Saturday, 19 September 2020
Sunday, 13 September 2020
Yesterday I was able to visit London's Denmark Street, for the first time since I wrote and drew a whole book (The Prince Of Denmark Street) set there, this Spring. I must say, it's possibly Earth's most disappointing street!
When you've spent 6 months picturing it in its heydays of the 60s and 70s, its present state (mostly closely down, knocked down, or in the process of being rebuilt) is very sad. If it ever does get revamped and turned into a music themed street, it'll be a Disneyfied version of its former self.
Still, it's immortalised in my book, truly the best way to remember the iconic location, only £5.99 on Amazon
The following morning you have try and make sense of a jumble of "wghmftmwf" and "bzznrrsbee". (These are in fact the first tanglible notes for my proposed fourth book, whose title I shall keep under wraps for the moment, but whose initials are TT).
On which subject, I sounded out my fellow comic creators on Facebook with this:
Fellow comic creators, I have a proposal, and I’d like your opinion on whether it’s an indecent one or not. I am about to begin work on my 4th graphic novel and I need to produce the art to a tight deadline (so I can get it out in time for Christmas), so I would like to invite other artists to draw parts of it.
However my books, so far, don’t make a profit. Their successful campaigns have covered their print budgets and the postage of books and art to supporters, but no more than that. (That is to say, the 2nd book achieved this, the first book fell slightly short of this, and the 3rd book’s Kickstarter is still running).
So I propose paying my contributing artists in books. My books retail for £5.99 each and I would give each artist a certain number of books per page, which they would then be able to sell on as signed copies and make money that way. If the Kickstarter passed a certain pre-set level (I covering all the costs above, I would then offer a profit share).
Is this ethical? Has it been done before? And, if I did this, how many books would you think acceptable per page*? I look forward to your thoughts (and, if you’re interested in participating, in a link to your portfolios).
Responses were mixed, here is a key few:
Very interesting. I like the idea of getting things done, by all means available. Kickstarter has allowed for all manner of ways of working. Some anthologies make enough money to pay the contributors. But people that contribute to small press titles are happy to receive copies. (I have)
Paul Jason Holden
It’s pretty common in small press circles to just give someone comps for the work they’ve done - it’s less common to claim that as some kind of payment in full or to give them a number of copies based on their contribution, which feels like it’s a good idea but does basically turn them into sales people for your book. (and say it’s 10 copies per page and you do 5 pages, now you’re saying *sell 50 copies* on top of drawing the art). I think it might be counter productive.
As PJ says, I feel this plan is lumbering the artist with the onus of having to try and sell these books, on top of the free labour they’ve already put in. (And where are they going to sell them? At all the cons and comic marts that currently aren’t happening?)
Aren’t you also creating a range of competitors for your own attempts to sell the book?
I've done similar deals in the past and, in my case at least, I just get left with multiple copies of the book hanging around, cluttering up the place. ( I'm no salesperson...😉)
It's a really common practice in poetry publishing... especially with small presses....the author gets books to sell on, pays the production cost back to the publisher and keeps the remainder xx
So far no one makes me sound like an exploitative monster, which is encouraging.
Are you sure about that?
Paul Jason Holden
i mean i was trying to avoid the suggestion that theres a vague “pyramid” scheme nature to it...
i think send comps (and even offer a large number of comps if theyd like) but many people do small press stuff with no expectation beyond “this will be cool to do”. Saying “and you can sell the comps” feels like adding to their burden. If offer a cut of the kickstarter if it goes beyond the printing figure. Even £30-50 per page is better than nothing. (And infinitly better than comps worth £100 per page... since youd have to sell em all first)
I think if you're upfront with people about the plan, then that's the main thing. Other artists will surely have a few followers who could be made aware of the kickstarter and might buy a copy too, widening the audience anyway.
Perhaps something to throw into the mix is consider whether extra artists will boost KS sales (they bring their fan base) or decrease sales (I want a book by Kev F, not Kev F and friends)...
Thanks everyone for your responses to this question. In conclusion, I think it is felt that it would be exploitative to employ artists on this unsatisfactory compensation basis. So, unless I were able to raise much much more from a Kickstarter than any of my previous books have, and thus pay artists a respectable fee, it's best if I continue writing and drawing the whole book myself. Hopefully I'll be too busy with proper paying work to do this book before the end of the year (even working flat out I don't think I could do it), so you can look forward to a cracker of a Christmas book for the end of 2021!
Isn't 'Moonshot' an odd choice of metaphor, given that anti-masking covid-deniers don't believe the actual moonshot happened in the first place? Might as well call it the Final Solution.
Quick question: Patreon. Worth it or not?
Over on a comics group I've been hearing about the money some people are making from webcomics. eg one guy, Jeph Jaques, has 11,000 subscribers at a minimum of a dollar a month, but it's taken him 10 years of posting a strip a day to get there. Another, Krazy Krow, charges $7 a time and is pulling in $4000 a month for 'sexy nsfw pin ups'. The example I've linked to, Girl Genius, has only 990 subscribers, but generates £3000 a month from them. These all seem to be US based, doing very different comics from mine.
As someone who was doing a lot of visits to schools, which can't happen right now, but has produced three 120 page graphic novels so far this year, I'm wondering if I serialised my work as webcomics, would that work? Has any UK comic creator (or other creative type) used Patreon, and is it worth it?
Our mate Mitch does and I believe it's his most steady form of income.
Amanda Palmer who was/is married to Neil Gamain, makes a living through Patreon and concerts. She puts a lot of time into it though. So does Christine McConnell who used to be on Netflix.
As much of a fan as I am of our work, I always hesitate about 'subscribing' to anything. I mostly see this in charity, where I used to give more cash at the door than I do now, siimpley because they all want your name and address and an ongoing small monthly donation. I used to donate via Patreon to Dave Sim, but I stopped when I lost track of what I was paying for. On the other hand, our society seems to be moving in that way anyway. I have been told that in the future we may no longer pay for stuff (refrigerators, washing machines) but for actual use - so the manufacturors will be incentivised to build longer lasting household appliances (since they will be owning it themselves). But in that case, at least you have an influence by the amount of usage. A blind Patreon puts me off... although, if it is the only way to get your work, I may reconsider.
...for pre-existing content, no harm in uploading it. Same as for Redbubble. I only have 2 tiers, digital and digital plus posted merch once a year, my comics get uploaded evert 8 pages once a month or two, behind a locked webpage for patrons, months before they go public. It pays for my print runs and merch production. I don't get much traction but it works for me and my few readers
I know a few bands who use the platform. They use their FB fan page for generic stuff and offer varying subscriptions on Patreon for VIP type things.
I’ve got a modestly enjoyed podcast with around 400 to 500 subscribers. Not enough to make any advertising money from. We’ve managed to convert a good chunk of that audience into Patreon subscribers by giving them bonus episodes and early access. Very quickly the Patreon covered all the costs of the podcast and now it makes a small profit.
Conclusion seems to be: if you already have an audience, because you were wrongly sacked from a major Radio 4 comedy show (which you were the funniest thing on) or are married to Neil Gaiman, Patreon works for you. If not, you have a big uphill climb ahead of you. Fair?
Thursday, 3 September 2020
The Midsummer Night's Dream Team, my third Shakespearian graphic novel, has launched on Kickstarter. Click here for details of how you can get anything from a signed copy to unique sketches, to original art, to the brand new treat - you can appear in the book itself! I'll draw you into a crowd scene! Get in quick. (In the first half hour it already raised over £200, which is a very good start indeed!)*
Meanwhile here is my worksheet diary of work in progress (continued from this blog).
June 5 - Treatment begun
June 16 - First draft biro script
June 19 - Script broken down into panels & pages
June 29 - 120 pages laid out as boxes and voice bubbles
July 2 - Pencil roughs begun
July 25 - 120 pages pencil roughs drawn (used as finished pencils in most cases)
July 27 - Finished art (inking over blue line printouts) begun
September 3 (start of this blog post) - 60 pages inked & completed (16 - 75) 60 to go.
Sept 3 - All day spent launching the Kickstarter campaign
Sept 4 - 5 pages drawn (76 - 80)
Sept 7 - 7 pages drawn (81 - 87)
Sept 8 - 4 pages (88 - 91)
Sept 9 - 8 pages (92 - 99)
Sept 10 - 4 pages (100 - 103)
Sept 11 - 6 pages (104 - 109). That's 29 pages in a week, the first solid 5 day run this book has had. 94 pages drawn, 26 to go.
Sept 14 - 3 pages (10 - 12)
Sept 15 - 5 pages (6, 7, 13 - 15)
Sept 16 - 2 pages (110 & 111)
Sept 17 - 2 pages (112 & 113)
Sept 18 - 4 pages (114 - 117). 16 pages this week, 110 pages drawn, 10 to do.
Sept 21 - 1 page (118)
Sept 22 - 3 pages (16, 119 & 120). That's the last page of the book drawn, and (recalculation ahoy) 7 early pages to do.
Sept 24 - 3 pages (1, 2 & 3)
*UPDATE. By 6pm we were up to £320. 8pm £454. 9pm £578. 10pm £604. 7am £643. 7.30am £674. 9am £697. 2pm £711. 4pm £776 - target achieved in less than 24 hours!
(For the record, Prince of Denmark Street in June took 4 days to reach its £750 target, and went on to total £2024; and Findlay Macbeth in March took 2 days to reach its £500 target, 6 days to reach £750, and ended up totalling £1308)
Sat Sept 5 7am £813 6pm £978 10pm £1038
Sun Sept 6 (& Mon 7 & Tues 8) £1238
Weds 9 - £1278
Thurs 10 - £1308 (just equalled Findlay Macbeth's total)
Fri 11 - £1339
Mon 14 - £1387
Tues 15 - £1390
Weds 16, Thurs 17 - £1429
Fri 18 - £1559
Sat 19 - £1649
Sun 20, Mon 21 - £1652
Tues 22 - £1667
Weds 23 - £1725
Thurs 24 - £1825
Tuesday, 1 September 2020
Announcing the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre's World Tour Of Australia - One Night Only, Friday September 18th 2020
It'll be 7pm in Perth, 8.30 in Adelaide, and 9pm in Sydney, Melbourne & Brisbane (and 12 midday if anyone wants to watch from Blighty). The Socks will be doing classic sketches and some new stuff you won't have seen, for an entertaining hour - followed by a meet-up and chat in the virtual bar afterwards. All on Zoom, and all on-sale now.
Spread the word to your Aussie friends, and let's make this the international comedy sensation of the year.
And the Socks will be returning on September 25th for a New Material Night. You suggest what we should attempt, and we'll get busy writing some new stuff.
Quick, what would you like us to tackle? Tickets are on sale now: https://www.wegottickets.com/event/505621
Press Release - Comedy
Release date immediate
Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre
World Tour of Australia – One Night Only
Zoom comedy gig September 18 2020
Scottish Falsetto Socks Puppets, Adelaide Fringe hits return to Oz on Zoom
The Socks, “Earth’s funniest footwear” haven’t been to Australia since their hit run at Adelaide Fringe in 2012, now they’re coming back for one night only with a special interactive performance on Zoom.
Doing the show at 7pm Perth time, 9pm East Coast, 8.30 Adelaide, will mean they’ll be performing at lunchtime back home in the UK, but that’s a sacrifice these cult comedians are willing to make for their fans down under.
"Had every single audience member... laughing until they cried." ★★★★★ Edinburgh Evening News
The Scottish Falsetto Socks shows, which they do every year at the Edinburgh Fringe and on tour, include the themes of Superheroes, horror, Sci Fi, detectives & the circus. On Sept 18th they’ll be playing a selection of their best songs & sketches, plus some special stuff just for the Oz crowd. Their interactive Zoom shows have been running through the pandemic, winning rave reviews back home.
"An absolute triumph." ★★★★½ 4½ thumbs up, The Punch (Adelaide)
If you’ve not seen them before, check out their videos on Youtube, then brace yourself for an interactive international Zoom show that’ll make you feel you’re in the same room as a pair of talking socks – with the bonus that you can’t smell them!
"A gleeful celebration of puntastic juvenilia" ★★★★ Scotsman (Aug 2020)
Friday Sept 18 2020. Show time 7pm Perth, 8.30 Adelaide, 9pm East Coast
For further information contact Kev F Sutherland E: email@example.com
See the Socks videos at tinyurl.com/Sockvids
Monday, 31 August 2020
It wasn't quite Edinburgh, but parts of it came very close. I wasn't putting on a show every night for three and a half weeks, but I did manage to put on four shows, and they were "Edinburgh sellouts" - that is, had I been in last year's Gilded Balloon venue, I'd have been turning punters away, and emerging to the words "Sell Out" on the chalkboard.
The four shows we staged, on Zoom, were the initial All Request Show on July 31st; Socks In Space on August 13th; Boo Lingerie on August 21st; and Socks Do Shakespeare on August 29th. I've uploaded various video clips from the shows, listed below, so you can get a taste. I tried, as much as possible, to keep a degree of interactivity and spontaneity, to make people aware the were watching a live show. That said, the only way to do the musical numbers, was to prerecord them and play them in as video clips. I'd like to master doing them live, but for this season that was the way they had to be done.
Sales were good and, had I been doing a show every night, would have been more profitable than a usual Edinburgh month, because of course I didn't have to give any of it to the venue, our listing in the virtual Edinburgh Fringe programme was free, and I'd had to spend nothing on posters and flyers. Oh yes, and we weren't staying in Edinburgh, which saved a couple of thousand pounds (memo to self: don't forget the letting agent still have our 2020 flat deposit for use in August 2021!).
All Request sold 62, Space sold 37, Boo sold 54, and Shakespeare sold 56. Space suffered from something I only discovered on the night, which was that WeGot Tickets (an excellent ticketing service that I shall continue using) has a standard setting which makes tickets go off sale at 6pm. This is very unhelpful for a show like ours, which gets last-minute 'walk up' sales in the virtual world the same as the real world. The following week's Boo show sold 10 tickets in the gap between 6pm and 8pm, as I know Space would have. Space was also on a Thursday, which may be less of a "night out" date, whereas All Request and Boo were on Fridays, and Shakespeare was on Saturday. Again, it doesn't equate to something like last year, where we appeared on the Sold Out board 16 times out of 26 shows, but it may be as close as can be done with online gigs.
The definite highlight of the month was getting our 4 star review in The Scotsman, for Socks In Space. Which, coupled with a 4 star review from Everything Theatre, a glowing mention in a Kate Copstick Scotsman article, and the briefest of brief appearances on The One Show, ticked the top boxes for emulating the Edinburgh Experience.
The Scottish Falsetto Socks return to Zoom for a New Material Night on September 25th. Suggest topics they should tackle, on Facebook or Twitter, and get your tickets for the resulting show here.
Friday, 28 August 2020
I surprise myself in discovering that, through August, I ended up producing nearly half a dozen comics with kids in Zoom Comic Art Masterclasses. Because, to be brutally honest, they have been the most poorly attended classes I have ever done, for reasons discussed in this earlier blog. (In short, class organised by school or library = they provide the 60 bums on seats, class organised by me = I have to find every single bum on seat which is the equivalent of me finding 60 schools or libraries).
One class I cancelled outright (August 20), and asked the kids in the morning to move to the afternoon session. The final ones, (Aug 28th) I asked the two sets of kids who'd booked the morning if they'd move to the afternoon, but only one could. So I had a class in the morning with only one paying customer. It was a pair of twins, meaning their £9 ticket (from which I take away little over £8) for two hours saw me working for about a third of minimum wage! It was fun, but not quite as worthwhile as my classes usually are. The afternoon session had three paying customers, so not so bad, but still rather a silly way to be spending my time. (That said, the classes were fun, I loved doing them, and the kids had a great time. But doing them as good as voluntarily is not something I'll be doing again in a hurry).
As a last minute bonus, I've added the first comic of September, produced in a class with kids in Harrow, organised by Harrow Arts Centre.
The celebrities these six groups chose to appear in my demonstration strip were The Queen, Jason Manford, Stan Lee, Harry Hill, Kylie Jenner, and Michael Jackson.
I shall begin the process of selling myself to schools for the new term and hope normal service returns soon.
Kev F Sutherland, as well as writing and drawing for The Beano, Marvel, Doctor Who et al, runs Comic Art Masterclasses in schools, libraries & art centres - AND NOW ONLINE VIA ZOOM. email for details. His debut graphic novel Findlay Macbeth is available on Amazon. Follow Kev on Facebook, Twitter. Promo video here.