Had enough of this summer yet? I have — I can’t stand the heat. Scratch that — heat is fine; humidity, less so. Of course I live in a city famous for its hot, humid summers. Seruiously, anybody tells you they love summer never spent summer in NYC. If you know the Lovin’ Spoonful song of which I name in the title of this post, you have some idea of what it’s like; back of your neck getting dirty and gritty. And sweaty.
The key to surviving summer in the city is to escape it, as frequently as possible. Last weekend we did just that — Saturday up in Sleepy Hollow, Sunday-Monday down on Long Beach Island, site of the first of the five 1916 shark attacks that inspired JAWS (a fun bit of trivia I took great delight in sharing with everyone).
What does this have to do with Mixtape?
Nothing really, other than to point out that writers are people too. We need downtime, to relax and recharge (or in my case, read like a guy dying of thirst after being handed a glass of ice water). Timing-wise this can be a bit of a challenge as I’m also beating the Mixtape drum like Keith Moon, trying to spread the word on the re-solicit (Diamond Code AUG120816). Good news is it seems to be working; the media it took great effort to corral the first time around has been a little more receptive now that Mixtape is a “real” book.
Case in point: this interview I did with ComicList, who gave Mixtape #1 a five star (or “goggle” if you will) review. Here you’ll learn a bi more about the book, but also about me; my inspiration, my influences, and so forth. It was a lot of fun to do, and I’m greatful to ComicList and Brandon Borzelli for supporting the book.
There’ll be more media coming — some interviews, and reviews in advance of Mixtape #2′s release in October.
And then the push on Mixtape #3 begins.
I need a vacation.
It’s a thing of beauty, isn’t it?
That’s not the final cover — we want to integrate the logo colors some more, and the Ardden Logo will sit in the top left corner, and there’ll be the usual credits at the bottom, but come October 2012 you’ll see it on the shelves of your local comic store.
We had a couple delays obviously. Mixtape #1 sold out, but the solicits weren’t terribly high to begin with. Stores did re-order though, which was a good sign that people were discovering the book. That said through additional orders, Mixtape is finding its audience. Good luck scoring a copy on eBay — they go up and are gone almost immediately. Supply and demand. You can however still get copies from various stores, Midtown Comics, Forbidden Planet, and through our publisher Ardden.
[If you have an iPad, iPod Touch or Android Phone, you can download Mixtape #1 through the Comics Plus App available through iTunes.]
With that out of the way, we’re motoring ahead with MIXTAPE #2 and #3, with the former streeting October 2012, with Diamond code AUG120816. The Mixtape #3 code will be forthcoming once I have it, probably sometime in August.
Ironically, the release-to-story timeline is exactly 22 years apart, with Mixtape #2 unspooling in October 1990 and #3 set in November 1990. Also ironically #3 has ended up being a tribute to the late great Adam “MCA” Yauch of the Beastie Boys, given that story partially centers around the landmark Paul’s Boutique album.
Mixtape #4, #5 and #6 will drop sometime in 2013. I don’t have any firm details yet, but we are going to be launching a crowdfunding campaign for it. It’s the way things seem to be going with indie comics, but in typical Mixtape style we plan on doing some cool stuff with it, and will be offering some incentives that, to my knowledge, have never been done before. Sometime after that we’ll be collecting the first arc, “Left of the Dial” in a trade edition, and looking forward to the next arc, “Daydream Nation”.
At least that’s the plan. We really need to get the word out to people about the book. As I mentioned, sales were strong, solicits were not. That’s where you come in.
Are you a fan of Mixtape? Do you run a website? A blog? Do you have a Twitter account, or Facebook profile? If so, I’d like to ask a favor of you. Help us get the word out. Let people know about the book and why they should be checking it out. You can simply copy and paste this post, or pen your own on why you’re a fan of the book. Let me know through here or Mixtape‘s FB page and I’ll link to your post and help spread the word. It doesn’t have to be much — even a mention in a FB post or a Tweet. Indie books like this live and die by word of mouth and we want to spread that word as much and as quick as we can.
We sold out our initial run largely because of fan efforts and positive response to Mixtape. We’re not a big book, we’re not a big selling book, but we want people who’ve fallen in love with Mixtape to get books. Too many heard about Mixtape too late to score copies of it — we want to make sure they do, and that their local stores know to order copies of the book.
There’ll be more updates to this blog and the Mixtape FB page in the coming weeks. I’ve bene sending out review copies and doing press about the book, the latest of which can be found at ComicList, who incidentally gave Mixtape #1 a 5 out of 5.
Someone recently asked me what it was like having a comic book of my very own. In the case of Mixtape, I remarked it feels like what it must be for an indie band at the start of their career, playing to small clubs, and sparsely packed ones at that. But I do believe we have something different with Mixtape, and one of the joys of working on this book is to see just how much the stories and characters resonate with so many people. Mixtape #1 was a lot of fun, but the story only deepens from there. I’m thankful for everyone who’s joined us on this wild ride.
I realize it’s been a while since I’ve updated everyone on all things MIXTAPE. We have a few details to work out behind the scenes before we can make announcements on Mixtapes two through four (and five and six for good measure).
The iBooks version never happened. The app was completed and ready to go, then Apple and the Department of Justice had a lover’s spat, and all “non-grandfathered” books were left in the lurch. I don’t know when that will be resolved, but please know that the digital version of the book is available through iVerse’s “Comics Plus” app, which is free through iTunes. A pristine looking version of Mixtape #1 is available for the low introductory price of $1.99 and well worth it. Given the hard copy book is sold out this will be your only chance to grab the first issue until well doewn the road when we assemble the first trade edition.
I’m disappointed the iBooks version didn’t happen. It included the downloadable playlist, which was a thing of beauty 14 tracks, all providing a soundtrack to the story. Hopefully some day it will become a reality, but for now I think it’s best we shelve it. I don’t want it to compete with the version already out there.
One thing about this “lost” version is that we put together a trailer for it that was to run when you activated the Mixtape app. It has been posted to the Mixtape Facebook page, and can be viewed by clicking through here.
Thanks to everyone for bearing with us as we go through the usual growing pains associated with any creative endeavor. Your continued support means everything.
So I was talking with a friend the other day and asked him if he’d picked up a copy of Mixtape yet. He had not, and was quite frustrated by the experience. His conversation with the clerk went something like this:
Him: I’m looking for a new title called Mixtape.
Comic store clerk: All the new titles are this shelf.
Him: I checked, it’s not there.
Comic store clerk: Then we don’t have it. I’ve never heard of it.
Him: Can I order it?
Comic store clerk: You have to talk to the owner. He’s here until 5pm during the week.
Him: You can’t take an order for me?
Comic store clerk: No. Only the owner takes comic orders.
Him: Can I phone him and give him my order request?
Comic store clerk: No. The owner only takes orders in person.
The owner only takes orders in person, Monday to Friday, 9-5.
Which is great, if you live and work in the area and you can find the time out of your work schedule (which, for most people, ends at 5 – right when the store owner in this case heads home for the day) to present yourself on bended knee before this Lord of Graphic Arts, and ask him if he could be so kind as to order a book you wish to purchase with money. You may even ask for several copies, because others would like a copy as well.
If you can’t, however. If you, say, commute to your job from your town, are out the door at 7 and back home at, well, 7, then you’re pretty much fucked.
This isn’t an isolated case either. A friend on the west coast who lives in something approximating isolation (yet still has mail delivery) called one of the big stores and asked if he could order a copy of Mixtape and have it shipped to him. He was told in no uncertain terms to “find a store on your island” because apparently it wasn’t worth the effort to charge his credit card and stick the book in the mail.
Yes, there are other avenues available. Copies of Mixtape are showing up on eBay and Amazon, and while those are certainly avenues to follow if you want to get a copy of the book and can’t find it anywhere, I still prefer you to buy Mixtape from your local shop. It supports them, and it also supports their decision to carry the book in the first place (and to continue carrying it).
That said … if the shop in question isn’t interested in carrying the book despite people asking them to order it, if that shop makes the customer leap through hoops to make an order in the age of the internet, and Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone-machine, and mail delivery, then that shop clearly doesn’t need your business that badly.
[UPDATE: that friend who couldn't order Mixtape from his local store ended up getting his copy from a shop in Texas. He lives in Newmarket Ontario. Do the math]
To reiterate; I’m a big supporter of local comic shops. They’re the backbone and lifeblood of this business. But, frankly, a lot of them are run by (for lack of a better word) assholes. I say this not as a creator pissed because stores aren’t stocking Mixtape, but as a fan who has been patronizing comic book stores since I was 10. No matter where I lived, no matter where I moved to, no matter who I was visiting, finding a reliable local comic book store was a priority. Hell, I travelled to Toronto specifically so I could visit the comic stores there. And even back then, a lot of those stores didn’t deserve the business they got. Know why?
Because they didn’t need my business. Because they were the only deal in town.
For a creator it’s agony because, more than anything, you want people to read your work. People who want to read your work want to be able to find it. If they can’t read it, what’s the point? It’s something every creative person will tell you happens, and ask any of them what they’d rather have; their work be seen, or just get paid and who cares what happens to it, 99% will pick having it seen (the other 1% are, as we know, assholes. Who run shitty comic book shops).
“But, Brad,” they’ll say. “Running a store is hard work, and we can’t carry everything. A lot of us are in a small, and shrinking market. We’ve had to diversify, selling sports memorabilia and toys and other collector’s items because the single-issue market is drying up. Our margins are razor thin and, honestly, our audience has specific tastes we need to fill if we’re going to stay afloat.”
To which I reply; I understand the argument – what I don’t understand is why so many of you are indifferent to the point of hostile to refuse to order copies of something that someone, with money, wants to buy. How many of those toys or sports jerseys sit on the racks for months without a buyer? Contrast that with an item someone wants you to get for them? A definite sale?
Not only that, but who’s to say the person interested in Mixtape isn’t going to be interested in books like it? Books like Local or The Waiting Place or Box Office Poison? Someone purchases Mixtape from you, you can always point them to other books they might enjoy. There’s another sale. A sale you wouldn’t get otherwise, because a number of the people buying Mixtape haven’t set foot in a comic shop in years, if they ever have. People you want to attract to the medium.
As one who used to work retail, we mostly carried items we knew our customers were interested in buying. However, if someone wanted a rare item, we made damn sure to get it, lest the person who wanted it decide “they obviously don’t want my business enough I’ll try someone else.” We didn’t want that customer to defect to one of our competitors. We wanted them to know we valued their business.
Fact: nothing happens in a vacuum. The guy who comes in and orders Mixtape comes back to pick it up, and brings his 6 year old son with him. Said son is a Star Wars nut. He sees the Star Wars paraphernalia (which I know does sell) on display and his mind is blown. Dad picks up his copy of Mixtape, and grabs something for his son, and they come back again in a month for Mixtape #2, and more Star Wars . Maybe this six year old discovers Batman and Spider-Man on one of these trips and next thing you know, you’ve just gained another loyal customer, and one who will keep coming back.
Not every retailer is an asshole – I must clarify that. Other people have had success in ordering and receiving their copies. My favorite comic shop – The Beguiling – is getting a fresh batch of Mixtape in stock this week. Most stores are only too happy to place that order and collect your payment for it. They understand that in the internet age, every customer is worth their weight in gold. Friends in towns big and small have had nothing but pleasant experiences dealing with their local store (in several cases, their first time buying a comic book ever).
And that is why this retailer, who shall remain nameless (because why direct business his way when he clearly doesn’t need it?), is now the proud recipient of the first ever Mixtape “Go Fuck Yourself Award”.
You can’t see it, but it looks something like this: