Focus – a tale of marketing vs creating

I’ve been a bit pre-occupied with promo activities over the last few weeks. Nothing wrong with that; it’s probably one of the reason you’re reading this blog. While marketing and creating are rather different animals, both are essential to getting a comic out into the wilderness. Finding the balance between the two is probably the trickiest bit.

The biggest thing for me right now is Heads! being published. I’m really pleased to have print copies in my hands and available for you all. Heads! is my first attempt at a logn-form comics story and this first issue will form part of the first story arc in what I hope will be a fairly long running series.

I’d always planned to do Heads! as an ongoing story, to some extent. The logisitics of creating it and keeping people interested had me change my approach a couple of times, so now it’s going to be a set of mini-series which build toward the final climax. I’m also trying to get ahead of the curve on creating it all so that I can release fairly regularly. Ideally, I want to get a new issue out every four months. So far, issue two looks ready to hit that deadline, but the marketing and promotion of issue one has eaten into my time quite a lot. However, it’s not just writing anf drawing each issue that needs to happen. I need to promote, market and sell the buggers, which takes a considerable amount of energy and resilience.

There’s a lot to be said about getting the creative / promotional balance right. As I have found when I put on Wimbledon Comic Art Festival last year (and prior to that in my music promotion past life) its hard to do both really well at the same time. Both require a lot of time, effort and – most importantly – focus. Since the start of August I’ve been pushing the release of Heads! a lot. Though it’s been really worthwhile in getting the comic out there and building a buzz around the release, its meant I have focused a lot less on drawing and writing than I would have liked to lately.

My plan for the next few weeks is to get solidly back into the creative process and let some of the marketing I’ve done look after itself. I have a few interviews and reviews being released over autumn, so other than my usual incessant tweeting I’ll be leaving the promo stuff alone until I get to MCM London at the end of October.

That said…if you do fancy buying a copy of Heads! you can get print or digital editions from my online store.

OK…I’ll stop now…

 

Chewing bubblegum and kicking ass

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Anybody catch They Live on the Horror Channel last week? It’s one of my favourite movies ever, and definitely my favourite John Carpenter movie (yes, above Halloween, which you all know I am obsessed with too).

I first saw They Live back in the early 90’s and loved it immediately. My dad put it on (it’s one of his favourites too) and he knew I’d be hooked. Horror and sci-fi movies are as much of an influence on my comics and art as anything else. They Live has been a massive reference point for Heads! and will be a movie I’ll continue to watch periodically as I develop the story further. Though I keep getting told Heads! reminds people of Dick Tracy and The X-Files (which are influences), I’d say I draw a lot of my Heads! ideas and plot methods from They Live and Luther more than anything else.

If you are looking for some awesome new comics to read (other than mine, of course, which are free to read on this website) I urge you to go and back the Little Heroes Comics Anthology on Kickstarter. I love this charity and all it stands for, so I’d love to see more people supporting them. If you haven’t heard of them, they create and distribute comics creation kits to children staying in hospital wards. That’s a pretty awesome thing to do, in my opinion, so I insist you all go and either back the new anthology or donate to them so they can provide a kit to a child.

Make sure you are tuning into the Awesome Comics Podcast on Monday as I am their guest! Yep, these guys decided that it would be a good idea to have me talk on their show for two hours – a decision they may live to regret! I will be talking about all things comics, giving you all the low down on Heads! and re-capping on my experience of organising and hosting Wimbledon Comic Art Festival last November.

Plots, Bones and print

It’s been a week of frantic Heads! drawing for me. I’ve got myself all inspired by the great responses I’ve had from the webcomic pages released so far, that I have ploughed on with getting a load more of it drawn. The story so far has been piquing the interest of lots of people, and I’ve had requests for advance previews of the rest of the first issue from excitable fans. 

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I really want to get Heads! out as a print edition. The gritty black and white feel that I have gone for would look great as a pulp-style comic. I was going to let things run for a bit longer before I jumped into this, but I am thinking of launching a Kickstart or pre-order to get it out there. What you guys think? Would you like to have a copy of Heads! rolled up in your back pocket, or do you like it just fine as digital for now? 

I watched a ton of Bones recently, and I am still re-watching season 8. As influences go, Bones isn’t really something I refer to, but I’ve been quite intrigued by the plot balancing. Each season of Bones has a single, long running plot which either resolves by the end of reaches a cliff hanger to lead you into the next season. Some are more effective than others, with the Gormogon plot in season three being one of the strongest. But rather than the whole season be focused on that one plot, there are incidental plots each episode, to keep things interesting.

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Loads of shows do this, so it’s not unique to Bones. However, I particularly like the way they often tie the incidentals to the long plot. It gives the opportunity to bring new or supporting characters into something which may reveal them to be of more importance. Mostly, I like how it can be used to divert from things in the main plot and to add red herrings. In writing Heads! I want to be able to throw readers off the scent and lead them to conclusions that are false. I want to be able to drop some surprises along the way too.  

 

 

Heads! launch and rediscoveries

It’s been a comic-fuelled few weeks for me and I couldn’t be happier.

First up, my new comic Heads! has finally started and is getting a fantastic response. It’s my first long-form story and will be structured in ‘episodes’ like a classic private detective TV series.

I’ve started to launch this as a weekly webcomic, which is something I’ve never done before. Already I’ve had a load of great feedback, particularly people impatient for the next page to release, which must mean its grabbing people straight away! A few previews and press releases went out and have gone down well. I also got a shout out on The Awesome Comics Podcast from Tony Esmond (Down The Tubes, Never Iron Anything, Cockney Kung-Fu) resulting in this rather tasty quote – thanks Tony!

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The plan is to get it out in print very soon. Keep an eye out for either a Kickstarter or a pre-order coming up in the next month or so. You can read the story so far for free on the Heads! page of this website.

Also this month the print run of Rock In Purgatory was finally completed. This was a beast of a project to put together and I’m really proud to be able to hold it in my hands at last! Pre-order copies have been received and its been fantastic to have comments about how good it looks and people tweeting photos with their copy! The print run was limited, but there are still a few copies left if you want one, but be quick! I’ve also added a digital edition for just £1.99 as well. Check out my online store to get your hands on it.

In other comics news, I’ve been delving into new things lately – well, new to me anyway. My illustrator buddy Heather Chapman tipped me off about a ton of comics in a charity shop and I managed to get away with an armful of old Archie digests. I’ve been using these as reference here and there in the past, as they are great for showing ways to illustrate and compose conversations and keep them looking interesting. But I’d never really read Archie much before. Now that I’ve ploughed through a few issues, I’m hooked! Not only are these going to be great reference material but the short strip method and compact print format are something I’ve fallen in love with.

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I’ve also got back into Green Lantern and am loving rediscovering the Jessica Cruz / Simon Baz stories in Green Lanterns. The current storyline is pretty compelling and I’m now thinking I need to get back into the Hal Jordan titles as well…my pull list is about to get much more expensive…

 

Who’s who in Heads!

Reading Heads! or looking to jump on? Make a start but getting to know some of the characters you will be meeting along the way. Here’s a quick overview of the leads – more detailed character articles will be coming as the webcomic pilot runs.

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Our hero (if you can call him that) is maudlin private detective Steve Datsun. An ex-Met Police detective, Datsun left the force and set up shop independently, only to find himself facing the most unusual crimes and criminals right on his own doorstep. Not having to answer to his old police superiors, Datsun can take matters into his own hands a little more, but does he really want to get so involved in what these weird Heads! girls are up to?

 

 

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Datsun’s old police buddy Andy Higgins also decided the Met wasn’t where he saw himself staying. Cobbling together a bit of cash, he and Datsun rented an office above an Indian restaurant and started their own detective agency. The voice of reason to Datsun’s impulsive gut, Higgins does what he can to balance Datsun’s view in the face of this spree of odd crimes. But there’s only so much reassurance he can give before the coincidences don’t look like coincidences anymore…

 

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DCI Burton is still an upstanding member of the Metropolitan Police Force, and for his sins, is also still Datsun’s main connection to them. Acting as reluctant go-between, Burton has the tough job of upholding the law while also helping Datsun do so in his own way. The results seem to be going well, but will a day come when Burton has to choose his friend over his job?

 

 

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Three girls wearing giant animal heads and oversized ski gloves committing unpredictable heists across London? Meet the Heads! gang! Nobody knows who they are, where they came from or what they are up to. But one thing’s for sure, Datsun is on their case now and no matter what they do, or who they employ to get in his way, he’ll be coming for them.

Read Heads! for free now!