Thursday, 30 July 2015

The Hero Code - where's it at?

Art duties have finished on Hero Code for issues 1-6, with just a few production issues to wrap up issue's 4 and 5 before they are complete.

Here's a run down of where we're at, with an outline of our plans going forward -

Hero Code issue 1

Cover by Drew Johnson
Wrapped! This one was finished a while back, featuring art by Jonathan Rector, colors by series colorists Heather Breckel, and letters by Frank Cvetkovic (the first print featured lettering by Bernie Lee, but we redid the first issue for the sake of continuity as Frank took over for the series).

Available on ComiXology and Drivethru

Hero Code issue 2

cover by Agustin Calcagno
Wrapped! Agustin took over art duties on this issue (Jonathan had other commitments) and has now completed the first 5 issues.

Available on ComiXology and Drivethru

Hero Code issue 3
Agustin again!

Available on ComiXology and Drivethru

Hero Code issue 4
Agustin Calcagno

Issue needs coloring and formatting - I'm hoping for a December 2015 release.

Hero Code issue 5
Agustin pays homage to the fantastic Justice League cover by Kevin Maguire 
Needs coloring and lettering - hoping for a January 2016 release.

Pretty soon after this I'll be running a Kickstarter (March?) to put the first 5 issues into a printed volume.

Hero Code issue 6
By David Brame
Wrapped! This was originally done as a stand alone story after issue 1, and was later moved to become issue 6. Features art by David Brame, and lettering by Jim Campbell. This book is up and ready to be released on ComiXology once issue 5 has been released - hopefully February 2016.

Hero Code Issue 7 and on...

Agustin will be leaving the book after issue 5 to pursue other commitments (I'm going to miss him!) and David will be taking over art duties on the series. Issue 7 sees the start of a 2 part story line. Brother's Keeper, headlining the Black Wraith on the search for his brother's killers, and then we will have 2 more stand alone stories before returning to the adventures of Optiman, Myth and The Black Wraith for a six issue run which takes us to the end of the first chapter in the series.

Hopefully issue 7 will be ready for lettering and coloring some time in January, for an April 2016 release.

And what about Hero Code Theatre of War?

Theatre of War - Prologue issue
Art by Agustin!
Wrapped! This prologue issue features art by Agustin, with the regular gang of Hero Code collaborators, and takes place during the second world war in our Hero Code universe.

Available on ComiXology and Drive-thru

Hero Code Theatre of War issue 1
Cover by story artist Gary Lister
Needs coloring - I'm hoping to get this one finished in December for a January 2016 release.

Hero Code Theatre of War issue 2
Lister again!
Needs coloring - hoping to get this one done in February 2016 for a March/April release.

Hero Code Theatre of War issue 3
More Lister!
Needs coloring - hoping to get this one done March 2016 for a May/June release.

Once this is done I'll be running a second Kickstarter (August?) to put this mini series (the 3 issues by Gary Lister, and the prologue by Agustin Calcagno) into print.

By this stage I am hoping that issue 8 of the ongoing series will be finished, and ready for color and lettering.

Amongst this I'll also be trying to find a time when Andrew MacLean and our starts align to get working on Department O issue 3 - which will complete that series (another Kickstarter? Perhaps in 2017?)

So we have;

Hero Code 1 - done
Hero Code 2 - done
Hero Code 3 - done
Hero Code Theatre of War Prologue - done
Hero Code 4 - December?
Hero Code 5 - January?
Hero Code Theatre of War 1 - January?
Hero Code 6 - February
Kickstarter for Hero Code 'Menace of the Mannequin' (1-5)? March?
Hero Code Theatre of War 2 - March?
Hero Code 7 - April?
Hero Code Theatre of War 3 - May?
Kickstarter for Hero Code 'Theatre of War'? August?
Hero Code 8 - August?

All dates are of course subject to change, but here's hoping we can get this stuff done. Once I have some complete collected editions of the series I'll be looking to go to some more shows and conventions.

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Year of the Indie - Part Three, Apocalyptigirl

Full disclosure, I have a huge art crush on Andrew MacLean, and have had one for years. So with that in mind, this is less a review, and more a case of me promoting a book which I think you should all own. Seriously. Buy this book. You won't be disappointed.

Andrew's art has been growing and improving over the years that he has been working on self-published books for other writers (including my own Department O), and his story telling has really come to life with his own self-published series, Headlopper.

This book, a contained original graphic novel, continues his growth as a story teller, includes some incredible art and design work, and looks fantastic as a physical package (again, seriously, buy this book - the physical copy - it's so well put together!).

It's a great book by a truly great artist becoming one of the best graphic story tellers around.

Did I mention that I think you should buy this book?

Available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, various comic book stores...

I will be running a contest in December, a chance for someone to win all of the 12 books reviewed in the Year of the Indie series of reviews. Stay tuned for details!

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Department O 3 and beyond

Along with Hero Code Theatre of War being finished (interior art) I am currently receiving the pages to complete issue 5 of The Hero Code: Menace of the Mannequin.

This leaves Department O.

Unused Department O cover, art by Andrew MacLean
The final script for issue 3, which wraps up the first story, The Body Politic, is finished. It runs at 35 pages, which will make the whole story run at 80 pages when done, with the book being closer to 96-100 pages when done with added mater.

There are two barriers that stand between us starting and finishing the book, which are money and time - namely finding a moment when Andrew is available to work on the story.

I am striving to focus on this series and really push to get it finished, so once the art for MotM is complete (and, based on how fast Agustin can work, it will not be ver long at all!) I will put that book aside to get to work on Department O.

This will leave both Hero Code series waiting coloring and some lettering, but I think pushing to get Department O done will be worth it.

My plan still remains to complete each series and then run small Kickstarter's to do print runs for the completed books. I will still be looking to publish in 6x9 and start with funding for 1000 copies, pushing to 2000 as push goals during the campaigns (the bump in cost to print 1k and 2k copies is actually so slight, that it wouldn't take much of a push to get there).

Once the first KS is complete, I can focus on finishing up Hero Code and Hero Code Theatre of War (running KS's for each of them) before getting back to work on the Black Wraith book.

ETA: If any artist friends out there want to provide fan art for Department O, please let us know, thank you!

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Hero Code Theatre of War - art wrap up

I just received the last few pages of interior art on the Hero Code mini series, Theatre of War.

There's still a long way to go - we need to letter the last issue, color the 3 issues that Gary Lister provided art on, and then put the whole thing together - but this is a big step towards completing an arc of the series.

Prologue issue - art by Agustin Calcagno

So what next?

After the above work is completed, I'll be adding the series to Comixology (where the prologue is already up) as three stand alone issues.

Issue one - art by Gary Lister

Then I'll be looking to run a Kickstarter to do a small print run of the series in a collected edition.

As mentioned before, the books size will be 6x9. The campaign will be a similar paired down one as the Black Wraith one was, offering the book in digital and print editions, some sketch editions, maybe some original art work.

Issue two - art by Gary Lister

I've been thinking a lot about the size of MPS print runs. There is a part of me which wants to keep the whole thing simple, manageable, and limited to a single print run of 1 or 2 thousand at most. If I ever sell out of a book (how ever long that takes) maybe I'll consider doing a second print, but the books will be available in perpetuity on Comixology, so I'm less inclined to do that - storage and management of books is a hassle, and I'm pretty sure I won't be selling out of anything too soon given how few conventions I actually attend.

6x9 is a good size - prices will be around $10-15 a piece, depending on page count, etc. The plan is to start with an amount on Kickstarter that will cover a print run in soft cover of 1,000 books. If I push past that amount, I'll look at 2k, then hardcover.

With the other books we're working on:

Hero Code - art on issue 5 has began (about 6 pages are complete). This 5th issue will need lettering, and issues 4 and 5 color for the first arc to be finished.

Department O - issue 3 to be done

Black Wraith Life of Crime one shot - chapters three and four to be done.

That's plenty to keep me busy for now, and some time for us to think about what comes next for MPS.

Friday, 6 March 2015

Year of the Indie - Part two, My Friend Dahmer

I haven't forgotten about doing these, just a few days behind posting.

The second book in this series is My Friend Dahmer, by Derf Backderf.

A biocomic about Mr Backderf looking back at his time growing up in the same town, attending the same school, as serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer.

The book better when Backderf focusses more on his own unapologetic feelings about Dahmer, and his own thoughts about growing up in small town america in the 70's. There are a couple of nice, creeper moments, when the perspective shifts to Dahmer's POV, but too often there are unnecessary "shocking true crime" lead outs, one too many "but this wouldn't be the last time Dahmer thought about killing!" moments, which I felt didn't work as well.

It's still a fascinating book, well worth the read.

I will be running a contest in December, a chance for someone to win all of the 12 books reviewed in the Year of the Indie series of reviews. Stay tuned for details!

Sunday, 8 February 2015

"Kid, Comics Will Break Your Heart"

I'm taking a break from comics.

I haven't been able to write in months, and life is beginning to make other plans for me.

To be an indie comic creator one needs to have many skills to succeed - not just a creator, but a salesperson, a social networker, a tech savy person, a pre-press specialist...

There are only so many hours in the day, and I'm only one person - something has to give.

I've been incredibly fortunate to collaborate with fantastic people, but I just feel I'm not bringing enough to the table.

Time is a factor - it seems to be taking me longer and longer to get issues finished. I feel like even if I do come up with an interesting idea, the lag soon makes it seem old, stale. The various artists I've been working with are either finding themselves too busy to fit in the MPS work, or life is getting in their way too.

Finances also play a part.

It costs a lot to make comics, and they make very little - it seems even the successful indie ones.

Also, the climate in the comic industry often leaves me feeling sad and angry.

So where does that leave the current projects I have in states of unfinished?

Hero Code - all art work is finished on issues 3 and 4. Three will hopefully be colored this month. Five will finish the arc.

Hero Code Theatre of War - art on issues 1 and 2 are complete. Issue 3 is about half way done. All issues need to be colored.

Department O - issue 3's script is ready to go.

I will try to get work done as and when I can afford it and the team's can fit it in.

I will finish them off, it's just a matter of time.

It's time for me to focus my energies elsewhere - time has always been an issue for me - I have work and family commitments that take priority.

Making comics was a great hobby, but my day job is really what I want to do, and it's time to make more of an effort in that area - ultimately, it's what I'm good at.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Year of The Indie - Part One, The Motherless Oven

Here is the first in a series of 12 short reviews for indie books I'll be running throughout 2015.

First up is Rob Davis' Motherless Oven (published by SelfMadeHero)

A fantastic piece of work which immerses the reader in an unsettling world, skirting nightmarish ideas along the line of wondrous childlike imaginations, the short of it is that Motherless Oven is an excellent book.

Great little touches, like the graveyard of Mother's Ruin - where old manufactured mothers are sent when they no longer have any purpose (a fountain of refreshment gin at the centre of a steampunk garden just adds to the sadness of the scene) - are throughout the book.

Ultimately the book has a great heart at the centre, and you really start to care about the characters, become invested in them as they journey to the edges of their world - trying to outrun their fate (literally for Scarper Lee, our protagonist, destined to meet his end as his deathday approaches).

I will be running a contest in December, a chance for someone to win all of the 12 books reviewed in the Year of the Indie series of reviews. Stay tuned for details!