Working update (February-November 2014) Part 1

Thursday, 04 December, 2014

Hello, blog and blog readers! I've missed you. Hope you've missed me!

December is the month when everyone looks back over the year, and although I'm not the sort to enjoy doing that (I find it kind of annoying, actually), it's still mildly interesting to take a step back and think about all the stuff that's happened this year. It was a big year: afternoons writing with Guan came to an end (*sob!*); I gave birth to Saski and got caught up in baby stuff; after writing a bunch of manuals about how to do things, I was relieved from my Music Time duties (along with pretty much everything else I was doing at church, so now I just rock up, unencumbered by rosters); I sold my old car, got our new car fixed and serviced, and swapped cars with Ben (so now I drive the one he used to drive and he drives the new one); I entered the Dairing Art Yarn Challenge Competition in April (I submitted two entries, but I suspect they weren't really “arty” enough for the judges); we went to Hong Kong in September for my brother's wedding (which meant researching accommodation, applying for passports, writing packing lists and doing as much preparation as possible so that travelling with an infant and a toddler would be as smooth as possible [it was]); I organised a big birthday party for Astrid that involved more than family on the guest list; and I tried to stay on top of the housework/admin/calendar/baby things to the best of my ability to prevent the wheels falling off everything. (It's amazing how having another child further immerses you in domestic life …)

And there's lots of stuff I'd like to write about what it's like to move from one child to two, but that's not the purpose of this post: the purpose of this post is to note the writing stuff—that is, the stuff that I regard as being my “work” away from … err … work (that is, domestic labour).

Obviously time has been limited this year. Nevertheless, the following still managed to happen:

Eternal Life (OGN)

Eternal Life (Part 1)

As mentioned previously, Paul Wong-Pan and I finished and printed Part 1 of our graphic novel, Eternal Life. (For those who don't know, it's a science fiction drama in six parts about people, time and relationships. Follow the link to see some lovely preview pages.)

Part 1 (24 pages) is available in print and also digitally through Comixology. Part 2 is currently in progress: Paul just finished inking and has started colouring. It should be available in early 2015.

Coarse Play

I had the idea for a short comic while attending Brisbane Supanova in 2012. That idea became a six-(comic) page script about cons and cosplayers, which I put up on the Sydney Comics Guild forum to see if anyone had any feedback and was interested in collaborating. (No one was, however Peter Fairfax and I use it as the basis for a workshop on layouts for the Guild.)

Then this year out of the blue, I received a message from René Pfitzner, whom I had met at a Comix 35 workshop in 2006. (I think our time at Moore also overlapped slightly. I should really say Ben's time as I was only there for one year …)

Anyway, René got in touch because he had read Kinds of Blue, he wanted to get back into making comics again, and he was wondering if I had anything lying around that we could collaborate on. I sent him the cons and cosplay script not expecting him to want to do it. But he did! So we made this!

Coarse Play cover

“I don't know why I let Sally persuade me to come. I don't know why I let her persuade me to dress up either …”

It's Laura first pop culture convention and she's come as her favourite character from her favourite comic. The sun is shining, the crowd is buzzing and the cosplayers are out in force. But as the day turns harsh, Laura starts to wonder whether this is really her sort of thing at all.

Coarse Play is available in print and as a digital download (PDF) through the Hivemindedness Media site. (Yeah, I know the navigation is awful; hopefully one day I will be able to clean it up and make it better!) There's a nice little one-page preview on that site that will give you a sense of René's lovely artwork.

Other comic writing

Though time has been limited, I have been able to produce a couple more scripts for a future project I don't want to talk about just yet. (Little hint: it will be another anthology of short comics.) The ideas are there, I just need to sit down and work on them.

One, however, is done and dusted. Stay tuned! I have a little surprise up my sleeve …

(A final note about all this comicking: I've been teaching myself how to letter. I don't claim to be fantastic at it, but I do feel like I've picked up a few things from following Nate Piekos on Twitter and reading the occasional article he puts up on Blambot. Scott McCloud also has a few useful videos about lettering in Illustrator up on YouTube. Unfortunately upgrading my Mac to OS X Yosemite caused my version of Illustrator [i.e. CS4] to no longer recognise TIF files, so I've learned to letter in InDesign as well. One day I will upgrade to Adobe Creative Cloud, but of course for that to happen, I need to save up some money …)

Kinds of Blue

As you are no doubt aware, Kinds of Blue is available through ComiXology. Surprisingly, it's actually done quite well on that platform—so well that I've been finding it on pirate sites. (Does this mean we've made it?) It's also been reviewed in a couple of places—both favourably and unfavourably.

Anyway, in March, ComiXology ran a special promotion for the SXSW festival where you could purchase the top 100 books from their Submit program (i.e. all independent comics) for USD 10. Our share of that was about 30c. They ended up selling over 5000 units of that bundle and … well, you can do the maths …

(I should note here that Kinds of Blue has also been part of ComiXology's 24-hour Cyber Monday Submit sale, where you can get 50 per cent off 100 different titles.)

The healthy sales figures for Kinds of Blue have meant that I have been able to pay all the contributors a substantial amount. It's not quite industry rates, but it's still pretty good! From here (and with the permission of the creators), all future profits on that book will go to The Black Dog Institute to fund depression research.

On a more frustrating note, Graphicly, a digital publisher and distributor that we used to get Kinds of Blue into the Kindle and iBooks stores, has since folded and been integrated into Blurb.com. They have not provided us with sales reports for several years, nor have they passed on any earnings from the marketplaces in which they placed our book. Furthermore, they have also quietly pulled Kinds of Blue from those marketplaces, so they are no longer available there. (I could go through the process of putting them back but I'm not sure it's worth it: how many people go to Amazon or iBooks to read comics?)


Right: on to cons. I knew I would only be able to do a limited number of cons and events because I would need to bring Saski with me. So I kept it to four:

I kept hearing about other cool events that I would have liked to attend—for example, Comic Con-versation at Ashfield Library—but by the time of Oz Comic Con, it was really getting too hard as Saski wasn't coping too well to being out all day and having to sleep in the carrier. That said, she did marvellously at all four events—even Supanova Sydney, which was a bit of a marathon. I asked friends and family to help me out at each event and am so grateful to those who did, as without them, I wouldn't have been able to do what I did.

(To be continued as Expression Engine is having a hissy fit and refuses to publish the entire post …)


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Kinds of Blue: Cover art



A way of funding writing in the future: pitch and idea and get people to support it.

Place where you can hire play equipment for parties, etc.

How to recalibrate the home button on your iPhone.

Unsolicited manuscripts accepted by Pan Macmillan with certain conditions.

Thought Balloon is a group blog in which the writers tackle a new theme every week? month? with one-page scripts. This URL is for their Phonogram ones.


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