It has been some time since posting something about our charity anthologies, so here’s a look at Ariel Marsh’s wraparound cover (sans spine, which continued a part of the image) for What the Wild Things Read. It was our first collection, released at Hal-Con 2011 after the ideas were planted the previous year at Hal-Con 2010. As you folks may know, we grew unexpectedly into great things for Fearsome Fables I and Fearsome Fables II!
This was the first collaboration with Ariel, by the way!
Sorry for the delay. I’d been holding out for a finished SGSE v2 cover but poor Ariel’s been battling with a wicked Spring cold this week. Feel better!
Anyhow, I’ve explained in the past that I like to use Tumblr as a place to showcase concept art and this certainly fits the bill: These are my thumbnails for P1 of my upcoming Fearsome Fables II contribution. The book will launch at Hal-Con in November and proceeds will benefit Free The Children.
Okay, now we’re talking: I’ve always said Tumblr will be the home to both behind-the-scenes information, as well as never-before-seen stuff. Up to now, it’s been more of the former, so let’s change that a bit.
“So what’s up with the formatting?” Well, when an artist will never see the script, I don’t bother with centred dialogue/captions, and generally work lazi– I mean, more streamlined. Yeah, that’s it…
“Wait, what do you mean when an artist doesn’t see the script?” For WtWTR, I contributed two pieces. One was all prose, written from the POV of a child’s fantastic (and heavily fictionalized) summer vacation. The other was a sequential comic, but a mix of my… ‘art’ and photographs of a local artisan’s crafted dolls.
So why wasn’t this story used? If memory serves correctly, I wrote this based on the dolls available on her website, but the ones she had on-hand to let me borrow had a few different figures swapped, so I whipped up a new story.
A little while back, I posted a look at the cover for our first charity anthology, What the Wild Things Read. This time, I thought it would be nice to showcase Ariel Marsh’s designs for the posters. These went up around Halifax, and are included for free with purchase of the book.
This poster and the cover were the first things Ariel ever drew for Ink’d Well Comics, actually. To get her thoughts on the process, I went right to the source: “When sketching up ideas for the What The Wild Things Read poster, I spent some time on the Free Children website. I really felt for the kids of Haiti after hearing of the devastation the earthquake caused. I loved their cute pictures and their sweet school uniforms. So that’s what I went with for the poster!”
Hey everyone, it’s usually around this time we start contacting contributors for our annual charity anthologies. Following modest success with What the Wild Things Read (2011), the response to Fearsome Fables and Fearsome Fables II has been strong. It is for this reason that our next charity collection will, indeed, be Fearsome Fables III.
So when’s it coming?
The first three all launched at Hal-Con, my previous ‘home’ show, and one that tends to be held around November 1. Two months ago, I moved across the country, and I’ll soon adopt either the Calgary or Edmonton expo as my anchor for the year. Therefore, future collections will likely debut there. Seeing as Calgary hold their conventions earlier in the year, I think Edmonton ‘wins’ by default.
So when’s it coming?
I’d say a safe bet would be late 2015. This will give us a chance to sort through our massive list of contributors – that is to say regular contributors, those who have joined us once or twice, plus new people. Most importantly, setting a tentative launch so far in the future allows us to revamp things, particularly on the distribution side.
What needs to be revamped?
As the books have grown (16 contributors and 48 pages for What the Wild Things Read jumped up to 44 contributors and 182 pages for Fearsome Fables I), the time investment has also grown. Peter Chiykowski aids me with regards to recruiting, editing, and sales, but I also handle layout, production, etc. I had to delay one of my own Ink’d Well Comics releases so that I could get Fearsome Fables II ready in time. We also have dealt with some last-minute issues that will result in a few policy changes in terms of contributors and submissions. In addition, costs have increased: Printing, shipping, etc. This means a greater initial investment, taking longer to pay off, ultimately affecting the amount we are able to eventually donate.
These charity anthologies were supposed to be a fun side-project where a group of independent creators do some good in the world. Unfortunately, the books cannot continue in their current state.
So… are you continuing the books or not?
Yes, but there will be changes. We may be a bit choosier when it comes to accepted submissions, and depending on costs, we may sit closer to 150 pages rather than 200+. Peter and I are discussing crowd-funding options, although Kickstarter does not allow Canadian listings for non-profit purposes. Our goal was, and always will be, to raise funds for children’s charities and I will not deviate from this just so we can launch a Kickstarter campaign. I refuse to profit off these anthologies.
In addition to changes in production, we also need to rethink our distribution methods. For Fearsome Fables II, we stopped providing a free contributor copy – an act that took over $850 out of the donation pile – and instead offered copies at cost (in addition to a free digital copy). Unfortunately, this approximately halved the sales generated from our contributor circle. In addition, with more contributor support from greater distances – a wonderful thing, don’t get me wrong! – shipping boxes cost us close to $500.
The short version is that we need to strike a balance between thanking our contributors for their generosity, and also minimizing operating costs in order to maximize our donations. If Peter and I are able to secure funding for printing, maybe I can swallow the shipping costs. We’ll figure this out.
The other thing is that we would like to bring another editor into the fray. Last year, we had two people who had committed – people we’d known in one way or another for years – who disappeared after our deadline with digital copies of the book. Contributing wordsmiths, don’t be surprised if you receive an invitation for this, but please don’t feel obligated if you’re unable to meet the time commitments.
New policies re: contributors and shipping, release location, and a new editor? What doesn’t change?
Our goal, helping those who need it most. Our commitment to quality, releasing the best possible book that rivals professional releases. Our platform, giving independent creators the spotlight. Our focus, spinning spooky yarns, or tales of fantasy.
The bottom line is that other than a desire to raise more for charity, and produce an even better charity collection, Fearsome Fables – or whatever future titles may be called – will still be the similar to the anthologies you know and (hopefully) love.
This is something really neat: The pencils for Infantasy have only ever been posted twice before (two pages during the production phase).
As you can see, they are dramatically different from the final versions.
For those unfamiliar with the concept, it’s the story of a girl – from birth and onward – who faces life’s obstacles with the help of her teddy bear. It’s written as a Hero’s Journey and hits a few of the expected points, but I really wanted to capture the feel that we’re seeing the world through the youngster’s eyes, hence the first-person viewpoint. We feel her confusion and solitude, and we grow along with her.
To help illustrate the passage of time, I asked for the pages to start heavily blurred (I created a scale with help from my wife, her doctor pals and some textbooks). Each time period, the pages become clearer and clearer until she’s a toddler and can view the world with precision. It is here that she realizes… well, it’s best you read the comic to find out!
Back on topic, you now understand that drawing these pages – especially the first few – wasn’t as simple as a pencil-and-ink job. Artist Ariel Marsh had to spend a fair amount of time in Photoshop perfecting the blur, yet highlighting and shaping objects to draw the little girl’s (and therefore reader’s) eyes.
I just remembered something rather charming about this when we sent it for a third print run. Yadda yadda yadda, it seems that production couldn’t understand what the heck we were going on about re: blurred pages. Long story short, I was asked if they could print a few copies on their own. The one person in production was going on mat. leave and wanted one for their enjoyment. They also wanted to use some for their promotional work, because the gradual page clarity was a nice showcase for their printers. Cool, eh?
Oh, and this was the first project with which Ariel was my collaborator. We were already chatting daily by this point, and she’d contributed a poster and cover to our first charity book, What the Wild Things Read, but this is where we realized how well we work together. It’s a partnership that is strong to this day, and has resulted in many great comics. In my opinion, at least!