Genesis of a self-published graphic-novel | The Techno-Templar

in art •  7 months ago

Ever wanted to make your own comic?

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It was a childhood dream. I have been making art for a long time but many reasons were a bit blocking me to do sequential art. Among others, I had no story and while at the art academy in Belgium -ironicaly in this country where the medium is an institution- our teachers were telling us to never do comics! But yes it is very known to be a financially unrewarding activity.

If you're here expecting being rich and famous with comics, don't even bother read further. This is a topic about realising something for the sake of art.

Anyhow, one day I just decided that I don't care what these teachers said.

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In the past, self-publishing was much more difficult to maybe impossible, most companies would have to print thousands of copies and how would you have sell them, alone? Today is great! The printing technologies changed and internet is the new factor. The combination makes possible to run lower amount of copies and actually find your niche to sell them.

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To go back to the story, it really started when a friend who stayed home wrote a short, which I then illustrated with 6 pages. The virus had infected me; I seen a contest an tried a 4 pages (it hasn't been selected). Then I started my own 12 pages short. I still didn't really had a story but I thought I just start with the images I have in mind.

So, I started painting this ... and the rest came.
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With that, I printed a book with the three stories and added a selection of recent illustrations...

... After having shared the project on my facebook page, the 100 copies of the book sold in 5 days.

And people wanted more of it...
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... Obviously, I decided to print again!

There are things to note, I had already a decent amount of followers online and IRL, as I am a freelance artist since 2004, so it's not like I appeard out of the blue. If you plan anything like that, work first at getting a minimum of a supporting community. Finish your creations, post and show them regularly.

That said, let's continue,... so, I made 150 more books. This time I printed them in French (Helps to have two communities) through a successfull (first) crowdfunding. Then, still through kickstarters, a re-edition of 150 in English again. And finally a second book (200 in each language) and a third edition (again 200) of the first (you might think it's not a lot, but it is still a good begining!).

Around 10 very heavy boxes, around 600 books.
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Anyway, it has been an awesome experience over these last two and half years! I had not studied comics so I informed myself a lot about techniques, found tutorials etc... I also started to read lot of stories for inspiration and books about the art of writing.

Classics: The guide of the scenarist (Vogler). Understand Comics (McCloud). The hero with a thousand faces (Campbell).
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Also I had not trained to drawn anatomically good characters for long because my previous illustrations were mostly driven by «tripping» and didn't need to be very accurate. I was then forced to face many challenges. But this is exactly what is driving me now, I need more difficult stuff or I just get totally bored!

This is more or less ok. Well no, it's crap... but it was even worst before ...
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That's why, however your drawings are not perfect, it is needed to finish them and pass on to something else. This is how your brain processes the mistakes and can go on for new things. If you don't finish, you get stuck.

What helps me aswell is that I have a tendency to jump in projects I am fond of, whatever I can't financially afford them or not. It has good consequences and others less good. Still, I set myself goals that are attainable. Do not start straight with a 60 pages story, you might get cold feet, feel overwhelmed or even lost.

And clean your desk!
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Let's quickly go back to some technical sides. If you have read a few of my previous posts, you probably know that I paint my panels directly on paper with watercolor and pens. Once finished, I scan them, clean the borders and add the text in photoshop with a personalised font. Onomatopeas are also drawn, painted, scanned, detoured and added to the rest.
Somehow I insist on working analog, forces you to push your limits up to death as there's no undo. And best point, your work can be exhibited ... and maybe sold.

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The crowdfunding. This is to me one of the bests systems to not have to deal with publishers (Publishing house or self-publishing? Another topic I actually plan to develop here on Steemit). Through these campaigns, I gathered super supportive people, patrons and sponsors. Altough, be prepared, crowdfundings are like any campaign, it's not sufficiant to prepare your page and then drinking tea, waiting. You got to be active, this is communication. Again, internet is your best friend, read about it before starting. I will aslo make a post about this too though.
A crowdfunding can be overwhelming, be sure that the amounts you're asking will be enough to cover the expenses and don't forget about the shipping costs, that usually are really high! You'll also have to do a lot of logistics yourself, which can also be a pain in the ass.

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Signing piles of books is also a severe work!
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Business-wise, there are many things to improve your sales and for example you migh want to have your publication in shops. Altough it is important to be featured in such places, in my case I find a logistical pain. Keeping track of all books, plus most stores only taking depot makes it too uncertain. In many cases I came back a few months after, getting back the books because I had demands.

Ok, I did finally let books in stores.
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Don't forget fairs, festivals and conventions.
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The exhibitions. As an artist, comic lover and autoproclamed defender of sequential art, I strongly believe this medium is art (yes, some people still think it's «small drawings for kids»). To back such say, I must create something that one can hold in his hands and that can be exhibited.

Come on, look at these originals from "Philippe Druillet". Just dope isn't it? This is how comic will be truly respected.
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So, when the second book was printed, I went on a tour from Berlin to Brussels through various small towns in between. I posted something about that here. These were pop up shows of one to two days, a four weeks exhibition in Liège (Belgium) and a parallel 3 months show in Magdeburg (Germany). These events were great, they had quite an impact and brought substancial income.

The 54 original pages plus 4 cover artworks, framed and ready for the tour.
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One of my exhibitions in Belgium.
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This whole process proved me I was just damn right to do what I wanted.

There are many other factors that made me able to do that and I can't remember nor mention them all. Altough I must add that I am lucky to always been surrounded by a supportive family and friends.

All you should remember is, do I really want to spend 15 hours a day on a drawing board?
That is the difference between desire and will.

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So, why are you still here? Go get your brushes and draw!

.....

*Ok, you are still here!? So leave your opinion and do not be afraid to contradict me.

Thank you for having read it all!

If you are interested in the physical book(s) that's where it is: http://www.haedre.bigcartel.com

If you want more art, visit my official website http://www.haedre.com

You'll find a lot of images and news on: http://www.facebook.com/haedreart

Since you see now that I am dedicated to an unpaying job, you can also support me through http://www.patreon.com/haedre

Or directly with cryptos!

BTC: 13crkJP7G23sPeud2WnBmM9hbjze57f4o9

ETH: 0xa7B61e88d8ce1aBD543f80924F5f6D9f33E85648

Thanks again! Please consider to
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Really cool stuff and inspiring story. I'm really excited to see what crowdfunding possibilities Steemit will have to offer in the future.

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Thank you @midlet! Yes, I commented yesterday on @drwatson's post that is about this. Also enthusiast about something like that!

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Hey there! Sorry I missed your earlier post, it's super hard for me to keep track of mentions, steemify doesn't always work for me

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@drwatson, allow me to introduce you to @steemchiller's amazingly helpful tool, SteemWorld (beta). It has many helpful features. Look, here's a screenshot of your recent mentions:

[steemworld-drwatson-mentions.JPG

Hopefully you find steemworld to be a useful tool. ☺

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Thank you, steemify just hasn't been working great. My phone gets a notification, but then 75% of the time when I open the app, it automatically deletes all the mentions so I cant find them!

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That's bunk! Almost like it was designed to infuriate, perhaps.

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hey no worry .)

Great artwork that you are dedicating to comics. Best wishes for successful publishing!
Some things that I've learned from self-publishing that may be known to you or not;
Createspace.com helps you publish both physical books and electronic books which you can sell on various platforms. They are an extension of Amazon, but are independent. Easy process to get published on many platforms from one origin.
You can use their no-cost ISBN or purchase your own, you decide.
There are also other similar places to CS like Lulu.com so may be worth checking. CS also markets to bookstores too. CS does the printing, payment processing, returns handling and shipping as well as any other platform.
Libraries may be worth contacting to help spread your books, librarians have discretionary funds for such things.

Hope this was helpful.

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Super valuable reply @fractalizer! Thank a lot! No I didn't know about those platforms, will definitely keep an eye on them. It's one of the bad side of self-publishing, as one must be his own "agent", aware of the ocean of possibilities and out of them, find the more adapted. Double blade of internet, so many things, hard to sort and see when it worths the effort or not.
Yes, super helpful! Also great to see other self-publishers. Respects .)

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Glad to help, from what I've seen of your work so far, it should be a breeze for you to sort out.
Please tell me if you decide to try any of these. Best of success with your books!

@ haedre, first allow me to say thank you for another in-depth look into the real life of an illustrator. The amount of time you dedicate to your craft is amazing. Time invested is what distinguishes the professional from the student (not talent).


That's why, however your drawings are not perfect, it is needed to finish them and pass on to something else. This is how your brain processes the mistakes and can go on for new things. If you don't finish, you get stuck.

You opened my eyes with your words, so another thank you is due. Until now, I have not heard this explanation of why finishing WIPs is important. Earlier this evening, I was commenting about WIPs to @winstonalden. The point I was making to him is that each person works at a different pace, everyone has their own rate of growth. And now you have explained why, in just a few lines, that growth process is slow for some and fast for others.

I have so much to think about now! Good thing it's time for bed.☺

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Yeah - I probably could have explained myself better in that post. I'm glad @haedre did a better job! My feeling is that the work doesn't have to be perfect, but it should be finished. Get it done, put it out there, then do something else!

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Hey first, sorry to take that long to answer. It's been a very full of comments week :)

You are very welcome @enternamehere! It is really an honour to see that sharing these insights and that a few words can help, inspire or push others to go further =)

Yeah this whole thing about finishing is damn important, isn't it like when one do sports? I don't do much :D ... but all the effect it has on the body in facts takes place after the effort :) And indeed, like @winstonalden says, it doesn't need to be perfect, nonetheless as close as possible according to the creator's eye! Even if you can't publish it because you aren't that happy with it, your next one will be the bomb. Look at people who create "small" drawings, really fast, they usually have tons behind for a few that really kills it.
Also, even when satisfied, most of us will still find something unperfect to the artwork.

Thanks again for the motivating comment!

Okay as awesome as your comic illustrations are, now I kinda really want to see your previous art driven by tripping ;)

This is a great post, as an illustration of how it actually works in the self-publishing realm, from small beginnings to slightly-less-small print runs and eventually even income through pop-up shows, gallery exhibits etc. I really liked your repeated exhortations to finish projects and drawings. It is something I am so bad about. I have hard drives and physical paper folders overflowing with unfinished projects in varying stages that I will likely never revisit :(

This post was nominated by a @curie curator to be featured in an upcoming Author Showcase post on the @curie blog. If you agree to be featured in this way, please reply and:

  • Let us know if we can quote text and/or feature images from your post.
  • If you would like to provide a brief statement about your posting, your life or anything else to be included in the article, you can do so in reply here or look me up on Discord chat (@gnashster#6522 ) or even (last resort) email, same username as here with ye olde gmail appended.

You can check out the previous week's Author Showcase to get an idea of what we are doing with these posts.

Cheers - Carl (@curie curator)


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Hi @Carlgnash, thanks for your interest!

hahaha! You caught me. I might have used a "big word" as I meant that I was doing more like,... abstract stuff with less rules. Nothing fancy but a bit more unleashed. Happy you're curious about it! I'll post them soon for sure! In case of impatience, head to my website ;)

True I exhort to finish works, because it is something I totally struggle with too, everyday! =)

Wow!!! It is great news you bring me about the nomination and the showcase! I am super honoured and definitely up for it. Will catch you on discord then!

Thanks again!

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Lol. Look what I just found.
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Yup! This is the truth :) The Author showcase post is up :)

https://steemit.com/curation/@curie/curie-author-showcase-april-5th-2018

Awesome stuff! I love your style- your machines are clearly your strong suit, of course, but as you continue to develop your anatomy (your perspective is fine already) it'll end up looking absurdly good.

It's always good to see someone else breaking into comics- I'm currently trying to break in as a writer, which is fun.

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Thank you! Yeah perspective and machines I am ok with it :) Characters I work now on discrimination, so I sit in crowded areas with a notebook and write down main people's features. Putting names on traits really helps unblocking generic idea we have of humans.

Breaking is a big word in my case but at least the publications are not rotting in a basement! Good luck for your writting!!! ;)

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Amazing story and awesome comics :)

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Really Cool post! 👏👏👏
Very inspiring @haedre!

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Hey you rock! Have you contacted Matt with Phaneros yet? Message him here...https://www.instagram.com/phaneros_art/

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Thanks for the comment and reminder @dynamicgreentk!! No, I haven't yet yet but I will, thanks for the link!

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Tell him babygirl sent you from steemit...😯😎😂😂😂

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hahaha, had already sent something before you wrote that, we'll see

looks nice , you might be interested in creativechain , it's a blockchain they made for creators it was launched this week, it's still not perfect but keep an eye out for it . https://www.creativechain.org/project/ and keep up your creative art !!

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Thank you @macrophotography! Interesting, I will indeed follow this project.

Absolutely incredible work!

As a friendly reminder, the upvote fee is $0.05 SBD ($0.051 for incognito). Current 300%+ upvote is now $0.15+ SBD.

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Love your inspiring story. Comics is really great and hard work!!

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Thanks a lot for commenting @livvu!

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My pleasure !

Interesting and honest post about making comics in real life. I'm making an online comic, but I do dream of printing it one day. We'll see, now that Facebook and Instagram organic reach has turned to crap, and my Patreon just keeps dropping, it may never happen. Unless maybe here on Steemit... :)

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Glad it caught your attention @stahlberg ;) Your comic is great, you should definitely try to print it. Why no crowfunding? Even if your reach on the other platforms is lower I am sure it'd work.

It's a wonderful project and great work that consists of it. You have a real unique talent and it's great that your devotion, hard work lasting many hours and a unique imagination can see the light of day and be noticed by many more people who can admire what you have created. This details! That's so amazing! 😯🏆
Thank you for sharing with us not only this, but also your inspiring story. I hope that you can go far, even further than you dream today and that you will achieve the success you deserve. I'll keep my fingers crossed for you @haedre 👍👌💪.

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Hey thanks a lot for this very nice comment @adazone! Glad that you enjoyed the post! Doing my best to keep up ;)

@haedre I'm glad you really sought your passion above all else and found success. Really inspiring story! Great job on your art and showcasing it in exhibitions and on Steemit to others, you're art is really a beauty! Especially for technopunks like us 😍

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I appreciate a lot comments from fellows technopunks! Thanks for the encouraging words! Next season soon!

Good work, and congrats on the @curie feature!

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Thank you very much for your comment @cstrimel!

Ah this is amazing indeed. Curie just knows what I need. Lol. I guess. I should start doing comics again but I just don't have enough inspiration yet.

And yeah anatomy and doing more or less realistic art if you're not into doing it initially is really a challenge.

Did you consign your books to big bookstores or just the ones who aren't majorly known? The big bookstores here require one to have business permits and such in order to conduct business with them or have books sold at their stores so I haven't even thought of doing it the way you did yet.

But fairs/bazaars and comic cons would definitely help to get exposure and hopefully a publisher too if one is looking for a publisher.

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Thank you for passing by and commenting @artgirl!

Without inspiration it can be difficult indeed, tough there are tricks to trick the imagination. Maybe if you find a story that is free of rights and that really pleases you, it can be a good start to adapt it the way you like.

Anatomy is quite important in comics. You might see some with unrealistic characters but there's a way to integrate them so that it doesn't deranges. Humans are egocentred creature, most of us will focus on the visage, the eyes, mouth, hands and feet. The rest might have slight flawy, it's likely it will less be noticed :D

At the moment I don't work with major bookstores, mostly because my amount of copies is too low to get into that extremelly competitive business. This is where the D.I.Y. reaches its limits. The logistic it involves is overwhelming for an artist alone. This is where you need to delegate. The ideal would be a smaller, more human, confiance-based, network of "small" retailer and distributors, which I don't have nor I don't know if it even exists. Or simply a sort of "agent" taking care of it, with a commission. But again, I think I'd then need a higher run of copies.

The events, fairs, cons etc... is also a debate. It might be important to at least be present, imposing yourself in that landscape, hopefully getting commissions, jobs or even a contract with a decent publisher. But... they can cost you a lot of money, time and can be very stressfull and frustrating if they don't work good enough, which you can never predict. Again a question of equilibrium between time, money invested and a "palpable" return. Difficult!

Awesome story, very inspiring ! I can't wait the topic about Publishing house or self-publishing :)
Super histoire, très inspirante ! Impatient de voir l'article "Maison d'édition ou auto édition" ! :)

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Haha English or Français :D Super si vous êtes impatient pour l'article. J'y travaille, c'est un gros sujet!!
Merci pour le commentaire ,)