Sunday, July 16, 2006

The Fear is coming!

By Robert J. Sodaro

Come with me on a little walk of shameless self-promotion. Recently, a very good friend of mine, named Mark Mazz extended me a wonderful invitation. (No not like that, stay with me now, and get you minds out of the gutter.) I met Mark some 15-20 years ago when I was working (briefly) as a freelancer in Marvel Comics’ internal marketing dept. We discovered that he had a great deal in common, and over the years we kept in touch. So earlier this year when Mark became the Art Director for a group called The Comic Artists Guild (CAG) he does what he always does, he went out of his way to include me in something that I would enjoy, but otherwise might have missed.

Last month, Mark invited me to participate in contributing to a horror anthology comicbook that CAG was publishing. The comic, entitled Psychosis will be available the first week of October from Guild Works Publishing (GWP) the publishing arm of the Guild. The premise of the comic is to draw on the talent pool of the Comic Artists Guild, in order to showcase their work, promote themselves as artists and (presumably) get big-time, high-paying gigs for everyone involved.

Not a bad concept if I were to say so myself.

Needless to say, the idea here is to start small, and create some buzz for the group and then (hopefully) move into licenses, and more regular publishing. The initial books that GWP intends to publish will serve as a way of finding which creators and concepts click, (while making any “mistakes” (if any) on the cheap). It is the feeling of the people in charge of GWP that far too many comicbook companies have come on way too strong and somehow don’t actually understand the nature of the market (or publishing) and simply get wiped out after the venture capital is gone.

With this publication GWP is going direct to retailers, readers, and through comicbook conventions. So, they’re going all 21st century with printing-on-demand and Internet-style guerrilla marketing. The comics will be available through the CAG Web site and any other way they can think of to make it work. While all of this may seem somewhat counter-intuitive to “comic industry reasoning”, that business model has seen the best-selling titles selling for ONE-tenth of what they were at in 1992-1995!

Will they be a huge success? It’s more likely that just not losing our shirts will make us a success, and I have Mark’s assurances that the principals of this venture are in it for the long haul. CAG has done this for 5 years, and they’re still going strong. Want to know where the last 20 other companies are today? Well, quite a few of them no longer exist

Why am I talking about all of this? Well, as I stated at the outset, Mark invited me to contribute to the comic, and I did with a little eight-page story I call Never Judge a Book by it’s Cover. All I’m going to say about the story for now (Yes, I have discussed the plot with Walt) is that it is a classic EC-style horror story with a kind of a twisted O. Henry-style ending (and that is perhaps giving way too much away already). The book is due out in September, and as the date approaches, I’ll assuredly be talking more and more about it. In the mean time, here is a teaser.

Again, the comic is entitled Psychosis! It is going to be a 48-page book, with three suspenseful tales! CAG will be posting some sneak previews of stories and book updates next month. Now, as I understand it the comics is slated to have four alternate covers. One of those covers spotlights my story.

In the meantime, my full script has already been written, submitted, and passed along to the artist. I haven’t seen any of the interior art as of yet, but I have been assured that the individual drawing it is quite talented, and will illustrate it as creepy/spooky as I wrote it. This is a very cool thing for me. Not since the late ‘70s have I had a fiction story of mine published. Back then it was an espionage comicbook entitled Agent Unknown, which was published by Renegade Press.

Well, that’s about it for now. As the publication draws closer, I’ll be chatting on this topic again. Oh, and you’re all invited to my publishing party…the first cup of goat’s blood is on me.

The Perfessor

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