Writer/Creator: Jason Coffee. Artist: Joel Gomez. Colorist: Rex Lokus. Adapted by: Todd and Wade Carney. Cover Artist: Billy Tan. Cover Colorist: Beth Sotelo. Issue One ComiXology Submit Release: May 26, 2014
The ComiXology Submit new release Jason Coffee’s Warhawks introduces a multi-ethnic team of cyborg superheroes sworn to protect the world using non-lethal force. Luckily, they aren’t opposed to other sorts of butt-kicking because they are about to face Maelstrom, a villainous cyborg syndicate stocked with superior weaponry and traitors from the Warhawks’ own ranks. It’s part X-Men, part Avengers, with a heavy dose of 1980’s GI Joe cartoons.
By Doug Cohen
When we first started meeting in 2009, the team behind the new ComiXology Submit release Jason Coffee’s Warhawks knew nothing about publishing comics. This is the story of how we went from completely clueless, to having our first issue gleaming on the ComiXology homepage right below Batman this week.
Readers of Bleeding Cool may already be familiar with how our story began. Jason Coffee was a sci-fi writer who passed away at the age of 33. Jason was a good, creative soul and his loss was a devastating one. A group of his friends in Los Angeles got together and decided to carry on his voice by publishing one of his screenplays as a comic book series. There was just one problem: none of us knew the first thing about how to make a comic. Here are the steps we followed, in the hopes they might help other creators embarking on the same journey:
- Who do we know? We took an inventory of our friends and family to figure out who might know somebody…anybody…who knew something…anything…about how to make a comic. It turned out that within our wider circle there was an actual working comic book artist who gave us great advice, and good friend of Jason’s who knew a comic book editor that was willing to talk to us.
- Taking the Leap. With any creative project, there’s the moment where it goes from being nothing to being something. For us, that something was the cover. We wanted something tangible to show people that we were serious about this project. Through the comic book editor mentioned above, we met the great artist Billy Tan. Much to our delight, he agreed to pencil and ink our cover.
- One Thing Leads to Another. Billy’s cover was gorgeous. Now, we needed someone to color it. And we needed someone to draw our interior artwork since Billy had to move on to some little project called Green Lantern. We found both people we needed living under the same roof. Billy introduced us to a great colorist named Beth Sotelo and her husband the equally great artist Joel Gomez. We have been following this chain ever since, as Beth and Joel have introduced to the people they know, including our letterer and book designer, and countless colleagues in the industry.
- Ready to Kick It. What did people do before Kickstarter? Lick thousands of envelopes? Rob old ladies? For us, Kickstarter was a godsend. We raised more than twenty thousand dollars in 60 days. If you don’t have an existing following (and we most definitely didn’t) be prepared to work non-stop for a month or more. They call it crowdfunding, but apparently that doesn’t mean a ready-made crowd is sitting there waiting to empty their wallets on you. Be prepared to violate all the norms and etiquette you have spent a lifetime learning. You will have to ask people you know (and barely know) for money via email, telephone, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter and whatever other forms of communication have been invented by the time you finish reading this sentence. You will beg anyone with a blog to make even the smallest mention of you. You will find yourself up at midnight asking Shaq for a retweet. Don’t worry, this is all good practice for the future when you have an actual comic to promote.
- Now We Have to Make This Thing. You have a fat Paypal account full of Kickstarter funds and hundreds of backers that you better not let down. Now what? Right! It’s time to make the comic. For us, that meant finishing the adaptation of our friend’s screenplay into comic book format. While none of us were comic book writers, some of us were comic book readers who knew how to write. With the help of a “How to Write Comics” book and our very understanding artist, Joel, we got the script into the right format and he started producing beautiful pages.
- You Mean You Want People to Read it, Too? You have that finished book, and it is a marvel. Finally, your work is done. Except, of course, if you want people to read it. This can be a very scary time. How on earth am I going to get people to read this book they have never heard of? Well, it turns out that there are lots of people in the same boat, and you can connect with all of them in two places: 1. social media, which you have become an expert in during your Kickstarter campaign and 2. one of those very friendly places they call a comic book convention!
- Convention Conventions. Our first convention was WonderCon 2013, and we did not know what we were doing. Luckily, there are lots of people at comic book conventions willing to tell you what you are doing wrong. For example, “don’t give away your comic for free, people will just throw it out!” or “Uh, you might want to leave the big bulky easel that juts out into the aisle at home next time.” Each convention, you pick up a few tips and get just a little bit better at it. Your convention neighbors become your friends, and great sources for advice. Before you know it, you are the one giving advice…and even sometimes getting it published on sites like this one.
- GO DIGITAL, OR GO HOME. Our team was stubborn, perhaps old-fashioned. We thought it wasn’t a comic unless it could give you a paper cut. We were wrong. We printed 500 copies of our comic, but found that many people asked where they could get them online. Luckily, the good folks at ComiXology Submit saw a post about Warhawks on Bleeding Cool and encouraged us to submit. They worked with us to fine-tune our digital file, and it has never looked better! Their Guided View creates an almost cinematic experience that I think our friend, Jason Coffee, would have loved. After all, he originally conceived Warhawks as a blockbuster movie.
Oh, and we’re still figuring out how to get more people to read our comic. What if we just asked you nicely to go over to comiXology and download a copy of it today?
Please don’t make me ask Shaq for another retweet!
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