Tuesday, January 31, 2006


Crisis in Infinite Shops is a new weekly feature where I highlight a selection of books from each week's shipping list that deserve more attention, but may be eclipsed by the current mega-crossover-stunt-marketing-blitz of from the "big two"!

Shaolin Cowboy #3 (and there's even a freaking MOEBIUS cover!!!)
Perhapanauts #3
Black Harvest #3
Necromancer #4
Athena Voltaire #1 (Eisner nominated webcomic and fellow con neighbor and fellow GraphicSmasher)
Dead@17 Protectorate #3

Gay cowboy moratorium...

Seriously, America?
Enough with the gay cowboy jokes already!!


Monday, January 30, 2006

I WATCH ANIME: Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd GIG

It's back! And this time the title's even longer!! The only thing you need to know though about Ghost in the Shell SAC the TV series, is it's something not to miss! That goes double for this new "second" season!!

GITS is hardcore sci-fi, with a cyber bent, and SAC explores the concepts laid down by the great manga creator/mad-genius Masamune Shirow (or is it Shirow Masamune now?), specifically building on the elements from the original manga (and subsequent first film version) with Major Motoko Kusanagi and section 9, the special division of police force for cyberterrorism crimes. Taking the cast from the original manga and movie and expanding on it in a television series filled with all the twisting plots and scenarios of a police procedural drama, or detective series, but with copius amounts of future tech, politics, and sci-fi military action. Quite a heady blend, that entertains on many levels.

The second season continues with "stand alone" episodes with an overarching plot, this time centered around refugee camps and some sort of high level goverment plot afoot to test our Major and her newly reinstated section nine operatives. I dare say it's off to an even better start than the first season, and the initial volume is a treat of four fabulous episodes. Things pick up in a manner that one could come in without having to watch the first season, just as each episodes stands on it's own, but rewards those who follow along.

GITS SAC is always heavy on the dialogue, plot, details, politics, tech etc. It's a highly saturated dose for the mind, but can also work just as a visual treat too, with the top notch animation from studio Production I.G.

This is a sci-fi fan's paradise, a fictional glimpse into the near future full of technology, gear, and mecha, all wrapped around incredibly solid writing and visuals. One of the best shows out there, animated or otherwise.

Pick it up on DVD HERE

Or watch it on Cartoon Network HERE

Saturday, January 28, 2006

DeviantArt update

I regularlly post new pages over on DeviantArt.com, sans all the text, so I thought I'd start cross posting here, so you can link there...
Just cause.

Here's the latest, page 2 from issue 3:

It's Holly waking up, post enhancement, and flashing back to...

Friday, January 27, 2006

COMICS REVIEW: 1/25 books part 1

Damn! This book is good! It's really freakin' good. Great characters, great setup, great writing, great art. Action, humor, intrigue. It's comics done great. Can't wait for more!
I freakin' love this book! It's Warren Ellis at the top of his game, circa the late 90's when he took over Stormwatch and made it Authority. It's great!!
A couple minor gripes... 1) as much as I love Stuart Immonen's art, and as talented as he is, I wish he'd change up his faces a bit more. And I'll never understand any artist's penchant to draw man-faced women. Just don't get that. Sure, some women have strong features (big nose, heavy chin, etc.) but when an artist paints them all that way (Adam Hughes, etc) I get irked... I don't get it. 2) Machine Man. Machine Man was a fave of mine from back in the day, I just always wished he was a bit more "robot-like", and here they take him the other way, and make him appear completely human.
Like I said, minor stuff.
Most of all, this book rocks!

This is the other Warren Ellis number one issue out this week, and it's quite a bit different than his Marvel book, naturally. Black Gas is his take on zombies, but after reading this and seeing the remake of THE FOG within 24 hours. I can tell you it's a lot more similar to that film, than outright zombies. So, Black Gas treads familiar territory, shares plot points with THE FOG, and relies on some silly plot devices to execute the story, but I still liked it. Ellis gets you caught up in the characters, and puts you on their survival horror path. A path I almost always enjoy. I'm down for more, but not blown away (no pun on the earlier referenced, but not revealed, plot device intended).

IN CASE U MISSED IT: Larsen on change in comics... HERE HERE!

Okay pop over to CBR.com to read Erik Larsen's latest ONE FAN'S OPINION, and the pop back here for my thoughts...

Got it!
And here's a big ol' endorsement on that take from me (if you didn't read the column yet, Larsen goes on about the lack of any actual change EVER happening in corporate comics.)

As he outlines, and as anyone with a noodle of a brain can figure out, corporate owned characters can't actually change, cause the companies who own them (not creators) must maintain their properties for future, never ending revenue streams. That's the way it is, which is diametrically opposed to telling good stories. If your characters can never actually grow, the stories you can tell with them become very limited, because everything must eventually return to status-quo, and you can only string a reader along for so long. Which ya know would be okay, if the big companies actually had a way of bringing in new readers, but they don't. So we wind up where we're at now, with a dwindling fan base.

Here's the thing. It doesn't have to be that way. These big companies can have their cake, and eat it too. For a time I thought they realized it. They've got the system in place already, and it works, but they're pissing it away. You see, several years ago when Marvel successfully launched the Ultimate line, to the surprise of nearly everyone, the foundation was laid. You simply reboot, and contemporize, and low and behold, it generates interest and sales. They got that part down, the other part, the part I thought was coming, but now clearly isn't, is finishing the original stories. If you already know your rebooted books sell better, what do you have to lose? Simply take all of your titles (characters/licenses/properties) to their natural end. Tell their complete stories. Affect lasting change. Show us the full arc of their story, then put them away, and start it over again. Then you'll sell the shitload out of them across the board, because we know we're getting a complete story. We want to see where that takes us, we'll genuinely care about what happens next, it won't just be some stunt that we get pissed off about and eventually leave. We may even want to see how you handle it the next time. How you tweak it, improve on it, or how you play with our expectations.

If you're really scared about pissing off the fans who've read the current incarnations of your characters for 30 plus years, and that can have a genuine impact on your bottom line, what does that tell you about your business? You're not doing it right if that's the corner you've painted yourself into. I don't think that's where we're at, comics are too vibrant a medium to be toppled by one faction of uptight fanboys. Get some stones and take some chances. For, I think, the benefit of all.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


Crisis in Infinite Shops is a new weekly feature for TSL, but what is it?

Well, because the "big two" publishers are in the midst of neverending company-wide full-throttle, take-no-prisoners crossover marketing events, squeezing every possible dollar out of the current fanbase, I thought I'd do a feature highlighting books from OTHER publishers shipping each week. With all the marketing muscle the big companies are throwing around on these "stunt books", any extra buzz about other products, pulling fewer dollars thanks to these heavy hitters, can only help! It's a crisis in every local comic shop, but if we all do our part...

So, I'll pick a selection of books out of each week's shipping list that aren't from the uber-companies. They're not necessarily books I'm even buying, or reading in every case, but they're all quality mags that deserve the attention!
Let's do it!

Warren Ellis Black Gas #1
Godland #7 (or if you haven't checked out the swanky-cool series yet, the Godland trade paperback volume 1)
The Savage Dragon #122
Local #3
Blame volume 3
The Surrogates #4
Street Fighter II #2

Some good stuff there, and something for every taste. You could really benefit from sampling these fine books, and so could the publishers. It's a win-win!


Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Super Real Notes - Webcomics

Super Real Notes are a production diary for my book, and an in depth, behind the scenes look at self publishing.
As of Monday, Super Real is again running on GraphicSmash.com as a webcomic, running issue 2 on the web (mostly before it's available in print). I thought I'd tackle why that's happening, and how having the book featured as a webcomic factors into the gameplan. To do that, we'll need to look at how this all came about.

Essentially, I was approached by the editor of GraphicSmash, T. Campbell, in late 2004 about potentially bringing Super Real to the site as one of the featured properties. GraphicSmash is the action/adventure version of the ModernTales family of subscription-based webcomic sites, the largest subscription-based webcomic network on the net. Subscription-based meaning, content is only free (and available to anyone) on the days that it's "new", and once it's "archived" (or old), it is only available to paying subscribers of the site (who pay $2.95 a month for full access). At the time, all of ModernTales.com's sites were operating under this model, currently however, there are changes afoot, to where some strips/series, will be free and supported only by adspace (the more prevalent webcomcis model). Not sure where Super Real fits into the future of these sites, if at all (and we'll touch back on that).

Basically, I'd always intended to have Super Real available on the web, in addition to print. Print was always plan A, but I saw no reason why it couldn't find some sort of digital model, where it was also available in that format (with the potential growth of this model, potentially surpassing print substantially). However, I had no background, or experience in webcomics, so my ideas were basically homegrown, and on the back burner (I'd played around with making content available on the SRG.com website many times). When the opportunity to throw in with a legitimate webcomics site came up, I saw no reason to turn it down. In my experience, print comic readers, had little to no crossover with webcomics, so I wasn't worried about losing potential print readership. I only saw it as an opportunity to get the concept more exposure.

So Super Real started running on GraphicSmash in September of 2004. At that point I was still working on issue one, so it started running there, on a weekly basis. About a page per week. Now, I say approximately, because ever since I started running it as a webcomic, it's started and stopped, and never kept even close to a regular schedule. Because of this, and because the print book went into full swing with distribution coming mid 2005, the focus has never been on maintaining or building a "web audience". Therefore, Super Real has never really had much of a "webcomics" presence, or audience. The bigger, or even more generally followed series on the web, become that way from offering steady, oftentimes daily content. More similar to newspaper strips. And Super Real is not that kind of animal (though, if I had the time, I really think I could do stuff with it, to great affect, in that vein), and it's never offered steady content.

Since GraphicSmash is a revenue based model, the creators on the site are eligible to receive payment for their strips, in theory. But there are two factors that impact any potential revenue. The first is the model itself, which is setup on a performance-based payout system, so the sites revenue is essentially split between the creators, with the percentage of payout tied to a strips performance. With the top series' pulling in the majority of the revenue. The other factor in payments, is that all of the ModernTales sites are run by one person, webcomics mogul Joey Manley. A big part of why he's moving the sites, and business models, in new directions (WebcomicsNation, ad-based), is because he's essentially become overwhelmed in a backlog of bookkeeping and code writing. The bottom line is, while there is money tied to webcomics, it's mainly only a very few, highly successful, series that make in kind of real revenue.

Any way, after starting issue two online briefly last year, the webcomic had been in limbo for months. I'd seriously considered discontinuing it, and moving it over to WebcomicsNation, the new ModernTales upstart for a creator controlled model of webcomics (for those of you who don't know, WebcomicsNation is a great place for any potential creator to get their work on the web. An all-in-one service, similar to Blogger or other blog sw sites, that offers everything one needs to publish comics on the web, for rock bottom prices). After discussions with T, we've settled on at least finishing issue two on GraphicSmash, and then going from there, in terms of coming to a decision for Super Real on the web.

So, as of now, the complete second issue is running on GraphicSmash.com HERE
It's updating daily 'til next Wednesday, 2/1/06, when it will return to weekly Wednesday updates. Updating a new, never before seen page each week, 'til it concludes in early May (just in time for the print version of number 3 to hit shops).

If you want to get a peek at pages from issue two before hits shops in a few weeks, tune into GraphicSmash and check them out! Issue one is also completely available in the archives, it is however (except for the first chapter), only viewable via subscription (once we get further into the series, I plan to make at least the first issue available online for free). That gives anyone interested in the series, another option, for the time being, to check it out, or potentially discover it. In the future, we'll see. I'm not sure how well Super Real fits on GraphicSmash, under which model (subscription/pay, ad-based/free), or even as a "webcomic" at all.

Ultimately, I'd like to have a setup, where each issue is available online at a low cost, say around $1 an issue to view/download. And then, depending on how digital viewing plays out, I definitely want to have it available in those formats/options as well (PSP, Sony reader, iPod, etc.).


Sunday, January 22, 2006


Been too busy to highlight books lately, but there were a few really good or interesting one's lately I wanted to mention here...

This one's been getting a lot of buzz, and it's well deserved. Not only is Khari Evans artwork sexy, it's really impressive, his attention to detail, linework, and character/style are all great! It's also a really fun read.

X-Statix/X-Force was my favorite book in recent years, so I'm elated to have more from the creative team. Allred just collabs on the art here though, and Nick Dragotta, the main artist, is massive... where did this guy come from? What else has he done? WOW!
The story is a ton of fun too, Dr Strange has never been my fave, but he's a treat in this one...

I was a HUGE fan of the first Marvel Mangaverse. I loved the creators involved, and most of the books were a treat visually as well as cool new spins on the characters. I really like seeing a more contemporary version of the Marvel U (similar to Ulimates) then the drawn-out, out-dated, and generally over-done regular books. This version is decent so far, solid art, decent story.

Grant Morrison is my favorite writer. Frank Quitely's one of the best in the biz. Yet they still surpass my expectations, and that's after already setting the bar pretty damn high with issue one. This is great, great stuff!

This series with a Bendis driven story, and Luna-powered art continues to be solid. It's a slow burn, but a good one.

I also wanted to spotlight a couple smaller books...
The first is LULLABY
I'd been meaning to check this out for a while, I really like Hector Sevilla's art (he's doing the variant cover to issue 3 btw), and the fantasy classics with a twist is always fun. I finnaly snagged an issue, issue two, and I really enjoyed it. It was a bit hard to follow, but I liked it enough to read it again, and I think I'm up to speed. Good stuff

The second is GORY LORI
The solicit in Previews on this one intrigued me, it's zombies, but with a plucky female lead. Now, I'd passed on countless other zombie books, but with my recent heightend interest in zombie flicks, I've started to sample some of the books. Gory Lori is not for everyone. The art is a touch subpar at times, but moslty richly detailed and full of personality. The story is a bit light, but fun enough to tune in for more. I'll pick up the next book.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Comic Thoughts

Well, It's decided, after reading so much about a couple books, I must seek them out (or more likely, pick them up next time I see them) - The books in question?
Elk's Run
Dragon Head

Elk's Run is an indy comic with heaps of praise, that I'd never heard a lick about story-wise. After coming across a brief review, the story sounds interesting, and that with the accolades has me sold on a closer look... Now to just find it. Look, I'm not burning for it enough to go online and pay cash, so I'll grab it at a shop, or most likely at one of the bigger upcoming cons (WonderCon perhaps?)

Dragon Head is a manga from TPop that sounds right up my alley (or anyone who enjoys TV's LOST, or comic's WALKING DEAD, ie survival drama/horror). Thing is, I love manga, but you know, the bulk of the shoujo, shonen, sh-somethin-er-other stuff that's rolled out there is not for me (it's for those teenage/pre-teen girls and boys at the bookshops). What I've read of Dragon's premise though, and the rave reviews, has me all up in this one though...
Go HERE for one of the reviews on it.

Gettin' funky on the website tip

Just updated the SRG.com main page with a new ultra-clean/uber-enhanced layout. More content, less clutter... all killer, no filler... you know.

Let me know what you think!
Anything I didn't think of, or more functionality it's lacking?
Any broken doo-dads I didn't catch?
Anyone get all tingly like me when they look at it? (okay, I'm stretching now)

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Super Real Notes - Schedules

Super Real Notes are a production diary for my book, and an in depth look at self publishing.

As I've mentioned, the last week and a half has been crunch time.
First, I was behind deadline to get issue 2 to the printers, because, well, I was behind on the artwork/production.
Second, I had the deadline to get files/solicit copy to the distributor to keep issue three solicited on my schedule I'm hoping to settle into.

So let's go into detail on the two deadlines a bit. Exercise some demons for me, and share some tidbits for you kiddies in TSL blogland.

1) Issue 2 files to the printer

As I discussed at length in the last notes section, Super Real is currently being printed by Regent Publishing Services, who have offices in New York, but print out of China. Being that they're overseas, their leadtime is a bit longer than a domestic printer, about 7 weeks.

Now, with a 7 week leadtime, and a release month of February for issue two, my drop dead date to have files to them and still have a hope for shipping on time had already past by the time I was freed up from my seasonal job. I had held out hope that I could put everything together by Monday the 9th, to still stand a chance, with some luck in cutting down the leadtime, of shipping the books by February. As it turns out, it took me a week beyond that, and I just finished sending the files Monday evening. (The rub here being, I could've rushed and gotten it out sooner, but this is my baby, so I like to massage the hell out of it, and make it the best it can be dang it!)

Also, in talking with the printer this last week regarding leadtime, it appears we have Chinese New Years at some point during the schedule, and things will get slowed down if anything, unfortunately. Though, I haven't received confirmation on what dates we're talking about, or how long they're shut down for the holiday.

The bottom line? It looks like issue two may ship up to a few weeks late, but it's still a little early to tell. You never know, things could go fast/smoothly, but in my experience, things tend to go the other direction. We'll see.

I'm just glad to have issue two completed.
It was a bit of a struggle, both creatively, and time wise.
It's hard work balancing self publishing with odd jobs to keep money coming.
I'm not knocking it though, I'm living my dream, and my wife's a saint to put up with the investment in time on my part (and ultimately hers), to say nothing of the financial impact.
Again, let me stress, I love it. You just really, or at least I do, get so caught up in the endless demands, business and creative, from doing 100% of everything, that it takes a toll. It's not all roses, yet... (I'm still learning folks), but there's nothing I'd rather be doing.
That mainly speaks to the business part of the issue two struggle, as I said creatively, this book was tough too.

Mostly, it's the nature of story, and where we're at with issue two. We're still setting things up, and I want to get to the part, just like the readers, where we play with all these cool toys. That's issue three. And yay, it's here.
As much as the artist side would love to skip some of this stuff, the storyteller won't, or can't allow it. The story is really born from all of this detail at the beginning, all the fun dialogue and characters stuff.
So it feels good to get it done!

2) Deadline and schedule for issue three and the series

The second, and smaller of my recently completed deadlines was having issue three set up with the distributor. You see, to be listed in Diamond's Previews catalog, product solicitation copy (the blurb in the catalog that describes the issue etc. along with, and this is the key here, the cover art) must be set up on the second Thursday of the month, four months before your product ships.

Yes, 4 months in advance.
You see, as you likely know, the Previews catalog comes out two months before the products listed are due to ship, so in order to get things rolling and set up, publishers are working many months ahead. Which is all fine and good, til that's actually YOU that's required to have things done, a season in advance, continuously. The biggest hurdle rising from this cycle is aquiring variant cover art, that far in advance (and I know the variants are another topic to cover here, as I'd love to talk about them, and why they're important to me).

Now, for new publishers, and/or new titles, Diamond also likes to see advance complete mock-ups for the first two to three issues prior to solicitation approval. You know, to try and ensure there aren't any more late comics than already plague the industry. Which means as a creator, you must have your first couple issues in the can before publishing, in theory at least.

So, here I am, trying to put together the files (and last few pages) for issue two and get that off to the printer, before I move on to the cover/s for issue three, which are due on Thursday the 12th. Well, as it became clear I wouldn't be finished with issue two in time to do this, I had to stop working on it and put together the cover for issue three, I think I started that on Tuesday PM, 36 hours to turn it out.

Well, I made the deadline, but shhh, don't tell, I haven't started work on the actual book yet. Everything's written, or I should say plotted, but there's no script yet. However, I know exactly how the book starts, and can put the script together easily as I go. But yeah, technically it should be done now, even though it doesn't come out til may, or have to go to the printers til March.
Crazy hunh?

Well anyway, the reason I stressed and labored to meet that deadline, was so issue three could be scheduled 3 months after issue 2, the same as from issue 1 to 2. I'd initially hoped to shoot for a bimonthly schedule, in 3 issue arcs, with a quarter off between, but that's now changed to tri-monthly (with hopefully no breaks) as I actually get in there and do the work.

Now you may think three months sounds like a lot of time between issues, or a long time to get them done, but trust me, when you don't work on it full time, and you do everything; the pencils, the colors, the letters, the production art, the advertising, the networking, the promotion, and all the business, shit adds up. I think 3 months is good. I like 3 months. And I look forward to the challenge of 3 months, and hopefully with a little luck, I'll be able to continue striving for that schedule for some time to come, or even be afforded the luxury of a shorter schedule. Cause I love what I do, and I love this story. I can't wait to bring it to life. I really can't.

So, back to issue three... I've got a block of time, finances providing, about a month left, where I'll have virtually slim to no daytime distractions. I plan on banging out issue three, with a smile on my face and a spring in my step! Issue three is really the issue where we start revealing a lot of what the book has to offer, and hopefully knocking some collective socks off.

In the meantime, I have to stay vigilant with promotion, and advertising, to spread the word about the buzz on issue one, and the exciting changes to come with issue three...

So please,

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Blogger bug

I started my blog, TSL, back in April 05. At the time, I had full functionality and no complaints about Blogger, but some months later my image upload functionality disappeared. No notes about it in Bloggers "known issues", no talk about it on help boards, and no response from Blogger in regards to my issue. So for months now, I've been without FTP ability directly from the blog sw, which is quite a deterrent to posting images (easily), I could still go in to my FTP site and upload things manually, but that's a time consuming drag for something like posting on a blog, where the key is ease of functionality.

Well, I finally got around to poking around Blogger today for any update on the issue, and sure enough it was a known bug. Turns out in some cases, for whatever reason, you must fill out the username and password field in Settings / Publishing tab in order for the image icon/tool to work. So sure enough, my fields were blank (as I had it set up to manually log into FTP), and once the fields were populated...
Image icon has returned, as seen here

Turns out they've even added some more formatting functionality!!

Monday, January 16, 2006


Tales From Netflix are DVD reviews, where I tell you where you should put a disc in your Netflix rental queue - placing it at the top, burying it at the bottom, or not even bothering in the first place.

It's been like 3 weeks, so here's a quick rundown of the latest batch...

Not one of Rodriquez's better movies. It's pretty much just a riff on his kids characters, with his usual quirky/techy touches we've come to expect from Spy Kids etc.
Don't bother, unless you dig on his films.(Or ya know, you're a kid)


1997, Luke Wilson, Andy Dick, Drew Barrymore, Dean Caine, and more.
Don't put this in your queue, it's boring as hell.


The Cave sucks, let's move on.
Do I really have to tell you not to put this in your queue?


A horror/slasher flick that's a bit too much by the numbers, with a couple moments of inspiration. Otherwise forgettable. And John Bon Jovi?
Put CRY WOLF at the bot... ah don't bother.

This is the one with Jennifer Connely with scary plumbing. Besides the fact that it is a movie about haunted pipes, it's surprisingly good.
Put DARK WATER at the MIDDLE of your QUEUE

fairly solid, but it's an exorcism flick. (and watch out for 3AM!!!)
Put this one at the BOTTOM of your QUEUE

It's the mean streets of Detroit, and adopted brothers seek revenge Singleton-style. Honestly, it's enjoyable, on a lower level, and the best I've seen from Singleton since his impressive Boyz in the Hood (which isn't saying much - Shaft anyone?).
Put BROTHERS in the MIDDLE of your QUEUE

Jessica Alba in a swimsuit, Paul Walker in board shorts, that's the premise right?

Oh wait there's a half-way decent story that gets needlessly drawn out. Could've been real fun if they'd exercised a bit more caution in the script/editing.

A thriller in the classic sense, fairly akin to the tone of TV's 24. Interesting, and fun, if not a bit dumb. But hey, Colby from Survivor Australia's in it!
Put RED EYE in the middle of your QUEUE

Probably the only Kate Hudson movie I've watched, and at my wife's insistence. Not bad, but ultimately hokey. Don't believe in HOODOO, don't do it, or your toast!!!
Put this one at the BOTTOM/MIDDLE (there I go again, wishy washy, too many movies) QUEUE


Yes, Smokey and the Bandit. Been on a lost gems of the late 70's kick, my wife's never seen, and you can't leave out the Bandit! Hadn't seen this in FOREVER. It's fun, and the cast still lights up the screen.
Put THE BANDIT at the TOP of your QUEUE if you haven't seen it, or the MIDDLE if it's been too long to remember.

The first one was a poor excuse for some half decent action/fisticuffs, the sequel is an even poorer excuse, for some even sillier action/fisticuffs.
Put it at the BOTTOM of your QUEUE for some eye candy.

From 2001, but we'd never seen it, and we generally watch the good, bad, but usually just-okay slasher/horror flicks (as in all of them). I actually liked the schtick for the killer here, wearing a cherub mask and killing high school classmates, but it's pretty much all been done, and it's an admittedly mild twist.
Don't bother putting this in your queue unless you're hard up, or a fan of the ex Mrs. Charlie Sheen (but that's redundant isn't it?)

Come on, who doesn't love Vince Vaughan and Owen Wilson? The movie's little more than a plot device to set these two loose, but that's fine by me.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

HEY DJ! - Garbage lives on your PC

Early last September we went and saw Garbage perform when they hit town, my wife got us tickets earlier that summer. I wasn't too hyped to see them as they'd not really excited me much lately.
It was a really good show though (I'd never seen them previously), and their new album did grow on me...

Any way, the local alternative station 94/7FM has started a series of concert broadcasts, and the latest is some of the Garbage performance we were at. It will be available through Monday AM HERE
It's should be worth a listen, and apparently they're rumored to be breaking up.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

IN CASE U MISSED IT: Steven Grant VS the Sony eReader

Okay, so I've read Steven Grant's column off and on for years, so when I heard the annual Consumer Electronics Show was rolling in Vegas, I knew we'd get some notes from the floor courtesy of his MASTER OF THE OBVIOUS column on CBR. Steven mentions it every year as he's a bit of a tech-head, and from Las Vegas.

Sure enough, Steven checks in this week with his summary of this year's CES. Not only that, but he tackles the newly mentioned Sony eReader that various comics sites/folks (including myself) have keyed in on. Which is great, cause he's got a hands-on view of the device and speculation for it's role. Check it out (from the column):

Frankly, it's great. About the height and width of a medium-sized trade paperback (roughly two thirds the size of a comic book), a third of an inch thick, about 9 oz. Good screen, non-reflective with no backlight, so it imitates a printed page almost perfectly. The screen in crisp, no blur, and type can be adjusted to four sizes. It's not a game unit, it's strictly for reading, under normal reading circumstances. It has very few controls, but it has two sets of them to accommodate different ways people have of handling books. Power consumption is minimal, and it uses power only when turning pages (i.e., rewriting the screen) with a single battery charge having an estimated 10,000 page life. One fairly long book will easily fit into about one megabyte of memory, so a one gigabyte stick of memory can hold roughly 1000 books: whole libraries.

I liked it, but I doubt it'll revolutionize either the book or comics business, though Sony's clearly banking on it. They've obviously built it to be the iPod of books, with similar thinking behind it, and that's its flaw. Everything's proprietary, a system designed to make the originating company money on all ends.

and be sure and check out the rest of his thoughts on the device, and his column HERE

Key thing I didn't realize/think of, is that it's black and white only disply. That coupled with the proprietary technology/software and it sounds like the perfect digital comic reader is still pending... but perhaps closer at hand!

Monday, January 09, 2006

Super Real notes - Printing (overseas)

The last, and actually first, installment of the new Super Real notes, touched on some aspects of printing as one of the many topics. Fellow blogger Cary brought up the question regarding why I chose to print overseas, and that's actually a great question to cover in this here section, so I'll go ahead and answer that here, at length (cause I'm a long-winded muther-f'er)...

Here's the story,
Late 2004 (I was gonna say last year, but that would be wrong, as it's now ought-six), I had the good fortune of being a guest at a New England comic show, and the promoter wanted to have a 1000 print-run Super Real show exclusive book. Well, he'd worked with a couple other independent publishers for similar promotions, Super Real Graphics friends Arcana and Viper, and they were able to get him a full color book for a certain sum of money. So the promoter asked if I could get him a similar deal. Well, the price he was looking to spend was wayyyy low for a color book, and was actually low for black and white, low run, from what I'd seen. I suspected the companies he'd worked with were doing higher print runs, and piggy-backing their variants for him off existing print jobs, to save moola. Turns out they were, but in talking to them, I got hooked up with an overseas printer, LampPost.

LampPost had offices in LA but printed out of Korea, the uh, good Korea...
They actually quoted low-run, 2 to 3k, full color books in the neighborhood of like .60 cents each. A great price. The only catch was their leadtimes were longer, since, well, they were printing on the other side of the Pacific, about 6 weeks at the time.

So anyway, couldn't get the books turned around in time, so he settled for black and white, and we did 1k via Quebecor. This is the Super Real - Larry's Comics Preview, that even made a price listing in Wizard last year (ought-five).

Thing was, we paid the same for 1k black and white as we could've for 2k color with LampPost.

So time goes by and I hang on to my quotes for color books via LampPost, and meantime I'm wrangling distribution with Diamond.
Now Diamond distribution is a whole 'nother never-ending story, so we'll leave that be for now.
Like I was saying, time goes by, and we're into early summer of 05, and on the eve of San Diego Comic Con, while on vacation in Disneyland, I get the approval from Diamond. However, to solicit for November, I need to get them my solicit info for issue one ASAP. By mid July.
Now I'd been in limbo for a release date, and didn't want to hold things back so I shot for that scenario. Based on the numbers I'd received a few months prior from LampPost, I thought I could make a go at full color, so that's how I solicited in Previews.

I'd always wanted to do full color, for many reasons (again could fill a column on that), so I went ahead. Fully knowing my margins, brutal as they are on a low print book (once more, another column here folks), would be slim to none, even at the LampPost prices. My hopes were that I could find some other printers that could compete with their quote, and I'd be fine.

Well, I quickly found out LampPost's prices had gone up, and there wasn't really any North American comic printers who could come close to their numbers, not even remotely. However, while at Comic Con I'd heard rumors of a Chinese printer who had possibly even better pricing, and then towards the end of the show, I'd received a packet from their rep that was left with my lovely wife while I was away. This was Regent Publishing Services.

After getting back from the con I contacted Regent, and found out their prices, for the numbers I was looking at, 3 to 5000, were comparable to LampPost. At the time however, buzz was that LampPost was having problems with leadtimes, something I was already concerned about with overseas printing.

The rep at Regent was a nice guy, and I hadn't heard anything bothersome about their leadtimes (which they quoted as 6 to 8 weeks), so I decided to go with them for issue one.

Overall, I'm satisfied with the decision (especially in light of the way things played out with LampPost), and how the books turned out. Regent offers quality at good prices, and they got the job done in a timely fashion. There were certainly plenty of headaches along the way, but again, that's another story...

So, bottom line, if you want to print low run, entry level Diamond numbers - 1 to 5k, and print in color, you pretty much have to print overseas (or perhaps negotiate gang run prices if you're a larger/intermediate level publisher) to have the printing costs be under your net per book from Diamond. You see, Diamond pays 40% at most for your books, as they turn around and offer them at roughly 50% discount to retailers. Even at overseas prices, color printing leaves very little margin for books in that range. So, between the changing landscape of printers, and the continuing shrinkage of the small press market from bigger publishers squeezing more and more sales via marketing stunts, small press books that try to offer color are in a precarious state.

As touched on earlier, in light of LampPost discontinuing comic printing (except for Alias Comics, which has the same co-owner), everyone is switching to Regent, the printer I used, making them rather popular, and subsequently rather busy at the moment.

As I'd already listed issue two as full color via Previews/Diamond, I've gone through Regent again for it as well. So in the next few days I'll be FTPing them my files and the book will print and ship from China, via boat. Yes, boat. Kinda crazy hunh? (Although I should note, their offices are in New York.)

So, if anyone's heard of a lower-run comic book printer with competitive color pricing, be sure and let me know, otherwise, I may be looking at black and white for future issues...
I'd really like to continue in color though, as it's key to my artistic process, so who knows. Not to mention, as I continue to build business with Regent, I may wind up staying with them. They've treated me well so far.

So that's the story of how Super Real is printed, and why the books must first sail the pacific prior to reaching comic shops, hopefully with some helpful information along the way.


Friday, January 06, 2006


Here's some cool columns and news items from this past week:

Steven Grant's Master of the Obvious features a nice summary of the current state of the industry, where he does a nice job of presenting the myths of the industry, and how they're holding us back. Basically a mild call-to-arms that the industry needs. Those who speak of how well it's doing are short-sighted at best.

Robert Kirkman's Buy My Books focuses on "how to break into comics", and he does a good job of giving the straight talk to those considering a comic book career. He's brutally honest, and more often than not, spot on in his comments here.

Over on Newsarama, they have a small piece on billionaire mogul Richard Branson stepping into comic book publishing with his company Virgin. This is a bit of an odd news item, but certainly someone of his wealth and stature playing in the industry could potentially be positive. Check out the details HERE
Yes, VIRGIN COMICS, you read right...

Buzzscope has some new columns, and more pending, included is Tania Del Rio's Read This Way. Today's column muses about the backlash to manga terminology stateside, from all angles. An interesting topic as we move forward with more and more manga-style US content. It is all comics, but as with music, movies, and other entertainment/art, folks like to break things down into categories and sub-categories...

Buzzscope also gave us Industry Buzz #4, where they gather some industry folks to look at 2005 and the year ahead in terms of what's happening, big picture in comics. Interesting.

And last, we have TheBeat's Heidi MacDonald reporting on an item from the floor of the Consumer Electronics Show about the new Sony Reader, and it's manga/comics digital viewing abilities. Speculating about it being another weapon in the arsenal of mounting digital tools for comic viewing. Check it out HERE
As I've been saying, it's just a matter of time before the right hardware gives a viable option to the portable digital viewing of comics, once the tool is found, there's no looking back. It's simply too expensive for print to remain a viable option for mass distribution, in comparison to digital...

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Super Real notes

I'm going to try something different...
I've had the blog since April, but I was really just warming up for once Super Real was actually released, and had a chance at grabbing some eyes.
Well the book came out late November, but a combination of the holidays, and work (as in besides this wonderful comic book project) has left me with very little time to update TSL, the Super Real blog.
Well, the holidays have gone, and my seasonal job (lets never speak of it again) has ended, so I'm going to try and spend a little more time here.

I thought I'd start by including a new "behind the scenes" feature, with notes about production of the book (a peek behind the curtain). We'll see how well it's received. I know a lot of people read TSL, so I'd just like to implore you to go ahead and leave some feedback, to let me know if you're interested in what I'm saying.

That said, here's a little taste of where Super Real's at right now, it's a very crucial, and exciting time for the book.

I'm currently wrangling ads and ad swaps for issue two, which should go to press in the next week. It's due out in February, but prints overseas, so we'll see if we can get it turned around in time to hit our release schedule.
Issue one made it out in time, via the same overseas printer, so we're off to a good start, but I'm a tad late getting issue two underway, so the clock is ticking rather loudly.

Speaking of issue two, the numbers, or rather PO from Diamond, just came in. I'd like to share the numbers with you, but I'm looking to firm up some details with the distributor first, so stay tuned on that.
I can tell you, that even though we shipped number one after solicitation of number two, and did a promotion for an extra 1000 copies to shops, the numbers on number two still took the standard 40% drop in sales. I'd hoped to avoid that one folks, but it's unfortunately a reality of the current biz. It's cut-throat/do-or-die in the independent trenches. Mind you, this is a new product from an unknown, and even though I love our variant cover for issue two, Edward Pun is an unknown too, not a "name" like the super-cool Josh Howard that did our number one cover. So at least all the efforts made issue two succeed at the level it did. There's some silver lining here.
Not to mention the online support with some interviews, and reviews of number one.
Which was a bit of a catch-22, as I mostly did advance reviews on number one, leaving the online review community mostly tapped out for the actual release. I'm looking to change that with issue two.

Aside from that, things don't let up a bit. This is crunch time. Issue three solicitation must be set up with Diamond by next Thursday, and any promotions through them to tie into the May release/March Previews must be set up and timed. I'm looking at doing free posters to all shops, versus the half page Previews ads I'd been running. Mix things up a bit and try a different tactic to get the book in front of retailers. Especially since issue three is our breakthrough issue!

Yeah, you heard it here first, issue three will set the comic world on fire! I mean, it's when we get our characters in nano-costume, enhanced, and start to reveal all the crazy ideas and secrets for the book. It's gonna be nuts! Not to mention, the artwork's been developing over the first two issues and should start to kick more ass as we go along (if that's possible - please note: this last statement was a bit of hyperbole, I am in fact always striving to improve the ass-blasting ability of my artwork).

Oh yeah, which brings me to the other thing I've got to get really focused on, conventions!
It's already only one month away from my first ever WONDERCON!!
That's right, convention season '06 kicks off on February 10th, with COMIC-CON INTERNATIONAL's San Francisco show, WONDERCON.
Super Real will be in the artist alley for that one, and hopefully featured in the program too.
The wife, and even dog, and I are making a weekend getaway out of it, driving down from Portland (about a 10 hour trek). Should be fun!

At this point I have several shows planned:
2/10-2/12 San Francisco WONDERCON
3/05 Portland Comic Book Show
3/17-3/19 WIZARD WORLD Los Angeles - tenative
4/01-4/02 Seattle EMERALD CITY COMIC CON

A whole west coast tour!
I'm still deciding if I'll venture out further and add any other dates...

Exciting times!


IN CASE U MISSED IT: Eww purty...

Too bad it's a book and not a comic...

I SAW IT ON TV: Battlestar returns!

I saw a post in a forum that Battlestar Galactica was returning this week...

and sure enough
it is!

Don't miss out on part two of season two starting Friday!!!

Monday, January 02, 2006


No contest...


Narnia was boring, and uninspired, but technically sound. I loved the books as a child, but it really felt like a half hour, to an hour, worth of story, drawn out way too long (kind of like this sentence).

Kong, though self indulgent, and at times over the top, was massive movie-screen magic, a sight to behold, and masterfully done. From the writing to the acting, directing, and of course the effects!
A must see movie.