In late 2014 I finally took Hatter Entertainment to the next level, self-published PIX: ONE WEIRDEST WEEKEND under the Hatter Entertainment name. It was something I long wanted to do and it remains one of my proudest accomplishments of my professional career.
That book got wider distribution in February 2015, and so began the hard work of selling copies. And I did. in just under two years I sold about 50% of my 1500 copy print run. Some to comic shops, some via amazon.com, a number to libraries and schools across the US. Around August of 2015 I started writing the follow-up book, PIX: TOO SUPER FOR SCHOOL, with the goal to publish that one well, before the end of 2016…and then around March 2017. It’s currently late March 2017 and hey, where’s PIX book 2? Well, it’s coming out in May 2017.
Here’s the thing: self-publishing is a zero-income sport, for the most part, as no one’s paying me to write and illustrate any of it (in comics, one’s often paid a page rate…and in traditional publishing one might receive an advance and then additional payment depending on sales). In fact, not only did I get no pay for book one, I SPENT money, paying people to assist with the coloring, and paying for the printing and shipping of said books. And I was repeating this with book two. So amidst all that I still needed to MAKE money, so I took on paying jobs to keep food on the table and my rent paid, leading to the release schedule…moving.
Around September 2016, as I was inking TOO SUPER FOR SCHOOL, I started getting printing quotes. ONE WEIRDEST WEEKEND was 120 pages. TOO SUPER was 192 pages. Those 72 additional pages meant a significant cost increase for printing…and a bigger book is a heavier book meaning shipping would be a bear, too.
Assessing the lay of the land I started to think about crowdfunding (Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, etc), and the viability of that…and someone asked me why I hadn’t brought it over to Image Comics.
Image Comics was formed in 1992 by seven of the top cartoonists at Marvel Comics at the time. They formed Image as a place where they could control and own their own intellectual property (as opposed to creating things for a large corporation to own forever and ever – look up “Jack Kirby” online and see the most extreme example of what Image wasn’t meant to be). Since 1992, Image has grown well beyond those seven original creators to become the number three publisher of comics in the United States after Marvel (Spider-Man, The Avengers, The X-Men) and DC (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman). Perhaps the most notable Image comic at the moment is THE WALKING DEAD, upon which the very popular TV series is based. And true to their mission of creators owning their work, Image Comics makes zero dollars from that A&E TV show. That goes to the creator/owner of the book.
I’ve known folks at Image for years. I first met a number of them back in 2008, when I was doing PIX as mini-comics I sold for a dollar each at conventions. Over the years I’d see them at conventions, enjoy meals and hang-outs in hotel lobbies. But when I first started working on ONE WEIRDEST WEEKEND I didn’t pitch it there. First, I’d wanted to self-publish since I was an assistant editor at Marvel in the late ’90s. Second, at the time, Image wasn’t yet the “right” place for the kind of book PIX is – a book primarily for 9-14 year old kids. This could spin out into a whole other discussion about how comics are sold vs. how traditional books get sold and how to reach readers, etc, etc. Suffice to say, it wasn’t the place…at the time.
Two years later a lot had changed. Image had some more younger-reader material in their line, and some of it was meeting more success than prior efforts. And on my end, looking at the cost of printing, while there was no guarantee they’d want to publish it, it seemed a case of “hm, can’t hurt to ask!”.
So I did, and they thought it worth doing business with me. The publisher, Eric Stephenson, suggested re-releasing the first book with a new cover in February of this year, 2017, with the second volume to follow in May 2017. A May release gave ME more time to get the book done, so that worked for me! We were off to the races.
Last week I delivered the final files for PIX, Vol. 2: TOO SUPER FOR SCHOOL. It’s a whopping 200 pages, and I’m very proud of it. The new version of PIX, Vol. 1: ONE WEIRDEST WEEKEND is out there in the world being seen by many, many more people than my self-published version (the initial order for the new edition was about 300% the initial order for the self-published version).
So now it’s time to work and spread the word and sell some books.
Because here’s how Image Comics works: I don’t get paid until they get paid. Once Image breaks even (which means the cost of printing and shipping plus $2000), then I start seeing some money. And it probably won’t be a whole lot of money, at least for a while…but I’m feeling good about things and I think based on my experience so far, PIX is in a good place at Image Comics. Here’s to making a dime…and maybe getting some of that Walking Dead-level action, am I right?!
Well, visit the Pix Store, where you can buy volume one right now (via any of the links provided or get a signed copy right there).
And you can pre-order volume 2 by visiting this page, where you can also read the first chapter of volume 2, all 28 pages-worth, for FREE!
Thank you in advance for all your support.
And now, with PIX, Vol. 2 complete, and before I start on volume three, I’ll be plugging away on some paying jobs, hoping to put out some new STUFF SAID episodes, and seeing what other ideas I might get off the ground. Keep up with any and all the news from me and Hatter Entertainment by joining my mailing list. I send out an email blast the first of the month with news, updates, etc. Heck, just about everything above would be old news if you were a newsletter subscriber. The sign-up’s over on the right…get on board!