Thursday, November 13, 2008

JUST DO IT pt. 1 - a brief history of WARRIOR27


Dan and I write, and we want to create comics (of which, links and ordering information will be forthcoming). A couple of years back, I wrote a piece that I submitted for possible publication at one of the comic sites (the timing did not work out, but I still had it sitting on my hard drive) about our short journey into comic creation, how our initial foray went, what we learned from it, and how it helped us to become better. It's a bit old (in terms of my facility as a writer, though that may be up for debate), but I like it, and I feel like there are important lessons to be gleaned from our experience. Therefore, I will be running it here as I did on a previous blog of mine, in three parts, over the next several days, and I hope that anyone reading this will be able to take something away from our experience. Unless I am speaking into the abyss.

Just Do It: A Report on Exhibiting at One's Second Convention
by Chris Beckett

Art, like life, is about evolution – the growth of an individual that illuminates a maturity and sophistication necessary to avoid stagnation. With art, whether painting, writing, or other disciplines, there are myriad classes to attend and any number of books for your perusal. But eventually it becomes time to move away from theory and get around to actually doing the work. This, of course, holds true with comic artists as well. Create characters. Envision scenes. Write scripts. But until you get the pictures and the words down on the page you can't tell whether your great idea works as a comic or not. Before taking any giant leaps as an artist, you need to take those small steps, ones often unavailable to those still wading through pages of philosophy. Nike, for all its faults, got this point right. Just do it.

This article is about my second time exhibiting my self-published anthology, with my publishing partner Dan Fleming, at SPX 2006 and how things worked out for us compared to our initial experience at Wizard World Chicago in 2005. What did we do differently? What did we keep the same? Did we have a more successful show at this year's SPX? And what lessons did we take away from our experiences? Hopefully, many of you reading this who want to make comics will be able to take the lessons I've learned and apply them to your own work.

But first:


Five years ago my buddies and I, five of us all together, began talking about publishing our own comic. We had grand plans – an anthology with original comic stories in genres other than superheroes, short prose, interviews with professionals, and anything else we wanted to include. It would be edgy and diverse, and appeal to the reader in all of us.

But, two false starts later and our plan was shelved as we began to drift our separate ways.

Fast forward to January 2005.

My pal Dan Fleming and I decide we're going to stop discussing and start doing. Since our artistic abilities are minimal at best we need to find like-minded artists to realize our scripts, which is far more difficult than anticipated. We call the book WARRIOR27, an homage to the British anthology of the early 1980s, WARRIOR magazine, and we plan it to be a 48-page anthology that includes the initial chapters of multiple comic serials, a short prose story, a story presented in script format, a retrospective of cartoonist Scott Morse, and a 1-page rant entitled "I Hate Brian Michael Bendis" with tongue firmly planted in cheek. Setting our plan in motion we commission Andy Lee to paint the cover, apply for a table at Wizard World Chicago, and set to work getting the book together.

However, when August arrives and the book ships from ComixPress we only have 28 pages with less than half of that being comic material. But, with books in hand, we drive the 19 hours to Chicago from Maine, set up in Artists' Alley just down from Phil Hester and Ande Parks and across from Geof Darrow, and spend three days getting blank stares. Moving hardly a handful of books, the trip is a bust.

But we did it, and we learned from it.

To Be Continued . . .

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