Category Archives: Ebook publishing

Coming SOON! Tears of the Prophets

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Unfinished cover for Tears of the Prophets by Anthony Feinman

The last publication we have seen from Ink and Feathers Comics was back in mid 2014. Anthony is currently working on finally publishing his long awaited prequel to the Terry Freedom saga, Tears of the Prophets. We got a chance to speak briefly with this allusive cartoonist and ask him why it has taken him so long to release this story and will he be working on anything new in the future?

IF Comics: How’s it going?

Anthony: Ugh. I still exist.

IF Comics: (laughs) So, tell us why now? What made you decide to finally release a print/ebook version of this story?

Anthony: Well, back in 2008, I decided to try to go back to school to finish my degree. Unfortunately, plans changed and I was only able to study for a year. Just this year (2016) I looked into returning to my studies. I applied to a school that had a awesome program that really appealed to me. I got accepted and was offered a scholarship but only if I returned as a full time student. Unfortunately, where I am financially, it would not work. So that was nixed. From all my time at SAIC and the time since I left in 2009, I feel that with my experience freelancing and doing other things has given me enough background to move on. I have enough knowledge that I really don’t need to have a BA degree to back me up. I’ve put together enough of my own books and other companies publications that I can do this. I just need to suck it up and get the work done.

IF Comics: I understand that this story has been done for quite some time. Why was it never printed?

Anthony: I don’t think I or the story were ready. I did a video slide show and released it through YouTube shortly after I finished it. However, one of things I was struggling with was how to put the words with the images. Picture you have a book open in your hands. I had always envisioned the text totally on the left page and the full image on the right page.

IF Comics: So, kind of like a storybook design?

Anthony: Yes. The problem is that some of the text that was paired with the images may have only a couple lines of text. Other images had close to a full page of text. If I overlapped the text over some of the more “busier” images, I would lose a lot of “hidden messages”. When I was at SAIC, I had a final project showing with the class and brought out this work to be critiqued. Most of the students didn’t have too much in the way of advice except that I should try to letter the story via hand. They didn’t really help at all but liked the story and the images. In fact, during that critique is where I debuted the next short part. The last eight pages of this story are truly the images that no one has ever seen. Except for those students.

If Comics: Can we include an image from this “lost” part of your never before seen story with this article?

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Example of a heavy image with text below from Tears of the Prophets. Not final work.

Anthony: No. (laughs) These past few months, I have re-examined the work again and decided that the best thing to do was shrink the image heavy images and place the text either above or underneath on the page. I didn’t want to lose the imagery. (Example can be seen to the right) A lot of the story/text is kind of vague and the imagery will make a lot more sense once The B.U.C.K.S Stops Here (the last and final Terry Freedom story) starts to be published and released. It has been important to me that each image can be seen in it’s entirety.

If Comics: By the way, when will be start seeing that story, The B.U.C.K.S. Starts Here, come out? It was advertised in Escape in a Dirigible back in 2003.

Anthony: (laughs) Yeah, I have no idea. I started drawing it 2 years ago. I have the outline drafted but still have not found how the story will be concluded. It’s “locked up here inside” as some would say (points to his head). As I have been re-examining this work (Tears), I have been pondering the idea of releasing an issue at a time. The last story is going to be quite involved and complex as it deals with time travel. It (multiple issues released periodically) may satisfy the fans who have been waiting for almost two decades (The Crystal Skull Files was published in 1997) to see what happens afterwards.

If Comics: So, ultimately, what is this story about?

Anthony: Well, it’s a short story that actually takes place at the end of The Crystal Skull Files. There is a scene where Terry Freedom and the gang are flying after a rocket that is heading towards the moon to destroy it. The plane has reached an altitude that causes all the occupants to pass out from lack of oxygen except for the robot, Rustbucket. He is left alone with the Crystal Skull that is being used to send its audio sonics to destroy the rogue rocket. Before the Skull expels its last sonic song, it reveals to Rustbucket its long history on planet Earth. The whole story takes the skull two seconds to impart its story to Ruckbucket.

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Page from Tears of the Prophets written and illustrated by Anthony Feinman

If Comics: So we get to find out where the Crystal Skull comes from?

Anthony: Yes, plus you will learn that it has a history with Freedom and his family. And if you look close, you may discover a few other things. However, you have to look REALLY close as everything I added is probably really subtle. Except to me. I see it all but I wrote and illustrated it (laughs). The best hints I can give are to re-read The Mask Conspiracy and The Crystal Skull Files. You’ll see a lot of familiar “images” from those two books show up in this prequel.

If Comics: So, when will we finally be able to read this thing. Huh? Huh? Sounds pretty interesting…

Anthony: I’m hoping soon. I’m almost finished with designing the E-book version and I’m still debating as to if I should do a print version. But the more I think about, I should release both version simultaneously like a real publisher should.

IF Comics: Sooooooo, next month?

Anthony: (laughs) Hopefully before Christmas! I would like to design a FREE E-book version for Legend of Brigadier General Schaumburg Harmony and finally digitize The Mask Conspiracy and The Crystal Skull Files for Amazon download. Eventually Escape in a Dirigible as well. However, I need to do one thing at a time as everything just listed already seems daunting as I say it. I would also like to modernize Ink and Feathers Comics website (IFCOMICS) at some point as well. Its a bit outdated. I do all this in my spare time when I’m not playing with my kitty, G3 (Goober the Third for short), and hanging with my girlfriend catching awesome TV shows and new movies.

If Comics: Well, thanks for taking time today to speak with us today and keep drawing. We want to see more stuff asap!

Anthony: No problem.

  • Ink and Feathers Comics will post an update as soon as Anthony lets us know when the books will be available for pre-order and download. Previous books, The Mask Conspiracy, The Crystal Skull Files, and Escape in a Dirigible are available for order through Amazon.com

 

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The Magic Press returns to print!

The Magic PressThanks to the advent of digital publishing, The Magic Press can now be seen by a larger audience.

Back in 2009 while Anthony was attending SAIC (School of the Art Institute of Chicago), he put together a short little comic book for one of his class assignments. He was required to come up with some characters and then to do a short comic book story for a final assignment. As Anthony was bogged down with five other classes (all wanting a final project) he decided to cheat. Well, sort of.

He had already been playing with the idea of using some of his toy stuffed animals as a starting point but he wasn’t finding the right voice for them. He still wasn’t too sure what to even call his  cast of characters. (Somewhere in the past half decade, he came up with the name THE CRITTERS.) As he struggled to come up a storyline, his mind turned to stories that he remembered from his youth. He had created some fantasy stories for various grammar or high school assignment but none of them seem to fit into THIS particular assignment. Somewhere in his ideal brain, he happened to remember a story that Myke, his father, had once told him, at a young age, when he was home from school due to an illness.  Myke had written down the story in a journal many years before but since decades had past, it had been long forgotten. Anthony, remembering where the story was stored, took a trip to his parent’s house and secretly scanned the pages to be transcribed at a later date. Anthony spent a few days trying to dis-cypher  his father’s handwriting and finalized a working script. After a few weeks of illustrating, Anthony paginated a 10+ page comic book and turned into one of his final projects. Copies were spread on SAIC’s campus and one copy is now viewable in their artist’s library BUT not many outside of immediate family or SAIC’s community have ever viewed this story. Now finally after five years, this short story is made public.

“I’ve always intended to print this story again when I had the chance.”, states Anthony. “I figured now would good time to get it “out there”. I’ve done several more things since then with THE CRITTERS in hopes of having enough material to put together. A few months ago, I was going through copies of my old original work and there it was. I read over it again and realized that the art wasn’t TOO bad. Especially since I was trying to finish it in a short amount of time. It felt like such a shame that it may never see the light of day again.”

Another issue that Anthony feared was his lettering for the story.

“As I was rushing to reach my deadline of a final project which also required me to print it for circulation, my penmanship, in terms of lettering, started to degrade towards the last few pages. I was rushing. My only excuse was my deadline.”

Anthony decided to re-do the lettering digitally for The Magic Press. It is the only story in this new volume that has digital lettering.

Digital lettering version of page two verses Anthony's original hand lettering.
Digital lettering version of page two verses Anthony’s original hand lettering.

“I wanted to make sure it was readable as the whole story is very important to me. Not only is it a part of my memory as a child/adolescent, but the publication also had special meaning as I made it for my father as a 50th birthday gift. Unfortunately, he got his copy a year late. ”

The gesture was no less dear when Myke finally received a copy much to his surprise.

Anthony added, “Many comic book aficionados may complain that the lettering causes a distraction now as it looks slightly off from the rest of the art. I believe my original lettering would have been more distracting if you couldn’t read what was going on. I tend to favor original hand lettering over digital especially when it comes to indie or my own art. But I think it works. It’s not perfect as my original word balloons are smaller/larger to compensate for my crappy lettering. But if the reader is only focusing on my lettering  and that is the only thing that they can comment on and NOT the story after they finish, then why even bother reading? ”

Anthony, after leaving SAIC to pursue freelance work, tried a few comic strips and did to more short stories with the cast of THE CRITTERS. They have been posted on his personal Facebook page as well as an online comic through Comic Fury.com. However, with the release of this version of The Magic Press subtitled And Other Critter Stories, they are all now collected together for the first time.

“I may, at a later date, print a “dead tree” version but for now I want to see if a following forms for these little guys. If so, there may be more adventures on the way.”

The Magic PressThe Magic Press is currently available on Amazon.com for digital download to your Kindle or PC/MAC computer/tablet. It features Anthony’s adaptation of Myke Feinman’s short story, The Magic Press plus two other short comic adventures, F.A.S.C. (Free Associated Sequential Comic) and It Happened Halloween Night. It also includes several comic strips , a few one paged two paneled jokes and a couple of pinups. The cover depicts The Magic Press‘s main character of Charlie, an eighty year old newspaper bear who runs his own print shop and newspaper in Depression Era Midwest. It is a children’s comic book/graphic novel and is suitable for all ages. (May have the word “crap” in a few times though.)

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Free E-book for a review.

TBC E CoverIF Comics staff has been researching eBook marketing, sales results for other indie authors, and various other outlets for getting our work out to the public. With Myke working on a sequel to The Teddy Bear Conspiracies and Anthony just starting to illustrate the last Terry Freedom story, The B.U.C.K.S. Stop Here, we have been wanting to know what you, the fans, think of our work so far. We’ve run a few promotions in the last few months ranging from free download days to price drops for various holidays. Several hundred fans out there have been downloading our books, which is what we like to see, but it all seems meaningless without feedback. NO ONE IS LEAVING FEEDBACK! (tears welling up) Do you like the work? Should we not quit our day jobs? (we weren’t really planning to) Is the work that we are producing even worth people’s time and effort to check out?

Circa 1947, photographic proof of alien crash from The Teddy Bear Conspiracies
Circa 1947, photographic proof of alien crash from The Teddy Bear Conspiracies

So, in order to hopefully gain some feedback, we would like to offer to all you reviewers and fans of science fiction, young adult, teen adventure to read The Teddy Bear Conspiracies for FREE (ebook normally priced at $2.99, trade paper $19, hard cover $25) from now until APRIL 1ST, 2014! BUT, only if YOU want to. Contact us via the private messaging system here on WordPress, a private message on our Facebook page or send us an email message to: nerwonduh@hotmail.com to receive a FREE copy of The Teddy Bear Conspiracies (mobi or epub fomat) as long as you write us a short review on Amazon.com at some point in the next two months. We don’t want a bunch of five star rating for no reason! We want organic and honest reviews on this story. If you don’t want to post on Amazon, post a response on our Facebook page. Better yet, have a blog you do? We would love to promote your blog IF you write a review about the book. Win/Win for both parties. We’re just looking for some feedback and we would be willing to reciprocate! Anthony loves reading new stuff (you should see how fast he reads books) and would be willing to write a review in return. Any takers? Let us know!

(Next blog will feature news about the next publication Anthony is working on: a re-release of The Magic Press written by Myke and illustrated by Anthony for e-comic and possible dead tree version for the Spring of 2014.)

We hope to hear from book fans soon!

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Quality over Quanity

In today’s economy, we are seeing more and more companies doing promotion for sales, deals, anything they can think of to get people into their stores or to buy from them online. How does this affect us all as artists?

For the month of September (2013), Ink and Feathers Comics is running a promo for all our publications through Amazon.com. Look for any of our titles and you can see 90% of our graphic novels/books are priced at $0.99. We are saluting our past fans as well as trying to hook new fans to our work in celebration of starting up a fan page. Plus if its not obvious, we are finally digitizing our work. But, is the reduction in the price of our books devaluing their worth?

If you were to do a search online for comic, comic books, graphic novels, pulp, we guarantee that your search engine will give you millions of listings. How does one weed through everything to find something that is truly worth their time and energy? It’s not possible. Much like the observation that we made in a previous post about mainstream comic book conventions (see our blog about comic book conventions) , the number of options at their fingertips overwhelms fans. There is just too much stuff! Is the explosion of POD (Print On Demand) and Ebook publications killing art? We are all fighting it out in our little corners to get a piece of the pie whether it be for financial gain, feedback on work, or some kind of recognition from someone. So, does lowering our price to compete seem like a good idea? In our opinion, yes and no. Let’s examine the pros and cons on how we view things as they are mid 2013.

PROS

Low Prices draw attention.

Lowering your price or doing a free promo day(s) allows readers to choose to take a chance on your work, as it seems affordable. Just recently we did a free promo that allowed readers to download our first two ebook conversions, The Teddy Bear Conspiracies and Superlative Tales. As both books are tied to each other via a continuing storyline, our hope is that people will actually read the book(s) and give us feedback helping us determine whether or not we should truly continuing marketing and making work or hang up our hats. The great thing about having a publication available for download is that fact that now our work can be accessed by the ENTIRE world. Well, at least to those people that shop online. Before, we have only been able to do self-promotion within our own state. Now, we have the entire world at our fingertips.

Worldwide availability

Our books can now be downloaded by folks in Europe, Japan, Mexico, ect and it’s translated. Pretty cool! Anyone can find it and make a decision on whether to take a chance and buy our books. This does include our paperback versions as well. Marketing that was once limited to a population of 12,869,257 people is now global (Potentially in the billions).

Self publishing is easier to do than it was 10 or even 20 years ago.

When we started publishing, ebooks were nowhere near the efficiency or availability that they are today. If you wanted to self publish, most publishing houses required a minimum print run of 3,000 copies. If you don’t have the reach or money to afford a publicist, you are on your own with everything. Marketing is a lot of work. It requires time, energy, and a lot of patience. In the early nineties, scanners and computers were mostly limited to business and personal computers were still fairly unaffordable to most middle class families. It’s not like today where most everyone can write from a personal laptop or even a mobile phone.

Peer Grading

Fans make the decision as to what is good or bad rather than some high and mighty editor who believes he or she is king of their domain. Readers decide what they like if they have access to it.

CONS

Downloading a free book is too easy.

People tend to see the word “FREE” or $0.99-$1.00, fizzle out from the overload of adrenaline (I GOT TO HAVE IT!), and start downloading everything they see. There is no guarantee that these people will even get to reading what they have just downloaded as the temptation of getting things free or cheaper than usual can become overwhelming. (We ourselves have fallen into this trap and now have over a dozens novels that may take months for us to eventually get around to reading.)

Anyone can do it with the right software

Due to the advances in technology and the availability of desktop publishing programs, anyone, without proper training and editing, can pop out books in a moments notice. Since everyone can do it, there is now an over saturation of literature out there. Some of it good and would never have been seen by the general public due to being turned down by a publishing house that didn’t want to take a risk. However, just because you THINK you can write a book or draw a story or whatever, doesn’t exactly mean you are good at it. There are people who spend four years or more of their life studying and refining their craft in a university setting. Most tend to get a little pissed that some yahoo from the sticks pops out a book and is an instant success. How would you feel spending time and energy on something you went to school for only to be out shadowed by someone who has less training or little respect for the craft they have just now contributed to? We personally believe that it takes skill and training to use these tools properly resulting in professional publications. We personally get irked when we see or are asked by clients to make “stick figures” for their ad work or publications.

Peer Grading again

Since anyone and everyone can now do what a big named publishing house could only do 10-20 years ago, we are now saturated with art in all forms. Instead of an editor deciding what is good or bad, it is left up to the public. And there are haters out there. People for whatever reason due to jealousy or nothing else to do like to troll the Internet and try to degrade anything or everything they see. With the advent of being connected all the time through ones computer or cell phone, any form of art is now subject to immediate critique.

You are one in millions upon billions of people doing the same EXACT thing.

We are now all doing the same thing: creating and pouring our hearts in our work and wanting to share it with the world. The competition is staggering.

So the question is what’s good and what’s bad? We are now part of a society that is pouring out information, technology, and art at an alarming rate that it’s too over whelming for people to fathom and process. We are losing our identities as humans by limiting our interactions though our devices. Instead of remembering the pleasantries of “Thank You”, “Please”, and Respect, we are devaluing our society by not stopping and smelling the roses. We are all whipping material out and bombarding each other with our work in hopes of getting noticed. Is it working? We have no idea. Quantity is taking precedence of the quality. We are losing the value of art by overwhelming our readers/viewers. Is it a good thing? Not from our view.

We, here at IF Comics, try to value our work by doing our best. We are, by far, not perfect. However, we try to tell good, fun stories that we hope will entertain our readers. We are never going to make millions of dollars as we doing this for fun. But, we value the importance of the time and effort anyone and everyone who creates art in any form. If done correctly, your work will shine. Don’t devalue it by churning it out and bombarding the public. Take your time, do the best job, you can and people will see its value. Be respectful of others and their time and effort. We should all have a fair chance to be noticed. It’s still a big world no matter how small the digital revolution has made it.

View this additional blog and opinion by Laurie Stevens called What’s a Good Book Worth?

Have you published an ebook yet?

TBC E Cover
Cover design by Anthony Feinman. Written by Myke Feinman with Creative Consulting by Cathy Feinman

Since it’s publication in 2004, we have always wanted to have The Teddy Bear Conspiracies available to the general public as an Ebook. It is finally available for the low price of $0.99. YAY!

Visit TBC page on ifcomics.com for story synopsis and character bios.
Visit Amazon.com for purchase of all editions.

Did you know that ebooks have been around since 1971? Yep! They are now going on 42 years and counting. Of course they didn’t really start catching on until the late nineties. Our graphic designer was working for a major bookstore at the time when Stephen King released his first e-novel in 1996. It took roughly another ten years before the e-craze really hit the market. At this point in time (2013), they are not going away. With an estimated 15,000,000 books published in 2012, it’s a fair bet that books themselves are not a thing of the past . This number that we found on a website is a guess and may or may not include e-books. Regardless, e-book are big business with an estimated gross of $1-3 billion a year.

So, we finally bit the bullet and started “digitizing” our publications. “It’s about time!” some might say but, here is the reality. Ink and Feathers Comics has been a hobby company for us. Our real life “day jobs” come first.

We started working on converting The Teddy Bear Conspiracies late last year (2012). It wasn’t until this past month (August) that the barrier between the  technical and interpretation was finally breached. Of course, we here know how to put a “dead tree” (actual printed book) version together with desktop publishing software. Bring on InDesign, no problem! When it came to the technical side of an ebook, we, very quickly, discovered that there is no one uniformed set format for all ebook readers. Does anyone, besides graphic designers, know what MOBI, BBeB, or Fb2 stand for? Strangely enough, they are ebook formats.

The six most popular formats to date are:  EPub, AZW, LIT, PDF, ODF, and MOBI. IPads have their own special coding and requirements. Same for the the Kindle and the Nook. Needless to say, we took the easy way out and used the easiest format at this time, the formatting for the Kindle. Why you may ask? Well, duh! All one needs is Microsoft Word. Kindle recommends it and we went with their recommendations. Last October, we started designing the ebook format for TBC in Adobe InDesign. It recommends that you create a book and put each chapter as a separate InDesign document and then link all the pages into the book. For those non-tech people out there who have no idea what we are talking about, that’s ok. It’s actually sightly complicated and confused our graphic designer a bit. And let’s not forget about the HTML code! Did you know that you also need to know some basic web coding to design these formats as well? Our designer even bought a $40 book on how to do the formatting via InDesign. Ultimately, he got frustrated and gave up as he couldn’t figure out how to make the chapter heading into an interactive Table of Contents. See, if you have an e-reader, having an interactive Table of Contents is HUGE. It’s how a user is able to use their finger or click of a mouse to select a specific chapter or header and go straight to it. Much like one does on a CD or DVD player. Without this major component, it just one big document with no control for the user/reader. Boring! So he gave up for months and thought that his expert design skills were too far behind to compete with the big leagues. Ultimately, months later, he took another look and discovered the ease of designing in Word with the freeware Calibre. POOF! In a matter of one day, he reformatted the book, discovered an easy way to create an interactive table of contents, and then uploaded it onto Amazon Kindle. Hence, The Teddy Bear Conspiracies is now available not only in the states but available abroad as well.

Kind of cool if you think about. Anyone in the world can now purchase your book, translated, through Amazon.com. It’s extremely exciting if you think about but then there is the downside. Yes, your book is available to anyone with a Kindle, and yes, people all over the world to get access to it and read. However, this is only one e-reader platform and now our designer, in less than ninety days, has to convert the same book for the IBook, Nook, and any other major e-reader platform. Is it really worth it if you have to design new version for all the different e-readers? No wonder companies charge $200+ for the service of converting your book.

One more downside to discuss is marketing. With or without marketing, your book is one of ten million out there competing for notice. If no one knows about, how do you except to find and read it? So I put it to the readers to decide. With all the available new authors uploading their treasured novels constantly on online, does each author want to take the extra time and energy to promote their “masterpieces’? No, of course not. That’s what agents and book promoters are paid to do. But what if writing and publishing is simply a hobby? Something you do on occasion every four years or so? Then you write blogs, send reviewers sample copies, and promote via social media. Will it work? I’ll let you all know if a few months. In the meantime, check out The Teddy Bear Conspiracies.

Next book for ebook conversion: Superlative Tales
Currently on sale through Amazon.com from September 2nd through the 31st for the low price of $5.00!
For story synopsis’, visit Superlative Tales Page.

For some in your face hard truths about Ebooks, Visit 10 Awful Truths

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