Drawing over coffee and getting ready to print

After a guesting on a belting episode of the Awesome Comics Podcast last week Rock In Purgatory and Heads! have had a stack of new readers. Really pleased to see so many new people checking out my comics. It’s the perfect time for newbies to jump on-board with what I’m doing, as I intend to get Heads! into print over the summer.

Judging by the reaction Heads! has received, it looks like a load of you would be up for getting hold of either a physical or digital edition of the first issue soon. Issue one is actually complete, so its just a case of compiling it ready for print or PDF, and it wouldn’t take long to get it out to you. I’m considering a Kickstarter campaign, keeping things light and low cost. I could do masses of merch but beyond the die-hards (of which it seems are already a few!) most people just want to have a copy of the comic. So, I’ll be offering original art from issue one as well as commissions and maybe a couple of art prints as the main rewards. Let me know if you think anything else would go down well.

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My esteemed illustrator buddy Heather Chapman and I have been out and about drawing a lot lately. ACP listeners will know that Heather is one of the driving forces behind the improvement of my illustration work. It’s been a little while since we’ve both been able to get together to work on our respective projects, so I’ve been very fortunate to have completed comics pages while watching Heather create poetically flowing illustrations and watercolour pieces. Keep an eye on her, as it is criminal that she isn’t already your favourite book illustrator and graphic novelist.

I’ve recently picked up a copy of Watchmen and am stuck into re-reading it. As a nine panel page fanatic this is one of the definitive books on how to make that layout model work. You can expect to see a blog focusing on nine panels or Watchmen (or both) from me in the very near future.

How boring stats can help put your comics in more people’s hands

Any regular listeners of The Awesome Comics Podcast will have by now had the *pleasure* of listening to me have a good old natter to the chaps on this week’s episode. As a fan of the show I was really pleased to be invited on as a guest. I got to talk about Heads! and Rock In Purgatory, plus the logistics behind organising and hosting Wimbledon Comic Art Festival.

As well as having a great chance to get into the detail of my own projects, a theme that kept coming back up throughout the show was around understanding stats and how you can use them to work out if what you are doing is successful. We spoke about how difficult it can sometimes be to look at social media stats, and how important it is to track your referrers on your website stats, as this helps you understand where people are coming from to reach your site and read your comics.

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In relation to stats, I spoke a little about my involvement with Popcorn Horror (the digital magazine that Rock In Purgatory was first published in). I asked the people at Popcorn Horror for the number of downloads each issue of the magazine received, to get an idea of how many people were potentially getting to see my work. It’s something all creators should ask for if they are having their work featured by someone online. It’s even worth asking for stats on articles that have been written about you, be they reviews, interviews or whatever. It all goes toward understanding who may be finding out about you. You can use that information to broaden your audience even further, engaging with people who you may never have had the chance to engage with otherwise.

In an attempt to help spread a little love and share work socially, I’d like to invite any comic creators out there to do some tag swaps with me on Twitter. You can tag up to 10 people in a photo on Twitter, and I find it’s a really useful way to let people know you’ve posted something that you’d like to have shared. So, I’d like to invite any comics creators reading this to tag me into photos of things they want promoted, and I’ll retweet them. In exchange, I’ll tag you in my posts and ask you to help me out too by doing the same. It may not have a huge effect as social media is as fickle as the tastes of the people using it. But it’s definitely better than not doing anything, so let’s have a go!

*POST UPDATE*
In the spirit of the stats theme, I asked the Awesome ComiCs Podcast for details of downloads and territories of my episode.

There are a load of ways I could analyse these numbers, and a huge amount of variables to consider (not least my active promotion of a milestone Heads! page released the day after the pod). In order to keep things simple, here’s what I decided to do.

The majority of my audience interaction online comes from Twitter. So I check to see how many of my followers also follow ACP, and deducted this number from the total downloads. This gave me a likely number of 33 new people who do not follow me and my work who have now heard about it. Since ACP weren’t able to get streaming stats from their platforms, this number can likely be increased, but we’ll never know for sure.

I know from messages and comments from people I currently interact with that they have listened to and enjoyed the show. I can also see spikes in activity on my website, notibly loads of new Rock In Purgatory readers. Since I have not actively promoted Rock In Purgatory in the last cuple of weeks, it’s a safe assumption to make that most / all of these views are down to my appearance on the pod.

In short, there is proof that doing this show has raised awareness of my work, led new people to read my comics and put a smile on the faces of my existing audience. Thanks for having me on the pod guys, I’ll happily come back anytime!

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.