ICON8 – Part 3: The Grand Finale

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This is the third and final part of Pat Higgins‘ ICON8 experience. Darren Di Lieto
Part 1: https://www.hireanillustrator.com/i/blog/874/icon8/ Part 2: https://www.hireanillustrator.com/i/blog/882/icon8-part-2/
I woke up on the final day of ICON to a huge mess of styrofoam food containers, dirty clothes and empty bottles. The obvious signs of a fun night. Once again, I made it to the Art Museum just in time for the continental breakfast. Much like the other days of the conference, breakfast was a good time to grab a coffee, make new friends and trade contact information. Saturday’s presentations began with Chronicle Books. Christina Amini (Editorial Director, Chronicle Books) and Kristen Hewitt (Design Director, Chronicle Books), joined illustrators Lisa Congdon and Susie Chahremani for an informative talk about Chronicle’s relationship between artists and editors, the collaborative creative process and working on projects that you enjoy. On the first short coffee break of the day I received a panicked phone call from my brother (who came along for the ride but was not attending ICON). I was informed that due to a miscommunication/booking error we needed to check out of our hotel immediately and that most of the hotels in the downtown Portland area were booked up due to the combination of ICON and some other conference that was going on. At this point I headed back to the hotel so we could figure out accommodations for the remainder of our trip. We called around to a bunch of hotels with no luck. Somehow during the call to the last of the hotels on our list, Ryan convinced the manager into giving us the presidential suite for the price of a regular room, as well as checking us in immediately. The room was pretty awesome… It had a living room with two couches, an office, a bedroom and a jacuzzi. I wanted to hang out and enjoy the room but also didn’t want to miss any more of the speakers. I made it back just in time to catch the last presentation before the break. I spent my lunch talking to some of the familiar faces and new friends that I had met over the past week, then headed back to the third floor of the Portland Art Museum. The rest of the day was full of really great speakers and topics. Brian McMullen talked about weird books for weird kids, Lisa Wagner and Jason Holley (who were in charge of the amazing and ever evolving stage design) spoke about working together, and Souther Salazar showed the crowd how work is play. After that, Justin Hall educated the attendees on the history of queer comics. His talk was quite interesting, as I am not very familiar with this sub-genre of independent comics. Equally interesting was Robynne Raye’s story about suing Disney for copyright infringement. Don’t Bring a Mouse to a Dogfight and don’t steal people’s shit! 10609461_702428776477033_2120387383461389839_n The day concluded with a keynote by Damian Kulash of the band Ok Go, who spoke about making music videos, being creative by accident and playing around. What really impressed me was that it seemed like the band had a lot of fun making the videos. That’s always something that’s really important to me… I want to be having fun and making something that I’m proud of, whether it’s illustration, graphic design or making/playing music with my bands. After that, Mark Heflin (ICON Executive Director) and Ellen Weinstein came up on stage to close the conference. They brought up a bunch of the behind-the-scenes folks that made this amazing event happen and it was all over. Except it wasn’t over. We still had the closing night party! The theme of this conference wasn’t “Work and Play” for no reason. The attendees made their way back to their hotels and then to the Crystal Ballroom. We were treated to an open bar, a buffet full of food and a DJ while we mingled around. Later on in the night the headlining act, Portugal The Man, played a special set just for us ICON attendees (and I’m sure a few people who managed to sneak in). It was a great way to end this amazing week. ICON 8 was an awesome conference and as attendees we were treated very well. I still don’t know how I was able to cram so much action into one week. Workshops, presentations, lectures, double-decker buses, happy hours, art shows, food, drinks, music and more! Needless to say, the trip to the airport was a bittersweet one. I was worn out after that week of work and play but I’ll miss Portland, OR and all of the new friends that I made while I was there. I’ll see you guys at ICON9! Image & text by Pat Higgins, to see more of his work visit: illo.cc/25631

A review of the Comixology Submit process

SunriseCover *Guest post written by Heather L Sheppard* Recently, I completed work on the first issue of my own comic/storybook ‘Sunrise’, a small, wordless story about a silent little monster on his search for the sun.
I wanted to publish it myself – to learn the whole process of creating, printing and selling my book myself, as I still think it’s one of the best ways to learn – to experience it for yourself. To pay for this, I decided to print each of my 4 planned issues as limited edition paperback copies, and sell them myself both online and at comic conventions – the problem being, it turns out people really like it, and 75 limited edition copies weren’t going to last long! So I had to come up with another plan – lots of people wanted to read it, but I needed a platform to publish it on which would allow others to easily read it, yet not devalue the limited edition copies that so many people had bought in good faith. I completely intend to sell the final ‘full’ version of all 4 issues in a nice, solid hardback, but that is still a year away, at least! So I thought ‘Why not sell a digital copy?’ And so I began to look into alternatives. SunrisePage There were many methods, most involved selling a PDF version on my own digital stores, which I wasn’t entirely happy with. Not only is a PDF a bit of a bother to read, you can’t sit with your child and read through the book together – and that’s still something that I find important. I even thought about making a book app myself to sell on the iOS and Android stores. However, with my experience with making games for tablet and phone devices, I knew how much of a pain in the behind this would be – I can create the art and menu systems easily enough, but then I’d have to hire a programmer (which, despite knowing many, I couldn’t ask them to work for free!), a testing team and most likely the tablet and phone devices needed to test the app – which is far easier with the limited amount of Apple products than it is with the plethora of Android-using phones! And then I would have to hire a PR team to get the word around – all of which is a little impossible with my teeny tiny budget! So I had to give up on that idea almost as soon as I had it. Earlier this year though, popular digital comic outlet ‘Comixology’ opened the doors to small-press comic creators with ‘Comixology Submit’. Brilliant! A way to get a digital version of Sunrise on so many phone and tablet devices, as well as computer screens, in an easy to read way – and best of all, I didn’t have to invest any of my own money in it! So, as soon as I could, I prepared a tablet and phone-friendly version and submitted it. Sunrise2 There are a few things to take note of – as far as I could tell, there were no guidelines, so you are working a little blind. I worked with traditional iPad3 screen sizes (2048 x 1536) but this wasn’t big enough. Comixology contacted me to ask if there was a bigger size, so I decided to make it bigger. I can’t remember how I came to this file size, but 2292 x 3056 was accepted. I think the huge file size is to do with their guided view system, which is fair enough – it is essential for those reading on smart phones! Secondly, it takes a long time for your comic to go through the submission process. Sunrise was ‘Tentatively accepted’ nearly a month after I submitted it. After that, it took another 6-8 weeks or so to appear in-store. This is definitely not a quick process and you are not guaranteed to get on the store at all. Thirdly, once your comic is in-store, you can’t see what your sales are. This does annoy me slightly, as I like to know how well my personal work is selling – and Comixology is telling me to trust them with something very important to me, which I find quite difficult when it comes to big companies. Another thing is, that instead of getting your monthly share sent to you each month (like Redbubble, for example) you’re sent a cheque every quarter IF your comic sells over $100, which worries me a bit – what happens if you only made $99 that quarter? Does it roll over into the next quarter? My comic hasn’t been up there an entire quarter yet, so I can’t give an answer. I do worry about them sending a cheque though, rather than wiring it to my bank account. As I have found out in the past, by receiving a cheque in US Dollars my bank will charge me extra to put it into my account – usually about £12 – which is annoying, and what happens if I move house while the cheque is in transit? I know there’s only a small chance of that happening, but it still worries me! Sunrise3 But, even with those cons, there are a lot of ‘pros’ to submitting your work to Comixology Submit. Firstly – a new, huge audience from around the world! Suddenly, you’re getting reviews and 5 stars from people who would never have found your work before. I now have access to the American market especially, which I would never have had on my tiny little table at UK comic conventions (I will most definitely still be at UK conventions though). Secondly, some of the people at Comixology found Sunrise in the submit section, and included it as the very first thing mentioned on the Podcast – even stopping their talk about Batman, to talk about Sunrise! My partner and I were sat open-mouthed while we listened to it! It was so nice to hear people I’d never met, talking about my little book in such a positive way. They even bought a physical copy of the book afterwards! Success! Even with the cons I listed, this Pro made up for everything 🙂 Thirdly – setting up your comic for Comixology is completely free for you. Yes, Comixology will take a 50/50 cut from your sales (after credit card fees and fees from tablet and phone companies for having the app on their store, which happens with every app), but the cost of hiring an entire team to get your comic on the app store yourself will cost you even more than Comixology’s fees. Plus you won’t get the same level of PR or open up to an entirely new market, like you will do if you go with Comixology. I have worked on many iOS and Android games and one thing I have noticed is, it is very difficult to get people to notice your game/app if you are not one of the top 10, or even the top 50! Comixology will help you with that. And lastly – submitting with Comixology means you are not bound to an exclusive contract – you can still sell digital copies anywhere else, which is perfect for the small-press creator! So, in my opinion, if you have your own comic and you’re looking for a digital release, try Comixology. It won’t cost you anything to set up, so you have absolutely nothing to lose – and maybe even something to gain. Just keep in mind that it’s definitely not a quick process, and sometimes you can feel like you’re working blind. I’ll post another update in a few months, once I know whether I get my first cheque or not! ———————- Images and text in this post are copyright of Heather L Sheppard.

Welcome to Monster Isle (Raar!)

Well, it’s about time we started reviewing the books we have listed on the bookshelf. We’re kicking off with Welcome to Monster Isle, illustrated by Jeff Miracola and written by Oliver Chin. This is a fully illustrated children’s picture book and we have chosen it because a) we love Jeff Miracola’s artwork, b) it’s fun and c) Jeff is a good example of an artist with a very distinctive (and sometimes rather surreal) style who has successfully applied it to a number different markets. Many people will be familiar with Jeff’s work, especially pieces such as ‘Asian Walker‘ and he has received recognition through features in numerous creative magazines, as well as working with a number of high profile clients. Jeff has created artwork for a wide range of markets, from Magic: the Gathering game cards to conceptual designs for Hasbro; from video game graphics (EA) to editorial illustration. Welcome to Monster Isle is Jeff’s first children’s book and is aimed at the 4 to 8 year age range. It is a story of a family who find themselves facing a hoard of monsters on a deserted island and Jeff has applied his unique style and character design skills to every page of the book. The page layouts utilize different perspectives and colours that should appeal to both parents and children and there are some nice little details to look out for in each illustration, too. Above all else, the pictures tell the story on their own, so a child looking through the book on his or her own could pretty much follow the tale based on the pictures alone, without being able to read the text. All in all, this is a lovely little book to own and enjoy as a fan of Jeff’s work, and you’ll appreciate it even more if you have a small person to share it with! Publishing info – Title: Welcome to Monster Isle Author: Oliver Chin Illustrator: Jeff Miracola Publisher: Immedium, Inc. (2008) ISBN: 978-1597020169 Look out for Jeff’s second children’s book due out in early 2011! See more about the book on Jeff’s website: www.jeffmiracola.com