October 19, 2012
Hello everyone! Team ComixTribe is coming out of a highly successful New York Comic Con, where I at last got to meet my artistic collaborator on The Standard, Jonathan Rector. What an awesome guy!
But now that I’m home, it’s time to confirm some big news I’ve been sitting on for a while. As you may know, after the massive success of its micro-distribution program, Comix Tribe made connections with Diamond, and with it gained access to a much larger distribution network. A couple of months back, Scam #1 was the first ComixTribe title to launch worldwide, with issue #2 on the way in October and #3 in December. The Red Ten is already set to be the second ComixTribe property to launch through Diamond, with issue #1 set for December.
Then, in January 2013, it’s time for The Standard.
We’ll be relaunching with issue #1 in January, and from there adopting a bi-monthly schedule that will see #2 come out in March, #3 in May, etc. I’m incredibly excited about this. Every step I’ve taken with The Standard over the past couple of years, from digital distribution to making the book available through local comic shops, to selling at conventions, has all been building up to this: getting a comic in Diamond’s Previews catalogue, and from there potentially opening my book up to a global network of comic stores. For many creators, it’s when your comic gets into Diamond that it all becomes real.
But this is just the beginning. The hard work starts in November. That’s when The Standard #1 will be solicited in Previews. That’s when retailers have to order the book. And that’s when I’ll need your help.
To all of my friends, and to everyone who’s supported The Standard from all over the world, this is your chance to get involved. I want you all to go to your local comic book store, and ask them to order The Standard #1 this coming November. This is the order code they will need:
NOV121047 F STANDARD #1
Note that down, burn it into your memories, whatever. If you want to get your hands on a copy of The Standard #1 in your comic shop, that’s the code you need to pass on to your LCS manager. Whether you’re in the US, Canada, the UK, Australia, anything you can do to help widen our comics network will be infinitely appreciated. Mobilise, troops!
2013 is going to be a big year for The Standard. I’m excited. Are you?
September 21, 2012
September 21, 2012 — Newburyport, MA — ComixTribe announced today that it will be at the New York Comic Con (Booth #2380), and has released a 40+ page digital download Pre-View Book of show exclusives and content it will have on hand at the show. ComixTribe is the publisher of SCAM, THE RED TEN, THE STANDARD, and OXYMORON, and will have plenty of product featuring those properties at the show.
“ComixTribe is thrilled to be coming back to New York Comic Con,” said publisher Tyler James. “We’ve had a big year, and the con is providing a great venue for many of us to get together to celebrate what we’ve achieved, thank many of the fans who made it all possible, and strategize for an even bigger 2013.”
At the ComixTribe Booth this year:
Tyler James (The Red Ten, Oxymoron)
Joe Mulvey (SCAM)
John Lees (The Standard)
Jonathan Rector (The Standard)
Cesar Feliciano (The Red Ten)
Also appearing for signings will be members of the Oxymoron anthology project, including:
Jason Ciaramella (The Cape, Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters)
Mark Poulton (Avengelyne, Savage Hawkman)
Rich Douek (Gutter Magic)
Rafer Roberts (Plastic Farm)
Paul Allor (TMNT: Fugitoid, Clockwork, Orcgirl)
Alex Cormack (Chikara)
Imbibe with the Tribe! 2nd Annual ComixTribe NYCC Drink & Draw Announced!
Tempest Bar – 407 8th Ave (between 30th & 31st)
Midtown West (A few blocks from the show)
10:00pm – ???
For Publicity and Public Relations Solicits:
Review Copy Requests, Interviews and more please contact
Get a FREE Sketch at New York Comic Con from ComixTribe!
Attending the New York Comic Con? Want a FREE sketch! ComixTribe (Booth #2380) Has the Hook Up! Only 100 available so order yours ASAP!
Show your support for the ComixTribe by wearing a ComixTribe t-shirt to the New York Comic Con and get rewarded with $15 worth of ComixTribe stuff — comics, graphic novels, rare variants and artist editions, original art, prints, buttons and more!
September 20, 2012
New York Comic Con is creeping ever closer, and today I can reveal the exclusive Standard print you’ll be able to pick up at the show:
Pretty awesome, huh? As you can see, with the con being in New York City, we decided to go for a New York themed image, hence The Standard encountering the iconic Statue of Liberty. I’ll be wanting to nab one of these prints for my own wall! And if you stop by the ComixTribe table, you’ll be able to get one for your wall too!
In other ComixTribe/NYCC news, attendees will have the chance to claim a free sketch from a range of ComixTribe-affliliated artists, including the artist of The Standard, Jonathan Rector. Find out more about that here.
Also announced today, if you wear a ComixTribe T-shirt to New York Comic Con, you can claim $15 of free ComixTribe merchandise. Find out about that here.
Stay tuned to thestandardcomic.com for more New York Comic Con updates, and some big news about the future of The Standard!
September 11, 2012
After the resounding success of last year, I am pleased to report that I’ll be once again making the Trans-Atlantic trip to the US for New York Comic Con on 11th-14th October, representing The Standard at the ComixTribe table.
This year, after the success and growth of the past 12 months, ComixTribe’s presence at the con will be bigger and better. We’ll have more books on sale, including the debut of Kickstarter success story The Oxymoron, and a wider range of merchandise. As far as the presence of The Standard is concerned, we’ll be bringing the first 3 issues of the series with us, along with The Standard, Volume 1, a lovely graphic novel collecting those first three issues in a single edition. We’ll also have Standard T-shirts on sale, and a couple of exclusive prints.
But that’s not the best part. The news that has me really excited is that, for the first time, artist extraordinaire Jonathan Rector will be making his way to New York Comic Con. That’s right: the writer/artist creative team of The Standard will both be on hand! I’m personally over the moon that I’ll finally be able to meet my longtime collaborator in person for the first time, and any con attendees should jump at the chance to grab a sketch or an Artist Edition of The Standard #1 with a hand-drawn cover by the man himself!
I’ll be posting up more updates – including our table number/location and any other relevant news nuggets you should know – once more information becomes available. Watch this space…. and, hopefully, I’ll see some of you in October!
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.
October 25, 2011
My day didn’t start off well. Three days in a row of New York pizza had wrecked havok on my stomach – which already had never exited amber alert from my departure from Glasgow – and the less said about the terrifying monstrosities that escaped from my bowels that morning, the better. I opted for a lighter breakfast in hopes of stilling my queasy belly, and minimising the risk of any violent sprays coming out from the other end, and thankfully once I was out of the hotel and heading for the con my tummy seemed to settle. I was worried that tides of projectile vomit might hurt our comics sales.
Thursday was a nice way to ease into New York Comic Con, a chance for us to get set up and dip our toes in the selling waters. But with Friday festivities began in earnest, as we launched into the first full day of NYCC. The doors opened to the public at 10am, but I got there before 9, wanting to be early to make sure everything was in order. Already, a line had formed at the venue. It was a great feeling, being able to just walk past the queue, waving my magic exhibitor badge, and head into the show floor. And it’s also really cool just being able to walk through a serene, quiet, empty show floor at a con, knowing it’ll soon be bustling with people.
I arrived at the booth, and started getting everything set up for the day. Tyler arrived not too long afterwards, and I got a chance to do some early shopping before the con started proper: another bonus for exhibitors! I looked all over in vain for Scalped #1, but it was nowhere to be found. I think I checked literally every booth selling comic back issues on the entire con floor, and only a few of them had any issues of Scalped, never mind the first one. However, I did pick up a first print copy of The Saga of the Swamp Thing #29, the infamous “Love and Death” issue that murdered the Comics Code. Having picked up the “Anatomy Lesson” issue in a back issue bargain bin at the Glasgow Comic Con, I now had my OTHER favorite issue of Moore’s seminal run – and my vote for the scariest single comic ever made – to add to my collection.
Speaking of Swamp Thing, I also got the chance to make what was surely my most frivolous purchase of my time in New York. One of my big regrets of being unable to attend the San Diego Comic Con this year was that I missed out on getting the SDCC exclusive DC Universe Classics Swamp Thing action figure. So imagine my joy when I spotted it in New York! I was on my way back from not buying the ridiculously overpriced water from the snack stall (they had marked it up a price a dollar from the day before, and the next day they would add on yet another dollar to the price – incredible) when I spotted the big box sitting at one of the stalls. It was even more ridiculously overpriced than the water, but I had to have it. This guy is absolutely massive, with some really cool detail on the sculpt. I now have him proudly displayed in my bedroom.
And then it was 10am, and time to get to work. Joe was held up waiting for a shipment of stock, so at first it was just Tyler and I holding the fort. Again, business was slow but steady, with us still having a hard time hooking as many people as we’d like. One thing that did sell well was our ComixTribe package deal: all 6 of our comic books – The Standard #1, The Standard #2, Epic #1, The Red Ten #1, Runners #1 and Scam #1 – plus an 11X17 print and one of Tyler’s art sketchards, all for $25. That really enticed a lot of people, as it was a good deal that was giving people a lot of stuff for their money. The package deals were what really made us the bulk of our money over the first couple of days.
I briefly slipped away from the booth to head over to Artist’s Alley and meet Rahsan Ekedal, whose artwork on Echoes greatly impressed me as I read it while waiting at the departure gate at Glasgow Airport. He was a friendly guy, and signed my copy of the book. I then headed over to Archaia’s booth, where I hoped to meet editor-in-chief Stephen Christy. I got to say hello to him and introduce myself, and talk to him a bit about Archaia’s submission policy. They have recently made the move away completely from single issues, now focusing solely on the original graphic novel market. I love Archaia, the presentation of their graphic novels is always of the highest quality, and they’re a company I’d love to work with in the future. So I gave Stephen copies of The Standard and told them I’d be stopping by at their panel later in the day.
I feel pretty guilty, as I spent the bulk of this particular day away from the booth, attending various panels. The first one I went to was the screening of the Locke & Key TV pilot, which we now know was not picked up by Fox – one more reason to hate Fox. I was pleased that there was a big queue for this event, and I only barely got in. The episode was great, really true to the spirit of the comic, which makes it all the more devastating that we probably won’t see any more of it. I will say, however, that the pilot alone covered the entirety of Welcome to Lovecraft, the first volume of the series. So I don’t know if there would be enough content within the Locke & Key mythology to sustain 22-24 episodes across multiple seasons. Perhaps a miniseries would be a better bet?
I stopped back briefly at the booth in between panels, to find that Joe had arrived, and he’d kindly brought lunch! I was also happy to meet Raphael Moran, writer of Dream Reavers, who stopped by at our booth to introduce himself. When I next set off, it was for a double-header of panels. First up was Archaia’s panel on how to make a great indy graphic novel. This had all kind of useful pointers about developing ideas and the submission process. Plus, I got to ask a question about Archaia’s approach to design in publication. I had to leave a bit early in order to make the next panel, but what I saw of Archaia’s panel made it worthwhile attending.
Next up was the Vertigo Visions panel. Jeff Lemire, Scott Snyder and Jason Aaron all on a panel together, how could I not be interested in this one? And they were accompanied by such a wealth of talent that the bulk of the panel was taken up simply by Karen introducing each panelist and letting them talk a little about what they were working on. Poor Karen arrived late, getting the starting time for the panel wrong, and was all flustered in her attempts to moderate the panel. The highlight of the hour for me was the announcement that Paul Cornell – another favorite of mine who sadly couldn’t attend New York Comic Con this year – would be writing a new Vertigo title called Saucer Country. I was pleased when the mention of his name was greeted with well-deserved applause. What this means is that, in the brief window of time between Saucer Country beginning and Scalped ending, four of my top five current comic writers will all be writing titles at Vertigo (the fifth one is Grant Morrison, as I’m sure you can guess), meaning it’s a very exciting time for the DC imprint, at least in my book.
After the Vertigo panel, I got to say hello to Mark Doyle. Here’s a guy involved in editing American Vampire, Sweet Tooth AND Scalped, meaning he surely has one of the most awesome jobs in comics. I regularly tweet him about my progress in trying to assemble every Scalped single issue, so I got to tell him in person that I was now only missing the first issue.
I returned to the booth to find that sales had been chugging along nicely in my absence, and I hung around for a while, until I once more left my compatriots in the lurch for the Creator Connections panel. This is presented as a kind of speed dating for creators, where writers are paired up with artists. I enjoyed this a great deal, as I got to talk to a lot of talented artists, and got a whole bunch of business cards and potential contacts I may get in touch with for future collaborations.
By the time that panel was done, New York Comic Con was done for the day. As I said, I felt pretty bad about not being at the ComixTribe booth much on Friday, and told Tyler and Joe that I planned to be there for much of Saturday and most of Sunday. It’s just the way things worked out that Friday had a high concentration of panels. And I still had one more to attend!
I made a brief stop at a jam-packed McDonalds near the Javits Center for dinner (I kid you not, I was sat between a girl dressed as a Green Lantern and a guy dressed as a White Lantern) , before heading back to the con for a night-time panel on horror in comics. I had a hard time finding the room at first, but once I did I was able to just slip in without needing to queue, which was nice. The panel was actually really interesting. Horror is a genre I’ve long loved, and have recently begun to appreciate more in the comics medium. I’d love to attempt a story in the genre, and attending this panel gave me a lot of inspiration and ideas.
This panel took me to near 10pm. By this point, the ComixTribe gang were over on the other side of the city, so rather than trying to play catch-up, I just walked around New York at night a little, then headed back for an early night. I’d enjoyed the panels, but I felt this day was a lot of sitting and listening to people talk. I wanted to make the most of the last couple of days. Though I did get to see a dog dressed as Superman on Friday.
October 24, 2011
For ages, it seems like it’s been looming as something exciting and a little bit scary in the distance. From Monday October 10th to Monday October 17th, 2011, I would be visiting New York City. Tyler James, publisher of ComixTribe, had invited me out to the New York Comic Con to represent The Standard, and I jumped at the chance. Having missed out on getting tickets for San Diego Comic Con earlier in the year, I had the funds to pull the trip off, and so I decided to build a vacation to the Big Apple around my first experience as a pro at a major con. And somehow, it managed to sneak up on me, and all of a sudden I was in New York City, with the con itself right around the corner.
It had been fun seeing New York City, but with the arrival of Thursday it was time to get down to business: New York Comic Con was upon us. After another 6:30am rise and a hearty breakfast to set me up for the day, I headed down on the brief walk to the Javits Convention Center. I had scoped the place out on my first day in NYC, and it had seemed pretty barren, an empty vessel waiting for a sense of purpose. But what a difference a few days make. Now, the Javits Center was getting ready for New York Comic Con!
Once I arrived, I discovered that Tyler James and Joe Mulvey – my booth partners, who would be bringing the tables, chairs and our supply of comics – had been held up in that notorious New York traffic. And since we needed Tyler, who’d booked the booth, to get our exhibitor passes, I had to just sit around in the foyer for a while. But eventually, the rest of the gang arrived, and while Joe seeked out a parking place outside, I got to meet the mighty Tyler James, glorious leader of ComixTribe, for the first time. I always get a kick meeting people I’ve talked to online in person, and so far I’ve been fortunate in that I’ve not had an experience of someone I thought was alright over MSN or Skype turning out to be a weirdo in person (probably because I’M the one who’s the weirdo in person), and Tyler was no exception, turning out to be as smart and cool in the real world as the virtual one.
There was a brief scare where it seemed like our passes had been lost, or accidentally given to someone else, but thankfully it was resolved before too long, and we were kitted out with the Willy Wonka’s Golden Ticket that is a Comic-Con exhibitor pass. Meeting up with Joe and his friend outside, we went through the arduous task of dragging our heavy bundles of stock and equipment from the car park to our booth on the show floor. An interesting aside: over the course of the week, I only noticed that the escalator from the foyer up to the show floor had stopped working on two occasions. The first was on this day, meaning we had to haul all our stuff up it like it was a regular flight of stairs. The second was on Sunday, when we had to haul all our stuff back down it again. Typical.
Another problem emerged once we located our corner booth just near Artist’s Alley. Namely, that it wasn’t a corner booth. We were located quite inconveniently next to what I can only call a massive China exhibit. If that sounds vague, it’s because that’s the impression they gave. It was this collection of 8 connected booths that ran in a big line next to where our booth was, all with the words CHINA written on top of them, but each with its own hazey subtitle, like “Skyworks Technologies” or “Guangzhou Daley Media Co” or something similarly uninformative. And these booths were typically partitioned off, and often empty. And I don’t just mean no con-goers stopped by – though people rarely did – I mean that even the exhibitors themselves were barely there. It must have been an expensive bit of real estate, but obviously these guys must have had a lot of money to throw around to book all that space then not really use it. And the problem with these massive booths was that they jutted right out onto the floor, far beyond the reach of our table, meaning anyone walking past them was automatically cast at a distance away from our table, breaking that essential passing trade connection. On the plus side, I pointed out, we were at a good place to catch people headed to the nearby bathroom.
I have to say, it was really exciting setting up the ComixTribe booth. Sure, I got a little thrill laying out my comics at my table for the Glasgow Comic Fair, but this was on a whole other level. Organising not just The Standard, but the rest of ComixTribe’s diverse lineup, reminded me of the stellar company I keep being a part of ComixTribe. The absolute best thing about The Standard being published through ComixTribe is that I get to be a part of such a fantastic roster of talent, and an incredible lineup of titles. I had already read and loved Runners, Tears of the Dragon and Epic, but once the booth was set up, I was able to sit down and read Joe Mulvey’s Scam, and The Red Ten by Tyler James and Cesar Feliciano. Both are just great comics, which I highly recommend checking out if you possibly can. Here’s the thing that helped me a lot while pitching all the ComixTribe titles over the weekend: I didn’t have to be dishonest in my shilling. My enthusiasm and passion for each of these comics and their quality was absolutely genuine.
With the booth ready, we all headed out to a local deli for lunch. And, like the sophisticated artistic souls we are, we spent the entire meal sharing puke, shit and fart stories. Classy, my kinda people. Afterwards, we headed back to the convention center, and I took the time to have a look around the show floor. The layout was actually quite a lot like San Diego, only with less TV and movie booths, and more of a central focus on comics. I also noted that Marvel had situated itself far away from the rest of the comics booth, instead settling down right in the middle of the video game section. This struck me as a bit isolationist, and because it was so far off my beaten track, I actually never visited the Marvel booth save for passing by it on my way into the show floor in the mornings. I’d say the trifecta of the DC Comics booth, the Image booth and the Midtown Comics booth felt more like the central hub of the show floor, with the well-furnished Archaia booth situated well in amongst them.
After a while, the doors opened to the public (at least, those with 4-day VIP passes), and the first day of selling began. In all honesty, business was a little slow on this first day. We did have a steady flow of eyes on our table, but we had our quiet periods. My problem was that I couldn’t get my salesmanship down. My pitch for The Standard was overlong and clunky, and I could practically see eyes glazing over as I launched into it. I just didn’t seem to have a good knack for it, and was grateful that the affable Joe and the super-efficient selling machine that was Tyler were there to take my slack.
Shifting from my exhibitor hat to my fan hat, I took a wander around Artist’s Alley. The first familiar face I got to meet was Mikel Janin, the talented rising star artist of Justice League Dark. He very kindly agreed to sign my copy of Justice League Dark #1, and we parted on what I thought was a good note. But then I realised, to my horror, that I had given Mikel my sharpie pen, and forgotten to take it back. Now, those who know me from work will know that I am paranoid about ensuring nobody takes it from me, and I will stand and watch people use the pens they borrow fro me to make sure they give them back when they’re done. So I launched into this awkward moment where I had to go back to this gifted artist I admire, and politely ask him to give me my pen back. Thankfully, my subsequent friendly Twitter chat with Mikel would suggest this faux pas was not too disastrous.
The next folks on my list were Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt, the esteemed writer/artist team on cracking Western series The Sixth Gun. Long-time followers of this blog will know I’ve devoted a lot of time to promoting this comic, reviewing the first graphic novel collection and several other subsequent issues and bestowing superlative but well-deserved praise. I tried my best to convey this praise to the team in person, telling them that The Sixth Gun had so much content packed into each issue that every individual comic was a rewarding read in itself, and that this most definitely wasn’t a comic for trade-waiters. I then gave them a trade to sign.
But perhaps most exciting of all for me on this day was the chance to meet Jason Aaron. Regular readers may know that I have gushed about The Sixth Gun, but they’ll also know that I’ve lavished numerous dissertation-length odes of devotion to the seminal Verigo crime series Scalped, a title I’ve not been in shy in saying I’d rank as definitely the best comic on shelves today, and well on its way into entering the canon of the all-time greats. Considering all this, getting to meet Scalped writer Jason Aaron was one of the things I was most excited about going into the New York Comic Con. And I’m pleased to say he didn’t disappoint. This is something that has struck me about all the folks in comics I’ve been fortunate enough to meet over the past couple of years: they’re all nice guys. It must be really deflating to meet one of your heroes, and they’re a jerk. But the comics creators I’ve had the chance to talk to have all been friendly, and keen to chat with their fans, and Jason Aaron was no exception.
At first, Jason bamboozled me a bit: when I produced Scalped #25 and told him that, after much painful deliberation, I had decided this was my favorite single issue of the series, he asked me the dreaded question, “Why is this one your favorite?” I garbled at him in incomprehensible Glaswegian for a while as I struggled to come up with a good answer (I failed), and then I introduced myself as the writer of the Studying Scalped columns he had kindly linked to on his blog. It was great that Jason knew who I was enough to thank me for the columns I’d written. I also told him I was the guy who’d asked him to bring along Scalped #3, #15 and #16 to the con, and he responded by producing them from his backpack. Getting these elusive comics given to me by the writer himself! I was ready to pay double the cover price or more, but Jason amazingly said I could just take them for free! What a classy guy. With these issues in my collection, I was now the proud owner of every Scalped single issue save for issue #1. I tried to fire a couple of quickfire Scalped questions at Jason before leaving. Will there be any Scalped deluxe hardcovers in future? Probably not. Will there be any Scalped retrospective panels at San Diego 2012 or next year’s NYCC? Again, probably not, but Jason did mention I could take part in some kind of series of closing interviews at the end of the series, which would be amazing. I gave Jason copies of The Standard #1 and #2, then gushed some more about how Scalped was one of the greatest comics of all time, before finally making my exit.
In terms of stuff I bought, I was able to grab almost all the issues of Zot! my friend Jamie Fairlie was missing from his collection, and I picked up two T-shirts from DC’s Graphitti Designs booth: a Swamp Thing T-shirt, and something I’ve wanted for a long time: a grey Batman with a black Batman logo. That’s right, none of that “black T-shirt with the black bat logo inside a yellow circle” movie bullshit for me, I’m a comics purist, baby! And a nerd.
Back at the ComixTribe booth, Steve – the friendly fan from Jim Hanley’s – stopped by to say hello. He had read and enjoyed The Standard #1 after buying it at the signing, so was here to get his hands on The Standard #2. I have to say, this happened a few times over the course of the con, and it was the biggest compliment. When someone buys and reads the first issue one day, and takes the time to come back the next day, tell you they loved it, and buy issue #2? That’s quite possibly the most rewarding thing about writing these comics. It’s a great feeling. Steve also ended up buying the rest of ComixTribe’s lineup too, which was great. Perhaps our first convert of NYCC. Thanks, Steve!
Once the NYCC preview night wrapped up, I stopped back at my hotel to make a quick change and drop off my heavy satchel bag (this bag, filled with books I wanted signed, was the bane of much of my travels during the con), before heading down to Tempest Bar for ComixTribe’s Drink & Draw event. Food was provided in the form of giant pizzas brought in from a nearby pizzeria. Yes, that’s right, pizza again. And these ones were MASSIVE, dwarving even the oversized slices from Pronto Pizza. Quite possibly the biggest pizza I’ve seen in my life.
Drink & Draw started off quiet, but once it got going we ended up with a good crowd of comic creators at the event. Now, I say “quiet”, but what I actually mean is that deafeningly loud music was banging away at all times, and it seemed like the louder I tried to speak, the louder the music got. See, I just don’t get this. I see a bar as a place meant for socialising, so while ambient music is fine, what’s the point of cranking up the volume so loud you can barely communicate? And remember, I was trying to make myself understood to a bunch of New Yorkers with a thick Scottish accent as it was, so I was already fighting an uphill battle.
I did get to have a few good conversations, though. In particular, I got to have some lengthy chats with Rich Douek, regular ComixTribe commenter, and writer of an intriguing title called Gutter Magic that I was able to get my hands on at NYCC. And I also got one of Tyler’s friends to draw up an image for one of the artist edition covers of The Standard, which was greatly appreciated.
After hanging out for a few hours, I took my leave, feeling a little sick from the watered-down Coke and oversized pizza. But it was a good kind of sick. The New York Comic Con was off to a great start. And it was only going to get better.
September 30, 2011
If you didn’t check out the ComixTribe Takes Manhattan digital preview of ComixTribe’s New York Comic Con lineup yesterday, you should scroll down and check it out now. For those of you who won’t be attending the show, this is a chance to get a glimpse of what you’re missing. And for those of you who are attending, I hope this encourages you to come see us at the ComixTribe booth.
For those of you falling into that latter category, there will be a couple of NYCC exclusives on offer from The Standard. We’ll have an exclusive artist edition of The Standard #1 (with talented artists Tyler James and Joe Mulvey both on hand to sketch on it for you) , complete with a brand new cover by Jonathan Rector. And now, for the first time, I’m unveiling the NYCC exclusive cover, which you’ll also be able to buy at the show as an 11X17 print:
Looks good, eh? New York Comic Con is now just two weeks away. Come find us at the ComixTribe table, Booth #2537, and say hello!