I had a revelation about the story a little over week ago. I’m thinking about restructuring the first draft of the outline for Part One, which was finished last September. Andy Schmidt from Comics Experience said something on the Make Comics podcast that must have gotten to me. He said not only could every issue be a chance to lose a reader, every page, and even every panel could be. I think he’s right in a broad sense, in that someone somewhere may get tired of a comic mid-read when they happen to be on a particular panel, but I certainly think every page is a chance to lose a reader on any comic book. They always have to want to flip to the next page.
I’m thinking about a publisher (heck, let’s say Image), and what they’ll expect to see when they pick up a book. The name is catchy – you gotta give it that. I think it’s an attention grabber. It sounds dark and it sounds fun, and I think people will want to look inside. Now I have to keep them for every page. For the right amount of money, it will look professional and match my vision. But what of the pace? I’d written the story as though I were under the assumption that everything will just work out. That I could simply make sixty issues. That I could create whatever long-lasting comic book series I wanted. I did not think then about how much it would take to make a single issue, let alone sixty of them.
But let’s be honest... I can’t pitch a sixty-book story to Image from out of nowhere and expect it to be picked up. I’m either going to have to do a one shot, or a short arc side story or historical piece, OR I could restructure the story so that the pitch for the first arc is awesome, and fairly self-contained, but with continued story potential. An arc that is actually about Spooky Corps, and not the slow-burn leading to their real introduction, which is how it’s written now. And I have to make sure that by the end of that story, it is impossible to not want it to continue so if it WERE to get picked up, it would keep selling. I think the restructuring idea I mentioned a week ago would do that for the story, but I’m not sure how much rearranging it’s going to take. It seems like it’s going to be hard...
But before I get to restructuring, I think about the other option... Kickstarter.
Crowdfunding was the presumed path if publishing didn’t pan out, but I’m starting to realize it may be unlikely that I’m going to be able to gather enough interest to run a successful campaign. Of course, I have begun to establish my online presence pretty early in the production process. I have at least a year before I start trying to move toward printing, if that’s the way it’s going to go. It’s hard to imagine in that time I will have neither learned anything nor progressed at all, and I should hope that the interest and support will continue to grow. I must keep that in mind, especially this early on. But I’ve been thinking about the story in terms of pages lately, and I’m beginning to see my production timeline (assuming my pitch doesn’t connect and I’ll be doing it on my own) more realistically.
I’m not sure to what degree I find this avenue appealing, but I do find it interesting and a little exciting to have my first real obstacle or challenge in the process. What I’ve come to is this: I may have to release the pages online as they’re completed in order for the story gather the interest it needs to have a successful campaign. And even if I try a crowdfunding campaign and it fails, maybe an online release is the most realistic way for me to get this story out there.
So now my conundrum: if that ends up being the case and I’m not going to get the story picked up - if I’m releasing it myself, either with the crowdfunded financial backing or out of my own pocket, and I can do whatever I want with the story because I’m making it, and I’m paying for it - do I really want it to be restructured? Is the way I have it now actually the best way to tell the story, and the best way to tell the story is what will keep it from being picked up? Or is there only one best way, and finding the way that gives it the greatest chance to get it published will be a benefit the story no matter how it ends up being released? Without knowing, is it worth my time to fiddle with it, possibly modifying the story past the point of no return?
I do know the story isn’t done. It won’t be done until I write Part Three, and do another full pass-over knowing all we’ll know when the entire outline is completed. Si I might as well keep tumbling it. Get it nice and polished. See what else might work; see what might work better.
Hm… I’m going to go ahead and say very few great works were created after an artist said, “Might as well.”
Let’s do this.
There we go.
edit: Well... that was easy. I sat down for twenty minutes and I think I finished. Now that I have a better feel for pages, I was able to turn what had been the first ten issues into the first five issues. It turns out, that accomplished everything I wanted to do, and I only had to rearrange two paragraphs. When I did this to part two, I got rid of four issue numbers. So we're certainly not at sixty anymore for the whole story, but relevant to this post, that first arc is now more solid, more streamlined, and feels more complete. Feels good, man.
My “how is this thing going to get made” conundrum has vanished. I don’t feel like anything’s out the window. THIS is the way to tell the story. And maybe it won’t get picked up. And maybe I will do a side arc, or a one-shot. And maybe those won’t be picked up either, and maybe I will release it online for free, slowly cultivating a following until I’m able to campaign to collect the issues in print.. I don’t know, and that’s a ways off, and I’m not worried about it now.
Right now, I’m digging the story. It excites me.
It is my favorite thing.