Scott Sava, creator of The Dreamland Chronicles (which I reviewed not too long ago) got a fairly lengthy interview in The Tennessean. The article points out one of the advantages of online publishing over print:
After putting the first three issues in stores, Sava realized his target audience wasn’t prone to visit a comic shop. The story’s melodramatic tones, budding romance between an elf and a college student, dance teaching rock-giant and collection of fantasy creatures appeal to adolescent girls and pre-pubescent boys.
“The fan base isn’t the kind of people who walk into comic book stores,” Sava said. “That’s your 13- to 35-year-old men or fanboys.”
The Web site allows Sava to interact with his fans.
CL: What kind of determination does it take to self-publish?
JS: It’s a lot of work. You have to find and research printers. Educate yourself so you give accurate info to get a proper quote. Then follow through the process of approval, printing and delivery. You need to find out what different distributions options are available to you and which you want to go with. Then promote it. Interviews, mailers, ads, message boards whatever works. You also have to pay for all your costs and deal with all the issues that pop up along the way. So along with determination you need to be optimistic, stubborn and masochistic.
CL: Did you consider pitching the story to a publisher before going the self-publishing route?
JS: Yeah but only half-heartedly. I’m not opposed to having a publisher but I was drawn to the idea of doing it on my own. There are a number of self-publishers that I admire and I wanted to be a part of that world.
(h/t Robot 6.)
When I put together a list of the webcomics I’d planned on reviewing for February, I had no idea that two of them had something in common. It wasn’t apparent immediately. One was about a haunted house, the other was about a shaolin monk living at the end of the Ming Dynasty. However, when scanning the press releases, I came to a surprising discovery: both were awarded a Xeric grant. It’s wacky ka-winky-dinks like this that lead to this site’s impromptu theme weeks/months (see also: Zombie Week). Thus, by the power vested in me, The Webcomic Overlook hereby declare this week to be Xeric Week! Cue fireworks!
But wait, what is a Xeric grant? And what is this so called “Xeric Foundation” that’s running it? Judging by the name alone, shouldn’t they be bad guys in a Marvel comic, sworn enemies of the Starjammers and the Shi’ar Empire? No, actually they’re a charitable organization, founded by Peter Laird (who you should know was one of the guys behind a little thing known as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles). While involved in several charitable organizations, the Xeric Foundation is best known for donating money to support independent comic book artists. I’ve talked about them before on this blog, mainly in my review of Joe Chiapetta’s Silly Daddy. (Silly Daddy itself is not itself a Xeric winner, but Chiapetta is a grant winner for a previous work, A Death in the Family.)
According to Wikipedia, “The Foundation tends to support work of an alternative or non-’mainstream’ nature, reasoning that if a comic has strong commercial appeal, it would be picked up by one of the major publishers. Therefore, it is an extremely valuable supporter of ‘art for art’s sake’ comics, and has helped launch the careers of a number of ‘literary’ cartoonists.” In other words, indie comics. The kind with unsettling art and embarrassing personal confessions. This criteria isn’t explicitly stated on the official Xeric site; they only say that “Among the qualities that we will be looking for are: originality, literary and artistic merit, and a sense of commitment to the work.” However, a glance through the supremely unconventional Silly Daddy will have you convinced that the Wikipedia description is right on the money.
Or are they? Your honor, I would like to present to you Joshua Smeaton’s Haunted, one of the 5 grant winners in May 2009. The most surprising thing about this indie comic is that Haunted looks — both in terms of aesthetics and content — like it’s got the chops to win mainstream approval.
Joshua Smeaton recently sent me a request to review his comic, Haunted. After reading the first two issues, I had to admit that it looked all sorts of fantastic. Crisp art, stuff about a haunted house, kids smashing things up … long story short, it looks great.
I won’t be able to review it for a while (got a long list that should keep me busy for most of November), but that shouldn’t stop you… especially if you need something to curl up to on Halloween night when you’re sitting in the sincerest pumpkin patch in the neighborhood. Haunted recently won the Xeric Award. It will soon be available in graphic novel format, where the black-and-white pages in the last couple of issues will be rendered in glorious color.