…and here is a wonderful take on Diana (from the Mockingbird comic, of course) by the ridiculously talented Jenn St Onge.
Archives For Mockingbird Comic
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://
*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.
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.
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!
“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.
I understand if the words Self and Pity start to come together in your head, as you’re reading this. That isn’t my intention but I’m just letting you know it could happen. Self and Awareness too hopefully!
Here is what I’ve discovered about promoting and selling a digital product: It’s not easy. Particularly if you’re from a World of Print.
When I first self-published back in the mid-nineties it was a very different landscape. Print was the only option, of course. And getting your publication in front of people’s eyeballs took legwork; attending comic cons (such as they were back then in the UK), linking in with like-minded groups to network (like the internet without the inter), advertising in comic journals, sending your work for review in fanzines and getting your comic on the shelves either with Diamond or through face-to-face contact.
Sounds like a real hassle doesn’t it? Surely it’s better now, Flicko? Afterall an international network is only a binary ride away, millions of potential readers teetering on the edge of their screens. Comics digitised and accessed by anyone in a matter of seconds. No need for the ancient practice of stamped address envelopes and queueing in the Post Office!
Hey, it even cuts out the need to actually meet someone, avoiding those awkward conversations and sitting behind a trestle table self-consciously mumbling into your sketchbook in a futile attempt at self-promotion. A lot easier! Or is it?
Maybe it’s me, maybe it’s simply that I don’t really understand how to sufficiently ‘work the system’ in promoting my artwork amongst a crowded swimming pool of screaming caps-locked voices, virtual belly flops and attention-seeking inflatables. Maybe I just understand print better.
But it is hard (or impossible) to place a download on a coffee table for a random chum to casually pick up and flick through. The experience for creator and consumer to meet and chat online is not as warm or connecting as a face looking into another (possibly eye-avoiding) human face. Holding something tangible and solid, emanating a waft of freshly printed paper, is a lot easier to shove into a passerby’s hand than its electronic cousin.
Bits n’ bytes are great, don’t get me wrong, Ms Hynde, I just suspect we’re still learning how it works (for ‘we’ read ‘me’). It seems so much more diametrically different to print than I ever initially anticipated.
Of course it’s amazing to be able to send my comic round the world in the blink of a click, and the array of platforms that send my doodles and scrawls spinning across the globe to alien shores is mind-blowing, but… particularly for small press, something is lost when the opportunity for two humans to share a moment of sequential pleasure no longer takes place, or the gentle joy in picking up an unknown collection of pages reveals unexpected delights within a few flicks of 100gsm. Even the simple sales patter of talking about your lovingly crafted tale doesn’t have the same effect when transposed to a staccato computer exchange.
The present and future may be digital, and my intention isn’t to smash the spinning jenny, but I wonder if the increase of comic cons of various sizes is testament to this full-circle desire in today’s reader: to meet and talk and smell the comics and their creators.
Nostalgia? It must be if I’m reminiscing about the odour of comic artists! No offence, I’ll let you decide. Smiley face.
Here are some sketches you may find interesting (no pressure). These are the rough thumbnails I drew a few years ago for the publisher I was with at the time, when presenting my cover ideas for Mockingbird: Nightmare on Another Planet.
Here’s fun – why don’t you try to find the cover I ended up using? A firm handshake and solid thumbs up for the winner!
Postscript: Feel free to tell me if you think I should’ve used one of the other options, I won’t be offended. Hey, it might even start a fascinating discussion thread (I’ve seen these on other blogs!).
Did you know, many years ago people didn’t know what the time was? As in, someone would confidently claim it was ten o’clock whilst another fellow would insist it was actually a quarter past nine. Absolute chaos! A world without clocks, calendars or even numbers (in some parts of the United Kingdom).
Then one day a clever chappy said, “Hey, why don’t we divide the year into twelve easy sections?” “Why not eleven?” piped an opposing voice. “I like twelve!” concurred another. So after much to-ing and poo-ing they decided on eleven. A year would be sectioned into eleven months. Unfortunately the person taking the minutes was the chappy who championed the twelve option, and so this is what was officially written, and as anyone who has any experience with minute-taking will tell thee, if it’s written down it’s official and cannot be tipexed out (even by a Mayor or Police Constable who would prefer the text recorded otherwise). That was 1932, and ever since a year’s length has been recognised as twelve months!
So here we are today, shuffling into the 2016th Century, stepping over the decomposing husk of Old Father Time and high fiving the tiny optimistic palm of Baby New Year. An opportunity to reflect on the previous eleven months. Ha, I mean twelve, of course!
And in the spirit of positivity let us not dwell on the shades of gloom, my friends; the crushed hopes which can easily litter our memories of the past 365 days. Nay, let us focus on that which is, rather than that which is not.
“Wise words, Flicko, you should post that on Facebook alongside a picture of a cat and goldfish getting married.” Thanks, compliments indeed.
Get ready for the bullet points, it’s reviewing time. Links included!
- Mockingbird: Nightmare on Another Planet. PAST – A remarkable year for the graphic novel, which of course is the primary focus for this website – lest we forget in the joyous cavalcade of marginally humorous remarks. The digital edition was released from its electronic shackles in July and immediately made itself at home with Mr Kindle and his master, Mr Amazon; along with the Apple Family Store. But most encouraging was that it was accepted onto the virtual shelves of Messrs Sequential and ComiXology. We could talk about sales, but as aforementioned, let’s keep this positive! Smiley face (with a hint of deeper emotion). It’s been a long time coming (as they say), and I am genuinely thankful this adventure of one girl and her planet has finally seen publication! FUTURE – Release a print edition, supply to willing shops and start showing up at some o’them Comic Cons.
- Weekly Pages. PAST – These ten sample pages continue to hold their own on the Homepage, a new selection of panels appearing each Friday to continue the tale for anyone committed and patient enough to be reading each new page week by week. We’re now on the final chapters which thankfully contain the more polished artwork! FUTURE – It looks like I’ll run out of weekly pages by the autumn (that’s right, the whole 128 pages of the graphic novel will have been shown), so there’s going to be some pressure (I’m not sure from whom) to produce some brand new artwork. Let’s see what happens.
- Comic 365 Challenge. PAST – For those who joined this vehicle of vibrant creativity and impossible claims at the beginning of year 15, what a ride it was, eh? Oh, the highs and not-so-highs of trying to draw an image a day to create a 90 page comic over the course of a year! It can’t be done, they said. Let’s just say, I’m always willing to prove others right. FUTURE – I’ll write about this more in-depthly (is that a word?) next week as I know I’ve got a lot explaining to do; mainly, what happened to September, October, November and December? Wink.
- Blogs. PAST – The blogging is not the essential content of this website, but I appreciate there are those for whom words delight over pictures, and the desire to be entertained and brain-massaged by profound insights and punchy prose, is a priority. I am assuming most of these readers, as described, would’ve jumped ship during the course of last year, if not before! And those left are the kindly readers who find small contentments in rambling sporadic musings and borderline banter, which is generally what is served at this metaphorical greasy spoon. If you do insist on topical references, well-researched cultural commentary or shouty polemics, then I’m afraid this is where our faceless friendship must end, because this is the kinda’ quality I’m generally chucking out there: exampli gratia. FUTURE – Some more blogs about stuff and other less specific subjects too.
I think we can leave it there, I’ve said enough (“You’re not kidding!”) To be fair, if you’re still reading by this point I can only be partially blamed. This is a two way street, chum.
Happy new 16, Mock-fans! Your support and interest is appreciated – I am now being genuine. Group hug.