Reviews and drawing update

 I've finished all the writing and thumbnails for all 5 issues of Mary Boys: All Stitched Up, so it might be time to actually tell people what it's about. But first I'm enjoying knocking out a few pages of pencils. This time round I thought I'd give digital pencils a go, mainly because I tried Clip studio and liked the perspective tools. It saves a lot of time and mess getting the rules out, especially for small awkward panels, like this one:

Yes, I am extremely late to the party, but that's fine since I did everything traditionally before so this all feels like a real doddle, provided that the plan of printing it all out in blue and then inking it traditionally works out. I still need to buy an A3 printer and give it a go.

Mary Boys : Beefheads got a mention and review on Awesome Comics Podcast today. Give it a listen here: They're a fun bunch, so give their other content a listen too. I really enjoyed their discussion on the Bojeffries Saga, a little-known gem from Steve Parkhouse and some northerner called Alan something. 

We're at 114 sign-ups to the mailing list. I'd like about 800 before we launch AND we only launch when the campaign book has been drawn. Still a slog, but things are happening. If you haven't signed up yet, then now would be as good a time as any:

How to crowdfund comics

The title is a little misleading because it implies that "I" have an idea on how to run a successful comic book campaign, which I don't. Not really. I don't have a specific formula that would work of anyone reading this. I've run two campaigns before that have done quite well for an unknown creator, but I couldn't tell you what to do apart from 1) put in the best work you possibly can 2) network absolutely everywhere and 3) try not to be a prick.

I'm conscious that funding has become more challenging of late due in part to crowdfunding being becoming more mainstream. More and more comic professionals are now crowdfunding their own IPs and many traditional publishers crowdfunding projects which hey would ordinarily just have released through the direct market.

Of course, getting more mainstream is good for crowdfunding. Often half the challenge is selling the concept of crowdfunding to someone unfamiliar to it, so having bigger players familiarise their customer base to it is helpful to smaller creators. The more known it becomes the greater the pool of would be supporters. A fan of Sean Gordon Murphy might hang around a little while longer on Kickstarter after backing his project to se if anything else is of interest.

It also has the effect of raising the bar. Art, story and production values need to be able to compete with the best in the business or they have no chance of getting funded. This is all good for backers, but less good for creators trying to wing it with a sub-standard book. The art and writing need to be competitive. If they aren't, don't your waste time marketing it because even if you fund, your backers will be more wary of coming back after receiving something substandard.

I'm no guru, but I've seen projects fail for issues that are quite avoidable. A poor (or just mediocre) is actually less common than the following:  

1. Lack of clarity

Sometimes I look at campaigns and I'm not quite sure what it's about. I have a fairly short attention span and generally don't like wading through a lot of text to try and figure out what the comic is really about. If the the fist thing I see on the campaign page (if I'm enticed to click on the link) is a lot exposition and world building then you've lost me. Personally, but this is probably true for most people. I want the shortest, most succinct description of what the book is about as possible. Paint in broad strokes. Dumb it up for me. You can do your world building and go into detail about the expansive cast of characters later when we've crossed this first hurdle. Keep it simple, then build in the complexity once you've got people reading.

Summarise your whole concept in one punchy sentence designed to entice the reader. Better yet if it's in the title. 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' is the best example I can think of. It delivers a hook with maximum economy that keeps people reading.

2) Not marketing the comic beforehand 

I did this on my first project. I was very green and had no idea there was more to marketing than plonking your concept and a few pages on the internet. I was lucky enough for bigger channels talking about it to their audience. Without that it would have failed without a doubt.

Get a mailing list up today and market the hell out of that at least 6 months before launching the campaign. Hit forums, comic podcasts and dedicated Youtube shows with your links.

When asking for help from other people, be gracious. Never be pushy or annoying. It never ends well. Regardless of your project's merit, it's still their time and their platform and you are not entitled to it. If you get turned down, don't go on a public tirade. Even if no-one reacts to it, loads of people would have read it and made their own assumptions about you as a person.

2) Starting a new campaign before fulfilling the previous one

It casts doubt over your commitment in delivering the first one. I think this is the case even in the case of seasoned crowdfunders. Your reputation is only as good as your last fulfilled campaign and many backers have been burned in the past by creators simply not fulfilling.

Same goes for being very late. People who regularly back crowdfunders are a special breed of customer and are generally very understanding where it comes to delays, yet even they have their limits when a book is late and the creator fails to post updates.

The last point is why I've decided not to launch out new campaign until the book is done. We weren't all that late, just a couple of months. No-one expressed concern or complained. This was probably because we made a point of posting regular updates. Still, it's a situation best avoided, which is why we'll only be launching the next campaign when we're ready to go to print.

Speaking of which, I have today launched the mailing list for Mary Boys: All Stitched Up (part 1). Please be sure to sign up to be notified when we go live. This is the first full length Mary Boys adventure and a story I've been wanting to tell for a long time.

Progress update - new Mary Boys comics

I don't know about people who do this kind of thing professionally but when it comes to writing comics I don't consider the scripting part done until the thumbnails are finished. 

This is because I always seem to get new ideas when I put pencil to paper. The pacing also really solidifies when I start putting everything into panels. While I'm sketching I find that redundant plot bits become easier to identify and edit out. I'm constantly updating the script with new dialogue from freshly-gained insight.

I'm sure there is a sound scientific reason for why this happens. I think it's because different parts of the brain only really start talking to one another when the physical task to marry words and pictures arises. Like two foreigners from different countries desperately working together to decipher a London tube map. 

For what it's worth, my process can be summarised as follows:

First I will write a story outline setting out the plot in the most basic way, identifying triggers that drive the story forward and making sure that actions once set in motion are resolved. I will have a good sense of who my characters are, how the story begins and where I want it to end before I move on to the next stage in which I start sketching panels. After this I will start thinking about dividing the panels into pages, making every page as interesting as I can with some sort of visual 'punch'. 

The comics I make are A4 in size (that's 8.3 x 11.7 inches for any Americans reading this). This is the standard size for UK printing paper. On this page I draw a smaller page of 4.1 x 5.8 inches (A6). The point of the margin is for inserting alternative panels or notes to use in the pencil stage. 

In the A6 page I insert the desired number of panels ranging from 1 (splash) to 8, but typically my pages will have between 4 to 7 panels. The number of panels chosen will affect the mood and pacing of the story. I recommend that you read Scott McCloud's 'Making Comics' on the various uses. Will Eisner's 'Sequential Art' is another invaluable resource.  

Anyway, the new Mary Boys is called 'All Stitched Up' and it will be told in 6 parts. I have thumbnailed Part 1, which is about 18 pages. I expect the remaining parts will be of a similar length. Experience has taught me to thumbnail the whole story before starting pencils. It saves having to redo a lot of work further down the line when you realise something's amiss story-wise. 

In other news, we are running 'second chance campaign' for the Mary Boys: Beefheads project on a new crowdfunding site called FundMyComic. The books have already been printed and fulfilled to our Indiegogo backers, so this new campaign is to sell some left-over stock. 

Please follow the link below to check out the new campaign:

Writing again

The time is ripe for me to commit to the long form stories I've been planning. I've laid the groundwork with Primal Wounds (the Mary Boys origin story) and Beefheads (short story collection about Basham). Now we can introduce some changes and start to progress the characters arcs for Parrish and the boys. 

I've got the scripted outlined and can start with thumbnails, followed  by a process of fine-tuning the dialogue. My "Marvel Method for one". 

I need to promote more, stream more, blog more etc. It's hard sometimes to find the time and when there is a spare moment I tend to prioritise making the comics and getting them out to people. 

Reviving this blog is step in the right direction. 

Mary Boys: Beefheads!

Almost forgot about this Blogger account. Lots has happened since the last post. We have fulfilled on the old comic and launched a new campaign for the next volume MARY BOYS: BEEFHEADS! A 74 page collection of self-contained stories. BACK IT HERE!

You can order the comics from the first campaign here:

One more before I dive in

Warm up inks

Warm up inks before I get started on the pages to remind myself of the desired balance between line art and ink washes. Just a touch of shade does the job with the rest a stark choice between black and white line

Let's get slaughtered

Get your meme's. After Article 13 becomes law we will all have to use public domain images for our meme's so I thought I'd get in early. 

Character designs

These guys have been kicking around in my brain for years. The fleshing out process left me with a very good idea of who they were and what they stand for.


Parrish - the 25 facial expressions challenge

The boys