On Self-publishing, Writing my Novel, and Finding Inspiration: Part 3 of 5
Continued from Part 2:
Mr. P! and His Damn Dog was born from my general inability to accomplish any kind of reasonable life drawing. I had always drawn little cartoons and what not, in fact a grand project I took on in junior high was to draw a cartoon figure of every character in the Marvel universe (I actually got about halfway, no lie). I was spending time with some talented cartoonists and they were doing something interesting – mini comics – and Mr.P! was my way of getting in the fight.
What they were doing (and this is roughly 1990-1991) is drawing up comics, hitting the copy shop, and making photocopy issues on 8 ½” x 11” paper, folding it up, and making mini comics, typically priced at about 50 cents. True, DIY self-publishing. You go out and sell them by any means necessary.
The second I saw this and read a few, I was hooked. This was it. Make something, get it out there, be in full control. I quickly decided that I would take this Mr.P! guy that I had been messing with and make some mini comics. It didn’t take me long at all to get Issue One out, and here it is:
Just making the thing was a blast. The second part, getting it out there, was even better. Initially I got a couple of the local comic shops to let me put it up on their shelves. I passed around a few as well. I was getting pretty excited. Soon I was able to follow up with Issue Two:
Of course, my friends were cranking out their books as well. There was a lot of energy building. It was a total scene, man. In addition to Mr.P! I put out three other mini comics, two issues of Gag! Humor That’s Hard to Swallow (a joke comic I co-wrote with my friend Terry Kosdrosky) and an artsy book (ink and brush) called Freefall, about the intentional overdose death of a friend).
Having a small library of self-published material, I set out on the distribution trail. I put more of the books in local shops – Issue Two had a free sticker! I shared a table at the Chicago ComiCon in the indie comics room (a serious highlight). I put up a table at the Dally in the Alley, a seminal Detroit street fair. Meanwhile, my friends Matt Feazell and Sean Bieri gave me some guidance. I spent one convention sitting next to Matt as he entertained the president of his Australian fan club (he has a nice sized fan base, and a good chunk of it was only from his self-publishing efforts). That was fairly mind-blowing.
Another bit of awesomeness was seeing Mr.P! and his Damn Dog accepted by a self-publishing art show in Portugal. Two years in a row. I never got to see it, but I understand that it hung up on an art gallery wall. I would kill for a picture of that. I also got the books into a couple of indie catalogs, and did a fair bit of snail mail distribution.
Now if I had today’s technology then, Mr.P! might be a very well known character. I did into the early stages of developing a cartoon – script, intro music, characterizations (courtesy of Terry Kosdrosky), and an interested animator. Somehow, it never quite came together. (In the pilot episode, Mr. P! and his Damn Dog fight a ZOMBIE invasion of their favorite bar, Ugly’s, by throwing issues of People magazine at them, distracting them long enough to shoot them in the head.) Whenever I watch Adult Swim on Cartoon Network, I think, yeah…I shoulda done something with Mr.P!…he’s perfect for this.
All said and done, I sold 1000 copies between issues one and two, and this was pre-Amazon, pre-Internet, pre-everything. I wonder if anyone out there still has them, 21 years later. OMG did I just write 21 years???
Towards the end of this glorious cycle of self-publishing, my writing life took a serious turn. I was fired from my newspaper gig, losing my editorial position. How could they fire such a seriously cool dude like me? Well, every year a new editor-in-chief was hired, and the new guy wanted a serious paper, no fun stuff. And, I’m all about the fun stuff, so I had to go.
That was OK, because I had finally signed up for my first creative writing class, and that would change my writing forever.
To be continued in Part Four, which I will have for you sometime next week. I’ll have some other cool stuff to share with you in the meantime, so stay tuned to this channel.