Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Où est Waldo?

I'm not really sure how much traction I'll get on the strength of five colored pages, but it seems like a good time to start building relationships with European publishers. I'll be contacting the following companies tomorrow:
  • Delcourt
  • Casterman
  • Soleil
  • Les Impressions Nouvelles
  • Dupuis
  • Dargaud
  • Le Lombard
  • Frémok
  • Glénat
  • Les Humanoïdes Associés
  • Standaard Uitgeverij
This list is heavily weighted on the Franco-Belgian end of things (and by the way, thanks to everybody who tossed these names at me!). If anybody can suggest other companies that seem like a good fit (from any country or planet), please let me know. If you have any sort of direct contact with someone at a publishing company and think you might be able to get me past the submissions gatekeepers, your help would be much appreciated.

I'm having the weirdest experience with Image -- a couple of their artists think Image would be all over Project Waldo, but I'm unable to get anything past their submissions guy. I assume many publishers have similar bouncer-types. It often helps to know a guy who knows a guy. If you're that guy, or you know the other guy, then I would like to be the guy who knows you.

Finally, I think I should probably send my pitch email in French. To my knowledge, I don't speak French. If any of you Francophones would be willing to translate a couple of paragraphs for me, I'd be so grateful that I'd give you a free signed copy of Project Waldo when it comes out (how's that for hubris?). I might even make a really crappy drawing on it. Of a penguin. If you're interested in doing this, please contact me directly through email.

Sorry to spam everybody with this. I appreciate your help and/or patience!


  1. Self-publishing works just fine if:

    1) You have a large enough following on the web to be able to sell direct, and

    2) Your audience loves you enough that 10% of them will buy your stuff.

    I have no idea whether you can meet those two conditions, but as a full-time webtoonist I can probably answer all kinds of business-related questions. Just don't ask me about art, because from the looks of things you know a lot more about it than I do.

  2. I can translate for you, I'm a native speaker. Good luck!

  3. Holy wow, I ended up here from @pvponline's twitter - your artwork is astounding!

  4. I, too, got here from @pvponline's twitter and have to say I hate you for being so good. :D

    I can also translate for you. I'm almost a native speaker (second language, since age four). :) I hope you make it!

  5. I'm coming into this late, but I had to relate a similar Paul Chadwick story. I went to the San Diego Comic Con in either '88 or '89 and brought with me some xeroxed pages of a comic I had been doing which was nowhere near the quality of yours. It was more like sad, high school project. I gave a packet to three people: Steve Rude, Matt Wagner, and Paul Chadwick. Inside was an address if anyone wanted to give feedback. Very presumptuous of me! As it turned out, Paul Chadwick not only wrote me back, but did so in a five paged, hand-written letter that minutely critiqued my work. He was an utter sweetheart.

    Best of luck and sorry for going so far off-topic.

  6. You're better off self-publishing or indie-publishing your work so you can retain as most of the control over it as possible.

    Project Waldo is your first, and like most artists starting out - it is probably 'your baby.' Treating it that way makes it very difficult to let go, and when you do, very painful to see it changed from its original vsion (and it WILL happen, be forewarned.)

    If you're mainly in this for the personal goals, then go the self-pub route. If you're in it for the fortune and fame, keep it in the can and work on other smaller projects first to get your feet wet in the sea of the comics industry.

    I wanted to become a full-time comic book artist, but after several discussions with colleagues, I really didn't care for the "earning your dues and suffering for the cause" type of lifestyle. So I do it as a hobby, and its way more fulfilling - and when little victories occur (like getting an advance on a project, or working alongside your favorites) its a real sense of accomplishment.

    I wish you luck, Nate.

  7. If you going to write to Standaard Uitgeverij, it's better to write in Dutch.

  8. Sheeewheew. Such beautiful work should NOT be humanly possible! I mean wow, have been watching this and each page has stunned me.

    I imagine people will be tripping over themselves to print this, especially because the story looks great as well.

  9. Absolutely beautiful and inspiring stuff. I might also suggest Dark Horse in addition to Image. Dark Horse has been known to support a variety of genre's and styles. Udon, these days, concentrates primarily on their Capcom styling and liscenses - but - you never know. they've put out at least one comic by an independant creator in the past.

  10. If you need some help, I'd be glad to translate your pitch (I'm french)...

    Another publisher you could send your pitch to is Ankama éditions (comics division of the makers of Dofus ) They are a fast growing, and very dynamic video game / animation/ publisher.

    Your style is more realist than their other work, but it could be something they need in their line. They have an application form here : http://jobs.ankama.com/index.php?lang=fr (I can help to translate if you need ) You need a cv + pitch / letter + link to some work. Hope you have some good contacts out of this...

  11. Might be worth popping over to www.freakangels.com/whitechapel and starting a thread? It's Warren Ellis' messageboard, and is populated by a large amount of comics people who would be able to give you some assistance, I'm sure.

  12. Howard - Huh! Interesting points. I see that you've set up a regular cottage industry over at Schlock Mercenary (and congratulations on that!). You clearly grok the business very well! Is that site paying your bills completely, or do you have to do another job on the side? Thanks for your comment!

    Joumana - I think someone has already volunteered to translate for me, but thanks for offering! It's better for you to spend your time drawing, anyway. I don't want to keep you from your comic!

    Ainslie - Thanks very much! Pvponline? Wow! The internet is terrifying sometimes...

    Rodia - Hey, thanks for ... hating me? Never has it felt so good to be hated! Thanks for offering to translate, but somebody else beat you to it! Much obliged, though! By the way, your website is just gorgeous. Can I hate you back for being such a killer photographer? I love the shot of snow falling among birches... really amazing stuff.

    T' - Dude, isn't Chadwick the nicest guy ever? I have a similar story about bringing a comic I and a friend had made to San Diego. When I think that we actually showed it to publishers... I still kind of redden at the thought. I think the guys who work at those tables deserve medals. If I ever end up working at a con, I'm going to try to see every visitor as a potential future master. Because one day, they might draw as well as you do!

    Drezz - It certainly does seem like there's a lot of "dues paying" talk among comics artists. To hear them talk about it, the whole industry sounds like it might be about half a step better than coal mining. I definitely hear you when you say you want to keep it a hobby. I'll happily self-publish if I can't get a publishing deal that lets me control the whole project. Don't worry. And good luck with your stuff, too! Thanks for the sound advice!

    Preske - GOOD POINT. I think I sort of assumed I'd just hit them with English -- are the odds decent that they'd speak my language?

    Tom - Wow, thanks for the nice comment. I hope you're right about people tripping over themselves! Great work with Marooned, by the way! I don't know if this just comes across as random, but I sort of got a cool Incal vibe off of it. You know, with the energy-projecting jewels-on-foreheads and whatnot. Awesome.

    Michael - Those pencil tests on your blog are SO COOL. Man, what a great job that must be. Don't tell me otherwise! Let me have my illusions! I'll definitely take a look at Dark Horse and Udon. Thanks for the tips!

    moozoom - Ankama! Good one! I've never heard of them, but their website looks great. Thanks! I think I'm okay as far as translating goes, but it's great to know I've got a real, live Frenchman to help me out if I need it. It's very kind of you to volunteer like that!

    Jon - Visited and bookmarked! As soon as I get a moment, I'll hit them up for advice. Thanks for the link, Jon!

  13. I got rejected by pretty much everyone (with good reason) before I got my break. I can't believe some are actually saying no to you.

    Everyone has that problem I guess http://bentobjects.blogspot.com actually had someone say to him that his stuff was great and they would concider publishing his second book!?!

    RGB for TVs and monitors
    CMYK for print.
    If you render something in RGB it may look great, but when you convert to CMYK everything will look dulled down. do everything in CMYK. It wont chage if you convert to RGB.

  14. spleenal - I have spent so much time cruising your blog since you last commented. It's genius. I've never read anything like it. I am so glad you've got a book on the shelves. It's pretty strange to me that you got rejected by anybody, but it makes my rejections feel a lot better. There must not be much correlation between actual quality and quality as seen by publishers.

    By the way, I've gotten the "second book" line, too.

    As to RGB/CMYK: GAAAAAAHHHHHHHH make it stop! I'm just going to work in CMYK on the next page, and spend months trying to get the first five pages to look right again. Thanks.

  15. You may have seen this already, but run this page through a URL translator (I'm a native speaker so I don't have to, heh heh heh), it's got a lot of advice. It's from Delcourt, I believe they are the largest publisher by volume.

    btw, your list seems pretty comprehensive. Again you may need a url translator for this but, http://www.acbd.fr/bilan-2008.html has the closest thing I've seen to an industry report. I've learned a bit reading that.

    Enjoy and best of luck, I've got to get back to my own pages. :D

  16. Don't panic about the French comic market and your style: the art styles on the continent are far more diverse than you think. ;)

    Note that European publishers don't pay you by the page like in the States; they'll give you a MASSIVE lump sum (€XX,XXX) which will worth a lot more the quicker you get the work done. (I've worked with an animation director who drew the graphic novel to his latest film for French audiences, so that's how I know how the system works. I think it's ditto for Italian publishers too.)

  17. Leeann - I quite like the words "massive lump sum." Do you know how European publishers feel about creator ownership? Do creators ever get to hold on to their own IP? So far, it seems like there's an inverse relationship between the size of the advance and the amount of creator ownership/control. But you've given me hope with this post. Thank you!

  18. JP - Both of those links are gold, and I'd heartily recommend them to anybody who's thinking about French publishers. Thanks a ton for those, and good luck with your comic! I hope you're going crazy with all that Dave Stevens-y inking.

  19. Nate, you are absolutely welcome :D

    As far as my work, I'm not sure about how I'm going to ink the work yet, if at all. I am budgeting for a max of 4 days (4 sessions) in total labor per page. Gotta budget, ya know? I did post a recent process test here.. http://mavinga.livejournal.com/

    BTW, the 22 or so page issue to my understanding doesn't really happen with these publishers, you should probably be aiming for a 48-64 page first volume. They may ask about additional volumes at the loose synopsis level. Remember these are books, not episodic 'issues'.

    I hope we'll be able to chat about this some day :D

  20. I got linked here by a colleague on the Flight Forum, and holy blap! That's some of the most intricate linework I've ever seen. Makes one feel quite inadequate!

    Soleil would seem to be quite a decent match, stylistically, but casting the net wide never hurts. On the other hand, I've been finding that this kind of work is really a labor of love, so you kind of just have to bear with it for its own sake, and eventually things will fall into place one way or another.

    I can help here and there with French or Italian, if you like, but as I'm of sang-Québecois, I'd likely do more harm than good, with my provincial gutter-speak - I've been laughed to scorn by the Français-purs for my dialect.

  21. JP - I agree that your pencils are so tight you may not need to ink them at all. I like the minimalist color of that process test -- since you've got the rendering doing the heavy lifting, you have the luxury of leaving the colors fairly simple. It's a nice effect. And you're also right about Project Waldo's format -- I've got a couple of conversations going right now with publishers on both sides of the pond, and the 48-page album approach is firmly on the table in all cases. We'll see!

    Mathieu - Thanks Mathieu! Soleil is definitely a company I'd be interested in contacting. I'm slowly sending out my French contact emails as I hunt down useful contact people (and thanks for offering to translate! Happily, someone was already kind enough to do that for me). Keep up the great work on your comic, too! The tanks are sweet! I look forward to seeing it on the stands sometime soon.

  22. Nate - Thanks for swinging by my blog this morning. That was such a shock to see your comment out of the blue.

    I have to admit, I've copied quite a few things you're doing here on your blog only because I really admire your work and how fun it has been to follow your progress.

    I only came across Project Waldo a few weeks ago but since then I haven't stopped preaching about it. I read your posts from beginning to end with the same excitement as reading Harry Potter. I was emotionally drained when you announced that you were pulling the plug on your animatic/script. You see, I also started my project as a animatic which turned into an animation before I pulled the plug on it. That's a really hard stage to go through. I also had a friend suggest that I make a graphic novel instead which sent me on the path I am today.

    Your line work, BG details, faces, anatomy, coloring and storytelling are amazing and I only ask that you keep sharing your progress. It's been VERY exciting to me. I love it when people put their whole heart into what they are doing. It's like nothing else.

  23. Howdy.....very nice stuff / I followed a link from Flight magazine and found myself here.....my only critique (?) might be that the gorgeousness of detail and texture...( being illustrated digitally ?) may not reproduced at a scale that honours the effort.
    I studied some artists I admired for my first comic attempt......but high on my priority list was not to work TOOOO large on my originals......I knew that in reproduction detail might distract from the ooomph I wanted the images to have.

    Good luck!....your draughtsmanship is super !


  24. Jason - I, too, was surprised at how similar our journeys have been. It makes me wonder how many others there may be who are in the same straits. Comics seem like the dream path for so many commercial artists out there, but as anyone who's actually tried it can tell you, it's a hard and lonely road. That's where these blogs come in handy -- not only do you get great advice, but it's nice to feel like somebody's rooting for you. And I'm definitely rooting for you. Your second spread is beautiful, and I'm already slavering for the third.

    zoomfrog - Yeah, the density of detail has been something I've been wrestling with from the start. One of the first things I bring up when I'm talking to publishers is the page size -- if I can get this printed in a slightly oversize format, I think it'll work a lot better in general. We'll see! Now, your lovely TT Challenge pages have hit that balance perfectly! I love the way you've handled the pacing and the inks, and I've always been fascinated by the Isle of Man race. I hope your stuff has found its way into print (or at least will soon)! Great work!

  25. Nate, you got a new fan in me! Your work is absolutely fantastic. Great stuff, and I have no doubt that you're going to get very far.

    I'd recommend trying out the webcomic route as well as the traditional publisher route. Its a great way to get your work noticed by millions of people. It'll also allow you to sell your work online.

  26. Hanzou - Thanks for the kind words! I see you've got a long-running webcomic of your own (and congratulations on keeping such a cool thing going!). Do you intend to release a print version at some point, or is a web-only approach keeping you afloat? I'm very curious about that business model. Is it ad-supported, for the most part? Does most of your revenue come in through merchandising? It's a brave new world!

  27. Hi, by "slightly oversize format" are you implying something like the lanfeust (Edited by soleil) or even bigger ? (I don't know if they are published out of french speaking countries, but they are nearly 2cm higher than standard editions of Tintin/Spirou and most belgian BDs)

    Anyway very cool blog for now and for the first few post the quality is astounding.

  28. I wish you the best of luck and your art is just SO impressive and amazing. You've been a great inspiration! Keep up the awesome work.

  29. mystery guy - I've never seen the lanfeust, so I can't be too sure. But that sure sounds like the format I'm thinking of. I do own some Tintin, and it's printed at a much smaller size than would be ideal for Project Waldo. Thanks for the comment!

    lledra - Thanks very much! That's really nice of you. I feel glowy now.

  30. Hey Nate. Just stopping by on my whatever-interim rounds. As usual your stuff looks spectacular. My contacts are probably not especially helpful to you, but if I think of anything I'll send you a note. FWIW, if this was online, I would pay for it (e.g. donation model or subscription to read things in advance), and bug lots of other people to do so too.

  31. Hey , you´ve a great style here.
    .I´been watching your work , and i must to say , it´s so great .
    .I hope , to talk with you by email , if you don´t mind.
    .See u soon!

  32. Erin - Hi, Erin! Thanks for dropping by! Yeah, I've been trying to figure out how to turn this into something that would work digitally, but I haven't found my magic bullet yet. If you have any epiphanies, I'm all ears. Hope all is well with you!

    Jose - Thanks very much! I don't mind at all if you drop me a line. The more, the merrier.

  33. Just discovered this blog and your wonderful art through Brandon Graham's site. Reading your experiences over the last eleven months was slightly eerie, as it's almost exactly what I'm planning to do next year. It's like somebody gave me a link to my own blog from the future, right down to the same books you read for research and inspiration (Story and Urasawa manga etc.) Anyway can't wait to hear what happens next with your book and what kind of response you get from those European publishers.

  34. "Is your name Waldo? No. My name is Nate Simpson." very funny

    just discovered this guy's site and thought if you liked James Jean you might find his linework and coloring inspiring (and somewhat similar to yours):

    http://www.thanuka.com/ (he also has a very thorough process blog)


  35. Stephen - I suspect your project year is going to go a lot smoother than mine, if only because your art is infinitely radder than mine. Holy mackerel, there's such a nice range, so much great style on display at your blog. I'm going to go ahead and say that I'll buy whatever you make next year. I hope you post your progress as you go -- I'd love to follow along. Good luck!

    Slightly - Dude, that's a great link. Tomer is amazing! Look at the color on these pages:


    That green on the center page -- THAT'S what I'm talking about! And the pink! And his drawings are flawless, too. Thanks for the great lead!

  36. Oh, I intend to shamelessly steal the 'process' format of your blog for my own project.

  37. Nate,
    I just wanted to thank you for inspiring me. I am incredibly impressed by the quality of your pages thus far. You're rocking this comic thing... keep up the good work. A few months ago I started my own blog about writing/illustrating a kids book. You inspired me to do so. A friend of my got me looking at your blog here and I was so moved and excited by what you were doing that I felt I had to do something similar. I started work on a kids book about a month prior to coming across your blog. I don't know how it's been for you, the social networking side of things, but it's been amazing for me to share my thoughts and progress with people. I also find it terrifyingly motivating because now people know what I'm doing ... accountability is a great and wonderful spark to the fire of motivation.

    Anyhow. I thought it may mean something to you that not only are you producing a killer looking read in your book but you touched the life of a meek and learning illustrator. Thanks
    All the best with the publishers. I have not doubt you'll not be in want of interested parties.


  38. Stephen - Please post a link to your process blog once it's up and running. I'm looking forward to following along!

    Corey - Dude, thanks! Our 1984 is looking great! I can certainly attest to the motivational utility of having your stuff looked at by hundreds of strangers. Without this blog, I suspect I would have given up on Project Waldo long ago.

    As to your being a "meek and learning illustrator," I think we can all agree that you can now shed that provisional title. I knight thee Sir Corey, Pro-Level Badass of the Most Excellent Order of the Canadian Empire.