Tag Archives: Ian Shires

98 Hall of Fame Update

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By Ian Shires

I have been struggling with getting things positioned the way they need to be to solidify the whole SPA/HOF thing. By this time, I wanted to have a monthly awards system to help us build a start-of-year nomination pathway for HOF Induction. And I just haven’t been able to build the system. Not for lack of availability of software—that I have. It’s been lack of time to do the work. That lack of time has been due to a number of things, but really, I have no excuse.
Since last issue, I have contacted the local school system with questions and ideas about building an intern program for students interested in learning any and all aspects of publishing. We’ll see what pans out with that. The thing that takes me the longest right now is layouts, I have to find a way to get out from under that and still keep the magazine running smoothly month in month out.

I have come into contact with a local printer who prints everything from banners, to car decorations, to apparel and other swag. The also do pamphlets and brochures, so I am talking to them about the potential of POD comics. With that, Indyfest would be able to offer a lot of things. So, it’s about equipment and numbers right now; we’ll see how that pans out as well.
Meanwhile, I have also started talking to Jon Miller from Outpouring Comics, who is also developing a distribution branch. Now, you all know I have been talking to King Chan about this for a while, and I don’t plan to dump one guy for another, or in any way put one person’s efforts over another’s. Indyfest—I feel—is designed to be big enough to work with any and all systems and thus, having good, solid relationships with any and all avenues working to put Indy stuff in stores is prudent.

It struck me the other day that maybe it’s time to drop the “Self Publisher Association” from the mix. As in, do we really need an SPA and an INDYFEST NETWORK? Can the SPA just absorb forward, and be more focused that way?

I pose these as questions, because I have not made up my mind yet, nor really talked to anyone else about it. Even Ellen, who will be the first to read this when I turn it over for editing, hasn’t heard about this, because I am thinking out loud here.

Evolving with the times and being on the cutting edge of bringing change are two separate things. One is reactionary, while the other requires trying new things to see if they work. I have, on many occasions, been on that cutting edge and most of the time, all I got for the effort was getting cut to ribbons. I cannot guarantee that it won’t happen again. However, as I said last issue, waiting any longer is no good; accepting defeat is no good; only going back into an active development phase will bring forth the publishing world we want. And I can’t and don’t want to do this alone.

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98 Mudslinger

Slinging Mud with Matt and Matt

By Ian Shires

DSC_0023I was first introduced to Matt Feazell’s work in 1985, when he replied to a letter of mine they’d printed in Comic Buyer’s Guide. My simple thought that “Someday I’d like to write comics” had led Matt to send me one of his minicomics, saying, “Well why wait!?”.  Matt has, in that way, introduced probably thousands of people to making small press comics, and I have had the pleasure of being his acquaintance at countless shows over the last 30 years. At the SPACE show in Columbus, Ohio this year, he showed me Mudslinger, the game he has been developing with Matt Dawson. I knew instantly we had to cover this—and thankfully, they agreed, and we’re now able to get this into the spotlight at the height of the political season.


IM: So, hello Matt and Matt…Let’s start off with ‘How did you two meet?’

MF: Matt Dawson emailed me to inquire about the possibility of hiring me to illustrate some sample cards for a Kickstarter campaign. Said he was a fan of my work from way back. We didn’t actually meet ‘til he drove up to Hamtramck from Ohio to deliver a box of finished decks!

mud1IM: Matt Dawson, this game was in development long before you two met; how did it get started?

MD: I actually was first introduced to Feazell’s work in the late ’80s at The Atlanta Fantasy Fair (I think that may now be DragonCon). He certainly left an impression on young-teen me and I loved the wit in his work.

Many years later, I became a bit of a political junkie and, during the run-up to the 2004 election, the idea for a game where players campaign against each other for the presidency came to mind. More specifically, a game where the more terribly one behaves, the better odds they have of winning. It’s one of the few games where you can straight-up lie to others at the table, make empty promises, and do everything possible to weaken and confound your opponents. 

Designing the game was easier said than done and it took two years to develop, but I, and the many folks who helped along the way, were very pleased with the final result.

IM: What led you to doing it as an independently published game?

MD: I sent out inquiries in 2006 to some publishers and no one seemed interested in even glancing at it. My wife at the time insisted we take it to some publishers personally, so we self-published and rented a booth at the Origins 2007 convention with the hope of meeting publishers, while introducing it to the public. After the first day of people passing by and ignoring us, we began rounding up strangers to play at our booth. Mudslinger can get somewhat volatile with competitive players and our area got kind of rowdy as more and more people came to play and watch others. We sold out of every copy we brought by the end of that day. It was crazy. We even earned a “Best New Card Game” award from a group of hobbyists who attended the convention every year at the time. 

We ended up having a major publisher take a very close look at us following Origins, but ultimately, that deal fell through as they didn’t feel Mudslinger was family-friendly enough for their brand. I haven’t yet resubmitted Mudslinger to publishers since the fresh update, but it’s on my radar.

mud2IM: Matt Feazell, you have some experience in politics; can you give our readers a bit of your background there?

MF: My wife Karen Majewski is Mayor of Hamtramck. That’s as close to politics as I get. Mostly I stay out of it and try not to make her job any harder than it is. What I have learned over the years, though, is that back-stabbing and double-crossing happen all the time. Doing somebody a favor doesn’t mean they will vote your way down the road. Political capital isn’t worth Monopoly money.

Also politicians are usually not corrupt, just stupid. They don’t follow the rules ‘cause they don’t bother to read the rule book. It’s up to the smarter ones to yell at them every now and then to keep things in line.

IM: Were you able to put any of your experience into the game?

MF: Yes! I put as much stupid stuff as I could into the illustrations!

IM: This has been a wild political year. I have to think that has helped your marketing efforts. What happens AFTER the election?

MD: I think it’s wild every election cycle. Mudslinger is capable of being updated with the current events and zaniness of the day. We sold over 200 copies of the original version and we’re on track to repeating that. With the right publisher, I’m convinced (of course I’m biased) it would be it a hit.

IM: What is the strangest thing that has happened in the process of promoting this game?

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MF: I sent a deck in the mail and the post office clerk asked me if there was anything dangerous in the package so I said, “It’s so funny you might die laughing,” and he stamped it “Hazardous.”

Not really. I made that up.

IM: At this point, if Hasbro came to you tomorrow and said, “Let us market your game”, would you “sell out”?

MD: Of course. This is politics, after all.

IM: Both of you, what is next on your project lists? Where do you go from here?

MF: Children’s book!

MD: I’ll probably send some inquiries to publishers in the near future, but unfortunately, I have to work in the real world, so I haven’t had as much free time to promote this as I would like.

IM: Take a moment to promote anything else you are currently involved with or have available. What’s your favorite work?

MF: I’m pretty excited about the new Cynicalman “Have A Day!” coffee mugs!

IM: Ok, last chance, if you have anything else you want our readers to know, let them have it!

MF: Go out and vote! It only encourages them!


I want to thank both Matts for taking the time to speak with Indyfest about this truly unique game. We hope everyone will check it out and look forward to hearing from both of them in the future.

Follow Through: Go get a copy of the game at: http://www.mudslingerthegame.com/

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96 Table of Contents

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Click on each cover to get a copy of the full PDF of each version of this, the “Big Summer Issue”. Additional PDF-Only content: Keeper of the Gates #1 and The Few and the Cursed #1 Sneak Peeks, and the Review Section…19 publications reviewed!!!

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95 The Driving Force

IM90-Adriving- Copy     The time period right after coming home from a good comic show (in this case, I refer to SPACE 2016) is always one that goes by quickly, with feelings of hope, joy, and pressure to get new things done. If you have never sat at a table at a show, talking to random passersby and taking the time to seek out people you’ve conversed with by email or other means, but never met… then you can’t GET that feeling. No matter how you did financially at the show, that feeling is always the true prize.

     But let’s discuss show attendance. There are two groups of exhibitors: those who don’t really care how well they do and those that complain that there aren’t enough customers. I have put forth this idea before, and I think it bears repeating. If you go to a show expecting the show to provide you with enough customers to make it worthwhile, then you are not doing your job.

     A creator should be spending every minute they are not actually creating, working on building their following. Your financial ability to continue to create stuff for a living is wholly on your shoulders. When you go to a show, you should know some idea of the fans you have in that area and be able to excite them to come to that show to see you and buy stuff direclyt from you so you can sign it, etc. If you go with no clue, you should not complain that the random passersby are not there to buy your stuff… they are likely looking for someone they do follow.

     And I know how hard it is to build a following—it is something that I’ve studied, and tested theories on, and talked to people about for decades. And one thing I know for a fact: your actual TALENT has very little to do with your actual popularity. I have seen hugely talented people fail. I have seen people whose work I just didn’t feel was nearly prime-time ready take off like rockets. And it mostly boils down to how well the person connects with their audience.

     How do you build such a loyal following? I don’t have a magic answer. It is somewhere between your being yourself andyour being able to positively affect the moods of those you interact with. The first step is always going to be getting out there and saying something. Understanding others and being able to empathize, while still focusing on the goal.

     This issue, I am unleashing the return of the Review Section. Right now, it’s just me telling the audience if the book is worth going out of their way to check out. I predict we’ll need more reviewers, as much stuff as will come in, so if anyone wants to join me, let me know. Reviews have been sorely lacking on the Indy scene for a while, so it will be interesting to see the impact of starting it up again. It should be fun!

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95 Hall of Fame Update

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May 2016 Update by Ian Shires

HOF-1     And so, the April SPACE show came and went and it was a good time for all. I spent my time promoting Indyfest, talking to people about what they want, need, and would like to see in the industry. It’s hard to gauge how much of an impact I made, but we got a good number of new people to fill out the HOF form, and we’ll be developing our longterm relationships with everyone.

     This issue, I’ve already talked about my main observation from the show itself, but the other side of the coin is the general drift away from feeling like we’re all in it together. I’ll sound like an old fuddy duddy here, but Facebook and Twitter are major reasons. Crowdfunding is another (and while Indyfest still intends to start our own version of it, I recognize the law of diminishing returns at play; it was something more HOF-2than one publisher mentioned as we discussed things.) Basically, getting started with a crowdfunding event can work. Relying on it for continued success… not so much. Nothing beats having an actual following who crave new work from you, and that’s the core of what Indyfest is seeking to create. Anyway, that’s for another day.

     Sunday was all about the Tim Corrigan memorial event. I’m hoping the video of the event— from our friends at the Underground Video Network (www.undergroundvideonetwork.com/)—will make it online soon. We will make sure everyone gets a chance to see it, as soon as they have it available.

HOF-3     We had on-panel, Bob Corby, Michael Neno, Matt Feazell, and Pam Bliss, while I played host. In the audience were Carol Corrigan and her sons Nathan and Mathew (whose band and art we will be featuring soon), as well as an array of Tim’s fans, and other interested passersby. All in all, it was a decent turnout and it made the event very special for everyone.

     Panelists each spoke of their memories and feelings, about what Tim Corrigan meant to the development of the small press network from the mid 80s into the 90s, and his comic work from before then to well after, as well as his music.

HOF-4     When it came  to my turn, I began the Hall of Fame presentation part of the event. I spoke of Tim’s mentorship to me over the years, how we didn’t always agree, but how he was always right in the end. Nobody ever did more than Tim to turn a mishmash of people making their own photocopied comics into a network of lifelong friends. And so, it was only fitting that we made him the first official honoree of the Self Publisher Hall of Fame. It was Tim himself who challenged me, back around 1987, to create the first directory of who was actually in the network, which led to the Indyfest Network we see today. And it was an honor to present the plaque to his family in eternal memory of what he meant to us all.

HOF-5     One copy of the framed certificate, signed by myself and Bob Corby, was given to the Corrigans; the other will remain with the Hall of Fame records to be shown at future shows.

     Our attention now turns to the future of the Hall of Fame. My goal by next issue is to be able to present the people for whom the public will be eligible to vote for the 2017 presentation. It will be based off the Hall of Fame Starting Point Book presentation, but will be online and give clearer instructions on how  people can submit their info quickly and easily, and set forth what the voting procedure will be.

HOF-6     History means nothing unless it is preserved and shown in a way that people can check out and learn from it in fun and interesting ways. A permanent record of who did what and when, with meaning and feeling. And you, yes you, will be able to vote on who we induct into the Hall, very soon. See you next month folks!

HOF-7HOF-8HOF-9

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94 Table of Contents

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Also in this issue: 2 great Sneak Peek features you can only see in the PDF of the magazine: Caligula Imperatore Insanum -Vol 1, and Wind and Fire #1. Click Here to get the PDF! (Or, click the cover!)

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93 Hall of Fame

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Editorial by Ian Shires

     Let’s talk a bit about what’s next on the Hall of Fame front. So, last month, we released the 2016 Starting Point book. It is a listing of all publishers we have information about, including all the publications that we know they have published. It was a massive undertaking to bring this into a presentable state, and now that it is, the question really is, what do we do with such an incomplete and instantly out-of-date set of listings?
     It is really intended to be a call to arms, to bring the publishing multiverse of people who are “Indy”—small press, self published, no corporate backing… to preserve our history by providing a place to actually focus on getting information to. I can emphatically say that, despite what I have out out here, I have only shown a fraction of the information that I actually have locked away in boxes of old publications. I have thousands more publishers and all of their books that were sent, traded, or given to me, as I grew up with the pre-internet small press. It is my intention to unlock and add in all of that info, as I get to it.
DPS-HOF16-SP     The Self Publisher Hall of Fame was first being talked about in the SPA over ten years ago. We were never able to lock down a set of things that would qualitfy a publisher to become an honoree of the HOF, and other things the SPA was doing tended to keep pushing the development onto the back burner. Today, I find that the HOF has become a much more important idea to explore and get into operational light. We have begun to see a steady string of reports of the deaths of once-important network personalities, and the number of people around who actually remember what was going on in the small press network of the 60s–90s, even into the 00s… continues to decline, as inevitable publisher fall-off and the influx of new people and fans, focus more on what is going on now.
     But to have a real now, one that means something, we all should have a solid base of knowledge of what came before. To be an active member of a community, no matter how loose-knit it is, requires an inclusive, and thorough view of what it means to be “Underground”, “Indy”, or “Small Press”.
     My greatest ASK, the one thing I’d like, is for anyone reading this magazine who wants to see the hobby/industry that we cover thrive in even better and greater ways than it ever has before, to simply make sure you are using what we’ve put together, and encourage creators you are follow to make sure they send us info on their material. Go to http://indyfestusa.com/archives and we’ll keep making that better.

 

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93 Table of Contents

ALSO IN THE ISSUE: 3 great Sneak Peek features you can only see in the actual PDF, Sepulchre #1, Bang Bang Lucita #1, and Shaman’s Destiny #1…ALSO – a listing of most recent additions to our Marketplace.

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92 Table of Contents

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The Driving Force – Editorial – by Ian Shires

 Dead Man’s Party – Jeff Marsick – by Louise Cochran-Mason

Aces and Eights – Frank Mula & Sal Brucculeri – by Steven Pennella

A Mystery Writer’s Mind – Nanci M. Pattenden – by M.J. Moores

A Written View – by Douglas Owen

Odds and Ends – Bob Moyer – by Ellen Fleischer

Walking the Path – Mark Koning – by Trisha Sugarek
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90 Driving Force

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    The twists and turns we take in life can be truly amazing. I’ve discussed a number of times how I want to bring together some new leadership to rebuild the SPA and, since last issue, I have entered into discussion with, like, five different people about different areas to address. It basically started with last issue’s editorial about developing an Availability Guide—which, as it turns out, is something people would really like to see. I’m not ready to name names and do introductions yet, but it looks like we’ll have at least two top-level developers join the initiative to achieve it. I may get an initial version of the new supplement into production soon, just to help us focus on how to improve it. Theories and discussion are great. Action is better.
    If you do the math, the Availability Guide only accounts for two of the five people I mentioned above. It all sort of twines back into SPA redevelopment, but here’s story #2. I’m driving down the road one day and spot a sign in a driveway. It’s for a music recording studio, like ten minutes from my house. So, I write down the name, look it up online later, and send the owner/operator an email. Basically say, ‘hi, I’m Ian, I happen to run this here international magazine. Would you have any interest in having people you record be featured?’ I mean, music is a side of things we’ve been touching on and dancing around for a while; getting an Indy studio involved seems like a no-brainer. And so, very soon, we’ll have an interview with the studio set up and, Cristie Hine, who runs it, will be joining the magazine to write articles and otherwise work with us to expand on the crossover audience-building opportunities.
    Meanwhile! It’s come to my attention that a local arts association has a class they run on making zines at the local library. And so, another e-mail introduction later… and hopefully soon, I will be helping teach such, and hopefully be able to attract some of them to work with the magazine, finally developing that layouts team I’ve been wanting to develop since Jay left us to open a tattoo shop.
    Which just goes to show how horribly disjointed small press has really become, and how social media fails to really connect outside your own circles. How does a class on making zines get started up in a small town like the one I live in, and I have no clue? Simple. We don’t have a real network guide that can be pointed to, where everyone says, that’s where we all meet. We have to get small to get big, get all of these local scenes connected into a network setting where we can set up real resources that can give fans, hobby-level publishers, and pro want-to-be level publishers, the ability to learn what they need to know. Like where ALL the places that carry ANY indy stuff are. If only there were an Availability Guide. Hmmm, so there you go. Folks, I say it all the time: I can’t do this all by myself. So cool, now I’ve got five people to talk to about making things better. Problem is, knowing the big picture the way I do, I know five is not enough. It’s going to take all of us, pulling together.
     How do we get there? Well, there is a clear and well defined first step. Go to the Indyfest website…click the register spot in the top/left…and get your profile started. It’s really that simple.

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