"POST-MANGA": The comics world we now inhabit, where the Japanese-style work ethic has influenced our Northern comics-producing continent. The idea of whole ORIGINAL GRAPHIC NOVELS ready for the shelves is more enticing than ever, especially more than simple single issues. WE WANT THIS. We want comics to be books, we want spines.
My first complete published work was just that. A 100+ page massive chunk of a book, Sharknife. Not only was my debut book a sizeable boulder of comix ferocity-- But it is part ONE of an AS OF YET UNDETERMINED multiple-part series. Pretty crazy notion for a starting-out comic artist to endeavor on-- but hey, OGN's are "the thing" to do (still are, for the moment?) so hey, I jumped right in. Page-rates, solicits, schedules be damned-- I will produce sheerly on ROCK alone, and the comic will be a success merely because I am awesome.
So where am I now? Two years later? I have no regrets. I have slayed some massive obstacles on my path of comics righteousness. My major comic of the last year was Rival Schools for Udon Comics. Without getting to specific, the project was a maelstrom of shit to overcome, a log jam all around. In another instance of how we were trying to assimilate the Japanese work ethic, I attempted to construct my own studio (YOSH). This ended up just being kind of a bunch of bullshit. A bunch of punk kids being solely responsible for a quite large entertainment property. Responsible for it's output in the comics world. We know how that went, since the last two issues are still being processed at this very moment (COMPLETE-- in the printing stage).
Besides Rival Schools, my non-comic drawing endeavors were various, as well. I produced a SHIT LOAD of art for MANY companies. The thing is, it was mostly concept stuff for animation, toy and movie development. So there's not a lot to SHOW. But hey, I kept busy.
Anyway, 2007, now I'm back to just REY! I can focus simply on my own created properties once again! GREAT VICTORY!!! I am once again endeavoring into the balls-out be-damned fray of ORIGINAL GRAPHIC NOVEL. For my followup to Sharknife, Sharknife Double Z. But how fucking honestly reasonable is it to ask ONE DUDE to produce a roughly-200 page OGN in the span of a few months?
IS THIS SOMETHING WE CAN REALLY DEPEND ON?
I'm dying every fucking second. I have no studio. I have no "people". Sharknife Co. Ltd. (tm) is all one guy. It takes a shit ass load of energy and intelligence to construct an entire universe for this shit!!! I'm not complaining!!! I FUCKING LOVE TO DO IT. But without instant success, piles of royalty checks or some kind of media tie-in deal, the OGN format is amazingly hard for a young BASICALLY "freelance" artist to commit to.
Oni, Myself, We all dream that the book will be out for San Diego Comic Con. We all crave new Sharknife :] But for that to happen, I'd have to draw 150 or 160 pages in roughly 3 months. And considering how GOD DAMN dense the pages are, that is a TALL, TALL, TALL order. Not to mention that I am also currently being sought after for many other side projects, which is a fucking conondrum when you're pinned as being somewhat "unreliable" on delivering serialized comics, yet people still hit you up for work coz you are "good", yet you need to focus on your ONE OGN, yet you need to take jobs because you are poor and need money. CONUNDRUM.
So my idea to Oni was to split Sharknife Double Z into 3 installments. Self-contained Peng-size comics to be released probably tri-monthly until the whole story is done, then collected into the "complete" Double Z book (probably with a bonus story). Not that astronomical of a suggestion, I think, since that's how most comics operate, anyway. In fact, the more I thought about it, the more SENSE it freakin' made to me. More SENSE than even the loftly goal of weekly serialized manga comics.
Let's look at the two sides of this immediate spectrum: On one hand you have the OGN, a massive chunk of comics. Fully satisfying and great to hold in your hands. Everyone is happy coz it's big and you get everything you want for your ten bucks. CONS ARE: If you can't feasibly make an OGN every year, your comic is not "regular" and is not commonly in the face of comic readers (your lifeblood). On the other hand is the manga-style weekly serialization (brilliantly orchestrated in something we WILL NOT SEE any time soon in the states: the weekly anthology). Every week you get a dose of your favorite comic, with the promise that it will all be collected into a digest once that volume is complete. However, there are CONS to this, too, and it is often complained about: Throw-away chapters. Quite often you'll skim thru weeks of manga serials just WAITING for the "big event" to happen. This is actually quite a huge bullshit problem, and probably the biggest strike against the "godly" manga work ethic.
So here I am, the fucking prodigal son of POST-MANGA ARCADE LOGIC WHATEVER THE FUCK YOU WANT TO CALL IT. No big "deal" of any nature to speak of keeping me afloat- simply still getting by on my INNER-ROCK alone. Stuck between my ideals, wanting to produce huge books, but at the same time wanting to give the world regular immediate doses of my freakin shit.
Where does this path lead me?
What am I thinking?
I am thinking my suggestion to Oni was the real shit.
Brandon (Graham) and I have strived to think of what it "IS" we "post-manga"ers DO. What the true format of our work should be presented in and regarded as. IT IS different. It aint 22-page ad-infested floppy comics, it aint weekly serialized anthology comics, it aint online comics, it aint single OGN 1-shot comics, and it is RARELY multi-volume OGN comics*
*Sharknife Vol.1 was an act of sheer willpower, King City took Brandon 2+ years, Scott Pilgrim is a rare exception due to it's instant brilliance and mal being a dickhead genius. Like, where is East Coast Rising part 2? Simmering in the background because Becky's more satisfied (and probably paid better) doing her Vertigo Book. In fact, the only other multi-volume OGN I can think of that is past "part 1" is MBQ by Felipe Smith, and that guy is a fucking monster.
So here's my point, and am I a madman for thinking this? Maybe there is a "post-manga" format that suits us creators who don't desire to make single floppies or single OGNs. Maybe there's a REASON my 2nd comic PENG is my favorite, and the THB 6 series is my favorite Pope works. Maybe 70-ish page comic installments, leading IN TO a complete graphic novel is THE WAY TO GO? It has all the qualities of american-floppies and japanese-serials, with a distinct new-vibe that makes me want to collect it. Has someone already thought of this and put it into effect???
When I think of this notion, I think of a term; POD-COMICS. I like my comics to be like PODS of entertainment that you collect like legos. Then when they're ready, you can put 'em together to form the greater story. That is just my way of making stories. People like Mal who are geniuses of writing and character weaving, etc, can plan out 6 volumes of book and have it work... Me, I like to work on a book-to-book basis and let the characters take me wherever.
AM I FUCKING CRAZY?????
Of course, from a comics publisher/retailer standpoint, I am fucking crazy. Because I've already dove into this damn industry, guns blazing. My first book was a fucking bazooka. Of course the next book needs to be a bazooka too. Can't a dude just chill out and distribute some fucking AK-47's for the damn revolution??
And what does all this talk mean? At the end of the day, either I'll be making Sharknife Double Z the OGN still, or I'll get my way and I'll make some Double Z "Pod-Comics". But the fact that this is a "weird thing" will still be prevalent. I think this speaks in conjunction with the industry as a whole... and the possible way it could change on my watch.