TAPASTIC LAUNCH: Get ready for 10+ years of comics!!

multiple comics spanning 11 years

First off let’s get the link out of the way: http://tapastic.com/sandpaperdaisy

If you hit that, you’ll see my profile on there. On the far right is the Series column, and I am going to be stuffing that column in the months to come! The first of these is called Awake.

a woman holding a human male mask

Awake premiered in Winter 2006 and came from my own life. I was newly married, slowly learning to stop objectifying my husband and start loving the real, three-dimensional imperfect man. The first stages of my love, where I thought of him as my angel who was there to fix me, were more empty…an emotional echo-chamber.  Once I recognized him as a complex human, someone wholly apart from myself, our love became more rich, warm and satisfying.

Awake will update once a week, every Monday. It is 30 pages long. But the comics don’t stop there. After Awake, here’s what you’ll see:

The Ruby Machine
The Stone Squirrel with new material: *true ending*
The Pretty Sun
The killing of Dreams
Tales from the Clarkside complete online for the first time
The Ocean with new material, comic finish
R_VE___

That, is going to be a lot of damned comics. And after all those, I will have merely prepared the way for what I truly want to show you.

But first, I invite you to walk the path I have walked. I hope you enjoy yourself as much as I have.

multiple comics spanning 11 years

How NOT to have a successful comic

Spread of inked pages in progress from The Stone Squirrel

One of my biggest assets that I’ve built over the years is my pile of mistakes. That may sound strange, but to me if a mistake teaches me a lesson, that mistake is very valuable. For me, some of my most valuable mistakes have been BUSINESS MISTAKES.

Such has been my approach to comics. About 12 years ago, my husband suggested that I begin uploading my comics to a site like Keenspace or Drunk Duck. (Now Comic Genesis and The Duck Webcomics, as I said this was long ago.) I shook my head. My goal was to get my comics published by a big publisher, like Dark Horse or Image. I might post sketches and storyboards on a livejournal community, but as for my final pages I couldn’t show everything online in case anyone wanted exclusive rights to the paper comic. And so on and so on.

Through the years, I drew and redrew my comics until I had a comic I was proud of. Several years in the middle got sidetracked into a couple of fan-comics. Finally in Summer 2012, The killing of Dreams was done to my satisfaction. I was ready to “abandon” it and find a publisher.

But wait, you say. This comic didn’t go up for sale until Spring 2014, did it…?

Noticed that, did you? That is because, for almost two years, I was talking to paper publishers. I went to the big ones first. I still haven’t heard back from three of these after 2 years, but I did receive a kind and encouraging rejection letter back from Fantagraphics several months after sending them a copy of the completed comic. Two other publishers folded while I was in the process of talking with them.

I then approached the indy publishers. The ubiquitous response was, “We can’t use color submissions.” One of them suggested I form my own comics publishing company (like he did) to publish my comics.

Onto the zines! The comic was too long for zines.

At the end of nearly two years, I had waded through more submissions and rejections than I can remember. Even among editors who professed to like or love the comic, it had no place. Some advice I’d read long ago (from an “Industry” comic artist who has since formed his own imprint too) about wowing potential publishers with a finished product had just been completely turned on its head: my finished comic lacked the flexibility it needed to be tailored to any of the publications I approached.

My next step was to find out about self-publishing. You can see how great that was here. Comixology was somewhat easier to format, but the acceptance process took months and I screwed up the files once.

Now, you may be asking, do I consider all this work I put in, on this comic I am so proud of, that virtually no one will ever see, to be a total loss?

Nope! There are many reasons why, but here are a few:

  • I have a completed comic to show (and occasionally sell!) at events.
  • I have gotten a lot of work based upon my work on this comic.
  • I have gotten valuable experience talking to publishers and editors.
  • I have developed a skin that a rhinoceros would envy.
  • I have learned that I can carry through a large and complicated project to its completion.
  • I have learned that I can learn as many esoteric rules, programs and guidelines as I must if I care about the project.
  • I have learned exactly how much I believe in my work.
  • I actually got the thing onto Comixology.
  • Lastly, I have learned HOW NOT TO RELEASE A COMIC!

“Well that’s somewhat encouraging,” you might say, “But what on Earth does that tell me about how to release a comic the RIGHT WAY??”

What, you want to learn that too? Oh fine.

After experiencing all of this, I went back to my husband’s long-ago advice: release new comics on a free webcomic site. In other words: Instead of focusing on a prospective publisher, build a fanbase along the way. I looked around at successful comic artists once I got on Patreon. Was this advice sound as far as their approaches went? The answer is yes! In cases where an artist wanted to sell paper copies, they merely made exclusive content for those books. In cases where they wanted pledge money, they simply offered exclusive sketches and illustrations as incentives. The comics were in almost every case free to read in their entirety.

Comics that have their own fanbase going in are the ones who are successful in crowdfunding endeavors. They’re the ones that are the most successful in sales. Those are the artists who get the most commissions. In fact, building their own crowd along the way has made these artists far more money than I suspect trying to find a “paper” publisher would. Even though their comics are free online for all to read!

And all of this is in addition to having a completed comic to show a publisher who might not be able to use that comic, but might hire you based upon your skill. In other words if you take this approach, you would have what I had (a finished comic to show publishers) BUT YOU WOULD ALSO HAVE a following that is currently rewarding you for your comic as it is being produced! This is true for whether you are using crowdfunding or not.

So that is my advice, after my long road up to this point. Get your pages online. Build a fanbase along the way. These are the people who will love you, these are the people who will pay you…not some overworked publisher who may never even see your art.

You can take this all with a grain of salt, since I’ve failed to distribute my comics effectively so far! I’ll come back to this post and edit it if I was wrong. But I’ll bet you anything that the new smackjeeves page I just made will bring my comics far more attention than any of the limited things I did with The killing of Dreams in an effort to keep it pristine for prospective publishing houses.

And ultimately…aren’t comics there to be read?

Further Reading: How to be Successful on Patreon

My new mini-comic.

I debuted this at Cincy Comicon 2014, it collects “The Ruby Machine” and “The Stone Squirrel.” I did a little cover for The Stone Squirrel and messed with the ending pages until I liked them slightly better, it ended up being a 20 page comic. I’ll be offering it for $3 and The Killing of Dreams 45 page horror comic for $5 at Night Gallery 2014, along with some new prints.

Oh and here’s the back cover. Shingo again! That sneaky guy. If you want to see a couple of internal pages there’s three in the COMICS section, as well as a link to The Ruby Machine.

A monstrous daisy hovers facing machinery

TALES FROM THE CLARKSIDE ALBUM WEBSITE IS LIVE!!!

carl clark's jazz comic tribute to comic artists with art by paul gulacy and heather landry

Yes it’s totally live and oh my lord it is GORGEOUS!! You can hear samples, read about the full story behind this creative and deeply involved tribute to comic artists, even get your own copy of the album or the album + the comic!! Run, don’t walk to http://talesfromtheclarkside.com/!

And yes that’s my Amp Head gif, I’m incredibly proud of this simple animation I managed to pull out after taking more and a decade off from doing animations.

Amp Head hero from the Tales from the Clarkside comic and album by Carl Clark, illustration by Heather Landry

Ain’t he cute?

I did two more simple animations which I will post tomorrow and Friday, the first day of our appearance at Cincy Comicon!!

More sample music from Tales from the Clarkside!

sample music experimental jazz artistic comic carl clark sandpaperdaisy tribute to comic artist album

You’ll be hearing about this all week from me no doubt…these are samples from the amazing sintrumental jazz album “Tales from the Clarkside” that my friend Carl Clark is premiering at Cincy Comicon this upcoming Sept. 5-7!! You get more of a feel for the sheer variety and talent of his songs here…as before, accompanied by visuals from the comic I illustrated to accompany the album. He’s used the same pages as his backdrop for this video, so he may not be planning to show new art before our release at Cincy. We’ll see!

Preview from “Tales from the Clarkside” premiering at Cincy Comicon!!

That’s right guys, that’s my art with Carl Clark’s fantastic jazz music! We’ll be at Cincy Comicon, Sep. 5-7 in the Artist Alley, with the comic/album set as well as tons more art and comics, including The killing of Dreams and Dog Street: Part 1! Come see us there!

Carl says this song was directly inspired by my piece “Atomic Jazz” and the story behind the picture. I couldn’t be more proud to have inspired such gorgeous tunes! I’ve heard most of the album, it’s mindblowing. Every song is different and they all highlight a different wonderful artist. You don’t want to miss this! If he releases any more music I’ll share it here, I promise. It’s awesome.

I’m finally on comiXology!

surreal horror comic by heather landry

And boy does it feel nice. There I am, in the new submissions on the front page!

As you can see, I’m competing with Batman and the Powerpuff Girls among other great titles. I doubt those are good odds. But hey! Being placed on the virtual shelf with these industry comics feels pretty great nonetheless.

Here’s the link to my page: http://cmxl.gy/1jREVom

And a shot of it.

surreal horror comic by heather landry

The Balance: Resurrection Field

a sinister man stands alone in a field of flowers.

Here we have a character of mine, Burke, standing in a field of chrysanthemums. This was originally intended to be the front cover of the first comic in The Balance series. The back cover would naturally feature my other Resurrection Man, Hare. I picked chrysanthemums simply because I love the movie Curse of the Golden Flower and so I will always associate this flower with sinister and horrible things.

The Resurrection Men pop up again here and here are my other old Balance art posts: More old comic art from The Balance || The White Robe || The Balance sketch001

More old comic art from The Balance

An unfinished splash page from my comic project The Balance.

I forgot to post this yesterday, whoops! Anyway, I’ve got plenty of old drawings and concepts from The Balance so I’ll just go ahead and throw another one out there. At the bottom I have a larger version since it’s a wide picture.

I’m deep in the middle of a bunch of contract work at the moment, but I plan to try and do one of my more detailed blog posts soon. Lots of shows to cover and review for example, and I have some animation projects coming up.

Related posts: The White Robe || Resurrection Men || The Balance sketch001

An unfinished splash page from my comic project The Balance.

The killing of Dreams now available IN PRINT

the killing of dreams by heather landry on indyplanet

Here it is! http://www.indyplanet.com/front/?product=109508

44 pages printed, all color, with pin-ups, $5.99. I am incredibly thrilled about this and pleasantly surprised. I FINALLY have it in print, online somewhere for people to buy. Who knows what approach I’ll ultimately end up taking with my comics, but I finally took my first big step getting this one out there!!

A note about the IndyPlanet digital download pricing:

You may notice a $0.99 digital download option. That was entirely my fault, I didn’t notice the “digital download” field when I set up the listing. I actually intend for all digital downloads to be $2.99 to be in line with the Kindle listing, where a comic of The killing of Dreams’ file size can’t be listed for such a low price. However, several comics have already sold at $0.99 so I’m in a rather interesting position at the moment! The only solution I can think of that will confuse the least amount of people (hopefully) is to honor this price mistake until my comic goes off the front page of IndyPlanet. So feel free to take advantage of my mistake! Don’t worry I’ll still be making a bit of money so you’re not ripping me off or costing me money.

tkod on INdyPlanet

Press Release for The killing of Dreams

More Tools: Press Kit || Media Kit || Blogger Kit

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Date: 05/05/2014

Contact: Heather Landry, sandpaperdaisy@gmail.com

Local artist publishes horror/dark fantasy comic, “the killing of dreams.”

Heather Landry’s 42-page comic one-shot explores forbidden love and coming-of-age themes as well.

Evansville, IN – Award-winning artist Heather Landry is extremely active in the local art scene, recently helping to organize the wildly successful 2nd annual Franklin Street Earth Day Art Crawl. Her work has been featured in numerous local shows and galleries including the Bower-Suhrheinrich Foundation Gallery and a solo show at PG Gallery and Cafe, and her light-hearted autobiographical comic “Things Fall Apart” appeared in the local entertainment magazine News4U from 2004-2008. An active member of the Arts Council of Doom, a local counter-culture art movement, Landry is exploring darker themes with The killing of Dreams.

“Most of my artwork is based on my own dreams and this comic is no exception,” says Landry, who goes by Sandpaperdaisy online. “The killing of Dreams began with a nightmare I woke up from one morning in 2006. Now almost a decade later, I’ve finally been able to realize my dream in concrete form and offer it to others.”
The comic preserves its nightmarish feeling through the use of limited colors and heavy shadows, a stylized “painterly” approach and a closed-set feel leaving the reader feeling uneasily trapped with the disturbing events unfolding before their eyes. The story centers around two girls, Claire and Else, who find their tenuous relationship threatened by deadly forces beyond their comprehension.

Landry is new to publishing and her humorous article “Everything I did wrong when I tried to make a digital comic file” offers an unblushing perspective–as well as helpful pointers–to anyone interested in the rigors of self-publishing in the digital age. This article as well as information on her new book and all her other shows and projects can be seen at http://sandpaperdaisy.com. Right now Landry is finishing a new project to debut at Cincy Comicon, coming up this September 5-7. After that she will be working on several new comic projects including Dog Street, a compilation thematically centered around childhood and the horrifying and nonsensical wonderland associated with it. Her published comic short The Ruby Machine will appear in this compilation and is available to read online.

You can also find Landry on Twitter as @sandpaperdaisy and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/SandpaperdaisyArt

Her new book “The killing of Dreams” is available on Amazon here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00K1WBM3Q and is available in print from IndyPlanet here: http://www.indyplanet.com/front/?product=109508

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Everything I did wrong when I tried to make a digital comic file

As promised! Wow, where to begin.

First off I will start off by saying this is referring to creating a .mobi file with the Kindle Comic Creator to be used as a kindle book for sale on Amazon. I made digital files for Comixology and IndyPlanet as well, but all that involved was sending them a .zip file of nice huge .tiff images and they do they rest!

…not so with Kindle.

Now, before I dive in to the comedy of errors that has been my past two days, let me share some links:

And now on to my list of gaffes.

1) I tried to use Kindle Panel View.

Now, this might be a good idea for some comics. What I didn’t know is that if your comic needs to use double-page spreads (say you have splash images that take up 2 pages) YOU CAN’T DO THIS.

Other problems with Panel View: you have to manually drag to select all your panels because panel detect ONLY works if you have black bordered panels separated with a clean white gutter. If you have a black or dark gutter, or a background image behind your panels, or inset panels, forget it.

Worse yet was the dragging functionality for selection: After selecting my panels I had to then go back and re-drag to specify the “zoom” area of every single panel. So I had to do the same thing twice, for every panel…otherwise when someone used Panel View they would get tiny little arbitrary slices of each panel and that was it.

And if that weren’t bad enough, it’s incredibly hard to drag those panels in the first place…they constantly keep snapping back into place if you don’t click outside them in the exact right way, and half the time it won’t even let you drag at all anyway because the drag area is so incredibly small. My wrists after a 42 page comic are SHOT.

2) God help you if you need to change Panel View on/off after you’ve started.

Because…you can’t! You’d better darn well know whether you want to do Panel View or Double Page Spreads (and remember this is EITHER/OR) before you start. If you end up having to change this, you get to start a whole new file! Lucky you! (Lucky me after I found out you can’t have double page spreads with Panel View.)

3) FILE SIZE

Turns out that even though you’re technically allowed to use PNG and TIFF files for your images…no. No, it must be JPG/JPEG and only JPG. Because your images can only be 800kb or smaller and your mobi file had better darn well be under 50mb if you don’t want Amazon to slap a big ugly (well it’s not big I guess, but it looks scary and foreboding) warning on your sales page saying “Due to large file size, this book may take longer than usual to download.” YUCK!

Worse, for those of you selling a comic for $1.99, you can’t do this unless it’s 50mb or less. (I’ve also heard that $0.99 books must be 3mb or less.)

The only way to achieve this is pretty much to use JPGs. I, of course, tried non-lossy file formats like TIFF and PNG first…can you say 2GB file??

4) …Except the cover file is different!!

Yes, the cover file and only the cover file can be larger in dimension than all your comic page files…and you actually NEED to use the dimensions they give you [1563×2500] because otherwise it’ll look all jacked up on the device. Well la~de~dah!! …at least you can update the cover image without making a new .mobi file, but I suspect you have to delete the old cover image from your folder or it may refuse to keep the update.

5) How in heck do I get my double page spread???

After I was on my second or seventh or eightieth new mobi file (had to remove panel view, then had to reduce the size of individual pages) I did the whole “double page spread” thing and thought I had it made. But when I went to preview it, it was still in portrait only displaying single pages!! Now, to go back a bit, when you start making your file in Kindle Comic Creator, you have to pick Portrait, Landscape, or Unlocked. …except, no matter what you say, you have to pick Unlocked if you want your double-page spread to work at all.

kindle comic creator dialog box

The good news is, if you selected Portrait or Landscape instead, this can be changed.

6) What can’t be changed is the canvas size. Time for another new mobi file!

Below the Portrait/Landscape/Unlocked options you’ll notice there’s “canvas size” dimensions to pick. ONCE THESE ARE SET THEY ARE IN STONE. Thus, if you were perhaps to get distracted by a late-night episode of Perry Mason (the original black and white series naturally) and did NOT switch these babies around to reflect Portrait as Opposed to Landscape, or Landscape as opposed to Portrait, you will have to REDO EVERYTHING LATER!

This became an issue because the “Kindle for PC” I downloaded from Amazon won’t let me rotate the virtual Kindle. Thus, I couldn’t see that when you rotate it, your double-page spreads show up. I panicked. Did this mean that I actually needed my dimensions to be in landscape mode, reflecting the size of two pages, and then two pages would populate in the preview like they were supposed to???

NO.

kindle landscape capture

Nope! Kindle defaults to displaying one page at a time in your selected mode. Therefore, if you have traditional (Portrait) comic pages and you put it in Landscape, you will still only get one page displayed at a time but now there will be a VAST SEA OF NOTHINGNESS on either side. AND you will no longer have access to the Double-Page Spread option that you desperately need for your splash pages. Yeah, THAT was worth making the 10th mobi file or so to find out…

7) So in other words, preview your comic using Kindle Previewer, NOT Kindle for PC.

It actually lets you flip the blasted thing, and then you will be comforted to see your double-page spreads do in fact exist and were not just a madman’s dream. They let you download Kindle Previewer when you’re making your book! It also comes bundled with Kindle Comic Creator but you may prefer the separate version.

the double page spread on kindle previewer

It really existed after all! *SOB* …I forgot which mobi file is the right one by this point, where did I save it…?

8) Hey, so about that pricing and description…

Yes, admittedly after all that I flaked out and just slapped a random price on my book without double-checking what prices I had set in other online venues. AND I neglected to use the book description field to talk in-depth about the book or include a link back to my website. More Amazon Bookshelf edits!!!!

9) To summarize, what I SHOULD HAVE DONE.

To get low file sizes, use JPG files no greater than 1280px on the largest side. The exception is your cover, which should be 1563X2500px. Also, have a portrait-oriented cover for a portrait-oriented comic, and a landscape-oriented cover for a landscape-oriented comic, or you will run into trouble.

To achieve Double-Page Spread in order to preserve splash pages, turn Panel View OFF, select the UNLOCKED orientation and set your canvas size to the dimensions of a single comic page. Don’t save until you’re certain your settings are perfect or you’ll be making a new file!! Preview in the actual Amazon Previewer, not Kindle for PC.

If you use Panel View, remember Double-Page Spread and “Unlocked” (ability to rotate) orientation will not be an option for you. It’s best to use Panel View for comics with very pronounced, simple panels on a white background so you can use the “auto-detect panels” as much as possible. If you must draw panels, ensure that the zoom for each panel is selected properly. Have someone burly massage your wrists afterwords and offer you chocolate and spirits.

Preferably someone like PERRY MASON