Now, where were we?
Thanks to some helpful advice from folks in the industry who have much more experience than I do I had decided to go with a more professional comic book printer and make our first ever comic book effort look like it belonged on the rack with any other major title. It was going to cost a little more to produce and the minimum print run was going to be a lot higher than I thought we could initially sell but for me the tradeoff was putting out a quality looking publication. Even if people didn’t care for the actual content, they couldn’t argue with the book looking like and feeling like a real comic book.
Now that we were well on our way to creating this first issue my job was to start getting an idea of what types of stories the creators wanted to tell. The theme for the issue was ‘Hope’ but since we were all from a comic book message board my fear was that I was going to get a dozen super hero stories. My goal was to get as wide a variety of stories as possible. I love super hero comics but with Marvel and DC putting out 100 titles each a month and some very good indie super hero titles on the market as well, I thought that going super hero heavy would be a mistake. Typically, the comic book readers who would be attracted to small press, black and white comics also wouldn’t usually be capes and powers fans so that was another reason to be as varied as possible.
I came up with a series of deadlines in order to get things progressing quickly. The interested writers would send me a short story synopsis so I knew what type of story they were looking to tell. Not only did this allow me to gauge what type of stories we were going to get, but now I could start pairing interested artists up with the writers. The Bendis board had no shortage of artistic talent lurking about and I was very fortunate that many of them were interested in participating. But I also wanted to do my best to pair up artists on stories that best fit their particular styles.
Of course we had more writers submit than artists but I have to say, with this being the first effort for many of them they came up with some very interesting story concepts. It wasn’t easy trying to frame a story with the limited two pages given for each creator but most of them found a way to do it pretty much immediately. And fortunately several artists were volunteering to work on more than one story if necessary which helped ease my mind about stories falling apart near deadline. The biggest mistake I’ve seen when people tried to do any sort of group project online was not having a backup plan in place. Creators would get bored of the idea, forget to do it or drop off the face of the Earth leaving holes to be filled. I had a few reserve stories in the pipeline, including my own which could get bumped if we reached 100% completion or be used to fill a hole if needed. Now we even had a few artists ready and willing to step in and help out if it came to that. Best of all, the stories that were coming in were a wonderful mix of slice of life, romance, horror and yeah even a few super hero stories, but those who did choose to go the powers and costume route came up with some pretty interesting spins on the genre that I was more than happy to approve.
We opened up our con season at MoCCA a couple weeks ago and while it was the first time I ever attended the show, it certainly won’t be the last. There was just a fantastic gathering of talent where the crowds and the guests were more concerned with comic books than toys, movies or dressing up as their favorite characters…not that there’s anything wrong with cosplayers.
The con was great. It was so nice to spend time with Aaron Bir (our Art Director) and Doug Hahner (fan favorite writer who will actually be writing the first solo story for us and get a chance to talk about the comic with new fans. We were also fortunate enough to get to sit next to the extremely talented creators Mike Lapinski and Swify Lang who do the acclaimed Feeding Ground comic from Archaia. Mike did some work on the first issue of The Gathering and he and Swifty have a few more stories coming out through us. They’re a terrific bunch of guys and they helped hype up our book a lot as well.
One of the most interesting things that occurred at the con was that I noticed Volume 3 wasn’t selling nearly as well as the first two issues. Now this was our third issue. Double sized. More than double sized actually with longer story pages for the creators and the whole nine yards in terms of production including preview pages of other indie books and a letter’s page that I’ve wanted since the beginning. I’ve been proud of all our books so far but this one at nearly 70 pages for only 4 dollars…I thought it was going to be the easiest sell of all.
I soon discovered was the problem was that people took the Heroes theme to mean that this issue was all about costumes and super powers and that really isn’t the MoCCA crowd. Once I tweaked my pitch a bit to explain that while there were a few traditional ‘super’ hero stories in the book half of them were a less direct interpretation of the theme we started selling better. But all in all I had a great experience at MoCCA and it’s always fun to have a table and speak directly to the fans about the book and all the fun things we have in store for the future.
And speaking of Volume 3, you can purchase the issue directly from us here:
In addition to V3 going on sale and the new ongoing web-comics at the site (updated daily Monday-Thursday) we have also opened submissions up for new writers and artists for the volumes slated to come out in 2012. Submissions will only be open for another couple of weeks so check out which themes we’re going with for next year and feel free to send in a pitch.
Also, to address the big comic book news of the week, let DC Comics know that you want a Superman that stands for Truth, Justice and the AMERICAN way. Write c/o Superman Editors, DC Comics, 1700 Broadway, NY, NY 10019
(Rich adds – or let DC Comics know that you’re quite happy to read what they publish and that comic books are not a democracy, or a reality show. Write c/o Superman Editors, DC Comics, 1700 Broadway, NY, NY 10019)
The Gathering is an ongoing, self-published anthology from GrayHaven Comics with each issue covering a particular theme. Volume 1 was Hope. Volume 2 was Despair. And Volume 3 is Heroes. The goal of The Gathering is to give new writers and artists a chance to have their work published and tell some pretty damn good stories while doing it. We also get some help from friends who are already pros like Gail Simone (Secret Six, Birds of Prey) and Len Wallace (Love Buzz).
Please check out www.grayhavencomics.com for the latest news regarding GHC and The Gathering. You can also follow us on twitter at http://twitter.com/GatheringComic and click on our Facebook fan page GrayHaven Comics/