Wednesday, 16 May 2012

The Scene

Hopefully this will eschew the theories that the main character of the book is based on me. For starters I don't even have a beard at the moment... 

Having taken the last couple of days to catch up on sleep, de-stress and give my advance copy of Mr. Plympton's new book a much-enjoyed read, I'm recovered and back to my usual, bloggy self. Hurrah! Later on tonight (knock wood) I'll be conducting perhaps my most intimidating interview yet, for childhood-association reasons. So to stave off anxiety for a little while I may as well report on the Bristol Comic Expo, at which "Throat" made its scintillating debut!
Okay, maybe 'scintillating' isn't the most accurate term, but through glass-half-full eyes the venture was a success; I managed to get a lot of info handed out, glean some thoughts and advice from fellow exhibitors and even shifted some copies of "Throat" to both well-wishing friends and complete strangers - I'm on the fence as to which is more awesome, but either way it's a lovely feeling. Also quite cool was coming home to an unexpected boost of online sales which also included some copies of the "House Guest" adaptation.
Myself and the delightful Jo Hepworth who helped out with the first book. Note my solidarity for Doug Stanhope's short-lived presidential campaign: He might still surprise ya!

Wandering around and checking out the other independent ware-touters was somewhat eye-opening: To have written and illustrated a 230-page graphic novel without a publisher sees me somewhat anomalous, although it might be more accurate to use the phrase 'farcically nearsighted' or 'misguided to the point of idiocy'. Most of the non-represented indie guys'n'gals were going the more realistic route of free giveaways or charging small change for mini-comics. The main recurring factor of these would be one that I'm sure seems extraordinarily catty given my low standing on the totem pole:
They're NONSENSICAL. Deceptively constructed like comic strips with a fundamental absence of context or humour; For the most part they're just inexplicably cartoonised, entirely random minutiae from the average day of the writer,  which end before any kind of setup (let alone payoff) has even been established.  A bit like "Garfield Minus Garfield", without the metaphysical ingenuity. And if you think I'm one of those blowhards so cowed by the notion of online feuding and hurting strangers' feelings that I won't be listing any of them by're 100% correct.
"Okay, chinless, what makes YOUR comic so fucking great, then?" 
Well, humble reader, I don't rightly know, and that 'chinless' remark cuts deep. I can't speak impartially for "Throat", although I guarantee its sense of humour won't be for everyone. I did put a lot of work into fine-tuning it from a structural perspective, however, and canvassed a range of opinions from people I respect on a professional level, as mentioned previously . From that I was able to get enough candid, critical feedback on what needed to be fixed to assume, reasonably, that the positives I got were genuine enough.
So, I'm not sure if I'm going about this the right way. Maybe I've gotten ahead of myself and need to rethink my strategy - is shorter form the way to go, and if so is there a way I can have that work for me as far as "Throat" is concerned?
The first step in terms of shaping how I plan to proceed is outlining what I'd consider the main tiers of 'success' for this type of venture. In hierarchical order, these would be:

1) Selling enough stock to make back all the money I've put into the book's promotion and marketing, including public appearances and giving copies out as gifts.
2) Generating enough revenue from expos and online sales to get any type of notable return on said investment.
3) As above, while factoring in the (mostly free) time spent working on the book itself so that the profit might amount to a salary, of sorts, which would cover that period.
4) Getting enough attention and visibility to fast-track the book to the types of market outreach schemes that would lead to national sales and store distribution.
5) Getting published outright, on a national level.
6) Getting published internationally.
7) Getting published in any respect, with enough subsequent sales to warrant continuous printing.
8) Becoming a millionaire, leading Molly Parker to leave her family for me whilst having no qualms about dressing like Alma Garret for the rest of our days.

While 1 and 2 only really apply to "Throat", I've made it to 4 with the "House Guest" graphic novel and 3 with all the rest (save for the "Mitchells In England" collections, which I don't push and I doubt would sell enough for it to be worth it anyway) on online sales alone, so I know it's possible. I suppose it's down to my own stick-to-it-iveness from this point on. So keep your eyes skinned, folks, if for no other reason than the delicious potential for schadenfreude if I fall on my arse.
To end things on a perky note, here are a handful of some of the more inspiring works I came across, mostly from the Markosia crowd:



Independent spirit, yo.

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