Press, pre-orders and comicons

My month of comics overdrive is coming to an end, but I’ve got not intention of slowing down.

The Heads! Kickstarter has funded – thank you to all backers and everyone who has helped promote it. It’s been sent out to the mighty Comics Printing UK who is busy turning it into a sexy, physical product. I can’t say enough good things about Rich at Comics Printing UK, and I know that the print quality of the comic is going to be just as awesome as the other books he’s done for me and numerous other comics creators.

Those of you who are kicking yourself for missing out on the Kickstarter will be pleased that I have added a pre-order for it to my store. You can also get hold of the first issue of Heads! if you are a newbie to the story.

If you need convincing to try it out, here’s a review of the first comic from Pipedream Comics. I was very pleased with this write up by James Blundell, who really got into the story and enjoyed the mystery I’ve established.

My son and I are very nearly finished with our Little Heroes comics submission. It’s been loads of fun and we’re both really happy with how its coming together. We have a very tight deadline to meet now and still some tweaks to make, but we are working hard to get it all done in time and to the quality we want it to be at. Watch this space for more details soon…

If you are in Brighton on Saturday 9 March come down and join me at ICE Comic Con. This will be my first event of 2019 and there are some fantastic guests and exhibitors there, such as Rachael Smith, David Broughton, Clint Langley and Ram V to name a few. See you there!

Sensory overload

Currently I am…

  • Reading: Everville by Clive Barker
  • Watching: Charmed Season 5
  • Listening to: Rust by Monolord

 

February comics overdrive

Well, February is shaping up to be one of the busiest comics months for me this year. Yes, I know it’s a bit soon to say that, but just look at what I have on the go.

Heads! Into The Vortex is up on Kickstarter until 15 February (in case you hadn’t seen me plugging it to death). I’m proud to say it has hit its funding target so it’s all systems go on getting it ready for all you lovely backers. Now is the best time to back the comic, as all rewards are guaranteed to be fulfilled. There are comic universe bundles, print and digital editions, original art packages and commissions available, so go fill your boots! If you aren’t able to back the campaign I’d massively appreciate you sharing the link with your friends and followers. This will help new people discover my work and is a great way to reach potential new readers. Big thanks to everyone who has backed it, shared it or a bit of both already.

In preparation for the campaign I did an interview with the mighty Richard Sheaf of Boys Adventure Comics. Richard is a huge supporter of the indie comics scene, so it’s a privilege to have him take such an interest in my work. You can read the interview on his blog. While you are there I urge you to check out his other articles and subscribe, as it’s an excellent source of comics news and info.

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When talking to Richard, he asked me about the piece I’m producing for Little Heroes Comics new anthology. If you haven’t heard of them, Little Heroes is a charity which makes comic creation kits for kids staying in hospital. This is such a fantastic cause and I’m a big supporter of what they do. Each year they produce a themed anthology and this year’s theme is science. As comics fans and science fans, me and my son Dylan heard this news and immediately set about working on a short comic together. The submission date is 28 February, so we haven’t got long to pull it off. Dylan wrote the script and I am drawing it, plus we have the help of designer extraordinaire Ken Reynolds on lettering duties. I’ll post a separate article about our creative process soon, but in the meantime, here’s a sneak peek at the work in progress.

As if all this wasn’t enough, I’m finishing off art for the third Heads! comic, which will be out later this year. Plus, I’ve already made a start on the script for the fourth one! I’m having an absolute blast creating Heads! and I just want to get more and more of it out there.

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Finally, I’m prepping for ICECOMICCON in Brighton on 9 March. The line-up is stellar and I’m looking forward to catching up with David Broughton and meeting loads of other fellow comics creators. So yeah, February is pretty mental. I’ll need a pint by the time I get to ICE so if you see me at the bar afterwards feel free to join me!

Heads! Into The Vortex is LIVE on Kickstarter!

BACK IT NOW ON KICKSTARTER!

I launched the campaign this week, and at the point of writing this post it is already 50% funded! The campaign ends on 15 February so if you want to be among the first to get hold of the new issue you haven’t got long to do so.

For Heads! newbies there are reward options which include the first issue, and one that gives you Rock In Purgatory as well. This issue introduces villain group Vortex Face, who made their first appearance in Rock In Purgatory in 2018.

Prices start at just £1, so head over to the Kickstarter campaign and back it NOW!

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.

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.

Kickstarter article

I wrote this article for the December issue of Popcorn Horror magazine, who just so happen to publish Rock In Purgatory. If you are considering crowd funding a creative project heres a few things to think about…

Anyone who has ever tried to get their art, project, or grand plan for world domination off the ground will have come across one obstacle or another. Most often it can be summarised in a simple question:

Where am I going to get the money to do this?

Every venture we undertake costs us money. Even if we are not looking to put ourselves into the public domain, we have to pay to do the things we are passionate about doing. So when it comes to taking a risk and going public, the advent of crowd funding platforms such as Kickstarter have suddenly made it incredibly easy to take that next step. I used Kickstarter last year to launch my debut horror comic Brutal Bombshells. Though I am pleased to say my campaign was successfully funded and that I did not experience as much stress as is often reported when running a campaign, it was no easy journey.

For those who are unfamiliar with the term, crowd funding refers to the process of seeking investment in your venture from willing members of the public. People can offer to help fund your project and come away with an exclusive product if they make a financial contribution. Often a variety of products are available at different price levels. If you think of it as a way for fans to safely invest in something creative, it is easy to see why crowd funding is moving into the mainstream more and more. Pledge Music has been helping bands get albums released for years now, and Rob Zombie just used crowd funding to get his latest horror flick, 31, off the ground. As most crowd funding relies on hitting a minimum target, unless that target is reached nobody has to fork out cash for something they may not get. However, there are often risks on both sides as contributions may not truly meet the goal required. There are many sad tales of false promises and backers left empty handed. These range from individual people offering more than they can deliver, all the way to larger ventures overspending to the point of going out of business.

When I made the decision to pursue crowd funding as a way to launch my comic, I researched the platforms and processes to better understand what I was getting myself into. Crowd funding gives creatives the opportunity to have guaranteed funding for their project up front. The risk is, in theory, low – if you don’t hit your funding target you do not have to deliver on anything. It’s free to set up a campaign, with the platform only taking a cut if you fund. So again, low risk. Plus, I was pleasantly surprised to find there is a community of users on Kickstarter. These are people keen to get involved in new things which are exclusively available through crowd funding. Roughly 65% of my backers were Kickstarter regulars who had no interaction with me until I launched the campaign. Considering the amount of effort I put into digital marketing and social media activity, this was a revelation to me.

This was all fantastic news for me and my comic. I spent a long time comparing other campaigns and backing a few myself  to experience how it worked from both sides before deciding on my plan of action. Seeing similar projects to mine seeking thousands of pounds and offering many outlandish rewards, I chose to keep my first campaign simple. I opted to treat my campaign as a pre-order promotion. I had sought printing costs already and knew how much producing the comic would set me back. Rather than factor in time and materials for the art and writing, I just went for actual expenditure. I created this comic because I wanted to and I was happy not to be paid for the work this time. As a new face on Kickstarter, I felt that humbly asking people to pre-order copies was the best way to go about it.

One big attraction to using a digital platform such as Kickstarter is its ability to help you reach a potentially global audience. But if you are not prepared for this it can be very hard to fulfil all you have set out to do. I was ecstatic to find I had contributors from across the world. Most were purchasing a digital copy of the comic, but I still had a lot of physical sales to Europe and the US, and one person in central America buying an original piece of art. I was not aware that the postage costs I was charging contributed to target amount and not collected separately, which nearly caused me a lot of trouble. This was my own mistake, but it was one of many things that were not clear when setting up my campaign that could have tripped me up considerably.

On top of this I had a rather nerve wracking three weeks with that piece of original art being lost by the US postal service! The piece was priced high, so if it disappeared I would have been liable to refund the backer. This would have been disastrous for me – by this point the comic had been printed and paid for, so the money had been spent. Any refund would have to come out of my own wallet. I couldn’t help but smell a rat and was convinced that either the buyer was trying to pull a fast one or it had been stolen by an opportunistic postie.

Luckily, after weeks of chasing the buyer I got an email from him to say it had finally arrived safely.

It is worth pointing out that financial and logistical mishaps are not isolated to crowd funding. No matter how you try to fund and deliver a project, something will always go wrong. In a past life I ran my own company promoting live music events. Even for the low cost / low risk shows, there was always a chance I could lose money or have an awful situation on my hands. Things are never totally within our control. So, if you are considering a crowd funding campaign, here are a few things to always keep in mind.

Communication and honesty are key to everything. People are committing to pay you money for something, so you need to tell them what is going on. If it is still in production when you launch the campaign, say so. If it runs late, let them know. If you can’t get to the post office because you have too much to do, apologise and let them know when you’ll have time. People hate being lied to (don’t you?) so avoid giving them excuses and fob offs. Most people are totally fine with things changing as long as they are kept in the loop.

Do your maths – then do your maths again! If you hit your target you’ll be charged a fee or two as the money gets processed. It is hard to fully anticipate this, so do your maths well and consider a number of different outcomes. Don’t get caught out. If you have something to physically post to people, take it to the post office and note down all the postage charges you can so you know how to set these costs. Get all your production costs worked out and then add a bit more, just in case. However……

Don’t get greedy. Setting contribution tiers too high will put people off, and setting the target amount too high will make it harder to reach. Be fair, but if you are in it to make a profit, make it a reasonable one. If you are using crowd funding it is likely you do not have the money to invest in your project already. If you make your primary goal to deliver a cost neutral project then any over funding can start to contribute to profits. Once you’ve delivered the best crowd funding campaign ever, you can think about clawing in the cash on the next venture.

I would recommend that creatives considering crowd funding take the plunge and give it a go, but I urge you to keep your wits about you and be prepared to put effort into it. A great campaign needs to be engaging and informative if it is to stand a chance. Make it as awesome as you can. And one last piece of advice: don’t bother with the Kickstarter trope of rewarding a £1 pledge with “your eternal thanks”. Spoiler alert – nobody bothers backing that!