After completing my fist year of daily updates, things began to happen for me at a pretty rapid pace. As I mentioned previously, Keenspot has already invited me to join its ranks. And, now that I had a full year under my belt, I was ready to consider a book.|
Print-on-demand publishing was several years off, and in those days, webcartoonists looking towards print publication looked to the same publisher.
Plan 9 Publishing was formed by David Allen to print collections of Bill Holbrook's Kevin & Kell. It soon grew to publish the early webcomics powerhouse Sluggy Freelance and others. In 2001, "others" expanded to include me. I ended up releasing three Greystone collections through Plan 9, and I did illustrations and book designs for a couple others including BOfH #4.
My first book, "Greystone Inn: Dilutions of Grandeur," premiered in early 2001. As an employee of the Philadelphia Daily News, I was honor-bound to alert my supervisors of my foray into publishing -- just to make sure there were no perceived conflicts of interest.
Now only were there no conflicts of interest, but upper management liked the strip enough to run it in the paper under my first independent self-syndication contract. Later that year, other papers picked up the strip as well, but none were as big as the Daily News. My daily comic has had a spot on the DN's comics section ever since.
With over a year of daily cartooning experience, a book out and a self-syndicated strip under my belt, I felt as if I had a wide enough span of experience to start volunteering at AllExperts.com, where I answered questions about cartooning. I had been addressing basic questions and concerns for about a year-and-a-half when I was contacted by a literary agent who told me that a publisher wanted badly to release a book on cartooning and she had found me through AllExperts.
"Would you like to write a book about cartooning?"
Faster than you could say, "How To Draw Comics the Guigar Way," I signed a contract to write the Everything Cartooning Book. The deadline was incredibly tight, and my wife had just given birth to our first son. I took a monthlong sabbatical from work, my mother-in-law moved in to help out, and I locked myself in my studio with two goals: Keep the daily comic going and write a 320-page book about every conceivable aspect of cartooning (and do the illustrations for the book to boot).
The Everything book had an extensive chapter on self-publishing your work on the Web. It may have been the first nationally published tutorial on the subject to even mention webcomics in a how-to format. Take a look at the Cartoons for Dummies book for example. Look at the amount of space they devote to newspaper syndication and compare it to the space they devote to webcomics.
And that book was published last year!
So... proud? Yup.
Meanwhile, Greystone Inn, was doing very well on the Web. I was doing all sorts of things to try to encourage my readers to feel welcome on my site -- like the weekly Mondays With Mel caption contest. And, since Greystone had such wide-open parameters, I could write story arcs that appealed directly to certain members of that audience.
Like the week I devoted to a character I called Gary the Graphic Artist. Through Gary, I was able to vent about all of the irks that I incurred in my day job. On May 30, 2004 I posted this one.
To this day, I've never received such a strong and long-lasting response to a single strip.
"Just Photoshop It," from what I'm told, is hanging in countless graphics departments, silkscreening studios and design shops. I receive e-mails requesting reprint rights to this day.
It also caught the attention of Computer Arts Magazine and for several issues, they bought a Gary the Graphic Artist strip to run in the opening pages of their publication.
To be continued.
Ten Years of Webcomics: Part One | Part Two | Part Three
| Part Four | Part Five | Part Six | Part Seven