You’ve probably seen this.
If you haven’t, you should.
Apologies if the view is screwy on your monitor. You can also find it here.
“Verification of the tale, as one might expect, is difficult, yet certain facts are known. Tanitin Regional Deputy Marshal Miles Drake is, in fact, a lawman of the territory, a position he has held since IV.E.987….”
EDIT: SUGGESTIONS ARE NOW CLOSED, AND VOTING HAS BEGUN!
You may recognize the rough looking crew above from the Gunfight at Genevieve Pier, as seen in Chapter Four of our serial adventure. We noticed that you, our readers, seemed to take a shine to these fellows, and we don’t blame you — we kind of like them too!
You may have also noticed that, despite the bullets, splinters, and even suggested splashes of O-positive flying about the panels, we never saw any bodies. And this is comics, so you know what that means — we might see one or more of these brutes turn up again in the future of our strip.
But here’s the thing — we can’t just keep calling them Stovepipe, Cappy, Beret, Topper, and Derby (respectively). And so we thought, since you all liked them so much, why don’t we ask you what their names are?
So here’s the drill: Suggest your names in the comments below, including the number of the gunman for whom you’re providing a name. Feel free to suggest a name for each, or multiple names even! First and last, first only, or nicknames — your choice!
Late next week, I’ll compile the suggestions into poll form, and we’ll let you decide which of the options best suits the lovely faces (and hats) of each of the hired killers. These names will become canon, so we for the most part trust your decision making (we reserve the right to not make our characters a punchline, so no ‘Stephen Colbert’ing this thing!). And who knows? Maybe your answers will inspire us to reveal more about these capped chaps in the future!
For the last several weeks (well…months, honestly), Rick, Eric, and I have been engaged in an ongoing discussion about the best way to produce and distribute our first trade. We’ve gone ’round and ’round enough at this point that we’re verging on chasing our own tails, in fact, and that’s what brings me before you today.
We want your opinion. We want your input.
This is basically a two-option poll. Please read the below, and my apologies if this is a little too much information about how the sausage is made.
Option One is to go with an established comic publisher. There are immediate benefits to this, not the least of which being wider potential distribution, including comic book and potentially mainstream book stores. This avails us of the professional resources of the publisher in question, and we would, in the main, dictate the form and mode of the trade. Financially for us, any profits from the sale of the trade would first go to cover production, publisher fees, printing, distribution, etc, before we would then split any further profits between said publisher and ourselves. Profits would come in the form of royalties. We would retain our rights to the material, and would not obligate ourselves to continue publishing Lady Sabre trades through the same publisher, meaning we would establish reversion and the right to self-publish any future trades (the webcomic remains ours entirely) as we see fit.
There are cons to this, as well. We would ultimately be obligated to the publisher’s parameters of design and production, though our input would be heavily weighted. There is no guarantee that we would sell enough to see profit via royalties after all fees are paid for production. Bonus content would be somewhat limited, and, as far as I know, digital distribution of the trade would be contingent on the publisher’s agreement with their digital arm/partner, and potentially be subject to any further deals with said arm. There would be no means of determining a base line of sales, i.e. no means to determine how many copies would initially be sold.
Option Two is to attempt a crowd-sourcing venture of some sort, most likely via Kickstarter. This would allow greater community investment and even input in the final shape and form of the trade. It would allow us to modify our trade goals depending on funding levels reached, ie, paper dolls at X level; ship blueprints at X+Y level; deluxe hardcover; digital and print packages. We’ve got a long list of potential “rewards,” as well, including remarqued copies, signed copies, character/cast options, and the like. In addition, any funds raised over our costs that are not immediately returned to the project allow us a clear margin of profit, something which is crucial to me personally, as neither Rick, Eric, nor myself has taken any payment for our work here thus far. A crowd-sourced trade would further establish a clear initial number for the first printing. Additional copies would be sold via the website here and by Eric, Rick, and myself at shows.
There are cons to this approach, as well, not the least being what happens if we fail to reach our funding goal. Further, there is a question as to how wide an audience we will be able to reach, and how many new readers we may acquire. Bookstore and comic book store placement becomes problematic, and potentially unviable. Finally, the majority burden of production, design, and distribution work falls entirely on ourselves, and thus there may be a delay of six months or potentially even longer before the trade becomes a reality (though this would be mitigated should funding raise enough to allow us to focus on Lady Sabre exclusively).
So, as you can see, there are good reasons both for and against each of these options, and that, gentle readers, is why we’re stuck. After discussing this yet again and weighing all our options, we’re still stuck, and so we turn to you. The results of this poll will not dictate our final decision, but I can say with certainty that your answers and your comments will weigh very heavily in what we decide to do.
If you have questions, please post them; if you have thoughts, please do the same; if you have thirst, I recommend a nice cup of tea.
While we’re on our brief hiatus, we thought it might be a good opportunity to get back into a discussion of the creative process. So check back in with us every Monday and Thursday for a little Q&A session with Rick and Greg, respectively.
I’ll be opening each session with a prompt or a handful of questions, but please ask your own questions in the comments section, and Rick and Greg will do their best to answer!
As an artist, how many of your ideas come as fully formed pictures, and how many come as, “I’d like this-and-this to happen — how do I pull that off visually?” How do these ideas shift / change / deform / evolve in the transition from your brain to your hand?
When I’m drawing a strip everything I draw is in service to the story, so it all starts with the script. My job is to visually interpret the writer’s story and elaborate on the emotional context where I can. Much of my input depends on the writer. I’ve worked with a lot of different writers and none approach scripting exactly the same way.
Some writers give very detailed art directions. They’ll not only tell you the characters involved in the scene, but they’ll give a detailed description of the setting. They will list the furniture in a room, it’s location in the room, sometimes even the style of the furniture. They’ll tell you where the characters stand (or sit), what they’re wearing, and even focus on what the particular character is doing, whether it’s important to the story or not. Other writers will give a little sketchier panel descriptions focusing on the most important visual elements and leaving the rest to the artist to elaborate on. Then if you’re working Marvel style, or from a synopsis, the artist decides on the pacing of the story, how many panels on the page, in a sense becoming a co-writer. All of these methods and variations of them, require a different approach.
I’ve always tried to draw to the writer. It’s not my job to change what they wrote, to restructure the story or to alter the focus. That doesn’t mean I won’t change things, but I’ll only make changes if I feel there’s a better way to visualize the writer’s intent. Understanding what that intent might be is something I take very seriously. It’s maybe the hardest part of the job and often requires reading between the lines of the script. Writer’s choose the words they use for a reason, so it’s important to pay attention to those words. The choice of words will give clues to the emotional intent of the scene regardless of the structure of the written pages.
That’s where I start. I approach each script with no preconceived notions. As I’m doing the first read through I try not to visualize anything. I’m just trying to get a general sense of the story, making mental notes on locations, characters, and any research that might be necessary. Sometimes, though, as I’m reading a scene, a visual will pop into my head. When that happens I know it’s the best way to draw that sequence. I don’t understand why it happens, but every time I try to re-imagine something that has come to me that way, I soon realize I’m not going to improve on that image. It’s the same with designing characters. The first image that occurs to me is the one I’m most satisfied with. Many times I’ll be asked to alter a design to someone else’s specification, and I always comply, but I’m never as happy with the result.
I don’t think I’ve ever worked on a script that completely stymied me. There have been some that I’ve had trouble with, usually written by someone who doesn’t understand the medium. My approach to drawing comics is old school. I want to tell a story in pictures and see how much of that story I can communicate visually. It is definitely not the accepted approach to drawing today’s comics. I don’t draw pin-ups on every page. The work isn’t in your face. I try for subtlety when I can. I try to inject visual humor when possible. I find doing things this way opens a visual palette that is much broader than the norm. It gives me more tools to play with. For me, it’s more challenging, and a lot more fun.
This year marks my 30th anniversary as a comics professional, and when I think about all the types of stories I haven’t had the opportunity to draw, my emotions become mixed. I’m disappointed because I’ve never gotten to interpret a war story, or a horror story,or a romance story, or a science fiction story, or do an adaptation of a movie or a tv show, and I really want (need!) to do another Western. And then there’s the notion of writing something myself. But the disappointment soon becomes excitement because I realize I haven’t done a war story, or a horror story, or a or a romance, or a science fiction….
The end of Chapter Five sees the end of Part I of this Book of Sabre. Eric, Rick, and I want, first and foremost, to thank all of you for bearing with us as we’ve gone from ignorant bliss to tragic misunderstanding to, hopefully, our first few steps into webcomic adolescence, if not maturity. I’m feeling reflective, as you can no doubt tell – we launched Lady S. on her voyage back in early July of 2011, reaching this point is, in many ways, further than any of us imagined. To say it’s been rewarding so far is an understatement; to say it’s been daunting is similarly evasive. This is our creator-owned venture, and so far, I think it’s both benefitted and suffered for being so.
Now, with all (or nearly all!) of our key players on the board and the stakes defined, we’re ready to move into the next phase of this adventure, both within and without. Within… well, you’ll see what’s to come. Without, the time has come to discuss our trade options, for we now feel that, yes, there is enough to warrant a print edition. In the coming weeks we’ll be re-opening the earlier discussion we had here about our options, what people would like to see, and, just as important, what they most definitely don’t. Our publishing options are many and varied, from traditional print sources with wide distribution to crowd-sourced financing and selling via the site and in person. Eric, Rick, and I have been going ’round and ’round on this matter for months already, and your input matters.
Finally, or almost finally, we’ll be taking a hiatus from posting strips for the next six weeks or so, resuming with the start of Chapter Six in early July, coinciding (at least somewhat) with our one year anniversary. While we won’t be putting up new comics, the site will still be active; the afore-mentioned trade conversation, for one; Monday Q&A with Rick, and Thursday Q&A with Greg, and we-haven’t-picked-a-day-yet Q&A with Eric; the conclusion of “Merrimount Orde” and additional Almanac content; more Good Stuff; and some yet-to-be-revealed fun and games.
Again, I’m going to repeat what I’ve already said – from all of us here, thank you for coming this far with us, for your faith and encouragement and feedback, and be assured, there is much more to come.
It’s called ALPHA, and you can read a preview here, over at Facebook, if you’re so inclined.
This is, in no small part, responsible for the delays in getting the rest of “Merrimount Orde” finished and up. You are all very patient, and for that, I am grateful. It should be ready by a week from this Friday (there are three scripts and another short story to write between now and then, just so you know what it is you’re being so darn patient about!).
For those of you interested, there will be an abbreviated ALPHA tour:
I’m signing in Portland on May 22nd, the day of release, at Powell’s Cedar Hills Crossing.
On the 24th, I’ll be up in Seattle, signing at The Seattle Mystery Bookshop.
The 30th sees me in Scottsdale, Arizona, signing at The Poisoned Pen.
The 31st sees me at BookPeople in Austin, Texas.
If you’re interested in getting a signed (and/or personalized) copy of ALPHA, I would urge you to contact any of the above booksellers. They would be – sincerely – delighted to take your order and record your specifics for how you’d like the book inscribed, and they would be just as happy to make certain said inscribed book reaches you in a manner that would surely be called “mint” or, at the worst, “near mint.”
Hope to see/meet/chat with some of you, at least, in the coming weeks!
We’re overdue in posting this, but luckily Team Wollstonecraft — Jordan Stratford, Claire Robertson and Kevin Steil, aka Airship Ambassador — have met and surpassed their goal, ensuring the backing of his project. But with each additional dollar, the potential for Stratford’s series grows, and so Greg, Rick and I wanted to lend our support to Wollstonecraft.
Let’s be honest, the following synopsis is enough to earn our support:
This is a pro-math, pro-science, pro-history and pro-literature adventure novel for and about girls, who use their education to solve problems and catch a jewel thief. Ada and Mary encounter real historical characters, such as Percy Shelley, Charles Babbage, Michael Faraday, and Charles Dickens – people whom the girls actually knew. If Jane Austen wrote about zeppelins and brass goggles, this would be the book.
But Kevin has been, through his site and Twitter, an early and constant supporter of Lady Sabre, and so this is a no-brainer. Visit the Wollstonecraft Kickstarter page and help make goodness happen.
So, somehow this past holiday snuck up on all of us here at Lady Sabre. This may have been obvious to those of you who noted the lack of a “holiday themed” screen this past Thursday; Rick, Eric, and I were so focused on getting Chapter Five started, we kinda missed what the calendar was telling us.
The result of this is that there will be no post on Monday, 9 April. We’ll be resuming regular schedule this coming Thursday.
Our apologies for the unexpected delay, and our sincerest hopes that this weekend was a good one for all, in whatever manner you chose to spend it!
Recent Addition: Lady Sabre T-Shirt. Available in unisex and women’s cuts, in small, medium, large, and extra-large sizes!
Shirt modeled by renowned Land Cartographer and Intrepid Explorer of Terra Icognita, Doctor Day Al-Mohamed.