Sunday, June 10, 2007

PS to Sunday post:

This from Neil Gaiman's blog, concerning Scott & Ivy and the McCloud family's ongoing cross-country van tour:

"...the McClouds' car was recently broken into on their tour. Fortunately, not much was lost; unfortunately, what was lost included Sky's extensive software and DVD book, to the tune of thousands of dollars. Sky is looking for donations of any extra copies of the items lost -- can you pass the word if you know anyone? The list is at and mail goes to:
Sky McCloud
P.O. Box 115
Newbury Park CA, 91319"

Neil adds:
[Edit to add Tom Galloway's note to me: Could I request that you post a blog followup to the bit about Sky McCloud's DVDs? Namely that people 1) read the comments to the previously linked to post by Sky to see which DVDs might have been already taken care of 2) if they do decide to get one, to post that they're doing so and which one(s) as a comment to the post. 3) And just as a side note, I checked with Scott and they get the widescreen versions of movie DVDs when possible. Basically, don't see any reason to have massive DVD duplication. I've already arranged with the McClouds to provide the Arrested Development and Buffy discs for example, and don't want folk getting those unnecessarily.]

OK, that's that -- best to Scott and Ivy and family, and good luck with the rest of the tour!

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Blogger Jed said...

THis is as good a place to post this as any:

So I read the first 4 issues of Tyrant, and thought, "that was good. Now what?"

Yes, that's pretty annoying isn't it. But, you know, I liked it. It's amazing work. I have no idea why it took me till now to buy it and read it, aside from the fact that I was reminded of your existence recently by your presence on Mark Martin's blog.

I've been following your work since Swamp Thing and Taboo--my first introduction to your work was that Swamp Thing Annual where he goes to heaven and hell--I saw it on a grocery store turnstyle rack when I was a kid and found it totally mesmerizing and had to immediately beg my mom for a dollar and promise to pay her back so I could have it and read it over and over again. And Taboo introduced me to Rick Grimes, a big influence on my work, and Taboo in general was such a great book. Another stand out was that Moebius cat story on yellow paper. That was gorgeous.

Of course Tyrant has got to be your most accomplished book, as I'm sure you're aware. I definitely get the impression that you're a "man with a mission" so to speak, while I read this thing. And those numbers seem pretty impressive for the 90s for a black and white, 25,000 and 20,000 copies for the first and second issues.

Obviously something happened, I'm sure you've gone into it at length somewhere else and are pretty weary of the question. I'm sure that something can be summed up as "the comics industry", and I'll leave it at that. But still, reading how dedicated you seemed to the book, it must have been heartbreaking to find it wasn't a financially viable enterprise.

I still think it could live on as a squarebound graphic novel type thing, though maintaining motivation to do something this ambitious with a deferred financial reward is pretty daunting. But 20 to 40 pages more of material (oh sure, easier said than done) and you might at least have a volume one. A publisher like Top Shelf could promote the hell out of it, and get it into bookstores and libraries. I think it's one of those rare books that could easily have a life outside of your traditional comic book audience, thus circumventing the direct sales comic book fanboy base.

Since the material already exists, adding another chunk to it and recycling it in a different format to a different audience couldn't hurt. If it sells in real numbers maybe it will justify a volume 2. If it just does modestly ok, little has been lost, and you end up with a nice volume oneish sort of thing that you can be proud of. But I see this as appealing to a similar crowd as the Cartoon History of the Universe. Gonick has done pretty well with those books.

Anyway, I don't mean to prod, I'm sure you've heard enough of this kind of thing. Motivating myself to make any progress at all on my own comicbook in the face of the demands of more pressing, paying freelance is pretty daunting, so you know, gotta pay the bills.

I'm always amazed by people who can do these huge self-motivated works--remember First Kingdom? Does anybody else? Which is always the risk of doing something like that-- that nobody is going to care about it quite as much as you do. But I think a lot of people dug Tyrant.

This "retirement from the field" thing is bogus. It just seems like too good a book to stop now. But I'll stop riding your ass...

Blogger Mark Martin said...

Yeah, man, don't bogart that ass!

Blogger SRBissette said...

Hey, Jed -- Funny, I came across your comment (via my email; every Myrant post is noted on my email so I stay abreast of things) while writing to Mark and Mike about similar issues. Sigh.

I've covered it most comprehensively here:

Dave Sim's response is buried here (scroll down a ways, it's there):

Beyond that, there's also some followup on

Go to: Creators Rights Forum Index -> Creator's Rights Discussions on the discussion board --

And then: the thread entitled: "Post subject: Steve Bissette's letter: Dave Sim and 1963..." -- my letter, and Dave's reply, are there complete, followed by some conversation about the very points you raise, Jed.

And I'm happy to chat with you about this further, Jed, if you wish, via email or this comment thread.

Fact is, before beginning work full time at CCS (back in 2005), I DID approach Chris Staros at Top Shelf with TYRANT -- his response: if I'd had a SECOND full volume of NEW WORK ready to go, Top Shelf would be interested. If not, no go. Since my whole overture concerning a TYRANT collection of existing material being published was to fire off a 'signal flare' to see if it's financially viable to continue working on the project, having Chris expecting me to have one-to-three years of NEW work in hand first pretty well defeated that proposition. If I had that, I'd still be self-publishing. As it is, I just can't afford the time -- and yes, I sure remember FIRST KINGDOM!

I'll get into all this at another time, another venue. I'm drawing some new stuff for publication these days, and enjoying it, and being selective about doing it pretty much exclusively for venues supporting younger cartoonists (e.g., Accent UK, Trees & Hills, CCS). That's worthwhile to me just now; there's no money in any of it, so fuck it, I do it for love only, and to support the new generation's efforts.

Any fantasies you may harbor that existing publishers want my work can be easily remedied by the hard reality of the situation. I've posted here about some of these fruitless, time-wasting tangos, from Byron Preiss and the SWAMP THING novels to TYRANT. As I've noted on this very blog in the past, the only offers I've fielded in the past seven years in comics were from publishers fishing for free Bissette work. That, I can do myself, thank you; I've published, co-published, and self-published. If there's no money in it, I'm quite capable of doing everything myself, thanks, and choose not to, especially in the current market. That said, I'm hoping, via my agent, to land some fish, but luck and time will tell -- I've no illusions, though hope springs eternal.

For now, though, CCS and my family are all that matter -- and the most rewarding places to put my energy. Sorry that lets hungry TYRANT fans down, but such is life. Someday, a rich publisher TYRANT fan may make it possible for me to continue, if I'm not too old to hold a pen and a brush. If I'm too old, well, c'est la vie.

Blogger SRBissette said...

PS: Jed, you wrote: "This retirement from the field thing is bogus..."

Funny, one of my best friends essentially said the same thing in 1999. He chose not to report it as news then, refusing to believe it was true.

It's 2007. I'm still retired from the American comics industry. I've enjoyed working full time in two professions since that retirement -- video retailing, and now teaching. Who's in denial about this? Not I. There's nothing bogus about it, Jed -- I haven't lifted a pen or brush or typed a single word for any US comics publisher in almost eight years, not once.

As I said in '99, I was never leaving the MEDIUM -- I still draw, for myself and occasionally for publication. Once an artist and writer, always an artist and writer -- I am what I am, not what I DO, much less defined or diminished by what the American comics industry deigns to publish. I never left my path with the comics medium.

But the industry -- DC, Marvel, Image, Dark Horse, Fantagraphics, etc. -- can still go fuck itself, and does quite regularly and occasionally quite publicly, thank you very much, without my ass needed for any extra reaming.

Blogger Jed said...

Mark: casual use of the expression "riding your ass" to me has always been interchangable with, giving someone a "hard time". This comes straight from the old man--my dad was a sailor from the 2nd World War. Besides, you know what they say about sailors. Well, there are a LOT of things they say about sailors...


So Mr Bisette, what about your own backyard? The CCS just published that really gorgeous Jason Lutes, Nick Bertozzi Houdini book. I mean, being a teacher at the place should give you some sway in that department, shouldn't it?

Issue's 1-4, new cover, volume one, no fuss no muss. Get somebody fancy to do the introduction--Neil Gaiman! Everybody loves that Gaiman guy and he wrote you a friggin fan letter. Or Alan Moore for christsakes. I think it would behoove the school to support it's faculty in this regard.

Good point, about distinguishing the industry from the medium. I'm always trying to point that out to people. Especially at the moment, comics being for the most part not the most commercial enterprise these days. One argument I use is: when you talk about poetry, you don't instantly have to talk about the poetry industry, do you? What IS a poetry industry? Industry doesn't define the medium, especially one that has so little impact on the market place. Unfortunately this has been the history with comics--industry HAS driven the content of the medium. It's only recently that people have been doing comics without any real commercial outlet.

Anyway, If Houdini does well, maybe it'll justify othe ventures for the CCS. Ehemm, Rick Grimes, ehemm...and of course, Tyrant.

I'll check out those links when I have more time.

Blogger SRBissette said...

Jed, I know the 'riding your ass' expression well; indeed, growing up in a military family (and the only of three kids who DIDN'T sign up), I know it VERY well. This ass done been rode, bwah!

Jed, you "don't shit where you eat" is another expression I grew up with, and it applies here.

You're about the fifth cartoonist this year to assume (PREsume) that CCS is a free ride to publishing TYRANT, or anything else I might wish to do. Wrong. CCS and James Sturm have their own publishing plans, and I ain't part of 'em, nor have I pressed to be. James and I discussed one possible project for a number of months; it came to naught; in many ways, our experiences and aesthetics are light years apart. We've not found a 'fit' for creative collaboration as yet -- but I sure am a good teacher, and James, Michelle and everyone at CCS treats me with more respect than I ever got in the comics industry. But that doesn't add up to instant publisher access, Jed, a simplistic assumption that ignore many realities. Look, HOUDINI, SATCHEL PAGE, etc. are a specific line of books packaged for Hyperion that are quite antithetical to what I'm known for and/or do. I'm not a 'fit' there, though James did entertain it briefly early on; I wasn't really interested. Bios of historical figures never interested me creatively (though TYRANT is, oddly enough, in a similar genre).

As I say, James and I are light years apart in many ways. I'm of a generation BEFORE James, with a very different generational and personal experience. James is of the first graphic novel generation of cartoonists; I worked the plantation fields of work-for-hire and have none of the connections or chops he has in the current market. These differences makes for lively conversation and (more importantly) effective teaching in the CCS experience, and I definitely give 150% to CCS, but at present that's my day job -- how much do you presume about YOUR day job?

So, ya see, it comes down to "I don't shit where I eat."

Others have contacted me thinking I can get THEM publisher connections through CCS, which is an even wilder fantasy scenario, but pretty much the same fantasy turf you're proposing I exploit. You can rationalize all the fantasies you wish, Jed, but it don't make 'em real. I wish it were otherwise, believe you me.

In the monthly grind of comics creation in the '80s, my rep suffered for my inability to make deadlines in that system. The new system -- graphic novels -- where creators take a year to five years to draft, refine, hone and perfect/complete a single work, is closer to how I always wished to work, but my old rep spills into the new arenas regularly. You may respect me, Jed, others do not. I am considered a toxin in many circles. The very people who have said, to me, "Oh, you're too good a storyteller to leave comics!" are at times the very people who have made it impossible for me to work in comics. The retirement in '99 was an utterly pragmatic, realistic decision and solution to a long-standing problem. The battles I fought in terms of creator rights made me a pariah in high circles, and that, too, impacts on my ability to sell anything in publishing circles. Those battles, combined with my poor deadline record in monthly comics, made and make a toxic combination for many publishers. I understand that. I live with that. It's not paranoia, it's the reality.

Again, I wish it were otherwise, but there it is. I'm not complaining, but that's a hard reality you and the younger cartoonists don't see or comprehend; whatever I am to YOU, I sure am NOT to publishers. In shot, I'm trouble, or potential trouble.

Well, I made my bed, I'll lay in it -- another phrase I grew up with, and live.

Finally, I have pragmatically pursued my best options regarding TYRANT. I have a fall back plan if this doesn't work out. I do have an agent; Neil Gaiman, Joe Kubert and Dr. Michael Ryan HAVE agreed to writing intros/forewords/afterwords for a proposed TYRANT collection; that's all I'll say here, 'nuff said.

Maybe it'll all work out, maybe not. In any case, thanks for caring, Jed!

Blogger SRBissette said...

PS: The Grimes collection is another fantasy that's nice to entertain, but my days of packaging or promising anything to creators other than myself ended with the TABOO/Tundra days. Aside from occasionally working with CCS students on projects (one of which recently reaffirmed my aversion to this process), I won't be packaging other creator's work, period, unless it's for a collaborative N-Man/Fury/Hypernaut project or some such. And a Grimes/CCS fit is even more delusional than your other propositions, Jed.

For the record: We HAD a Grimes collection in the works in TABOO's final year, that lay fallow and eventually dissolved waiting for a one-page intro -- an INTRO! -- from one of those comics rock stars you and others look to as sales perks for books by unpopular or unknown creators (like Rick G). I even visited said comics God's house during the fiasco, and SAW the intro in the works -- but it never, ever came, despite repeated requests/coaxings. By the time TABOO/Tundra's troubled coalition came to an end, the proposed Grimes book was already dead. This was a crashing disappointment to Rick, as you might well imagine, and my last attempt to do something career-wise for him, as it only brought him woe after months of high expectations. I won't be doing that again, to anyone.

Blogger SRBissette said...

PPS: Now, read the bloody text at the connections I provided, Jed, before we continue, please!

Blogger HemlockMan said...

The older I get, the more I settle into a "less is more" sensibility when it comes to writing.

The exchanges you mention between yourself and Veitch and Sim seem, inevitably, to be a complete waste of time. Mainly your time, but also that of all involved.

I think the best thing to do with that kind of situation is to ignore the folk who would otherwise chafe you into the kind of responses in which you engaged. I once had occasion to work with a bloke who was, I have found, much like Herr Sim. I chose to ignore the guy, completely, stop working with him, and have been much the happier because of it.

Blogger Jed said...

Hey, I'm sorry I had such simplistic assumptions. I was working up some complicated assumptions, but I got lazy.

But yeah, I mean, I suppose the assumption that being on the faculty gives you a publishing greenlight on anything that strikes your fancy is, yes, a pretty simplistic assumption. Guilty already!

Ok, and I promise that I'll promise to read all those links and stuff. Thats a lot of stuff to read though. I was kind of waiting for the movie.

But anyway, I feel your pain, bubula. That's why I was wary about bringing up the subject-- I was possitive it had probably been driven into the ground elsewhere, but I guess I just couldn't help myself. Hey, at least people like me are still out there discovering and reading it and It's got a life of its own independant of all this mess. Eh?

As for military families--it was pretty much just my dad. He was also in what would later become the Israeli secret service, the Haganah, and helped bring in all the refugees and stuff. He's pretty much a peacenick though. He was an ship's engineer, and never actually had to shoot anybody. My grandparents were socialists, my grandfather a concientious objector in the First World War, so, you know, it wasn't exactly Semper Fi at my house. It was more like, Encounter Groups and Primal Screams. I'm not sure what's better exactly.

Blogger SRBissette said...

Bob, I respond to some of this stuff in part because I can't let the more outrageous statements stand in public arenas. A lot of it I ignore. My now-adult kids come across this kind of stuff -- and it behooves me to occasionally weigh in, at least put some context to it all, for their sake, if no one else's.

Jed, that the creative work -- SWAMP THING, TYRANT, 1963, TABOO -- has its own life is the upside. That each wave of new readers ask the same old questions is an occasional downside. That this slow process of sporadic online exchanges does, at times, resolve old confusions/resentments/issues with old cronies is a fringe benefit I welcome. That these very exchanges remind me why I'm not in comics is a major fringe benefit.

Blogger SRBissette said...

PS, Bob: The old issues/wounds not in public view I certainly let lie. But this stuff pops up periodically in public venues for me, because the work remains so public, and won't go away. So, I don't, either -- better to deal with it.


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