VISUAL FRIGHTS: Get some chills while supporting indie comics creators
INDIE COMICS HORROR #2 (Aazurn Publishing, Spring 2013 = sold only through pre-orders in PREVIEWS April 2013 catalog for books releasing in June) Various writers and artists. Black and white, 64 pages. $6.49
The brother/sister title to INDIE COMICS MAGAZINE expands to 64 pages with the second issue of INDIE COMICS HORROR, again promising “the best story and art from independent comic book creators.” Within its’ 64 pages are prime examples of the type of imaginative art and story that can be created outside of the confines of the mainstream comics publishers. Of even more importance, INDIE COMICS HORROR is providing a cost-effective way for unknown creators to reach a larger audience and hopefully interest readers in visiting their individual websites to learn, view, and buy more of the creator’s works. Each issue, as well as the Aazurn Publishing website at http://www.indiecomicsmagazine.com includes some background information on the writers and artists and provides the web links to their sites.
Readers of Dark Horse’s CREEPY COMICS, Bluewater’s VINCENT PRICE PRESENTS, DARK UNIVERSE and other current horror comics anthology series will find similar and engaging high-quality stories that mine the rich veins of horror tropes. Some of the writers and artists from INDIE COMICS HORROR #1 return to showcase more of their creativity.
Things start off in grisly fashion with “Stinky”, a tale of a poor and scruffy introverted high school student living in isolation and constantly being picked on and ridiculed for his unsanitary appearance and odor. The name fits and this tale of revenge (not quite as you may imagine) reveals how things got to their present state. Scripter Fabian Rangel, Jr. has no sympathy for the tormentors and artist Valentin Ramon Menendez depicts events in suitably dark lines and effective use of shadows. An especially vivid scene occurs when in consecutive panels a large shadow looms ever larger over the form of a frightened youth until it envelops him.
The “Ghosts” of the Old West never haunted settlers the way they plague grizzled and rugged Benton and his dog companion. At least he’s guaranteed to have a constant supply of visitors in this stylish story written by Scott R Schmidt and illustrated by Mac Radwanski.
Writer Terry Cronin from Issue #1 returns to tell two short stories with artistic help from several members of Students Of The Unusual. Cronin scripted the best story in Issue #1 and this delightful combo moves him right back into the front ranks. “The Chickcarnie” is a dark tale based on Bahamas legends and “Sulfur Water” is a nasty tasting encounter with unknown landscapes suffered by several youth who only wanted to engage in some fruit fight fun near a Florida orchard. There are some very creative images of falling in this story.
Two favorites from Issue #1 return to tell “The Tube” a creepy, twisted story involving a subway killer and a nervous passenger that is illustrated with great background detail from artist Dafu Yu, who also did the best illustration work of Issue #1. There’s also an unusual opening featuring a skirmish between a business-like older gentleman and Cuddles the Monster to see who get to tell it — – lending a Twilight Zone atmosphere to the proceedings.
Scotland’s Paul Bradford also returns this issue to pen a dark, brooding tale about a solitary knight defending the gates of a stronghold against a band of Viking warriors. The pencils and shading of Matt Olson in “The Last Knight” keep things very dark, bloody and mysterious. Wonder what was so important to protect? Never mind. You’ll find out.
The new team (to Indie Comics Horror, that is) of writer Dan Rivera and artist Marc Jameson combine to tell the creepiest story in this issue with “The Assistant”. A victim of a nervous breakdown tries to get his family life and career back on track. He has the most difficulty trying to keep commitments and resorts to deep drastic measures to resolve his problems instead of just clowning around.
Writer/artist Chuck Foulds helps break the dour mood with an amusing story set “Somewhere In Transylvania”, although the title is a little misleading. It implies that this might be a vampire story, which it is not. However, if it brings yearning for classic Universal Studios monster fare, that craving will be satisfied. It did cause a few chuckles, in spite of its banality.
Returning writer Glenn Moane from Sweden apparently has some issues with abandonment. “The Drain” is a thoroughly depressing tale of a father growing apathetic towards his responsibilities and putting a plan into action. At least he didn’t resort to the deeply disturbing methods employed by his parents when he was young. Artist Aleksandar Bozic Ske employs a welcome lighter touch to the proceedings, but his pencils can’t camouflage the dark nature of the tale. Based on some equally negative views of residential communities in Moane’s Issue #1 story, the reader may conclude that he’s either superbly skilled at describing the darker moods of human nature, or he’s just incredibly cynical in his worldview.
Both INDIE COMICS MAGAZINE and INDIE COMICS HORROR are the brainchild of writer, artist and publisher Gary Scott Beatty. Beatty employs a unique and effective business model with these books. Each of the creative teams featured each issue assumes a partial share of the printing costs, and in return receives a partial share of the income. Even more importantly, these magazines offer a larger forum for the presentation of their works. That doesn’t mean that anyone with the money can buy their eight pages of space. There are standards and rules that Beatty enforces and only the best make the final cut.
Curiosity prompted an inquiry to Gary Scott Beatty asking for more specifics. What follows are portions of a short email interview with the publisher.
BC: I believe I understand your business model. Nine stories from eight writers this issue means that the printing/production costs were then split eight ways, with each of the creative teams sharing one eighth of the expense. Is that correct? Was this done to make the price more reasonable for creators or because you had extra content this issue?
BEATTY: Oh, an article on our unique business model! That’s interesting. Two things you’ll want to make clear, because they are often misunderstood:
1) I don’t make money from creators who buy in to INDIE COMICS HORROR or INDIE COMICS MAGAZINE. All of their buy-in costs goes towards the specifics outlined in our submissions page at http://aazurn.com/ICM.html. Any money I make to cover my time and talents comes from the Affordable Showcase Ads on the back cover. Yes, it’s a stupid business model but one that keeps costs down for the creators that share the expense of printing and promoting the books. Affordable Showcase Ads are popular with the indie community, because INDIE COMICS reach their target market: readers interested in independent comic books.
2) Content is edited. Not everyone who can pay will be in the books. The biggest reason I turn down submissions is stories have to wrap up in eight pages. Many creators are so busy world-building (for their mega-epics) they’ve lost the ability to tell an entertaining story in eight pages!
BC: Approximately how many submissions did you consider and qualify before narrowing it down to eight?
BEATTY: I am surprised that I am happy to accept over half of the work submitted for INDIE COMICS MAGAZINE and INDIE COMICS HORROR. I am constantly amazed at the quality of work submitted. There are many very talented creators that deserve our notice and support!
I see why editors get ulcers. I’m waiting now for one more submission for INDIE COMICS MAGAZINE #7 by the May 3 deadline so we can be in August’s PREVIEWS. We have a super lineup of seven solid stories and need just one more!
BC: How many issues does it normally require to reach the break-even point? – – where all expenses are covered and then the creators get their percentage of the profits?
BEATTY: For INDIE COMICS HORROR #2, now in April’s PREVIEWS, we have eight creators splitting the cost, and Terry (“Students Of The Unusual”) Cronin contributed two stories in his eight pages. Readers will get an extra story in this book’s 64 pages.
1,000 issues is our “sweet spot”, where creators begin making money back from Diamond sales.