Craig A. Taillefer's Work Log (Wahoo Morris, Sîan, and more....)
I've been avoiding doing one of these, figuring with my slow output there wasn't much point. I've been picking away at two large projects an hour here and an hour there for years, and a slew of "hey, I drew a foot today" posts wouldn't be very interesting.
But I've realized that without outside stimulation it's very easy to lose the drive.
I will be posting a diary of what I am working on as an attempt to maintain transparency and accountability and hopefully get some feedback and that precious outside stimulation as I attempt to re-build my comics career!
I had finished my portion of The Damon Runyon Graphic Library in fall 2013 (you can see it here), leaving me just working on Wahoo Morris, but eventually I just stopped picking away at it.
I think the realization that after so long a delay, regaining my audience was an uphill battle I had no clue how to overcome. And the reality of finishing meant dropping another $3000 on printing bills and piling more boxes on the mountain-of-broken-dreams in the basement.
I just stopped drawing altogether.
Last fall I tried to jump start myself by taking on a one shot that had a publisher attached. The mental blocks wouldn't come down and I found myself just staring at the two or three pages I attempted to thumbnail. When the publisher died suddenly, and the fate of the book was up in the air I put the book on the back burner.
I then attempted Inktober but dropped out halfway through when my 16 year old cat started failing and need pretty intensive nursing before passing.
I took on another short project but I had a panic attack because of the impending deadline as the start date on my next show was coming up.
And then something changed.
The show that I thought was a full season turned out to be just a pilot episode and a sizzle reel. The director of the show passed my name to another studio, so I had work lined up, but there was a two week break and for some strange reason when I told my wife I was going to use the two weeks to try and get a start on finishing Wahoo Morris Book 2, instead of staring at the pages as I had every other time there was a break and getting nothing done... I actually started getting pages done.
I had no free time on the next show as it's schedule was brutal, and I absolutely hated the show, so, for the first time in my career, I started looking around for an alternate gig and jumped ship as soon as I found one.
Which left me with another two weeks before the new show started. And this time I managed to finish the interior art of Wahoo Morris.
Meanwhile, a month or so earlier I tabled at the Ottawa Comic Con. It was my first show since TCAF in 2009. It was the first time in 8 years I had hung out with fellow cartoonists, talked comics, had feedback from readers, etc., and it lit a fire that had been burning pretty low for a long time.
I am once again between shows, this time with about 4 weeks left, and I have been drawing covers for the Comixology 'single' releases of the material and working on putting together the print ready file for Book Two.
I've also been scanning in my archives and I'm planning a tpb collection of some of my random creator owned shorts and a tpb of pin-ups, sketches etc.
And... I have been researching crowdfunding and marketing and I'm going to launch a Kickstarter for Wahoo Morris in a few weeks.
I'm also planning my follow up project and should begin drawing in the next week or two as long as the final mental blocks come down.
So for a few weeks at least I should have something to write about. And when the next show ends in the spring I want to hit the ground running with 3 new books and a new project in the works and I intend to start attending conventions again.
I guess this post will end with a bit of a mission statement.
The dream of a career in comics has been a dream deferred for way too long. I'm 48, and there isn't any more time to waste.
I intend to land some work at the big two or three in the next year. There are some properties at Dark Horse that I'd like to work on, and I want to work at Marvel or DC to finally prove to myself that my lack of success isn't because I wasn't good enough (Marvel has more of a fan boy appeal as I read more of their comics as a kid, but DC would do).
I want to do a creator owned book at Image with an A-List writer (Who I consider A-List probably has more to do with quality than actual ranking!).
And I'd like to build a big enough audience that my personal creator owned work is viable.
That's it for now. I'll post art the next time. In the meantime, if you've never read any of my work I am giving away a free pdf of Wahoo Morris #1 for a sign up to my email list.
I applied for a new ISBN assigning publisher account through the Library & Collections website last night. I have no record of having a previous account, so the self managed website may not have existed pre-2006 when I last applied for an ISBN number.
It was dead simple to apply for an account, and there was a section for 'Former Publisher name' and last ISBN number assigned, so I crossed my fingers that I would be able to port my old ISBN prefix over to the new publishing name.
I got my new user name and password today, logged in and two minutes later I had an ISBN number for Wahoo Morris Book 2 - and I got to keep my old publisher prefix. So, yay! for Canadian Government bureaucracy for a change.
Other than that, I have been slowly building the Kickstarter campaign page, and it is a painfully slow process. I'm assuming it is because I am using Mac OSX 10.6 and an ancient browser, but the Kickstarter page building interface freezes my browser. I have to shut it down every few minutes and start over or I am watching letters appear on the screen minutes after I type them. Simple edits that should take a minutes take an hour. I know I should upgrade my operating system, but I'm afraid doing so will brick my version of Photoshop. So until I've finished scanning in my archives and have formatted the books I'm planning, I'm holding off.
I'm getting close to having the page ready for review, The main thing I have left to do is come up with Graphics of the Reward Tiers, but I'm still tinkering with prices of the rewards.
And, I haven't set a funding goal yet. I'm still waiting for a quote from the printer, so I'm still not sure whether I'm going for my original idea of funding 100-200 print on demand books or if I'm going for a full 1000-2000 copy offset run.
I've attempted a newsletter a few times in my career, but much like keeping a work diary I've always dropped it when I didn't have much to promote or talk about.
I'm trying again, and basically curating my social media posts into a single blast once a week.
3 weeks in, so far so good. I'm not sure what I will write about once I'm back to storyboarding in three weeks, but as it's a closed group I might just talk about my storyboarding process if I'm stuck.
But... going on Facebook and asking every FB friend, one at a time, whether they want to BE on my list is causing my social anxiety to kick into overdrive. And so far I've only hit up people I have an actual relationship with and I'm still having tons of anxiety doing it.
Also, out of curiosity, are you using a newsletter distribution system?
The opt-in page is here: http://eepurl.com/cAy8rX
I have a subscribe box in the side bar and a delayed pop-up on my website so it should be easy to find that way as well.
@_Beth_Wagner_ I'm using Mail Chimp for the actual newsletter distribution and subscriber collection/management. So far it's been pretty easy to use and the stats are interesting.
I'm looking forward to reading yours.
I'm mildly amused by it. I'm not exactly a big spender, and I've only backed two physical projects with shipping costs involved, and the second one scared me off from doing it again as shipping was not set at pledge time and I found myself having to pay $85 for a $199 set of 4 books and about double the weight in stretch goals I don't really want!
I've been a digital reader of comics for a couple of years now, so dropping an average of $3 on a bunch of singles and $10 for a whole bunch of GNs doesn't seem like a big deal.
But, 42 projects backed I guess is a big deal.
Y'know, I've had a taste for self published comics since I discovered ElfQuest and Cerebus and was a big buyer of B&W floppies during the 90's self-publisher boom.
I've long lamented the lack of new B&W floppies on the market, even though I fully understand the economics behind DIY people moving to the web.
I started supporting projects on KS when a few friends launched campaigns, but I was soon overwhelmed by all the cool projects on there.
The DIY movement is alive and well, it's just on Kickstarter and now in full-colour!
There's something like 18 creators and 22 or more comics available.
The link takes you to a page where you can pick and choose which comics (and newsletters) to sign-up for.
I've got three separate titles available in the giveaway. If you are already on my list, you can still download them as Instafreebie will send you the download link, but Mailchimp doesn't double add addresses.
I got a 50% off coupon at Vistaprint that ran out today, and I I have a convention coming up, so it gave me a deadline to get one of the covers coloured so I could use it as a banner. (Kind of cheating, as this is the front cover of a wrap around spread and I haven't finished colouring the back cover portion yet.
A mock up of the new 6 foot banner:
Less than 26 hours in and I'm already feeling event fatigue from sharing the link everywhere I can think of. I get now why everyone talks about how draining it is.
I was 37% funded before 24 hours are up, which I think is pretty good?
But I haven't had a pledge in 6 hours and I can't stop the DOOM PREDICTIONS from taking over. And it's only day 2....
I think I might go for a plain white BG for the Comixology edition of Wahoo Morris #10.
I might also use this as the Back cover illustration to the Wahoo Morris Book 2 trade dress and have the gradient bleed up from the flat colour under the ISBN/Barcode/text and spine. I'm not sure yet if I can fit the whole group on the back or just the main 4 characters. We'll see...
The Weekly web comic ran it's last page on the 25th of October and starting tomorrow I'm going to run every cover, back cover, and decent illustration I have on a daily basis until the Kickstarter ends on December 9th. I ran out of art after scheduling December 6th, so we'll see what I use for the last 3 days.
Post Kickstarter I will go back to weekly updates and run the 2 Wahoo Morris short stories I have in the can. That will take me into February/March.
I hope I'm well into the next project by then.....
The goal is to finish up this cover today.
Then by mid-week get issues 8, 9, & 10 formatted for Comixology and submitted.
I'll post a follow up when she's done!
I'm struggling a bit with colour balance while colouring. My Cintiq is a lot more saturated than my desktop. So I get pretty vibrant colour while painting, then I bring it up on the desktop and it's a bit washed out.
My experience is that my desktop is pretty close to what will print.
I'm unsure how to balance the two.
I saw numerous people say running one was a full time job. I didn't really believe it until I launched.
It has been an interesting exercise in marketing, though the past week I've felt like I'm spitting into the wind. I will be relieved when it is over!
It is getting close. I have 5 days left, and I'm 78% funded so I still need around $750 in pledges. That is a lot of books as the big spenders came through on day 1 and 2!
I announced stretch goals today, all intended to get folks who just bought book 1 to upgrade to a bundle of 1 & 2. I really want people to buy a copy of book 2 either on it's own or in a bundle as that is what I am funding and promoting.
I wasn't super successful at lining up reviews, but one at comicsworthreading.com went up today.
I've done cross-promotions as well, though no more scheduled.
I'll admit I did not do enough pre-planning and prepping and felt like I was flying by the seat of my pants most of the campaign. A lot of it has been social media promo and reaching out to people and retailers on a one on one basis.
I've had a decent number of retailers get on board. I'm expecting one more (semi-guaranteed) retailer pledge later today which will get me into the $400 and under range today.
And in about 8 hours the 48 hours left reminders will go out to those who hit save.
I've got a handful of retailers who have been supportive in the past are going to be in that last minute wave. I'll be reaching out to them and a few fellow creators on Facebook hoping to get a last minute share out of them.
Next up is another blog post update!
I woke up to 96% funded this morning. Just $128 away from the goal.
I managed 6 pledges yesterday plus one early backer adjusted up. And early this morning one new pledge and another early backer boosted their pledge.
You never want to get cocky, but I've still got 34 hours on the clock, so I think this is going to happen!
Man, 6 months ago I was looking into print on demand options to do a 100 copy print run to satisfy the handful of folks still asking about the series.
Amazing what a few months can change.....
Stretch goals look like a real possibility.
I ended up going over the goal of $3500 and I made my first stretch goal of $3750. I went for a very easy and low first stretch goal purposely so I could realistically hit at least one!
I guess I have two weeks to wait before the funds are transferred and I can send the book to the printer.
I had 4 credit cards not go through. 2 have fixed the issues, so, so far I'm only $40 shy of my total. Hopefully those pledgers update their cards before the deadline. If not, no worries as it's only $40 bucks.
in the meantime I'm picking away at all the last minute details....