Tag Archives: Nichi Scribbles

Crowdfunding 101 with Stan Yan

By Nichi Scribbles

With two successful Kickstarters under his belt, one currently in campaign mode, teaching comics to future generations, and numerous books behind him, Stan is a busy, busy man. But through the powers of modern technology, we were able to catch this Denver native just long enough to ask him a few questions about his craft and get some helpful insight on the crowdfunding craze that is sweeping the comic world.Yan86-5

IM: You are not only an illustrator, but you’re also an instructor. When did you realize that illustrating AND teaching were both your callings, and where do you find the time?

SY: When I first started doing conventions, I routinely offered instructional panels about writing and marketing self-published comics, so that’s probably where the teaching started. At that point, I hadn’t really had the confidence to teach much in the way of illustration, since my educational background was in accounting, not art.

In 2007, after I had been freelancing fulltime for a couple of years, my long-time mentor Tom Motley decided he and his family were going to move to Brooklyn, but he didn’t want to leave all of the summer camps he had been teaching comics at in a lurch, so he trained me as his replacement. Shortly after I began to teach, the Community College of Aurora and the Denver Entertainment Art and Design Academy (Dead Academy) also came calling.

Yan86-1Around 2011 or so, I began to realize that I was spinning my wheels financially and professionally, so I decided to take a sabbatical from teaching for a year, which turned into two years (2012–2014), which actually was the best thing I could do, as it allowed me to travel to conventions in the summer that I hadn’t been able to go to, and to work on personal projects that I had tabled for five years, and explore new avenues for my creative outlet, like children’s picture books.

This summer will be the first year that I’ve taught summer camps in two years, but not a full load. While I have continued to do two-hour workshops at schools and libraries from time to time and do private tutoring, long story short, I guess I have determined there isn’t time. Between the syllabus preparation, the grading, and the out-of-class student contact, it’s really not something that’s easy to balance with creating proprietary work, gigs, conventions, and freelance.

IM: You have been through a couple different Kickstarter campaigns as an artist. Any advice you can give to readers about to embark on their own crowdfunding venture? What would you have done differently if you’d been given the chance?

SY: My advice would be to contribute to other compelling campaigns and see how they structure their campaigns and ask yourself, “What got me to contribute to this?” Make sure to do this within the product genre that you’re pursuing, to give you a closer baseline comparison. You’ll probably contribute to some campaigns that succeed and some that don’t. Do a post-mortem on them and try to figure out what worked and what didn’t. There are a lot of case studies that you can look at out there and right on Kickstarter’s site, but there’s nothing like actually participating in one to give you some real-time data. You might even reach out to the folks running the campaigns to get it straight from the horse’s mouths what they thought they could’ve done better and what worked.

Yan86-2The most important thing to ask yourself, which is something someone asked me on Facebook (someone who didn’t contribute to my campaign incidentally), “Why would I want to contribute to something you’re going to be selling to the public later on anyway?” That really is the trick. If all you are going to offer is your comic book, then who cares? You need to give project backers levels of contribution that allow them to feel like they’re getting something now that they can’t get later.

My project was my Vincent Price comic and my incentive levels ranged anywhere from a $1 show of support to $1000 to get drawn into the comic as the villain of my story. You can see the whole range of incentives on my Kickstarter page at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/stanyan/vincent-price-comic-book-caricature-project/description

Also, set your goal low. Don’t go pie-in-the-sky. If you raised $2000, and your goal was $15,000, and your campaign ends and isn’t funded, and you find yourself saying, “Aww, I would’ve still done it for $2,000”, then you were too greedy and set your goal too high. Find a level that would not leave you financially struggling and make that your goal. Make sure to include costs of postage, stretch goal incentives, and anything else you can imagine needing to pay for. For me, my goal was to pay for no less than the printing of 500 copies of the comic and postage.

Yan86-3Stretch goals incentives are important as a way to give current backers a reason to spread the word or up their contributions. My stretch goal incentives were easy to fulfill, as all but one of them were PDFs of other comic books I had created AND which were mentioned in the Vincent Price comic (the story is a story about me doing zombie caricatures at a comic book convention), and original art from the creation of the book (I had a bunch of inked characters that were going into the panels that I had drawn separately that I would simply cut apart, sign and enclose with the comic books I would be mailing out).

In the end, I want my backers to feel like they got more than they paid for, so the next time I run a campaign, they’ll consider contributing. My backers at the $5 level got, as stretch goal rewards, 250 pages of my digital work and a printed thank you in the book. My backers at the $10 got all of that, the printed book and signed, original art. Even folks who backed me at $1 get all of my updates, which include video tutorials of my process.

IM: What it was like to work on the SubCulture Omnibus and Show Devils?

SY: The SubCulture Omnibus was a collection of the work that Kevin Freeman and I created as a part of the SubCulture miniseries published with Ape Entertainment, and the six-year run of the subsequent webcomic featuring the life stories of characters who hung around a Kingdom Comix. When Kevin and I decided to do an omnibus TPB, it was the first Kickstarter project I ever was involved with. He launched it, recorded the video, and did the marketing, but he collaborated with me on the reward levels and stretch goal incentives. Before that, I had no idea what a stretch goal incentive was, and how important it was to getting people off the fence. The main thing we learned was how quickly the stretch goal incentive costs would add up. We ended up doing a pack of gag trading cards featuring our characters, button packs, drink coasters, dice packs… in the end, even though we almost tripled our goal, there were no “profits” to speak of.

Yan86-4Show Devils #2 was a comic book of short stories featuring The Enigma and Serana Rose and written by Daniel Crosier that, among others, featured my art and some digital coloring. This project didn’t really involve me quite as much, and it ended up being barely funded, but I think there weren’t enough low-level incentives and the critical question of “What am I getting that I couldn’t get at the store?” probably wasn’t answered as quickly and easily. Plus, the goal was relatively higher. SubCulture was a monster book—344 pages—where the Show Devils book was a 32-page comic. Despite that, the goal for Show Devils was double that of SubCulture.

IM: Your resume is as impressive as it is lengthy. Can you tell us about some of the other projects you are involved in?

SY: Currently, most of my projects are personal. I’m working on several children’s books, the most finished one being There’s a Zombie in the Basement, a rhyming picture book inspired by my son’s fear of my zombie caricature artwork. I’m also trying to get my next graphic novel project off of the ground, Regret: A Cancer Survivor’s Story, about my best friend’s battle with cancer. I’ve also been working with my son on creating his books, which we are doing exclusive print runs for him to sell and sign at local conventions. He sold out of Pony & Zombie and the Runaway Dog at the Denver Comic Con.

IM: Your style differs greatly in each of these series. Can you talk about the importance of being able to stay open to different styles as an artist working on various projects?

Well, that’s probably the most important thing to learn about freelancing. No matter what you show folks in your online portfolio, inevitably, someone is going to ask you to draw in a style they don’t see, and you have to ask yourself, “Can I pull it off?” That’s kind of what happened with SubCulture. Before that, my comic style for The Wang (http://stanyan.me/books/the-wang/) was described as “What the Simpsons would look like if Frank Miller drew it.”). Kevin asked me to draw the three main character designs in various different ways, and he’d let me know which he liked best. Of course, he liked a style I’d never tried before that, and that’s how my style developed.

Fortunately, I have a learning personality, and I LOVE stretching my artistic abilities and trying new things. Doesn’t make for a cohesive portfolio, but it allows me the confidence to tackle projects that may be beyond my previous abilities.

Who would you say your inspirations as an artist were?

My oldest influences were from the funny pages: Jim Davis, Bill Watterson, and Gary Larson. I really wasn’t much of a comic book reader growing up. But, when I became a teenager and started creating comic book stories, my influences started with R. Crumb, Bob Fingerman, and Alex Robinson. Then in 1998, I went out to the San Diego Comic Con with a backpack full of self-published comic books to trade with anyone who would trade with me, and I met a whole new crew of folks who became influences, including Jim Mahfood, Andy Ristaino, Scott Morse, Robert Kirkman, and Tony Moore.

IM: Any dream series or title you would work on and why?

SY: Believe it or not, I consider myself more of a writer than an illustrator. As an illustrator, of course, I’d love to illustrate for the Walking Dead, but I don’t know that I could hack the deadline schedule. I actually reached out to David Wellington about the possibility of turning his Monster Island book (or trilogy) into a graphic novel series, but he said it was out of his hands and up to the publisher what they wanted to do with it.

As a writer, my dream jobs would be to write for any of the following: South Park, Phineas and Ferb, or Martha Speaks.

Of course, my real dream is to have one of my projects hit it big and be one of these things other people dream of writing or illustrating for.

IM: What does the future hold?

SY: I think I’m going to slowly transition my career to the children’s book industry after I finish with Regret. I will still probably be doing the convention circuit, drawing people into zombies or ponies or whatnot, but I hope to have a bunch of my children’s books in tow.

IM: And last, but certainly not least, where can people follow you and keep up with your work?

SY: My website: http://stanyan.me or http://zombicatures.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/stanyanart

Instagram: @zombicatures

Twitter: @stan_yan

Learn more about our interviewer at: Nichi Scribbles

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From Daniel’s Mind to Caleb’s Journey

By Nichi Scribbles

This month, Indyfest Magazine sits down with Daniel Pagac to talk about his newly-released novel Caleb’s Journey. Daniel is a first-time novelist from Waterford, Michigan, who found his inspiration in mythology and fantasy. With a little hard work, Daniel has finaly completed his life’s dream of writing his first novel. We discuss his personal journey as he forges into the the self-publishing world, with his creation: Caleb’s journey.Daniel

IM: How did you get into writing?

DP: I’ve been writing stories since I was a child. Back then, they were short stories. As a teen, I started writing my own comic books from a pantheon of superheroes that I had created. Writing has always been a passion of mine.

IM: Can you tell us what your motivations and inspirations were for writing this novel? What triggered Caleb’s Journey?

DP: I loved playing Dungeons and Dragons as a young adult, teen, and young man.  That and my love of mythology inspired me. For years, I had this idea for a story rolling around in my head and I would scribble on notepads, journals, etc., free writing. It was my goal to finish writing one novel in my lifetime, that I felt like I owed God, and to do it by the time I turned forty. Many were the Saturday nights that I sat at my dining table, listening to classical music, a glass of wine or cigar in one hand, a pen in the other, working on my novel.

IM: Where does this story take place? What is the general setting?

Caleb's journey-webDP: Caleb’s Journey takes place on the living planet, Mithkre.  It is the child of the unholy union between a goddess and a demon.  For time periods that we know, it’s medieval in terms of technology, structure, and the like.

IM: Can you tell us a little bit about the characters and their role in the story?

DP: Caleb represents the young everyman who wishes to fix his past. A twin sword-wielding squire turned barbarian, he has his chivalrous principles mixed with what he learned in his time among the barbarian tribes.

Malachael, the wizard turned monk who refuses to use his dark powers, speaks to those of us who have done less than scrupulous things in life to get ahead and now regret them.

Candellah, a priestess in the service of Uua, the primary deity of the planet, is a wide-eyed, kind hearted female. She represents acceptance, love, and kindness. She has a great deal of empathy for others.

Nostarius, one of the primary villains, a vampire, is the dark side of our psyche.  He relishes his immortality and will take a life for the thrill of it. He is arrogant, cruel, clever, witty, and has no conscience.

IM: What is the overall plot of Caleb’s Journey?

DP: The story follows Caleb Hart and his attempt to restore his family honor and lands. He interfered in a duel between a knight and a barbarian. He was left to live among the barbarians and his family was punished  by the king. Meanwhile,  Xerax, the Lord of the Undead has obtained an artifact called Uua’s Tear. He is using it to try and bring about the ruin of mankind. Caleb and a band of adventurers are charged with the task of stopping him.

IM: What have you taken away personally from writing this?

CJ Cover-webDP: That writing is only the beginning of the process. I had no idea how difficult it would be to get an agent, so I self-published. That meant that I had first publishing rights.  I had an agent who wanted to see the manuscript until I told her about what I had done. I also commissioned an original cover, which was beautiful,  but expensive. The creative process is something that I loved, but I profess ignorance to the business side. I’m thankful that publications like this one exist to give us little authors a voice.

IM: If you could give one piece of advice to budding writers everywhere, what would it be?

DP: Be very mindful of the editing process. As an independent author, finding a good editor is truly important. I put my English degree to use, but still had the input of an editor. I sometimes do review swaps with other authors and find so many grammatical errors in the first few pages that it makes me not want to continue reading. Nobody is perfect. I’ve seen works by major authors with grammar and spelling mistakes. If grammar isn’t your forte, find someone who lives and breathes it.

IM: What’s in the future? Do you have any other projects on the horizon?

DP: I’m working on a sequel to the novel Caleb Returns. I’ve completed a general outline and have started the creative  process of writing, reading other fantasy novels, and daydreaming about how to not retread the first book.

IM: What’s next for Caleb’s Journey?

DP: Caleb’s Journey now takes him down the self-published road, searching for an agent or a publisher.

IM: Where can readers learn more about you, as well as find out more about your book?

DP: My book is for sale on Amazon.com. I’ve got an author page there as well. I have a Twitter account, @danielpagac. People can find me on Facebook as Daniel Pagac Author.

IM: Is there anything you would like to talk about that we have not yet discussed?

DP: Yes. For all aspiring writers, be prepared for lots of rejection from potential agents and publishers. It’s rare that they take on a new author. Write as much as you can. Research what you are writing, and never stop trying.

Amazon Profile: http://www.amazon.com/Daniel-Pagac/e/B00Q0GGM0A/

Get it Online: http://www.amazon.com/Calebs-Journey-Daniel-Pagac-ebook/dp/B00PD5D7RU/

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Presenting Headshrinker’s Press

Presenting: Headshrinkers Press
An Interview with Nichi Scribbles
by Ellen Fleischer

Nichi Scribbles has been hooked on comics since his youth. He can barely remember a time when he hasn’t been reading, writing, or drawing them. In 2013, Nichi conceived Headshrinker’s Press and, in the nearly two years since, he has released the Headshrinker’s Press Presents anthology, in which readers got their first introduction to titles such as Sons of Yellowstone, Landslide, and Plague. Nichi was happy to take time out of his busy schedule to talk to Indyfest Magazine about what he—and Headshrinker’s Press—have been up to.HPpromo_FIN

IM: How did you first get into reading comics?
NS: Believe It or not, I was just a wee lad with my grandmother at an antique flea market when I received my first batch of comics. I am sure it was one of those incidents where she was just giving me something to keep me occupied, but I have never put them down since that day. And I am glad it happened that way; I have great respect for older comics, as well as the new stuff. How many people can say that their granny turned them onto comics!?

IM: And creating them? How did you learn your craft?
NS: Like most people who love comics, I have been writing and drawing my own ideas since childhood. This is something that has followed me into adulthood. I spend most of my time now just writing to get the ideas out of my head. Once artists with actual talent started working on my stories, I focused less on drawing and more on writing. I am able to draw coherent layouts, but that’s the extent of it. I have taken a few classes (nothing to write home about) at the local university, but I would say this is a craft you never stop learning or developing. I am still learning new tips and tricks, and my style is evolving every day. We are all at different levels in our storytelling.

IM: Tell us a bit about Headshrinker’s Press. How did it come about? What brought all of you together?
NS: That’s a loaded question! Sometimes I look around at the people I am collaborating with and wonder where they all came from. I am amazed at how everything kind of just happened. There is me, my business partner Landon Faulkner, and my editor-in-chief Jeff Nelson. In addition, there are great artists and writers like Johnny Hinkle, Marcus Odoms, J Primus Dickerson, Ac Rillo, Matt James, Peter Cacho, and Bolaji Olaloye. I could go on and on. I met a lot of the people I work with today just doing what I love in small art communities, trying to get our ideas out there. That’s thing about comics: it’s a beautiful collaborative storytelling platform—very primal and very tribal. We all stuck together—agreeing to release our tales under one collaborative flag. We are always meeting new and interesting people. The same can be said with talent. We have been fortunate enough to employ the skills of amazing artists, writers, letters, and colorists from around the world.

PlagueIM: Can you share some of the breaks and bumps you’ve encountered along the way? Lessons learned?
NS: It happens every day. I am always trying to overcome a roadblock or something new I have to think my way out of. But that’s why I started my own label. I want to know everything there is to know about writing and producing quality comics. And let me tell you, there is a lot to learn. It can really be a fulltime job, but it is definitely a labor of love. A valuable lesson I have learned is to accept criticism. It stings sometimes, and anyone out there getting ready to travel this road will receive it at some point in time. But without the occasional disappointing review, you don’t know where you need to improve. It’s hard to do, but if you learn to be thankful for criticism, you could go a long way in this field.

IM: On your website, you’ve described Headshrinker’s Press Presents as your centerpiece or gateway to your other works. Can you elaborate?
NS: We wanted to provide a way for people to view our projects and there are many of them. Headshrinker’s Press Presents #1 was our first stab at this, as well as our first ever production. And even though we just released it middle of last year, we have come a long way and learned quite a bit about what we need to do better going forward. The second issue (which should be released by the end of January) is a far cry from our first issue, and I hope we improve with each subsequent issue. Before we introduce a new series or concept, we will always try to explore it first within the pages of Headshrinker’s Press Presents.
IM: Today, many book publishers release samplers, that is, they make available the opening chapters of their titles, hoping to hook new readers. Just to clarify, are the stories in HPP self-contained adventures, or are they more cliff-hangers to be continued in their own books?
NS: They are both their own self-contained series as well as possible cliff-hangers. It is really up to the author of that series. It’s a sampler for those who have never read the series in question and a great background for those who already have.

IM: Say a new reader picks up a title that debuted as a mini in HPP, but has not actually read the anthology. How accessible are your other titles for readers who missed the introductory minis?
NS: That’s the great thing—you don’t need to read one to enjoy the other.

IM: Let’s talk about Landslide. How did you come up with the concept?
NS: The concept of a dormant earth elemental has always sparked my imagination. My biggest love, next to art, is nature. I have always loved its embrace and marveled at its fury. There is magic in a thunderstorm or an avalanche. I wanted to capture that and turn it into a great story. The Landslide monster is rooted in myth—most commonly an earth elemental or golem. More than anything though, I think this is a story about respecting the earth and the four elements.

IM: What can you tell us about the plot, characters, etc.?Landslide Roots_POP_pg6_finished
NS: The fact I am self-publishing and self-funding this project has really let me open up and have free rein over this world. The full-length series coming in 2015 will be a tale of the Panama Canal Company, their efforts to dig the Panama Canal, and the young earth elemental monster bent on eating them all. The main character in this series is an Obeah man named Cecil. In the world of Landslide, there always needs to be some sort of magic or faith to control one of these monsters, and this is the man who starts it all.
The Landslide: Roots mini-series currently on going in the “Headshrinkers Press Presents” series is a historical account of the Landslide monsters throughout time. It will lead up to the first full-length issue.

IM: And you’ve just released Sons of Yellowstone, now. What’s the pitch on this series?
NS: Sons of Yellowstone is a post-apocalyptic tale about the world after the Yellowstone Caldera erupts. There are a lot of stories about surviving the apocalypse, so Jeff decided to write one set several decades after a catastrophic event. Yellow Mercury is a previously undiscovered substance that was in the lava of Yellowstone. When the Caldera erupted, it spewed Yellow Mercury across the globe. It entered the bodies of several unsuspecting people giving them superpowers. These people are the Sons of Yellowstone. Some of them have what is called an empathetic voice. Whenever they kill, a grating sound rings in their ears. It could drive them insane if it happens too often.LANDSLIDE COVER ISSUE 2

IM: Tell us more about the characters. Who are they? What makes them tick?
NS: Cedric is the main protagonist. He is a drifter who was five when the Yellowstone Caldera erupted. Unlike most protagonists in post-apocalyptic tales, he is content with the current state of the world. His Son of Yellowstone powers keep him alive and he can live in a self-sufficient manner that is impossible in a developed society. His empathetic voice rings every time he kills, but his bravado won’t allow him to acknowledge it as a problem.
Odenki is the sage of the series. His name was Ryne Mesman before the eruption—an eccentric man from Holland who was living in America when Yellowstone erupted. He was the second-closest person to the Yellowstone Caldera when it erupted, and he has the second highest concentration of Yellow Mercury in his blood. He journeyed throughout the northern part of the United States after the eruption, saving people in the rubble of ruined cities. The people he rescued became his followers, and they named their group the Northern Riders. He is the only Son of Yellowstone to overcome the empathetic voice. He tried to teach Cedric how to silence it, but he wouldn’t listen.
Jake is the owner of a small tavern in Nuevo San Diego—an oddly futuristic metropolis near the ruins of Area 51. He is terrified when he meets Cedric, as Sons of Yellowstone aren’t allowed in public in Nuevo San Diego. The two develop a tenuous alliance.
Katherine is Odenki’s right hand. Her identical twin sister absorbed the Yellow Mercury when Yellowstone erupted. Katherine, however, did not. This makes her eager to prove her worth to everyone. She is quick to rush into conflict in order to display her fighting prowess. Odenki, however, is over-protective of her.
There are more characters that will be introduced, but these are the four main characters who appear in the first issue. If you want, you can read each character’s full back-story on the official Sons of Yellowstone Facebook page.

IM: What kind of world do they inhabit?
NS: The world of Sons of Yellowstone is one that changes depending on the location. Nuevo San Diego has a steampunk western vibe. In contrast, the Northern Riders have a fantasy-based appearance; they use swords, daggers, and spears, and they ride on horses. Another city that will appear later in the series is Neo- Lincoln, and that will look like a relic from America’s colonial age. After the Caldera erupted, the different regions of the world lost contact with each other and that shows in how different each culture is.

IM: On your website, you also mention another title: Plague. What can you share about this one?Issue2_Cover
NS: Plague is one I am really excited for! Writer/Artist Johnny Hinkle went all out on this one. With Marcus Odoms’ coloring, it has turned out great. The series is going to be a visually stunning, mind bending romp through time and space. Ultimately, the conqueror Thuuluu has set his sights on the people of earth. Dr. Riddance was one of the lucky ones who lived to tell the tale. But he is now trapped in a struggle with Thuuluu. A preview story titled Plague Beginnings is going to be featured in the next Headshrinker’s Press Presents. Definitely check that out.

IM: Can you tell us what you’re planning for 2015 and beyond?
NS: I’ve already been pretty busy this year. We are attempting an east coast con tour with Headshrinkers Press Presents, Issues 1 and 2, as well as Sons of Yellowstone. We also plan on releasing the official first issues of Plague and Landslide this year. We will have Headshrinker Press Presents, Issue 3 dropping in autumn. We are also planning on releasing our first free-to-read webcomic, Ratched City by late spring.

IM: Is there anything else you’d like to mention that we haven’t covered?
NS: It is worth an honorable mention to say I have been working pretty closely with the creator of Crazy Monkey Ink, Gabriel “Ol Raz” Ramirez, on a two-issue run of Deathsquad Zero. This is one of the most creative individuals I have ever had the joy of working with and you should definitely check out www.crazymonkeyink.com. He just so happens to also be the featured artist on Headshrinker’s Press’s Ratched City.

Headshrinkers Website: http://headshrinkerspress.com/

Social Media: www.facebook.com/headshrinkerspress https://twitter.com/HeadshrnkrPress

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