Selling the course

I’m sitting down to write this after having exhibited London Horror Comic at the UK Web & Mini Comix Thing 2009, a comic convention, where I spent seven hours selling issues one and two.

I managed a personal best of selling 56 comics which brings my average to around eight comics an hour – without having to drop my pants.

selling london horror comic

Given that an average conversation with a customer lasts five minutes it’s a fairly good spread of my time, though I’m not sure whether I’m ready to sell snow to Eskimos quite yet.

Selling is a strange beast. When you publish your own comic, the bulk of your time is spent convincing other people to sell your comics. You send letters to retailers and distributors trying to get them to sell your comic on your behalf.

But when you attend a convention the responsibility of making sure your book sells falls on your shoulders. You find out out how much you truly love comics. It’s like being dragged along to a film your partner wants to see but you don’t – you find out if the relationship is going to last.

Selling is a scary and thrilling experience for me. It marks the final stage in creating a comic. It’s a sort of mental finish line I cross as a creator to convince myself that I’ve done the job as best as I can.

For me, a comic isn’t finished until it’s in the reader’s hands. A fully drawn and coloured page that no one looks at is the same as a half drawn page that everyone looks at it.

Being able to sell is an important aspect of creating your own comic book. You might be the world’s best artist or hottest writer, but when it comes time to push a product, just how much do you really care about comics? Do you care enough to get oversized black and white laminated prints made and drag along an easel for miles in the rain to display them on, just so you are visible in a room of hundreds? Do you care to enough to greet the 99th customer with the same gusto you greeted the first one? Do you care enough to humble your pride when a guy stops at your table just to inform you that he hates horror? (yes, that did happen)

Making your own comic requires gumption, but selling your own comics requires sheer bloody mindedness. To sell is noble. I can’t understand why people call it whoring.

‘Whoring’ is one of those kitsch words often seen alongside ‘pimping’ and ‘shameless plug.’ It’s an upfront apology laced with humour that creators use to steal the thunder of anyone who might dare accuse them of wanting to make a living wage from an honest endeavour. I’ve used such phrases in forums myself when I began selling the London Horror Comic.

It might just be me, but I sometimes get the feeling that actively selling a comic is sometimes frowned upon. When was the last time you went to a convention, or better yet, a comic shop and had people try and sell you a comic?

I enjoy a relaxed shopping experience as much as the next guy, but I’m always on the look out for good work. Pitch to me. Store clerks good stick post-it note style reviews on titles they feel are worthy of greater attention. They could sift through industry magazines and maybe make a cuttings wall of reviews that month. A fresh-faced customer walking in can see at a glance what’s hot and hip, beyond the £24.99 sketch variant of a comic released only last week. When you take your comics to the counter, the clerk ringing up your purchase could sift through your books and make a recommendation beyond ‘we have issue fifty ONE in.”

The need for creators and stores to sell is accentuated by the recession. If life in the 2000s has taught us anything it’s that we are not promised tomorrow. No one owes us a living and we have to make the best of the opportunity at hand.

I don’t just like comics, I love them. You might think you love comics because you buy a lot of them (and if the London Horror Comic is among your standing order, I love you, natch), but try cold selling a good comic to someone you don’t know. Suffer the fucking slings and arrows of people not getting the joke or passing you by to pick up “UnderPants Man” and go on selling with shameless confidence. You’ll know how far your love goes.

If you do decide to self publish your own comic, recognise that no one is going to care more about your comic than you do.

You are the beginning and end of your own comic book – nothing starts without you, nothing ends until you say that it’s over.

Get out of the bloody house and be proud to be seen on street corners selling your work.

You just might come up a winner.

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posted by JP at 10:48 pm  

Correction:

US RELEASE OF LONDON HORROR COMIC #2 NOW ON WEDNESDAY 1st APRIL 2009

Diamond Comics informed me today that issue 2 of the London Horror Comic will now in fact ship on Wednesday 1 April 2009 in the US.

It will be good. Honest.

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posted by JP at 11:45 pm  

London Horror Comic @ The UK Web & Mini Comix Thing 2009 this Saturday

http://www.ukwebcomixthing.co.uk/

I’ll be at table 32 with copies of issue 2 and issue 1 for sale.

Drop by and do say hello.

Don’t bring any bombs. Cheers.

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posted by JP at 10:22 pm  

London Horror Comic #2 Review

“Memorable stories that really stick with you. London Horror Comic is an impressive and original horror anthology series.”
-Comic Monsters
http://www.comicmonsters.com/section-article-240-London_Horror_Comic__1____2.html

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posted by JP at 10:29 pm  

Who listens to the Watchmen?

Who watches the Watchmen?

Well, since you ask, everyone.

Coverage around the Watchmen movie has been huge. Immense.

It’s hard to believe that a comic-mini series written 23 years ago is now reaching a truly mainstream audience.

Yes, the book may have been on Time’s 100 greatest novels but sometimes it takes the release of a film for people to even consider reading the source materiel – an, ahem, “graphic novel” – in public.

Given the enormity of press coverage around the film, editors at pop culture magazines must reason that Watchmen is so revered in the comics community that writing a five-page retrospect of the journey of the comic to film would have readers foaming at the mouth.

The trouble is, I don’t think Watchmen is as revered by comic fans as we’d like to think. I don’t even think it’s that revered by some creators.

Did I just blaspheme?

Before you throw the stones, hear me out.

Wactchmen was a high watermark for comics. The depth of the story, it’s presentation, the comic’s overall ambition was much higher than anything else on sale at the time. In fact, the scale of the book’s ambition is the main reason it has endured when so many other works from around the same time, and, even from last week’s comic shelves, have been forgotten.

Watchmen is the book that should have spoilt the game, but didn’t. You had DC and Marvel kicking their happy little super hero football around the pitch when along comes big scary Alan Moore with his massive beard who steals the ball and runs out of the park laughing.

Cue a bunch of bemused players left scratching their heads and wondering what to do next.

Now this was a critical point: did editors stop and think that maybe, since superheroes had been shown to have feet of clay and that there was clearly a market for adult stories.

Did they think to shift the balance of production from kids books to adult stories? To perhaps begin publishing books in other genres?

Did comic book readers, who were allegedly so blinded by the magnificence of Watchmen, start moving their wallets to other works?

No.

If the 90 per cent of people we are led to believe truly cherished Watchmen then we wouldn’t have 90 per cent of titles that are simply god awful wallpapering our shelves month in month out. We’d have works which set their goals higher and beyond superheroes. Works that would, in total, encourage a greater footfall into comic stores from wider group of customers – wouldn’t that be useful given that we’re now in a recession?

Who watches the Watchmen? A hell of a lot of people.

Who listens to the Watchmen? I’m not so sure.

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posted by JP at 9:46 am  

US RELEASE OF LONDON HORROR COMIC #2

WEDNESDAY 25TH MARCH

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posted by JP at 12:10 pm  

Seeking inspiration on the Isle of Man – part 1

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posted by JP at 6:00 pm  

Comedian Stewart Lee enjoyed the London Horror Comic:

Comedian Stewart Lee, director of Jerry Springer The Opera and whose BBC2 show begins Monday March 16 at 10pm had this to say about the comic:

“A combination of the sensibilities of a ’70s Warren anthology with the production values of the Marvel Max imprint. Sickeningly slick and horrifyingly funny.”

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posted by JP at 11:59 pm  

London Horor Comic # 2 Reviewed in SFX

“There is some sterling sequential story telling going on here. This remains one of the best small press titles that money can buy.”

We’re on page 118 of the April 2009 issue.

Available everywhere.

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posted by JP at 7:25 pm  

Review of Issue 2 (and issue 1) over at sequentialtart.com

“‘Reach Out’ is a love story, but the most unusual one I’ve ever seen. Short, horrific, yet moving as well.”
Patti Martison – sequentialtart.com on issue 2

‘Who Knows?’ was definitely the most thought-provoking piece, showing considerable depth in only a few pages. “
Patti Martison – sequentialtart.com on issue 1

You can read the ‘Reach Out’ story as a 6-page preview for free by clicking here.

Click the download link on the left when you arrive there.

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posted by JP at 1:08 am  
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