Every Time I Think I’m Out, They Pull Me Back In.

So the other day I get an email from Bryan Talbot asking me if Panel to Panel is still in the business of producing bookplates?  You see a couple of years ago, Panel to Panel had teamed up with Bryan to produce signed, limited bookplates for Alice in Sunderland and Grandville.  Since that time, Panel to Panel had moved away from retailing (and producing bookplates), and moved towards publishing (as is documented in this very blog).  But as I told Bryan in my replay email, “There’s an old saying here, that I’m not sure if you’re familiar with?  It goes like this…  ‘When and if Bryan Talbot contacts you about doing a bookplate, always say YES!’ :)”

To which he replied, “Yes, I’ve heard it, I think it dates back to the Civil War.”

You see, in my opinion and the opinion of most other people, Bryan Talbot is quite possibly one of THE most talented and important figures in modern comics history.  From his classic epic The Adventures of Luther Arkwright, to The Tale of One Bad Rat, to his work on Neil Gaiman’s Sandman and Tom Veitch’s The Nazz, to his very own Alice In Sunderland and Grandville, Bryan Talbot has produced an amazing body of work.

It was at this moment that I realized that whether Panel to Panel had stopped producing bookplates on a regular basis or not, the chance to team up with Bryan Talbot again had inspired me to go back to P2P’s roots, and say yes to his offer.

So to make this official, I’m proud to announce that for the February 2012 release of Dotter of Her Father’s Eyes by Mary M. Talbot & Bryan Talbot (from Dark Horse Comics), Panel to Panel will be offering the US Exclusive signed bookplate edition, limited to 50 copies.

A link to purchase the book and bookplate will be made available soon, as well as a link to purchase Bryan’s previous P2P bookplate editions.  You can preview the upcoming book HERE, and view Bryan’s website HERE.

So now that Panel to Panel is back in the bookplate business, what about the Panel to Panel book?  Where the hell is that damned book!?!?  Right?  Well it’s been one fiasco after another, and it’s been a real crazy learning experience for me, but I can say with complete and utter confidence that the book in question will finally begin shipping next week!  The first batch of printed copies are expected to be delivered on Monday 12/12/2011, and orders will begin being filled shortly after.  I apologize for the delay, and I thank you all for your patience.

 

And On The Seventh Day God Enjoyed A Comic Book…

The year was 1995…  I was working at Comics Route in Manchester, Vermont when I first met Chris Kulig.  Little did I know at the time, that this interesting man who road into town on a bicycle, asking to be photographed next to my display for Teri Wood’s self-published Wandering Star, would remain a constant in my life for the next 16 years.  Chris made his purchase that day, and inquired about mail order options before continuing his travels across the green mountains of Vermont.  You see Chris was enjoying his first summer off from the Seminary, and his travels had landed him in my comics shop, and every month since that day in ’95, I’ve been selling Chris his comics.  Although he’s not just Chris anymore, now he’s Fr. Christopher Kulig, O.Carm. of the St. Joseph/Immaculate Conception Rectory.  That’s right folks, a comic book reading Roman Catholic Priest!  And not only does he read comics, but at my request, he wrote a little something about them too.  Here’s an excerpt…

Cerebus © Dave Sim

Meet Joe Priest

It was 15 years ago or so that I found myself in a comic book store in north Jersey, browsing through the various titles.  I came upon a most intriguing graphic novella: Meet Joe Priest.  If I recall correctly, it had both a priest in roman collar and a Hell’s Angel character on the cover, replete with motorcycle, of course.  Hmmm, I thought, I did have a few extra dollars in my allowance, so what the hell–I bought it.  The story was fairly kitschy: in a future time of dictatorship, when human birth had been usurped by genetic engineering done in the laboratory, a renegade priest runs rampant with his motorcycle bodyguard, “confessing” every nubile young lady in town (“confessing” being code word for impregnating, if you hadn’t inferred) as a way of subverting the evil regime of his time.  Oh, brother, was it worth the five bucks?

I had to laugh, though, since this was nothing like priesthood or sacramental confession.  How might I know?  Well, I have a confession to make: I am a Roman Catholic priest, going on ten years, now. It was in the seminary that I picked up the aforementioned title (really, how many grown men have an “allowance,” save “priests-in-training for poverty, chastity and obedience—or very henpecked husbands!).  But my interest in the art form of comics went back just a little bit earlier, to the late 80s.  My college roommate at West Virginia was somewhat of an avid collector, back in the day when the Batman: The Dark Knight Returns series was a hot seller.  However, my potential interest in comic books was quickly squelched when my roomie wouldn’t let me read that four-part series, lest I ruin its re-sale value (NB: Another dorm-rat college buddy wouldn’t even let me read the ensuing compilation book, since its bluebook value was increasing, too!).

Suffice to say, my interest was put off for a few years.  If these books had become like ancient manuscripts, “sacred texts,” forbidden from my purview, then why bother?

Then I took a road-trip with Tony, the sole representative of the WVU fencing club, for the NCAA fencing tournament in Orlando in 1989.  For the journey, Tony had brought his Cerebus Phone Books, both High Society and Church and State I & II.  I can still recall, with great glee, the hilarity I found in the opening pages of High Society, where this new hero for our ages—Cerebus the Aardvark—was itching to pick a fight with anyone, and was foiled at every turn.  I was enthralled.

I would soon begin collecting Cerebus and eventually go on a quest to find first printings of each issue.  It probably did not help my relationship with my last girlfriend at the time (“You just had to make me drive you to every comic store in the area in search of ‘another Cerebus comic book’!” echoes her perturbed voice in old section of my romantic memory); but I grew to appreciate the different stores I visited in my travels.  Why call ahead and ask, “Do you have any old Cerebus?” when you can go into the store and see what treasures were waiting to be found?  Like Meet Joe Priest?  Well, some stores had more hidden treasures than others (but, as kitschy as it was, I did like Joe Priest).

[Meet Joe Priest can be read in its entirety in Panel to Panel: Exploring Words & Pictures, which can be purchased at this website.]

By Jingo!

Pages 31 thru 61 of Panel to Panel: Exploring Words & Pictures are among my favorite.  These are the pages which contain selections from cartoonist Rob Walton’s amazing tome, By Jingo! A Personal Reflection on the Writings of Jack Kirby.  These thirty pages, in my opinion, are also among the most important within Panel to Panel, and truly capture what this project is all about.  There is so much love for the comics medium in these pages, and admiration one of its greatest architects. But these are not the gushings of a fanboy; Walton’s scholarly look at the works created by Jack Kirby during 1972-1975 is unlike any other piece written about the subject.  It looks beyond the dynamic art for which Jack is known, and delves deeply into the worlds he had created, worlds which reflect our own. Walton’s deeply personal writings reveal much about the morals and ethics of a man best known for single handedly creating a method and style of comics which has inspired generations of creators.  This is serious stuff, folks.  Serious stuff written by one of the only cartoonists whose work can make me laugh out loud. (Read Rob’s book Ragmop to see what I’m talking about)  But that’s not to say that By Jingo! doesn’t insight an emotional response in me.  It actually creates one of my favorite feelings…  nostalgia.

From Chapter Four

The Lost Boy on Earth:
Kamandi

From Part II
Earth A.D. (After Despair)
Kamandi #1

After the excitement of discovering The Demon #1, discovering Kamandi #1 was like some divine gift from the comic-book gods. Sure, the cover was an obvious rip-off of Planet of the Apes, but this was “A sensational DC Jack Kirby Blockbuster” and would no doubt prove to be as different from the Apes films as The Demon #1 was from every other horror comic out there. As it turns out I would be right, but my full appreciation for those differences would only come after many years of rereading, maturing, and walking a path very similar to that walked by the Last Boy On Earth.
Page one sets the scene and, as always, Kirby conveys information concisely and expediently. Although Kamandi is paddling an inflatable raft reminiscent of the one Charlton Heston captained in the first Apes flick, he is not on some unknown inland sea. He is paddling through an archipelago of architecture. The ruins of Manhattan’s skyscrapers jut out of the sea like deadheads in the shallows of a fresh water lake. Kirby makes no effort to disguise the fact that this is earth. It’s integral to his narrative that we know where we are and that we know immediately. The shock Kirby is hoping to deliver is not one of human destruction, but of natural disaster. Something has happened, something inevitable, unavoidable and irreversible: an extinction event comparable to the fabled asteroid that hastened the end of the dinosaurs.
After untold decades, and at least three generations of humans living and dying underground, the last surviving human, an old man, has sent the youngest surviving boy, his grandson, Kamandi, on a mission of reclamation. Kamandi is not ready for what he finds.

“Can this be the world that grandfather sent me to reclaim? — Is this his dream of a joyous homecoming?”

The one thing readers were definitely not accustomed to in 1972 was having the rug pulled out from under the hero’s feet before he’d even gotten past page one of his debut issue, but that’s exactly what Kirby does. There is already a pervading sense of melancholy in that very first page as Kamandi navigates his raft through the ruins of New York. You can sense the eerie silence save for the lapping of the waves against the buildings. This is not the world Kamandi was either hoping or expecting to find. It is far worse.
Kirby tells us that Kamandi is named after the people who inhabited “Command ‘D’,” part of an underground complex of bunkers where presumably humankind’s survivors would toil until the earth would be deemed inhabitable again. In 1972 underground bunkers were still a large part of the intrinsic Cold War consciousness. The threat of nuclear annihilation was not as prevalent as it had been during the proliferation of the Hydrogen bomb in the 1950s, or the Cuban missile crisis in 1962, but films like Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove (1964) and Sidney Lumet’s Fail Safe of the same year still had people digging more than rose beds in their gardens. It is from out the depths of that universal culture of fear that Kamandi has emerged. A natural holocaust has happened and its aftermath has outlasted the expectations of the finest scientific brains of Command ‘D’. The opening caption on page one tells us that Kamandi and his grandfather are the only two humans left alive in the complex. The bunker no longer affords them the safety and security of its original design. The time has come for Kamandi to venture forth to reclaim mankind’s heritage.
The somber double-page spread on pages two and three reveals the full extent of mankind’s disenfranchisement. Civilization, as represented by the drowned city of New York, is gone, and with it, the hopes and dreams of a huddled humanity. Kamandi registers both shock and dismay at the world he has encountered. The earth his grandfather thought would be waiting for them has moved on at an oblique historical angle. The films of the Old World that Kamandi viewed as he grew up in the bunker turn out to be but shadows whose magic has been dispelled by the harsh light of this new reality. The light from the Old World of human civilization was but the last light of a distant star that had died innumerable years before.
Kamandi’s trek takes him up the Hudson River. After meeting a heard of feral humans Kamandi continues home. Before he reaches the underground complex, an explosion rocks the bunker. Looters have tripped a series of booby-traps that Kamandi had set up to safeguard their meager supplies and his grandfather’s life. Kamandi quickly realizes that not all the looters were killed. He races down the corridor past Command ‘A’. As he approaches Command ‘D’ Kamandi’s alarm grows. There is panic in is thought balloon: “Oh, no! No!”
His worst fears are realized when he enters the centre and discovers his grandfather’s body tossed up against a pile of broken furniture, his frail bones, no more than kindling, added to the pyre. Kamandi reacts with savage grief gunning down the first looter he sees. I keenly felt Kamandi’s grief as he cradled his grandfather’s limp form in his arms and lamented:

“Forgive me, grandfather–! You needed me and I wasn’t there to help you.”

Kamandi’s first lesson in life is perhaps the cruelest: We are seldom there to help when truly needed, and those we love most, may sometimes die alone, unheard, yet calling out our names.
Kamandi has little for regrets as a second looter storms the room. The invader has kinship within the ranks of the dead as well, and is as eager to exact revenge as Kamandi. When they turn and confront each other they are each arrested by the revelation implicit in the fact of each other’s existence: both are seemingly impossible products of nature. Reason demands that neither should exist, but they do. They stand face-to-face, incontrovertibly: the impossible boy and the impossible wolf.
Admittedly the impact of the revelation that the looter is an anthropomorphized wolf is lessened by the fact that the reader has (most likely) anticipated the appearance of highly evolved and “human” animals. Kamandi’s horror, however, is fully realized even if the reader doesn’t necessarily share it (although I can’t speak for everyone). I remember seeing Planet of the Apes for the first time in the local movie-house in Simcoe—a small town (in 1967) in rural Southern Ontario where our family would spend the Victoria Day weekend (May 24). The sequence where the gorilla rides through the cornfield and reigns in his horse, turning to the camera for the big reveal, is one of Hollywood’s great moments: great because in that one moment, everything changed, and movies were never again the same. However, in the fall of 1972, the drama of Kirby’s bold reveal was wasted. The true drama lay in the boy’s reaction and in the aftermath of his grandfather’s death.
Kamandi kills the wolf and abandons the bunker for the second time in his brief life. This time, however, he will not be returning, and his eulogy is brief and appropriately unsentimental:

“Goodbye, grandfather! We did our best for each other! Now sleep peacefully in your world while I see the rest of mine.”

There is something of the primitive in Kamandi’s words and actions. Before humans evolved a sense of the spiritual (or divine), the dead were readily abandoned. There was no doubt grief at the loss of kin, but little time wasted dwelling on the dead. There was the matter of survival to attend to. Likewise, Kamandi does not tarry for either words or burial rites. He leaves the body where it lies and moves on. Kamandi needn’t concern himself with any other world, save the one he is in. Call it life lesson number two: mourning is a luxury: one few can afford in Earth A.D.
Mortality is a fork in the road where the quick and the dead figuratively shake hands and go their separate ways. Once violence has touched a place, its contamination spreads and it’s best to seek refuge elsewhere. So Kamandi buries his grief and helps himself to the wolves’ all-terrain vehicle and sets off to see the world. Like Taylor, Kamandi may not like what he finds, but he’s determined to find it anyway. Both of the worlds he’s known: that of the underground complex and that of the world his grandfather had hoped to reclaim, are gone. There’s only one world left to him now, and Kamandi’s got pluck enough to face it head on. As he’ll soon learn, Earth A.D. doesn’t wait for stragglers. If you don’t keep up you’re not likely to see the morrow. Hesitation in Kamandi’s world means separation from the pack. Life will not think twice before leaving you behind. Fortune can change in the blink of an eye and the turn of a page. It is Kamandi’s stoicism and courage that will see him through many a trial. Luckily his world offers constant new adventures to distract him. Kamandi has a long way to go, however, and his deadliest challenge lay just ahead. The threat will come not from the animals he meets, but from the despair he suppresses in his own heart.

Get Your Panel On!!

So if there was one thing that disappointed me the most about not reaching our financial goal on Kickstarter last month, it was that the Panel to Panel T-Shirt might never be produced. Panel to Panel’s good friend Mort Todd had done such a fabulous job designing the image, it would be a shame if it never got used. So I’ve decided to do a little experiment… Panel to Panel has teamed up with Unknown Arts of Burlington, VT in an effort to get these shirts made, and on your backs!! In order to be financially able to swing getting these shirts made, I’ve got to sell 14 shirts. Sounds easy, right? Let’s hope so…
So help a struggling publisher out, and look good doing it… Order a shirt, and then encourage thirteen of your friends to do the same!!

(for a larger image of Mort Todd’s artwork, click HERE.)


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Order Today!!

Panel to Panel: Exploring Words & Pictures
Edited by John Rovnak

Featuring New Interviews With…
*MARK BODE: A 21st Century Renaissance Man by John Rovnak.
*GLENN DANZIG: Damn, It’s Danzig by John Rovnak.
*JIMMY GOWNLEY: Normal Guy to the Naked Eye by Rachael M Rollson.
*ALAN MOORE: The Magical Adventures of an Extraordinary Gentlemen by Jean-Emmanuel Deluxe.
*STEVE MURPHY: Comes Out of his Shell by John Rovnak.
*DAVE SIM: The General in His Labyrinth by Jon Mathewson.
*JIM WOODRING: A Touch of Madness by Daniel Barlow.
*BY JINGO: A Personal Meditation on the Comics of Jack Kirby by Rob Walton.
*MARVEL 14: The Incredible History of France’s Censorship of Marvel Comics by Jean–Emmanuel Deluxe.
*KEEP YOUR PANTS ON! The Rock Art of James Kochalka.
*BUDDY COPS in Full-Color by Mark Martin.
*BEAT PANELS: OR; IS THERE MONEY IN POETRY COMICS? by Stephen R. Bissette featuring the graphic poetry of Peter Money and Rick Veitch.
*ORGANIZING COMICS: How Comics Created a Community in Rural New England by Daniel Barlow.
*EUROPE’S KRIMINAL HISTORY: featuring MR. KRIME by Mort Todd with Jean-Emmanuel Deluxe.
*EVERYTHING OLD IS NEW AGAIN: Re-Imagined Interpretations of Forgotten Characters of the Public Domain.
*MY SKETCHY SUMMER, or 5 Days Hard Labor at the Center For Cartoon Studies by Philip Charles Crawford.
*CLOVER FIELDS ON FIRE: The Intellectual Architecture of Robert Crumb and the Tyranny of the Masses by Experience Kring.
*Organic Comix presents JIM SIMON’S SHIELDMASTER.
*DEFT MASTERY: The Genius of Early 1960′s Archie Comics by Philip Charles Crawford, featuring Teenage Wildlife: an interview with Craig Yoe by John Rovnak.
*MEET JOE PRIEST: A Personal Reflection on Where Faith and Comics Meet by Fr. Chris Kulig, O.Carm.
*An archive of past interviews, from paneltopanel.net, featuring DAVID MACK, LARRY MARDER, LARRY HAMA, JAIME HERNANDEZ, JAMES STURM and STAN SAKAI.
* and more….

Cover by MARK MARTIN
274 Pages, Full Color
$40.00
(scheduled to begin shipping Aug/Sept 2011)





To Be, Or Not To Be…?

It’s been nearly two weeks since the Panel to Panel/Kickstarter fund raising campaign came to a close.  Although we did not reach our financial goal via Kickstarter, this project still continues to move forward.  After a couple days of needed rest and distance from the project, I returned to it with a simple email that I sent out to each of the book’s contributors.  That email, as I had hoped, sparked a conversation which not only helped to decide the fate of the project, but also captured a unique moment in time for Panel to Panel.  Publishing in the year 2011 offers many opportunities, as it does hurdles, and this book is no stranger to either of those.  With the permission of all those involved, I have compiled the majority of the emails which were exchanged over the last week or so, to share here on the blog.  It shows you, the reader and consumer, what steps we, as a collaborative group, are taking to make this book a reality and offers a “behind-the-scenes” look at our process.  It begins with my initial email…

John Rovnak: Hello everyone! It’s about time I came out from under my rock and talked to you all about the current state of Panel to Panel. I’d like for this email to spark a conversation amongst all of us, and encourage you all to reply (to all) and toss around our ideas. To start, as all of you probably know, our Kickstarter.com campaign failed. 🙁 Now, it wasn’t a complete failure… We did manage to raise quite a bit of awareness and potential sales, just not enough, and it wasn’t due to a lack of trying. I, for one, am exhausted from all the “trying” I did! So what does this mean? We have a finished product ready to go!! But where? We could go back to the print-on-demand avenue. It allows the book to get out into people’s hands, but at a higher cost. The book would retail for roughly $40.00. I’ve considered breaking the book up, maybe into three smaller volumes, and pricing them out that way. Any thoughts? I could also shop it around to some publishers, and see if something of this size and format would interest them. We could also solicit the book with Diamond and see what kind of numbers that generates. They have seen it, and will carry it! But then it still comes down to the juggling of orders and printing and MONEY! Bottom line is, I’m anxious to move on! I love this book dearly, but I’m really sick of looking at it. That’s not to say that I’m done with it. I just have a lot of ideas for another one!! REALLY good ideas that I can’t wait to share… But I really need to know what I’m doing with this one. These are all my initial/scattered thoughts, but I want to start getting back to it!

Mark Masztal: Like I have said to John recently, I don’t think we should break up the book. Dismembering it down to three volumes, in my mind, would cheapen the beautiful book we have now. I think trying to go through various publishers, like I’ve mentioned to John, would take the pressure off us to come up with the printing costs. It also means that some of the coin will have to go back to the publisher.

Rob Walton: My only experience here is in publishing Ragmop. I explored every avenue, including printing overseas (a considerable savings and better paper and binding, but little guarantee of shipping). Going through Diamond was frustrating, and as I mentioned to John before, caused me to inflate the price to 29.95 because Diamond ends up taking 70% of the cover (60% plus another 10% for shipping and early payment). If this is a not for profit effort, that’s fine, you’ll probably break even if you don’t do an overrun like I did. BUT, this is far more marketable than Ragmop, so… Solicit and see?

Craig Yoe: It’s such an incredibly beautiful book! Publishing is so darn difficult these days. I think a publisher might be hard to find, though Twomorrows Publishing comes to mind. May be worth a try and see what interest there is, and what kind of deal there might be. Don’t get discouraged, John! It’s a great publication, just a very tough time for publishing.

Mark Martin: I say it is time to make that book actually exist, for people who are actually willing and able to actually buy one. Anybody else can go piss up a rope. 1. Get a cost-per book to print 100 copies, digital print-on-demand 2. Round that up, and add on whatever it costs to pack and ship. Come up with a price that you can live with. 3. Advertise that cost on your website, facebook, comics websites, Craig Yoe’s forehead… Everywhere you can think of. Tell folks to SEND MONEY NOW, and they’ll get the book in a couple of months. ANNOUNCE A DEADLINE for taking orders. Give it about a month. Anybody that does not order in time will have to wait til next time – if there ever IS a next time. 4. Give yourself another week after the deadline, to tie up any loose ends. 5. ORDER THE BOOKS from the print-on-demand printer. Even if it is only 100 books 6. Get the books, pack the books, ship the books 7. Hold your book that actually exists in your hands, love it, cuddle it, hug it 8. Move on. GO GO GO!

Rob Walton: Now there’s gumption! Hard to disagree. Another thought is offering an ebook. I’ve heard places like Costco do incredible ebook sales. I’m old school, in that I like to hold a book like this in my hands to love, cuddle and hug like Mark, but younger generations enamored with technology might prefer a digital option as well. Could this be formatted for the iPad? Put it on your website and start selling downloadable copies now until you can figure out print options! I think Mark is correct though. We need to make this exist. A print on demand edition could conceivably go a long way in securing a wider popular edition through either Diamond or an existing publisher (D&Q?). The buzz has already started through Kickstarter. Don’t lose it.

Mort Todd: Here’s my 2¢: First, basically do what you did through Kickstarter via a PayPal contribute button. That way there would be no immediate deadline, or minimum or limit what you can generate. Offer premiums similar to what you had for Kickstarter, which would be sent out 4 to 6 weeks after the contribution (so you can get the right number of things manufactured) with a set release date for the book (Fall/Winter?). You could also take book preorders without the premiums. Go through a POD, sell it through their web store and via your websites and Diamond. From past experience I think it’d be better to go DIY rather than work through an existing publisher. That said, if you did go with a publisher, Fantagraphics may be a good bet due to P2P’s content and Fantagraphic’s audience and distribution.

Jean-Emmanuel Deluxe: Yes you can do pre-sales. I do it for record projects of mine for my music label. An idea right?

Rachael M. Rollson: From the quiet front, I say – git’er done. I like Mark Martin’s suggestions – I want a real live book in my hand to save and collect and pass on…I want to tote that tome around with me and look cool on a park bench and everybody to say, “ooooh, what cosmic loveliness would be worth dragging around like that, I gotta get me one”…now, I don’t know anything about POD, I don’t know anything about iPad’s and I don’t know anything about current publishing trends – but I know this book should be real. I have no advice to offer, just absolute support…

Philip Charles Crawford: I agree with the others – I think it’s time to make the book available in a printed form. Perhaps the first 100 copies could be a limited edition collector’s edition limited-run, variant cover, etc. That would provide those who want a copy now the opportunity to buy one. This would give you a little time to also shop it with publishers or to get advertising for subsequent printing. Also, once you sold enough to go into a second printing then you could do some Stan Lee type publicity: Because You Demanded, Back in Print, etc. It is such a hard time to get published, but once you’ve got an initial product out there in some capacity, it may be easy to shop to publishers or get advertising. You have my support on whatever you decide.

Daniel Barlow: I’m with Mark Martin on this! Get the book out, gain a reputation in the industry for doing this kind of book and start moving forward with the second one. Such a great book needs to get out there ASAP!

Craig Yoe: This book is awesome and hopefully will find an audience that appreciates its greatness!

Steve Murphy: Sorry for the delay and while it seems moot at this point, here are my two cents: I’d break the book up into 4 parts/”issues” and publish ’em quarterly thereby establishing an ongoing presence in the marketplace, meanwhile beginning work on issue 5, etc. I just think the current cover price for a single volume is way high. I know I couldn’t justify the single-shot expense to my wife given our family’s low “disposable income” budget.

John Rovnak: Way to throw a curve ball, Murph!! 🙂

James Kochalka: Honestly, I probably wouldn’t even buy a copy for myself at the price I assume it’s going to be.

Mark Masztal: It’s actually not a bad idea.

John Rovnak: Um, Mark…. I suggested this the day after Kickstarter ended, I I believe YOU were the first to shoot it down. 🙂

Craig Yoe: It’s very difficult, I think, to sell a publication/book that is a smorgasbord/anthology these days. People like single subject books on something they really like, and even that’s getting very, very hard in today’s economy. And at the same time there’s so many good things coming out in competition. Sorry for this negative note. I really do love what you have put together, but it’s a tough world in publishing these days, always has been I guess, but now more than ever. I’ll do what ever I can to support whatever direction you decide to go, as I’m sure will everyone here. You obviously have a lot of people that like you and what you’ve put together. This is much to your credit and all the talented people that have been helping. Rooting for you…

Mark Masztal: I did, just because of the extra work and having to find new cover art etc. It does get us in the affordable market place. I’m just worried about the covers and where they will come from. We could use my Danzig piece as a cover with some editing and then maybe one of Rick Veitch’s and Peter Money’s poetry pieces. Maybe use Mort Todd’s T-Shirt design or maybe see if we could plead with Mr. Bodé for a piece??? I have to agree with James. Tight market place, tight economy and a $40 price tag will equal no sales. Specialty markets maybe, but it will be a low sales percentage. Anyone got a rich uncle or grandparent? Where’s Kevin Eastman’s uncle when we need him???

James Kochalka: This is actually a fair argument for doing the big book as “print on demand”. Only the people who really think this is the book for them will buy it. And that’s fine, right?

Rob Walton: I will say this, going back to my experience with Ragmop: After the failure of the graphic novel, the hearsay was that I should have republished it as a run of 12 issues and then collected it. It all comes down to what you want to hold in your hands at the end of the day. There’s no right answer in publishing any more. The market was screaming for graphic novels in 2006 so I gave them one. Turns out, what they really wanted was TPB collections from Marvel and DC. Just roll the dice.

John Rovnak: At the end of the day I want to hold in my hand the same thing I’ve wanted to hold in my hand since I dreamt this silly thing up, a massive collection of my favorite things!! I will explore the multiple volume thing a bit more while I’m waiting on that final printing quote, but I think I know what the answer will be. The one thing I envision if a multiple volume package were to happen would be a handy-dandy slipcase to hold them all. But I’m getting way ahead of myself here.

Mark Martin: Just do something. If you can do it and not LOSE money, you are way ahead of the game. Stick with the book plan.

Mort Todd: I opt for the book over the segmented series. Screw being accessible to those that might buy this instead of Ultimate Spider-Man. Make it the Necronomicon of comics that many know of, few have seen (unless they got $40)!

Stephen R. Bissette: It’s not my or our money, but my philosophy these days, given the screwed market, is if I’m going to do a book, DO THE BOOK. It’s one of the reasons I did Teen Angels as the whole 400+ page monster. If it’s going to exist, at least make sure—profit, loss, or draw—it’s the book you want it to be. It may be the only shot you take or get. Have no illusions about sales. It’s a long slog promoting, even when you GET distribution in place. No one is going to promote it for you; any who do, it’s a boon and a charity, but it won’t be singularly effective, even if it’s Entertainment Weekly you score points with. It’s WORTH doing. DO it.

Craig Yoe: Well, Stephen is a smart guy, and while there’s a part of me that is cautionary in practice, I’m doing exactly what he’s doing. The market is shit, people don’t have or don’t spend money, but I’m just going to do the best damn books I know how to do and damn the torpedoes full speed ahead!!!

Steve Murphy: Putting the issue of cover price and personal disposable income aside… I don’t think one can compare Ragmop and Tyrant to this P2P book. The former are comic books, whether in periodical or bookshelf form, while P2P is overall a piece of collected journalism (and thus, in my mind, capable of being sliced up and served in smaller chunks). Another potential way to frame this can be via the question “What are your long term goals as a publisher, John?” While it would indeed be very cool to be known as the guy who published this (potential) one-hit wonder of mammoth coolness, perhaps instead chopping it up in order to become an “ongoing concern” via periodical publication would better serve your long term goals (by perhaps creating a steady cash-flow that you can build upon). Besides, the world needs a, uh, comics journal that is more unique, fun and constantly evolving than the self-serving yawn known as the Comics Journal

Stephen R. Bissette: People buy $40 books every day, especially art book and graphic novels. Teen Angels retails at $30. It’s high, but POD and having to price for Diamond Dist. discount required it; it’s 400 pages, if people balk, screw it. We can’t give away the farm begging for sales that may never come anyway—and if you do, and the sales don’t manifest at $9.99 or $14.99, you end up with just a portion of what you intended in print, and likely pulling the plug in frustration, WITHOUT the book you wanted existing, or ever existing. Just my two cents… It’s a gamble whatever you do. FYI, Taboo was a gamble, at a time when we were always broke, had two kids, and were struggling monthly to meet rent. At least, if only one issue had existed, I could know it was the best I could edit, package, and make exist, with no regrets. That had sugardaddies. Without ’em, I compromised on Tyrant, never doing a collected (told to wait until I got to the magic “six issues collectible” format), and regret it—and there IS no Tyrant book edition. Thereafter, with every experiment (POD with Green Mtn Cinema, then five volumes of Blur, then Teen Angels, the latter with the distribution I couldn’t get on the former), I made sure whatever the book, however modest or grandiose, it was the book I wanted to exist, and nothing less. It’s all a gamble. You break it up, you lose. You cut bait, you lose. You fish and lose, with the whole package, you win: you have the book you wanted to exist in existence. Just make sure you don’t gamble more than you can afford to lose, $$ wise.

John Rovnak: Going back a couple comments, I tend to agree with Mort Todd’s email, and I’d like to expand on it. “Screw being accessible” is right, to a degree. I agree with a more punk rock/DIY attitude (although this book may appear a bit more New Wave). I myself would buy this, no questions asked. It appeals to my tastes as a consumer on so many levels, and I know I can’t be alone here. Yes, times are tough. Yes, print is dying. But I spend a lot more per page for books that pale in comparison to what we’ve made here. I know I want it to be printed. The whole reason I dreamt this thing up was because posting reviews and interviews online was so unsatisfying. I couldn’t hold it, I couldn’t physically share it, it seemed cheap. Comics to me are about the printed product; the smell, the weight, the fragile spine which holds the whole damn thing together. Think of some of your favorite comics. I’ll bet there’s a treasury edition or giant-sized something on that list. Those huge publications were always the coolest. Imagine them broken down into cost effective books that matched everything else on the shelf. They wouldn’t stand out. They wouldn’t be memorable Now think of some of the price tags you’ve ignored over the years because the content and packaging made it irresistible to you and your better sense. Do you think back and regret the purchase? If the content is shit, yes. But that’s not the case here. I guess I’ve convinced myself… I believe in a big ‘expensive’ book…

Rachael M. Rollson: Alright, I need to elaborate on the “live the dream” fragment I posted before… I don’t have a lot of money either, but if I get to choose a quality treasure once in awhile then I don’t think that $40. is too much to ask – this IS quality, it is also quantity, and it is ours… I am not sure what the market is professing at this time, either, but I know that I like variety – and since I am a consumer (as well as a contributor here) I should be counted, too – and I like big books with lots of different artists and topics – I don’t always have the time to seek out new and exciting things so this is a great feature of some new and some tried and true’s. I might actually learn something and go seek out more of it (fancy that). It might be a long slow climb uphill, but then if it is what you wanted without compromise then it will stand on its own… I believe in it – make it happen.

Rob Walton: Big expensive book! Big expensive book! This fool and his money are ready to be parted! One copy sold!

John Rovnak: A perfect example, and an idea I think is comparable, is McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern. Look at the prices they fetch for an insanely varied product.

Stephen R. Bissette: Bottom line: people GIVE AWAY product online daily (myself included with the blog). The market is screwed in part because of that. Many of us pay $$ for special books we want. If we miss our window of opportunity, given the tiny print runs on many books, they are then hundreds of $$ IF you can find them at all. Case in point: Beating the Devil: The Making of the Night of the Demon by Tony Earnshaw. I missed buying it when it was new. Now, it’s $100 and up, and it’s only a year old. You want your book just read, give it away, online, or as a nominal-charge PDF. You want this to exist, publish it. Nobody is going to do it for you. Pursuing that will just delay it longer, and you’ll end up having to publish it yourself anyway, I fear.

Rob Walton: Going back to Ragmop one last time. A day doesn’t go by when I’m not proud to see that 400 page sucker on my self or to feel the heft of it in my hands. It lost money, and I can’t give it away, but I’m damn happy I did it. No regrets!

Mark Masztal: Sounds like we’re doing a big book.

Jean-Emmanuel Deluxe: …a well crafted book is needed more than ever ! So I don’t mind paying 40 bucks, if the book is worth it.

Rick Veitch: I think Murphy’s got the best take here. If your goal is to build up P2P so you aren’t forever plagued by undercapitalization issues, then offer it in as many formats and platforms as you can. Have you considered going with Image? They can do floppies, collections and digital. Their preorders on floppies will be better than if you solicit it yourself.

Mark Martin: Sell it to the Comics Journal!

Jean-Emmanuel Deluxe: You can try Fantagraphics, but also Top Shelf, Drawn & Quarterly and Image too right?

Stephen R. Bissette: I wouldn’t waste the time, but that’s your call. You’ll piss away a year or more searching for a publisher, and may still end up empty handed (speaking from experience)…

Mark Martin: No no, I meant the “conversation” here – Sell that to TCJ. Sell out, man! Go for the big bucks! Buy a yacht!

Rob Walton: It seems to me that a lot of people were willing to pay $40+ for this project on kickstarter. If those same people transfer their support to a POD edition it might go a long way to raising you sales. For that edition you don’t need EVERYONE to buy, only some. Then you print additional copies to send to targeted publishers for a potential popular edition OR a second volume. Offer them the second volume with the rights to republish the first. Two birds with one stone? Get the book out to those who demand it, and then shop it around with less pressure.

France’s Greatest American Hero?!?!?

French comics publisher, Organic Comix, will be releasing a truly fine graphic novel in the coming months entitled, ShieldMaster.  Co-written by Jim Simon and Jean Depelley, and beautifully illustrated by artist extraordinaire Reed Man.  Now if the name Jim Simon sounds a bit familiar, that’s because his father is non other than, Captain America co-creator, Joe Simon.  Now am I the only one who finds it a bit funny and ironic that a French publisher would be the one to be releasing a comic about a red, white and blue costumed hero created by a member of the Simon family?  Crazy, huh?  Well hopefully we here in the States won’t have to wait too long before a business savvy comics publisher releases this beauty in English.  But until then, you can preview the first five pages, in English, in the upcoming Panel to Panel: Exploring Words & Pictures book.  That’s right, P2P has got ShieldMaster!!  And to further enhance the comic, it’ll run alongside a great interview with Jim Simon.  Here’s a sneak peek:

Copies of the ShieldMaster 44-page hardcover graphic novel can be ordered by clicking HERE!  And tell them Panel to Panel sent you…

Since beginning work on the ShieldMaster portion of the book, I’ve quickly become a HUGE fan of artist Reed Man’s work!  I’ve been lucky enough to preview quite a bit of his work from his native France, and can’t wait to see more.  I see big things in his future, and I look forward to the day when more American comic readers get to see his work.  Reed was kind enough, a couple of months back, to create an all-new image on a blank variant cover of Marvel Comics’ Avengers #1.  I’ve since eBayed that issue off in an early P2P fund raising campaign, but I was sure to keep a scan of his amazing image.  Enjoy!

Please don’t forget to support Panel to Panel on Kickstarter!  This book needs your support to become a reality.

Simmer Down, Dave…

During the late Spring/Early Summer of 2010, Jon Mathewson (whose recent book of poetry can be purchased HERE) corresponded with, Cerebus creator, Dave Sim via fax.  That interview, which Jon has titled The General in His Labyrinth, is previewed here for your enjoyment.  If you’d like to read more, and there is a whole lot more, please support Panel to Panel over at Kickstarter.com and pre-order your copy today.  As I write this, there are less than 20 days left in our fundraiser, and we still have a lot of ground to cover.  Please take a look at the excellent rewards we are offering, and find the pledge level which best suits your budget.  We here at Panel to Panel are eternally grateful for your support.

Jon Mathewson: You are a patient guy.  One thing that has always impressed me about you is your ability to see the sweep of time, and your place in it.  A the age of, what, twenty-three?, you saw how to turn Cerebus from a series of monthly satires to an epic encompassing politics, religion, and “dangerous philosophy.”  You saw Cerebus life ahead of you, and spent the next couple of decades telling it.

So: I read Glamourpuss in 2010, and enjoy your examinations of photo-realism and comics’ internecine fights of yore, but I wonder, where do you see Glamourpuss, and where you are now, in the greater sweep of your career?

Do you see any similarities between your pariah status and the way Ezra Pound was treated by the literary establishment of his day?

Dave Sim: Ha Ha.

Oh, sorry, you’re serious.  Or pretending to be, anyway.  No. Ezra Pound was a Nazi sympathizer and dupe.  In the context of our present age, I’m the only one who ISN’T advocating the Marxist-Feminist totalitarian dictatorship, the only one who DOESN’T think that capitulation to the “one right way to think” is the correct course for a civilization.  I’m being treated the way I’m being treated because I’m enunciating common sense – the impossible things to believe before breakfast are as impossible now as they were when I came up with them.

In the same way that the good Germans persevered through the 1930s and 1940s, I have persevered through the 1970s, the 1980s, the 1990s and the first decade of the 21st century basically living the way they lived: waiting to be arrested for not thinking the right way, hauled before a human rights commission or, basically, waiting for the other shoe to drop on a daily basis.

I do good work.  I do the best work that I can, just as if it would be given a fair hearing – which it isn’t since it doesn’t conform to the only way we are allowed to think in the 21st century – that the Marxist-Feminist dictatorship is the only way to think: if you aren’t a Marxist-Feminist you’re a misogynist.  I like to think that fifty or a hundred years after I’m dead there might be a restoration of common sense, in which case my hard work will be appreciated.  I think it unlikely that it will happen in my lifetime.

I work from the moment I get up in the morning until I go to bed at night.  I pray five times a day.  I observe a Sabbath.  I fast nine days out of ten.  I do Glamourpuss, Cerebus Archive and Cerebus TV.

I have preserved a daily record of the ongoing campaign by Marxist-Feminists to destroy me.  On the other side of things, it documents my perseverance in the name of freedom of expression and the wide spectrum of viewpoints which exist in our society in spite of the dictatorship we all labour under.

My best guess is that all traces of my passing will be eliminated at the point of my death, or at least the attempt will be made.  It’s all totalitarians are capable of doing, whether you’re talking about Nazis, communists, Marxist-Feminists, al-Qaeda or the Taliban.

Where am I now?  I haven’t been destroyed yet, but not for want of trying on the part of those trying to destroy me.  That’s the situation I’m in, which is the same situation I’ve been in for sixteen years.