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Chapter 135: A couple new books and a benefit...
Some new books!
Some books for charity!
Don’t quit your day job!
Hope today is treating you well. I was preparing a long thing for today about William Friedkin, and museums full of tiny things, and a bunch of other stuff, but I got sort of sidetracked. I also have two big book releases today, things that I’m really proud of and hope people will check out, so naturally I should be plugging those (and I will in a bit.) But I’m having one of those moments of doubt I think all people who make things have. Or at least I hope they do. I just have an intense sense of how absurd it is to write long emails to you asking you to buy my stuff while the world is… Well, I guess while the world is the way it is.
So I decided I will try and do both things. I’ll write this newsletter promoting my books but also try and help some people in some small way, along the way. And not just because this newsletter has a literal cry for help in the title. That’s a coincidence.
Down below we’re going to do a little charity drive and hopefully you might support it and grab yourself a couple comics. I’ll probably get back to writing about my usual goofy stuff in a few days. But for now, thanks for bearing with me.
Let’s start with the new stuff. In comic shops today our WILDC.A.T.S. Vol. 1 and WHAT’S THE FURTHEST PLACE FROM HERE? Vol 2. While I can’t claim to dominate a comic book store, I can dominate the W section of that store. What’s that you say? A little book called THE WALKING DEAD? Oh, I’ve got them in my sites.
Let’s start with WILDC.A.T.S.. Its Stephen Segovia, Elmer Santos, Ferran Delgado, and myself relaunching one of the best comics the 90’s ever produced. It takes place in the DC universe, but features a bunch of Wildstorm characters who are “new” to town, so it’s new reader friendly. The first 6 issues, plus some fun bonus stories, are collected in a beautiful hardcover.
I made this graphic to promote it, thinking everyone would get the joke. But people just thought we were launching 7 new series. Whoops.
.Anyway, grab a copy. It’s fun.
Also out today is the second volume of WHAT’S THE FURTHEST PLACE FROM HERE? by Mr. Tyler Boss, Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou, Roman Titov, Shycheeks, and moi. I am so proud of this book and if there was ever anything of mine I’d want people to read it’s probably this. It collects issues 10-13 of the series (7-9 are coming later) and it’s a really thick, gorgeous book. That Tyler, he sure knows how to make stuff look nice.
We made a cool little thing for our webstore for this new volume, but we aren’t putting it up yet because we hope you’d buy a copy from your local comic shop. We even sent some signed bookplates to some comic shops we love to incentivize you to do just that.
I was staying in a house with a “decorative” typewriter on the desk I was working at when I realized I needed to take this photo. I didn’t set out to be this pretentious. I didn’t exactly avoid it either. Anyway, here is the list of shops that got the very limited bookplates. If you want one check to see if you’re near any of them or if any of them offer them for mailorder.
And for our Canadian friends out there, the great Variant Edition still has a few copies of the original bookplates we made for Vol. 1 on hand, as well as Vol. 2
Now that you’ve supported your local comic shop and bought some books, I can talk about our little charity drive. For the next few days, let’s say until Midnight on Friday night/Saturday morning, buy anything from our webstore at FurthestPlace.com and we’ll donate all of the money to the Maui Foodbank in their effort to feed people affected by the devastating fires. If you can afford to give, even if you don’t want to buy my funnybooks, please consider donating directly.
I added a couple fun things to the shop. We have big plans to add a lot of cool stuff starting next month, but it wasn’t quite ready. So for now, you can pick up the limited to 100 copies Foil Edition cover of WHAT’S THE FURTHEST PLACE FROM HERE? #8 which we didn’t really make available before except to paying subscribers here. We also have a bunch of copies of WTFPFH? #8 signed by Tyler and myself, if that’s more your thing. We still have the exclusive cover for WHAT’S THE FURTHEST PLACE FROM HERE? vol. 1 with signed bookplate too.
And, special for now, we made sets of the exclusive covers to WTFPFH? #1-6 at a super discounted price to try and raise some money for the Maui Foodbank. If that’s something people are into maybe we’ll offer some more sets down the road. Let me know.
So grab some comics and support a good cause.
Once again it is time to dip into the old virtual mailbag. And remember- If you have questions for me you can reply to this email or leave a comment below.
Today’s question comes from old friend of the newsletter Matthew Amuso. He asks-
“Hey, a couple related questions.
1) Before quitting your day job, how much of the money you made from comics did you invest back into your career, in terms of paying artists, travel expenses, etc.?
2) How did you determine you were earning enough from writing to go full time?”
These are good questions but they presuppose a couple things that aren’t quite true. Let’s dive in.
First of all, the idea that I “quit” my day job is a little… generous. I could say it was mutual, and that is sort of true. But let’s just say I let it be known that I planned to leave and then they told me it was happening sooner than I thought. I was making comics at that point, both self published stuff and 12 REASONS TO DIE had begun to come out, but I wasn’t exactly “making” money from comics. I didn’t take money for 12 REASONS and the self published stuff was complicated. I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but everything I worked on was costing me far more than it was bringing in. None of this was due to some missteps exactly, it was all by design. I knew if I wanted to get work in comics I needed a resume. And in comics, comics are your resume. So I was willing to lose a bunch of money to have something to show for it. This was also predicated on the fact that I had a dayjob and some savings, both of which soon would disappear.
But, to maybe get to the root of your question, I put 100% of the money I made in comics back into making comics. I had a very simple, and very stupid idea that luckily served me well. I assumed every dollar I spent was just gone forever. A total loss. With that in mind, I knew what risks I could take and what I could not. No plans of mine hinged on any returns. This also meant that every dollar that came in was like a real investment in the next step in my career. I was in the privileged position of not worrying about paying myself back, which allowed me to constantly be making reckless spending decisions. It just so happened that in my case, they paid off, I guess.
As for the second question, the answer is I kind of didn’t. When I “left” my job I was desperately looking for other work very quickly. I freelanced for a few small publishers like New Paradigm and Z2. I almost took a hob at Valiant but had to say no at the last minute. I took some odd writing gigs like writing the image descriptions on some Star Wars postcards for Abrams. But the thing that really kept me afloat was WE CAN NEVER GO HOME. Again, I didn’t take any money for the book, but Black Mask was kind enough to give me an obscene amount of comps and let me make my own variant covers. The book became a small hit and I was able to live for almost a year off selling issues and variants at conventions. I was sleeping on friends floors or sharing hotel rooms with 6 or 7 other creators, but I was coming home with money. As the book took off, Black Mask offered me a job doing what I was already doing, pushing my book. But now they wanted me to do it for all the books. So I spent about a year working part time at Black Mask handling marketing, social media, press, and other odds and ends. I even did some pseudo editing on the fabled Grant Morrison book they were putting out. But at the same time Marvel started calling and I quickly went from writing one small indie book that didn’t pay me a month to writing four or five books a month. And with that, my ability to have any job other than writing became nearly impossible. The folks at Black Mask were super understanding and let me go. But I don’t think I ever consciously chose to quit having a dayjob as much as I couldn’t do it anymore.
I say all this knowing I am incredibly lucky. If I had a dayjob that allowed me to write I don’t know when I would have quit it. Maybe never. There is a real stigma around the idea of artists having dayjobs in this country and I loathe it. Our society does no favors to artists, to freelancers of any kind really. Almost nothing is made easier by choosing to do what we do. I’ve made a lot of career choices and even artistic choices, out of financial necessity. Comics is mostly a commercial art field, but even so, there is little job security or safety net provided to people who make the books. So if you can manage to have a job that doesn’t break you while also having the time to make things that you care about, don’t let that go easily.
If you know…
Stay safe. Take care of each other. Don’t quit your day job.