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!

Friday, 2 January 2015

Promotional Promotions

I've been running a Patreon site for my comics for a little over a year now, using it as a digital subscription service.

It gets some interest, but I could be promoting it a lot more, I think.

Patreon sets up a relationship between creator and consumer, in which someone pledges an amount paid upon delivery of content - if I don't put a book up, there is no charge!

I've got it set to a minimum $1 pledge amount (but you can pledge more if you want!)

Hope you'll consider checking it out, perhaps backing it, or sharing it with others.

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

End of Days (2014 edition)

Hello all, here we are at the end of another year, looking forward into the abyss sweet future of 2015!

How was 2014?

Well, I didn't make nearly as many comics as I would like (but I never do, maybe it's time to start tempering expectation?).

I didn't make it to as many conventions as I would like.

My day job career continued it's steady climb up.

My family is amazing, and infuriating, and I love them (both sides of the world).

What should I be looking forward to doing, or trying to do in 2015?

1. I'm going to slow down comic production as the day job shifts, but will be hitting some markers that I've been building to for a while now. Hero Code's first arc should be finishing up in 2015, and Theatre of War (the second arc) is nearly complete too.

2. Conventions, I will be attending a few next year, but holding off on tabling until I have more completed books to show. I may fly or drive up to ECCC, simply because a) it's a great show, and b) there are so many creators I like there, and collaborators I haven't met in person. But I won't be tabling there next year.

3. Day job, hopefully, will get interesting. The long running show I am on may be coming to a close, the tax incentives will be kicking in, so I'm hoping next year will be an exciting one.

4. My family are amazing.

Anything new?

I'm going to be working on an autobio comic in 2015, aiming to do 2 pages a month for a finished 24 page book at the end. I may try to do each page within an hour - a 24 hour comic spread over the year.

I will be running a Kickstarter for Hero Code vol 1. It will contain issues 1-6, as well as sketches, pin ups and a few odds and ends. It will be a bigger Kickstarter than I've ever run, so I'm nervous.

I will be writing a prose Black Wraith story. I fell sick at the start of 2014, and my writing muscle never fully recovered, so I need an exercise to get it back into shape.

Happy New Year, everyone! Thank you to everyone who has read, supported, shared, commented, generally been great about my stuff over the year!

Saturday, 27 December 2014

End of Year Sale

I'm running an end of year sale, starting today until midnight on December 31st, where you can get 50% off everything at the store - http://monkeypipestudios.storenvy.com

Just apply the code "MPS2014" at checkout for the discount.

Feel free to spread the news to anyone you know who might dig indie comics.


Friday, 26 December 2014

2015 is the Year of the Indie

I'm declaring 2015 as the year of the indie.

Not just because of me and, you know, my indie comic stuff (on that note you should totally check out the revamped monkeypipestudios website), but because indie comics is what got me really excited about comics, and continues to excite me about comics.

So here's what I am proposing I will do.

Once a month I will pick up an indie book (graphic novel, long comics, what ever you want to call them), read them, and do a short write up about them (so feel free to recommend me books you've liked or even books you've created - books though, not single issues).

In amongst this I will try to find at least one ComiXology Submit title a week to read.

I will also try to pick up an indie title (single issue or short form or mini) while I am picking up my indie book at a local comic book store.

I'll try to (I make no promises here, because I am notoriously short of time) write up once a week about a Submit book, once a month about a long form and a short form indie book.

At the end of the year I'll have a contest (or draw) where someone will be able to win all 12 of the indie titles I've written up about or read over the year (which will make my wife happy, and save me space at home!)

How does that sound?

First book I picked up today (and will do my write up in January, probably toward the end) is Rob Davis' The Motherless Oven.

Look out for my write up or notes in the next month or so.

Merry New Year! The Year of the Indie!

Sunday, 21 December 2014

2014 and all that...

I've been listing to Chris Anderson's Free recently. It's something I return to time and time again, and something which presents such simple ideas, and yet I always find myself fighting those ideas for no good reason.

As I search for a reason for creating comics (see earlier posts!) I know that deep down a big part of it is so far removed from financial or career gain, and yet I still force the idea of monitising my ideas.

I don't think there is anything wrong with this, and totally understand that some people need to do this, but it isn't for me.

With such a sharp move in comics towards the bits over atoms economy (people will argue this point, but I think that the comic book, physical, market is doomed to shrink in the US because it is so dependent on two main suppliers - big companies which are the classic embodiment of corporations in America working on the idea that a few billionaires are always better than a lot of millionaires) I find myself wondering why I am not doing more to promote the ideas and not the business of Monkey Pipe Studios.

I feel like, as a self described Independent Comic Book Collective, the idea has failed. I originally envisioned a group of like minded comic book creators pooling together to help spread ideas and create a collected fan base. But the core idea of a small imprint and outlet for my own projects still exists.

Time was also a factor for me. It always became tiresome to do weekly updates, or daily updates or single pages. I wasn't really trying to do a webcomic model, and I think it really doesn't behove the books to force them into something they are not.

I'm working on remodeling the Monkey Pipe website, and would ideally like to have a simple website which contained single issues within a reader like Issuu or something like that, so that people can read them in their entirety on the site. If they wish to buy digital copies, they can from Comixology or Drivethru - no harm in having the books there, as I'm pretty sure the readers from those services are casual and not regular visitors to the site.

I think it will be a good idea to do a release for each issue, and encourage discussion and talk about the issue with people. A big part of any independent comic booking is the building of something akin to a community around one's work - how ever big or small.

This would help lead into a Kickstarter campaign down the line for collected editions of each story arc or series - something which might be more successful if there is something like a community built around the series.

The overprint of these Kickstarter's would be used for comic book conventions, which I'd love to branch out with, but have been putting off of going too far until I have more comics to share.

That's where I'm at right now - we shall see how it goes over the next year or so.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Why Do You Do What You Do?

Several years ago I moved from one side of the world and started a new life.

It is both no where near as dramatic as that sounds, but yet also even more dramatic than I sometimes realize.

I moved for the best reason there is; Love.

I was in my thirties, doing okay in my day job, hadn't even realized that comics could be something I could do, and had a family to think of.

A little less than three weeks after arriving at my new home, I had a job which made me comfortable in so many ways, but also meant that I didn't have any where near as much time as I used to have.

It was a good thing and a bad thing. I really didn't process what was happening to me, and didn't really come to terms with how big a life change I had undergone.

When one moves to a completely other country in their thirties, they give up a big part of what makes them who they are - their friends - and they never really address this.

So much changed so quickly, that I never really stopped to think about how I had stopped being me in so many ways, and still continue to try to learn what that means.

Then something happened in the day job - the hours were long, the pay was enough to make us comfortable, but the people I worked with became...difficult.

I had no friends to talk to about this, I had no release to express how I was feeling, and so I started to think about comics a lot. It was a touchstone to the old me - something from my past which I could understand.

I became obsessed in both good (I wrote a lot) and bad (I bought a lot of Heroclix figures for no real reason).

On the good side, I started to realized that I could do something I'd always wanted to do - make my own comics.

I did everything almost wrong, of course - the world of comics is littered with stories of people starting out, making the same mistakes, hubristically thinking they will somehow make the magic happen that everyone else failed to make happen.

It make me happy. It was good. Work was hard, but comics got me through it.

I had some good, some bad, and some tough experiences, but I never did it for any more reason than to just do it.

This year I have really found myself questioning a lot about what I am doing and why in comics. I have also found myself questioning my worth. I have also had my work experience change to where I enjoy the people I work with more, and that has made it somehow harder to write as much.

I feel that it will be a question I think about a lot this year.