November 6, 2012
My name is John Lees, and I love comic book shops. I still remember the first time I ever visited one. The year was, I believe, 1995, and my mum took the then 9-year-old me into Forbidden Planet in Glasgow. For the young me, this is what I imagined stumbling into a treasure trove must feel like. On that first visit to Forbidden Planet, I picked up an Overt-Kill action figure, from the first ever wave of Spawn figures from the then-fledgling McFarlane Toys. It cost £10, which at the time I thought was very expensive, though I imagine now you’d be hard-pressed to get the most basic of toys for that price. That Overt-Kill toy still sits on my bookshelf as a sentimental reminder of that first step towards becoming a lifelong comic fan.
Fast-forward 17 years, and comic shops remain my favourite shops to visit. I’ve visited stores across Scotland, in England, over in the USA, big and small, and to some degree that “treasure trove” feeling remains. I’m a regular at Forbidden Planet, A1 Comics and Plan B Books here in Glasgow, so much so that I know the staff. But one thing I’ve never had is a pull list. It’s been recommended to me before, and I can certainly see the practical benefits of always knowing your week’s comics are going to be available when you go to the store to collect them and not sold out. But still, I don’t think I’d ever do it, because I’d be depriving myself of the best part of a visit to my local comic shop: browsing the shelves for the week’s new releases, and picking my comics out from the selection. I just get a little thrill from sifting through all the comics and seeing familiar covers and titles jumping out at me. And I also like opening myself up to the opportunity of finding an unexpected gem. Perhaps a cover might catch my eye, and I’ll end up trying a comic I had not intended on buying. It’s happened before.
As an independent comic book creator myself, this is the kind of reader we hope and pray for: The curious soul, browsing the shelves, who’ll take a risk and try something new and different. And today, retailers of the comic market, I’m asking you to try something different too.
I’m the writer of The Standard, an award-winning superhero drama whose first issue is being released through Diamond in January. You can find it on page 274 of November’s Previews. The order code is NOV121047. The book is published through ComixTribe, who made a successful debut into the worldwide distribution market earlier this year with Joe Mulvey’s Scam, and who will be releasing the first issue of Tyler James and Cesar Feliciano’s The Red Ten next month. I’m writing this little editorial because I want your store to stock my book.
Why should you do that? Well, first, I’ll tell you what you get out of it. You get a comic that has enjoyed critical acclaim, most recently getting a 5-star review from Examiner. It’s also a comic that is professionally made. I’m not saying that in any way to boast about my own prowess, but rather to acknowledge the gargantuan efforts of the creative team. Jonathan Rector is a superstar artist in the making, with a bold, exciting style that pays homage to the likes of Capullo and Risso while still being very much its own thing. He’s ably assisted in this first issue by the coloring team of Ray Dillon and Mo James, who add lush depth and texture to the world crafted by Rector. And Kel Nuttall is, for my money, one of the finest letterers in the business, at any level in the industry. When I first set out to get this comic made, I vowed that it would look good enough to sit on the shelves alongside the output of Marvel and DC and not appear out of place, and I believe I’ve met that goal.
Then there’s the question of what I get out of it. That’s simple: I get my comic in front of the widest audience possible. To share with you the whole story, I’ve been plugging away at The Standard for a while. 3 issues have been completed. These 3 issues have been made available locally in those comic shops in Glasgow I have such good relationships with. On that most grassroots of levels, the book has been a success, with each issue selling out (multiple times, in some cases) in every store. But I’ve always wanted to cast the net wider. Diamond distribution is what ComixTribe and I have been striving towards for a long time now, and after much delay and many obstacles, it’s finally happening. I’ve spent the past couple of weeks calling up just about every comic book store in the UK and Ireland to tell them about The Standard, working from a shortlist of 100 stores. I’m doing the legwork, I’m striving to go the extra mile and make my comic stand out amidst the sea of new comics in Previews demanding retailer attention. I’ve spread my reach as far as I can, and now I leave it in your hands to spread it further.
That is perhaps the most exciting thing of all about being solicited through Diamond, and entering my comic into worldwide distribution. It’s at this point that The Standard becomes bigger than me. In the early days, when I got a digital/POD sale, I got an email each time. When I go to a con, I’m hand-selling each issue myself. When I distribute locally, it’s me carrying around a big rucksack with my comics and handing them over to a retailer personally. It’s all within my little net of influence. With Diamond distribution, it’s out of my hands. All over the world, in places I’ve never been, my book could potentially be getting stacked on shelves and bought by people who I’ve never met, who know nothing about me. People who saw the cover of my comic, and decided to give it a try.
And so I’m asking you to give my book a try. ComixTribe has been fortunate enough to steadily build up a network of partner retailers who have dilligently supported our output over the past year. To you guys, first, a heartfelt thank you for the continued support. I hope that, if you liked Scam and The Red Ten, you will also give The Standard a shot. I can assure you it is made with the same passion and love for the comics medium as those other excellent books, and that I’ve done my utmost to live up to the high standard (pun intended) set by my ComixTribe stablemates. For those retailers not in our network, those who may be wary of going off the beaten track and sampling a book that isn’t Marvel or DC, or at least Image or Dark Horse… I want to first say that I get it. Shelf space is tight, and of course you only want to fill them with books you believe can sell. But I think, if you give me a chance, I can convince you that The Standard #1 is a comic that can sell, that’s good enough to take a spot on your shelf.
I’m not asking anybody to blindly support this book based on my word alone. If you’re a retailer, and you’re at all interested or curious, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will send you a full review PDF of the first 3 issues, and you can judge for yourself.
November is the month to order The Standard #1. That order code again:
The Standard #1 will be released in January. I would love for your shop to stock it on your shelves. I’ve been holding onto this comic for years, but now it’s out of my hands. Now it’s in yours, and your readers. I know you all have your pull lists, the guaranteed sellers you order each month. But today, I’m asking you to browse the shelves, and open yourself up to the opportunity of finding an unexpected gem. Thank you for reading.
- John Lees
September 25, 2012
This past weekend, I was interviewed by Luke Halsall of Geek Syndicate about The Standard, as part of the site’s “Autumn of Indie” series on up-and-coming comic creators. Here’s what I had to say:
What a year it has been for John Lees!
He has released 3 of the 6 issues of his debut comic The Standard, which has received incredible critical acclaim. After being nominated for a SICBA (Scottish Independent Comic Book Awards) last year, he was nominated again this year and won Best Writer. He is a key member of GLoW (Glasgow League of Writers), where he was a part of their first anthology and is also a part of the second. He is also a part of The Oxymoron graphic novel that soared to success through Kickstarter.
GS: Hi John! You have had incredible success with your debut book The Standard, a critical hit that you won a SICBA for, winning Best Writer. Where did the idea come from?
JL: The story of The Standard began back in late 2008, when an artist friend of mine approached me about making a comic with him. The original plan had been to do a crime-noir detective story, but in the midst of thinking about that I came up with something completely different, about an elderly superhero from a more innocent age coming out of retirement in today’s grim-and-gritty world. And while the original collaboration with my friend didn’t materialize, this idea for a superhero, who by this point was called The Standard, stuck around with me. I’ve always loved superheroes, and so I think this is my love letter of sorts to the genre, my attempt to put everything I love about superheroes into a story of my own.
GS: What first inspired you to write comics?
JL: It was a bit of a “Eureka!” revelation for me. I’ve always loved comics, and I’ve always loved writing, but never really put the two together in my mind. I had studied screenwriting as part of my Film & Television Studies course at University, and after graduating I’d had ideas of pursuing that further, but didn’t have a concrete plan in mind. But in shifting mediums to comics, my mind became full of possibilities. It seems, especially when you’re starting out, that writing for film or TV is as much about what you CAN’T do as anything else, but with comics there’s no budget, no restrictions save for what you and your creative team are capable of putting onto paper. I read a brilliant series of columns by editor Steven Forbes called Bolts & Nuts (currently available for reading on www.comixtribe.com) that took this lofty dream of making comics, and set it out as a tangible goal to strive towards, not just in terms of the technical aspects of formatting a comic script, but the practical issues of getting your script made into a comic, published, etc. So, Steven Forbes is someone I definitely have to mention when talking about what inspired me to write comics.
GS: What type of storytelling do you like?
JL: It might seem like a facetious answer, but “good storytelling”. I can enjoy stories in a diverse range of genres and styles, so long as they’re executed well. To narrow it down more, I’d say that ultimately I’m someone who prefers heart over head. Stories of admirable technical invention that are emotionally cold don’t resonate with me so much as stories that, at their core, are about characters.
GS:The Standard is planned to have a diamond release next year in America. Can you tell us more about how this came about?
JL: It’s come about through my relationship with ComixTribe. Steven Forbes is the editor of The Standard, and so when he paired up with Tyler James to form ComixTribe, Tyler offered me a spot on the upstart publisher’s launch line of titles. I was at the ComixTribe booth at New York Comic Con last year, and that was a great experience. In the year since, I’ve seen the company make leaps and bounds. Tyler piloted a micro-distribution scheme across a network of retailers in the US that proved to be such a big success that it put us on Diamond’s radar, and so just recently ComixTribe had its first worldwide release with Scam #1 through Diamond. The Red Ten debuts through Diamond in December, then it’s The Standard in January. I’m very excited (and nervous!) about that, as of course while The Standard has done very well on its more small-scale release around Glasgow and in digital markets, it’s when you’re in Diamond and available to comic shops all around the world that it really feels real.
GS: How does the comixtribe experience work?
JL: ComixTribe are still an upstart publisher, and so they’re not actively seeking new titles to publish at the moment. But what they’ve done that I think is very smart is focus on establishing their brand. With titles like Scam and The Red Ten, the unifying factor is quality, and so hopefully ComixTribe are starting to mark themselves out as a publisher of quality titles. I think what also sets ComixTribe apart is that they’re not just a comics publisher, they’re an online resource. Go to www.comixtribe.com and you’ll find columns about improving your writing, improving your art, and the practicalities of life as a comics professional, as well as reviews of creator-owned comics by yours truly. And so in everything ComixTribe does, there’s just a real passion for comics that I think is infectious.
GS: Can you tell us how you went by getting issue 1 of The Standard made?
JL: I’m not sure how long you want this answer to be! It was a long, sometimes agonizing process, but a real learning curve too. The Standard #1 was the first comic script I had ever written, and so getting the script hammered out was just the beginning. The next step, before art or anything, was editing. Steven Forbes – who I’ve mentioned a couple of times already in this interview – first helped me plot out a rough overview of the story as a whole, shaping it into a 6-part miniseries. Then the script for the first issue went through a few drafts to refine it and iron out the various rookie mistakes.
Next up was hiring an artist. I went to Digital Webbing for that, and put up an ad that got me about 100 responses. I replied to them all, mostly to simply pass on their art. But I picked out a shortlist of possible contenders, and from there narrowed it down to my top choice. That started off great. I got a really cool sample page from this artist, and he had just started sending in character designs when he suddenly became very hard to get a hold of. I’d go weeks with no reply, followed by an apology and a promise to get right back into the swing of things, followed by more weeks of nothing. Eventually, after several months had passed with not a page of art received, I dropped them from the project, and turned to my second choice on the shortlist. This guy provided a sample page that was even better than the first guy’s, and so I hired him as the replacement artist. I promptly got in character designs, and he’d just started working on thumbnails when he informed me that the project he was working on, that he’d been expecting to be finishing up on, had suddenly got a lot bigger, so he gave me the option of either waiting several months for him or moving on, no hard feelings. I took the latter option, but by this point I was feeling pretty disenfranchised with the whole process, and concerned that I’d never find an artist. But Steven Forbes came through trumps, putting me in touch with an artist called Jonathan Rector whose website he’d found via a link on Digital Webbing. I looked at his pages, and I was just floored. As good as the previous artists had been, Jonathan’s art was on a whole other level. And I instantly knew he had to be the artist for The Standard. Steven put the two of us in touch, Jon seemed to be really into the script, and so he agreed to come onboard the project. And the rest is history!
When Jon’s pages started coming in, it was just amazing. There’s nothing quite like getting an email in your inbox, and opening it up to see an idea from your head that you’d written down brought to life with stunning art. I can’t imagine anyone else drawing this book now, and it’s unbelievable that it was almost somebody else drawing it. Everything worked out for the best on that front! Once all the pencils and inks were done, we brought onboard Kel Nuttall as the letterer, and put together a black-and-white edition of The Standard #1, which I shopped around to a few people at San Diego Comic Con 2010. The colour came later, after we linked up with ComixTribe and Tyler James emphasized its importance. That led to Ray Dillon doing the colouring for the first issue, though we’ve subsequently had Gulliver Vianei replace him for issue #2, and currently have the talented Mike Gagnon in the role.
With a completely drawn, coloured and lettered comic, I initially had the book published via print-in-demand at Ka-Blam, which made up the product I originally distributed to stores in Glasgow. But then my association with ComixTribe hooked me up with ICG Publishing, who published a more polished product that I’ve been selling at conventions. And in January 2013, 4 years after starting work on issue #1, it’ll be getting a Diamond release, with a new cover and some additional backmatter. 4 years later and I’m still going about getting The Standard #1 made!
GS: You and Jonathan Rector have produced some stunning work on The Standard. What is it like working with him and how is it working with a man who lives in Canada when you live in Scotland?
JL: Jonathan Rector is great. I’ve said before that he’s my secret weapon on this book, as his stunning artwork is what brings eyes to the comic. I see people’s eyes light up when I tell them I made the comic, but then I think they’re usually disappointed when I tell them I didn’t draw it! It was important to me that I made a book that could be happily sat on the shelf next to a Marvel or DC book and not look out-of-place, and thanks to Jon I succeeded in that goal. And he’s getting better all the time! It also helps that he’s an absolutely great guy, with seemingly boundless enthusiasm.
As for what it’s like working with someone who lives in Canada while I’m stuck in sunny Scotland, it’s an interesting experience. We live in an incredible age, where communicating with a creative team located on the other side of the world can be done instantaneously. The internet has really opened the network of collaboration for creators all over the globe. It’s funny that we’ve been working together so closely all this time, and become friends in the process, but after all this time we’ve never actually met. I’ll be meeting him for the first time at New York Comic Con, which I’m greatly looking forward to!
GS: We are half way through The Standard and we can see that things are starting to tease out where it could go. Will we see a Standard 2 at any point? Or a spin-off with one of the support characters?
JL: I don’t really want to give anything away, but I will say that I do feel there is scope to tell further stories set in this world, in one form or another.
GS: To any aspiring creator out there, what would you say is the best piece of advice?
JL: The best possible advice I can give is to create! If you want to write comics, go out there and get your own comic made! It doesn’t matter if you don’t quite know what you’re doing yet, there’s no better way to learn than by doing it. Scripts are one thing, but they’ll never be a match for having a completed, printed comic with your name on it. Sell that comic at local marts, see if your local store will stock it, just do what you can to get it out there. Then you’re not an aspiring creator. You’re a creator.
GS: Where you would like to be in 10 years time?
JL: It would be easy to say something like “writing Batman” here. But I think more importantly, in 10 years time I want to still be writing comics. I want it to be my career, how I make my living, and I want to be making a healthy living from doing that. And I’d like to still have the same passion for the medium that I do now, and still be telling stories that excite me and keep me awake at night, my mind buzzing with characters and plot beats. Though if that happens to involve writing Batman, I wouldn’t object!
You can read the interview at its original source over on Geek Syndicate. And be sure to check the site for interviews with more exciting indy creators, as well as an inerview with me and Garry McLaughlin about our upcoming collaboration, Black Leaf.
August 9, 2012
Tyler James has been making headlines with his insanely innovative Kickstarter campaign for The Oxymoron, a spin-off anthology starring the villain from ComixTribe series The Red Ten. Originally, the goal was to raise $8500 to fund a print run for New York Comic Con. We made that amount inside the first week. So then, Tyler came up with a series of bonus incentives, culminating in the insane pie-in-the-sky top goal of $20,000 that – in the crazy scenario we ever reached that much – would ganer a greenlight for The Oxymoron 2 in 2013. We passed $20,000 yesterday, and we’ve gained over $2000 more since then, and the money’s still coming. What I love is that, with each landmark we’ve reached, the book itself has gotten better: going from hardcover to oversized hardcover, getting spot UV coating on the cover, having a cover/pinup gallery added to the backmatter. This project has been a huge success, largely because of the impressive range of goodies on offer for those who pledge in support. When we reached 300 backers, one extra addition added was that everyone who backs The Oxymoron will get a downloadable PDF of The Standard, Volume 1, containing the first 3 issues of the miniseries. Here are the very nice things Tyler had to say about me and The Standard:
John Lees is on a collision course with comics super-stardom…the only variable is time.
(Apologies to Scott Sigler…stole that line from his great Galactic Football League Series.) But I mean it completely. At just 25 years young, Lees writes like a polished pro. A big advocate for all comics, you’d be hard-pressed to find more thoughtful reviews on the internet than Lees’ Creator-Owned Zone column. While he’s a relative newcomer to the world of comics, John is already starting to get some recognition. Earlier this summer, John took home the Best Writer trophy from the Scottish Independent Comics Awards for his series, THE STANDARD (drawn by Oxymoron cover artist Jonathan Rector.) The first two issues of THE STANDARD debuted at the New York Comic Con last year, but the third issue and trade of the series are being held for world-wide distribution in early 2013 by ComixTribe.
But, as a backer of this project, you don’t need to wait for it!
John has generously agreed to share the not-yet-released full PDF of THE STANDARD – Volume I, containing the first three-chapter arc of the critically hailed series, with all backers.
I say this without hesitation or hyperbole…THE STANDARD is the BEST superhero book I’ve read this year.
I hope (and know) you’ll enjoy it.
One of these guys will be writing Batman in ten years. I’m bettin’ it ain’t Morrison!
Wow, I feel my head inflating! Thanks to Tyler for the very kind words. So, if the fact that The Oxymoron is crammed with some of the top indy comics talent out there right now and is shaping up to be one of the year’s must-read comics isn’t enough to make you pledge, perhaps the knowledge that your support will also get you a free copy of The Standard, Volume 1 might push you over the edge. But hurry…. there’s only one day left in the campaign!
July 3, 2012
I’ve talked before about how much I was looking forward to Glasgow Comic Con this year, about how I attended last year as a fan, and returning as a pro this year felt like a homecoming. Certainly, Glasgow Comic Con was an event I was eagerly anticipating. But even I had no idea just how great a con it was going to be.
One of the criticisms of last year’s con that, with everything crammed into a single venue at the Mackintosh Church, things got pretty cramped. With all the retailers and small press professionals all exhibiting together, and signings in the same area, there was very little space to move around in the dealer’s hall, or indeed to linger at any tables that caught your interest. That shortcoming was addressed this year with the addition of another venue, Queen’s Cross Hall, situated across the street from the main building. The hall was bright, spacious and airy, and I have to say opening it up for use was a great move. This is where I was located, and I loved it. In fact, I ended up spending most of the weekend there and very little time in the Mackintosh Church itself. As a result, I can comment very little on the pros and cons of the convention as a whole. For a great, comprehensive overview of the event, check out the report from Comics Anonymous. All I can say is that, from the perspective of a professional selling my wares, and from talking to other professionals, Glasgow Comic Con was a massive success.
Things started off a bit slow on the Saturday morning. Nobody was coming into the hall, and I was momentarily panicked that perhaps the seperate venue meant there would be no passing trade. I needn’t have worried, however. It turned out that most people were attending the opening panel for the first hour or so of the show, and with that over people began filtering into Queen’s Cross Hall. I was pleased with the layout of our tables, with me sharing my Standard table with the Glasgow League of Writers’ GLoW 1 anthology, Colin Bell and Neil Slorance’s Jonbot VS Martha and Neil Slorance’s Nine Lines of Metro, and the table next to us shared by Gary Chudleigh and Graeme Kennedy with Villainous and Gordon McLean with No More Heroes, so it was like our whole side of the hall was “the GLoW wing.” The real hot seller for the first half of the day was GLoW 1, which made me happy as we were initially worried about whether the demand for the book would be enough to justify the price we were selling it at. Major credit must go to Luke Halsall, who was a selling machine all weekend, shifting anthologies like no one’s business. But as the day went on, sales for The Standard, Volume 1 – the graphic novel collecting issues 1-3 – began to really pick up steam. By the afternoon, Queen’s Cross Hall was jumping with people, and our table was so busy that I had the unusual experience of signing sold copies of The Standard while pitching the book to more interested con-goers, and simultaneously signing copies of GLoW 1 being handed to me. I just have to give major kudos to the Glasgow comic reader community. They arrived at the con with an active interest in finding new comics to try, keen and receptive to good pitches, and eager to support local talent. Some sales were as simple as, “Can I interest you in my comic, The Standard?”/”Sure, how much?”
With things going so well, I was riding on too much of a wave of adrenaline to leave my table much. But I did get away on a couple of occasions. Once for a Frank Quitely signing, where I got my copy of Absolute All Star Superman (previously signed by Morrison) signed by the acclaimed artist. And later in the day, I attended the Grant Morrison signing, which seemed to take quite a while longer as the legendary writer seemed to enjoy having lengthy wee chats with most of the folks in the queue. I got my Deluxe Edition of We3 (previously signed by Quitely) signed, and the always-engaging Morrison was keen to chat for a wee bit and pose for a photo.
But as enjoyable as my encounters with the world-renowned superstars of the comic industry were, the real pleasure was getting to meet and hang out with my friends on the independent comics scene. As previously mentioned, I was sharing a pair of table with Gordon McLean, Graeme Kennedy, Gary Chudleigh, Colin Bell, Neil Slorance and Luke Halsall, and I couldn’t have asked for a nicer bunch of folks to spend the con with. Special thanks also go to GLoW compatriots Sam Read, Jane Sayer and Iain McGarry for taking shifts at the table assisting us in selling our wares, and Fraser Craig and Stuart Ritchie for frequently stopping by to check in. I got to spend a little time chatting to some of my artistic collabotors. Garry McLaughlin – who I worked with on GLoW 1 short The Awesome Doggy Boy and will be drawing Black Leaf, the upcoming horror graphic novel I’m writing – stopped by for a while, and the legendary Iain Laurie stopped by to give me a copy of his brilliant Horror Mountain and discuss possible future projects. I spent quite a bit of time chatting and hanging out with Chris Connelly, who wrote and drew the SICBA-nominated Reality War, which I fortunately bought a copy of before it sold out. And in the Grant Morrison queue I got to spend some time talking to Ross Leonard, writer of another SICBA-nominee, Maximum Alan, which I also picked up later in the show. It really feels great to be part of such a vibrant, passionate creative community as the Glasgow comic scene, full of incredibly talented, and more importantly, incredibly nice people.
By the end of day 1, I had sold through almost all of the stock of The Standard, Volume 1 I’d brought with me. In one day at Glasgow Comic Con, I had made more from sales than I did over the whole weekend at Kapow Con in London. I was amazed at how successful a day it had been. But things were set to get even better.
As a nominee, I was invited to the SICBA awards party at the Citizen M Hotel. The swanky city centre venue was a major shift upwards from the previous year, where the event was simply held in the dealer’s hall. This year felt more like an official awards ceremony, and as we got clearer to the time for the winners to be announced I was surprised to find myself getting nervous! We began with the Outstanding Contribution to Comics award, presented by last year’s winner Alan Grant. This went to Dave Alexander, someone who has been working hard in the British comics scene for some 30 years and perhaps never quite got the widespread recognition he deserved. He seemed genuinely surprised and humbled by the award, and I was happy to see him get it. Next up was the award for Best Cover, which went to well-deserved winner James Devlin for his fantastic cover to School of the Damned #1. And then the nerves really set in, as it came to the first category I was nominated for: Best Writer. The tension was ramped up even more by a comically overlong process of announcing the nominees, with some confusion about who the runners-up were. But finally, it was time to announce the winner…. and it was me!
Walking up to claim my award and give an acceptance speech was an incredibly surreal experience. And having Jim Starlin sitting a couple of feet away from me didn’t make it any easier! I stumbled through a speech – opening with a clunker of a joke that no one laughed at and saying “Umm” too much – but everyone was very polite and clapped at the end, and when I returned to my table on a total high. I was over the moon, and so happy and proud.
Up next was the Best Artist award, which once again went to James Devlin for School of the Damned. I did record the announcement and James’ gracious acceptance speech (the plan was to record all the speeches that night) but with apologies to Mr. Devlin, I must admit I accidentally deleted it. The final award of the night was Best Comic Book/Graphic Novel, the second category The Standard was nominated in. During the applause for the nominees, the vibrations shook my award off the table, and the base broke off! But a couple of days later, some superglue seems to have fixed it up adequately. But back to the awards… taking home two awards would have been incredible. But in the end, we got perhaps an even better result: No More Heroes won. And so we had two different members of the Glasgow League of Writers sharing in the glory at this year’s Scottish Independent Comic Book Awards.
Between the massive sales and the SICBA triumph, Saturday was absolutely amazing. I knew going in that Sunday was never going to quite match it. Still, the second day of the con still went rather well. I had to bring in my remaining stock of graphic novels with me, the stock I’d been planning on keeping aside for Thought Bubble in November, in order to replenish the depleted stock after Saturday. Sunday began with a pre-con breakfast with a few of my GLoW cohorts – including Gordon Robertson, who made a welcome appearance after being unable to attend on the Saturday – before we headed over to Queen’s Cross Hall to get back into selling mode. The big story of the day was GLoW 1 completely selling out within the first couple of hours. Things got off to a slower start for The Standard, Volume 1, but as the day went on I steadily picked up steam and I made a decent number of sales, and by the end of the day I only had a handful left. Perhaps my proudest achievement of the day was being able to sell a copy to Batman, who had to remove his gloves and retrieve some money from his utility belt to buy the book.
By the time we finally closed up shop at 5pm, I had made even more from The Standard in 2 days at Glasgow Comic Con than I’d made over the whole four days of New York Comic Con last year, which is far more than I dreamed of being able to sell. A few members of the Glasgow League of Writers wrapped up the weekend with a post-con dinner at Lucky 7 and a trip to the Insane Championship Wrestling show at The Garage, but to be honest, I went through it all in a daze. I was exhausted, the adrenaline high that carried me through finally wearing off, but I was totally content and happy with my amazing weekend.
What I loved about Glasgow Comic Con this year was that it really felt like a celebration of Scottish creators. Even amongst the big-name guests, for most there was a Scottish connection there. And it seems many of the big success stories of the show in terms of sales were independent, creator-owned comics from local creators. Rather than trying to be a mini-version of a huge American con, Glasgow Comic Con was quite proudly the GLASGOW Comic Con, and the attendees seemed to respond to that. As a creator with a table, I didn’t just feel like one of a sea of exhibitors, but rather I felt like part of a community. A great vibe, that I hope can be replicated for years to come. A big thank you must go out to con organisers John Farman and Sha Nazir, who helped me have my most successful con ever. And thanks must go to everybody who came along and supported The Standard and other local comics. Looking forward to seeing you at Glasgow Comic Con 2013!
May 22, 2012
This past weekend, various fans, exhibitors and professionals of the comics world descended upon the Business Design Centre in London, England for the second annual Kapow Con. And I was among them, selling copies of the first three issues of The Standard. I was sharing a table with the Glasgow League of Writers, with Gordon McLean as my core tablemate, selling the first two issues of No More Heroes. But also assisting at the table were GLoW cohorts Colin Bell (pimping free samples of his webcomic Jonbot VS Martha), Sam Read, John McCusker and Luke Halsall. Things started off a little slow, but once they picked up, Kapow turned out to be a very successful weekend for GLoW and for The Standard.
As we struggled to make sense of the London tube system, we ended up being a bit late to the venue on the Saturday. We ended up arriving at the Business Design Centre just as the fans were getting in. Perhaps being in a rush to set up threw us off our game a bit, but it seemed like at first we were struggling to grab anyone’s attention on the floor. Thankfully, we started drawing people to our table, and both The Standard and No More Heroes began to sell rather well.
The one panel I attended on Saturday was the Image Superstars panel. Eric Stephenson was moderating this discussion, which included Charlie Adlard, Sean Phillips, David Hine, Shaky Kane and the surprise addition of Doug Braithwaite, who will be drawing upcoming sci-fi noir series Storm Dogs for Hine. The various projects discussed at this panel reminded me just how much quality output Image is getting out there right now. Exciting times for creator-owned work indeed. I got to ask a question about why, while in the past it seemed like creators made their naes on great Image titles before moving on up to Marvel and DC, now we’re seeing big name Marvel and DC creators coming over to Image, and that prompted some interesting debate and discussion amongst the panel. Afterwards, I was also able to pounce on Image publisher Eric Stephenson and get some copies of The Standard in his hands! Eric Stephenson actually really impressed me at Kapow. As such a senior publisher, I’m sure it would have been easy for him to take a hands-off approach, but he was there at the Image booth selling away like every other exhibitor. It goes to show the passion he still has for the industry and the product he’s selling.
The other main thing that took me away from my table on Saturday was a couple of signings. I’m kicking myself at missing the Paul Cornell signing (especially when I hear that Mr. Cornell sat down to have a chat with my Comic Anonymous friends earlier in the day while I was away getting coffee!), but I did get to go see Jock, getting both my hardcover graphic novel of Batman: The Black Mirror and a couple of Scalped issues signed. Jock was nice, and seemed pleased that someone had some Scalped stuff for him. Of course, I’m a Scalped super-fan.
Later on in the day, I ended up in a much bigger queue for Scott Snyder. We were told that Scott would only be signing 1 item per person, as the queues were massive and he wanted to get through everyone before his time was up, which is fair enough. So, after a moment of Sophie’s Choice style turmoil, I settled to have Batman: The Black Mirror signed instead of Batman #5, my favourite single issue Snyder has written. As was the case at NYCC, Snyder was a very nice guy to meet, though I got a real kick to discover that he actually knew who I was, and reads my reviews! I gave Scott copies of The Standard, and went away feeling pretty chuffed, if I do say so myself.
As the day neared its close, some of our number decided to head off early. But I’m glad I decided to stay on to the bitter end, as in that last stint we made a whole bunch of sales. Among the people I was happiest to meet on Saturday was Magnus Aspli, writer of The Vessel of Terror.
I was a big fan of this book, and gushed about it in my review last year. So it was nice to put a face to the name at last. Anyway, after wringing every last sale out of the day that I could, finally we were chased out of the hall, and Kapow was done for the night.
For dinner, we went to a fantastic Thai restaurant called Thai Square London. This was the first time I’ve had Thai food, but it won’t be the last. Disco duck with coconut rice: delicious. We went to the Hilton Bar afterwards, but honestly we were so tired after our long journey and early rise (5am for me!) that we ended up calling it a night early.
On Sunday, we managed to get to the venue earlier, giving us time to get ourselves set up before the punters arrived. As the day of selling began proper, I was really pleased that we had a few people who had bought The Standard #1 the day before coming back to get issues #2 and #3, because they loved the first issue so much. It’s great to have readers come back and let you know they enjoyed the book, it really emphasizes that you’re not just throwing your work out into a void, that people are appreciating it.
My one panel for Sunday was DC’s New 52 panel. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: people give Dan Didio a hard time, but his passion for what he does is undeniable. He showed that again here, in an enthusiastic, often candid panel talking about what lies ahead for DC’s publishing line. Also on the panel were Scott Snyder, Ian Churchill and Bob Wayne. It’s funny, the news that DC will be re-introducing an established male character as gay in the coming months has been making headlines as a big announcement in the news-phere, but as someone who actually attended the panel, I can say the “announcement” came somewhat off-hand, as a reply to a tricky question from the audience. “Much like our President, Dan Didio’s opinion has evolved,” drolly quipped Bob Wayne – probably the line of the panel.
Afterwards, I went back for a second Scott Snyder signing, this time to get Batman #5 signed. Snyder kindly obliged, and also teased a bit about what’s coming up in Batman. I can’t share any details, but it’s going to be very exciting!
As we neared the home-stretch for Kapow, I managed to sell out of The Standard #1. On one hand, this was great – I’d had a successful sell-out of the first issue! But on the other hand, it meant that for the last 20 minutes or so of exhibiting I had a hard time getting people to buy just issues #2 and #3. I did manage to sway a couple of folk, though.
And finally, it was all over. Another con done, and it was time to pack up and go home. Already, I’m back in Glasgow and it feels like London never happened. But all in all, it was a very successful con. I got to meet some awesome people, make some promising contacts, and most importantly, get The Standard into the hands of a whole new bunch of readers. See you again next year, Kapow!
February 6, 2012
Today is the last day for voting on the Eagle Awards. If you recall my earlier blog on the topic, The Standard and its creative team are nominated for 7 awards. We are nominated in these categories:
FAVOURITE NEWCOMER WRITER: John Lees
FAVOURITE NEWCOMER ARTIST: Jonathan Rector
FAVOURITE COLORIST: Mike Gagnon
FAVOURITE LETTERER: Kel Nuttall
FAVOURITE BRITISH COMICBOOK – COLOUR: The Standard
FAVOURITE NEW COMICBOOK: The Standard
FAVOURITE 2011 COVER: The Standard #2
And as a bonus, ComixTribe – the publisher of The Standard - is nominated too:
FAVOURITE COMICS-RELATED WEBSITE: ComixTribe
Now is your last chance to vote, and show your support of The Standard. If you haven’t voted yet, I’d really appreciate you taking the time to do so today. You can find the link to the nominations page here:
January 20, 2012
Yes, it may seem to some that the role of colorist on The Standard is fast becoming as precarious a gig as teaching Defence Against the Dark Arts at Hogwarts or dating Debra Morgan, but I’d like to make the formal announcement that, with The Standard #3, we have a new principal colorist. This time round, we’re keeping it in the family, as issue #2 flatter Mike Gagnon steps up to the plate as sole colorist.
I want to first thank the talented Gulliver Vianei, colorist of The Standard #2. He was a joy to work with, prompt in delivering pages and quick with any revisions required. Sadly, health problems and scheduling clashes meant we couldn’t keep him on for this issue, but I wish him all the best, and much well-deserved success in future.
Looking forward, though initially he kindly agreed to come onboard as a flatter, this was probably a job Mike Gagnon was overqualified for. An accomplished writer and artist in his own right – with credits such as Monkeys and Midgets, The Island of Dr. Morose and Dagar the Invincible to his name – and he’s the creative mastermind behind emerging comics studio COMICized. His bright, sharp colors are definitely going to be a worthy compliment to the dynamic pencils of Jonathan Rector, and I hope to have him onboard for the long haul. Here’s a sneak preview of one of his colored pages:
You can buy The Standard #1 in print from ComixTribe and Indyplanet, priced at $3.99, or digitally from Graphicly, Wowio, DriveThruComics and MyDigitalComics, priced at $1.99. You can also buy it in comic stores in Glasgow.
You can buy The Standard #2 in print from ComixTribe and IndyPlanet, priced at $3.99, or digitally from Graphicly, Wowio,DriveThruComics and MyDigitalComics, priced at $1.99. You can also buy it in comic stores in Glasgow.
December 30, 2011
Hello everyone! This is, I believe, the 100th post on this blog, and the last one of 2011. So, to commemorate this mini-landmark, I thought I would look ahead to 2012, and share with you all what to expect from The Standard in the New Year.
For starters, there’s the pressing concern of The Standard #3. First, I want to thank you all for your patience, and apologise for the long wait. I have had a lot of people asking me when issue #3 is due for release, which I feel guilty about, though on the positive side the fact that I have people asking at least shows that you’re interested, and care about what happens next. All I can say is that the delays have been unfortunate but unavoidable, and I’m confident things will get back on track in 2012. Right now, I’m expecting The Standard #3 to be ready for February 2012. The pencils are nearing completion, and then it’s just a matter of getting the coloring and lettering done. I will say that Jonathan Rector has outdone himself once again: the pages I’ve seen have blown me away. To whet your appetite a little, I’m going to share with you a sneak peek at The Standard #3:
Looking further ahead, I’m also planning on taking The Standard to more conventions this year. In May, I will be going to the Kapow Con in London. I’ll have a table there with the Glasgow League of Writers, and I’ll be bringing along Standard-related goodies, hopefully including The Standard #4 and a collection with a London-exclusive cover. The following month, in June, I also aim to be at Glasgow Comic Con, hopefully building on the success of being nominated at my local convention’s SICBA awards this year. And I intend to return to the Big Apple in October for New York Comic Con 2012. All indications seem to be that the ComixTribe presence next year is going to be bigger and better than this year’s breakthrough debut, and I definitely want The Standard to be a big part of that. It may be an optimistic goal, but I’d like for all 6 issues to be released by that time, so that I can debut the graphic novel collected edition in New York.
In other news, I also hope to see The Standard break into the American comic store market in 2012. Currently, The Standard is available to buy in comic stores in Glasgow, but American readers have to rely on reading it digitally or ordering it online. I want that to change, and for my comic to be more accessible to those who are interested in reading it. And it seems like some avenues could be opening up in the coming months to get The Standard into an American LCS near you, so watch this space for further updates!
2011 has been a great year for me and The Standard. It was the year that this idea that has been in development for so long was finally unleashed on the world. Thank you to everyone who has supported the comic, and I hope you’ll stick around for the year ahead!
October 28, 2011
I got to sleep a little later this day, staying in bed until the luxurious time of 7am before getting up and ready. I headed off to the Javits Center with a tinge of sadness, as I knew this would be the last day of what had been an immensely fun New York Comic Con. I didn’t have any panels lined up, so I knew I’d be able to make the most of my last day with lots of selling at the ComixTribe booth.
My only extended foray away from the table came when I attended the Jeff Lemire signing in the afternoon. I had arrived at Javits with a much lighter satchel bag on Sunday, having been able to leave the Joshua Hale Fialkov hardcover graphic novels and the massive pile of Scott Snyder comics at the hotel, and now all that was left was a few Jeff Lemire comics – Sweet Tooth #1, Animal Man #1 and #2, Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #1 and #2. I’ve been a fan of Lemire’s since Sweet Tooth, and reading modern masterpiece Essex County took my appreciation of his talent to a whole new level. Combine that with the fact that, with Animal Man, he’s also writing one of the very best titles of DC’s New 52, and Lemire was the one guy left on my checklist of creators I really wanted to meet at NYCC.
With the massive queues I endured at the Snyder signings on the previous day, I dilligently showed up at the Top Shelf booth early, and asked where the queue for Jeff Lemire started. The bemused guy at the booth told me, “It can start with you.” Once Jeff arrived, I started gabbling at him about how I would have brought Essex County to get signed but couldn’t fit it in my suitcase, and how I’d convinced someone sitting behind me at the DC Dark panel to go and buy Animal Man #1 by showing them the copy I had in my bag. I don’t think he understood a word of my incomprehensible Glaswegian brogue, but he did smile and nod politely. I gave Jeff copies of The Standard #1 and #2, thus completing the trifecta of my favorite creators that I wanted to give my comic to. Having also given copies to Grant Morrison and Paul Cornell at earlier signings, this means that my top five favorite comic writers all theoretically have a copy of a comic I wrote in their possession, which in itself is a very rewarding feeling.
I’ll also take a brief aside to mention that the people at 215 Ink all rock. I didn’t get a chance to talk to them at length at any point over the course of NYCC, and I think they had an even harder time making out my accent than most, but they’re a talented bunch of creators, and I eagerly scooped up a couple of their titles on my travels.
Back at the booth, and I’m pleased to report that I was able to carry my momentum from the previous day over to Sunday. They say Sunday is often a very quiet day, slow for sales, but together we managed to make Sunday top even our performance on Saturday, and against the odds make it our most successful day for sales. There was one small thing that made a surprisingly huge difference. Each day, we had been inching our table a little further out, trying to lessen the effect of being overwhelmed by the massive China booths pressed against us. Well, on Sunday, at the time of the con floor opening to the public, the China exhibitors hadn’t even shown up, and all the tarps were still up on their booths, suggesting they wouldn’t be showing up on this last day. Tyler and I took advantage of this by bringing round an extra table from behind the booth, and sitting it out in front of our current table, creating a “corner” where we could display Tyler’s prints of Batman and Spider-Man at Yankee stadium. This had an amazing effect: loads of people that might have otherwise walked right on by were stopped in their tracks by this eye-catching print, now displayed prominently in full view of the show floor rather than hidden behind us. We sold loads of that print, and that in turn got people more interested in the rest of our output.
It was also fun to get a bunch of cosplayers interested in checking out our comics, and even have a few buying them. It’s a bit surreal when you’re standing next to Spider-Man, telling him about your comic, or you have Batman taking off his gloves so he can take money out of his utility belt to buy a ComixTribe package deal. But I think cosplayers are awesome. Screw that jerk from Men’s Fitness who made fun of them. It just creates a great party atmosphere when, for a few short days, you have people dressing up as fictional characters and walking around the streets of New York (or San Diego, or wherever), and having fun. I especially loved the couples who cosplayed together, particularly as complimentary characters: e.g. The Doctor and Amy, Green Arrow and Black Canary, The Joker and Harley Quinn. That right there is true love. I think that should be my litmus test for whether any future girlfriend is a keeper. But of course, the great downside of attempting to establish myself as a professional at cons is that there will be less of an opening to dress up in a silly spandex outfit at such events. Perhaps I should commission a Frying Scotsman costume for next year. Cosplayers, we salute you!
This last day flew by, and before we knew it, the announcements were blaring that Comic-Con was now closed for 2011. But that wasn’t going to stop me! I think I was still selling comics for a good 20 minutes after the show closed, catching people passing on their way out, or general stragglers. I had to live up to my “Sellin’ Scotsman” alias! The Standard really picked up steam on this last day, flying off our table at such a rate that, by the end of the day, I only had one copy of The Standard #1 first print edition left, and only small amounts of The Standard #2 and my NYCC exclusives. It was really exciting seeing my comic start to break out and get people interested enough to buy it, particularly on Sunday. Overall, I’d say The Standard was a big success at New York Comic Con, as was ComixTribe as a whole.
Just before we got ready to leave, Rich Johnston walked past our table. I made sure to call him over and thank him for publicising some of our titles and sending increased traffic our way over the course of the con. I’d given him The Standard on Wednesday, but we made sure to give him copies of all our other ComixTribe titles before he headed off.
With the con finished, we embarked on the tedious process of tidying up. Everything was packed away, and painstakingly hauled out from the show floor and back out to the car park, for Joe to load into his car. Once we were done with that, and I had said my goodbye to the Javits Center and New York Comic Con (until next year, hopefully!), Joe, Tyler and I made our way to the Pig & Whistle, where I had the best dinner I’d eaten in several days! It really felt like a victory meal, with the great con we’d all had. As a parting gift, I gave Tyler and Joe a copy each of The Saga of the Swamp Thing: Book One, upon learning to my horror that neither had ever read any of Moore’s Swamp Thing. In return, I was fortunate enough to grab copies of ComixTribe’s entire line – Scam, Runners, Epic, The Red Ten and Tears of the Dragon. After a great dinner, I said goodbye to Tyler and Joe – already creators I had a lot of respect for, but who over the course of the week I had become good friends with too – and headed back to my hotel.
New York Comic Con was a total blast, and I’d had one of the best weeks of my life. I was a bit sad knowing that tomorrow would be my last day in New York City, but I was also determined to make the most of it and end my trip on a high note.
October 27, 2011
I got up even earlier on Saturday, setting my alarm for the scary time of 6am, and was down at the Javits Center by around 8:30am. I think that’s as much a testament to how slow I am in the mornings as it is to my earliness. Even at this time, however, the queue outside the building dwarved even the big line from the day before. I could tell that Saturday at New York Comic Con was going to be crazy.
Joe arrived early with a fresh shipment of stock, which was appreciated, as we were starting to run down. Indeed, by Friday night we’d sold all the stock of Red Ten and Scam we had, which I suppose is a good problem to have! With the increased Saturday traffic, we managed to get a lot more people at our table and looking at our stuff, but we were still having some trouble really hooking people and closing the deal. Joe and I couldn’t help but throw Glengarry Glenn Ross references at each other: “Coffee is for closers!” “A.I.D.A.!” It was also really interesting observing how master pitcher Tyler would alter and adjust his pitch for each book depending on who he was talking to. To read about his technique, and more notes from New York Comic Con, be sure to check out Tyler’s awesome ComixTribe column here.
One great moment of the day came from meeting Stephen Blaha, who I’ve known for years as Superferret on Superhero Hype. He bought copies of The Standard #1 and #2, and we chatted for a bit about forum and RPG stuff. One of the great things about travelling to comic cons in America in recent years has been being able to meet these people I’ve known for ages through message boards, but finally being able to put a face and a voice to the username.
I took a minute to do a bit of shopping. Well, I say “took a minute”, but with how insanely packed the show floor was on Saturday, a brief journey to nearby stalls that would have only taken a few minutes before all of a sudden required a commitment of quite a bit of time. From the Midtown Comics booth, I picked up a few gifts for friends back home, the first volume of the Starman Omnibus for myself, and a copy of Voodoo Heart, a collection of short stories by Scott Snyder. This was the prose novel that first brought Snyder to the attention of the comics world, and though it’s not readily available in the UK, I was keen to pick it up and check it out. Plus, I could add it to my hefty pile of signing material for Scott Snyder, as I already had samples from just about every other project he’s worked on.
Scott Snyder has quickly become one of my favorite comic writers, and he was one of the people I was most excited to meet. I had been periodically checking his Artist’s Alley table over the first couple of days of the con, but he never seemed to be there. And on Saturday, he’d left a note at his table saying he wouldn’t have time to be there much, and the best place to find him would be at his designated signings. The first one was at the DC Comics booth. Foolishly, I headed over to that one – clutching my pile of Snyder books - a mere few minutes before the signing was scheduled to start. The line was already massive. And, in a bit of a dick move, the guy about 3 people in front of me let me and a few others wait and talk amongst ourselves for several minutes before turning around, shouting “SURPRISE!” and flashing his I AM THE LAST PERSON IN THIS QUEUE sign, saying no one would be seen after him. So, that was a near miss.
I only had one panel to attend today, which was the DC Dark/Edge panel. I’m not reading many of the Edge comics, but for me, the Dark titles have been the highlight of the DC relaunch, and so I was really excited to find out more about what was coming up from them. I was lucky enough to get a seat in the front row for this one, which was an added bonus. Before the panel started, I spotted Joshua Hale Fialkov milling around, so I ran over to say hello. He kindly agreed to sign my copies of Tumor and Echoes, as well as I, Vampire #1. When you read how screwed up the protagonists in his books are, you may be surprised to learn that Mr. Fialkov is a warm, personable guy, and we chatted a little bit about the British NHS and the history of the I, Vampire franchise. I must say, getting the Fialkov books signed would be a big weight off my shoulders. No, I mean literally: I would no longer need to carry around two hardcover graphic novels in my satchel bag each day.
I spotted someone else before the panel started: Scott Snyder! Perhaps a bit rudely, I shouted, “Oy, Scott!” to get his attention. You can take the Glaswegian out of Glasgow, but you can’t take the Glasgow out of the Glaswegian, it would seem. I asked him if he had any plans to be at his Artist’s Alley table that day, as I’d just missed him at his DC signing. He said he’d be at a signing at Midtown Comics later in the day, but if I just had a few things he could sign them now. I told him I had a big pile, so it would probably be better waiting for the Midtown Comics signing. He complimented my (Swamp Thing!) shirt and asked me my name, and I was left very happy at having met Scott Snyder, who came across as just as friendly as he does online and in interviews.
The panel itself was great fun, as we got treated to glimpses of art – cover and interior – for a whole range of quality titles. Scott Snyder gave us a teaser of a villain who shows up in the next issue of Swamp Thing who sounds really great, and an ideal foe for Swamp Thing. Apparently it’s a guy with control over decay, who can find any small piece of decay in someone – even a bit of rot in a tooth – and make it grow and spread throughout that person’s whole body. Plus, he’s allergic to chlorofill, so has to wear an oxygen mask at all times. Sounded really cool. Some problems with dodgy mics up on the stage caused some delays, though, so by the time we’d gotten through everyone and their books there wasn’t much time for questions.. But still, a really fun panel.
Learning my lesson from the last attempt, I headed straight from the panel to join the queue for Scott Snyder’s Midtown Comics signing, a good 20 minutes early. The queue was still sizable, and with the way it stretched out across the con floor, we were causing a bit of a fire hazard, and we constantly had people having to break through the line to get past us. But I did get talking to people in the line, so the time went by quickly enough. However, my heart sank when I neared the front of the line, and the moderator informed us we could only get 3 items maximum signed. I looked down with sadness at my pile of 10 books, and with great difficulty, chose 3 titles – American Vampire #1, Batman #1, Swamp Thing #1 - for Scott to sign.
When I got to the table, Scott not only recognised me, but remembered my name. That amazed me, as I was hopeless at remembering the names of even the handful of repeat visitors at the ComixTribe table, so given how many fans Scott must have met, that was quite a skill. Living up to his reputation as the nicest guy in comics, Scott recalled that I’d had a big pile of comics I wanted signed, and said I could leave the rest of my stuff with him, and he’d sign it all at the end. This was a really nice gesture that was very much appreciated. I gave him copies of The Standard #1 and #2 as well, thanked him again, and made my exit with my three signed comics, happy at meeting one of my fave writers twice.
Returning to the ComixTribe booth for a little while, I was pleased to meet Cesar Feliciano, the artist of The Red Ten, who had stopped by our table to help out for the day. He also drew up a great artist edition cover of The Standard #1, which I was very pleased with!
Heading back to the Midtown Comics booth, a little after the end of the signing, I figured Scott would have left my comics behind the table for me to collect. But to my surprise, he was actually waiting on the floor for me to come back to give them to me himself! Again, the guy’s a total class act. He rummaged through his backpack, and produced my pile of books – Voodoo Heart, Severed #1, Severed #3, Swamp Thing #2, Detective Comics #871, Detective Comics #875, Detective Comics #879 and another copy of Batman #1 – all signed. In a funny moment, he almost accidentally gave me a copy of Batman #2 a week before its release, and had to take it back upon realising his mistake. To be honest, I kinda regret not really saying anything to him but “Thanks” a few times when I could have been asking all kinds of questions about what lies in store in the future for some of my favorite books – I’d had a question all prepared about his future plans for The Joker that totally slipped from my brain – but I was just too chuffed for anything to come to mind. Scott told me he’d read my comics, we said goodbye, and I left VERY happy, having met one of my fave writers thrice!
Perhaps I was energised by my shamanic encounter with Super-Snyder, but whatever the cause, when I returned to the ComixTribe booth, all of a sudden I found that I’d at last got into a proper selling rhythm. Things started to take a real upswing where, after a quiet stretch, I picked a random person passing by through the crowd, pointed at them, and shouted, “YOU!” I asked them to come over to the table, and we ended up selling them a ComixTribe package. But the real turning point was a seemingly small detail, where I found that moving from sitting behind my table to standing in front of it made a huge difference. Perhaps it was a body language thing, where I was now more closely connected to the passing trade, but for whatever reason, all of a sudden I was much more successful in grabbing people’s attention and bringing them over to the table. And we started getting a much higher ratio of people actually buying something once we’d attracted them to the table.
Tyler, Joe, me (in a pose oddly like a Vegas showgirl) and Cesar.
Something that I discovered was a real boon to my salesmanship was my Scottish accent. Tpically, I hate my voice, and I have come to accept that in America a lot of people just won’t understand a word I’m saying. But it seemed to really work a charm in getting people interested in our comics. I joked that it was because people couldn’t hear me when I said, “Hey, want to check out some cool comics?” As a result, they’d come closer and get me to repeat myself, by which point I’d reeled them in and had them in position to get a closer look at my comics. Whatever the cause, people seemed more interested because I was Scottish, and I started playing up that Scottishness more in my pitching, starting to make a bigger deal of showing people the pages of The Standard #1 featuring The Frying Scotsman – which always seemed to get a laugh. Even more shockingly, my accent seemed to get me some kind of sex appeal! Apparently my grating Glaswegian brogue sounds exotic to New Yorker ears, and it seemed like the number of women we sold books to surged on the Saturday. I was getting the flirty body language and everything – is this what it feels like to be a “playa”? At one point, I gave the whole ComixTribe pitch to one young lady, and when I was done, I asked her if she was interested in any comics, but she say, “No, I just wanted to hear you talk for a bit.” Oh my!
In a way it was a bit infuriating, business really getting going once the con was more than half over. But better late than never! After being absent for much of the first couple of days, and underwhelming in my selling to the point of practically being a cooler while I was around, I was relieved that I’d found an approach to selling that worked for me, and helped me to start pulling my weight at the table more. I even earned the nickname “The Sellin’ Scotsman” from Tyler, which was nice. I was really pleased to start seeing copies of The Standard shifting en masse, and I managed to sell people on the other titles on the ComixTribe lineup as well.
Towards the end of the con day, I took a walk down to Artist’s Alley, and met Greg Capullo. I’ve been a big fan of his work on Batman, but my main incentive for introducing myself was my knowledge that Capullo is the hero of Jonathan Rector, my friend and artist of The Standard. I got Greg to sign two copies of Batman #1 - one for myself and one for Jon – and gave him copies of The Standard, explaining how much the artist was a fan of his work. So perhaps Greg Capullo is now a fan of your work too, Jon!
I’m pleased to report we were selling comics right up to closing time, and a little beyond. Saturday was a huge success for ComixTribe, and the best day of NYCC thus far. My one disappointment of the day was not getting into the after-hours Black Dynamite panel. Infuriatingly, there was a Dragonball Z panel in the same room immediately after it, so I arrived to a massive queue, populated mostly by young anime fans who quite clearly had no interest in Black Dynamite. I was in line with a couple of other Black Dynamite fans, and once it became clear that we weren’t going to get into the panel, things started getting nasty. These other guys started getting into a confrontation with one of the NYCC volunteers, who didn’t help the situation much by replying with, “Well, if you wanted into this panel you should have been queueing from Avengers this afternoon.” In my repressed British way, I wasn’t up for getting into a fight when it was quite clear that no amount of shouting would get me a seat in this panel, so I told the increasingly flustered NYCC rep that I appreciated it wasn’t his fault, and dejectedly left the Javits Center.
After grabbing a quick Subway for dinner (so much for making the most of New York’s cuisine) I met up with Joe, and we headed out to the Indy Comics After-Party, an invite-only event at Blaggards Pub we had managed to score invitations to. However, we didn’t see anyone there that we knew or recognised, and with a live band playing, the music was even louder than at Tempest a couple of nights earlier, so loud neither of us could hear a word the other was saying. After a while, Joe and I gave up and headed out, relocating to the quieter, nicer Twins Bar and talking about politics and other subjects for a bit. Oooh, I’m such a party animal!
Of course, Spider-Man loves NY.
Overall, Saturday was an amazing day. I got to meet some great comics people, ComixTribe and The Standard really started to gain momentum, and the whole day was just good fun. I was already starting to feel sad that the con – and my time in New York – would soon be over.