Happy Friday, y’all!
So, if you have been paying attention, which I know you have, I put out a post this week about my intentions to break into the comic book market. Have a read here- Getting Graphic- My New Adventures In Comic Books
Now, as it has been pointed out to me (and I already knew) I am pretty clueless on how the comic book industry works. I completely own up to that. I have to say that’s a good thing. The less I know about the realities of something the more effort I put into it. I mean, come on, it took me years to get disillusioned with the publishing world! It’ll be just as long before I know enough about comic books to add that to my list of reasons why I huff gasoline.
But, comic book industry aside, I have a little poll I’d love for you to fill out. Two polls actually. Maybe three. OK, it’s three. They are below. The results of these polls will help me understand my fan base a little more when it comes to comic books. Or graphic novels for those of you that must justify your literary enjoyment of painted panels on a page. Alliteration FTW!
So, if you have time, please fill out the polls. Also, if you are so inclined, please leave a comment below. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the merits of me getting into comic book writing and publishing and also any thoughts in general you have on comic books. Whether you are a reader or creator, lover or hater, joker, smoker, or midnight toker, I’d appreciate any feedback you want to give.
Please comment below also! I’d really love to hear your thoughts and feedback on the subject. And if there is a specific work of mine you’d like to see adapted into a comic book then please let me know!
Thanks, y’all! Cheers!
The very first comic book I ever owned was The Avengers #162. Who’s on the cover? Ultron, baby! I was in elementary school and I’m pretty sure my dad bought it for me while he was out on the Oregon roads selling veterinary supplies. Probably stopped in for snacks somewhere and picked it up from a revolving wire rack. I do remember having it with me when we went on a very rare family vacation to Crater Lake. So maybe I got it myself when we stopped on our way from Eugene down to Crater Lake. Doesn’t really matter.
What does matter is I still have that comic book. In fact, I have all the comic books I collected as a kid. I was among thousands and thousands of kids in the Eighties that heard the horror stories of grandparents throwing out our parents’ comic book collections, depriving us of our multi-million dollar inheritance. Of course, just like the trillions of people that have said they attended Woodstock, the Baby Boomers all seemed to have owned the first appearances of Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, and God. But their moms tossed them in the trash.
Despite the obvious exaggerations of a generation, there were countless comic books lost to the landfills that would collectively be worth millions today. So I kept mine. As did every other kid my age which makes those Eighties issues pretty much worthless. Sure they are worth more now than what I paid for them, but I haven’t done the inflation math to really prove that. Despite their low monetary value, they have HUGE sentimental and cultural value to me. And I wanted to share that with my kids (that I knew I would eventually have).
I stopped collecting comic books when I hit high school. I like to say it was because I discovered girls, but I had always known about girls. The truth? I no longer had the money to buy them. I had also developed (and still struggle with today) a “completion complex”. I just made that complex up, but it does describe what I was going through. Basically, it meant I had to own every single part of a story. And since my main title I collected was The Avengers that presented a problem. Why? Because The Avengers all had their own individual titles with story lines that interwove through The Avengers story line. This meant that I had to buy at least ten different comic books titles just to have the complete story.
Head went assplodey!
I just couldn’t handle it so I quit altogether. I boxed up my collection and walked away. I’d be lying if I said it saved me money. I, of course, figured out new ways to spend that money. Girls are expensive.
So there is my condensed history with comic books. And it was going to stay history except that I had kids. And kept all my comic books. AND Hollywood actually started making good comic book adaptations. AND graphic novels began to be recognized as actual literature. AND I started writing professionally.
AND I still love comic books.
Which leads me to the point of this post: I am getting into comic books. As in, I am writing comic book scripts.
In order to do this I needed to read some comic books as research. I have the first few volumes of The Walking Dead (of course). I have been checking out tons of graphic novels and comic books from the library (currently ripping through the Fables volumes). Plus, my kids have started buying them. My son (14) is all about The Walking Dead. My daughter (almost 11) is into The Walking Dead, but she also loves manga and has the first three volumes of the Buffy omnibuses (omnibi?). She also digs the Amulet series and graphic novels such as the ones by Hope Larson and Gene Yang. Except for my wife, this has become one comic book reading household.
It took me a long time to start writing comic book scripts. Not because they are hard (they aren’t if you’ve got the pictures in your head), but because there is no industry standard script format. Take a look at scripts by Neil Gaiman, Alan Moore, Warren Ellis, Frank Miller, Art Spiegelman, Mike Mignola, and others and you will see a different format used. That kinda makes me a bit cooky. But I had to dive in and try.
So I created my own format template based on Dark Horse’s format (which seemed to be a happy medium between all the formats I’d seen) and dove in. The great thing about writing a comic book script is you have no limitations. If it is in my mind then it can go on the page. Unlike, say, a screenplay which always has budget and “reality” limitations.
I am currently adapting my first novel, DEAD MECH, into a comic book series. Not a graphic novel. No, I want it to be an ongoing series. This will allow me to expand on the story and go beyond where the novel ended. It’s pretty exciting. I also get to “fix” issues I may have with some plot points and character portrayals in the novel. Adaptations are just that: adaptations. Not a rehashing of the exact same thing. Kinda exciting. And fun.
Getting a hang of the comic book script format has opened my eyes to the possibility of taking some of the novel ideas I’ve had and turn them into graphic novels. Which is great since I can write a twenty page script in three days whereas writing a full length novel takes months. Plus, with comic books the script is not the end result, but the beginning. There’s still all of the art to come!
Which makes me wish I could draw. Because right now I just have words on paper and no art to go with them. I have submitted my script to several comic book publishers, but the reality of it getting picked up and produced is pretty small. Not because the script sucks, but because I’m just another writer. Most publishers, like Image or Dynamite or Top Shelf, are looking for completed team works. They want a fully realized product that they can just produce and distribute. They aren’t looking to coddle newbies through the process.
It’s almost as bad as the world of literature publishing. Except now novelists can upload their novels to a few ebook retailers and they are in business! If my script doesn’t get picked up I can go that route also via Comixology and Amazon. Oh, wait, but I can’t draw. Bummer.
That leaves me waiting and hoping that Dark Horse will call later today and say they LOVE my DEAD MECH script and want to publish it immediately! Or it leaves me playing with the idea of finding a team and publishing myself. It would have to be crowdfunded, of course. I don’t have a few thousand dollars hanging out. With the popularity of comic book projects on Kickstarter I think it can be done. With some serious work and planning.
But, is that the route I want to go? Once I take that path there is no turning back. I become a comic book publisher. A creator/owner publisher, but still a publisher. Which turns my brain to the possibility of publishing other titles. Ideas I have and maybe ideas others have. Which is an exciting prospect. And one that could prove to be quite profitable if successful. If successful…
Why even entertain the idea? Because comic books have a growing future whereas novels have an always uncertain future. Let me break it down as I see it:
Novels are being published at a rate of five trillion every second of every day. Five trillion! (Not an actual statistic). Why so many? Because of self-publishing. Let’s forget the fact that 90% of those self-published novels are pure crap. That doesn’t matter. What does matter is that means readers have to sift through a trillion trillion trillion new novels just to find mine. Ugh. Doesn’t mean I won’t keep writing novels. Just means ugh. There is also the fact that “literature” frowns down on “genre”, which is what I write. Even my local bookstore won’t return my emails to stock my novels. Noses are up in the air. And there are hundreds (dozens now?) of bookstores run by elitist snobs that think they are the only ones that understand what a great book is. Ugh.
Now, switch to comic books. Sure, there are a ton of self-published/indie published titles out there. And not all are good. BUT (see the huge but?) it is not so easy to self-publish a comic book as a novel these days. Even with Comixology and Amazon’s platforms, you still have to have a team. This means that the words/story/idea has to be vetted by more than just one person. When that happens quality tends to go up. Less crap to wade through and more quality to rub shoulders with. Very cool. AND comic books are all about genre! Yay for genre! DOUBLE AND comic book stores don’t stick their noses in the air! Sure, each owner has their own preference of what they like or don’t like, but that is an ongoing debate. In fact, debating the merits of one series over another is part of the comic book zeitgeist. The snobbery is inclusive, not exclusive. Even if noses do get turned up, the eyes are still watching, waiting for a response. In bookstores once the proprietor’s nose is up it is “Good day to you!” time.
I am generalizing, of course.
Here is the other good part of comic books: the print versions will always be available. Always. Why? Because comic book readers also tend to be comic book collectors. And they love holding those comic books in their hands so they can be carefully read once then bagged and boarded and stuck in their protective boxes. That means there is always a comic book store market to be filled as well as the new, growing online market. What the ratios end up to be is still a mystery, but I think we’ll have a picture soon. And lest we forget licensing! How many blockbuster movies have you seen or will be seeing that are comic book adaptations? Now, how many blockbusters will be novel adaptations? Unless the novel is a young adult adaptation with a strong female protagonist, and a brooding male love interest, then the movie ain’t gonna be breaking any records. Comic book adaptations not only break records, but they set records. Or die miserably (we mourn you Scott Pilgrim), it happens.
Wow, I didn’t expect this post to go on so long. How’s about I wrap it up?
Basically, I am saying that my love of comic books didn’t ever go away, just got put on hold. And I probably wouldn’t be reading so many now if I wasn’t writing them too. Gotta read what you write, right? I am also saying that you shouldn’t be surprised if I dive headlong into comic book publishing. Or possibly get picked up by one of the Big Guys. Who knows?
So, there are my thoughts on comic books these days. Have any thoughts also? Share them in the comments! Want to consider being a part of a comic book team? Shoot me an email (email@example.com). Excited about there being a DEAD MECH comic book? Let me know via email, Twitter, Facebook, or the comments below. Any and all feedback on this subject will be appreciated. I’m just getting back into comic books so other perspectives are most welcome!
While you are reading this I will be drinking beer and playing bocce ball. We’ll debate later who has the best deal.
“Turn, flick fingers like such, grab crotch, and PRESTO!” Harmon shouted, the spell book open before him, his unimpressed cat looking on unimpressed.
“Damn!” Harmon yelled. “It should have brought forth a freakin’ djinn! I want my three wishes!”
“300,” a voice said from behind him. “You get 300 now. Inflation.”
“Holy crap!” Harmon squeaked as he spun about and came face to floating face with Garbnocturamis, the world’s greatest djinn.
“World’s Greatest should be capitalized,” he suggested.
Sorry, my bad. The World’s Greatest Djinn.
“Better. Now, let’s move on to those 300 wishes,” Garbnocturamis said to Harmon.
Disclaimer: I am not too lazy to write a longer introduction! I just have beer and bocce on the mind! Sheesh!
So, three weeks ago I launched the Pre-order Natural Born Cyborgs campaign. I have pretty much laid low since then so that I wasn’t beating everyone about the head and neckle area. The voting was pretty intense and I was certainly posting and shouting about that for a couple of weeks. I figured y’all needed a breather.
Now I am back!
I have a ton going on right now and it is all overlapping in a tasty word lasagna in my not quite (yet) fried brainpan. Since there is so much to talk about I will break things down into categories. Here we go:
1. The Natural Born Cyborgs Pre-order
There have been six backers so far which puts us at 10% of the $2000 goal that needs to be hit before I start writing the novel. For more info click on the handy cover up to your right or that handy button up top in the menu. Or HERE! By the way, that cover you see to the right is just a place holder. It’s not the actual finished cover. So back the hell off, haters! If you are already a backer then be sure to spread the word about NBC. The sooner we hit the initial funding the sooner the novel is written and published! And if you haven’t backed it yet then you should go do that right now. I’ll wait for you. No hurry. That’s it, just click the order button. Okay, now fill in your PayPal info or credit card info. You’re almost there…and…BAM! Don’t you feel like a real human being now? I thought so.
2. What I Learned From The Voting
As you know (because you hang on every word I write/speak/tweet/post) I asked my fans and readers to vote on which novel I write next. Natural Born Cyborgs won handily, but there were a couple runners up that I couldn’t ignore. Big Box Blood Bath came in second which really surprised me. I would never have picked that one to get so much support. It really taught me that my idea of having my audience pick which novel to write next was a good idea. That title would have sat around in my Idea Shed ($49 + tax at IKEA) for a long time. I love the idea, but never thought it would gain as much support as it did. The voting also showed me that ideas I thought would dominate didn’t dominate in any way, shape or form. I could have spent months writing something that no one wanted to read. Go me for letting folks pick what they want to read! GO ME! And go you for voting! GO YOU!
Which leads to…
3. Big Box Blood Bath- The Serial
I have written Episode One of Big Box Blood Bath (B-cubed, yo) and am almost done with Episode Two. What does this mean? It means that first I am going to pitch the serial to Amazon. You hear that, Amazon? I’m coming for you! Why submit to Amazon first? Why not just self-publish? Well, because I would rather have the Amazon juggernaut behind me. Plus, a relationship with Amazon publishing could lead to other projects down the line.
Why serialize? Good question. An easy one to answer. When I first started writing I released my first novel, DEAD MECH, as a serialized podcast novel. I was writing the novel as I was podcasting it. This is not advised, but it was fun to do. The cool thing was I didn’t know what was going to happen next any more than my listeners did. I want that feeling again with Big Box Blood Bath. I want to have the story wide open for any idea that comes into my head. I want to publish one episode without knowing what will happen in the next episode. I want to discover the characters, the story, the action, the intrigue, at the same time as my readers.
I also don’t want it to end. At least not for a while. With Amazon serials they do end and get turned into a full-length novel after the episode run. But, if I don’t go with Amazon and self-publish each episode then I plan on keeping the serial open ended. It will become more of a TV show than a novel. It could go on for years and years, or it could end after a few episodes if there aren’t enough readers. Who knows, right? As a writer moving from one project to another all the time it will be nice to have a constant project in the works. And an every two week release schedule for episodes that will be between 7,000-10,000 words in length is an easy schedule to keep. I think y’all are going to like this.
4. The DEAD MECH Comic Book
You read that right: I am writing the DEAD MECH comic book. I have the script for Issue #1 done and out for submission to a few comic book publishers. So, if you feel like emailing Dark Horse Comics and crowing about DEAD MECH then you should do that. It’s a free country and who am I to get in the way?
Now, if Dark Horse, or the couple other comic book publishers I submitted to, decide to pass on DEAD MECH then foo on them. FOO ON THEM! But not foo on me. Or you. Us. We have the ability to make the DEAD MECH comic book happen. Via Kickstarter, of course! Comic books are very popular on Kickstarter. They not only tend to get funded, but they tend to get overfunded. I like that. The trick is I will have to put a team together. I’ll need a penciler, inker (inkist?), colorist, letterer, and formatterist. Or someone that can do all of that. I have the words covered, just need the pretty, pretty pictures. If you are interested, or know of someone that is, then have them shoot me an email. Contact info is up above under “About Jake Bible“.
The great thing about a DEAD MECH comic book is that I can expand on the world and characters I have already created. I can expand some scenes from the novel that I thought needed more work or I can cut scenes all together that really aren’t important. I get to revise the world of DEAD MECH without having to revise the entire novel itself. That’s the beauty of adaptations! I also will have The Americans waiting in the wings. That will have to be its own series since it can’t really be incorporated into the DEAD MECH storyline without giving a ton of info away. Universe building FTW!
5. DEAD MECH mobile game?
Could happen. I know a guy. He has ideas. He has mobile game making skills. I trust the shit out of him not to screw it up. Playing GI Joes in elementary school together builds that kind of trust. That guy knew how to put a HISS tank to use! I’m sure he can make a 50 foot battle mech play awesome on a tiny screen. This is still in the “talking about it” stage, so no timeline as of yet. We shall see where it goes.
6. Mobilizing The Deader Army
I need to organize my fan base a bit better. And I am looking for input. Leave a comment below or email me if you want to help build up my fan base and exposure to the world. A few key people cheerleading can make all the difference. And I will gladly reward those that help. Sneak peeks at novels or works in progress. Custom written stories. Becoming a character in a new book. That kind of stuff. Help from others means I have more time for writing. That is a good thing.
It has been suggested by more than one person that my fans should be called Deaders (after the name of the zombies and dead mechs in the Apex Trilogy). I like that. Deaders or Deader Army work just fine. How does that sound to you? Want to be a Deader in the Deader Army? I know you do! I have no specific plan in mind right now, so again, suggestions are welcome. Let’s brainstorm and figure out how we can overtake the world of genre fiction one corpse at a time! (There will be no actual corpses harmed in the making of the Army)
I know that quitting podcasting has bummed a few people out. There are those, for various reasons, that audio is their preferred way to consume fiction. I totally get that. So I will say that the audiobooks of my novels will happen. Just not right away. After looking at the costs involved, I have decided I will record and produce the audiobooks myself. I have the skills needed to do that. The trick is finding the time. That’s why this is number 7 on the list of topics to talk about.
The plan is to re-record DEAD MECH completely. I have The Americans done and Metal and Ash started. Little Dead Man will be on the list also. I could also do the Bethany collection. Possibly Big Box Blood Bath? I would need to figure out how to serialize that as a pay audiobook. Hmmm… To the researchmobile!
So, be glad to know that my dulcet tones will soothe your earholes sometime in the future once more. Just not right away. And, unfortunately, not for free.
8. Future Projects
I have a crap ton (not to be confused with a shit ton or crap load) of ideas for future projects.
I do plan on starting the sequel to Little Dead Man this year. I have a killer idea that will make the sequel even better than the first one. If you haven’t read this novel then you should get on that. It’s pretty damn good, if I do say so myself. Which I just did.
I also want to develop more comic books. It was a learning curve figuring our the comic book script format, but now that I have the hang of it I can crank those puppies out! Writing a comic book script is freeing in many ways. It’s like writing a screenplay, but with a trillion times more freedom to do whatever you want. In addition to DEAD MECH and the rest of the Apex Trilogy, I’d love to adapt Bethany and the Zombie Jesus into a series of graphic novels called: The Wardens of the Zombie Jesus. Each graphic novel will tell the story of one of the people tasked with being a Warden and burdened with the keeping and imprisonment of Zombie Jesus. Also, remember the novel ideas for PAIN and for Stone Cold Bastards? They would make great comic books!
And there will be novels! Not just Natural Born Cyborgs or the Little Dead Man sequel, but other novels. Novels galore! I’d still like to write a series based on the exploits of Stone and Reginald from the Apex Trilogy. Quick novels with a very pulp feel. I am also planning my grand novel set in Depression era thirties. Guns, bootlegging, racial tensions, guns, sex, violence, guns, and very fast cars. Very. Fast. Cars. And guns. That one will be a long way down the line as I am carefully plotting and planning it. It needs care to grow. But grow it shall!
And, by the time you are done reading this, I will probably have six million more ideas that I want to work on. I’ll keep you posted.
9. What Has Just Released
I have also been busy releasing a couple of ebooks!
I also just published C-Notes: A Collection Of 100 Drabbles on ebook. $2.99 for 100 drabbles is pretty darn nice! Hop on over and grab a copy of that one while you are grabbing One Foggy Night. I mean, you know, since you’re already shopping.
10. In Conclusion…
…I am one busy mofo. I have enough ideas/projects to keep me working for the next couple of years. My goal -my very, very, very ambitious, HUGE goal- is to be writing full time in 2014. That means a lot of what I have written about above will need to happen. Let’s hope it does. Any help you, dear reader, would like to throw my way to get me to that goal will be rewarded. The one thing modern publishing has taught me is that writing is no longer a solitary endeavor. It takes a community now to make a novel, and/or writer, successful in today’s world. You want to help build that community with me? Then SUPER AWESOME TO YOU! I am open to any and all suggestions. I may not like them; I may fight them kicking and screaming; Or I may make sweet, sweet love to them. No matter what, I am open. Like a book.
And be sure and pre-order Natural Born Cyborgs! Limited edition hardcover (signed and numbered), the audiobook, and signed ebook (epub and mobi files)!!!
I think Thursday and Saturday are getting jealous. They’ve been giving Friday the stink eye. Well, all I have to say, is that they can get their own damn Drabble Party!
100 words of hot Friday action is coming your way!
No chitter. No chatter. Just gettin’ right into the drabbley goodness you’ve come to expect on Fridays.
The Real World
The bills piled up and the creditors didn’t even bat an eye at the lies he told.
“Can’t you reason with them?” his wife asked. “They have to know we aren’t the only ones in this mess.”
He didn’t bother to respond, his thoughts busy plotting his next move. Legal means had been exhausted; so it was on to other means. Any means, really. Any means at all.
By the time the police caught up with him he had secured enough cash to get them out of their problems. But he’d really just traded one set of problems for another.
Disclaimer: Any “alleged” crimes committed in the writing of this drabble were purely for “research” purposes. Yeah…research…