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.

Women’s History Month 2015

This was written for ‘Women’s History Month 2015’. This year’s theme is to describe a moment in your life where a hurdle occurred, and explain how you overcame it. I decided to choose the topic of drawing as a manga-style comic book artist, and the gender-related labels that come along with it.

 

Working in a Male-Dominated Industry?

When I’m interviewed for my comic book work, a question that comes up often is ‘what’s it like to be a woman in a male-dominated industry?

Typically, these sorts of questions come from well-meaning people. They tend to be into ‘geek culture,’ but are not quite informed enough to understand that comics is a large pond–deeper on some continents than on others. If you take all the different comick-ing styles in the world and put them under the same umbrella, you’ll find a mishmash of aesthetics, philosophies and audiences that tend to have nothing to do with each other. To an outsider, it can be confusing, because typically they understand comics = superheroes in tights and capes. This perception cannot be further from the truth.

Luckily, there’s a way for me to explain this in a sentence or two. All I have to say is: ‘I draw manga-style comics. So it’s not a male-dominated industry at all.

The reaction is usually polite, mostly because while the interviewer is bound to have heard of manga, they don’t know anything about it except that it’s ‘comics from Japan.’ While that’s a technically sound description, it doesn’t describe the no man’s land of being a manga-style artist in the West, which is the thrust of this article.

Being a manga-style comic book artist comes with gendered labels and assumptions, both by people inside the industry and outside. And it’s a label that is tagged entirely by the style in which you draw, rather than by the content of your work.

 

Comics for Girls

When manga first became popular in America, it was mostly through the translation efforts of a company called TOKYOPOP. As the first publisher I ever worked with, their editorial department was clear on one thing: we market to girls, because they’re a neglected audience when it came to comics.

That was true at the time, and it was a clever business strategy. In fact, they succeeded almost too well at it. A few years and a global financial crisis later, TOKYOPOP’s publishing department is dead, but the impression they left on the American comic book market remains. Unfortunately, that impression on non-manga readers is that manga = girl’s comics, which is a misconception at best, and downright misleading at worst.

As an artist who draws in a manga-influenced style, this was a huge hurdle to overcome. Despite being a non-Japanese artist whose debut work was ‘The Dreaming,’ a Picnic at Hanging Rock-inspired horror story, I found it impossible to escape the girl’s comics box that people put me into the moment they laid eyes on my work. What the story was about seemed to be irrelevant. Some people’s eyes glaze over immediately when they see the style I draw in, even though they were initially interested in the story when I first described it to them.

How do you fight against something like this?

I wish we live in an age where we can have true gender-equal entertainment options. I wish we live in a culture that valued female-oriented entertainment as much as male-oriented entertainment. But we don’t. Unfortunately, there’s something about the girl comics tag that can give a male reader pause, and not just that, give parents (both fathers and mothers) pause when considering whether to buy something for their son (but not so for their daughter).

Anyway, the causes of this are too many to cover. However, I can talk about how I managed to break out of the girl’s comics tag, something that was done entirely by accident.

 

Mixing Prose and Comics

Sometime in 2010, I began experimenting with something new: mixing prose and comics together. This was partly-inspired by ‘Small Shen,’ a book by Kylie Chan that I adapted into what I now call ‘comics-prose.’ The book was enthusiastically received by the publisher and readers, which thrilled me. I felt comics-prose had a lot of depth and potential, and I started to work exclusively in the format.

When I started showing my work around to others, one of the first reactions I got was this:

‘I can read this, because it’s not manga.’

I looked my friend in the face, to see if he was joking, but he wasn’t. He was in his late-30s and a reader of comics, but he never read manga, claiming that the art style didn’t appeal to him. This was perfectly acceptable, until I found out the real reason why he didn’t read manga – whether knowingly or not, he seems to think that reading girl comics will give him girl germs. My comics-prose story was drawn in exactly the same style as my traditional manga-style comics, so if he was willing to read my new work (but not my more traditional work), then it couldn’t be the art style that was turning him off. It had to be the girl comics tag, even though he denied it.

Again, how do you fight against something like this?

In the end, I didn’t fight against it. I came up against the hurdle, and I responded by morphing into something different, though I was still able to retain the essence of what I did. It ended up opening a path that led to somewhere completely different, which was unexpected but not unwelcome.

I was meant to tell a story about how I overcame a hurdle, but sometimes hurdles are not meant to be jumped. Sometimes, they can be tunnelled under, or you can find a way to walk around it. Truly, an example of how life can be strange, wonderful, and never the way you expected it to turn out.

Graphic Novel at The Wheeler Center

Wheeler Center
 

Drawing In, Drawing Out is three day event coming up at the Wheeler Centre which throws a spotlight on the graphic novel. The conference is in Melbourne, and will be held over Anzac Day weekend:

 

  • Friday 23 April – Key note Address with Shaun Tan
  • Saturday 24 April – Panel Discussions
  • Sunday 25 April – Day of Workshops

 

The graphic novel is a form that still attracts more than its share of stigma and snobbery, but its audiences are evangelical, its writers inspired and its sales enviable. And some of the most exciting developments in the form are coming out of Melbourne. With panel discussions, workshops and talks, and the help of some of the leading artists and writers in the field (including Bernard Caleo, Queenie Chan, W. Chew Chan, Oslo Davis, George Dunford, Nick Greenberg, Bruce Mutard, Sharn Tan, Andrew Weldon and others) the Wheeler Centre is going to colour in the picture.

We hope you can join us at the Wheeler Centre to celebrate and discover the graphic novel in all its forms.

You can check the website for the Event Schedule – you need to book for events. I personally will be attending a panel and hosting a workshop – details are as below:

Date: Saturday 24 April – Panel Discussions
Time: 3.00pm – 5.30pm
Title: Publish or Perish?
Featuring Queenie Chan, Oslo Davis and Nicki Greenberg. Chaired by George Dunford.

Date: Sunday 25 April – Day of Workshops
Time: 2.00pm – 4.00pm
Title: Drawing Manga – Workshop with Queenie Chan

 

Back After an Absence…

Hi, everyone. Yes, I haven’t posted for a long time, mostly out of sheer laziness, but now I think it’s time I give a bit of update on what I’m doing. But mostly, it’s to announce that I’ll be making a presentation at a library this Wednesday, the 25th February. Below are the details:

 

  • Where: Coburg Library – Cnr of Victoria St & Louisa St, Coburg Melbourne.
  • When: Wednesday, 25th February, 7:00pm.
  • What: Me, talking about my work. Yah! So if you have questions for me, or is just interested in a manga talk, come along!

 

Other Work: I’m currently working on the sequel to “In Odd We Trust”. I’m doing the art on this 160-page book, and it’s a Halloween story planned for a 2010 release. One of the working titles for the book was originally “Odd and the Pumpkins of Doom”, which I adore, but we stuck with the more sobering “Odd Is On Our Side” instead. Dang.

I’m also working on a quotations book, which has a series of short manga inserts. It’s a “Boy’s Book of Positive Quotations” (interesting), and I guess you’ll hear more about it as work comes along.

 

The Dreaming: Preview of Book 2!

To Marcella: I have an email from Marcella, asking me to reply, but unfortunately I can’t because you didn’t give a valid email address. Anyway, I hope you get outta your troubles soon.

“The Dreaming” vol2 is coming out on the 7th November in stores, though for some reason it’s already available at Amazon.com. It also seems to be already out in some bookstores. I thought I’d jump in on the fun, and release the first chapter of book2 for a preview, both on my website at at my new DeviantArt account. Now, there’s no reason why a single person should have a personal website, a livejournal, and a DevArt account – how many things can I manage anyway – but I was convinced otherwise by a Canadian cosplayer at Supanova last weekend. It seems that DevArt is a good place to dump all the doodles I do that I don’t post up on my site or LJ.

 

A Real Interesting Music Clip: My musician friend Yunyu has done something amazing – she’s got a music video of one of her songs out that is filmed in a way that is quite unusual. Basically, it’s “Live Stop-Motion” – something that combines real film (and real people) with stop-motion techniques. The song is “Lenore’s Song”, and the video was basically made using over 16,000 still photographs, all done by getting the actors and Yunyu to move very slightly while shots are taken of them. And the final effect is interesting and unsettling – as you can see on this YouTube Video.

Anyway, this video has been chosen as a finalist in the Sunscreen festival.