Thursday, August 20, 2009

Beautiful Creatures - Continued

The response I was most interested in was from Red 5 Comics. I had the chance the year previous to have a talk with co-founder, Paul Ens, at the Calgary Comic Expo at his booth and was really impressed with his vision. He was an editor and business owner actually concerned with protecting the creators who were published through him, and desired to see said creators succeed and grow in the industry rather than turning them over for a quick buck. (Of course, that's implying there is a buck to be made, which is another blog post entirely)

After a handful of emails and phone calls, Beautiful Creatures become part of the Red 5 line. A full year after I had drafted the proposal and almost giving up on the series.

It's always interesting how events turn in a direction never expected, but this was definitely a case of never stop trying.

There are other hurdles in the comic publishing world, realities that I wasn't aware of until I actually joined the circuit and had to leap over them. Along the way, we've managed to meet all goals and I'm proud to say on September 23rd, you'll hold the little engine that could in your hands.

So, what next?

If the series sells well, and Red 5 wants more, I have two more story arcs in my head featuring our lovely heroines. And who knows, with all the positive early buzz and reviews, it may do just that.

I'm always busy and I'm not far from having a couple more pitches ready, and this time I won't give up so easy.

The world has a lot more to hear from Kurtis J. Wiebe.

Beautiful Creatures

I suppose it's time I discussed material that originated in my brain. Until now, all my bragging rights have been cradled in the ownership of other people's hands. Snow Angel was the start of something much larger, I'd say, but when I approached that story, it wasn't mine from the start. It was created at the request of another.

That said, it was an amazing experience, and something I thoroughly enjoyed. Then came Vehicle, of which I am a major contributor, but again it was a product of another individual's creative investment. I am happy to be part of it, no question, but along the way I've really started to get selfish.

And I think it's about damn time.

On September 23rd, Red 5 Comics is releasing my creation: Beautiful Creatures. It's a long story in the telling, but the point is fairly clear: I'm published.

The origin of this fantasy comedy series is uninteresting, truth be told. Like most of my material, it's a smash up of various story ideas that eventually made the transition to a comic script. The interesting bits are the lead up to finally landing some interest.

In March of 2008, I emailed an artist named Ash Jackson about the script I'd written. His style was perfect for the heart of my story, a cartoony vibe with amazing characterization and an eye for dynamic camera. He replied shortly that he was interested in collaborating on a pitch. By April, he had the first five pages completed in pencil, but at that point I had yet to find a colourist. I lettered the penciled pages, had one page coloured by Hilary Jenkins, and started to submit.

Of course, as was something I was prepared for, the rejection letters came back fast and furious. Disheartened, I abandoned the project for the summer. Then, fall rolled around and I was still lamenting the lack of progress in my writing career. I decided to attack all my submissions again, revisiting, in particular, Beautiful Creatures (then titled The Reborn). I contacted Frank Zigarelli, an extremely talented artist, about coming on board to colour the pitch. Amazingly, he too agreed and our team was complete.

With six pages now, Ash having completed one more for good measure, I hit the campaign trail for our project.

A few submissions later, I had two positive responses.

(To be continued)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

And It Is Unveiled

Previously I spoke in detail about the building blocks of a new magazine that I had become part of. At the time, my contribution and involvement were still uncertain, but as of a week ago I am now a major contributor as well as Editor.

Let's discuss this magazine, shall we?

This upcoming weekend, at the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo, the creative team will be launching the premiere issue of Vehicle. It is a magazine dealing with narratives, whatever form they may take. Short stories, sequential art, narrative illustrations, serialized novels and more.

This issue contains three pieces of my material: two short comics and a short story.

Vehicle is the catalyst that sets forward in motion the desire of creators to tell stories that, until now, were difficult, if not impossible, to get out to the world at large. It's an exciting throwback to the pulp fiction of the 40's and 50's, taking the concept and retooling it with a modern twist. The magazine, currently a 36 page publication, will be followed by new issues every three months and will expand to greater page count as the team matures and grows in the industry. It's something we're very excited to share with the world. I truly hope you become part of it.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

To Create and to Own

The comic industry is ruled by the iron giant, one single entity that stipulates the rules of engagement.

The distributor.

Being a new man to the field, I suppose I lack the experience to really comment in full, but I can see hints of it through conversations with creators, editors and publishers. You play by the rules, or you lose the game.

A recent change in the Diamond ordering model is a slow, crushing stroke to the independent publishers. Some of these smaller publishers lived on small print runs, keeping their overhead prices down and relying on sales to meet their costs as a means of sharing stories with the world.

Diamond doesn't want stories. It wants money.

This is a fact of life, and begs the question: Well, what can be done?

In a world where one corporation could sink the largest comic company (Marvel) by refusal to distribute, how can the power be shifted down to the lowliest peon - the creator?

There are options. There are magnificently creative people with a passion to share stories to the greater community. Believe it or not, they can do so without selling their ideas or lining the coffers of the almighty fatcat. Banded together, these tiny, inconsequential people can create, package and distribute whatever it is they desire and put it in the hands of those who want to read honest, thoughtful and sometimes entertaining fare.

Lofty, sure. But entirely possible, goddamnit.

It was a telephone conversation with fellow creator and Snow Angel collaborator, Tyler Jenkins, where after a short gripe session we realized that for the last year we had been producing other people's ideas. We were spending so much time trying to attain approval for what other people wanted, we had lost sight of what it is we as creators wanted to spend our time on.

It started with comic shorts, 5 page contained stories as a way to work on projects that were entirely our own. Beyond that, it was also an exercise, a reminder of the potential on the horizon after we slogged through the long work list of "another project I do not own."

Then came the revelation.

Why are we frustrating ourselves and complaining about the lack of personal content in our creative form, rather than stepping up and finding an outlet.

Or rather, making an outlet.

That's right. Making one, goddamnit.

You'll see it, readers. Soon. A creator owned magazine with short stories, short comics, illustrations, and design. Made by people who just want to create whatever it is they can think of. No holds barred.

And I'm proud to say, it's all about the vanity.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Annual Update

It seems that I've failed in keeping this journal current. I suppose it's fitting, then, that I'm using this as a way to let the world know that Snow Angel landed a publisher.

And like some great, titan weight lifted, I can finally focus on the task at hand.

I wrote the first script for Snow Angel over a year ago now, and being tasked with finishing it off after such an extended leave has been a difficult endeavor. Regardless, with the opportunity presented I had little issue with moving forward.

Part of the deal required significant changes on a storytelling aspect, as rather than being developed as an eight issue, single release series it has been combined into one release of 88 pages combined into a graphic novel. If I take an honest look at the story, I know this is a better format for Snow Angel, but it shaves 100 pages from my overall length. That's a significant number in comic books. Trust me.

At any rate, I've been buried back into the arms of my forgotten love and wrestling with the concept and what needs to stay and what needs to be left out. Obviously, the strong story elements of father daughter relationship and desire for love and affection are what make Snow Angel an interesting story. The characters are easily identified with.

That said, there is also an element of darkness, of violence so personal that it draws the reader in and makes them feel the gunshot, the impact of its action and how it affects not only them but the characters on the trigger end of the gun.

I found a way to keep those essential elements and still retain a tight, engrossing story. With the upcoming release in July, I hope the followers of this project as well as new readers, will find what I've created a rewarding experience.

Until then, I'll just have to wait and see.