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Thursday, 14 June 2018

Publisher's Quandary

At about 0400 hrs this morning I made a decision or at least a tentative one that makes sense, though there are arguments for and against.

This all concerns The Green Skies which should have appeared in June, 2014. Beat that delay you foppish 2018 comic 'pros'!

You see, I have been trying to finish off the project.  It is, after all, the final part of the Invasion Earth Trilogy which began with a germ of an idea back in 1987/88. Although the original Return of the Gods: Twilight of the Super Heroes began as parts in Black Tower Adventure (vol. 2, nos. 1-6) those 100+ pages (197 to be exact) I re-lettered and and added extra art to so that the final book, an original graphic novel, came to over 300+ pages (331 to be exact) -I am told by those who know these things, that this is the largest British originated super hero graphic novel. That'll help my bank account (that was sarcasm).

Anyway, the second part of the trilogy was The Cross Earths Caper -a tiddler at 107 pages.

Both books, published 2011 and 2012 respectively, were reviewed and read and received high praise which I have to say surprised me somewhat since I had to resort to drawing both myself after artists kept dropping out. The interesting thing is that not one of the UK comic blogs  were willing to read and review either.  There were only two who simply wanted a press release to publish.  That was it. It is what the UK 'fan press' has become sadly.

Below -it's a 2m x 60cms decorating table covered in the pages ready for extra touches and lettering/scanning for The Green Skies and the last time I counted the pages there were well over 460 -the final few pages, the actual outcome of events, I have yet to draw and I have no idea what that ending will be as until I am seated and drawing (no scripts) it will not come to me.

The gathering of the heroes left to face the "ultimate evil"  that has lain semi-dormant in the folds of interstitial space for a million years.  To be honest, it don't look good and by this point a few heroes have fallen -characters that have been with me since at least the 1960s. That got a tad emotional.

But I'm looking at this work and I wondered whether a single copy of either had ever sold.  I had several very long special offer periods to try to get sales but I only check the online store for sales every month (it's too depressing to do more often than that!).  So I checked.  I went right back to publication dates.  I then checked the various online book sellers outside of the UK that lists these books (for more than it costs to buy from the online store incidentally).

Nothing.  Not a copy. Other than those I purchased for reviewers.

So I thought to myself, do I just burn these pages?  Get them out of my mind like so many comic creators have done recently because no one wants to buy anything but books by the US Big 5, or do I alter publishing plans?

It is not an option to just burn everything. I couldn't do that and one way or another I have to finish what started decades ago (decades ago -yoy!).

A one-off, bulky book is, oddly enough, far cheaper to buy than, say, a 12+ issue run in parts.  The original 197 pp run from Adventure 1-6 of Return would set you back £40 (?) and it would cost you £20/$26 US to buy the 331 pp complete version. Similar with Cross Earths.  So I wanted Green Skies to cost a potential reader as little as possible -I know, throwing out the US grab every penny you can selling model.  No variant covers or cross-overs and, unlike comics in general, if a character dies in a Black Tower book then they are DEAD.  No coming back, re-boot or anything similar.

My idea was to start publishing Green Skies starting in Black Tower Super Heroes no.9 -the current run was due to stop at no. 8.  The run could take the title to at least 30 issues. This would mean a slower and less tough work rate of lettering, scanning and cleaning pages as  each issue of BTSH was due rather than all 500(?) pages in one go that might take a month of solid work. There has been no rush, or even slow walk, to purchase part 1 or part 2 so I hardly expect there to be a saga hungry legion of comic fans out there screaming for part 3!

It is a quandary. One the one hand it means extending a title's run and that in itself has problems since no one is buying any title is setting a publishing schedule really worth it -it isn't just a case of dump some pages in a cover -done and dusted. Then I would be kicking myself over getting anyone who was interested in paying so much to complete the series.  In Print On Demand you do not get the option of offering "Buy 2 get 1 free" because the POD company certainly is NOT going to want to lose its high cut and there is no way a printer is going to give books for free so the idea of me buying copies at the regular price to make such just is not going to happen.

In the scheme of things the one off volume seems best.  Only one person can decide -me.

Hospital appointment tomorrow and then I'll decide the work worth doing but one way or another the series has to be finished just so we can find out whether Jack Flash's final words were correct:

                               Dr Morg has killed us all"

Invasion Earth Trilogy I & II-The Return Of The Gods:Twilight of the Super Heroes/Cross Earths Caper

I -The Return Of The Gods:Twilight of the Super Heroes

Black & White
331 Pages
Price: £20.00 (excl. VAT)

It begins slowly.  It always does. It's a deception that everything in the world is as it should be and that never changes.

Earth’s heroes and crime-fighters are going about their daily tasks –fighting a giant robot controlled by a mad scientist’s brain, attackers both human and mystical -even alien high priests of some mysterious cult and their zombie followers and, of course, a ghost and a young genius lost in time. 

Pretty mundane. 

But psychics around the world have been sensing something.  A "something" that sends feelings of sheer terror through their psyches.

There is a huge alien Mother-ship near the Moon. Undetected by deep-space radar and other instruments, only a few on Earth have sensed it and they cannot penetrate the hull but only feel psychic screams and....worse.

And then it begins: strange orange spheres isolate and chase some of Earth’s heroes who then vanish into thin air –are they dead?  An attack by an old foe or foes -?

Black, impenetrable domes cover cities world-wide. 

Then it becomes clear to those within the domes what is going on: Alien invasion of Earth! 

A war between the Dark Old Gods and the pantheons that followed! 

Warriors from Earth’s past having to battle each day and whether they die or not they are back the next day! 

No one suspects the driving force behind the events.  One single evil guiding events.  Events that could cause destruction and chaos throughout the multiverse.

Assaulted on all fronts can Earth’s defenders succeed or will they this truly the end? 

II-The Cross Earths Caper
The Cross-Earths Caper: Part II of the Invasion Earth Trilogy
Black & White
107 Pages
Price: £15.00 (excl. VAT)

Following the events on Neo Olympus and the Boarman invasion of Earth, many heroes and crime-fighters have withdrawn from activity. Some are trying to recover from injuries while others are fighting the mental scars left by the events.

But things have to go on.  As heroes from other parallels who helped during the recent events return home, members of the Special Globe Guard are shocked at the sudden appearance of Zom of the Zodiac. Never a sign of good things a-coming!

Very soon, a group of heroes mount a rescue mission and find that a quick rescue mission can turn sour equally quickly. As they overcome one challenge the the heroes become lost between parallel Earths and face new threats.

 Sometimes one Earth just is not enough. The complete story published in issues 7-10 of Black Tower Adventure now handy dandy book!

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