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Continuing along on our baker’s dozen format for now — 12 thoughts, links or topics, in no particular order, plus one as a thank you for making it to the end.
#WWHistoria Book 1 release date just got moved from October 19th to November 16th. I’m bummed, frankly. It took us—what?—3 years to get to the point where we were able to get a release date and we have to bump? Well… yes. Two reasons: one is a supply chain thing that I don’t quite understand, but more importantly, the second reason involves the actual team of colorists working on this book and COVID. I’m not going to go into more detail because it’s not my business to share, but… human beings over schedules. Always.
So! In stores November 16th now. Thank you.
(That, by the way, is Hera on the p10-11 spread - drawn by Phil Jimenez and colored by Romulo Fajardo Jr. I got permission from DC to share it with you. 🥰)
COVID. Ed Yong is my favorite contemporary science writer and his COVID coverage is indispensable. The How the Pandemic Ends Now update at The Atlantic is required reading, as far as I’m concerned. Yong’s just done a piece on Long Covid as well. (There’s a related—not Ed Yong—article in The New Yorker called Costa Ricans Live Longer Than Us. What’s the Secret?)
MORE COMICS. Adventureman #5 from Matt Fraction and the Dodsons will be out on September 29th! (Which also happens to be our 19th wedding anniversary.) You can see a preview right here.
In Adventureman #5, as New York City teeters on the brink of a strange armageddon, Claire tries the Adventureman mantle on for size just in time to face the monstrous evil that vanquished her predecessor—only he didn't have a family like hers.
Everyone knows the story of Adventureman. The greatest pulp hero of all time's story ended in a heartbreaking cliffhanger with our hero facing his very execution...now, learn the startling truth about how, 80 years after his seeming demise, single mother Claire and her Adventurefan son Tommy light the spark of RESURRECTION! Can these inheritors of the Adventureman legacy rise up to face down the evil that bested the original?
BOOKS. Diana Rempe told me about her work as a Street Librarian and I was immediately (and predictably) smitten. Graphic novels/tpbs are popular with her clientele and so I have it on my To Do List to gather book donations from Portland creators and deliver them to Diana for use in her excellent mobile libraries. If you’re in Portland and you have some perfect bound comics you’d like to contribute, hit me up. More ways to support their work here.
COMICS INDUSTRY. We ran the #VisibleWomen project on Twitter last Monday. Thread with instructions and history here (illustration by Alissa Sallah):Good morning, friends! Today is day. This will be a thread that goes over the history & basics then we'll get started. (Instructions also posted here: milkfed.us/events/save-th… )
If you’re not on Twitter… you’re a genius and I envy you your fine judgment.
…But also, you can read the #VisibleWomen Twitter thread as a webpage here. You can even print is as a pdf, I guess. I don’t know why you would, but you can. I mean, I ain’t the boss of you. Do what you want.
If you’re a hiring professional in the comic book, gaming or publishing industry, you can request a free copy of the resulting spreadsheet here. (We are working on a way to make the spreadsheet more useful than it has been in years past, but we’re not quite there yet. Maybe in time for the next #VisibleWomen in February 2022? Fingers crossed.) Still, we always manage to get people hired off the list (we hire off it ourselves) and it always thrills me so we’ll keep doing it as long as it works.
SEWING. I’ve been looking forward to doing the Design Your Wardrobe Workshop with Seamwork (it’s run twice a year and free with membership), since I barely missed the last one. The class is three weeks long and I’ve been making the joke that I would no doubt have to drop out after the first week because of my schedule. Well, ha ha. It’s one week in and I haven’t been able to play at all. There’s an option to work through it on your own though, so I guess I’ll do that? Someday. (BTW, thanks to everyone who weighed in on the snake mesh fabric. I decided to use it with Simplicity 8545. If I ever have time to sew again.) (I’m whining, aren’t I?) (I am. I’m sorry.) (Nice list of sewing tips from Threads Magazine I just bookmarked here.) (Oh, and check out this fantastic dapper sewist blog here.)
MORE COMICS INDUSTRY. I guess we should talk about the Substack Comics initiative. (For a pre-Comics Initiative perspective, I think the best piece I’ve read is this one from the Atlantic. Mind you, the situation for comics is a bit different.)
There are pros and cons to the deal. In fact, I just wrote 1,000 words on the pros and cons, but then decided to spare you (and myself, frankly) and cut it.
So the short version is this: Substack has started offering SubstackPro deals to a set of comic creators that they view as influential in exchange for said creators developing and/or distributing some comics on the Substack platform. In exchange for the money, creators agree to offer a paid version of their newsletter and commit to posting 100 times in the year they’re under the agreement. I’ve heard the deals referred to as “advances.” Advances have to be earned out. As these don’t, they’re more like grants—or sponsorships, similar to what Nike does with athletes, which I think is much more accurate metaphor—and they’re substantial. Substantial enough to be transformative to our industry.1
If you’re looking for our take, this is probably what you want to know: We did get the SubstackPro Comics offer. We haven’t decided whether to take it or not; we can’t commit at the moment. We’ll see if the offer is still on the table once we’re in a position to commit.
[We ended up on Substack because we haven’t traditionally sent very many newsletters and as such, felt we were paying too much to maintain our subscription list on MailChimp. We weren’t looking to monetize; we were looking to not spend money passively on a service we barely used. If we do do it, the paid option will be ADDITIVE and we will still do *this* as a free newsletter.]
Speaking of newsletters, Smash Pages has put together a directory of Comic Creators’ Newsletters — Substack and otherwise — here. (If you have favorites, I’d be interested in hearing which ones you most enjoy and why.)
There’s a whole other conversation or three to be had here, but I need to wrap this up.
NOTEBOOKING. Recently I was away on a work trip and was so focused on the job I was doing there that when I got a text from a colleague on another project, it took me a full 30 seconds to place the name. Mind you, this was not a stranger. I had been speaking to that colleague nearly daily just weeks before. But I just… couldn’t… find where I put them in my head.
I’ve had this sort of thing happen before—I’m so hyperfocused on the task before me that I almost wall off everything else—but never so dramatically. (And frankly, I’m usually very good with names. It’s one of those “points of pride” people talk about.) I don’t know if was caused by the pandemic stress, or age, or the fact that I have so much on my plate right now, or some combination of the three, but it was jarring.
All of this to tell you it’s got me thinking about my tools and systems. As much as I loved the thinking behind David Allen’s GTD, in trying to implement it, it was too easy for me to spend all my energy maintaining the system; it somehow got in the way of the work it was meant to support.
Right now, I basically work with two project management tools: my bullet journal (“bujo”) and a spreadsheet I call my “WhiteBoard.” I have an inkling that between the two I have the makings of the trusted system that Allen talks about—the system that lets you focus on what’s before you because you know that nothing is going to get lost—but I’m not there yet. I’m convinced, for instance, that there is a way to tweak the WhiteBoard so that it will be more helpful in determining what I need to do NEXT. (I find the process of assessing and prioritizing inordinately taxing for some reason.)
I’ve been bullet journaling for six years now and I’ve made progress in the practice, but again, I’m not where I’d like to be. (I am checking out Bujo U for a bit, and just discovered the Future Log hack called the Alastair Method. Will definitely try that going forward, as I tend to set up a Future Log and then… never use it.)
Anyway I’ve gotten into the tall grass. If you’re not a process nerd or you don’t live in a notebook, this is all gobbly-gook so I’ll stop. But if you are a process nerd and/or you do live in a notebook and have thoughts to share, I’d love to hear them.
My therapist says I have a “busy mind.” That’s so well-put and all-encompassing I think maybe she should be the writer. I also suspect “busy mind” is the most common ailment of the current age.
MORE COVID. A family member of mine in Florida has had to postpone spinal surgery due to the COVID situation and the lack of hospital beds there, so he’s living in pain at the moment. Same situation with Andrea here in Portland. If you haven’t gotten vaccinated yet, I really hope you’ll consider it. I’m not blaming you for the situation; I’m asking you to actively become part of the solution.
MORE COMICS. Speaking of Andrea and her store, this is your reminder that Wonder Woman Historia Issue 1 comes out November 16th and if you choose to pre-order it from Books with Pictures Eugene, I’ll sign it for you for free. The book is 64 pages of this insanity from Phil Jimenez for $7.99 (plus shipping if you’re not in Eugene).
LAGNIAPPE. Here’s your bonus for making it to the end. Have you watched WE ARE LADY PARTS yet?? I really need people to talk to me about it.
One bit of discussion probably worth weighing in on — I don’t expect this to be a problem for retailers. The grants are significant enough to allow creators to pay themselves and their partners work-for-hire rates and maintain full ownership of all rights. It’s usually a trade off: if you work for Marvel or DC (or any other WFH house), you get paid as soon as you turn the work in, but that’s often it. You don’t own anything. Depending on your sales, you might get royalties (or “incentives,” depending on the company), but there’s no auditing or predicting those payments. WFH pays upfront and that’s great! And it’s genuinely a privilege to get to work with those characters. It gets you in front of a significant audience, one that is usually rooting for you. There are very real, very valid reasons to do WFH. But a career with no ownership (or health insurance) is how we end up needing support from The Hero Initiative and GoFundMe. A creator-owned book, on the other hand, might—if you’re very lucky—come with an advance that will usually only allow you to pay the colorist and letterer their full rate. The artist will take a reduced rate and the writer usually waits until book is in profit to get paid. Which, if it sells through on first printing means 90 days after the book hits the stands. (Which might be a year after you started working on it.) But it can take much, much longer. Years often. I know very successful writers on very successful books who have never seen a dime off the direct market sales of certain titles. And it is what it is, we know the deal when go in, but this is why the generation of writers that we come from have made it a point of balancing WFH and Creator-Owned. So the SubstackPro deal is, for as long as it lasts, the best of both worlds. Full ownership AND full rates. So you can release the book in serialized digital format through your Substack newsletter in full view of your core readers, then take that finished product to an indie publisher to put out in print, and distribute through the direct market—where many of those core supporters are likely to buy hard copies as well. With me? It’s a hell of a thing for artists to get paid and keep their rights. That’s an industry-changing year right there.