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Yume & Ever Make Their Debut

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As the convention season is about to swing into full gear with the New York Comic-Con this week, I’d like to devote some time to the efforts of the small press comics at these shows.

It’s the part of the show, for me at least, that can be the most rewarding and the most strenuous. As someone who’s been on both sides of the table, it’s fascinating to see a new title make its first steps into the limelight. And there’s no better place to do this than at a comic book convention. Where else can you set up at a table in a section designated for small publishers (or artists’ alley, as some creators prefer the cheaper tables) at an event filled with readers of comic books, your supposed target audience?

Of course, none of this guarantees the ability to stand out from the crowd. And if you can’t get much attention, you don’t stand much chance of success. Although, as I said, the convention is a perfect venue, it’s hardly an "if you build it, they will come" scenario. Even the most indie friendly fans can get overwhelmed looking through all the tables of unknown properties, some of which are of questionable quality.

There’s not much I can do in this column to help the better books stand out at a convention, but I would like to spotlight some of the new small press books that I think are worth taking a look at. I’ve chosen these comics for two reasons. One, because we can learn something from the creators’ publishing strategies, and two, because the work is of high quality and worth reading, which is something often overlooked in publishing.

I received the perfect comic to start with as part of a press packet from Alitha Martinez for her new series Yume & Ever. I first met Alitha at a panel because she is a fan of my series Adrenaline, so right away I knew there was a pretty good chance that her comic was good. Oh, that and she’s been working in the industry since the 90s, first as an assistant to Joe Quesada on Azrael & Ash and Daredevil, then as an inker’s assistant on Aquaman. She got her first headlining role as artist on Iron Man, then moved on to X-men: Black Sun, Marvel Age Fantastic Four, Black Panther and Voltron. That’s not a bad sign either.

Now she’s decided to self-publish her own series because, as she told me, she’s had it with drawing what other people want. She wants to tell a story of her own. And complete control is important to Alitha as she’s in charge of all the artistic duties as well as all business aspects. She’s even decided against pitching the concept to a publisher because she realized that her ideas went against many of the industry norms and she didn’t want to waste time butting heads with editorial staff. Only she could make sure it was done right.

I could relate to that pretty easily, but I was shocked by Alitha’s next piece of news. She decided not to go with Diamond Distribution even though they accepted her book. Alitha explains,

"I decided to go that way because I don't think that Diamond gives a fair deal. You end up with nothing for all of your effort after their 60-70% discount, paying for the printer, and kicking in for the shipping...  How much are you actually making per book? And I've heard a nasty rumor that if you sell your book consignment, that will anger the great and terrible Diamond and they won't carry your book. Exactly WHEN did the Mailman get so much power?"

I understand Alitha’s feelings on the matter, but its still a big gamble to cut out the largest resource of comic distribution in the U.S. as well as much of the U.K.

Instead, Alitha is working with a sales rep, Tom Shenton, who specializes in distributing independent comics (Shenton4Sales@aol.com). But besides that, it’s all down to sales from conventions, her website, and a few consignment deals here and there.

To make it even more of a bold move, Alitha’s printed up 2,000 copies of Yume & Ever #1, a pretty high quantity for any small publisher these days, especially one with limited distribution means. I agree with this decision, though. Printing in smaller quantities isn’t very economical and you end up paying for it with the cost per issue. And if you want your comic to succeed, you’ve got to find a way to sell the issues and build a following. This means getting in there and getting your hands dirty, breaking through to the larger circle of comic readers and letting them see who you are and what your book is about. Just being another unknown in a catalog or on a shelf isn’t enough.

As far as the content of Yume & Ever, I’m already intrigued by the first issue. It’s one of the most compelling combinations of Manga and dramatic superhero styles that I’ve seen. It might stand a better chance of bridging this gap than the many other attempts that have come before. The romantic connection between the two lead characters is very inviting and personal, while the plot hits you with the strong themes of survival and the battle against evil to hold off the destruction of our most populated cities (New York and Tokyo play big parts from what I’ve seen so far). The timeline runs from both before and after a

major catastrophic event, so I’m interested to see how the two very different tones play against each other.

If you’re going to the New York Comic-Con and want a closer look at Yume & Ever #1 or you want to talk to Alitha Martinez about her experience so far with publishing the comic, she will be in the small press section at the Newave Enterprise booth #2253.

I’ll also be in the small press section. A Wave Blue World is at booth #2442. I’ll be on the lookout for other small press books to use in the column. And everyone is invited to come by and take a look at the new comics we have for the show. If you mention the secret password, "I’m suffering from Delusions of Grandeur," I’ll give you a free issue of Adrenaline, just not the first issue since I’m almost out of them.

Next week’s column will be some kind of recap/deconstruction of the show. I’m not sure what, so I leave that to be determined by the events of the weekend. See you there.

 

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Tyler Chin-Tanner started his own publishing company, A Wave Blue World, and writes and draws layouts for Adrenaline, its flagship series.

© 2008 Tyler Chin-Tanner.  All rights reserved.

Email:tyler@awaveblueworld.com

www.awaveblueworld.com

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