Celebrating a 20 year reunion

My old high school reunion happened the other day, with the class of ’97 from Meriden celebrating at a local cafe. As a gift to a bunch of 20-year old friendships, I decided to draw a reunion picture of everyone, using a style I haven’t tried before. It’s a soft watercolour look, which is a first for me – most of my other work has very strong colours. This went for deliberately soft and feminine.

This is a cute, super cartoony style which I thought my friends would like, which they did. I used some tools I haven’t before, namely a Uniball-eye pen from Mitsubishi (ultra-micro). This claims to be a waterproof and fade proof pen, and I used it probably because I was hoping to use watercolours for this picture.

I ended up doing digital water colour, using warm colours like yellow and pink. This was done in Clip Studio Paint with its watercolour function, only the second time I’ve done it (I normally use the airbrush function of Photoshop CS2). The results were nice, which was unexpected – I’ve not done any soft watercolour I’ve liked before, but I think I’m starting to get the hang of this colouring thing. I also worked from very loose sketches – as seen below.

Comic Con-versation 2017

Hi all! Sydney Library Comics Festival “Comic Con-versation” will be from the 10th-15th July this year, and I will be doing a number of events with libraries across Sydney (and selling my books as well)! This year, 20 libraries will be involved, and here is a list of all the activities I’ll be doing next week:

  • Whitlam Library (Cabramatta): Tue 11th July @ 1-4pm – Comics Lab! Me drawing comics in public!
  • Liverpool Library: Tue 11th July @ 6 – 7:30pm – The Continental Divide Panel: Visual Storytelling from Around the World – Learn the differences between European, Asian (Manga) and US comics!
  • Burwood Library: Thu 13th July @ 10-1pm – Comics Lab! Me drawing comics in public!
  • Chatswood Library: Fri 14th July @ 12-4pm – Artists Alley & Comics Lab! Me drawing comics in public! Also, there’s an exhibition at Chatswood that features some of my work!
  • Ashfield Library: Sat 15th July @ 12-5pm – Artists Alley! Come along!
  • Ashfield Library: Sat 15th July @ 12:30-1:30pm Comics and Creativity – What is creativity is? Why comics? A panel discussion moderated by moi!

Listing Graphic Novels with Library Suppliers

This year I’ve also produced a “book list” for Australian libraries who want to buy Australian graphic novels for their collections. These graphic novels are listed with Australian library suppliers James Bennett and Australian Library Service (ALS), and I have provided instructions for how to do it below:

The 2017 booklist is below. Download it in pdf format here.

 

Why List with Library Suppliers?

Libraries often want to order the books of local creators, especially if they’re doing a workshop or talk with the library. A library can buy directly from a creator, but books are not allowed on the library shelves unless they’ve been catalogued, and libraries don’t do their own cataloguing – library suppliers do. If a library buys a book from a creator, they will have to send it out especially for cataloguing, which will cost extra time and money. For that reason, libraries nearly always prefer to order from library suppliers.

Requirements for Listing with Library Suppliers

You can list as many books as you have available and are able to provide as your own distributor. That said, if you already have a distributor for your book, you won’t need to list with library suppliers. Your books:

  • Must have a valid ISBN. ISSNs won’t cut it – those are for periodicals, not books
  • Must be a properly-bound book (ie. perfect bound, no spiral spine binding)
  • There is a preference for standard trade sizes

Listing with James Bennett

http://www.bennett.com.au/publisher-services/faqs-for-small-and-independent-publishers/
James Bennett is one of the largest library suppliers on the east coast of Australia, and the link above tells you how small press should list their books with them. Read up on it, download the form, fill it in and send it to the email address. Please make sure to mention that it’s an Australian graphic novel. (Note: If the book is more than 1 year old, then make sure to let them know that it doesn’t need to be in their “New Titles” database, just in their regular one.)

Listing with ALS

https://www.alslib.com.au/authors/
Here’s the link to the ALS website that allows authors to list their books. Please make sure to mention that it’s a graphic novel by using that email address to let them know that you’ve listed a book that is an Australian graphic novel.

How to Price Your Books

Ideally, your books will be not much more than $30 for children’s fiction, and not much more than $60 for adult fiction. You will be required to provide to all library suppliers at 45% discount off the retail price, PLUS free shipping. Regardless of what your book’s normal retail price is, it’s recommended you list it at a point where you can at least break even.

  • Example: Fabled Kingdom” v1 is normally $20 when I sell it, but it’s listed at $30 with library suppliers. When they place an order with me, I bill them at a 45% discount + free shipping, meaning that I charge $16.50 for book (with free shipping). “Fabled Kingdom” v1 costs $7 to print and $8 to ship, so I make $1.50 off that sale).

If you don’t list your book at 45% discount with free shipping, the extra cost will be pushed onto the libraries, and they will be less inclined to order your books. Please remember that libraries have limited funding.

Sales Cannot be Guaranteed

Unfortunately, listing your books do not guarantee any library sales. What it does do is make it easy and cheap for a library to order directly from library suppliers (assuming they use said library suppliers). Books come to the library catalogued and shelf-ready, which makes it immediately ready to be shelved and read.

To get library sales, you still have to market to libraries yourself. If libraries don’t know about your books, they can’t order it in. One of the best ways to get libraries to order your book in is to do workshops or talks for them – comic workshops are extremely popular with kids during the school holidays.

Colouring Tests: Fabled Kingdom Chapter 1

I’ve been doing some colouring tests, with the goal of moving towards doing colour comics. Despite having drawn comics for almost 20 years now, I feel that my biggest weakness has always been my aversion to colour. After drawing manga-style black-and-white (or greyscale like The Dreaming) for so long, I think I’ve done all there is to do on that style of art, and it’s time to move onto something else.

For this reason, I’ve been looking to build a colour palette I’m comfortable, and learning to use it. I started colouring Fabled Kingdom art from Chapter 1 as practise, and so far, it looks surprisingly good. Each took 2-3 hours at the most to do – I deliberately limited myself to the amount of time allowed since colouring is about speed as well as quality.







In the end, I’m actually looking for a more simple colouring style, so my colour comics will probably not look like this. I’ll probably aim to change my drawing style to something more cartoony and western to suit a two-tone colour palette, unlike this one which has 3-4 tones for each colour.

Bizarre Note: I’ve shown my colouring to a number of people, and while most agree that the colours look beautiful, some openly preferred the greyscale version. Interesting to see why they do that, but hey, everyone has their preferences. At the end of the day, what matters is the story and characters.

Fabled Kingdom v2 Shortlisted for the Ledger Awards!

Exciting news! “Fabled Kingdom” v2 got shortlisted for the Ledger Awards, which is the Australian comics industry award for excellence. It was a handful of books chosen out of about 200 entries, so this is a good thing for the “Fabled Kingdom” series of course (all three books). It’s also helpful at conventions (and elsewhere) for advertising reasons, so I decided to make some printable placards to and book bands for this.

Here’s what they look like:

Other News: As for what else I’ve been doing, I’ve just finished a short colour kids mini-comic called “Counting Sheep” and printed it. Let me just say that at 14-pages long, I’ve still yet to nail down this colouring thing, since I’ve noticed that the colours were different on my monitor and on my printer. Best to do more research on this. Also, my short 20-page horror story “Mother and Son” seems to need a bit of a workover because of mild pacing issues at a particular point in the story, so I’m looking at that soon to see if that can be smoothed over.

VR Painting: Using the HTC Vive

Just wanted to show off a doodle I did in Google Tiltbrush, a virtual reality painting program. This was done at Mod Productions at Suite 25, Level 2, 647 George Street Haymarket Sydney NSW 2000. You can book them to do virtual reality sessions (hourly).

Painting in 3D is really a different thing completely to painting in 2D. I’m not sure there is much application for comics in this space, but I’m interested in 3D modelling in VR, especially because 3D modelling on a computer screen is a nightmare. I’ll be going back to Mod Productions to play around with the VR headsets more in the future!