“Take A Chance”

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I either have the attention span of a gnat or a…thing which is opposite of a gnat, depending on how I want to look at it. On one hand, I am profoundly enamored and excited by new projects. On the other, when I get my teeth in something, I am exceedingly unwilling to let it go. To wit:

About five and a half years ago, Marvel Comics announced it was beginning a creator-owned line and invited writers and artists to submit their material. It happened that at the time I was about to start on a comic book project to work on my own sequential art (ie, comic book) art skills. Instead, I wrote a script, got artist Ursula Vernon to draw the first five pages, and submitted it. After about five months, Marvel gave up on their idea, but I didn’t.

The result is that my first comic book, “Take A Chance”, a superhero comic about an ordinary woman who turns vigilante after her son is killed in the crossfire of gang warfare, is launching this December. I’m incredibly proud and excited about this, and I’m going to discuss behind the cut, in great detail, how it came to be.

Above the cut, though, I’m going to add that the first issue is a fundraiser for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, and that 50% of any profit I make on the issue will go to them, as will 10% of the proceeds from the graphic novel it’ll eventually be in. I’d therefore like to encourage people to dash out and pre-order the comic. 🙂 If you don’t have a pull list at your comic shop already, you can use this order form to order it. 🙂

There are a lot of ways to go about creating a comic book. The most common, particularly for a writer, is to look for an artist by way of saying, “Hey! I’ll split the profits with you when we’re rich and famous!” Sometimes this works.

It was not, however, the approach I took. I figured–and still do–that if you want professional-quality artwork (and you’d better have it, because it takes exactly .03 seconds to reject art as insufficiently professional), you’d better be prepared to pay for it. I went to digitalwebbing.com (a site I cannot recommend highly enough for comic book creation connections) and posted an ad for an artist, in which I told the truth: it was work for hire, I could pay a pittance, and I had no guarantee of publication.

I had more than seventy responses, a handful of which were very bad, a handful of which were very good, and the vast majority of which were okay. Out of them, literally the last person to submit art to me, Ardian Syaf, and I knew from the moment I saw his samples that he was the artist I wanted to work with. The test pages he did for me only confirmed it.

At that point I decided that no matter what happened in the long run, I was going to produce the whole first issue of Chance. I wanted to see at least one comic of mine completely finished, inks, colors, letters and all. This was an outlay of about $3000 (which my amzing husband agreed to), and somewhere in there I got the idea that, since I was spending the money anyway, if I ever *did* find a publisher, I should do something cool with the first issue. (That’s where the CBLDF fundraiser idea came from. I’m not going to make any money on that issue; anything that doesn’t go to my team or the CBLDF is being turned back over into the comic.)

Anyway, so over the course of the next year, I also found an inker and a colorist (Jason Embury) through digitalwebbing, and around two years ago had a complete comic which I then started shopping around. About a year ago Jennifer Jackson, my agent, placed the comic with Dabel Brothers Publishing, which was a first for all of us–her first creator-owned comic book sale, their first creator-owned production deal, my first comic-book deal period.

I’ve literally worked longer on this project than on anything else I’ve ever done: it’s been fascinating, frustrating, exciting, and exhausting in equal parts. Writing novels is not a career for the faint-hearted, and I’m coming to think writing comics is even less so.

I feel like I’ve skipped over a million things here, so if people have questions, please ask them and I’ll do my best to answer!

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