31 July 2008

During last week’s round-table discussion at Doujicon (see post below), I noticed that all of us that are trying to 'do' something with our work seemed to agree that producing comics to a professional standard (in both content & physical form) is a must for our work to succeed in the marketplace.

From this, I also began to realize how that same ‘head-strong’ pride in one’s work can (and I argue should) spill over into the types of stories that one produces. All too often (with the best of intentions) people might attempt to calculate what will work as a story, rather than just create a story that they themselves would want to read. As cliché as it sounds, the idea of doing it for ‘yourself’ (first and foremost) is, in my view, the best use of your time and enthusiasm.

I think Chris Ware said it best:


28 July 2008

I’ve been looking forward to this years Doujicon convention like no other. Based on my amazing experience of it last year, I placed it at the top of my list. Though Doujicon is one of the smaller events in the Melbourne comicbook calendar, last years event still topped the enormous spectacles of Armaggeddon (which came in a very respectable second), and positively BLEW AWAY the disappointing (though big) Supanova.

But firstly - let me tell you about the planning and organisation that I went through leading up to Doujicon. In March, I set myself the deadline of Doujicon (July) for getting my new comicbook series (DIGESTED) ready. I worked progressively for 3-4 months, until I got the book done so I could to meet the deadline of the event. I set myself to finish work on it at the end of June – give the printer& myself a comfortable month to setup & discuss, proof the book, send me proofs from Sydney, get it looking right, and then finally print and ship to me here in Melbourne - all in time for the event. Though there were hiccups and scares along the way, I gave myself enough basic planning & time to be able to deliver the book at Doujicon like I had promised to everyone here on my blog and on the Pulp-Faction forum. I wanted to make the book 28 pages, but it ended up being 24. I didn’t want to rush or botch up what I promised the book as being… so I finished the book at 24 pages (not sacrificing quality or value-for-money ) in the time I had – at a high standard - for the lowest price I could make it - so that when people bought it, their expectation of it would at LEAST be met by the previous buz. Anything else would be a compliment. I budgeted for the printing of my new book, I bought a $100 table, oragnised a trolley, and even plugged the event in a modest way here on my blog and wherever I could to people. I organized and made some new signs for my table, thought about the table layout and even did a simple table setup at home with my signage to make sure id get it looking ok. My girlfriend even agreed to support me at the convention table and even planned the food/snacks a week before the event. I was set.

SATURDAY [26-07-08]
I barely slept the night before because I was so pumped about this thing. I got up (sleep-deprived) – and so me and my girlfriend packed everything into my car and headed off.

Upon arriving at the Trades Hall (the convention’s location), the place was silent. The building had no signs indicating that anything was on today. Maybe I was at the wrong place? Finally, I arrived through to the back laneway entrance and found my local comicbook pals standing around unable to get through the boom gate to the parking lot. We started to unpack all of our stuff and placed it next to the locked side entrance of the building until we could get someone to let us in. While dragging my loaded metal trolley up the carpark ramp to the door, the boom-gate went up! Everyone turned to me and yelled “Stop! Bobby… don’t move!!”. My metal trolley had set off a magnetic trigger under the concrete that opened the boom-gate. So I stood there as Jason Franks (commando-like) hurdled barriers to get to his car before the gate closed. The others held the gate up to stop it from closing as we all scrambled to get our cars in…. “Hurry, hurry, hurry… we cant hold it!” - but luckily - we all ‘just’ managed to sneak our cars in.

Someone finally opened the side door and let us in. We weaved our way into this old building up a flight of stairs, down 4 different turning hallways, though the pub, tuned right and finally into the convention space.

Fuck. I was disappointed. It felt like I was setup on a blind date by my best friend who talked up her 'great personality', and then I finally saw her…

I don’t think it was wrong of me to get so excited in anticipation over this event, particularly when last year’s was amazing. It was 1/5 of the size, dark, untidy, badly lit and dingy. It looked like someone’s cramped garage. But… I was here, and so we setup. A few of us even helped tape-back some of the curtains so more light could get into the crypt convention.

I was happily sitting next to my good comicbook mate Paul Bedford which took some of the sting out of it.

Across from us was Jason Franks, Trev & Jen, David Cunning, and a whole lot of other familiar faces. The upside of this event was definitely having fun hanging out with all my regular pals.

Also got to meet new faces, like BMB (who creatively drops innuendos in EVERY thing he says… though Dave Cunining seems to encourage him), as well as Matt Bonzo who I had a few nice chats with (He has the funniest books at the convention in my opinion)...

...and also Daniel Reed (Crumpleton Experiments) whos original pen inkwork is mind-blowing. Glad to have met & chatted to all these friendly and talented creators.

Once I setup my table, people trickled in and I made my table money back ($100) by 1.00pm (*whew*)… which was a relief. There was some show-off behind us who brought along his electric guitar, plugged it in, and started thrashing out metal riffs. But thankfully that only lasted about half an hour.

Other notable exhibitors there were Bruce Mutard selling his big book ‘The Sacrifice’ and other older works (I think he sold 90% of his new book stock which was great).

Jason Franks looked like Frank Miller signing at his table.

Greg Gates, Philip Bentley & Colin Wilson were there also. Always great & informative to talk to these guys. They’re the elder statesmen & foundation of our Melbourne collective. John Retallick was also floating around chatting to people and recording quick interviews with the exhibitors. He tells me you’ll be able to hear all the interviews from the convention this coming Thursday on 3CR on the AM dial at 5pm… so TUNE IN! - except myself and Paul Bedford wont be included. Hmmm?…. coincidence? You be the judge. (just kiddin’ John.).

By the end of the day, I made about the same amount in sales as last year’s (single-day) event, which I was surprised by because it didn’t look like there were big crowds coming through. On asking other exhibitors how ‘they went’ – it seemed as though those with ‘new’ material to sell, did ok.

The evening came, and the convention shut for the day... so a whole group of us went into the pub to have a few drinks.

We spent about an hour there having a great time talking and chatting. The Trades Hall pub area really is the best thing about this building. I mentioned to John Retallick (who hosts a comics radio show once a month on 3CR, that it would have been great to have had a microphone on the table, because there were some really interesting discussions going on that evening between all of us. (This prompted me to think about tomorrow, and bringing in my voice-recorder.)…

Anyway, Paul got hungry, his charming woman Fleur arrived, & Paul suggested that we head down a block to Lygon St for a pizza. But not any pizza. (Apparenly ‘Paul’ doesn’t like Totos pizza…. so we went to Universal Pizza. Thought it was a rainy cold night, we had a lot of fun and I thought the food was great. Everyone laughed and talked and I counted myself lucky to be among great friends. Jason Franks left early to go and watch the ‘Dark Knight’ with a waiting friend, and the night ended shortly after for the rest of us. Overall… a really, really fun day.

SUNDAY [27-07-08]
Got there half an hour late as I figured (judging by yesterday & being a Sunday) that things would start very slowly today and I didn’t get my hopes up for any sort of volume in crowd.

I was right.

I got there and my buddies were all just hanging out. This was going to be a day of ‘friends’ and relaxed ‘fun’ more than yesterday’s ‘selling’… and I was ok with that. In fact I was looking forward to it.

This photo actually makes the con look like an art gallery...

I’d broken even yesterday afternoon, and had made some petrol money and now all the rest was topping.

The lighting was aweful. I had half of my table under 'MCG' light (where people got sunburnt) - while it was in shadow on the other.

My new book DIGESTED. Only printed 200 copies, and sold close to 50... so they're going fast!

I accepted the convention for what it was this year, and in anticipation of this last night, I even brought along my brand new voice-recorder for a few chats with people during the day. I’m going to make the most of it with all the great people here.

Later, at around 1 in the afternoon, it was apparent that it was a very slow day, so I gathered a few of my pals from the tables that frequent the local monthly meets, and we sat down to discuss some things we thought were important. My apologies to the guys for my mumblings and waffling. Only after listening to this audio was it apparent just how BAD I am as a speaker. I promise to try and shut my mouth more in future talks… but what was said by us collectively was really relevant & interesting, i think, to current & potential Australian comicbook creators looking to produce professional quality work and make something real of their efforts.

(I did a quick 30 second test on my voice recorder before the interview. Here's the result).

[Paul & I discuss pizza: 264KB]

So anyway... in the spirit of letting you be a fly on the wall, here was our group round-table conversation in the afternoon. I've split the files into two downloads to make it easier.

[Part-1: 16MB]-------[Part-2: 20MB]

After that long enjoyable conversation, we headed back to our respective tables and waited out the remaining 2 hours of the convention. Predictably the last half hour was a spike in sales from exhibitors themselves who waited until their profits were in before deciding to splurge on books themselves.

Memorable moments:

  • Zora's help. (I still owe you a souvlaki babe - x.)
  • Sitting next to Paul Bedford (my main man) & all the other local comic friends at the con. (You’re the best guys)
  • All who purchased my newbook DIGESTED, as well as my older books.
  • When the guitar playing stopped.
  • 'That guy' (Paul knows Im talking about) didn't come to my table (*whew*).
  • The insightful chats with Bruce Mutard & Colin Wilson.
  • The podcast sessions. (thanks guys)

Finally, an enormous thanks to Avi for organizing (we all saw how stressed he was… especially on Saturday.), and really appreciate it. Also, thanks to the patrons & friends who made the weekend a blast. See you next year.


11 July 2008

Well... the first issue is done & in the mail to the printer.

DIGESTED.01 will be available at the upcoming 'Doujicon' convention. It's the first 24pg issue of my series. A continuing story in the first part, a couple of short comic stories in the middle, finished with a discussion between myself and Tom Bonin about our thoughts on producing our books.

Drop by my table at Doujicon & pick up a copy!

See you all there.
(now... time to start the next issue.)


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08 July 2008

Ok, tell you what I did...

Since 'Doujicon' is coming up at the end of this month (26th & 27th July at the Trades Hall in Melbourne), I quite fiendishly decided to take some time off work leading up to the event so I can finish my first issue of DIGESTED which I hope to sell there.

I'm not the kind of person who likes to take long holidays of 1-2 weeks from work and then have nothing left. I like having days in reserve. I'm the kinda guy who has about x200 hunt-#102 pen nibs because I'm worried that they'll stop making them, and I'll run out. So anyway, what I've done for the last few years is take successive mondays off... so again this time, I've taken 5 mondays off in a row, and now have 5 long weekends! Sunday comes along and I have a wry smile on my face, because i can sleep in, wake up at 11am, and work on my book uninterrupted (since everyone's at work). Effectively only working a 4-day week for a month & a half. Genius huh?... well, I think so.

Anyway... this weekend was another comicbook meetup. I got into the city a bit earlier and popped into 'Minotaur Bookshop' on Elizabeth St... there I bumped into Colin Wilson & James Andre. Colin was gracious enough to give James & I a lift to the meetup (saving us a 20min walk). The conversation in the car was a funny one - last meetup I gave Colin the movie "Revolver" to watch, and this month's review of it was that he absolutely hated it. In fact he said it was one of the worst movies he'd ever seen. This was laugh-out-loud funny to me, because I thought it was one of the best movies I had ever seen!?

It was all too funny laughing at our different tastes.

We got to the meetup, and after a short while people started to trickle in. It ended up being a pretty chunky turnout this month (about 15-20 people). You can never tell how many people will come - but it's always fun... whether it's 5 people or 50.

The regulars were there... Canaan popped in from Canada to say hello, before heading back indefinitely.

Highlights for me this month:

1. Colin hating the movie 'Revolver'.
2. Talk with Michael Nason about comic theory.
3. Chat to Bruce Mutard about politics & comics.
4. Looking at a few comics that people brought in.

I wasn't sure if there'd be a good turnout (since Doujicon was coming up), and thought that people might be saving themselves for that... but I was wrong. All the regulars (and some) showed up... except for Trev, Dave Cunning & Paul Bedford, but I suppose I can forgive them since they've always been kinda soft.

Anyway... see you all in 3 weeks at Doujicon where I should have my new issue of DIGESTED for sale!

Come by and say hello.


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