Apologies for the recent onslaught of shameless self promotion. I don’t really intend on using the blog as a sales tool, but I figure you’re probably here because you dig my work, and if you dig my work, you might want to know when there’s new stuff to check out.
That brings us to today’s post and my new web comic: Bagged & Bored.
The history of Bagged & Bored is long, going back years to the very beginning of my serious interest in directing as a career. When I was first experimenting, making short videos with my friends in my apartment, I did a short lived series of episodes of what ended up being called “Roomies”, which followed two characters, Dave & Brandon (played by my friends Dave & Brandon) who were roommates that had pretty much nothing in common, and how that dynamic caused hilarity (or mediocrity, depending on who you ask).
Years later, I considered re-launching the idea as a web comic, because the shorts were essentially sketches anyway, existing really only as set ups to punchlines. I pitched the idea to an artist friend of mine, who loved the scripts I had come up with, and so we were off and running.
My friend ended up just being too busy to really commit to it, and months later we parted ways on the project. After that happened, I decided the comic should have a niche, instead of trying to appeal to the broadest audience possible, and begun re-working the concept. Soon, the comic stopped resembling Roomies at all, and became Bagged & Bored. I kept the character’s names the same as homage to where the original inspiration came from, but their personalities had completely changed.
I begun working on new scripts (and modifying existing ones) and it took me all of five seconds to realize my friend Zach Ellis was just the man to illustrate it. Thankfully, he loved the idea, and agreed, and this time, finally, we were off and running. For real.
The final piece to the puzzle was how to launch. We could simply toss the comics up on our own site and desperately push to get people to check it out, which sounded like a lot of work (especially the building/maintaining a website part), but I came up with a better idea: align ourselves with a comic/geek culture focused site and become part of their regular content, akin to the days when Penny Arcade was the strip you’d read in the back of Game Pro magazine.
Now that I’m done rambling, here’s a look at episode one of Bagged & Bored. We launched August 1st, and will be uploading new episodes every Monday & Thursday between now and Fan Expo before moving to a weekly schedule in September. We’ll be at Fan Expo wandering the floor, handing out free Bagged & Bored comic strip bookmarks, so come find us!
I mentioned here previously that I have a story in Cryptophobia, an upcoming anthology series being published by Viper Comics, but I was pretty mum on details. Well, today, I’m here to offer a sneak preview at some concept art illustrated by the skilled Daniel Wong and colored by the one and only Dawnson Chen.
Just what is the story behind these excellent images? See below:
Old Haunts tells the tale of Vincent Feldman, a Point Pleasant police officer, who, after a routine noise complaint, comes face to face with The Mothman after having spent years thinking his Father insane for claiming such sights. A call from his Father leads him to believe The Mothman is coming for him, and he must race home to save him before it’s too late.
As soon as I have release date info, I’ll keep you posted.
Dave Franciosa, illustrator of Ban: Sidekicked, and I are finally re-teaming for another comic project. This time, it’s not a huge ambitious project, but rather a lean, mean seven page story for the upcoming 215 Ink anthology. He’s only just begun the art, and has been working hard on thumbnails and concept art for the story, but he just finished this bad ass concept for our main character and I couldn’t wait to show it off:
Wish us luck. I hear the anthology is filling up fast, so I don’t know if we’ll make the cut or not. More as it becomes available!
If the name Holmes Inc. sounds familiar to you, it’s probably because you follow me on Twitter, or know me personally, and I haven’t shut up about it for the last several months.
Well, the issue is finished, and we held a launch party for the it last Friday at Toronto Cartoonists Workshop’s new office on College. Good times were had, and those lucky enough to attend got to snag early copies.
Holmes Inc. #2 will next be available on the Graphic.ly iPhone/iPad app, and also at Fan Expo in August. It will also be made available at comic stores throughout Toronto, so be sure to keep a look out.
I’m pretty pumped about it. My seven page story, The Family Name, opens the issue with some fantastic art by the truly skilled Daniel Wong (with whom I’m collaborating on a story for Viper Comics). Below are the first two pages. If you want to see the rest of the mystery unfold, you’ll have to pick up Holmes Inc. #2!
See you at Fan Expo!
Social media has his the internet like a storm, and everyone is linked up on Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, LinkedIn, their blogs, blah blah blah. It’s an exciting time in the short life of the internet, and it doesn’t seem like social is going away any time soon.
Enter Meet Meme.
Meet Meme is a new, awesome idea, that involves turning your online persona into a trading card. Yes, Meet Meme lets you live out your childhood fantasy of having your own trading card. I’m not the only one with that fantasy, right? … right?
The idea is simple and very cool: choose from a selection of templates, upload a photo, type out a bio and some extra info, and then you add any social media accounts you have as well as any websites you want included. Meet Meme takes your social sites and websites and creates your own personalized QR code that smartphones can scan, at which point links to all the sites you’ve included pop up. Also cool: Your Twitter handle/followers show up on the card.
The process is simple and intuitive, and the finished product looks fantastic:
I see Meet Meme as becoming the new business card for the social-savvy. It’s fun, looks cool, and is vastly more effective than simply having a hundred links written out on your business card. Best of all, it’s reasonably priced, too!
20 cards = $8.75, 50 cards = $15, 100 cards = $27 plus $1.99 shipping. There’s also an option for branded/corporate cards if you’re a fancy big shot.
So if you’re into social, and want a fun, funky alternative to the tried and true business card, check out Meet Meme and tell them James Cooper sent you. It won’t get you a discount or anything, it’ll just make me seem like a bigger deal than I am, and I like that.
Also, full disclosure, the good folks at Meet Meme sent me my cards for free. They saw me talking about the cards with a friend on Twitter and offered me a freebie order. In exchange, they said, if I like it, they’d appreciate if I’d help get the word out. In no way did their offer influence my opinion of the product, but I thought it was worth saying, for any conspiracy theorists out there who find out I didn’t pay for my cards and assume they’re buying me off. You know, because my opinion is worth enough to bribe me into shit.
Anyone who knows me well enough can attest to one thing about me: I’m always working on something. There may be other common characteristics that come up, like “he’s tall” or “he’s an asshole”, but the one thing everyone can pretty much guarantee is that it’s not if I’m working on something, but rather, what.
I’m not one to rest and wait for things to happen. I’ve always been driven, and I often find myself buried in projects, but that’s the way I like it. As I like to say “If there are enough hours in the day to get everything done, I’m doing it wrong”
This, of course, doesn’t leave me with the most free time (something my wonderful, fantastic girlfriend is usually very understanding of. Usually.) but I like to keep myself busy. A big part of it has to do with the fact that what I do never feels like ‘work’, per say. I love what I do, and the day it stops being fun, I may as well hang it up, because I could be bored to tears doing anything else. I write because I love it. I direct because I love it.
I’m happiest when I’m knee-deep in a project. It’s nice once in a while to have a night off to relax, but more often than not, I’d rather be doing something productive. Right now I’m in the middle of developing two comic projects, editing a music video, and actively planning to shoot a new short film. This is when I’m happiest. Not when it’s “should I work on something tonight?” but rather “which project should I work on tonight?”
Are you doing what you love?
Promotion for the upcoming issue of Holmes Inc. and part of the push has been a series of blog posts from artists and writers of the new issue. I’m reposting my entry here for those who are interested:
“Hooking Your Audience – The Opening Image”
by James Cooper
When I had come on board to write a story for the new issue of Holmes Inc., I had already written a 112 page graphic novel that had done fairly well for itself in the Toronto indie circuit. I thought I had learned a lot from my mistakes and was ready, willing, and able to put my best foot forward for Ty and the team on Holmes Inc. Possibly the most important thing I learned as a writer during my time working on the issue was the importance of creating an arresting opening image.
Your opening image is arguably the most important part of your story; more important than your deep, nuanced character development, clever wordplay and shocking climax. “Impossible.” you may say. “Hogwash!” but let me set a scene for you:
Someone (let’s call him John) walks into his local comic store to pick up this week’s comics and he begins to browse the shelves. John has never heard of your book, but hey, the cover looks pretty cool, so he picks it up to check it out. First thing he does? Opens it. Duh. What does he see? A page of talking heads. Boring. Puts it down. “Hey, look, the new issue of Batman!”
Now let’s rewind: John has never heard of your book, but hey, the cover looks pretty cool, so he picks it up to check it out. First thing he does? Opens it. Duh. What does he see? This:
Now we’re paying attention!
The opening image should be bold, daring, exciting, tantalizing. It should stare your potential audience member in the face and say “I dare you not to read this.” Everyone that picks up your book has literally hundreds of other options to spend their hard earned money on, so you need to grab them right off the top. Intrigue them. Make them want, no, need to see what happens next.
As important as this is in general, it’s even more so as an independent creator who needs to stand out amongst the A-list. The audience isn’t immediately familiar with the product you’re selling, so you need to give them every reason in the world to buy your book. It doesn’t always have to be something grim and shocking like the example above, but it should be something that pushes the reader to turn the page. Sell them.
The above image is the first panel of my story The Family Name. Thanks to the combination of the strong opening panel and Daniel Wong’s expert rendering of the image, the editorial decision was made for this to be the first story in the issue. So the first thing you’ll see when you crack open issue 2 will be the decaying corpse of Sherlock Holmes. Staring straight at you. Daring you not to turn the page.
– James Cooper
Keeping the momentum going after finishing my story for issue two of Holmes Inc., I have a story in an upcoming anthology series called Cryptophobia, published by Viper Comics.
The anthology series is launching this summer as part of a digital-first experiment. Viper is releasing issues of Cryptophobia on digital platforms, and using it’s performance there to judge if the series should go to print. The anthology will be full of stories with a focus on cryptozoology. Cryptozoology, for those uninitiated, is the search for animals whose existence has not been proven.
Throwing my name in the hat, I pitched Viper a story about the return of the Mothman of Point Pleasant, West Virginia. The pitch goes something like this:
Old Haunts is the story of Vincent Feldman, a small town police officer in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, whose father, Walter, claims to have been one of the over 100 Point Pleasant residents to have encountered the fabled Mothman in 1966. When Walter calls him at work yet again, claiming strange occurances in his yard, Vincent hangs up on him. Soon after, Vincent is stopped cold in his tracks when he comes face-to-face with the creature he spent his life convincing himself didn’t exist: The Mothman.
It’s a little wordy, but I’m okay with that. The story comes in at seven pages, and I’ll be re-teaming with the talented Daniel Wong, who did the pencils for my Holmes Inc. story, The Family Name. I’ll have more info about the colorist soon.
I don’t have any information about when the issue will be released that my story is being featured in, nor what digital platform it will come out on. As soon as I have that info (and some art to show off) you can bet I’ll be back to tell you all about it.
Identity is a tough thing sometimes when you’re a creative professional. “What do you do?” is a question you hear often, sometimes daily, depending on the week. How do you answer? Up until recently, my answer was simple: “I’m a film Director and Writer.” then, last year, the answer started to change: “I’m a film Director and Writer, and I’ve also written a graphic novel.” and now, the answer has shook up quite a bit: “I write comics and I also write and direct film.”
Well, simply put, it’s been a slow year for my film work. I haven’t shot anything, and the projects I’ve been writing haven’t come into fruition yet. However, since I dove into comics, things have been picking up: the graphic novel I wrote, Ban: Sidekicked, sold out of two self published print runs, and was picked up by Cloud 9 Comix for distribution on their iPad app. Then, in April, I wrote a story for an upcoming issue of Holmes Inc., which is a comic created (and edited) by Eisner award winning comic guru Ty Templeton. I also have a story under consideration at Viper Comics for one of their upcoming anthologies.
So, given what I’ve been up to lately, it makes the most sense to open with my comic work in a conversation, as it’s the more impressive at the moment. I have quite a bit happening in my film work as well, but at the moment, none of it has a solid greenlight, so it’s harder to boast about them.
It’s all about presentation, and how you present yourself at the onset of meeting someone immediately shapes their opinion of you. Thus, I keep my introduction maleable and once my film work begins to solidify into something more concrete (hopefully in the coming months) I’ll shape my introduction to reflect that.
(Author’s note: I use ‘writer’ as my example here, but it can easily be swapped out for any creative profession)
Determination is the most important tool you will ever need as a writer. It’s possibly the only important asset you’ll need that you cannot learn. No one can teach you to be determined, but yet, without it, you’re up shit creek without a paddle, so to speak.
In your career as a writer, you will have many obstacles to overcome, both internal and external: Writer’s Block, procrastination, doing the dishes, feeding your cat, etc. Sometimes, it seems for every reason to write, there’s a hundred reasons not to. When you write anyway: that’s determination.
When my friends ask me “What are you working on these days?” my answer usually leads them to another question: “Where the hell do you find the time?” and therein lies the big secret: “The Time”, that elusive commodity which we all need but cannot seem to find enough of, is actually readily available to you, if you’re willing to look for it.
Every Friday night you spend at a bar is a night you could be writing, if you really wanted to. That string of shows you PVR’d this week that you must catch up on Saturday afternoon? Taking time away from your writing.
I know what you’re thinking: “I work all week, I should be allowed to relax!” and you’re right. You’re absolutely allowed to relax. No one is saying you can’t. I am saying, however, that relaxing is not productive, and if you ever hope to make a legit career out of your passion, you will have to be productive.
This goes back to sacrifice: if you really want to accomplish something, you will find the time to do it. Of course, if you’re not determined to get it done, then sacrifice goes right out the window, doesn’t it? And this is how you determine whether you’re actually determined to see a project through.
Of course, I’m not saying don’t go out or enjoy yourself from time to time, but if you’re hopping in front of the TV or hitting a bar every time you have a free minute, instead of spending a few hours on your passion, then maybe you should re-evaluate just how serious you are about pursuing it as a career.