Monday, July 15, 2013

The last several months have been a blur of diaper changes and burping accidents -- it's weird how early parenthood compresses the flow of time. I last posted here in February? That is a hard pill to swallow.

Well, let's do a quick update.

I am still getting up at 4am every morning to work on Nonplayer #2. It may be more accurate to say that I am just not attempting to go back to sleep when baby Ian has his early-morning spaz-attack. I have so much respect for the HOVD parents now-- it is very, very difficult to maintain productivity when you've got both a kid and a day job vying for bandwidth.

I would be lying if I said that NP #2 was progressing quickly, but you probably already guessed that after waiting two years for it. That said, I am making steady progress and nearing a big milestone, and I hope that things will accelerate a bit after I cross that threshold. I have showed the unfinished book to a few people now, and the reaction seems pretty positive. Hopefully folks won't be too disappointed with the finished product.

As far as what happens after #2 comes out -- to be honest, I have no idea. It is not easy to find time to work on the book. When I think that I've got five more issues to go, and I multiply that number by the number of years I've spent on the current issue, it's hard not to despair. Faced with this yawning abyss, all I can do is focus on getting this issue done in the hopes that its arrival may trigger some miraculous reordering of my work situation. 

The mechanism by which this might occur is unknown to me. I suppose when the hardback European editions come out (collecting issues 1 and 2 in a single volume), it could catch on in France or something. There's at least a theoretical possibility that such an event could bring in enough money to cover a mortgage. Other miracles... well, there's always the Deus ex Hollywood. Maybe Steven Spielberg is browsing the racks at Golden Apple and has a eureka moment when he sees the comic. Bam, I'm in the money.

What else? A revival of the practice of art patronage? Perhaps there's some nerdy billionaire out there who wants to see the series completed so badly that he's willing to pay me a salary to work on it full time? Somebody show the comic to Bill and see if he's interested. I'm happy to commute across the lake to Bellevue if he wants me to work on site. 

Of course, there's always the vague promise of Kickstarter, but I'm still having trouble making the numbers add up there. Kickstarter would have been great if I'd attempted this book two decades ago, back when I could couch-surf for months at a time. But with a kid, in America? Only if your whole family has Wolverine-like healing abilities. At the first sign of a sniffle, you'll be out ten grand.

I'm open to any suggestions you guys may have. In the meantime, I'm keeping my head down, my stylus moving, and holding out hope for a brighter tomorrow.

33 comments:

  1. You aren't alone. I know you know that, but I'm sure I speak for many when I say we love you, and your work regardless.

    It's certainly been the hardest, most frustrating year of MY life, but I have to believe where there's a will, there's a way. There's really nothing else we CAN do besides keep our heads down, and keep the art flowing.

    The creative climate shifts on a daily basis, and it's impossible for us to keep up while still maintaining the work, especially at the level you do. One thing that never changes though, is people who seek out and treasure great art and stories. Short of that, if a bundle of cash were to fall on my head, you'd be my first phone call ;)

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    1. Somehow, I never got around to answering these comments four months ago. Thanks for the kind words, dude. I hope your journey is beginning to look up!

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  2. Nate, your posts and HOVD tweets have helped reassure me as I attempt to juggle work, family, and personal projects. I'm definitely not where I want to be, but I'm still making progress.

    Let me return the favor in small part and let you know once the little one starts sleeping through the night, you will feel like you have a huge amount of creative/sleep time. My eight-month old twins are my primary focus when they're awake, but now it's so much easier to carve out a regular time slot to work on projects.

    Now if I could prevent the day job from spilling over into that time, I'd be golden...

    Keep up the good work!

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    1. I am looking forward to this mythical "sleep" of which you speak. Ian's almost at 6 months, and ever since he's been able to roll over, he's been waking up every hour. You're giving me hope here... I hope he's snoozing more reliably by 8 months. Thanks!

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  3. Why not do a Kickstarter? Aaron Diaz raised half a million and never had a book in print. http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/156287353/the-tomorrow-girl-dresden-codak-volume-1

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    1. I think Kickstarter will be playing a role in my next project, which is hinted at in my most recent blog post. Thanks for pointing me toward the Tomorrow Girl, by the way!

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  4. I love your work and I would wait 10 and more years for your book. In a society of digital overflow it feels almost liberating to have something worth waiting for.

    I'm a dad of a two and a half year old and I know how u feel. It's not that easy anymore to schedule your time as freely as you used to be. But let me tell you: it gets easier and easier and easier with every month. Especially when they get old enough to walk and interact by themselves.
    You could have your kid playing with lego while working, or even watching you work on your book.

    What I like of 'old school' European comics (TinTin, Asterix, Lucky Luke) is that each issue works on its own. Can u not rewritten your story so that each two (US size) issues tell a story more or less standing on its own, and than all books combined tell a bigger story? So you would end up with a handful of 3 year project vs one big 10 year project.

    Hope that helps ;)

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    1. Hi Stefan! What a beautiful image, the thought of working on my book while Ian makes his own stuff. I'm worried I'll jinx it if I wish too hard!

      But you're right on the money with the European collections. That's the plan for Nonplayer -- to release them in bound pairs that kind of stand on their own. Kind of.

      Thanks, Stefan!

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  5. Why not another printing of #1? The second print is selling for >$8 + shipping on amazon.
    Hell, sell some signed copies (possibly even through kickstarter) of #1, I think you've got a ton of dedicated fans who would be happy to kick some money into the hat if it meant you could dedicate more time to your art.

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    1. I'm hoping that Image plans on reprinting #1 alongside #2, and if they do that I will stock up on copies of both to sell through my website. I totally underestimated demand the first time around, so I might as well overestimate demand this time around.

      Thanks Dan!

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  6. Hey Nate, I know it's just more money out of your pocket, but have you considered hiring someone to do your flatting for you? I know professional colorists often do this. The time involved is your biggest hurdle, so why not get someone to flat in their spare time for $8/hour?

    I hear you on the "how does this feasibly work for other people" thing, though. I keep trying to do a graphic novel in my spare time (work at a law firm) and the pages just aren't coming because I keep getting distracted by other projects/life. Plus, it's hard to walk away before you reach your idea of perfection when you're the one in control. There's the Dave Sim maxim "First you get good, then you get fast, then you get good and fast," but that middle part sucks.

    As for the "how does this make financial sense" aspect, I have no idea. I think everyone independent artist's goal is to build up a back catalog that sells consistently in various markets, like Mike Mignola or something.

    A sincere best of luck, man! Your work is fantastic and I'd love to see more someday.

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    1. Thanks Andy! Don't give up on your project, either. When it feels like I'm stagnating, I just imagine I'm building a pyramid or a cathedral. As long as I place at least one brick per day, I know that the elusive goal is drawing incrementally nearer.

      Hang in there, and I look forward to seeing what you create!

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  7. When you share print or digital copies a multitude of people get to spend time appreciating your dedication. Your story will last longer than however much time it takes to complete - don't give up hope!

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  8. i say finish the damn thing at your own pace. it won't be any less awesome if it comes out slowly.

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    1. My feeling exactly. Can't make a tree grow any faster by yelling at it, can you?

      Thanks, fellow Nathan!

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  9. I think there are people out there who are willing to help you out with your work on NP, flattening, inking or coloring.

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    1. Yes, in fact I got an intern who was very helpful with flatting! I'll explore that avenue again when I jump into #3.

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  10. Hear ya there Nate, I was in the same situation, with a waiter job, even tho I'm not even near to the NP quality, and what I did? Outsourced myself, I moved to my wife's country: Taiwan.
    Let me see: Rent 3 bedrooms + power + internet + food + health insurance + gas (scooter) + wife + 4yo child + nursery-kindergarten = $800 dlls.

    2 year bachelors degree and US Passport gives you a resident visa to teach English from 20 to 40 hours for around $20 dlls an hour on one of the safest most peaceful places on earth.

    Just something to think about.

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    1. Actually, I did that very thing in Korea a few years ago, and that life had a lot going for it (namely, I met my wife there). But I found that I got so sucked into the teaching that it prevented me from working on personal projects. Weird, right? Teaching really got me nervous, and I ended up spending a LOT of time on lesson plans.

      Glad to hear it's working so well for you, though!

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  11. Hey Nate! Just checking in after about a year. Glad to read you're still working on the book.

    I'm in a very similar position: I'm making a short film, with 2 kids (2 and 4), and I'm the sole income provider in the family. IT IS SOOO TOUGH TO DO! Keep at it though because I really liked the book and want to see more.

    Nina Paley made an artist's edition DVD of her film Sita Sings the Blues. It was basically the exact same as the regular DVD except it was tagged as The Artist Edition and cost $100. It was made for those who wanted to really support her work.

    She discusses a lot of her techniques in the 2009 Power to The Pixel video.

    I think a lot of ideas of how an artist can make an income can really slide across media. It just takes a little imagination. And hopefully we have that in spades!!

    Keep up the good work!

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    1. Great advice, Sean. You'd think we creative types would be especially good at figuring out new ways to monetize our content! Oh well. How is your short film coming along?

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  12. "But with a kid, in America? Only if your whole family has Wolverine-like healing abilities. At the first sign of a sniffle, you'll be out ten grand."

    Thats one of the reasons why we moved back to Germany, maybe you should emigrate :P

    Kickstarter might be a way...

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    1. Hey, if Germany is inviting me over, I'll seriously consider it. I lived in Hamburg for a month, and it was amazing! Who do I talk to about emigrating? Angela Merkel? Anybody have her number?

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  13. Hi Nate. Wanted to add my voice to the clamoring horde of fans drooling for #2 but sympathetic to your situation. Seriously though, let me help and do flats (or any grunt work that you need) on this. I would love to be a (small) part of helping you move Nonplayer along, and think I would be great for the task. Here's my reasoning:

    PROS:
    Competent digital artist (painting/illustrating/design)
    Has a Wacom, 27" iMac, CS 6, Internets, and a frisbee
    Unemployed, so I've got time
    Is a huge fan of the world and the work
    Works for free, except for the occasional high-five
    Lives in Seattle (Greenlake)
    Eagle Scout
    Snappy dresser

    CONS:
    Never flatted professionally, but it is a part of my normal workflow in PS

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    1. If I can help let me know and I will provide contact info, etc.

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    2. Hey Joshua. Did I ever get back to you about this? I had flatting support for issue 2 already, but I may be in the market again next year. Hope all is well with you.

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    3. All is well, thanks! I never did hear back, but I'm sure you were busy with the baby (What baby? The baby with the power. What power? Power of voodoo. Who do? You do. Do what? Change the diapers on the baby).

      **whew** Sorry. Once Magic Dance gets started...well...best to just tuck in until the verse is finished.

      Please keep me in mind should there be any graphic/layout/busy work/barbeque tending/witty retort/web admin assistance I may provide. SRSLY. To be involved with this project would be incredible, but I would totally squee my pants to go grab a beer and debate which Geof Darrow work is better - Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot -or- Hard Boiled (*ahem; Hard Boiled).
      Plus, if I buy you enough beer I can get you to sign my copies of Nonplayer. And my bewbs.

      Take care, good energy and luck, and don't hesitate to contact me if there is anything I can do.

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    4. Yeah, the answer is "Hard Boiled." Thanks again for the offer of help, man. You may yet regret the offer! :)

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  14. I'm very glad that you are still working on the project. I was lucky enough to get a copy of the first printing of issue #1. Periodically, I check and see if I've somehow missed ongoing issues. Your artwork is beautiful.

    Would you put a Donate button on your website and/or sell prints? I think that DeviantArt has a way to do that easily.

    Please update nonplayercomic.com. It will take minutes to put an update on the home page that says that you are still working on 2 and to check your blog for updates. The website is the top hit for a Google search for "nonplayer comic," and the last thing there is from over two years ago. If you can update your page more often, it will do good things for keeping you in people's minds. A quick photo peek at a work in progress?

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    1. Excellent advice, and thanks for the reminder! I have updated the Nonplayer website, and I'll be more attentive to it in the future (honestly, I had kind of forgotten about it!). Thanks again, Cris.

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  15. I was thinking about you and your comic. And I feel like one of the problems with American comics is that unless you have a lot of financial backing its hard to produce a comic that is as detailed as yours. It also hurts that you are doing the coloring as well as the line art. Do you think that you could work with a colorist to help you get the work out ? I mean I just reread Akira a few weeks ago and I know that, that book probably had an army of assistants working on it. I was thinking that just having someone help you by doing the coloring would speed things up a lot.
    Of course I'm sure you have heard this time and time again. In any case good luck with everything I believe in you.

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    1. Hey dude, long time no see! Yeah, I have tinkered with the idea of hiring a colorist for Nonplayer in the future... I'm kinda torn, since the coloring is the most fun part. It'd be like letting somebody else eat my dessert, you know? But yeah, it would speed up my flow.

      How are you doing? Any new stuff you're working on?

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