted like all of us to see the book finished. With that, I felt we could estimate a timeline for digital release and get us back on track. The only problem was that his friends, neither nursing a particular desire to work as comic colorists, couldn’t deliver. Not really their fault. They just aren’t passionate for the art and that can make all the difference.
This was a little over a month ago. Wait, didn’t I say this long, rambling story ended on a positive note? Well, since I now have a bit of padding financially, I went back to Digital Webbing one more time looking for people who fit all the important criteria: talented, into making comics (with a body of work to prove it) and able to come decently close to the style that was now being used on the book. I received a ton of responses and about a dozen were quite good. From there, I tested my favorite six and extended offers to the top three. Two were able to come aboard ultimately, one from Argentina and another from Australia.
Last week I received a total of eight pages. They look great. With the pages my friend did, the second part of the book is basically done (I still need to letter it). When we’ve got a substantial amount finished, I will start releasing it digitally. Then print. Finally.
This is so much info, I realize I could have (and rightly should have) been posting this stuff as it happened. You all have proven your patience and I should be better about keeping you in the loop. I read an interview with one of the Kickstarter higher-ups where they discuss how the artistic mind is usually bad about tending it’s network. Sounds like a more acceptable excuse than the one I started with. I’ll work to improve myself in that regard.
And with that, I owe you some lettered pages. Here are the (probably) final letters for the first two pages of part two. I use Adobe Illustrator to letter books because it offers easy control of word balloons so that they don’t look like footballs. As you’ll see, the dialogue is different than what is on the script pages I showed you. Surprise! Really, what I like about lettering is that it gives me a final pass to change the text and be really sure about what ends up on the page. Since I wrote the book a long time ago, it is likely a lot of the dialogue will be updated as I go to incorporate what I’ve learned as a writer. A little tightening here, a complete overhaul there. That sort of thing.
For the next update, some news about other projects that are going and a few peeks. Enjoy!