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Nothing like a convention to settle things in your head. After screaming my storylines at the top of my lungs for five days straight, I think I sort of understand them.

Busta/Lovecraft is the tale of Busta Rhymes, H. P. Lovecraft, and the epic fistfight that they share. I drew it with my girlfriend, Gewel Kafka. We finished the story last week, drove to San Diego, drew the cover, printed it on Tuesday, and had it out for sale on Wednesday. The response was gratifying, to say the least. Not only did we get lots of casual readers, but:

1. Non-comics readers often seemed to like it better than comics readers.*

2. We got two extremely detailed critiques. They were delivered in a tone of semihostility because that's how hardcore critiques always come across, especially when both critic and criticee have been drinking. However, the very fact that they were worthy of critiquing at all, and from such high-caliber talents as did the critiquing, is a tremendous compliment in and of itself. We were agreed on basic principles; that there was something that this comic was doing right, that the basic storyline was clear, that it was enjoyable and pleasant to read and that they finished reading it because they were genuinely interested in what happened.

Those are the most important parts. You can do anything with that stuff alone. What comes after that is details.

They had some things to say about the details.

There is universal agreement that the big Cthulhu fight scene does not work, that the "Stars are Right" page does not express enough time passing, that certain occasional weaknesses in figure drawing makes it difficult to identify the main character. That part is very true -- the main character is mostly knowable because people keep calling him by name, which causes you to wonder which of the many people on the page he is. We're doing a comic book about a rapper travelling back in time, so naturally he changes costume every page. This is an artistic challenge that we did not quite rise to.

They agree that the comic could be longer -- one person says we could get another four pages out of it, the other saying we could get twenty-four. I agree with the four pages one, and the version that you here on the internet see will reflect that. So you'll always wonder, internet. You'll always wonder which pages are new.

The meta-story was of absolutely no interest to anyone, but that's not surprising. The meta-story isn't really even meant to be noticed exactly. It's just meant to be there.

Starting the comic with a giant block of text that the reader is not actually supposed to read is a terrible structural weakness and one which I am not apt to make again. Busta's declaration of "Didn't you read the prologue?" is easily the most essential block of text in the book, and if the reader misses it the whole thing falls apart.

One critic felt that we were not fair to Lovecraft -- that we pin all this cosmic catastrophe on him and that he exists in the story only to get beat on. He never really gets his licks in, Busta just shows up and lays a whuppin' on him, and then it's over.

Nobody mentioned the dialogue at all, never got one complaint that Busta wouldn't say that or Lovecraft wouldn't say that. That's high praise indeed, now that I think about it. Almost all of the criticism was of the plot and storytelling.

3. There is no number three, but it always feels like lists should have a number three. Let's go back to the asterisk in number 1 -- why non-comics-readers took to the comic so quickly and easily. It's partially name recognition -- we're piggybacking here on two other human beings who both invested substantial effort into creating a character, but it helped that our demo comic, our "zine" if you will, is not actually comics-shaped, just a big piece of 11x17 paper folded in half.

Bright, bright pink wedding paper. Wedding-invitation colored.

There's nothing on the cover except for the words Busta/Lovecraft and a picture of Lovecraft and a picture of Busta. There's nothing on the back except for a picture of a woman's butt, our web sites, and in big letters across the bottom "WORD IS BOND." So it's simple, and relatively nonthreatening. We chose pink because it is the punkest color, because it has the quality of being nonthreatening to women but challenging to men. Men as a general rule do not want to read pink books. So we made them. Take your medicine, boys! We're trying to piss off everybody and that includes you.

Well, since I've read about the hacker attacks on LJ I've decided to try to blog a bit more, because hey those guys deserve fiction as they try to break the fascist capitalist vampire bear hug that Putin has on their poor souls. Good luck, fellas. America will root for you if you root for us (well even if you don't but I can't miss this opportunity to say that America could use some help too if anybody from Europe is listening. Save us both if you please).
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Busta/Lovecraft premiered at SDCC 2011 and sold like hotcakes. We sold our first batch, printed more, sold those too. It was very gratifying. The response was tremendous.

We did it! I dragged my girlfriend into the maw of professional comic books and we survived and even did alright.

First thing I have to say is that the ability to take credit card payments with a cell phone is a super-power not to be sneezed at.

Who we are.

How we got here.

Where we got to.

Why we went (those are the completed pages of Busta/Lovecraft behind us).

When fascism comes to Austin, it will be waving a tie-dyed flag.

Gewel has some comic books for you, America.

Our lovely assistant.

Those eyes blinked and glowed. Glorious.

One of my favorite costumes.

2011's table sculptures. Here's hoping they survive the drive back to Austin.


So thank you to Stephen Notley and Ryan "Danger" McIdunnohislastname for their insightful and THOROUGH critiques. Thanks so Sarah and Vas Kotlova for their stunning hospitality, and thanks again to Sarah for her unfailing good cheer, timely sushi assistance, and general wonderfulness and willingness to come out and play with us. And for not posting those high school pictures on the internet. Big ups to Dave Riske and John Dunnohislastnameeitherson, who were majorly responsible for two wonderful evenings, and also to Farhat and Keith and John (good luck, Keith, your work is amazing). Our next-door neighbors were great, especially the comics kids of High Tech High (wish I'd gone to y'all's schools, all I learned in high school was how to do a newspaper crossword puzzle. And maybe some calculus). It was great to see Ted Washington and his new book. That guy is just a likeable dude.

important paragraph follows:

I'd also like to say that you should follow Graphic Policy on Twitter or Facebook or however you choose to interact with the internet, because they are one of the best news sites out there, and that you should read Bob the Angry Flower, because it is some of the best cartooning in the known universe. Stephen Notley, the author of Bob, might not be the genius that he thinks he is, but he's definitely some sort of genius. That comic does not get the attention that it deserves. If nothing else it should be taught in schools and branded on the foreheads of white-collar criminals.

Stuff we saw.

This one was fun:

I totally caught a creeper for the comicconpervs project. I have mixed feelings about the project because I think it's overly judgemental of people who are simply being theirselves. It just so happens that theirselves are shitty and horrible. But ComicCon is a place to be true to who you really are, and these guys really are horrible, desperate, shady men. I accept that. But if they dish it out they better be able to take it, so I say all's fair. If they're gonna take horrible sexist pictures and post them on the internet, then I shall take pictures of them taking those pictures and post them too. Hey, at least I'm not jerking off to them.

and now the entire story of Busta/Lovecraft so far:
Read more... )


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