The Numbering Question

I’m excited to announce that The Crimebusters #1 has reached a major milestone: I’ve sent it off to the printers! Right now, I’m waiting to get a physical proof copy so I can make sure it looks okay. If there are any necessary corrections, I’ll make those ASAP, but my hope is that by the time my Kickstarter campaign begins on June 11, the book will be approved and ready for printing. Then, by the time the campaign ends on July 3, I’ll have an idea how many copies are needed and can place the order and begin fulfillment as early as the end of July!

Of course, things happen, which is why I have scheduled into the campaign some extra time, with fulfillment not scheduled to start until September. if I can beat that estimate and get things out earlier, though, all the better!

Speaking of things happening, though, you may have noticed something different up in that opening paragraph. Yes, it’s true: I called this first issue #1 instead of #120.

It’s true: the first issue will now be numbered #1.

But it’s also true that this issue is still #120!

Let’s dig into it.

The Legacy Conundrum

Back in the day, it was industry belief that first issues sold worse than higher number issues. Conventional wisdom was that fans liked higher numbers because it was a sign of quality: if a title had run for 50, 100, or 200 issues, it must be good to last that long. So higher numbers were a signal to readers that they could trust they would receive quality.

As a result, publishers used different tactics to disguise new titles. DC, for instance, would often publish first issues with no number at all so readers wouldn’t know it was a new title, only adding the numbering to later issues.

Other publishers were even sneakier. Ziff-Davis, for example, would begin their titles with #5 or #10 and only revert to the real numbering once the book was established, which is why Cinderella Love for example has no issues #1-3, but has two #10s and two #11s!

Fast forward to now, though, and things are exactly opposite. On the one hand, collectors and speculators are more likely to buy a #1 for the perceived value of a first issue. And on the other hand, conventional wisdom holds that modern readers are turned off and intimidated by continuity. A high number is seen as a barrier to entry — nobody wants to jump into the middle of the story, and with most books being written for the trade, you’re almost always going to end up in the middle of some story if you pick up a random issue.

As a result, publishers like DC and Marvel are constantly rebooting their titles back to #1, searching for easy first issue money, but also as a way to try and provide jumping-on points for new readers. It’s a signal that it’s okay to start reading here.

Is this conventional wisdom actually true, though?

Well, nobody really knows. And that’s where my problem comes in.

Cutting the Gordian Knot

One of the reasons I began working on The Crimebusters in the first place is because I loved the adventures of Chuck Chandler in Boy Comics and wanted to continue his stories.

The first thing to go, though, was the title itself, as Boy Comics just wasn’t representative of what I was writing, especially with the introduction of Trixie Trouble.

But I really wanted to hang onto to the numbering. I personally have always been drawn to higher numbers titles, both as a reader and a collector. The promise of continuity, of mythology, of backstory — that’s the good stuff! And since I am keeping Chuck’s backstory — and referencing it at times in this very issue! — it just felt right to start The Crimebusters with #120.

Yet… I also want the book to succeed. The fact is, there are only a handful of people in the world who know or care about Chuck Chandler, or will buy The Crimebusters because they are fans of Boy Comics.

I’ve done everything I can with the story to make it accessible, as it’s a self-contained mystery adventure. Each issue is going to be a jumping on point, because each issue is it’s own complete story. And yet… if new readers don’t even pick up the book because of the number on the cover, they may never find out that the stories are right for them.

Conventional wisdom may be wrong, but it’s conventional because people believe it — including potential new readers.

The more I thought about it, the more I had to conclude that I was limiting my audience by have the number 120 on the cover instead of 1. Even if everything else is exactly the same, the frustrating fact is that some percentage of fans, however small, will pass the book by just because of what they think that number means. On the flip side, though… I think almost anyone who would buy the book with a #120 on the cover will still try it with a #1.

Even after all that logic, though, I was stuck with one fact: I personally want the comic to be #120 and have a #120 on the cover! And that’s when I came up with this elegant copout solution: I’m just going to have both.

Now, Marvel tried something like that once with their legacy numbering, where they just had both numbers on the cover of each issue. It worked. But it was also kind of ugly. And besides, I didn’t want the lower number on my copy! I only wanted the higher one. So it was a compromise that didn’t really fully satisfy either group.

With that in mind, I’m happy to announce that I’m just going to print some copies with a #1 on the cover, and some with a #120, allowing you to choose which number you want.

In fact, I’ll announce now that there will be four different covers to choose from!

  • The regular cover will be numbered #1
  • The Legacy Number Variant will be a Kickstarter exclusive cover; it will have different artwork (to be revealed soon!) and will be numbered #120
  • The Trixie Trouble Mysteries Variant will be numbered #1 and will feature new artwork (to be revealed soon!)
  • The Boy Comics Variant will feature the classic Boy Comics logo, it will feature new artwork (to be revealed soon!), and will be numbered #120

The regular cover and the Legacy Number Variant will be the same price, so you can pick whichever number and cover you like better — or get one of each if, like me, you can’t decide! The Trixie Trouble Mysteries and Boy Comics variants will be a little bit more expensive, but only a few bucks.

Anyway, that’s why the regular cover has a #1 on it now, and why I’ll be officially calling this issue #1 going forward.

But between you and me, I still think of it as #120 in my head — and I’m planning to do a Legacy Number Variant for each issue going forward, primarily because I want to have the covers with classic numbering in my own personal collection!

In the next week or two, I’ll be sharing the art for the three variant covers. There’s less than three weeks left now before the Kickstarter campaign launches on June 11, so there will be a lot of reveals between now and then!

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you soon!

p.s. Don’t forget to sign up for the newsletter to make sure you get all the latest updates sent directly to your inbox!

The Home Stretch

Feels like it’s been awhile since I’ve had the time to sit down and write out a proper update. But that’s because I’ve been keeping my nose to the grindstone. And let me tell you, that’s a really good way to lose a nose.

But it’s also a good way to get a lot of work done! I’m in the home stretch now: 26 out of 30 pages are completed, leaving just four pages to get the inking and textures. I planning to have the story completed by Monday, which is almost hard to believe considering I’ve been working on the art almost every day since October.

Now that I’m down to the final pages, though, I suddenly have a deadline. That’s because I need to submit my comic to the 2019 Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo on Monday in order to be considered for a booth at MICE this October.

I’ve previously related how inspiring it was to attend the 2018 MICE show, so it’s been a goal of mine ever since to bring The Crimebusters to this year’s show as sort of a coming out party. Of course, I’ll also be bringing the book to Kickstarter in June, but MICE will be my first show as a creator. Since it has limited space available, though, it’s actually a judged show – they accept comic submissions and review all the applicants’ work to decide who gets in or not. So I really want to have the entire book done in order to show them it’s ready to go.

Mystery! Adventure! Suspense!! A panel from page 21 of The Crimebusters #120.

Once the main story is done, though, there’s still a lot to do. I am hoping to have a four page Squeeks backup story, which I have a plot for but haven’t yet started. I also need to design the inside front cover — which will have character bios and such along with the credits for this first issue — as well as two text pages to round things out.

I also have a number of tasks waiting for me to get things ready for Kickstarter. I’ve been working with the Comix Launch group, headed by Tyler James, which as been very instructive. The main things that need to be done before I launch for Kickstarter are:

  • get the book compiled in PDF/comic reader form for digital sales
  • contact and work with a printer so the book is ready to go to print as soon as the Kickstarter ends
  • draw two variant covers
  • finish this website
  • design the Kickstarter page, including promotional art, videos, and more
  • design the Kickstarter bonus rewards and get them ordered
  • and most importantly: start a mailing list and get as many people on it as possible via social media and other avenues

That’s a lot of work! Which is why I am planning to wait until June to launch the book on Kickstarter even though the art will be done next week.

I’m fairly confident I will be able to hit my goal (I am tentatively aiming for $500, with a real target stretch goal of $800), but there’s a ton of work still ahead of me between now and then. Still, it will be fun — especially finishing the book itself.

A whole comic book! That I made! How cool is that?!

Next time, I’ll hopefully have some Kickstarter rewards or Variant Cover artwork to share. Talk to you then!

First issue sneak preview now available!

I’m excited to announce that the sneak preview of the first issue is now available to read!

Right now, I have completed the first nine pages of the 30 page story, while the other 21 pages only need inking to be complete. I’m currently expecting this process to take me another three weeks, at which point the main story for the first issue will be complete!

Of course, there will still be things to do — I am planning to do two variant covers, as well as a four age backup story starring everyone’s favorite crime fighting monkey, Squeeks.

Still, I thought this would be a great time to show people what I have been working on. With an estimated completion date forth story of around April 21, I am currently aiming for the first eek of June to launch my Kickstarter efforts. When the Kickstarter goes live, it will include a 6 page preview of the story. But since those first six pages are already done, I thought, why wait?

You can read the sneak preview here!

Andi fhat grabs your fancy, feel free to hit the “Contact Us” button above to drop me a line and get added to the Crimebusters mailing list. or, you can also follow The Crimebusters on Facebook either by clicking on the Facebook icon to the right, or following this link.

I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I have enjoyed making it!

Project Update!

Well, it took longer than I expected — or hoped — but I have finally finished the initial linework for all 30 pages of The Crimebusters #120!

When I originally began the linework at the beginning of November, I hoped it would take me two months. My initial timeline had me finishing at the end of January.

Three things slowed me down. First, I took a 16 day vacation overseas, where no work was getting done. Secondly, I have had some health issues over the last month that have slowed me down. And third… well, this stuff just took longer than I expected!

I also added to pages in the middle of the process, going from 28 to 30, and those pages added more time because I had to do all the layouts as well.

Still, the linework is all done now. So what’s next?

Well, the next step of the process is adding all the dialogue. I’m going to go through the entire issue and add all the dialogue and caption boxes, and possibly some sound effects.

I may also add a few special effects — speed lines and such — because once this phase is done, I am going to print up a few ashcan copies to distribute to friends in the hopes of getting some feedback on art and dialogue changes that may be necessary during the editing process. I am particularly concerned with the storytelling — I want this to be a clear, clean, and easy read from start to finish, so making sure there’s nothing confusing in terms of panel layout, artwork, dialogue, or plot is paramount. I know my art has limitations, but telling the story clearly is more important to me than looking cool.

While my first readers are going over the issue, I will be taking a small break from the panel to panel artwork and change gears to do some other projects that need to be completed before the book goes to Kickstarter and gets published. Things like the Kickstarter promo image and the cover(s) for this first issue, as well as character bio artwork for this website need to be done. I’d also like to work on technical things for the website like the mailing list and the storefront, as well as write up bios for the rest of the characters.

Once I have gotten feedback, I will then proceed with rewriting the dialogue and, most time consumingly, finishing all the artwork with inking and special effects. I originally had planned on a month for inking and a month for preparing the Kickstarter campaign. I suspect the inking will take longer than a month, but I don’t know how long the Kickstarter campaign will take to set up, so for now I am tentatively still aiming for a May 1st live date for the Kickstarter, with the understanding it could be pushed later in the month, or even as late as June 1.

As always, I’ll be giving updates each step of the way, and I look forward to sharing more — and more complete! — art and pages as we get closer to finishing this first issue.

I’m excited!

Next time around, I will dive into the thrilling world of fonts. But for now, here’s a look at the linework for Page 26: