Interview Part 2
9. Where do you see Legacy five years from now? Will you continue to self-publish?
LEGACY 5 years from now? Hopefully in every comic book store in North America. Realistically I know that's (beyond) extremely ambitious, there's a LOT of VERY good independent books being done these days and it's hard for them to get picked up for wide distribution, so I know the odds are against me, but that doesn't mean I'm going to roll over either. I've greatly enjoyed the self-publishing that I've done so far- it's a lot of work, A LOT, but every time you accomplish something, no matter how small, it's a victory. Even this interview. To have someone who's work and character that I respect offer to take the time to do something like this for me, as opposed to the self Q&A I was going to do, is a big thing. Self-publishing makes you appreciate things a bit more, I think.
I had a five year plan in place for LEGACY, New Guard and some other titles, but I've had to recently modify it- one artist wanted to cut back on workload and I'm fine with that. Benefit to self-publishing is that YOU set the schedule. I was aiming for quarterly releases but after 2015 that will most likely be reduced. Hopefully by that time the books will start picking up and I can keep that sort of schedule, but I'm aware that I might not be able to. The books will keep coming either way though. Kenan is in for the long-haul; I had a blast doing New Guard with him and love what he's bringing to LEGACY on #5. Andre and Jessica Jimerson have been fantastic and we're currently on a very BIG book that's going to take the rest of the year and probably part of next to finish. They've been rockin' pretty hard on LEGACY #3 and #4 too.
Plans are in place for a few more books, with the artists I've mentioned as well as a few new faces- I'm always looking for new people to work with. Budget and time are the two biggest obstacles. Self-publishing also means SELF-FUNDING and artists like to make money to buy food and stuff (can you imagine?!) so that's something that factors in and Andre has garnered some interest from a few DC folks as well as another indie comic writer, Damian Wampler, so his availability has become a bit more limited.
LEGACY has always been planned as a, roughly, 150 issue run, with New Guard coming in around 50 books, so it's not like I'll run out of stories anytime soon. We might not ever hit that magic 150 mark (unless someone has a few hundred thousand dollars that they can spare) but there are key storylines that I'll be telling for sure at one point or another. I'm not averse to telling stories in straight prose form as well if it comes down to it.
9B. What about story-wise? Where do you see it going in five years (no spoilers!)?
Story-wise LEGACY will be expanding on the supporting/secondary cast- the District Attorney's office, the firefighters that we were introduced to at the end of #1, and various other citizens and their stories. Most of it will tie in with Paragon in one way or another but everyone will have their chance to shine. For Paragon we'll see how he tries to establish himself as a beacon to the people of the city and the threats and challenges that lay ahead of him. As we see in the first two issues, he's NOT the only one with powers and it's possible that he's waging a one-man war against an army of villains.
10. New Guard is...pardon the pun...new. What made you want to write a team book?
New Guard came about from a few things but one of which is my love of superhero team books. Not only do you get more bang for your buck in terms of spandex-wearing punch'm up action, but, to me, it just makes sense that these people would seek each other out. Fans of sports teams do, people who work in the same industries do, why wouldn't superheroes? The team is a fun thing to play with too because they all have different motivations for joining- no two are alike in that respect- and I enjoy the conflicts that it brings up in the character interactions.
11. Which do you find easier to write? Legacy, with one main protagonist? Or New Guard, which is essentially an ensemble?
LEGACY has Paragon as its main protagonist but I like to throw in just as many scenes without him as with. The book IS named after the city that it's based in after all, NOT the guy in the mask. Paragon is easier in a way because it's a singular voice, and every time I write him I learn something new about him. I love that. New Guard is a LOT of fun to write because of the different personalities and motivations that the characters have- they practically write themselves.
11B. Do you ever sit down with either the LEGACY or NEW GUARD script/plot and find yourself diverging from your plan because of the large cast(s)? Does one character's voice tend to overpower the others?
Without a doubt. I've written entire scenes without having a clue where they came from- the character just "took over" as it were and it seemed to write itself. I try to balance the New Guard characters as much as possible because they don't all have their own books to develop their stories, but it comes down to what works best for the overall story that I'm trying to tell in a specific issue. Cross took a backseat in New Guard #1 but as we'll come to see, he's more of a strategist/man-behind-the-scenes guy than a field leader.
12. Will the two titles ever crossover?
You'll be seeing an appearance by a couple of New Guard members in the pages of LEGACY but not in the traditional "cross-over" fashion. New Guard is set further down the timeline of the S17 books- in my notebook I have New Guard #1 coming in around LEGACY #60, so it's a ways off. As I mentioned earlier though I'm a fan of generational stories so you can be sure that not everything follows a nice linear progression- we'll see stories of Legacy's future and past in addition to its present.
12B. A 60 issue gap is...ambitious, but also kind of odd. Funny enough, that's a five year difference (on an optimal schedule of 12 issues a year for five years). Coincidence? Are you doing NEW GUARD now, as opposed to in five years because you fear not getting to it? Or is it structured that way for the reader's experience?
Ambitious is a polite way of saying "crazy", right? LOL I'm well aware that reaching that mark of LEGACY as an indie comic producer is unlikely but I wanted to be able to show that there's more than JUST the one book and the one story. I have nearly 160 characters and they all have at least a dozen stories or so to tell. New Guard being set that far down the timeline helps to show that. There are a few things that tie the two books together- as I mentioned you'll see a couple of New Guard members showing up in LEGACY and I hope to do some more books that are set at different points that paint part of the larger picture that is the Legacy-verse.
13. As a self-publisher, what does your job entail? Gimme the nuts and bolts of what it means to self-publish.
Self-publish means to do everything yourself.
Except in my case the art- that thankfully I have people I can hire to do that. The promotion, the marketing, the putting together of files to send off to the printer (an incredibly tedious and frustrating process for a non-techie fellow such as myself), hiring of aforementioned artists, bill-paying, book-keeping (though thankfully Cassandra has started taking over that for me) and anything else you can think of.
Coordinating art teams takes time, so does finding new talent, writing blogs, tweeting or doing whatever you can to build a fan-base. I've been insanely fortunate to meet people that have helped in various ways throughout the course of this venture and opened doors that I myself would have to PRY open.
At the end of the day though it means that you are accountable and responsible for making sure everything gets done and (hopefully) done well.
14. I know that one of your characters is going to appear in another independent book, Eagle and Lark. How did that come about? Any plans for other cameos?
Lark and Eagle I came across through Kickstarter- I loved the concept and saw that one of the Reward Levels was to have a character that you owned make a cameo in the book. For an independent publisher, it was a very good opportunity to get exposure for my books and I jumped on that. Unfortunately it didn't reach its goal and wasn't funded but one of the best parts of that was getting to know the writer behind the book, Steve Johnson, and he assured me that he'll be doing another one down the road and this time we WILL get Lark and Eagle successfully funded. I've become a very strong supporter of indie (mainly superhero because that's what I like) comic books since just before starting my own and I truly believe that the best way for any of us to succeed is to help each other out and offer support and promotion.
And Steve's just a great guy- my house was recently broken into and between his jokes, and another comic creator I've met, Peter Raymond (he's got a pin-up in LEGACY #3 btw) it made the experience WAY easier to deal with. It was a small thing, and one neither of them had to do, but it was much appreciated. Lark and Eagle are welcome to come visit Legacy anytime down the road should he want and I would love to see Paragon show up in Steve's book. As a fan I love character cross-over stuff as long as it's a good story and I'd welcome more down the road.
15. Optimally, what do you want S17 to be? A springboard to something else? Its own autonomous entity? It's obvious you have a passion for your books and, sure, you want them to succeed in a volatile marketplace, but as a publisher, what is your goal for S17?
I used to think that people who just wanted to do strictly creator-owned work were crazy- guys like Robert Kirkman who said something along the lines of "why would I want to write Spider-Man when I can write my own book, Invincible, and do whatever I want without editorial or corporate edicts getting in the way of the story I want to tell?" I'm probably butchering what it was that he said exactly but that was the basic idea behind it. Now I can see EXACTLY where he's coming from.
If S17 can carve out a small (though hopefully large) fan base and get better with every release, then I'll be happy with it. I plan on expanding into novels and short stories (not all tied in with LEGACY though) down the road and I'd love to see my name, and the S17 logo, on a book in your local store.
16. Have you explored digital distribution at all? If so, what's the appeal of it?
I have looked into digital sales- currently you can find S17 books available for download on DriveThruComics, and, eventually Comixology, though it's a bit more complicated to get books sold through them. Graphicly was a site I was hoping to list through but I didn't care for the fees for set-up that they charged, especially after asking some people I know that have listed through them- simply not worth it for the handful of sales.
I really like DriveThru in the way that you actually OWN the book when you purchase it- so many of the digital sites are essentially a lease- you have the books but only if you read it through their system or on their site. I'm of the mind that if you give me the money for something you're buying, then you should get to keep it and peruse it at your leisure, not get screwed out of it if a site or company goes down. You pay the money, you get the stuff. Seems simple enough.
Digital is great because it's a lower price point (at least with the way I price things) so it's easier for people to spend their money on (and get since print can cost a lot for shipping) and lower overhead than print for me.