Way behind on posting old work, but I’m catching up now. Dig the titled hallway on this page.
When I set about making the new chapter of The Ragbox, I knew I wanted to make something with more of a handcrafted feel. The reality of the market is that my little books might sell decently in local comics shops, but they’ll never move in a traditional bookstore. At only 20 pages (or 16 pages with the last book) the books have to be staple-bound and thus have no spine. If the books are not on face-out, they’re completely lost in the shelf. So, all the better reason to make a more personal, more unique object.
With the previous book, I started designing with a die-cut in mind. However, the more research I did, the more I realized how daunting it was to do a decent job of it. In order to keep costs reasonable, I realized that the cut would have to be a simple shape: a circle, most likely. By why just cut paper? Why not use it as an opportunity to throw in some additional color?
I’m happy to announce that The Ragbox Chapter 5: The Salon, is now available online (and in stores, shortly). As with Chapter 4, this is a standalone story, so you don’t need to read the previous chapters to enjoy it. This time around, I had a chance to work with the crazy talented Line Olsson as illustrator.
The story revolves around Angel and Desiree, two hairdressers in a down-and-out salon in the neighborhood of The Ragbox. I think Line was drawn (pun intended) to a story with two female leads. Her art is so good it breaks my heart the The Ragbox is run by a strict code of a new artist for every chapter. But if I broke it, it wouldn’t be much of a code, would it?
The second annual Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo is happening on September 24th. I’m extra excited about this one because I missed the first M.I.C.E. due to appendix ruptures and international travel (not an advisable combination).
Anyway, I’ll be there playing M.C. for the event and promoting the new Chapter 5 of The Ragbox, which I’m finishing up over the next few weeks. This is a tricky one because it involves a die-cut cover, cellophane, and a bunch of other nonsense. More info on that soon.
September 24th, 2011
10:00 am – 6:00 pm
1815 Massachusetts Avenue
A small moment today at Newbury Comics helped re-contextualize, or maybe just remind me, what we’re up against as self-publishers. Pictured here, you see Spawn filed under “Small Publisher.” Also found here: Transformers, Buffy, and a dozen other big franchise titles. If that’s small, what chance do we have?
If you don’t know it, Newbury Comics is a New England chain music/movie/novelty store that began life in the late 70s as a comic shop. They still devote a small section of each store to comics, though it must account for a very slim percentage of their business. The selection is decidedly mainstream and seems to focus on titles with good sell-through to other merchandise: Wolverine comics and trade paperbacks that link to the Wolverine DVDs & Blu-Rays that link to the Wolverine action figures that link to the bobble heads that link to the posters to the wrist bands to the drinking glasses to the keychains, etc. It’s pure show business wrapped in a faux punk ethos, akin to Spencer Gifts and Hot Topic.
I should note here that I dislike mainstream superhero comics. Not a seething, angsty kind of hate, just a bored sort of exasperation mixed with disbelief that they’ve managed to continue pushing these bloated storylines uphill for so many years. I also dislike Newbury Comics, which stems from me and others trying to do business with them as a small publisher.
As a result, I’ve never attempted to buy comics at Newbury Comics. I was just killing time, waiting for some soup, like you do, when I came across some bargain bins. When I flipped through the “small publisher,” I was shocked to find Image Comics (which sold five of the top ten selling graphic novels in 2010) along with Dark Horse (Hellboy, Terminator, etc.), IDW (Star Trek, 30 Days of Night, G.I. Joe, etc), and one or two others. Not a single Top Shelf, Fantagraphics, Drawn & Quarterly, Ad House, or other publisher that I would consider small, or smaller, at any rate.
Yes, these companies are obviously dwarfed by Marvel and DC, who together control nearly 70% of the dollar share in printed comics. And that’s just printed comics, which are barely worth the paper their printed on compared to the true worth of these franchises. The real money is in the film rights, box office, and merchandise. Even these smaller “creator-owned” companies like Image must rake in millions in fees and licensing.
My point is simple, and probably moot. There aren’t that many places a small publisher can go to peddle their wares. If Spawn is “small publisher” material, it’s no wonder to me that Newbury Comics has no interest in developing local talent.