Archive for ‘Blog’
This is also limiting the formats in which I can publish this. If I publish it as a softbound book then you won't be able to open the pages wide enough to see all the details close to the fold. Hardbound seems like the only way I can go about it, but that's exactly the feel I wanted with this book so I'm not to worried. It does, however, mean expensive printing costs so I've been looking into printing presses in China. The two that I've heard about and briefly talked to are:
I've gone to the Crossblue office in LA about two years ago and I was very happy with what I saw and the quotes they gave me. I heard about Regent from a friend who published through them but it took about a month and a half just to get some paper samples as well as waiting weeks to hear back from emails. But the quality of their books are very nice. I still need to get a quote so we will see how they stack up to Crossblue.
Does anyone have any other suggestions of good printers that do high quality books at a good price?
Publish a graphic novel?
Most people look at me cross-eyed when I tell them my dream to publish my graphic novel. Most of the time I have to explain what a graphic novel is before I can continue describing my fantasy. Then there are those who think I’m just a dreamer who’s never going to finish because I’ve been working on this crazy side project ever since they can remember.
I hope you enjoy this spread because I thought about it way to much. For a simple comic-page layout, I must have sketched 20 versions before finally satisfied. I had the idea of splitting the cats head into different panels early on and it opened a giant can of worms. You might also notice the greenish red hand behind the cat which was another time-suck for me. I still don’t know how obvious I want this hand to be. At one point I had a shadow on the cats body but that never looked quite right.
On the right side is my ode to Christian Schellewald I guess. You see, I bought his book, LA/SF, at the San Diego Comic Con in 2006 after looking through the entire convention. It was one of the only books that really stood out to me, besides Joshua Middleton’s Sky Between Branches. Schellewald’s book is filled with amazing little guasch paintings and sketches of completely normal things. Mostly streets, airplanes, and palm trees, but with every sketch is an amazing composition and what amazed me most was his use of negative space. Almost an entire panel would be painted white and then the lower third would be a cool tree or something. This really opened my eyes to a few things. One, negative space is a really good thing. And two, the whole guash painting approach is a good thing too. I know what you are thinking right now. This guy can’t write to save his life. I know, I know, I may not be J.K. Rowling when it comes to sharing my thoughts but I sure know when I love an artistic style.
Schellewald’s and Middleton’s books are some of the biggest influences on this graphic novel. Middleton’s sketches on his blog just make my head spin. You might have to dig a little for them but it’s worth it.
Anyway, I loved the negative space idea and as you can see, I wholeheartedly applied it to the right side of this page.
Below are a few of the steps that I had to take to get this finished spread.
A step is missing here where I blew up this thumbnail and printed it on 8.5 x 11 paper and traced over it using tracing paper and a bald point pen.
This is the final line work after blowing it up again and printing it on two sheets of legal paper (8.5 x 14) taped together. I used a light table, bristol board and a mechanical pencil. Scanned to Photoshop, adjusted the contrast and presto.
Flatting? What’s that?
For about 3 years now, I’ve been slaving away at my coloring process about as slow as possible. I would spend hours and hours filling between the lines all while throwing textures over everything to see how it might look. I would work on a page for half a day and then just leave it alone for a while. Perhaps I might dream of a better color pallet that night. Or maybe I’ll be able to see something better if I open it up in a week or a month.
- Tutorial on flatting – BoltCity.com (My personal favorite)
- Free flatting plug-in for Photoshop
- ProjectWaldo (where I learned about it all)
This last week I ordered a copy of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Creating a Graphic Novel and I just finished the first 4 chapters. Hmmm. I’m not sure what I think about it just yet but I am definitely going to write a review about it once I’m finished. My first thoughts? It’s very long winded and not enough pictures. Especially since it’s about making graphic novels.
[EDIT: 8-25-2011] I finished reading it finally and I have to admit that there is some great information in there especially with the technical stuff towards the end. The information on distribution, ISBN’s, barcodes and all that fun (non artistic) stuff was the most helpful but there was a lot that I felt didn’t apply to me because I wasn’t trying to make a normal comic. Most of the artistic advice was good for complete beginners (or complete idiot’s as the title says) and maybe people who want to publish traditional American style comics but I don’t feel like it applies to graphic novels as much. So, buy it if you are looking for some good technical information but I’d still suggest getting Making Comics by Scott McCloud over this any day.
The only thing that really bothered me about it was the constant joke telling. About 50% of the text was a joke. I felt like I had to speed read it to get the good information which became increasingly frustrating as I was trying to figure out when to take it seriously and when it was comedy filler. I admit that it was good humor but, for me, a how-to book needs to have solid information so I can reference it later when needed.
So my final decision is to get it in addition to other How-to books on the subject but not as a stand alone.
Now back to my graphic novel…
The pages below are finally starting to get into the story of reMIND. The first batch of pages were all designed to give a mood and feeling associated with this story as well as introduce things. To be a Hayao Miyazaki intro so to speak. Miyazaki has been a huge influence in my vision for the last 10 years or so. I am not saying that I understand what he does or that I’m even close but if I can achieve just a fraction of his mood setting genius then I will be satisfied.
If you haven’t seen any of Miyazaki’s films then for the love of everything holy, please do. My favorite so far is Spirited Away. Here is a link of you want to buy any of them from Amazon.
Miyazaki Films on Amazon.
Sonja (the girl) has always been a huge struggle for me because I never really made a model sheet for her and never really knew what I wanted her to look like. In fact she was a guy at one point. Some shots my wife had to pose and some (like these) I was able to pull it out of my head. I always worry that the continuity will be off but at the same time I love animations and graphic novels/comics that don’t care to much about it so I guess I should stop freaking out. It is what it is.
Anyway, Here is a progression from my newest page of reMIND.
Line art then a gray tone pass attempted when I thought reMIND was just going to be black and white. Haha, the days of simplicity are long gone. Then the finished painted art.
On Mondays I will post my pages from reMIND and on Thursdays I will post information about making graphic novels.
This way when I have another interview with a graphic novel artist it won't interfere with posting my progress on Mondays.
With all that said, here is spread 8. Another slow paced establishing shot before things get out of control. I'm not sure if I should have the time narration box or not. I just want to make sure that everyone understands that it's in the middle of the night but I assume this is obvious because the picture in the dark. Hmm. I'll let my writer buddy figure this one out. Who knows. Maybe there will be narration box in every frame like Watchmen. I hope not. Otherwise I'd never finish reading my own book.
I read someplace that you should make rules for yourself when working on your own project like a graphic novel. One of my rules is to have a maximum of 4 panels per page unless it's the same camera angle repeated over and over. This repeated frame technique is pretty much inspired completely from working in the world of animation and storyboards for the last decade. Sometimes it's fun to explore a locked down sequence of frames to show the movements and visually explain how things happen over a period of time.
I guess my decisions here are mainly to show Victuals struggle to leave the comfort of the lighthouse to get back to the water. I'm hoping that my audience will wonder why he left the lighthouse as well as notice the first words coming from his mouth. Cat's talk?
Oh yeah, and I'm not using Comic Sans anymore.
Another thing I have been toying with is the idea of switching from Google's blogging service to WordPress.org. A few things have come up swaying me to go this route.
Here is a list of my reasons, so far, for switching from Blogger to WordPress.
- WordPress looks much more professional.
- Since it's open-source it has more options for how to set it up.
- Once it's set up right, it's amazing what you can do with it and it's easy.
- reMINDblog.com will be an actual domain instead of a forwarded domain name.
- All the content will be on my server and controlled by me.
- I can use ComicPress to easily display my pages in an orderly fashion.
- I can have a menu at the top with About, Contact, Links, Tutorials, Etc.
- Blogger is just SOOOOOO easy to setup, I will miss that.
- Now I need to pay for a server.
- Lots of my artist friends are on Blogger so I don't want to be an outcast. (don't laugh at me)
- I might have to start over trying to get traffic if I switch over.
Click image to enlarge.
I have to say that this is almost my favorite finished spread. I just love how the lighting turned out with the warm sun blasting everything in the bedroom and kitchen. This was also around the time I started running out of large Bristol board sheets in which to put a full spread. I wanted to finish another page that Saturday and I had a bunch of animation paper laying around so I decided to draw individual frames on it instead. What I discovered changed my whole process and I've never looked back.
You see, back in the day it was ingrained into my mind that I needed to layout a comic page on Blue Line Pro. When shrunk down 65% it fits exactly to a standard comic size page. Everything had to be perfected on that Blue Line Pro because there was no Photoshop at my fingertips to edit any mistakes. Until recently I always felt like I needed to draw all the panels together, after all, how would I sell the originals if it wasn't nicely arranged exactly as it is in the comic.
Well, I'm here to tell you when I tried to sell original art at the Ape Con a few years ago along other graphic novel publishers, I had more luck selling small originals then selling large ones. In fact I sold about 20 small originals that were 4" x 4" and three that were 4" x 8". Nothing larger then that sold. Hmmm. Maybe my large artwork sucks but that's not the point.
To this day I draw all the frames separately except for sometimes with a few small ones. I like the idea of arranging it all in Photoshop however I want. I still stick very closely to my original thumbnail and sketches which are all still drawn as a whole. The only things I'm still unhappy with, on this page, are the ugly blue sound effects. I really need to draw something better to replace them.
Here is the thumbnail.
And here are the finished frames.
Here is spread 11 of reMIND. Click to enlarge.
This spread was a fun test. A test to see if I could push your eyes back and forth between the same frames. Feel free to throw out any ideas to make this work better if you think it's broken. There are just so many rules that people create when trying to explain how to do something. Comics and graphic novels have a handful when trying to lead the eye around the page. I think I understand the rules. The fact is, as long as the average person can read the story without getting pulled out of the scene because they are confused then I feel like I've had success. And if the average person can think, "Hmmm, that was different but I liked it for some reason." then I'm a superstar in my own mind.
Speaking of superstars. I need to hand out a bunch of "Thank you's" in this post so hold on to your seats.
Last week was a roller coaster for me. Every night after work I was up till the wee hours of the morning testing my new WordPress blog, transferring over old posts, downloading plug-ins, deleting plug-ins, testing layouts, wondering what I'm doing, reading help forums, testing links, fixing links and emailing my friend for help while crying. I got in seriously over my head and I promised I'd deliver two posts a week to my 11 Google followers. What was I thinking? By Wednesday night everything was up and running like planned thanks to my longtime friend and shorttime IT guru, Rand Fugate, who wrote all the CSS madness in the background to make my sweet menu bar look totally rad!
Just in time too because literally 2 hours later, Jerry from CartoonBrew, wrote an amazing article about reMIND releasing the floodgates of traffic to scour and pour over every crevice of my newborn blog to it's embarrassingly short end. Thursday I got the same amount of hits every 15 minutes as I'd normally get in a day. That was a rush. That day at work, people were giving me high-fives down the hallway and beautiful women were winking. Okay, so maybe not, but I still felt pretty cool about myself.
Later on, BlackStar9000, put a link to reMIND on Reddit.com. I've never heard of Reddit before but, WOW, that place really generates traffic too. Thanks Blackstar9000, whoever you are! You alone sent over 1000 unique viewers to my time-suck and are on my list of new heroes. So if anyone is reading this, can you do me a huge favor and go to Reddit to vote up reMIND or down if you really must. I still need all the help I can get!
Then Saturday rolls around and Nate Simpson links to reMIND from ProjectWaldo! Thanks Nate!!! ProjectWaldo has greatly inspired me in so many ways and Nate's blog is the best thing on the internet in my opinion. So go there right now if you've never heard of it. Click on his pages and see the magic.
So thanks for all your comments last week and several emails. I really enjoyed responding to everyone. It was a real shot in the arm. In fact, now I REALLY need to step up my game and get more pages finished.
Some of the emails I received brought up the following points that I promise to address in the near future.
- I need more in depth coloring tutorials and my process of creating tones.
- What do you do with flats? Why make them?
- Explain how I use paint textures in my pages.
- My writing sucks and seems cliche. Why don't I hire a professional to help me?
- How would someone approach coloring a comic with different mediums like colored pencils or watercolors.
To add to bullet point number 4. If anyone sees any grammar or spelling errors then feel free to let me know. You are my temporary editors until Jeremy Barlow rocks it! Spelling and grammar are my mortal enemies.
Click to enlarge.
Here we go. This is the moment when I thought to myself, "I need to get this thing going!" I toyed with the idea of making this into two spreads but then the rest of my life flashed before my eyes. Drawing a 4000 page graphic novel is not what I wanted reMIND to turn into. So from here on it starts picking up. I think.
Since I've published my list of artist forums, I've learned of a few more. I need to look into them a bit more before I add them to the list but I'll let you know if I update it.
In starting reMINDblog.com, not only did I want to post my progress of reMIND, I also wanted a place where I could organize information and resources that I've found relating to making graphic novels. There's nothing more frustrating then digging through a website for an hour before noticing it's a ghost town. All the links are broken and information is just totally out of date and useless.
For instance, when I was looking for information about promoting a graphic novel online, I came across a fairly popular how-to site with articles claiming they had all the answers in a nice simple list. I started following the advice but as I read I couldn't help but wonder when the article was written because it had advice like "Join a WebRing." I've never heard of a webring before so I did an Internet search but everything I found seemed so primitive. Even worse, when I looked at comics in webrings, they were so crusty looking and rarely viewed that it made me question the rest of the points on this How-to list.
I ended up joining a webring when I had my Google blog just to test it out. Guess how much traffic it gave me. In four months I got a total of 4 hits from the webring all of whom stayed less then 4 seconds. Worthless.
I asked my IT guru friend about them shortly after and he said webring's are dead. They were popular in the 90's. So basically I wasted hours and hours of my free time following worthless outdated information from a legitimate website. I've come across tons of these by now. One of them had a list of 6 forums for comics creators. About 2 of those forums were still alive. One of them was completely spammed to the point of no return. It's like people start this stuff and then forget it's there.
Another site that drives me nuts is ComicSpace.com. I was all into ComicSpace back in 2006 when I was experimenting with publishing an old comic called Phobos. I had a number of friends on it and it was tons of fun. Well, time passed and I forgot about it for a few years. In early 2009, I tried to log back on to update some things and I misplaced my password so I had an automated new password sent to my email. Oh snap! I had changed my email address! No sweat. I'll just email the administrator, Josh, to get my new email and password fixed so I can login to update my account. That's what I thought anyway.
No response for 3 months.
I did it again, written nicely with a bit of humor this time…….. no response again for 2 months.
I tried new methods every few months for over a year!!
Finally I make a new account so I can IM whoever is running the show to ask them to cancel my old account. I send messages and never get a reply. It even says they never viewed my message. That was a few weeks ago. When I look at the updates on the site from Josh, the moderator, I notice he stopped posting anything in 2008.
On top of that, the site is really slow now so updating it is pathetic. I don't know what happened to Josh, but sites like this really bother me when their not maintained. Is anyone else in this same predicament with ComicSpace? Does anyone know what's happening over there?
Recap: Don't join a WebRing. Don't join ComicSpace.
Sorry for giving you a bunch of worthless links this week. I did however start a DeviantArt account and I'm trying to learn how to use it. I'm not sure if it's right for me yet but at least it's being maintained nicely. Become my friend (or whatever you do there) and show me around the place a bit if you don't mind. Here's my page.
This week has been swamped with everything but reMIND. I’ve started worrying about running out of spreads to post every Monday. I even considered just posting half spreads (1 page at a time) instead for the next month or two to give myself some time to finish up the newer pages. As you can see, I still put up a spread. There’s nothing more motivating then a shorter deadline to keep the ball rolling. I’m planning on staying up late tonight to color another one so I can feel better about myself.
Advertising with Project Wonderful
This week I’ve been looking around at tons of sites noticing just how much traffic some web comics get. I guess I just don’t understand how a web comic can get 50,000 or more unique visitors a day like the Phoenix Requiem. I seem to be missing something. I mean the comic is beautiful looking but how in the world can someone generate that much traffic! I just don’t understand. I read in an interview that every now and then Sarah Ellerton, the creator, does bursts of advertising on a bunch of websites to draw in new readers. You can read the interview here.
So I looked into Project Wonderful. It’s an ad service that many webcomics use allowing them to bid on advertising space. I decided to give it a shot to see what happens. I made a bunch of banners and I bought about 5 ad spots on webcomic sites. I placed a few bids and got some ad spots for 20 cents a day and one around $5 a day. I don’t mind spending a little to test this stuff out.
The results so far have been pretty good with about 400 unique viewers in a 24 hour period before getting out bid. I only ended up spending about four dollars so far. I can see how some of these guys can pull in 1000 unique viewers a day by just doing some smart advertising. So the next question is; should I start an advertising budget for reMIND? If I don’t buy a Starbucks coffee a day I could pay to get 300 unique viewers, all very targeted. Maybe 2% of them will keep coming back every week. That would mean I spent 4 bucks for 6 followers. Hmmm. Could it be that easy?
In doing this little test I noticed a few ads kept showing up on all the hot sites out there. Whoever these guys are, they sure spend the money to advertise. Nobody would be spending that kind of money if it didn’t bring a good return on investment. I definitely need to study this more. One thing I’m going to do is get the book called “How to Make Webcomics“. I’m not trying to make webcomics really but I think they could have some good information which could apply to what I’m trying to do here. I’ll let you know what I think of it after I read it.
So I spent Saturday night working on some banner ads and I wanted to get someone’s opinion. Here they are. Let me know what you think if you have a second to comment.
So there you have it. All my banners. Any feedback would be great!
Here is Spread 14 along with a few of the steps of my process. The only stage I’m missing is the thumbnail because I’m to lazy to scan it. Click to enlarge.
This week was pretty productive with reMIND. I almost finished coloring 4 pages (2 spreads) and I sketched some thumbnails for my Flight submission. I also think I figured out how I want my word balloons to look finally. This spread is an example of what I’m thinking so far. It’s more of a hand drawn look to match my art and lettering. I’m also toying with the idea of making each characters word balloon a unique color. I’m not sure if this will help or just make the pages look more colorful. We will see as the pages go. I’ll try to incorporate the color balloons from now on.
So, we are approaching the end of the first chapter finally. I think there will be 7 chapters total divided into 2 hard cover books about 130 pages each. It’s my attempt at bridging the gap between European and American comics. European comics are cool because they a treated more like books from what I’ve seen. They are around 40 to 64 pages and they come out whenever the artist finishes, sometimes taking a year or two. There’s just something I really like about that. It’s more about getting it right then hitting a monthly deadline. My only difference is printing in dimensions of standard American comics and having more pages so it’s a nice thick hard bound book. Anyway, enough of my idealistic daydreaming babble, there are several things I want to share today so I better begin.
First of all, notice the new advertisement that is on the left hand side of the blog. I just started this Saturday to see the results. If anyone has a graphic novel related blog then please join Project Wonderful and put your ad up here. It’s free until someone else outbids you. Plus if I end up getting a few bucks a month from it then I could use that to advertise on other sites. Allowing others to advertise on my site brought up an interesting strategy. If you do a search on Project Wonderful for smaller sites without others bidding yet, then you can potentially put ads up on several sites without paying for any advertising. Just have your maximum bid at $0 and if no one else is bidding then your ad will pop up. It’s just an idea based on a few people doing that with my site. Another thing I’ve noticed is how inflated the numbers seem to be in the site statistics for my site on Project Wonderful. This makes me question how accurate the numbers are for some of the other sites I’m buying ad space on. It might just be a glitch so I’ll keep my eye on it and let you know how it goes.
Second, I wanted to say thanks for all your feedback last week with the ads. It’s been really helpful and has worked wonders for bringing in new viewers. Saturday was my best day yet. I placed an ad for $2 and brought in almost 200 unique viewers with a very low bounce rate. It looks like quite a few people subscribed as well. Advertising on other webcomics really works for bringing traffic to an online graphic novel.
Third, I wanted to point at a few people out there who are making some interesting comics and blogging about it . I’m going to add these guys to my list of Comic Creator Blogs at the top left of this site. Please note that this list might change solely on how I feel about it. Later on I plan on making a giant list of links on my links page.
Other Good Comic Creator Blogs:
Shane M. Vidaurri
SMVidaurri.blogspot.com - Blog
SMVidaurri.com - Illustration site
I met this guy on the Flight Forum and have been following him ever since. Shane has been making a beautiful water colored comic and posting pages on his blog. Check it out and show him some love. He does some neat compositions and has a great style.
Yaxin the Faun – Man Arenas
I don’t know to much about this guy because I can’t read his blog but his graphic novel “Yaxin the Faun” is so beautiful that I just had to share it with anyone wanting inspiration. He also has a artist blog with other amazing art. His page layouts and compositions are really cool. His colors and character designs are quite good too.
yacinfields.blogspot.com - Yaxin the Faun
man-arenas-news.blogspot.com - Art blog
Sam Mooney – a Manga Addict
Sam is living in Japan and drawing lots of short Manga stories on the side. He has some interesting compositions and stories techniques. I hope Sam keeps making progress on these and keeps sharing his artistic journey.
amangaaddict.blogspot.com - Manga Blog
nihonniiru.blogspot.com - Main Blog
I have a few friends who are also starting a graphic novel blog. I’ll share them when they have some stuff to show. If you have a blog specifically about making a graphic novel, showing your progress or techniques then please send it my way. I’d love to check it out and and maybe even list it here.
Here is spread 15. Click to enlarge.
I have been sick this week and took 3 days off work. Because so, I was able to do a bit more work on reMIND then normal. One of my missions was to go over all the pages and update the word balloon shapes and colors and fix up the sound effects. I learned some new tricks that I'm excited to share in the coming weeks. I was also able to color a few more spreads. Another slight difference you might have noticed is the rectangular narration boxes being hand drawn looking. Jim Campbell gave me this idea when he did some sample lettering for my pages.
This spread is a turning point for Sonja and another motivational kick into the next gear as far as the story goes. I hope your not to comfortable because it's really gonna change soon. If you come back in a month, you'll think your reading the wrong comic.
Speaking of switching gears, since we have been on the subject of advertising the last few posts I wanted to share another site that's been fairly rewarding.
This is a "top list site", they call it, where thousands of webcomic creators come to list their online comics in hopes they can get votes and in turn followers. I joined a bunch of these when I first started but most of the top-list-sites seem to be so crusty and old that it makes me question if it's worth it.
Top Web Comics, however seems to generate some good traffic and seems pretty relevant to todays online communities. You can buy ads there for fairly cheap and they bring really good traffic. Here's the page where you can buy prime ad space for as little a $10.
Also, on the right of my site, I just placed some new VOTE buttons pointing to TopWebComics. If you have been enjoying anything about reMIND then please click on one of the vote buttons to help me out. You can vote every day so please do every time to stop by reMIND. You don't need to sign in at TopWebComics either so it only takes a second. Please, I'm sick. If I could find a rejected looking picture of myself I'd put it here.
Okay, enough self pity. I've been working on a good post for Thursday so come back then and check it out. Thanks for reading!
Here is spread 16 of reMIND. Click to enlarge.
There's nothing quite like publishing a graphic novel online. In the three plus years I've been working on my GN its been extremely hard to keep motivated. There would be months where I wouldn't even touch it and months where I was just too busy with freelance work. I'd try deadlines to spur myself towards a short term goal but that never lasts long.
I've never really understood what made me inspired but whenever I found that moment of inspiration I'd jump on it. Now I wonder if the inspiration came directly from someone's encouragement. This would answer why I was so rarely inspired to keep working on reMIND in the past while never showing anyone, keeping it top secret.
The reason I say all this is because these last few months have been an overflow of encouragement from so many people that it's making me big headed a bit. At the same time I'm finding myself in a constant state of inspiration. I'm not sure if it's true inspiration or just a fear of letting someone down if I don't update my blog or comic in time. Whatever it is, it's working and I'm grateful to you all.
A few things of note this week:
- Robert Howard wrote an incredible review of reMIND on his website Tangents.us. Here's the article: reMIND review. Thanks Robert for the kind words!
- Thanks to everyone who voted at TopWebComics, reMIND has moved up the ranks quite well this month with around 200 votes for February. As a thank you for your votes, I plan on showing samples of the next page or never before seen sketches when you vote from now on. Just a little incentive, I hope.
- DeviantArt featured a page of reMIND on Saturday. Man, that was a rush. Thousands of people came to my pages and I had over 100 comments. How very grateful I was for that! My wife wasn't, however, because it took me hours to reply to all the comments. We made up and everyones happy now. Thank you DeviantArt friends and fans!
- And last but not least, Victuals and the rat are friends. I hope I didn't just loose my whole audience.
Here are the last pages of Chapter 1.
So as you can see in spread 17, I am going to have a small intermission for a week to repost all the pages of chapter 1 with a few corrections and updated word balloons. So please don't skip out on next Mondays post, in turn missing these much needed improvements. Please call out any mistakes you've seen as soon as you can so I don't have to update them again in the future.
When I started posting Chapter 1 in November of 2009, my main fear was getting through all my pages before getting an audience. It's really hard to release everything you've worked on for the last 3 years in a few short months only to find 3 people care enough to come back every week.
Here are a few stats since I started:
November 3rd I started posting spreads every Monday and had a steady flow of about 20 visitors a day. (I'm starting to sweat)
December 2nd, Notcot.org featured reMIND driving massive traffic for a few days but back down to around 30 unique viewers a day for the rest of the month.
January, My new WordPress/Comicpress site was launched with an average of 40 viewers a day. (gulp, is anybody out there?) Shortly after the launch, CartoonBrew featured my new site on the 21st driving 3000 unique viewers in the next 2 days. Suddenly I had over 100 viewers a day and my first handful of subscribers.
February I learned how to start advertising and immediately got over 200 viewers a day along with more subscribers.
March is here and chapter 1 is online with a whopping 117 subscribers and over 275 unique viewers a day at this point. Thanks to all your votes at TopWebComics I am in the top 100 for this month. Help me stay there by voting every day for reMIND. This weeks incentive is an illustration for Vampire the Masquerade that never got published.
I'm not telling you my stats to brag about anything. In fact these could be considered really low when compared to other webcomics. I just know there are people out there who are in the same boat as me trying to figure this all out, wondering what's normal. I want reMIND to be a completely transparent site instead of pretending I'm something I'm not. 90% of the time I don't know what I'm doing and when I figure something out that works I want to share it. Hopefully reMINDblog is not just a webcomic or a graphic novel to you, but also a helpful resource and motivational tool.
Chapter 2 is nearly completed with just 2 more spreads to finish coloring and I'm very curious to hear your comments on it. It's been my most problematic chapter to date with lots of exposition which I hope doesn't get to complicated for the sake of clarity. There is a fine line between telling a story and explaining a story which I've been juggling since I started this thing. Either way, some questions will be answered and I hope many more will arise. So once again, Chapter 2 will begin on Monday the 22nd.
Now onto a small list of things I've been wondering about.
What's the deal with Donation Buttons?
So I've noticed almost every webcomic site has a donation button. I think it a complete waste of time to assume someone will just send you money but since everyone is doing it I want to ask if it really works. Does anyone have a donation button on their site and more importantly, does anyone give you money?
I guess my thoughts are mixed on the subject. For example, if I were to have a donation button with a goal of X amount of money to help pay for the printing costs of my graphic novel, that would make sense to me. Or in the case of the most awesome webcomic I've ever seen, Axe Cop! They have a donation button for a college fund. That's a worthy cause in my book. If any of you haven't witnessed Axe Cop yet then PLEASE go there now. It's written by a 5 year old and drawn by his 29 year old brother (who is an excellent artist). It's one of the funniest and creative, original webcomics I've seen. Check out the first episode on Youtube too. It's amazing!
On WapsiSquare.com (a very popular webcomic), the artist is asking people to donate so he can get his wife a new TV for about $1000. Last I checked he has totaled about $700 in the last week. That's crazy in my mind but it's cool that he's making it work. If he can get money for his wife's new plasma then why couldn't I get a fund going for the printing costs of reMIND. Let me know if I'm crazy to think this might work.
There is also the question of taxes. From what I've seen with Paypal, the person who donates has to pay a little extra percent of what they are giving as taxes. I might be wrong but I'll ask my tax guy soon.
Should I start a mailing list?
Okay, so I have an RSS subscribe button. But I've been wondering if I should have a separate button for those of you who might not think to check back every week to see my progress. You know, to just get a monthly update of things like release dates and convention info. I know people are forgetful of what they came across last week on the net and not everyone likes RSS feeds.
Thursday I have a new video about the CMYK vs RGB workspace in Photoshop I'm excited to share. But first I need to fix all the times I said CYMK instead of CMYK. I'm an idiot.
Chapter 1 is all updated!
So as you might remember from last weeks post, I will start Chapter 2 next Monday to make time for a good updating of all the pages in Chapter 1. I've replaced all the pages with their new improved ones. The main thing you will notice is the new word balloons and word balloon colors being consistent now. I also replaced most of the sound effects. Click through the pages if you don't mind and tell me what you think. You might have to refresh them to get them to update.
More text below.
Tons of things to share this week:
I also started a mailing list right under the subscribe button. This may look like a mailing list but it is really just a Feedburner email service. Now you can easily get reMIND updates delivered right to your inbox. This is the way I like to subscribe to my favorite websites.(as long as they don't update 40 times a day) I seem to forget what I found 2 days ago online even if I really liked it. If I find a new artist I love, I always look for a method of getting their new posts into my mail box instead of trying to remember to look for it again online. Plus I'm trying to keep reMINDblog filled with useful information so I hope this option is appreciated. If anyone is interested in how I set up a mailing list in feedburner then give me a shout.
I have officially put my foot in my mouth. A while back I wrote about Top-List-Sites for Webcomics and bagged on many of them. One of the sites I bagged on was BelfryComics.net saying it just looked to outdated to look into further. In retrospect, I noticed it was the only site I really didn't study much. I just assumed it couldn't be useful for whatever reason at the time. Well, starting last Sunday I noticed a few hits were coming from that site so I looked into it more. Turns out someone wrote a description for reMIND (and a good one at that) and listed it on their site. By the end of the day I had 81 unique visits from the Belfry alone being my number 1 top refferral site that day. Monday I got another 77. Tuesday I got 41. Wednesday 112. Thursday another 81. Okay, okay, so this is turning out to be the best Webcomic directory I've been apart of without doing any advertising at all. I admit, I tried a little advertising on Wednesday for a few hours which helped but over all I am really blown away with the traffic from that place. I'm going to create a few half banners and run them for a week or so just to see how well that works. I'll let you know the results.
So in return for the awesome traffic, I will update my Top-List-Sites article to reflect my new opinion and findings (in a few days). TheBelfry.net has officially moved to number 2 on my list right uner TopWebComics.com (when I update it).
In addition to sending traffic my way I also found a beautifully drawn and colored comic there that is turning out to be my new favorite visually. I haven't read it yet because I usually never read webcomics but if I keep going back to look at the art then I might just give it a shot. It's called Hanna Is Not a Boy's Name. Check it out if you love good art, page design and coloring with textures. Here's an image from her site:
(Ultimate geek-out warning!)
So I want to end this all by being a total geek. I usually don't get the chance to geek out now that I'm in my mid 30's (I really don't know what that means) but every now and then something happens that brings me back to my geek out roots. (I don't know what that means either)
So there I am at work just minding my own business about to go to lunch when I decide to check my email. I had a nice fresh new unread email in my inbox and as I was about to click on it I noticed something strange. It said it was sent from Sam Kieth. You know, THE Sam Kieth who drew the Maxx and helped start Image comics and only has one of the coolest styles in the comic book world. He's one of my biggest inspirations to this day. In fact the ONLY pamphlet style comic books I bought in the last 10 years are his Scratch books by DC. I usually wait for everything to become a trade before buying it but his stuff is just so awesome that I couldn't resist.
Anyway, he said he came across my stuff and like it. I couldn't work or think straight for the rest of the day. Having one of your heros contact you and say they appreciate what you are doing is the best feeling ever. Thank you again Sam! I hope you don't mind me mentioning this.
Here is the first spread of Chapter 2. More text below.
Sorry to give you a simple spread after leaving you hanging for 2 weeks. Don't worry, actual art is coming very soon.
Here's an update of things I've been thinking about.
- I have 47 more spreads before I have all of reMIND Vol. 1 online.
- With a spread every Monday, my last page will go live on February 7th, 2011.
- I've been told by CrossBlue that March is the best time of year to print in China. (right now)
- That leaves me exactly 1 year before I need to find about $10,000 to cover the printing.
- I finally just called Regent and talked to some very nice people who were very helpful and are getting me a quote ready.
- I've officially received 2 donations for $20.
- If I put away $100 a month I could save $1200 in a year. (gulp)
- If I sell some of my originals then I could help pay for printing too.
- I need to set up a donation page for people interested in sponsoring reMIND to get their name printed in the book.
- I even submitted this project to Kickstarter.com because a few people suggested it.
- I still need to finish coloring Chapter 3.
- I have about a week to finish getting my package ready for the Xeric Foundation.
I keep having a battle in my mind if I can pull this off or not. 10k is a lot of money. I spent 14 thousand on a new car over 10 years ago and it took me years to pay that off so what makes me think I can gather 10 thousand in less than year. I know what your thinking, I should have started saving three years ago when I started this thing. The problem is, I had no idea what it cost or what I was doing three years ago.
When I talk about this kind of subject, I've noticed there are usually two kinds of people and two different responses to what I'm trying to achieve. Either I hear:
- WHAT, ten thousand dollars!
- That's crazy!
- Your crazy!
- That's a huge risk!
- You can't get that kind of money in a year!
- It's impossible!
Then their are the (sometimes) surprising reactions of people saying things like:
- Good for you!
- 10K sounds like a reasonable price.
- It's a good thing your doing it all yourself so you can own it all!
- You'll find a way to get the money!
- Very Smart!
- I bet you could get it paid for by investors or something.
Now, over the years I've had many pipe dreams that seem impossible at the time. Believe it or not, many of them have turned into a success stories. The thing that makes them successful (in my mind) is all about attitude. If you think the world sucks then the world is going to suck for you. If you think that there is plenty of opportunity just waiting to be found then many opportunities will find their way in front of you. More precisely, you will notice the opportunities that others missed because they are to consumed with how badly the world sucks.
Now I have to admit, I've read a lot of motivational books and if you have trouble getting past your own negativity then I'd strongly recommend a few off the top of my head that still stand out to me.
Lead the Field – Earl Nightingale (my personal favorite)
So to sum this all up. I am very nervous about this whole thing but I'm dedicated to pushing forward and trying things like the Xeric Grant as well as Kickstarter.com. I don't know which road will work out in the end or if I'll have to figure out a completely new way of getting reMIND printed but I believe it will happen one way or another. In the meantime I'll just keep focusing on getting the final pages colored.
Once again, please vote at TopWebComics and tell your friends to come see reMIND!
Spread 19 here. More text below.
This spread gave me more trouble then all my other spreads combined! I redrew it three times from start to finish and still scrapped 80% of it. The last two panels were thrown in last minute and seem to work better than anything else I tried. As you can see on the left side, I ended up focusing mainly on narration leaving most of the page black. I guess I was trying to show and explain to much back story in the pictures and it really didn't need to be there. I guess some of the killed art can still be put into the art-of book.
This week I finished putting together the Xeric submission and I will say that it looks AMAZING! Seeing reMIND printed nicely on paper is very exciting and it gave me an idea of how big this book might be. I dropped it off at FedEx this morning. Now I just need to wait for 3 months to hear if I get their stamp of approval.
On another note, I finally got a response from ComicSpace (a year after I started emailing them) and they finally gave me access to my account which I immediately deleted and cancelled. FINALLY! I was sick of knowing people could do a search for my name and come across a ComicSpace page that says, "reMIND – coming in 2008!". Back then it was black and white. My plans changed as you can see. If you are confused about my ComicSpace rant then here's the article where I explain myself.
Now back to positive news. reMIND got accepted into Kickstarter.com last week. Apparently Kickstarter is still in beta so you have to get approval before you can post your project there. I've been slowly working on the page trying to figure out what might be good incentives for specific pledges. Wait till you see what my $1000 pledge will get you. Hopefully Bill Gates reads reMINDblog. Thank you to everyone who suggested KickStarter. You guys are great!
Jason's FINALLY list:
- I finally got some links up on my links page. Feel free to use any of 'em to paste all over the internet.
- I finally put up a Twitter link so you can see what I ate for breakfast. (I rarely use it really)
- I finally got a mailing list. A real one.
- I finally started a monthly newsletter for reMIND.
Last Monday, in the comments section, Nathan Wrann suggested I go to comic conventions NOW and start handing out fliers to everyone as well as possibly getting a booth to sell prints even though I don't have my books finished. That seems to be a great piece of advice so I think I'm going to print up postcards and some prints for the Ape Con this year and try to hand them out. I'd like to say I'll be at the Wonder Con too but…I wont. But with all this new thought about spamming innocent convention crowds with my reMIND imagery, one question comes to mind. Does anyone want to rent me some space at the Ape Con this year? I can pay you a few bucks and I promise I wont spill my Soy Vanilla Caffé Mocha Frappuccino on your freshly printed stash.
Oh yeah. One more thing. I decided to start a lottery every month for everyone on my mailing list. Each month I'll have my beautiful wife pick a random number which would correlate with my subscriber count. That lucky person will get some free reMIND junk. (If they want it anyway) I'm kinda broke right now so I might be doing some original art sketches for the first few months. Eventually I'll start printing some T-shirts and stuff so you never know what it might be. I'll announce the first winner at the beginning of each month starting in May so sign up for my mailing list to get in on the action!
I also wanted to thank everyone who commented on my last post about 1000 true fans. That is a high calling and I expect to see all of you at every convention buying 3 copies of everything I sell. Joking. But seriously, I thank you for publicly stating that you enjoy my work. It's very encouraging whether you plan on buying anything from me in the future or not!
This weeks voting incentive is a panel from this spread that got the axe. Maybe now you will believe me when I say it wasn't working. Vote Here!