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Matchett’s Musings: Creating Sparks Part 3

Creating Sparks Part 3: Do you hear that?

Those that know me will probably be familiar with the fact that if you meet me and talk to me for a significant length of time, you’ll discover my passion for Doctor Who. I could write an entire article on that show itself but for now I want to use it for an analogy.

In the show, one of the Doctor’s foes ‘The Master’ was recently revealed to have a constant drumming in his mind. This noise was the explanation for his villainous ways by and large, I mention it because I too have a similar sound in my mind. It’s not a drum though, it’s more like this.

Tick, tock. Tick, tock.

Patience has never been one of my attributes. In an infamous issue of classic X-Factor, Peter David wrote a rather famous bit of dialogue from Quicksilver about how he constantly feels pissed off because compared to him, everyone moves so slow. I’m a little like that but I don’t have super speed to blame, I can sometimes just be an impatient jerk.

I’ve always done things fast in terms of deadlines. In University and in comics I heard people jest that I would have the assignment done before there was even an assignment due. I just liked to be early which was a trait I picked up from my mother who at times liked to be 5 hours early for a flight at the airport.

This expediency can be a blessing, I’ve never missed a deadline and people tell me I’m dependable. Of course it can also be a curse because I work at such a rapid rate, I expect everyone else to as well. I need everything done yesterday and in the world of comics, things tend to move at a general glacial pace. I’ve written scripts for volumes that have seen a year (or more) from me finishing my part to it being in my hands. There are still scripts I wrote back in 2012 that I’m still waiting to see published.

Tick, tock. Tick, tock.

My impatience has led me to make bad decisions, cost me friends and more negative things than I care to remember. It has also allowed me to be an editor at GrayHaven that has more output than any of my peers with regards to completed volumes.

It was this double edged sword of a trait that led to Sparks artist A leaving the book, or rather me asking them to leave. I think they worked on the book for 6-8 months (maybe more, maybe less) and produced 2 character sketches in that time. I tried to be patient with them (or as I could be) contacting them every 2 months or so for a progress update. Eventually I decided to tell them that due to the delay the project had been cancelled.

I did this so I could find someone else. The project of course wasn’t cancelled but I felt this was a decision that was best for the book. I wanted someone who could really dedicate their time and focus to Sparks.  As talented as artist A was, that wasn’t them.

Over this time things had expanded quite a bit at GrayHaven. When I went to Andrew to ask about a replacement artist, he told me that I had to look outside the group of artists working for the company. This made sense to me because since GrayHaven doesn’t pay its contributors, we had to make sure the artists we had were put towards putting out the volumes.

Also by this time, the money I had saved to perhaps pay an artist had been used on another project. I thought back pay was my best option.

The right and wrong of back pay vs. payment is something I will maybe talk about in future. I’m not going to spend a lot of time on it here, I just know] what I’ve spent trying to break into comics I have never really gotten back. I’ve even had people steal from me and heard many stories from people who were stolen from. Sometimes making comics isn’t all its cracked up to be.

Along came artist B who said they had a day job, loved the project and back pay wasn’t a problem. A number of months later artist B then contacted me saying they had received an offer for a paying gig and would return ‘if they found the time’.

Tick, tock. Tick, tock.

Being frank, I found that artist B’s work wasn’t suitable to what I was looking for so for a change it seemed that things were in my favour. I needed someone who would care about the project, whose work I liked and someone I could trust. By this time GrayHaven had progressed on with more ambitious projects than my little British set one shot and it seemed to had been largely quietly forgotten. I don’t blame the company because you have to keep going forwards. If you spend your time on each problem project you’ll drive yourself insane.  I was largely left to my own devices and because of that, I went to the artist who I had wanted from the start, just like it was some sort of odd destiny.

I first became familiar with Kell Smith’s work when she did a cover for us for our 8th anthology that centered around the theme ‘myth’. It was a beautiful cover harkening back to the classic sword in the stone tale that featured King Arthur’s discovery of the mythical sword Excalibur. When I first saw the cover my question was ‘Who is this Kell Smith person?’

I was treated to more lovely covers, prints, pencils and colors by Kell who seemed to be a Swiss army knife of talent. I even had the fortune of working with her on the third volume of GrayHaven’s premier horror title ‘Tales From The Abyss’.

I contacted Kell with the story of my (at that time) over 2 years of headache’s and proposed she join me.  Given my misfortune to this date I didn’t expect a yes. I think Kell is immensely talented and GrayHaven was very fortunate to have someone like her, I didn’t think she would be interested in working with me.

It turns out I was wrong. Kell loved the idea and it seemed that fate had led me all the way back to her. She delivered in my view, beautiful work and brought Mel Sparks, Kathy Ericson and Barry Patterson to life. I was left speechless the first time she showed me the cover because I was brought back to that classroom where it had all been conceived and all the pain, disappointment and broken promises were suddenly worth it.

However getting a product in comics is one thing, getting people to buy it is another.

Tick, tock. Tick, tock.

Next: Release, Reviews and Marketing

Got any comments, suggestions or questions? Let me know! Also follow me on Twitter @glenn_matchett

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