Category Archives: Uncategorized

Support Indie Comic Creators!

By Anthony Feinman

Anthony And Julie show off their commitment to the world of pop culture
Anthony And Julie show off their commitment to the world of pop culture

This past Saturday, Julie and I attended DanCon Fall 2013. Its been a long time since we have attended a show without actually having a table. It’s kind of nice to not have the pressure of waking up at the crack of dawn, getting your merchandise together, cash box counted and settled before commuting to a show’s location. One of the main thing that we both love about attending these shows is spending time talking to the various artists/writers/creators. Even though DanCon is small show (something that IF Comics pushes in relations to starving artists..see post Attending Conventions) it makes it so much easier to visit with almost all the creators in attendance. We were only there for a scant 2+ hours and had a kicking time seeing other people’s work, discussing their ideas, soon to be ideas , as well as where the industry is heading for us all as artists. I wanted to share with everyone some of the work that we got this time around from this small pool of talent.

Written by Greg Hiatt, illustrated by Peter W. Caton
Written by Greg Hiatt, illustrated by Peter W. Caton

First up is Greg Hiatt. I am always excited to talk to creators that are really into their projects. Greg pitched his book, Dick Mummy, as Dick Tracy if he was a zombie. For me, I’m not big into the horror comic genre but I’m a fan of mysteries and anything that seems pulp-ish in nature.  I have to admit just thumbing through this full color comic is visual eye candy. His work in this story is gorgeous and I look forward to divulging into this world filled with noir settings and dark yet lavish color schemes. Moon Comics has a few more titles in their arsenal and additional info can be found on their website, Moon Comics. I didn’t get a chance to ask Greg too much about his process as I was slightly distracted by his writer who was standing next to him dressed like a giant carrot. I’m sure it was promotion for their book, The Vegetable Wars. Check out their site for some previews.

DarkseidJuan Gomez is the next artist we visited with and I was surprised to learn that there is a good chance he and I meet when I was in my early teens! I handed him one of IF Comics business cards and he immediately recognized Terry Freedom. A FAN FROM THE OLD DAYS! Sweet! Even though I had purchased this gorgeous rendering of the new DC 52 version of Darkseid, we ended up trading the sketch card for a copy of Blitz Howser. I am stunned to see artists create these fantastic works on canvas’ no bigger than 2.5″ x 3.5″. I myself have illustrated a few artists cards but am nowhere near the level of Juan’s artistic talent. I had to have this piece as it just stands out as extremely powerful. It just great all around. We (Julie and I) conversed with him for some time talking about his current work and his hope to start churning out content as time allows. We hope to be seeing more his work in the future as it is my belief that it needs to be shared at all costs. Check out his work via his blog: Gomez 13

Writer, Austin Allen Hamlin has already contributed to two comic issues in hopes of bringing the topic of bullying to higher awareness.
Writer, Austin Allen Hamlin has already contributed to two comic issues in hopes of bringing the topic of bullying to higher awareness.

Austin Allen Hamblin is a true example of someone who has been influenced to share his talent with the world through his love of comic book artists through their visual storytelling. This nineteen year old (probably the youngest exhibitor at this functioned) has been recruited to participate is an extremely noble cause, stamping out BULLYING! He was contacted by the organizer, Pam Harrison (her work can be viewed via clicking on the comic cover to the right) to contribute to this publication which is given away to kids and young teens to help them deal with bullying at school. Mainly, to let them know that they are not alone and that this type of behavior should not be tolerated in any form. An extremely noble cause as Pam sends all her contributors free copies of the books for them to distribute or sell to help cover their efforts for their contribution. Austin was even nice enough to share with Julie and I his portfolio of original comic book work from well known comic artists. His portfolio alone could easily pay for ones full semester of credit hours in college. Check out more of Austin’s work at: Hamblin Comics

Russell Lissau contributed his writing talent for a short story as well as Denver Brubaker his writing and illustration talent to this brief anthology.
Russell Lissau contributed his writing talent for a short story as well as Denver Brubaker his writing and illustration talent to this brief anthology.

As anyone knows, I am immediately drawn to anything remotely cartoony in nature. So I couldn’t pass up the chance to check out this comic with writing by Russell Lissau as well as writing and illustration work by Denver Brubaker who were both attending this con. Cats and other small animals dominate this book which will make my tiger, Nerwonduh, extremely happy while Julie’s kitty, Goobers, may sniff it as it’s something new in the house. Goobers mainly tolerates my comic collection more for the fact that I occasionally feed her once in a while. She also seems to think that I have a warm lap.

Russell Lissau has also written a few other works for Omega Comics. They can be discovered at: Pop Goes the Icon. Check out Denver Brubaker’s blog at: Tales of a Checkered Man. I love the drawing styles in this comic and definitely looking froward to reading this.  More of Art Baltazar’s work can be found at:
Art Balatazar’s Electric Milk Creations Studios. Franco can be found at: Blindwolf Studios

Illustrator Christopher Mitten has an infinity for undead creatures
Illustrator Christopher Mitten has an infinity for undead creatures

Christopher Mitten is well known for his work for Dark Horse. Julie and I have seen him at two cons so far. We first got a chance to talk to him at the Kankakee Fantasy Con this year but had to cut our chat short since we had to get back to our table to meet fans. However, since we were not displaying for the Fall show, I finally was able to grab a copy of one of his comic stories. Christopher is awesome each time we have met him, he is always glad to be out and about with humans and not stuck in his office with gallons of coffee at his disposal drawing. He also seems to like to writhe his hands together much like Mr Burns from The Simpsons. I think he needs to get out more. Regardless, he is a great illustrator and I hope to start collecting more his work when I can afford it. The downfall of being a starving artist unfortunately. His work is totally rocking! Check more of his work on his personal website: Christopher Mitten

Written by John Metych, illustrated by Bill Maus
Written by John Metych, illustrated by Bill Maus

John Metych has his whole line of comic book creations under his company Beta 3. He is writer, letterer, editor, and publisher of his work. I picked up his crossover story with previous existing characters left over from the old Malibu Comics days. Anyone remember Malibu Comics? They were based out of California and at one time published stories for a big named property called Star Trek via Paramount. Strange that they went under. Anyway, John dug up a copy of his crossover that also had a signature from his illustrator. Why did he go through the trouble? I have an extremely adorable face! Plus it helps to have a booth babe dangling from ones arm dressed like Batgirl!

I would like to include his web page however, as of this time, it’s currently having technical difficulties. In the meantime, do a Google search for Beta 3 Comics.

Illustrated by Christopher Brault
Illustrated by Christopher Brault

I saw this card on Facebook way before the show started and wanted this piece. Does it not look exactly like Brian Cranston as Walter White?

I was fortunate that no one had bought it when I found Christopher Brault sitting with his long time old friend, Andrew Winkel writer and creator of Raceboy and Super Qwok. Christopher’s work is, like all the other artists displaying this past Saturday, is fab! Check out his work on his DeviantArt Page. Also make sure to check out Raceboy and Super Qwok Adventures available as a print edition or a digital download from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Itunes. Andrew’s 300+ page is filled with short super hero adventure stories based on his four children. It’s a great read and one that people should check out and recommend for children 12 or under. Also check out Breaking Bad on AMC. Only Two episodes left!

Here are a few more artist that we got a chance to chat with but were unable to purchase as I ran out of funds. Collecting comics is like the worst vice ever!

Cory Amos is currently working on a succubus/ vampire character with an interesting twist. Check out his work at: Cory Amos

Mat Fasta does a variety of fantasy work that can be viewed at: Tiamat’s Garden

Brian Lee Martinez has a number of interesting projects lined up that I hope to see really soon. With a blend of anime and manga to his art style, I’m sure he will soon be an up and coming rising star in the indie scene. Check out his work at: Zanamaru

Thanks to all the creators for taking the time to answer my questions and share their thoughts with me. Hope we get a chance to do it again.

Buy more independent stuff my friends! 🙂

Advertisements

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?

Attending Conventions? Are they worth the time and energy?

Dan Con
Drawn by Tony Maldonado and colored by Dave Punk

It would be wrong of me not to mention two comic book conventions that are coming up in the next two months. First up is DanCon 2013 part II on September 21st, 2013 in Orland Park, IL. Dan and his lovely wife both run this con and are great hosts. If you are interested in seeing a large group of indie creators collected together under one roof, check out this con! The price is $3 for adults and $1 for children under 12. This is the first year that they have done two small one day shows (Spring and Fall) in a single year. The first half, which took place in March, was fairly successful for those who attended. It is important to note that this con is in ILLINOIS and not FLORIDA if you have seen an ad for this con in Previews. It has been recently discovered that they have no editors on staff as they typed and “F” instead of “I” for the state. They also seem to think that St Louis is in New Jersey. Doubt me?

Check out a picture of this post we found on Facebook. Preview Error

Aside from some problems with advertising like being told by local comic book store owners (I am not going to name names but they start with the name of a CRACKER) that this con is not a “real” convention like Wizard World or C2E2, they have a decent attendance record for a small comic book convention. It’s in a high volume area, next to a major mall, and easy to get to and from. Excluding the traffic, of course.

Honestly, Wizard World is no longer a “real” convention in our opinion. A real convention wouldn’t charge it’s fans $40+ a day to attend. This does not count the money you need to pay for parking, food, and OH, what if you actually want to BUY something from someone? You’re already a minimum of $40+ in the hole before you even step into or driven to the front door!

For an average fan to attend a big name convention these days averages a minimum of $100 a day. That figure is being EXTREMELY nice! Here is a downside as an artist. To buy a four day table to exhibit your art or wares, the average amount for an 8ft table with two chairs is $300-$400. Let’s say you think this is fair and decide to exhibit. So, you have invested money to print or publish your work whether it be prints of your art, a sketch book or some other publication like a graphic novel or comic book. That could easily be in the hundreds of dollars if you decided not to sell ads to cut printing cost. Add this price to the table price. If you do not live in the state the convention is taking place, add gas and mileage or plane fare to that price. There’s a few more Benjamin Frankin’s out of your pocket. Then, you’ll need a place to stay as you would like attend all the days of the convention, right?  Now add in hotel rates and fees. Let’s say $90-$120 a day. Where are we at in terms of price? I don’t know about you but we are bordering on close to $1000 at this point and we still haven’t even gotten into the convention door yet. Ok, are you alone or do you have someone to help you with the table? If you are going to be manning the table by yourself, guess what? You can’t leave! All this isn’t even factoring in time and energy spent creating your work. By this time you are probably getting my point. You, as someone who thinks they are fairly decent artist, writer, whatever, have dropped down a car payment or more to attend an over priced comic book convention. What is the guarantee that you will even break even? Think I am full of BS and want a second opinion? Check out this blog by Sun Bros Studios about their recent encounter with Wizard World Chicago 2013.

The Three Phases of Post-Con Letdown by Wesley Sun

I feel so bad as these guys are super stoked about their new project. I’ve thumbed through their book and it’s decent enough. Had they asked us ahead of time, we could have saved them a lot of time and energy. This price gouging has been going on for decades and naive and inspiring artists think this is the way it should be. WRONG! It didn’t use to be this way 20 years ago but they are all too young to know the truth. DO NOT TAKE THIS ABUSE! You’re time and energy is valuable and so is your artwork.

Do small art shows to get started and then if enough people start buying your work, consider exhibiting at a “big” named convention. I guarantee that you will do better in an environment where you can hear and actually talk at a normal talking level with your fans than at some big convention hall where the fans are overwhelmed by the vastness and over abundance of pop culture.

That is the biggest complaint that we have received from fans. TOO MUCH STUFF! How do you expect to compete with a thousand other vendors at a big con? You can’t. So you get lost in the awe and deer headlight looks of the fans as they drool past your table. It’s not that they can’t see you. It’s that they have no money via the entry fee. By the time they get to Artist Alley, the big named conventions have hiden you in the back like your are some kind of shameful bastard child. The irony is that the artists in Artist Alley are doing more creative and visually appealing work than anything you’ll find in mainstream these days. And where do the mainstream comic companies find the new fresh talent? OUT OF ARTIST ALLEY! The “big” conventions are literally shooting themselves in the foot by screwing over their future fans of the up and coming artists and writers. Where’s the logic?

We have attended many different show since the late 80’s through the early 2000’s. Our best shows have always been small intimate shows that allows us to talk with our fans, answer their questions and allow them to get to know us. We are all artists in some way whether it be through the written word of through visuals. We love to talk about our work. And we love to be engaged by OTHER people asking us and talking about our work. Talk to your fellow artists and ask them about other conventions and their experiences. It could save you a lot of hard ache, time, money, and energy.

Last but not least…

Check out Collector Con on October 13th, 2013 in Kankakee, IL.

collector_con

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

Visit Ink and Feathers Comics official website at: www.ifcomics.com
Friend us  on Facebook!