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So it happened yesterday, er, rather last Tuesday – I only received the email yesterday, as I was out with the plague all last week.
I came back to work yesterday, logged on to my email account, and found a new message in my inbox from one of the publishers I had sent my book proposal to. Considering I sent mailed the proposals out about two weeks ago, I was fairly certain that this was not good news.
Turns out, the email was from Chris Staros from Top Shelf Productions. Top Shelf wasn’t one of the publishers whose catalog I thought Punch-Up fit in with one hundred percent, but I’ve always respected and admired them and had to take the chance.
I can’t post Top Shelf’s rejection letter here – it strictly says at the top of the email NOT FOR PUBLICATION OR POSTING – but I can say this: It was my first ever rejection letter and, I gotta say, it was probably the nicest rejection letters I will ever receive.
First of all, it didn’t read like the standard strictly formal and impersonal rejection letters I expected to receive. I’m fairly certain that it was actually written specifically for me and didn’t just have my name and book title copy/pasted into a stock message. Staros mentioned that – while he didn’t think the book was right for their catalog – he did enjoy reading it and encouraged me to look into Xeric Grants, self-publishing, and making more “cool mini-comics out of the story” if I couldn’t find a publisher to pick up the book.
I wasn’t expecting my first rejection letter to be so pleasant and supportive. (Incidentally, the letter is now framed and hanging on my wall.)
After I got out of work last night, I headed over to the grocery store and bought myself a bottle of champagne. It’s sitting in the back of my refrigerator right now with a Post-It note on it that reads: For when Punch-Up is picked up by a publisher.
Hopefully, we’ll get to drink it soon.
Y’know, I should start making girls at the bar write rejection letters to me from now on instead of just the usual cliched slap in the face.
Yeah, I know. “Me again.”
Anyway, I was a little bored this morning – you know, after I mailed my book proposals off to publishers! – so, when I got home, I popped on a movie (The Taking of Pelham 123 – horrible movie, BTW, but it was free, so…) and screwed around with Photoshop and Illustrator for a bit.
Decided to make a quick promo piece for Punch-Up and ended up with this coupon.
Clip and save, mothereffers.
PS — The art in the coupon was the original cover for Punch-Up, drawn by the Amazing David Brame!
My fate, that is. Wonder is that’s what Stevie was singin’ about, as he bounced happily back and forth…
So today’s kind of a big day.
“Oh, I know! A Thursday! Sooo important!”
Alright, now. No need to be snotty.
Today is a big day. Today is the day that I mailed off the proposals for my first book to publishers. So, yeah, big day. Sometime early next week, Image, Dark Horse, and Top Shelf Comics will each receive a copy of the Punch-Up preview book as well as my proposal begging them to publish me.
On their websites, most of the publishers say that they review proposals in about a month, although, I’ve been told by several comic writers and artists that it’s really about two to three months. Hopefully, by the end of January, David – my Punch-Up collaborator – and I should know if we’re getting published or not.
God, I feel like a weight has been lifted off of my shoulders only to be replaced by a heavier one. Proposals have been mailed off. Now… we wait.
Remember, remember the fifth of November.
I’ve just got a quick question for you guys.
As most of you know, I’ve written an Original Graphic Novel, called Punch-Up. We – my artist, David Brame and I – are getting severely close to pitching the book to publishers and there’s been something nagging me about our book.
From the beginning, as a professional music appreciator, I wanted to include a soundtrack with the book. As I wrote the script, I would arrange which songs would accompany the scenes I was writing. It was almost instinctual, you know, to use music to perfectly compliment the emotion I was trying to get across. I wrote the script more like a movie script than a comic book script so, I guess, it was only natural to include a soundtrack.
Now, soundtracks have been used several different ways in the comics industry.
Craig Thompson sold CDs of an original score along with his epic comic autobiography, Blankets. Chynna Clugston included little black caption boxes in the page corners of her series, Blue Monday, with the song title and artist’s name in white letters. Jim Mahfood listed several artists, songs, and albums that could be played while reading his work right on the title page of his story, to be played in any way you saw fit. Corey S. Lewis dedicated a page at the end of his book, Sharknife, as a list of songs and at which pages numbers they should be played. B. Clay Moore lists the songs he listed to while writing – or thought would sound good with his work – on his blog.
I’ve always planned on going the Blue Monday route, dropping the songs in on the pages or scenes they should be played at, but now I’m not so sure.
Do you think it would be distracting to the story, to have a caption box every couple pages devoted to the soundtrack? Would you rather have the complete track listing on a separate page or blog? Or do you think that it’s stupid to even include a soundtrack and just let people listen to what they want while reading?
Let me know what you think. I want your opinions.
Music is my hot hot sex.
Yeah, yeah. I know. ‘God, is that fat, lazy-ass “writer” gonna ask us for another favor? I’m not reading another one of his crappy short stories.’
Well… yeah. I am going to ask you for another favor, but it’s a fun favor. Honest.
I want to turn you – yes, you – into a comic book character. That’s right! Each and every one of you could be immortalized in a comic book!
Will you be a superhero, flying high above the Earth, defending the innocent from the evil-doers? Or a down-on-his-luck detective who uncovers a seedy plot that leads all of the way up to the presidency? How about a futuristic gladiator who must fight off a horde of robotic lions in order to win his freedom?
Well, um, no.
Basically, you’re comic book character would be… you.
Y’see, I’m currently working on a new script that’s about a concert documentary, of sorts. What I’m looking for are random people – real people – who don’t mind having their names and likenesses used in a comic – to use as minor characters in the book.
No, chances are you won’t be the breakout main character of the story, although, one or two of you might have slightly larger roles than the others. Most of the people I choose will appear once, maybe twice, as a fan interview or something. Don’t expect to be in more than a few panels or a page or two.
If you want to be a comic book character, I will need your name, a photograph of yourself – for the yet-to-be-announced artist – and, lastly, I will need to know what level of involvement you’re comfortable with. Don’t worry. I won’t name a character after you and say something like, “I, Joe Blow, am a complete and total douchebag,” but if you don’t mind being a sarcastic and/or jerky character, that’s something I can work with.
(To be completely honest with you, there’re two reasons I want to put you in this book. The first being, of course, that I like to throw my friends into my work. Makes ‘em feel special, you know? The second is because I’m pretty anal – like, really anal – and, even if I’m only using a character for a few pages or panels, I will write out complete back-stories for them. Having a real person already in mind for that scene saves me that headache.)
So, yeah, if you love concerts and music or have always wanted the fame and adoration that comes with being associated with comics — *cough, cough* — leave me a comment, send me an email, gimme a call, or come over to my house.
(Please don’t come to my house.)
See you in the funny books. Hopefully, pretty soon.
Over the past few days – especially since I posted the latest batch of Punch-Up covers, illustrated by my Negro Amigo, the Amazing David Brame – I’ve had a lot of people ask me about the status of the book.
Well, I’m here today to set the story straight.
First of all, for those who don’t know, Mr. Brame and I are collaborating on an original graphic novel called Punch-Up, about a twenty-something named Patrick who gets beaten up for a living. We’ve been working on it for a while now and we have about fifty pages penciled, inked, toned, and lettered; about a fourth of the entire story.
David, as far as I know, is on a Punch-Up sabbatical for the time being so he can focus on a few personal projects. Meanwhile, I’m feverishly trying to edit down the number of pages in the book and letter the last few finished pages David sent me, as well as trying to outline and script my next few book ideas.
As far as publishing is concerned…
Back in May, I – along with several friends – traveled up to Toronto for the Toronto Comic Arts Festival. We talked to a couple of comic book publishers and handed out copies of out 8-page Punch-Up ashcan. I was hoping we would get a little more out of the festival – like, say, a book deal or some sort of professional recognition – but, alas, we did not.
Skip ahead to now-ish.
David and I have been working on putting together our Punch-Up submission proposal. My friend Danny Cooper, co-owner of Mutant Cactus, told me about a comic book printer called Ka-Blam. After talking it over with David, we decided to print out the first 37 pages of our book – the first act, complete with a cliffhanger ending – with Ka-Blam.
In the week or two since this decision, I’ve resized all of the book pages and designed a quick credits/copyright page while David has designed an entirely new wraparound cover for the book and a character bio page.
With only a few minor details left, we should be able to send everything off to Ka-Blam within the next week or two — we’ll print off maybe a dozen or so copies to start, for submission purposes, and more early next year to sell at smaller conventions, like SPACE. — and if they really have a 28 day turnaround, we should be able to send out our pitches to various publishing companies somewhere around the middle of October. And if all goes well, hopefully, we’ll find out if we’re getting published by the beginning of the year.
In the meantime, David will eventually start cranking out those glorious comic book pages and I’m going to continue editing and lettering and thinking about different ways to promote the book.
And I have ideas on promotion. Yes, I do. Unfortunately, I can’t share any of those details with you yet but, when the time comes, good God, it will be awesome.
For the first time in a long time, I feel as if I have a decent plan for the future.
Until next time, I’ll leave you with the final covers for the book.
Bask in the glory that is David Brame.
Bask in the glory that is Punch-Up.
Exciting news! Yesterday, I received not one — not 46 — but THREE cover design options from my Negro Amigo — and Punch-Up artist — the Amazing David Brame!
I’ll go into more detail on the state of the book in another blog pretty soon but, for now, I need your help.
Take a look at the three cover designs below and tell me which color set you like. you can shout out 1, 2, 0r 3 — Although, I’d rather you type your response in a comment below. I’m not entirely sure I’d be able to hear you if you just shouted. We live kinda far apart, y’know? — or say “the blue one”, “the red one”, or “the black one”.
Ooh. That sounded vaguely racist.
Point is, I’m a bright lad and I’ll figure it out.
Take a look at ‘em and BE SURE TO COMMENT ON WHICH ONE YOU LIKE. I like comments. I’m secretly a narcissist and like when people say my name and stroke my ego.
Need extra incentive? If you vote on which cover you like, next time I see you in person, I’ll give you an extra long, uncomfortable hug.
Seen them all? Good. Now, you see that little button below that says “Post a comment”? Go ahead and hit that and, in the big white box, type in which cover color set you liked the most. Didja do it? Good.
That’s right obey my every command. Muah ha ha ha ha!
I mean, um, thanks.
I know I’ve been teasing you over the past few days with the who “T-minus however many days” thing.
Well, here’s the deal: as of right now, we are two days away from the Toronto Comic Arts Festival.
What does that mean for you? Probably not much.
What does it mean for me? Quite a bit, actually.
Tomorrow morning, my good friends Abby, Michael, and Cortlin will be leaving Columbus, OH for Toronto, Ontario, CA to visit our friend – and Punch-Up artist – Amazing David Brame and attend the Toronto Comic Arts Festival.
This is cool for so many reasons.
First of all, there are going to be so many of amazing comic book writers and artists at TCAF, including: Bryan Lee O’MAlley (Scott Pilgrim), Paul Pope (100%), Becky Cloonan (Demo), Adrian Tomine (Shortcomings), Derek Kirk Kim (Same Difference And Other Stories), Faith Erin Hicks (Zombie Calling), Stuart Immonen (Nextwave), Ramon Perez (Butternut Squash), Steve Rolston (One Bad Day), Cameron Stewart (Seaguy), Nate Powell (Swallow Me Whole), and Jim Rugg (Street Angel). I LOVE each and every one of these people and am completely envious of their abilities to tell good stories. I actually met Nate Powell at this year’s Small Press & Alternative Comics Expo and sat literally right next door to Jim Rugg at last year’s S.P.A.C.E. These guys are two of the nicest guys in the comics community; I can’t wait to meet the other ten!
Second, there will be several comic book publishing companies attending TCAF, as well, including: Adhouse Books, First Second, Drawn & Quarterly, Oni Press, and Top Shelf. We have finally reached the critical point in the Punch-Up timeline where we’re ready to pitch the book for publication. I don’t expect much to happen with Adhouse, First Second, or Drawn & Quarterly. They are all fine companies — companies whose books I enjoy greatly – I just don’t think Punch-Up necessarily fits within their respected catalogs. I think our best chances lay with Oni Press and Top Shelf, Oni specifically. Oni Press is probably my favorite comic book publishing company. I love just about every book that they print and I think the Punch-Up would fit perfectly within their comics library.
We’ll pitch to these companies this weekend — and give away FREE Punch-Up Ashcans — but it doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re in, if they like us. If they like us, that’s great, but it also means we’ll have to then send in a formal proposal, which could be rejected. A ‘yes’ this weekend is only half of the battle. We’ll still need a ‘yes’ two or three months down the road, once they review the formal proposal.
But, instead of sitting around waiting for an answer, we’ll also be traveling down to Charlotte, NC, the third weekend in June, to pitch Punch-Up to several other publishing companies at Heroes Con. One way or another, this book is getting published.
But, you know, mostly because of the whole pitching our book thing.
We’re going to get Punch-Up published at warp speed!
Don’t listen to the naysayers; they think we dinnae have the powah to do it!
But, I assure you, we will make it so!
Because the force is wi– Wait. That’s Star Wars.
Wish us luck.
(Hopefully) Future Published Author,
PS — My next blog post will be my 50th. Let’s hope I have some good news to share in celebration of the big 5-0.
Most of you — or at least those of you who read Monday’s post — have already see the front cover. Since then, I’ve cleaned it up a bit and added creator credits.
I created the back cover on Tuesday. I’ve always loved wraparound covers so I extended the background colors from the front. Then, Amazing David drew up some Punch-Up Chibis, which I resized and grouped together for the back cover, also adding in a “COMING SOON” warning.
Put it all together and you get this:
Hope you all enjoyed this little look into the building of a cover. I’ll have some updates next week on what exactly we’re going to be doing with these.
Hasta La Bye-Bye.
Anyway, the first up is Patrick, the main character of the story. Patrick, as you can see, takes quite a few hits to the face throughout the book.
Next, there’s Andy, Patrick’s roommate and best friend. Andy, his looks based off of Amazing David himself — minus the dreads, of course — is apparently a big fan of the booze… like Amazing David himself!
And then there’s Kendra. Mmm… Kendra. For those who came to see us at S.P.A.C.E. or have read through the 25-page Punch-Up preview, you guys have no idea who the hell Kendra is. She doesn’t actually pop up until around page 40 of the book. But once her character is introduced, she radically changes the story and makes Patrick’s life a lot more interesting. I love writing Kendra. She’s probably my favorite character to write. She’s complete id. Any fucked up thing that I would love to say but can’t, due to society’s restrictions and rules, ends up coming out of Kendra’s mouth. I heart Kendra.
That’s all the Chibi goodness I have for you today. I’ll also be posting the cover to the Punch-Up ashcans in a bit, so stick around.