Looking ahead to jumping back into my comics work this week. I ordered a few books from indyplanet.com to check out how their printing is, and browsed a bunch of online comics to see what’s out there now. I’m about half way finished with the next issue of Shanghai, and I’m not quite sure I want to do that as my first new shot in publishing. I did about 10 pages a few years ago of a story called The Heart of the Wizard that I’m actually more excited by. It’s the same 3D art, but I had heavily filtered it to give it more of a traditional comics feel, so that it looks like it could be hand drawn, and I have to say, I like that better. I started expanding the story yesterday, but am still keeping it very simple. It’s a fantasy sword & sorcery setting, but no highbrow plot as of yet. Just basic fun and action. I re-worked the main character last night, and gave her a more acceptable outfit, and I’m feeling pretty good about it. I tossed together a test cover, which is above. The actual cover will have more thought and time in it. The style has bold outlines, over-saturated colors, and dot tones & flash lines like the comic art I grew up with. Some people really like the clean look of the straight 3D art better, but I think the more stylized stuff is a better fit for me. I’m going to try and get some new pages of this done and see how it strikes me. I think the characters lend themselves very well to a one-shot book, with the chance to come back and tell a lot more stories, as opposed to one grand story arc that I lock myself into. We’ll see. Either way, I’ll have something new in print soon!
I got my tauren warrior Squood to 77 last night, which means this morning he started on his Argent Tournament dailies in Icecrown. I also cleaned out the Shadow Vault and started him on the Knights of the Ebon Blade rep grind. He’s getting so close to the top! 🙂
This morning, I didn’t have a great deal of time, so I did a bit of minor questing on my level 76 warrior Squood in Northrend. I switched to Fury spec, and got my 2-handers out with Titan’s Grip, only to discover that I’ve been severely lacking in skill with those weapons. I haven’t used them in quite some time, and apparently all the PvP I did last weekend was done under an extreme handicap. I guess you don’t gain skill against other players as opposed to NPC mobs. I wondered why I wasn’t putting more of a hurting on the alliance in Strand of the Ancients. I’ve fixed that problem now, and this weekend I’ll be doing Isle of Conquest and Wintergrasp under a little more optimal conditions. The dual-specs have been great, but while leveling, it’s a sizable deal of work to keep my hotbars and weapon skills up to date! I also just dropped a thousand gold on my new human paladin, Vez, on Skywall to buy her the retribution spec for PvPing. That took her down to 4 gold, which I spent on a 2-hander, so I’d say it’s time for her to start fishing again!
My tauren warrior, Squood, on Steamwheedle Cartel US, dinged level 76 from mostly running Strand of the Ancients this weekend. He made good use of his alternate Fury spec, and is finally starting to perform respectably in there. Just a few more levels, and he’ll ding 80 and join my other toons in the gear chase. To avoid becoming honor-capped, be’s already bought the i-264 PvP cloak for when he tops out. Wintergrasp is also just around the corner, and on SWC, he should do quite well tagging along in there. The weekend was about half & half, pretty evenly split between alliance and horde. Winning on the Call to Arms weekend gives you a pretty hefty chunk of honor and experience. He should have quite a few gladiator pieces when he dings 80 to get him ready for heroics. Pretty soon, I’ll move back to my new human pally, Vez, but the upcoming weekend is Isle of Conquest, so I’ll probably do some more for Squood to get him over the finish line. To finish the weekend, I tanked Violet Hold and Drek’Theron Keep, and got him a few new blues, bringing his armor level up quite a bit.
The weekend is here, and that means it’s time for yet another battleground holiday. This time, it’s Strand of the Ancients, so it’s Adult Swim, with level 71 and above. I dusted off my tauren warrior, Squood, who is sitting at level 72. I did 5 early morning matches to start the day, and ended up losing 4 and winning one. A loss gets about 3% of a level, but a win netted me a whopping 14%! I have 2 of the XP bonus heirlooms on him, so he’s getting the extra 20% gain. I’ve also made about 5700 honor so far today. I’ve got fury as my secondary spec, so he’s dual-wielding 2-handers with Titan’s Grip. He does okay, but he’s very much on the low end of the spectrum, so I think he’ll do better as he goes up. I don’t think many of the quality players on the horde side were awake yet. We had the obligatory Yelling Guy on our side in the first four matches, and we lost. The fifth one, he wasn’t there, and we faired much better. Seriously, why does there always have to be one douche-bag who feels the need to let everyone else know that the entire group sucks except for them? I think if they spend more time fighting, instead of typing, we might get somewhere. I’m not sure how much I’ll get to do this weekend, but I’m finding the Call to Arms makes a nice break in the dungeon finder routine. No new gear drops, though, so I’ll have to head back to instances before too long.
This past weekend, Warsong Gultch was the weekly Call to Arms battleground in WoW. That means a ton of experience for all your low level toons! About every two and a half wins, I’d gain a level. A loss would be about 10%. That’s with no heirloom items on this character. So, my new human paladin Vez on Skywall US went from level 38 to 46, and gathered up more than 10k honor. Not bad at all! The only downside is that you’re not getting any new gear or gold while doing battle. I’ve got her fishing capped at 450 now, though, and sneak off every once in a while on a fishing expedition, and she’s had over a thousand gold. so far. A few trips through the dungeon finder, which is near instantaneous for a tank, and she’s back in all current level blue items. Sweet! She’s coming up on some of the last prot talents for tanking that will fill out her rotation. Having a lot of fun bringing this one up from scratch!
Been busily hammering away at new comic pages for a while now. I have 12 for the new book in the can so far. I didn’t do a great deal this past week. I got my broken finger checked out by the doctor, and the pins have straightened it out, and it’s healing the way it’s supposed to. They put me in a cast for the next 4 weeks, so my left hand is all wrapped up, but I’m still pretty functional on the computer. I’ve also been looking into doing some supporting material through CafePress or Zazzle for the new comics. There’s so many no-cost, no-risk methods to get material out there now, that there’s no reason *not* to self-publish. Well, I don’t expect to make any money for a while, but the endeavors will at least pay for themselves, and I’ll have new material in circulation and available for the first time in a decade. We had a birthday bash for my wife Trish this weekend, and had quite a few folks over for a cookout, and had a great time. It was a nice refresher, but the coming week will be a time to get back to work and nail down some more pages. I hope to be in the home stretch by next weekend, and get the first issue printed in September. My goal is to have a small stack of books and maybe a trade paperback in print by the time the next Orlando MegaCon rolls around in March.
This past week was very exciting for me as an artist. I’ve been wanting to do some more printed comics since my last publishing endeavors back in the 90s, but full color press is hugely expensive, and the existing distribution network is very difficult to gain a place in. I searched on some self-printing options, with idea of doing some ash-cans myself. What I found was a fairly new option that’s come about in the past few years – print-on-demand. You send in your work files – a comic book, novel, manga, etc – and they digitally print copies, assemble and bind them, and ship them to you in any quantity you want. It’s not the same high quality as offset printing, but if you want 10 copies – you got it! The price per unit allows you to sell it and still make a small profit. You won’t get rich with this, but you’ll get some books out that will pay for themselves, which is a beautiful thing. So, if I need a small stack of books to take and peddle at a convention, I can do it. I’ve seen this referred to as “vanity press”. A realm where amateurs can hack out books. But how many creators starting out with their first assignment come out of the gate with greatness? Most artists develop over time, gaining experience and improving skills as they work. Print on demand offers anyone a chance to grow in an environment that gets them some low-cost, low-risk exposure, which is priceless. It also would seem to allow more creators to develop their own personal style and unique creations, rather than being told what to work on, how and when by a giant corporation, who cares more about money than art. If your aim is to work for the big guys, like Marvel and DC, what better way to build your portfolio than to take some initiative and self-publish a series yourself? For my first time wading back into the publishing pool, I’ve chosen to go with a printing service called Ka-Blam. From what I’ve researched, they offer a great price, and a good product in a system that’s easy to use. You can choose all your options and calculate your price per unit right on their site. The folks who run Ka-Blam also have an online store called IndyPlanet. It’s also print-on-demand based, so you can keep your entire catalog of offerings there, and when someone makes a purchase, they print it, they ship it, and you get paid. How cool is that? It’s very easy to list variant covers, graphic novel collections, etc. And finally, they also have a service called ComicsMonkey that offers your print-on-demand books to retailers, so you have all the tools needed to get your work in the hands of potential readers. It’s still up to me to promote my books and tell a good story. I have to be consistent, timely, provide the best quality in my work, and get out there and hustle them. But going to conventions and doing store signings is *fun*. It’s what I want to do. So, like I said before, I’m very excited to have discovered that paper publishing is not beyond the realm of us mere mortal creators! *Note – IndyPlanet and ComicsMonkey were hacked recently. so they’re still in the process of cleaning them up and plugging stuff back in. You may get some warnings for a bit when visiting these sites.
I’ve been wanting to get back into mainstream comics for quite some time now. I have lots of new material in various stages of production, but have been unsure about how to get it into the hands of readers in a way that would make a modest amount of money and not be easily duplicated and passed around illegally on the web. I bought a set of markers last night, and did some drawing, which I’ve not done in a long time. I was intending the resulting art piece for eBay, but I was disappointed with what I ended up with. It’s frustrating, because I’m trying to duplicate on paper what I can do with my art software on the computer in a fraction of the time. The digital art looks much better, but I can’t sell it as an original in an auction. It just seems like a lot of time and effort to sell to one customer. It feels like I should be working to a larger audience. Back in the 90s, I self published a few full-color comics of my own. Paper printing is pretty expensive, but I think I finally found an option that will get me back into print at almost no cost, and no risk. There are several print on demand services that will custom print in small numbers – like 10 books if you want, or hundreds. It’s not the quality of Marvel & DC, but it gets you a handful of books, and they also have an online store that only prints what they sell. It’s basically a method to get some material in print so a bigger publisher will notice you. And if I get a small stack of books done, a trade-paperback is easy to do the same way. I don’t have to pay for 5000 copies and hope the major distributor will pick it up. I’m still researching, but I think this is what I’ve been looking for. I get to do my own thing, have it in print, and I can go to comic shows with a small stack of books to peddle. I can be an independent publisher for very little investment or risk, which is perfect. It also has the possibility to open doors down the road. I’m going to sift through all of my years of artwork tonight and see if I can come up with enough material to do an “Art of Skulfrak” book. I’ve always wanted one of those! The Shanghai series will be back in print now as well, and I have lots of other concepts waiting in the wings. More to come!
Everything must go! Lately I’ve been preparing for Cataclysm, deciding what and where I’m going to play. I know for sure I want a Goblin warlock, and after seeing more about the Worgen, I think I want a warlock with them as well. They both just look so cool! The goblin will be on Steamwheedle Cartel. I’m deleting a level 48 gnome rogue I haven’t played in years to make room, and it has the perfect name already. The toon was holding a whole bunch of junk from back in the day, so I went in with the remote auction house, and just put everything up for sale that I could. Quite a bit sold, and I stripped the toon pretty well and sent everything over to my 80 human warlock, who will remain on SWC. I love how easy it is to sell now, right from the bags, bank, or mailbox. So, I’ll have some bags, some heirlooms, and some gold to give the new guy quite a push. My new alliance home lately has been on Skywall. I’m leveling a human paladin, and she’ll be joined by the Worgen. In 12 days, I’ve gotten her to level 34 and made almost 750 gold, mostly from fishing. Every single thing I get goes on the remote auction house. There are so many people leveling and working on professions, you can get a premium for all that mid-range junk right now. The bright spot is that it’s really helped me clean out my bags of all the crap I’ve collected for the past 5 years!