Comics are an American medium, no question. Do you know how good it feels to be selling an Australian book about Australian comics to the Americans? Here's ten percent of our print run, ready and packaged to be sent overseas! From my garage to the world.....!
Now to work on sending copies to the people who are really looking forward to reading the book: those who pre-ordered and those who supported the Kickstarter campaign....
Sad to say, the Stretch Goal of $6000.00 for the Kickstarter project for Graeme Cliffe's book From 'Sunbeams' to Sunset: The Rise and Fall of the Australian Comic Book (1924 to 1965) wasn't met. I can't really complain though, as the target goal of $3000.00 was met. I'd like to thank all sixty-one people who made pledges, and to all the people who pre-ordered the book from this website, for their enthusiasm for this project. I am really proud to be publishing this volume for its historical importance.
Given this is my very first attempt at selling an Australian book* about Australian comics to the Americans who pioneered the medium, I am really chuffed to say that Diamond Comic Distributors have also ordered 110 copies. Anyway, being chuffed won't do it! I have a lot of work cut out for me, getting the books out to everyone and given the attached terms and conditions Diamond are asking in getting copies of the book to their warehouse in a safe and speedy manner. So, if you don't see many (or any) postings here (or on Facebook), you now know the reason why!
I'm honestly a little overwhelmed by all of this. The bottom line is that Graeme's book is NOT going to be making any money in getting these books overseas. It might end up costing much more money than I am ever going to make from the print run! So why sell it overseas in the first place? I really believe that there is a need to be able to share his research with as many people who have a passion for the comic medium as possible. This book needs to be in libraries, in schools, in as many hands as possible!
Although I fear the financial loss in the project, I am grateful for the people behind the scenes who have helped and who are helping in getting the book out to the world. Besides those who have purchased and supported the Kickstarter campaign, I need to thank Graeme Cliffe for entrusting me to publish the book, and to his friend and Australian comic historian Neville C Bain (who designed the cover and who is working on the Limited Edition copies of the book for the Kickstarter campaign). My long-time collaborator Ryan McDonald-Smith, who has spent countless hours -- at times without pay -- working on the internal design and prepared the book for the printer, King Wang, who did his usual marvellous job. I'm grateful that Rowena and Georgina and the whole team at my new distributor, Novella Distribution, share my enthusiasm and will be working towards those aims of getting copies of the book in schools and libraries. I need to thank my Customs Agent Ian Hosking for his timely advice and assistance in getting the book to Australia and now back to America! And, even though she won't be reading these words, someone I need to thank over and above everyone else: Carlene, my wife who allows me to work on all these comic projects, even though she is jealous of the time I spend on them all.
The Kickstarter campaign had the duel purpose of publicising the book and raising funds to cover some of the costs associated with the project. In promoting the campaign, we used part of a movie clip from the 1960s. I have always said I would share that on my website, and today seems to be the appropriate time to do so. It is of significant historical value. It was shot in Sydney by cameraman (and comic book illustrator in his own right) Keith Chatto. It featured Jan and John Ryan, as well as their children Fiona and Sean, and Jan kindly gave permission for me to use the material. This is the first time the vision has been seen publicly and in full. We were not able, during the course of the Kickstarter campaign, to identify all the artists in the clip, so if anyone can help in this matter, we'd appreciate the information. The artists we did identify were Jim Russell, John Dixon and R. B. (Bob) Clarke. We were able to rule out Phil Belbin, and I suspect it could be Stanley Pitt (given there is some of his artwork featured), but I am not 100% sure...
Graeme's book was designed to be almost the same size as John Ryan's book Panel By Panel. When Graeme and I were at the early discussion and visualisation phase of the project, we both agreed that rather than supersede John's book, we wanted it to compliment it. It was deliberately designed to be about the same size, with similar fonts, and a similarly-designed index. We wanted people (who may have a copy of John's book) to be able to place both volumes side by side in their library.
I have a lot of work cut out for me now, so this will be possibly my last word on Graeme's book for a while. I have packages to prepare, books to ship out. Let me know (when it arrives) your thoughts on the book. Happy, as ever, to take constructive criticism which I am more than happy to pass on to Graeme. He's hoping the edition sells out, so he can oversee a Second Edition. Could it be he found some errors in the text? Surely not....
*Some people with long memories will remember I once sold one of my "Air Hawk" comics to the Americans in 1990. ("Air Hawk Super Special #1" also known as "John Dixon's Air Hawk Magazine" Issue 5.) The venture wasn't an total success. Some of the product ended up 'lost' and the Distributors didn't pay. Copies of the magazine were, until most recently, still available from Lone Star Comics in Texas for the cover price of $2.00!
Here's a page that was going to be used in the book by Graeme Cliffe as an endpaper, that we didn't end up using. It's by Stanley Pitt, one of the recent Ledger of Honour winners...
Have you joined our Kickstarter campaign? Only 12 hours to go!
Here's the link: http://kck.st/2Ed11j5
Just the other day, Graeme Cliffe and I spent some time signing the slips for Graeme's book, From 'Sunbeams' to Sunset: The Rise and Fall of the Australian Comic Book (1924 to 1965) for all the Kickstarter pledges....due to finish in a little over three day's time. If you click here, you'll be taken to the Kickstarter site....just in case you have not got around to it!
Then we headed off to Graeme's friends at Fats Comics in Annerley to sign the first sold copies of his book! I'll be dropping copies of the book to our new friends and distributors, Novella Distribution this Wednesday, so copies should be appearing in your local bookstore really soon.... Ask for it by name!
Not only has the Kickstarter campaign goal for Graeme Cliffe's book From 'Sunbeams' to Sunset been reached (well, actually, surpassed), yesterday I submitted the signed contract to Novella Distribution to have six Comicoz books placed in bookstores around the country! There's some media interest in Graeme's book too: so I'll tell you more about that when the time is right....
This entry is my first in many days on any electronic device. I have been "off the grid" as some describe it. No internet, no emails, no Facebook, and no phone calls to or from anyone. Some may see it as somewhat rude, and I shall live with that. Let me explain in the most simple of ways:
Please allow me, if you will dear Reader, some time and thoughts of personal reflections that I usually refrain from placing on my web-page. As it's my page, I can really add what I want, and if you wish to not to read any further, that's fine. Come back another day!
The Blues singer-songwriter and performer Robert Johnson is said to have sold his soul to the devil at a local crossroads in order to achieve musical success. And even though he died at the age of only 27 years -- like so many other musicians! -- his influence has continued from his recording dates from the late 1930s right through to the modern era. What price would you pay to be successful in your chosen field, and what price should I pay to be a successful comic-book publisher? Let me share a story with you that I don't often talk about....
Earlier this century, Carlene and I were living in Bendigo while I was completing my tertiary studies, a Post-Graduate Diploma in Nursing Science (in Mental Health). While I was only able to work every second weekend, Carlene had to work seven days a week as a community nurse to help support us. In doing this, she cared for a certain client with muscular dystrophy -- amazingly, someone she had known earlier in her teenage years when she was growing up in Bendigo! Despite requiring the use of a wheelchair and daily nursing care, Russell was never one to be defined by his 'disability' and was a prominent Bendigo businessman. (You can learn more about him by clicking here.)
Carlene's work day always finished by caring for Russell, and we ended up socialising with him regularly, initially with DVD 'movies' every Tuesday night. Just as Russell didn't see that his business dealings had to stop because he was in a wheelchair, Carlene was able to show him that his disability was not an impediment to him enjoying an even fuller life. We learnt how to help him into his automatic and modified car -- that he drove -- to AFL matches and other shows we shared in Melbourne (including Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band). We shared the highs and lows of his life. Looking back, it was an amazing time in our lives.
Sadly, we eventually had to leave Russell and Bendigo when Carlene obtained work at the Royal Brisbane & Women's Hospital (in Thoracic Medicine), and I obtained a position there soon-after in the Mental Health ward. Still, it was Russell's belief that his disability never prevented him from being able to do anything, that inspired me to commence publishing the Australian comic anthology Oi Oi Oi! There's "no point dying without trying" and "never let anything stand in your way in pursuing your dream" were two mottos of his that continue to inspire me and remain in my psyche.
Carlene wasn't keen on my working on another comic project, especially in light of the fact that we still had boxes and boxes of the first volume of our first Air Hawk volumes unsold. She said, "I'd rather you put the magazine out there [in the marketplace] after you arrange a distributor." And the day the distribution deal came through was the day we had to return to Bendigo to attend Russell's funeral, making the day bitter-sweet....
History repeats. After Dennis Jones and Associates fell into liquidation, I fell into some despair about ever finding a distributor for my books, extra-especially Graeme Cliffe's From 'Sunbeams' to Sunset: The Rise and Fall of the Australian Comic Book (1924 to 1965). I was asked to attend a conference as part of my work late last month, just as Graeme's book was due to arrive from the printer. At exactly the same time as I stepped on the train, I received a message on my phone that my sister Florence has passed away overnight. Again, it was a bitter-sweet day, when that afternoon I entered into discussions and an in-principal agreement with Novella Distribution to carry, not just Graeme's book, but six of the books I have published in the past decade: Ned Kelly, Narrated and Illustrated by Monty Wedd, Trundle by Neil Matterson, Australia! by various Australian artists and cartoonists, Bold Ben Hall by Monty Wedd and the recent Gold Ledger-winning Truth, Justice and the American Dream by Thomas Campi and Julian Voloj….
The day after Flo's funeral, Carlene and I took off in our motorhome. I needed a bit of time to get away. I know this has inconvenienced many people, including work and Graeme (and not least being my distributor, I'm sure) but I trust you all understand. I now feel I have been away for a couple of weeks (it's actually only been a few days) and I now have my batteries all charged up and ready to go....