Tag Archives: karl kesel

Small Fish in a Big Con, Part 2: Swimming With the Big Fish

Read Part 1 if you haven’t yet!

mspspringcon

Now that I’d earned a spot at my biggest con yet, MSPSpringCon , I knew I needed to up my game, to shift my normal con plans. Part of this change was pretty obvious. I had to make sure I had enough product for the bigger crowd, so I ordered extra copies of each of my graphic novels. And then, thinking about it some more, I ordered more extra copies. I figured that I’d always be able to sell the extras later–if I had any extras–but that I didn’t want to run out on the first day of the con when I was in a different state.

Some of these changes were still obvious, but ones I’d been putting off. Before this point, I’d used a big piece of paper as my “tablecloth”, a piece of paper that I’d written my name and company on in marker. Talk about professional. I knew I needed something classier (and more durable) than that, so I ordered a table cloth. Weirdly, the first cloth they sent had my logo on it, just printed upside down. Luckily, they comped me a second cloth that was printed correctly. I didn’t know it at the time, but I could use the bad version for covering my table overnight at multiple day cons.

Now that I’d earned a spot at my biggest con yet, I knew I needed to up my game…

I also needed a better display (given that I’d only displayed my books laying down on the table, spread out like a fan). When I was at a comic signing for Free Comic Book Day, someone who was in marketing told me that I should have my comics displayed vertically, displayed in a better way for the customer to see it. This, again, seems obvious, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my time as a writer and self-publisher, it’s that sometimes I need to make mistakes and then correct them with a solution that in hindsight seems obvious. Like any new trade, skill, or job, we can be overwhelmed when we start it and miss the fixes staring us right in our faces. At that FCBD, I’d luckily had a plastic shelving unit, one where the shelves pulled out of the frame, so I used those as containers holding my graphic novels then and figured it would be good enough to use at the con.

Finally, I printed out some new signs; at previous Mighty Cons, many creators told me that I was selling my graphic novels at too cheap a price. And they were right–I was selling the first trade for $5 and the second for $10, when the cover prices on both of those were $15. With those discount prices, I needed to sell about 50 copies to barely make a profit at the Mighty Cons, to cover the table cost, printing costs of the graphic novel, transportation, and then still only make a few extra dollars. They also rightly pointed out that I could charge even more than cover price, given that they were getting a signature and personalized message. I still don’t feel comfortable charging more than cover price, but I decided to charge cover price with one exception: the old edition of Act 1 would be $10 instead of $15. I figured that it would help to have a discount option, especially in the face of stiffer competition at the bigger MSPSpringCon.

first-mighty-con-bigger-pic
My table at Mighty Con
msp con table pic-page-001
My table at MSPSpringCon (still needs work but definitely going in the right direction)

Finally, I figured out lodging. I grew up right outside Minneapolis, and my family still lives there, so I was fortunate enough to have a rent-free place to lay my head. And, since the table at MSPSpringCon was free (a rarity at cons, something that happens because they vet the creators they want there instead of just selling the spaces), my whole trip would be pure profit (well, minus the cost of gas for driving). Still, most cons don’t come with that small of overhead.

All that was left was the waiting. And the Tweeting. And the Instagramming. These were things I would do anyway, but MCBA (the Midwest Comic Book Association, the organization sponsoring the con) wanted me to do this too.

The weekend of the con approached, and I drove to Minneapolis that Friday, the day before the con started, to set up. Compared to other tables, I didn’t have much to set up, but I still wanted to do it early and lay that worry to rest. When I was done setting up, there was one comparison to other tables that couldn’t escape my notice: they all used tablecloths to cover their wares overnight. I’d written earlier that I could use the first, misprinted tablecloth in this manner, but I didn’t know that until this moment. And I’d left that tablecloth at home. Still, like everything, I learned how to better myself and what to do next time for a stronger show.

I fitfully slept through the night and woke up so early that I decide to head to the con (at the MN State Fairgronds) about an hour earlier than I’d planned. Once I got there, I didn’t do much other than the last minute setting up that left me with still about an hour before the doors opened. Knowing that I don’t stray from my table much once the con starts, I took that opportunity to buy a few trades and–more importantly–scope out the competition/friendly family of creators. I had a good small conversation with Peter Krause, praising his work on Irredeemable (being a stereotypical rookie gushing praise, of course), meeting Karl Kesel, and seeing the booth for Dan Jurgens empty (the big names did seem to cut it close to opening time, but I suppose that’s the way I’ll eventually be too, once cons become less exciting and new).

Since it was pretty bad weather–overcast and going to rain the rest of the weekend–the con opened early so that customers didn’t have to stand outside and possibly get drenched. And, even with the rain, this con had a bigger crowd than any I’d seen so far as a creator. Of course, this was because the venue was bigger, the location was a denser city than Madison, and (most importantly) there were bigger names from the industry here than at Mighty Con.

Despite the big crowd, though, I wasn’t doing any better than at Mighty Con in terms of sales. I was doing much worse, in fact. It took me about three hours to make my first sale; at Mighty Con, I would’ve probably sold 10 trades in that time, partly because of the limited competition, partly because I was a true local author at those cons, and (possibly) partly because of the reduced prices. By the end of the day, I’d sold four trades, and my spirits had sunk. I had brought 200 trades with me to the con, and it was clear that I only needed a sliver of that amount.

There were still a few good things to say about that day, though. First, MCBA knows how to treat their creators. They gave us a free lunch, one that had a lot of variety and tasted pretty good, especially for mass-produced meals. They also–after the con ended that day–had a free steak dinner social. While the food there was a little lackluster (steak especially suffers from being mass-produced), I got to meet a lot of fellow creators and see that my experience wasn’t too different from other small publishers and independent creators.

They too only sold a handful of trades but were able to look on it in a bright light. They talked about the exposure, something that was true: while only a few attendees purchased Rebirth of the Gangster, I talked to more people about my work that day than probably all of my cons added up to that point. And, you know what they say, sometimes it takes seven exposures to something to remember it, let alone buy something. I even think back to some of my favorite comics and other media, and I realize that it often takes me about a half year from the first time I hear about something to actually buy it, read it, play it, or watch it. So, trying to join the other creators, I focused on that silver lining.

Vol-2-Mockup-page-001

And, speaking of fellow creators, one of the best parts of the con (that Saturday and Sunday too) was meeting and talking to the other creator at my table, Jet Falco. He was friendly, knowledgeable (having been to more cons than I had), relaxed–something I needed, because I was getting more and more anxious as the day went on and my sales sputtered out–and he also had a pretty cool concept for his work, Dreamers Echo. His work is about a world where dreams have somehow disappeared, until the main character starts to be the first to dream in ages. I may even write a short story to contribute to his next volume: a cool way to keep building my writing chops, pay him back for his advice, and widen my audience.

The next day rolled around, and I slept more soundly. I was still nervous in the sense that I wanted to sell more trades, but I think having a quiet Saturday actually calmed my nerves in general. I didn’t have much to worry about, because I didn’t have to think about running out of trades, being so busy I couldn’t eat the free lunch, etc… And, maybe because of that relative relaxation, Sunday was a better day.

I was more personable, I was having more fun, and–from a business standpoint–I was selling more comics. Part of those sales were from attendees I saw the first day. They had to look around and really decide what was worth spending their hard-earned cash on, what fit in their budget and what didn’t. But some of these sales were from attendees who hadn’t heard my pitch before, and their immediate interest relaxed me even more. At the end of the day, while the con hadn’t met my original sales expectations, I was still pretty happy. Yeah, at this point, being a big fish in a big con might be more financially lucrative, but I had learned one thing. I was still a small fish in a big con, but I had proved I can swim with the big fish, even if they had bigger fins…for now.


CJ Standal is a writer and self-publisher.  He is co-creator of Rebirth of the Gangster, which has been featured in Alterna Comics’ 2017 IF Anthology; he has lettered the webcomic Henshin Man; and he has written for online sites like Graphic Policy and the now-defunct Slant.  Follow him on Twitter and Instagram (@cj_standal), Facebook, and visit his website: cjstandalproductions.com.

Review: The Avengers Vol. 2 World Tour

They stopped the Dark Celestials but what’s next for the Avengers? The team gets their house in order including a new headquarters but also take on the Winter Guard and Defenders of the Deep! Plus more about the Avengers of 1,000,000 BC!

The Avengers Vol. 2 World Tour collects issues #7-12 by Jason Aaron, Sara Pichelli, David Marquez, Ed McGuinness, Frazer Irving, Adam Kubert, Andrea Sorrentino, Cory Smith, Elisabetta D’Amico, Mark Morales, Scott Hanna, Karl Kesel, Justin Ponsor, Erick Arciniega, Matthew Wilson, and Giada Marchisio.

Get your copy in comic shops today and book stores on March 19! To find a comic shop near you, visit www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Amazon
TFAW

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with FREE copies for review
This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from this site. Making purchases through these links helps support the site

Review: DC Primal Age 100-Page Comic Giant

DC Super Heroes in a barbarian world team up for a battle against evil, with the fate of Paradise Island in the balance! DC Primal Age is the new comic book based on the retro-style Funko action figure line.

Toys and comics have had a long history but is this history we need to revisit?

DC Primal Age’s main story is by Marv Wolfman, Scott Koblish. Check out the full line up!

“The Primal Age” (32-page main story) – Written by Marv Wolfman with art by Scott Koblish
“Born on a Monday” – Written and drawn by Jerry Ordway
“Ice and Fire” – Written by Louise Simonson with art by Phil Winslade
“Darkest Knight” – Written by Louise Simonson with art by Brent Anderson
“The Joker’s Wild” – Written by Jerry Ordway with art by Chuck Patton, Karl Kesel and Tom Derenick
“Not a Bird…” – Written by Marv Wolfman with art by Keith Pollard and Jose Marzan Jr.

The comic is available now at Target.

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with FREE copies for review

Enter the DC Primal Age at Target Now

How do superheroes save the world in a universe without technology?

Magic, sword fighting and mystical beasts, obviously!

DC Primal Age—a new comic book based on the popular retro-style Funko action figure line of the same name—is now available for purchase exclusively at Target stores.

DC Super Heroes in a barbarian world team up for a battle against evil, with the fate of Paradise Island in the balance! As Wonder Woman, Aquaman and Superman work together to stop The Joker and King Shark from sinking Themyscira into the sea, Batman must decide whether he can trust the alien Superman long enough to join forces. He’s ready to help, but at what cost?

Then, learn more about these primitive heroes and villains in five thrilling short stories. Wonder Woman rescues a young boy in the forest and takes an interest in his fate. Mr. Freeze faces a fire-breathing dragon in a fight to save his frozen wife! Batman saves a sorcerer who offers to join his battle against evil. The Joker visits a small village, to devastating effect. And Superman goes rogue…or is there another explanation for his bizarre antics?

Acclaimed comic book writer Marv Wolfman and artist Scott Koblish tell a 32-page main story featuring an epic battle between the Justice League and The Joker, which is followed by five short stories from fellow legendary comics creators Louise Simonson and Jerry Ordway with artists Phil Winslade, Brent Anderson, Chuck Patton, and Keith Pollard.

DC Primal Age 100-Page Comic Giant retails for $9.99. It includes:

  • “The Primal Age” (32-page main story) – Written by Marv Wolfman with art by Scott Koblish
  • “Born on a Monday” – Written and drawn by Jerry Ordway
  • “Ice and Fire” – Written by Louise Simonson with art by Phil Winslade
  • “Darkest Knight” – Written by Louise Simonson with art by Brent Anderson
  • “The Joker’s Wild” – Written by Jerry Ordway with art by Chuck Patton, Karl Kesel and Tom Derenick
  • “Not a Bird…” – Written by Marv Wolfman with art by Keith Pollard and Jose Marzan Jr.
DC Primal Age 100-Page Comic Giant

Karl Kesel and Tom Grummett Return this April to Section Zero

The award winning team of writer Karl Kesel and artist Tom Grummett return to their fan-favorite, critically acclaimed series, Section Zero. The science-fiction adventure is set to launch from Image Comics and Shadowline Comics this April. 

Section Zero kicks off with Part One: “Ground Zero,” where readers meet a team of fearless adventurers. Together the crew uncovers the secrets behind UFOs, monsters, and lost civilizations in a story that can best be described as, “Jack Kirby does The X-Files.” 

Section Zero will feature alternate covers by super-star artists including Walter Simonson, George Perez, Adam Hughes, Dave Gibbons, Mike Wieringo, and many more! 

Section Zero #1 by Cover A by Kesel & Grummett (Diamond Code FEB190024), Cover B by Walter Simonson (Diamond Code FEB190025), and Cover C by Jerry Ordway (Diamond Code FEB190026).

Section Zero #1 Cover A
Section Zero #1 Cover B
Section Zero #1 Cover C

Review: Avengers #11

Avengers #11

To deal with the fallout from last month’s world-shaking issue #700, the Avengers organize an international super hero summit, gathering heroes from the most powerful nations on Earth. But no one was expecting the shocking new representatives of the United States. The world is about to become a far more dangerous place. Especially for the Avengers. Plus Hulk and Thor try to go on a date.

The last issue was a big one with lots of action and this… is exactly the opposite. Writer Jason Aaron has crafted an issue focused more on the relationships and personal interactions of characters instead of punching.

The issue is broken into four parts. The new Ghost Rider, Robbie Reyes, is given an introduction as to what it means to be an Avenger by Carol Danvers. The second is a date between Thor and She-Hulk, and the third is Black Panther’s idea to find allies to prepare for the future. The fourth is all about Phil Coulson who’s back from the dead and no longer sees the superheroes for the heroes they are.

The bit with Robbie is short but is full of foreshadowing, especially when a villain is name-dropped and the other three are the bulk of the issue. The Thor/She-Hulk date is interesting and full of humor but something isn’t quite clicking about this pairing and it feels like its come out of left field in a way. Still, it brings a bit of levity to an otherwise serious issue.

The Black Panther’s meeting with other regional leaders is the more interesting bit mixing politics and superherodom together in a way that really makes it much more difficult than just going where you want to save the day. There’s geo-political forces at work and Aaron re-enforces that here.

The Coulson bit is all about character development in why he’s now working with the Squadron Supreme in a sanctioned by the U.S. government team. It’s a heal turn and features events that feel very out of character but at the same time something you could imagine when a lever has been flipped. We don’t get answers as to how he’s back but are delivered a rather shocking ending to really sell the turn from the character we’ve liked.

The art by Ed McGuinness and Cory Smith with inks/finishing by Mark Morales, Scott Hanna, and Karl Kesel, color by Erick Arciniega and lettering by Cory Petit is pretty solid. It works well with decent designs and smooth shifts between scenes. None of it is particularly jaw-droppping but it looks good and the characters are solid. There’s a simplicity about it all in a way.

The issue is all about characters removing the flashy action from last issue and delivering a focus on characters and relationships. Last issue was the beginning of the set-up and this one continues that with some intrigue.

Story: Jason Aaron Art: Ed McGuinness, Cory Smith
Ink/Finishers: Mark Morales, Scott Hanna, Karl Kesel
Color: Erick Arciniega Lettering: VC’s Cory Petit
Story: 7.85 Art: 7.65 Overall: 7.75 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Hero Initiative Hits Baltimore Comic-Con

The Hero Initiative, the charity dedicated to helping comic book creators in medical or financial need, is travelling into Baltimore Comic-Con, September 28-30, 2018 at the Baltimore Convention Center. Tickets for the Baltimore Comic-Con and Ringo Awards are now available.

Hero will be the exclusive home of a number of top creators at the con! Marc AndreykoTom DeFalcoTom GrummettKarl KeselDenny O’NeilJohn Ostrander, and Adam Warren will all be found at the Hero Initiative booth #2205 only! They’ll be sketching and signing all weekend, so don’t miss out!

And as part of the Ringo Awards on Saturday, September 29th at the con, Hero’s Lifetime Achievement and Dick Giordano Humanitarian of the Year Awards will be presented! Not to be missed!

And please check out Hero Initiative Ambassadors on the con floor! Howard ChaykinJose Luis Garcia-LopezBarry KitsonTom RaneyLouise SimonsonWalter Simonson, and many more will have their Hero Initiative donation jars out collecting for the cause. Please visit them!

Karl Kesel and Tom Grummett’s Section Zero Debuts at Baltimore Comic Con

Karl Kesel and Tom Grummett – best known for working together on The Reign of the Supermen and Superboy – will debut their creator-owned graphic novel Section Zero at this year’s Baltimore Comic-ConSeptember 28-30 at the Baltimore Convention Center. Both creators will be in attendance at the 2018 event.

Originally published by Image Comics in 2000, Kesel and Grummett only produced three issues of Section Zero before personal matters forced Kesel to put the project on the shelf. Over the years, various publishers and possibilities were pursued to bring the title back, but it wasn’t until a successful Kickstarter that the pair could return to finish what they had begun 18 years earlier.

The result is an impressive 224-page hardcover Section Zero Ultra-Cool Collector’s Edition – slightly oversized, spot gloss and 5th color on the cover, ribbon bookmark, with a treasure trove of behind-the-scenes material, and an introduction by Kurt Busiek. (Yes – that Kurt Busiek.)

The icing on the cake, however, is a gallery of Section Zero pin-ups by some of comics’ top talents. “I basically called in every favor I had in the industry,” admits Kesel. The result was clearly worth it: Dave Gibbons, Chris Samnee, Terry Dodson, Kelley Jones, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, Jerry Ordway, Matthew Clark, John Paul Leon, and Ben Caldwell all contributed to the book.

To celebrate the book’s debut, Kesel and Grummett will be including a limited-edition Section Zero Greetings From Baltimore postcard with every copy of the book fans take home.

Review: The Adventures of Captain America

It’s Wednesday which means it’s new comic book day with new releases hitting shelves, both physical and digital, all across the world. This week we’ve got Captain America!

The Adventures of Captain America collects issues #1-4 and Captain America: The 1940s Newspaper Strips #1-3 by Fabian Nicieza, Kevin Maguire, Kevin West, Steve Carr, Josef Rubenstein, Terry Austin, Tom Christopher, Paul Mounts, Richard Starkings, Barry Dutter, Mike Rockwitz, Karl Kesel, Ben Dimagmaliw, Jared K. Fletcher, Butch Guice, Rachel Pinnelas, Lauren Sankovitch, Bill Rosemann, Tom Brevoort, Tim Smith 3, Harry Go, and John Cerilli.

Get your copy in comic shops today and in book stores March 13. To find a comic shop near you, visit www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Amazon/Kindle/comiXology or TFW

 

Marvel​ provided Graphic Policy with FREE copies for review
This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from this site. Making purchases through these links helps support the site

Preview: Battlestar Galactica: Gods & Monsters TP

Battlestar Galactica: Gods & Monsters TP

writer: Karl Kesel
artists: Alec Morgan, Dan Schkade
cover: Alec Morgan
FC • 136 pages • $19.99 • Teen+
COLLECTS ISSUES 1-5

The reimagined Battlestar Galactica, beloved by sci-fi fans for its gripping drama and tense action, returns with an all-new tale! Gaius Baltar, the Galactica’s resident genius and self-serving narcissist, believes he was chosen by God – and now moves closer to being one himself when he constructs a living Cylon Centurion. Is it his greatest achievement or biggest mistake? Will it hunt down hidden Cylons within the fleet, or join them? Commander Adama, Starbuck, Apollo, and others throughout the fleet debate the merits of having this new potential threat among them, with one frightful thought simmering beneath the surface: will the Cylon’s bloody history repeat itself?

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