The Art of Mockingbird

September 21, 2018 — Leave a comment

…and here is a wonderful take on Diana (from the Mockingbird comic, of course) by the ridiculously talented Jenn St Onge.

A Return to the Lakes

September 17, 2018 — Leave a comment

Four weeks to go till the Lakes International Comic Art Festival and lookee here, I’m an exhibitionist! Or exhibitor (you decide).

I will of course endeavour to keep you informed about all the action in the build-up to this wonderful gathering of sequential-loving folk, as I drag my box of delights up to Kendal again – with maybe a couple of extra surprises too! Tantalising? Indeed.

To read more about me (and who wouldn’t?)* why not click here? https://www.comicartfestival.com/exhibitor/flix-gillett

*That ‘who wouldn’t?’ is rhetorical by the way, please don’t leave a list of detailed comments explaining exactly why you wouldn’t. Many thanks. Smiley face.

Anyone for Seconds?

This is the interesting stage. And by interesting, I probably don’t really mean interesting. Or at least, not just interesting, but other words that I’m about to unpack, if you feel inclined to continue reading. Interested?

In my limited experience of selling self-produced work there are a couple of stages with which I am familiar.

Stage 1: The initial sprint out of the blocks is welcomed by the natural euphoria of finally having something to show and something to sell. Friends and family warmly greet you with their genuine congratulations and, pleasingly, their support in the form of purchasing a copy of your aforementioned ‘self-produced work’. (In this case, Mockingbird: Nightmare on Another Planet – in case you forgot why we’re all here. Smiley face.)

This stage is wonderful. But you should not be fooled into thinking this is how’s it going to be from now on, because there is Stage 2.

Stage 2: Like the anecdotally difficult second album, there will be a small challenge after Stage 1. This can described with the questioning phrase “What now?” Your main audience (friends, family, followers on social media) will have made their happy purchases, but that can’t be the end – can it? Getting your creation into the hands of a NEW AUDIENCE is a slightly longer road than Stage 1.

I know I said ‘small challenge’ but really this is where a strategy and a plan is needed, and certain amounts of endurance and tenacity. As I alluded to last month.

(By the way, don’t expect any great insights, I am essentially winging it and making this up as I go. “I noticed.” Thanks.)

My current plan is to build a new audience. I think one of the strings on the bow in doing this is to get the comic into the comic shops. Simples. (Sorry.)

So far, the kindly people at Orbital (in London) have kindly taken 5 copies (sale or return), and I’m in conversation with Gosh, Page 45, Dave’s Comics and Forbidden Planet. I will keep you posted on progress, but if you live in our capital city, do visit Orbital and buy Mockingbird (hey, I’ll lend you the tenner if you like!).

I even boosted (as they call it) a recent advert I posted on Facebook. I’ve done this before with mixed results (I got a lot of Likes but none of them seemed to turn into anything more than that).

Finding the right avenue to walk your comic down isn’t straight forward, and does seem to require a few hazy trips down certain roads, mainly to confirm they are not the path you should be taking.

Yes, there are conventions to attend and pushing one’s online presence on that Twitter, Instagram et al. But there is still this nagging feeling in the back of my brain-head that maybe I should just… write and draw some new material!!

(That deserved two exclamation marks.)

By the way, I’m not sure what Stage 3 looks like. Feel free to tell me.

Oh, did I mention we’re now on a second print run of the book? I should have said this earlier (according to Blogging 101). Soz, teach.

The Comic Has Landed

December 1, 2017 — Leave a comment

Howdy Mock-fans! Here is the comic as advertised on various social media outlets. For the quick link simply hitch a mouse ride here.

Drawing the Inhuman

October 27, 2017 — 2 Comments

I’ll be honest with you, I’m not a big fan of Marvel’s Inhumans.

I recall the Fantastic Four had a fair few encounters with them, and I remember really enjoying that excellent story when Triton popped into the Negative Zone to rescue Mr Fantastic (“Not so fantastic now, eh?” I think he uttered).

I also liked the idea of Crystal as Johnny Storm’s girlfriend. But then I’m always a fan of temporary team changes (especially when they aren’t simply about increasing sales.)

And Black Bolt’s power of talking loudly is kinda’ fun, in that he can’t even mutter under his breath without knocking out someone’s eardrums or causing a child’s Lego tower to crumble (“Now THAT was a waste of a Saturday afternoon!”). I’m sure it’s a bit of a pain for him too. I hear he likes Lego.

The fact that Maximus relies on his intellect and influence without particularly showy super powers, yet seems to be their main adversary is also intriguing.

Yeah, so like I said, I’m not a big fan.

But now there’s a telly show all about them, so I thought I’d show you some of my Inhuman doodles. And by ‘inhuman’ I don’t mean my drawing style, I mean…. oh, you know what I mean.

(For the unfamiliar this is Crystal, Maximus, Black Bolt and Medusa.)

If you’d like to see more drawings feel free to do the click thing here or here. No presh.

The End of the Beginning

That went a lot better than I was expecting! As you know, dear readers, when we last met/spoke/conversed I had quietly released Mockingbird: Nightmare on Another Planet from its digital chains to run free into the wilds as a 128 page printed edition! Well, would you believe them apples – there were scores of comic-loving predators just lying in wait, ready to snaffle up this sequential prey as it crossed their virtual sights.

(And if you can forgive for me for not speaking in metaphor for just a second as I slightly remove the mask of my well-crafted and convincing madcap persona) I’d like to say a genuine thank you to everyone who purchased a copy. Your support, kind words, encouragement and loose change means a great deal to me. I have a firm handshake waiting in my pocket for every one of you!

So combined with my recent trip up to the Lakes International Comic Art Festival last weekend, and managing to convince the unsuspecting Kendal public that a sci-fi comic book was the ideal accompaniment to a slice of mint cake, I can announce we’re going for a second printing!

That’s right, the word ‘finally’ which I used when informing you that Mockingbird was now in hard copy form, was not a ‘finally’ equals ‘final’ and as such ‘the end of this story’. But rather, the beginning of the next stage.

Admittedly, where-to next, and how to get there, are the immediate and pertinent questions. Godda’ have a plan, a strategy, a vision. I FEEL A MOTIVATIONAL TALK COMING ON!

“Please don’t.” Okay…

One of the great opportunities of attending comic festivals is the chance to chat to reviewers, comic shops and influencers, and actually place my work in their hands – along with a simpering smile and a crushed five pound note furtively posted into their shirt pocket, accompanied by a self-conscious, hesitantly executed wink and moist, salty pat on the shoulder.

Additionally meeting a new audience and seeing them purchase your precious creation is fantastic (some of whom may even have joined us here, reading this blog).

“That makes three of us now.” No need for that.

I’m running out of space, so maybe we can continue this chat next time?

For now, spread the news, Mocketeers, a second launch is imminent. (And I might make more of a song and prance about it this time.)

There are only a few copies of the initial run left, if you or your buds are desperate to obtain one of these as a prized ‘first print’ possession. I know them avid collector types think this way!

High fives all round.

Postscript. If you like photos, I posted a few from the comic festival here.

I’m off to a land where fictional characters roam free, and artists laze on the banks of rivers flowing with Indian Ink, as origami birds lay putty rubber eggs in papier mache trees. That’s right, I’m off to the Lakes International Comic Art Festival in Kendal!

And for those who don’t know geography, that’s near the top end of the United Kingdom*.

And for those who don’t know my personal geography, I live at the other end of the United Kingdom!

“Surely there are other comic events closer to home, Flicko?”

You’re right, gentle reader, but the Lakes International Comic Art Festival, as well as being a mouthful, is one of those wondrous places where the whole town is transformed into a haven of sequential art. This is more than just a scout hall full of grubby men in black t-shirts thumbing through the latest issue of Super Lady and her saucy pout (no offence).

This is the kind of event that encompasses the whole of the medium from kids comics through to the European stuff (that’s a technical term) with Asterix, Tintin, Moomins, etc. as well as the men who wear masks and punch things**.

Even the shops get in on the act with windows displaying 2D replicas of Dennis the Menace, Krazy Kat, Usagi Yojimbo and of course, Super Lady and her saucy pout.

Have a look for yourself right here.

It’s the ideal place to meet like-minded individuals who may very well be interested in the exciting space adventures of a young girl on a far distant planet, battling off the unwanted attentions of some hairy aliens whilst trying to get her homework completed on time! (I hope by now you realise that’s a description of my comic – Mockingbird: Nightmare on Another Planet. If not, seriously, go to the back of the class… don’t dawdle… I can wait.)

“Does this mean…?” (Permission to bate your breath.)

Yes, I’m going to print a few copies to take me with me. I’ll also drag along a bunch of my old comics as freebies, to entice the nervous and naive, like a short bald spider, into my web of irresistible sales banter***.

This does also mean I’ll have some books to sell at this end of the country too. My plan is to print about 50, with the intention of passing a few of them to reviewers and comic shops. But (talking the bottom line now) if I manage to sell 25 at a tenner a pop, that will cover costs nicely.

I’ve put it in the website Shoppe for those who may be interested (click here) but do feel free to ‘stop me and buy one’ in real life if you and your purse are in the neighbourhood.

If you recall my last blog post, regular readers, I floated this as a possible idea back then.

“Yes, nice floater, Flix.” Er, thanks?

On that note I will bid you a fond adieu and endeavour to keep you updated on progress! Yes, let’s call it PROGRESS… in caps!

 

* Anywhere above the M25 is ‘near the top end’ to a southerner.
** In the real world this would be a description of ‘bad guys’, ironic eh?
*** I have no sales banter, only the resistible variety. “You’re fired!”****
**** TM Sir Alan Lord Sugar.

Printing Comics in the Future

Following on from my last electronic missive, I believe we ended on the tantalising question of whether I’m finally going to print the graphic novel ‘Mockingbird: Nightmare on Another Planet’, or continue to let it gather cyber-dust on the cyber-shelves of the Kindle Bros et al.

“Sorry, tantalising for whom?”

I’m glad you asked! Here are the various options. All of them involve the acceptance that there’s no guarantee I will make my money back on any financial outlay in print costs. Feel free to accuse me of being negative!

“You’re being negative, Flicko!” – I guess I asked for that.

To Kickstart or not to Kickstart: Whilst Kickstarter is a great method for raising funds (this opinion is based on no direct experience), and though it understandably requires a lot of work promoting your ‘campaign’, my main hesitancy is whether I have a big enough following to ensure my target will be reached (and remember fans, if you don’t reach your target you don’t get no mambo).

Also I feel I need to do it right the first time. I don’t want to be in a situation where I’m dragging the same ol’ material out again and again, trying to convince the donating public this flogged mule with its tongue hanging out really is worth your coinage… this time… please.

“You’re being negative, Flicko!” – I guess I asked for that.

Personal Finance: Or I could print up a limited bunch of hard copies, with the intention of getting them into the hands of reviewers. Y’know, create a buzz in the comic community! Of course, I need to have a follow up plan if I’m doing this. It’s no good receiving a positive review if the book can’t actually be purchased.

The other possibility with a limited print run would be to send them to comic shops to see if they’d commit to buying copies to put on their shelves. In a way, I would be the distributor.

I’m not sure about this approach. Mainly as most comic shops are ‘sale or return’ so the money risk would be on me… again.

“You’re being negative, Flicko!” – You can stop now.

Advance Orders: Here’s a thought I had the other day, which isn’t dissimilar to Kickstarter. More of a personalised version. What if I sold advance copies? I would commit to printing a bunch anyway, but advertise and promote it as far as I could, with the hope that some of the costs would be offset by advance sales, so it wasn’t just my wallet involved when the time came for paying the piper… I mean, the printer. It’s not like publishers don’t do this already, is it?

Personal Finance Plus: Now this is a bit of a crazy option. How about I print a bunch (say, 100) and just give them away? (Or ask for a suggested donation?) I wonder if by Control-Zedding the fear of having to cover costs; by removing that concern altogether I can just focus on getting this wonderful tale of space adventure into the welcoming hands of the reading public!

“Now you’re talking, Flicko!” – Yes, I thought you’d like that last option.

Or maybe even a combination of some of the above?

We’ll carry on this chat next time.

Love & biscuits to all!

Haven’t you always wondered what might be on Spidey’s playlist, as he’s swinging across the rooftops of New York New York city?

No, me neither.

But here I was, considering this most banal of questions about a fictional fellow and his iPod selection, to such an extent that I ended up collecting together a catalogue of canorous compositions relating to this theme.

From this it seemed obvious to compile these into a Top Ten of tunes that our friendly neighbourhood Spider-guy would NO DOUBT listen to. My main assumption being that because he possesses a great sense of humour (much like someone else round ‘ere) he would love a good pun or at least a salt shake of irony.

The only self-imposed criteria for this array of fine audio choices, was that the title had to relate to ol’ webhead in some way. Allow me to share my musical musings with you.

I’ve conveniently provided links to the songs in question, so you know these are all gen-u-ine ditties. No need to thank me.

I’ve also annotated the list in an attempt to be helpful, but feel free to put your hand up if you’re confused, or if you need the toilet.

They’re in no particular order, other than vaguely chronological.

Do let me know in the comments section if I’ve missed any titles you think should clearly be represented!

1 Bite the Hand  (ABC)
Cos like, he got bit by a radioactive spider, didn’t he?

2 Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy  (The Andrews Sisters)
Cos like, he works for a newspaper called the Daily Bugle. Geddit?

3 Spinning Around  (Kylie Minogue)
Web? Spinning? Spinning web? Keep up!

4 Life through a Lens  (Robbie Williams)
I’m not going to explain this one.

5 Mary Jane  (Rick James)
Some people suggest Mr James is not actually singing about a pretty lady, but is referring to ‘other stuff’. I don’t see it, to be honest. Anyway, Peter Parker fancies a girl called this. Mary Jane that is, not Other Stuff. That’d be weird.

6 Dancing on the Ceiling  (Lionel Ritchie)
You know what spiders are like… they dance… on the ceiling… when I try to catch them.

7 Man in Black  (Johnny Cash)
Cos like, he wore a black costume, remember?

8 I’ll Stick Around  (Foo Fighters)
You know what spiders are like… they stick… around… dancing on the ceiling.

9 Life of Riley  (Lightning Seeds)
One for the comic readers and what was known as the Clown Saga, or something like that.

10 Oldest Swinger in Town  (Fred Wedlock)
Cos like, he swings on his web, and he’s been doing it a while, hasn’t he? Hasn’t he?!

BONUS TRACK: Back to Black  (Amy Winehouse)
Another one for the comic readers. When Spidey no longer wore the alien black costume, he donned a cotton version for a while. So like, he went ‘back to black’. Y’welcome.

Phew, if you’ve made it to the bottom of the list: CONGRATULATIONS. And you might also be interested in another rambling piece I wrote about our web-headed wonder right here. Many reviewers have claimed this article is both “hilarious and poignant in equal measure”*.

* They haven’t, I made that up. Sorry.

“Where’s your graphic novel, Flicko?”

“I thought you were going to print your comic!”

“Why aren’t you writing your barely humorous blogs any more?”

Are these the questions you’ve been itching to ask me, but for one reason or another just haven’t plucked up the courage to thump your quiet query into an available keyboard? (“No”) Don’t worry, I’m here to ask these questions for you!

Let’s recap: this website’s primary purpose was (and is) to promote my graphic novel ‘Mockingbird: Nightmare on Another Planet’ and when I started blogging I was building up to the grand entrance of this potential best seller (“I admire your confidence”) into the marketplace of digital viewership – via Kindle, Comixology, Sequential and the rest of the those pixellated prose providers.

This happened in July 2015 but for some bizarre reason I didn’t see it ascending the literary hit parade, so my order for a new Porsche 911 Carrera 4S had to remain on hold as the buying public decided to ignore the adjective I just kindly used in describing them.

This was of course a harsh lesson gently dealt out by the world of digital comics. I did have a suspicion it was going to be tough, and would probably need significantly more of a push than I could justifiably give it (looking at my busy schedule of climbing trees, reading Thomas the Tank Engine and pooing my nappy – and that’s before we get to the kids!) – and as they say, indifference is worse than a bad review. (I think Oscar Wilde said that. If he didn’t, then I’m claming it.)

As I mentioned in my blog from the past, the comic readership still seem to be a paper reading bunch. They (and I should also add ‘I’) like to have something in their hands, to feel the crisp turn of the page, to inhale the distinctive odour of an even litho print, to place an item on your bedside cabinet to gather inordinate amounts of dust before not being read.

Admittedly the men in tights and well-endowed ladies seem to do well in digital (just cast your eyeball over Comixology’s homepage) and there is a definite online presence of comic creators knocking out screen-based tales to delight all tastes. But interestingly many of these guys and gals will still gather their bits & bytes into a printed version at the end of a story arc or set time frame. This is telling in itself. (“Is it?” Yes, it is. “Really?” Yes.)

As I’ve previously harked on about, comic buyers like to meet comic creators (and I’m sure vice et versa) so it’s essential for hard copies to exist so comic cons aren’t just rows and rows of empty tables with nobody too sure who is selling and who is buying, with the odd black-clothed lounger drawing Wolverine for the umpteenth time to cover his drinks tab for the evening.

This then leads to the question I know you’re going to ask again: “Are you going to print your comic then?” An excellent question, and one I will cover at our next session.

You can get off the couch now. My secretary will book your next appointment.

What’s that? Oh yes, sorry, my mistake… I’ll leave.