Well, it was a long and actually hellish month, but the Zuda competition was officially over today at noon. After twenty-five long days, we ended up in third place. We took some pretty hard hits from the community. Doug got his story-telling ripped on and Evan's style really rubbed some people the wrong way; and i was pretty much ignored for being a simple letterist. Though it wasn't all bad news bears all month. We also got some real support from the community and even some pros as well; people were willing to engage in actual discussions over the comic and we all also got some real praise on each of our parts. And we held on to first place for half of the competition; and we dropped to only third place. And I am soundly proud of that as we did very minimal advertising. It was mainly a grassroots campaign on our end. In total, we spent about thirty dollars in internet ads and about ten bucks in flyers. Our marketing was emails, facebook, myspace, and message boards. That is probably why we didn't win, but i'm okay with that. I knew that the marketing is a huge part of their competition model, but going through it gave me a real understanding on how it works. And I'm not entirely sure how comfortable i am with that fact. Their number system is also really interesting; I'm going to see if i can get how many actual votes we got. I'm interested in seeing how those numbers compare to our views/favorties and emails blasts. I may be going through this again with my other studio-mates so I want to be better informed on what worked and what didn't. Ideally, being able to see what each action did to our numbers would be the best; but i'll probably have to settle for what i get from Zuda/DC.
All in all, it was a pretty damn stressful experience. I got a lot of love and a lot of hate as well. It was some harsh lessons about this industry. Nothing new per say, but a nice rehash of old lessons of life: a lot of hard work sometimes gets paid back with bupkis; and money talks. I grew up in a world of critiques; that's part of how i grow and learn. However, on this sort of platform, it's not critiques but reviews. Some reviews are very sound and in depth conducted by people who understand the craft and have valid points. Others are done by fans who only know what they like and will not understand anything outside of that. It's like dealing with an art director vs a client: one will tell you why something doesn't work and call you an idiot, the other will not like the shade of blue you're using and call you an idiot. Welcome to the internet I suppose. As Doug said, it's going to happen; especially when you're in the spotlight on such a large scale.
Though for pluses, you can meet some real genuine people and you do get your name out there on a national/global scale. And to a certain degree, you can see who among your friends really support you and understand the crazy amount of hard work you put into these projects. But that's a whole other subject; one that i would be willing to discuss over beers if any of you would like. Also, make sure you fully read the contract (which they freely posted on their website) so you know exactly what you're getting into. It is DC comics, so it's not a creative owned project as other webcomic deals. But they do have clauses for reversion of rights. Read over it, and if you're really serious about it, get a lawyer to read over it as well. It is a legally binding contract and it's always a good idea to have someone look over it for you.
And finally, serious thanks for all the support everyone showed. It's been along and turbulent journey; and i really do appreciate the words of encouragement and the faith you guys have in me in trying to make it in this industry. Thanks for believing in me and I will do my very best to make you guys proud. Special thanks to Titan Comics for letting us leave flyers in the shop, and to Zeus Comics who even bag-stuffed them for us. Both shops always show some real support for the local scene; so go show them some love.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
[image: banner ad for Hammer Sound; illustration by Evan Bryce, design by myself]
This month's Zuda competition features Hammer Sound written by Doug Wagner and drawn by Evan Bryce with myself on the letters. It’s a great step in the right direction for us; it could be the door that opens up a lot of opportunities for us. Though I’m going to need your help in opening that door. As I said, Zuda is a monthly competition. So I need everyone to go to Zuda, register (it’s free and the don’t spam you), and give your vote/favorite to Hammer Sound. If we win, we get to develop the story further and get PAID for it! What is up now is essentially a pilot; winners become a continuous update with a printed collection at the end of the story. And I can’t stress how cool that would be.
Hammer Sound has been in development for a while; Doug approached Evan about working on something together after being inspired by one of Evan’s sketches. Evan's art has come a long way since they started talking about the project. He’s worked really hard to get where he is and to help him with this latest project is a real honor. Zuda is a branch of DC comics, so this is a big deal/opportunity. Or it could be, it’s a fairly new program so a lot of it is untested. But the very fact that the story got picked is an indication of where his talents are going. And Doug’s writing is the hyper-fuel that feeds that fire.
As for my small part in this, I’ve really developed a kick out of lettering comics. There’s a real, gratifying challenging is trying to enhance the story without being too overt about it. Good lettering will go unnoticed, bad lettering will glare at you with the evil i. It’s taking all that I learned as a good designer and applying them to a field that I loved since childhood. Comic book lettering doesn’t have to be “comic book-y”, there’s no reason to not apply the same finesse that is used for high-end design concepts. At the core of it, it’s about using type to rely and enhance a message to the audience.
A big influence on this project was Todd Klein’s run on The Sandman. The different lettering for the characters really added to the their personalities and became a real integral part of the character’s identity. I wanted the robot to have it’s own particular identity; I hear his voice as a modulated British accent. Though I wanted to keep the corners of his word boxes round because I find him rather endearing and softhearted. Jonah’s size and shape demanded something with a heavy timber; so his typeface is a bit bolder than the rest. On the other end, I hear Polly as a soft, cute whisper. So there is a bit more open space in her balloons and the type is slightly smaller. Nothing that would be noticeable right away, but hopefully just enough for you to sense it when you read over the text. All the balloons are set at a small transparency; I think word balloons should set back a bit. Using start white makes them pop too much, hence the small decrease in opacity.
Granted, I’m probably one of the few people who put this much thought into lettering a comic. But that’s okay, I’m weird like that.
So GO VOTE FOR US~!
Sunday, October 5, 2008
[image: acrylic, ink, and others by the Space-Gun kru with assists from the lovely Emily and Erin]
Another great show at ArtLoveMagic this weekend. The collaborative arting went well enough, though the frantic pace kind of burned us out fairly quickly. It was our first time trying something like that, so there were some lessons to be learned. I think because we busted the paints out at the get-go, doing anything else was difficult due to dry time. Things got a bit muddy in some of the pieces for the same reason. We were able to salvage all the boards though; some were more successfully than others. But overall each of the six boards turned out pretty good. A few lessons learned, which is always a good thing.
Overall, it was a good show. My friend Erin rocked the open mic pretty hard. I’ve been bugging her to come out to one of these things ever since I ran across her musician MySpace page. She was a design classmate of mine from college; though I don’t think she was ever happy with the program. She was good, but you can tell it really wasn’t her thing. She graduated though, which says a lot about her visual talent and drive. But she told me she hasn’t designed a single thing since graduation. So when I discovered that she was extremely talented musically, I knew right away that this was what she really wanted to do. She got a really positive response to her performance, the second time she ever performed live. She seems much happier now, and I’m so happy for her. It’s always good to have a ‘safe’ fall back plan in terms of careers, especially in these creative industries. But you have to push your dreams and passions as far as you can. There is no reason not to, especially for people in our position: we’re young and stupid with no real serious responsibilities (house payments, children, serious relationships). This is our time to push forward and see how far we can go before it all burns out.
And mad, MAD props to my friend/cousin Nam, who was our merch-man as we painted. He was also our photographer for the evening as he was playing with his new camera. Photos can be found on my FlickR account.
Friday, October 3, 2008
The Space-Gun Kru (Evan Bryce, Jake Ekiss, Matthew Warlick, and
myself) will be doing some live art at the Mokah Lounge & Gallery this Saturday, October 4th in Deep Ellum. We'll be doing some collaborative pieces and doing some artistic musical chairs so it'll be interesting to see what we end up with. Also, we'll have on hand copies of the Synesthetic Anthology, a 140-page anthology that we put together with 20+ creators from the DFW area. Some of the other creators will be there as well so you can get a fat stack of autographs. We'll also have our prints, sketchbooks, and original paintings/drawings for sale as well. I will have copies of "Gun Gals | Blade Babes" there too for those of you who want to check that out. Come on out and check out the show; it's a great venue with a real positive vibe. I can't mention enough how much i really enjoy these ArtLove events. The atmosphere is really awesome; it’s a celebration of art on the street level without the highbrow artiste attitude. I'm also trying to convince my wonderfully talented friend Erin Gayden to rock the mic, so it's looking to be a great night.
Check out the my photos from previous events on my Flickr account.
Official release from ArtLoveMagic:
Open Mic and Live Art Show
Saturday Night October 4th
Join us for an inspiring night of art, music, and poetry. Live artists will be painting and drawing while special guests like poet Michael Guinn and musicians Faded Fools will entertain from the mic. Bring your poetry and music and share your light. Artists and performers will be selling original works and prints.
Mokah Lounge & Art Gallery in Deep Ellum
2803 Taylor Street, Dallas
8pm - midnight
The ArtLoveMagic collective puts together amazing live experiences that tear down the walls between artist and audience.
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