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

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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.