Thursday, August 14, 2008

Synesthetic Part 5: Baltimore and Fin

[image: the cover to our mock-up copy of the book]

Between Chicago and Baltimore was corporate work for me. I had taken myself off the "On" list at the agency for about six months to work on Synesthetic. I had even turned down a full time job to do be able to what I'm doing. At this point I had torn through all my savings, accumulated some more debt, and thus needed to get back into paying work. I honestly still haven't fully recovered financially from that period of time. As I have said before, we did some real stupid things. But we're young, we're allowed.

Jake and I promised ourselves that for Baltimore we would sleep the night before the flight. That was a total lie. So we arrived at Baltimore sleepy and bleary-eyed but were in much better spirits than our arrival at Chicago. For one we were staying with Jake's sister Eva (no actual blood relations, only spiritual) and her boyfriend Steve. Having a nice place to stay with wonderful people is always a good idea if you can swing it. It makes the grueling hours of the convention much more tolerable. Hotels lack that comfortable homey feeling that can really relax you from being behind a table all day. This is especially true for these first few conventions as we were trying to feel out conventions' natural ebbs and flows.

Baltimore was much more artist/publisher orientated convention. I would guess maybe a third of the floorspace was dedicated to dealers; the rest was setup for independent artists and artists with their publishers. There were no real dead spots with the artist alley as it ran the perimeter of the convention hall, which also helped with the traffic flow and visibility. The atmosphere was much more relaxed than the frantic pitch that permeated the air in Chicago. Which is surprising with the sheer number of big names on the guest list. I was much more exited about the guests here than Chicago and the audience seemed much smaller. Though this could also be due to the convention's usage of space. The walkways were much wider here; and they didn't try to cram as much as they could without breaking fire code as Chicago seemed to have done. Chicago was more of a fanboy's show, Baltimore was more of a fan's show. Everyone was way more laid back and casual. I remember talking to the guys at Gaijin Studios at one point when Jimmy Palmiotti just strolled on behind the table, sat on the floor, and started chatting with the guys. It was a surreal moment and an indication on how the pros approached the convention as well.

We met up with Evan at the show and found a slow period to approach the Gaijin Studios table with our demo copy. Brian Stelfreeze is a sort of idol/mentor to Jake and Evan; especially to Jake. He has been a real long time fan, going to Aggie-con for years and years just to get critiques from Brian. So you can understand what it meant to him to show Brian a product he could really stand behind. I remember Jake handing Brian the book for a critique and the first words out of Brian's mouth was an impressed "Damn!". He flipped through the book with a look that only Brian could pull off that said "wow, you serious? this is way too cool". It's hard to describe unless you know him to a certain degree; but it spoke volumes to us. He had very little critique to give us, just a few choice words on color and design/layout. He then mentioned there was a group in Atlanta he was kind of guiding that was trying to do what we just did on our own. Then it all came to the definitive statement: "Is this your only copy? Well, when you get this printed, send me a copy. I want to read this." That was it, everything melted away and made everything all worth it. All of it, the turmoil, the grind, the crushed morale; it was all worth it now. Within a few minutes, someone we looked up to saw our efforts, understood the work that was involved, and was not only impressed but respected us for it. That was all we needed; for me, the convention was done. The yummy seafood in Little Italy was just a bonus.

[image: the final cover of the book by local artist Kathryn Petroff]

It would take a full year before we could take the demo copy to self-publication. Finding another set of eyes to go over the text was problematic. I just ended up rereading the entire book a few times by the end of it. We had to tell some people we were going to do some major rehauls on their story because things were not working out properly. Filling in some gaps was a real obstacle. Then finding a place to print it on demand was a debate. On top of that was the real world. I had to find paying work as a freelancer. Jake had to not only graduate but find a job because he couldn't keep his university job being that he was no longer a student. We had to decide if we still wanted to be roommates; and then find a place to live in Dallas that was in our budget. Then move out of Denton and into Dallas. Through that was also the ending of Space-Gun the webcomic and the start of Space-Gun Studios. It's been some real busy times, but all worth it.

So after three days of re-prepping files for the newly chosen printer, and a few weeks of emailing, we now have a small stack of Synestetics in our living room. We couldn't get a lot of copies in our first batch because the page count (140) makes the printing costs a lot higher than a standard book. ArtLoveMagic and Titan comics are generous enough to organize an in-store signing for us and another local book "Eye Witness" this Saturday, August 16, 2008 at the Titan location here in Dallas. Our first in-store signing, how cool is that?

Well, that's it. Two years of sleepless nights and hard work. Was it worth it? Hell yeah. I have a final product that I'm proud of; and I've learned a myriad of lessons that I could not have learned otherwise. After coordinating 20 creators and grinding on no sleep for wo weeks to produce a 140 page book, everything else seems much easier now.


Alex - Citizen...of the WORLD! said...

Words cannot describe how proud I am of the two of you.

I wish I could be there for the book signing and after party- I know you two worked really hard on Synesthetic... I wish I could see it's release.

I miss you

Joe Eisma said...

really cool series of blog entries! very interesting reading about the ups and downs of the book's development.

i can't get over how much work you guys put into this anthology--it shows. great job!