The comicbook industry, too niche or too stagnant?

Author’s note: I wrote this sometime before the announcement from Archie comics that Oh- SPOILER ALERT!!****

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-they had plans for killing him at the end of “life of archie” or whichever to show how his final fate. However, I pretty much believe it’s another device to try to reel in ‘new readers’ without actually changing anything storywise.  But anyway, food for thought! I’m sure at the rate they’re going though; they’ll ever ultimately get there at the end anyway considering Archie’s been in highschool for the past 70 years. 😛

 

I was thinking lately about the state of the comic industry, and how people have been talking about how it ‘isn’t what it used to be’. In terms mostly of the early 90s or even the early 40s (the golden age of comics) and I was starting to consider and think why this is…

I’ve had some conversation with some of my peers, who feel similar to how I do in various aspects in regards to the business model of Marvel, DC and other publishers such as Image for example.

Although, it seems as if Marvel and DC have a big chunk of market share, the evolution of self published and independent publishers is becoming more frequent, unfortunately from what I seen anyway, far from revolutionary.

Marvel and DC seem to have this tendency of holding on to the same stories, and a more recent any irritating tendency or rebooting them. Before it happened once, but now it seems every 5 years they feel compelled to reboot their long running series such as Spider-man or in a recent case, DC’s ‘new’ 52 (it’s probably more than that now but anyway), to help induct additional readers.

Readers for the most part who really just buy these new issues mainly due to the fact that they’re curious to see how they will take a new approach, however, within about 4 or 5 issues drop the book anyway due to the fact it runs the same old formula.

What is that formula? Well, the formula which large amount of North American books follow and have followed since forever (though not all but the majority of them), super hero comics.

Now this doesn’t mean they’re all like that, or that superheroes are bad. They’re just a story genre/plot device which is far over used within the comic book industry. So much so, I’m sure many people think that comic books can’t be about anything else unless it’s about superheroes; otherwise it’s not a comic book. It’s a “graphic novel” or a “manga” or whatever they’d like to call it, to get away from that stigma.

However, that’s where we get people saying “Why not call it what it is,” well, mostly to get away from that label. But this is the key you see- for example, why is the manga industry never mentioned when commenting on the down turn of American comics? Some people say it’s a different market, not really in the target of companies like Marvel or DC. But DC did make CMX (which failed), in an effort to tap it- by publishing Japanese manga but why did it really fail?

In case most people didn’t know- manga has almost little to no “traditional” superheroes in the traditional sense of the word. A large amount of manga out there, is romance/drama which is a niche American comics doesn’t even touch or go into, not to the extent of manga. A lot of Japanese manga also is ‘slice of life’, like about student life for example, or even people who are working in a part time job setting, or people talking about whatever. Most main stream comics don’t touch that either, but a lot of manga dives deep into it.

Although manga gives a different flavor too compared to American comics, and although it had a different reason subsiding from the retail market (it hasn’t really gone away, it’s just went elsewhere), are different from American comics, it’s easy to see why so many people who read manga weren’t really into American comics in the first place. Not only also because of mature content/themes but ideas and genres that just weren’t touched by ‘traditional’ American comic standards.

Although, there are people who just like it only because it’s Japanese, a lot of people also enjoyed it because it was different/new. This has been shunned until fairly recently within the last 7 years or so, probably even more than that because fans of manga and other independent comics started to join the industry as well.

However Marvel and DC seem to still not be interested in appealing to this interest. Why? I’m not sure but considering the fact the totality of their existence is superheroes may have something to do with that. But not wanting to change or refusing to change often doesn’t bode well for any industry or company, and unfortunately either they give in, or end up disappearing themselves due to other trend setters which are also joining up within the industry.

I’m sure it seems as if I’m picking on Marvel and DC, but really when it comes to comics these guys are the gorillas in the room so to speak. And although they do have a giant part of the market share, nonetheless it’s shrinking. Will they do something different and new? archie1Honestly, I don’t know, probably not. I’m sure there will always be fans of Spider-man and Superman out there, but I don’t think it will be nearly to the extent as it was in the past or the future where it warranted them to have several different series of the same character.

Unfortunately, due to their size, monopolizing themselves to only superhero comics isn’t really a privilege they can realistically use anymore, that’s why they’re losing so much money. Not due to bad storylines, but due to worn out concepts which they keep selling in new packages…

 

 

 

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Ottawa Pop Expo and Book 3

Well I’m back from Pop Expo, I must say there were a lot less people than I was expecting to show up. With Comicon having over 30 000 visitors and Popexpo having just a mere 7000 the lack of people was somewhat glaring compared to the convention in May.

I did make somewhat of an impact and learned some things as well but I kind of wish I was able to reach more people. It doesn’t seem like I was the only person who thought this way either, a lot of people in artist’s alley and vendors alike thought that the turn out was somewhat too low for them. I have to say for some periods near the end there wasn’t anyone coming by at all so it got somewhat dull. I did meet some very friendly fellow vendors and so that was a huge plus! Some tips and tricks too since I was a big noob at this kinda thing. I was lucky to also have my brother come along and help me out even if it was just for an hour or so.

I thought however the vendors were more of the same- not that that was bad but just kind of unsurprising to me enough to barely look or spend any new money. Although I did also discover one vendor who had the oddest obsession with Bacon, bacon icing, bacon mints, bacon air freshener, bacon candy canes. I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t be outside of Texas or somewhere abouts who would actually like this kinda stuff but- it was interesting at least 😛

All abouts being said- at this particular point in time I don’t think that I will be doing it again next year. The costs associated with it just aren’t worth it for me right now- but that doesn’t mean I won’t be doing anymore conventions. I haven’t quite decided just yet for sure, a lot can change in a year so we’ll have to wait and see. But it was a learning experience and I’m hoping to apply some things I learned next time I do a convention. I’m considering cosplay but I have nooooo idea what to cosplay as- and I’m somewhat of a perfectionist so I guess we’ll have to see…

I didn’t really have time to visit anyone famous or do much of anything but I did look around. I kinda wished there was a way I could’ve piloted one of the daleks that were being showed off, even though that was highly unlikely it was still interesting and neat to see what exactly was inside there- Maddness perhaps? It looked kind of cramp though!

As for Book 3, things will start to take a dramatic turn and I have some stuff in mind but I haven’t really gotten anything solid yet. A lot of conceptualizing on my end before I can actually get it anything solid. I can’t say for sure how many more books will be left in the Zenith arc but depending on which way I go with this particular book, I will have a much better idea by the end of it.

Also- Book 2’s preview is now up on Amazon for those who wanna check it out!

 

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Last post was older than I thought!

I didn’t think that my last post was so long ago.. I got so caught up in working on the next book I totally forgot x_x; Anyway Ottawa Popexpo is still on! I’ll be at the table under “Runie Studios”, so if you want to get any merchandise such as t-shirts, buttons, books (Issue 2 will be out as well at that time god willing), and other special goodies! Probably. There will also be free stuff too. I have other things in mind as well.

Still working and pushing through the next issue/book to get it ready. I’m still behind which is causing me to get even more psychotic than I usually behave. Then I sort of get side Runie is not amusedtracked and need to do something fun and art related to refresh my brain. I’ve also never done a convention before so I hope it goes smoothly @_@ I will have more details in the coming weeks as well.

I’m still working on the book! So I’ll post any news as soon as I get any here!

Also, feel free to follow me on twitter: https://twitter.com/RunieStudios

Like me on Facebook (or the comic rather): https://www.facebook.com/deiex

 

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New T-shirt review: Spreadshirt

Courage t-shirt front

Oh it turned out better than I thought, lol!

Wow, it sure didn’t take me long to get this new t-shirt so I’m pretty impressed. It was much faster with spreadshirt than zazzle, and the printing space was a lot larger as well. I paid about the same price for it as I did for my zazzle t-shirt in the previous review and it was printed on both sides.

Although I could’ve gone with a slightly cheaper t-shirt I decided to take the heavy weight mostly because I didn’t want it to shrink or wear away too quickly. Also I wasn’t familiar with their “standard” weight t-shirt at spreadshirt so I decided to play it safe.

What I found kind of interesting too is that they told me how many people were involved in creating the shirt itself. Apparently 7 people worked on it- doing what I don’t know,

probably for packaging and all that- hopefully it didn’t cause any issues or anything, lol. There was a bit of a string loose on the shoulder but it wasn’t a big deal, easy to remove

t-shirt front close up

Closer look at the print

honestly though I would’ve liked it not to have been there of course it wasn’t a great issue for me at the moment.

I really liked the quality of it as well, it did come out a bit darker in some places than I thought it did but it doesn’t seem to have a great negative influence on the shirt itself. But the printing is really good as you can see no white spots or anything, really great quality so I’m impressed. The zazzle t-shirt did kind of miss a bit of detail perhaps because of the printing or the design itself. This one however doesn’t seem to miss a step, even on the faded back design it came out truly excellent!

Back t-shirt design

Back t-shirt print

This one did come with a tag, which isn’t a big deal but I do prefer tag-less shirts. It’s rare they cause me any discomfort but I suppose I’ll have to wear it first, which brings me to the only other problem with this shirt. I’m not sure if it’s because of the ink, or the printing press, or whatever but you see it kind of smells…like vinegar. It’s not a truly bad thing- (I hate the smell of vinegar though), but it does sort of impede the process of actually wearing it first so I’ll have to get it washed before I actually put it on. It probably smells like that because they might’ve used vinegar to clean their machinery, some places use it as a diluted solution since it’s normally pretty safe to work with.

The other things I’ve discovered with spreadshirt aren’t really anything related to the shirt itself, however still kind of strange. There are only white mugs to print designs on- no other colors, not even black. Same thing can be said about other non-t-shirt products. And not all t-shirts and products can except user submitted designs due to the nature of the

Back design close-up

Close-up of the back design, a real big close-up

material/fabric. So if you want to print on a sports t-shirt you’ll find yourself screwed.

Over all though, I’m pretty happy with it- as you probably will be as well! If you do happen to go ahead and purchase it feel free to let me know how it came out and how you feel about it- thanks! 😀

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T-shirt design

In an effort to keep up a regular blogging schedule, I will now commence talking.

I’ve started to think up t-shirt ideas, something that would appeal to those who are both interested in what I’m drawing and those who aren’t. I’ve tried doing this before but my success didn’t turn out well-by that I mean the drawing sucked 😛 I forget why- I think it had some issues associated with anatomy that were too glaring. Either way- I guess I can show it to you regardless.

Since it’s from 200:20, and that has been going on for a while I thought it was a possibility SHIRT1 150 DPIthat someone might want it. Composition wise/design wise I believe there was issues that were mainly talked about in a chat room but I was told it just wouldn’t work and I pretty much agreed. My comics tend to lack any “memes” or anything that really is repeated over and over again as a joke because I wasn’t that interested. And most of the jokes that did exist couldn’t really be put on t-shirts XP

 

Another t-shirt I did was the Dei Ex Machina: Dei Ex MachinaZenith t-shirt which was really basic and had no drawing in it, it was purely done by Photoshop. And although it turned out good, I also didn’t think anyone would be interested in buying such a thing because it kinda still looked plain. Keep in mind this is just my opinion and I may change it later on who knows- the standards I have for myself are extremely high so I tend to work myself to death making everything *perfect*. The only issue was that this t-shirt took over a month when it said it would take 2 weeks. That’s waaaaaay too long- although it turned out well as you can see. It was also expensive for one (about 20 bucks), but still pretty good.

So, my standards for t-shirts are as follows:

  • Would I(or the designer) wear this thing in public? If yes, then it’s pretty much good to go.
  • Make sure to keep a high contrast between words and the background or design and the font itself.
  • Avoid keeping the shirt too “busy”, although I probably violate this second rule:
  • Don’t use too many colors- Use like one or 2 colors if possible. If not it’s no big deal as long as people see it. It may also depend on your printer/vendor.
  • Also remember t-shirt colors may change! So try to make your design flexible in a sense that it can be printed on any color.
  • And finally- beware of t-shirt quality. Try to avoid getting 100% cotton shirts unless you know for a fact they won’t shrink. Going with a mix blend is best- even if it’s a bit more. Why waste money for a t-shirt you’ll only wear once when for 5 bucks more you can have one that lasts 10 years? (Or forever depending on how long you intend to use it.

You can do it yourself through silk screening or iron on, but keep in mind it’ll be a pain. Also I have no experience with it really. I did silk screening before and I myself hated it, and iron on patches tend to sometimes feel “sticky”.

It’s a good idea to look into certain places that are print on demand and see reviews as well. The one I used was Zazzle which was pretty good. I’ve heard Cafepress was really hit or miss, some people say they’re shirts were good, others say the design was too high, too low, to the side. In fact I found there were more complaints than anything especially if you’re a small company.

I’ve heard on other places redbubble’s quality in t-shirts wasn’t very good IE- you can see through them and they look like shirts that were bought by the weight rather than the quantity itself. That’s what I only heard I never used them; I haven’t heard or used spreadshirt either.

I could talk about the features on each site, etc. But that would be kind of pointless if the shirt you’re getting isn’t even going to be printed correctly. Just try to remember the requirements for submitting your design before you do it if possible. Zazzle’s design space seems rather limited, so if I find any place that’s better I would probably consider going and trying them out.

So when it comes to these things, quality trumps price (to an extent, nobody is probably going to spend more than 30 dollars for a t-shirt). So if you’ve got a good design but a cheap t-shirt, odds are you’ll have a lot of angry customers who are both mad at you and the company itself. Just keep it in mind, and although this goes without saying make sure you always buy a shirt before you put it on sale so you can have a look at it yourself!

In closing, if anyone does want any of these t-shirts of think they should be sold, feel free to comment here or where ever I posted this journal, (facebook, google+, etc). Otherwise those designs themselves won’t go on sale any time soon XP Also if you have any other ideas or suggestions of course, as always feel free to comment!

Until next time, I will try to think of something interesting to blog about c_c;

 

 

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Lightning Source and Createspace

Sorry for this late review, I’ve been having power issues. On Wednesday the power went out at 12:45am and didn’t come back until 7am with other little black outs x.x; as a result I couldn’t post anything. But without further Apu, let us get on with today’s article, review, whatever c.c

Recently I’ve finally managed to get my Lightning Source proof in, and so the comparison between the CreateSpace print and Lightning Source has begun! Now, before I go on, there are some differences between these two books, some may consider it minor, others may consider it major. So let’s go over these two shall we?

 

covers

(LEFT)Lightning Source
Price: 5.99
Size: 6.14 x 9.21
Saddle Stitch
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(RIGHT)Createspace
Price: 6.50
Size 7 x 10
Perfect Bound

For those who don’t know, saddle stitch means that it’s been stapled together. Where as perfect bound is normally how novels are pasted together. I made the mistake of thinking that the binding as it’s called made the book cheaper on Lightning Source, I was wrong, however it saved me time from measuring the spine for it (not much I’ll admit, it didn’t take much effort to do it on createspace but either way I find it looks better).

(LS top) (CS bottom) Though smaller, the LS book is much thicker and has a saddle stitch. The the CS book below it has a 'perfect' bidning. Both have the same number of pages.

(LS top) (CS bottom) Though smaller, the LS book is much thicker and has a saddle stitch. The the CS book below it has a ‘perfect’ bidning. Both have the same number of pages.

 

This leads to the size, on Createspace, size doesn’t matter and doesn’t affect the price of the book, it’s whether or not it’s in color and the kind of paper that is used (cream or white), not to mention the number of pages of course 😛

 

Lightning Source’s price is affected by the size, color, paper and binding. Keep in mind there may be other factors as well but these are just the ones I’ve noticed. As a result of this though Lightning Source can offer a cheaper price than Createspace does, but you need to pay 75 dollars to register it, then another 12 bucks a year to maintain it in their catalogue (which may be worth it in the long run but hey, it’s up to you.)

 

Createspace White border Pages, first Spread!

Createspace White border Pages, first Spread!

Lightning Source Page spread Comparsion!

Lightning Source Page spread Comparison!

Just as the title says, Createspace Comparison 2!

Just as the title says, Createspace Comparison 2!

Lightning Source Page Spread Comparison 2

Lightning Source Page Spread Comparison 2

I’m going to go into the details now of my own book, these are two graphic novels of course, full color; the White version, or the createspace version, and the Black version or the Lightning Source version. Why did I choose to put black around the Lightning Source book? Because I didn’t like the way the book had that big empty white space there, and lacked time to do so, also I lacked the foresight to place a full bleed there, which is what I most wanted. I said it before, I’ll say it again, I couldn’t redo the full bleed without revamping the whole thing which may have increased the time to get it out by 10 fold, so I sucked it up and did it this way, and I’ll admit it came out pretty well all things considered.

 

CS Book (background) and the LS (foreground) against each other. The color on the smaller LS book as you can see is much brighter than it's larger cousin.

CS Book (background) and the LS (foreground) against each other. The color on the smaller LS book as you can see is much brighter than it’s larger cousin.

The color of the colors as you may have noticed is a bit different, the LS (Lightning Source) book is bluer and has more contrast where as the CS(CreateSpace) book is paler. I kind of like the LS for this reason but as you may see (or may not see) there’s a little color spray patter on the LS book’s cover. It’s hard to notice however, really hard to notice. Not enough though to really bug me honestly.

My second concern will take some explaining. This is one of the issues that plagued me while trying to find the right size of book and that issue is Skewing/Warping of the original images as they are placed on the paper. That means stretching or altering of the object (which is the image) within the page so it will fit into the margins/border that it’s placed. Doing so may give a slight kind of alteration to the image itself, so it won’t appear as intended. This is something I really wanted to stay away from and that I’m also very paranoid of, and I thought that this was something the LS book had. However, I may have been mistaken and thus just paranoid. That happens 😛 But I will let you be the judge as I post various pictures and compare them from the two.

 

A comparison of the CreateSpace or White book.

A comparison of the CreateSpace or White book.

A comparison of a Panel in the LS Book.

A comparison of a Panel in the LS Book.

Over all I don’t have any big complaints, the book for LS does seem a bit larger but that could be due to the binding, but it’s easier to fold it open and hold it, where as the CS book creases slightly. But the CS book is larger and for some may be clearer as a result.

I know people may get confused, and that’s my fault sorry about that. But, if they were kept the same size, LS price starts to increase and over takes CS so it might have ended up being more expensive anyway, which isn’t good since this book is intended to be in stores. I also do like the black border as well as it gives a different kind of atmosphere to the book but unless you’re really into it, you probably won’t notice or care about it.

Now this gets into another issue which I’ll cover, ship time. From what I’ve heard and seen, Lightning Source books have a huge increase in shipping time on Amazon, how much? Anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks.

Yes that’s right, 2 to 4 weeks. Why? I don’t know, maybe Amazon doesn’t like Lightning Source, but Createspace books (which is owned by Amazon BTW), has no such time and is instant. This was enough for me to consider having the book go through createpace on amazon, a wait time for such a book like that is unacceptable to me as an author and a consumer. I think many may agree, however this may have changed, only time will tell!

But, I like both of them really, the LS book seems to be sturdier, has a black border with no space, smaller and slightly brighter colors in some instances. Whereas the CS book is larger and looks more professional as a book with a white border. So it really depends on taste. In the future however, I will probably go with and stick with one or the other so we’ll have to see how it goes.

But if you’re looking between LS or CS it really depends on what you wish to do, LS has much larger distribution channels but it is SLLOOOOW. It takes forever to get an account, to hear back from the processing, it took a month to get this book finished. CS however, is fast, it has an automatic book reviewer, it’s got call back phone support with very helpful staff, and your book can go on sale as short as 3 days after being submitted. But it can’t get into nearly as many stores, even though they have expanded distribution it’s part of Ingram(Which owns Lightning Source) anyway, so it goes through there but doesn’t have as many channels.

So Lightning Source = Wholesalers.

CreateSpace=Individuals.

You depending what you want to do, or what you’re doing.. yeah it’s your call, or you can go with both.

Oh,both also support ebooks too! But that’s a story, for another day… (please insert theme from The Tales of the Riverbank here).

 

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Dei Ex Machina: Zenith Issue 1 is HERE! Finally…

I decided that since it is the long weekend for some people and such to release Dei Ex Machina: Zenith Issue 1 ahead of schedule. Feel interested? Feel free to to visit the Store and order your own copy for $6.50! Also, it will be available at Amazon’s Kindle store in about half a day or so for $2.99 too!

Dei Ex Machina: Zenith Issue 1 cover

Dei Ex Machina: Zenith Issue 1

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Update on the updates

I’ve been really super busy lately trying to get my comic issue 1 ready for printing, I never thought it’d be so difficult to deal with bleeds and trims! I mean, I knew it was going to be hard but I didn’t think it would be this hard, I spent one night from 10pm to 4am trying to get it right, going back and forth uploading and such.

 

And then when I finally did, I went to sleep but woke up at 9am, so I stayed up for a bit to check on some things, then reworked more again, then went back to sleep around 11, woke up. I was going to do more work when I suddenly got a panic attack, or some kind of attack that let me feeling dizzy and light headed, so I needed to lie down until it passed, so I didn’t get too much did for the most part of the day as a result of that x_x; I don’t remember the last time I actually had something like that but it’s been a while, but I feel better now at least. I’ve just been doing a lot of work trying to get this printer ready.

So I’m trying out a lot of places, hoping I don’t get something wrong in terms of the layout and altering it so it will fit properly, however there are some things I’ve learned about Print on Demand places regardless where I went. For one thing, the calculator for books is actually pretty misleading in terms of the final price, and I say that basically because there’s no indication how much the book gets marked up in the end. Some places like comixpress, actually said the final book would cost $7.40! If put on sale, that was waaay too much, createspace was cheaper, at 6.50 and it came with a nice paper bounding.

Lightning Source on the other hand I still don’t know because they haven’t finished creating my account yet and I’ve been waiting like a week, needless to say I know it’s free and all but it’s starting to become a bit irritating waiting for so long, especially when most places give you an account right away without waiting. Even though they are cheaper they don’t really do anything in terms of marketing and are basically the same thing. Although there are things like royalty calculators, you need to look for them and be aware where to look so you can get an idea on the final price at the end. No places I’ve seen had a clear indication of this so at the moment, which company I will use to publish out is left with a question mark, I simply don’t know.

In any case, it will probably be around 4 to 6 dollar range, especially if I go with createspace, however that’s not to say the digital copies will be the same thing should be a lot cheaper. I haven’t gotten the proofs for createspace yet but I should next week, I also sent away to see what Kablam’s will be like, and if I get this done they will only be sold locally (unless people ask me otherwise in which case I will see to to arrange it).

So I’m still working things out but it should be on sale next month one way or another!

 

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