Webcomicker Talking Smack ‘Bout Distant Soil, YO!
Jamie Coville informs me some webcomicker at the Toronto Festival told a room full of people that I had restarted A Distant Soil five times and apparently this is due to some massive insecurity on my part.
For the record:
ADS First Publisher:
The original publishing contract clearly stated that I was to own my own work, but with every couple of issues, the indicia went through a morph, and in the end, the publisher claimed copyright as well as trademark. For themselves. When the lawyer hit the fan, the original publisher also claimed I was just hired to do the art and A Distant Soil was created by the publisher.
Naturally, I was not pleased with this development, and so left the publisher, spent years wrangling for the rights, and got them.
Since the original art was shot (mostly) from pencils, and since I wanted a clean break with the old company, I decided to redo the book from scratch. This would also preclude further claims by this old company to authorship.
ADS Second Publisher:
This is the only time I rewrote and redrew my book from scratch.
I would have been happy and content with this situation, but THIS HAPPENED.
I repeat: this is the only time I redid my book. From the beginning. From scratch. Period.
Three years after I signed on, the publisher closed its trade line, and sold all our contracts. Illegally. Lawsuit ensued. Authors got their rights and a financial settlement.
However, the graphic novel editions were in color and there was no way to recover those color negatives. (EDIT) Original plan was to publish black and white comics and to have these dudes publish color GN reprints. Instead we got a perfect storm of bummer.
What to do? Do I walk away, or do I try to give it another go – which could not possibly have anything to do with two publishers who violated the contracts of a dozen authors! When you take your book to another publisher, you’re showing signs of emotional insecurity, OMG, the horror?
This has nothing to do with wanting to finish your project, economic concerns, or legal rights issues!
I decided to give self publishing a go. I touched up the art to make it more attractive in black and white, added some pages to flesh out a couple of scenes and make chapter breaks, and soldiered on.
That was in 1991.
I went to Image Comics in 1996, and did not restart my book. I picked up the series at Image with issue #15.
I have published a trade paperback edition (which is not restarting the book,) and online (which is not restarting the book. A new edition is not a restart. It’s a reprint.)
There have been more editions of Sandman than there have been of A Distant Soil. More editions of Bone. More editions of Finder.
TWO comic book editions. TWO graphic novel editions. Since 1980. This is excessive?
I am very sorry some people feel vast amounts of inconvenience that I have not finished my book.
I’d love to just sit around and draw whatever I want, but I can’t do that. I have to make a living.
The income on the last issue of A Distant Soil was about $200. Which means I worked on it for two months for $200.
Which means that the money I had to live on for two entire months and to finance any book overhead took about $8,000 out of my savings.
Let me repeat that.
Last issue cost me $8,000. The issue before that cost about $7,000.
I don’t have spare time to work on comics. This is what I do for a living. If a book is not bringing in profit, that money has to come from somewhere else.
While I receive royalty checks on ADS graphic novels, this modest income I chose to use to bring the book online for everyone to read in hopes of creating another income stream to finance further work. It took almost two year’s of ADS GN royalties to pay for a web tech to design and build my sites, deal with the hack back in January, cover online access and registrations, advertising, etc. It took one royalty check to pay for my booth at San Diego. I get two checks a year.
And I am sure this webcomicker person didn’t mean any harm, so I am happy to have the opportunity to clear this up.
I wonder if they will put a tip in my donation box. They haven’t so far.
Seriously, if I had enough money to do nothing but sit down and draw A Distant Soil, I would very happily do nothing else. Not to say my other work isn’t fulfilling and wonderful, but it’s dead annoying to have other people act like they have somehow been harmed by my failure to perform on cue for free. To add injury to injury, a failure to perform while incurring HUGE FREAKING DEBT.
I’m sorry if this is cranky.
Well, not really.