Saturday, January 21, 2012

Comics on Kindle: 3 Knights in India

After a lot of learning, I've finally launched 3 Knights in India, my graphic novel, as an ePub.

I bought books, searched the web, but as usual, ended up just doing it myself. It was much easier that way.  Even at Amaon's publishing pages there was some misinformation that I needed to get past, just to move forward.  If you follow 'the rules', per se, you can waste days wondering what you're doing wrong, when you're just taking a different path.

I first created my Wolfman of Beckenham, Kent as an eBook.  At 8 pages, it was small enough to hammer out the basics of ePublishing.  Then I did the two Inquiring Minds books, now both available exclusively at the Kindle store.  I finally went back to 3 Knights in India. and resized the artwork for optimum viewing.  After all this, I managed to bring my graphic novel down to 26 MB from 53MB, and it looks great.

I love real books... the kind with dust jackets that you keep odd bits of paper in as bookmarks, but publishing them can be a chore, and an expensive one at that.  3 Knights in India was made for color, but as it first ran in the India Post, and then was published as a graphic novel, it simply had to be a black and white endeavor.  Now, however, with the Kindle App that allows you to read comics in color on any device, I was able to present 3 Knights in India more as it should have been.

Even if you have the graphic novel, this second edition has a lot of my original work now being shown in color, as well as some of the black and white art that I have colored exclusively for this edition, and I've even added some brand new stuff!

I'm very proud of this book, and at $6.99, it's a bargain.  It took me 3 years to write the original, and it's a fun story. If you enjoy Knight and Day, then you will enjoy this book.  It's Steve and Amy Knight, their daughter Iris, Oz the Ice Cream Man, and especially Sunny Day at her best, all coming together in whirlwind of an adventure that starts in New Jersey and ends up across the world in Bangalore, where everyone still manages to drive Steven crazy!

All's well that ends well, though, and there's more.  Musings of mine from my own travels, a few recipes, and other fun stuff make this a unique graphic novel experience. Check it out, and let me know what you think.

Cheers,    JOHN :0)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Where Ideas Come From, Revisited

Here's a new The Inquiring Minds cartoon!  The first independent cartoon in a while, since I've been working on the Ghost Pirate Skeletons of Three Craters Lake.  What prompted me to draw a new toon was, of course, the new eBooks that I've been working on (see last two posts).  As a publisher, I need to keep the company moving and growing, and so, right now, I thought it was important to investigate this new venue, the eBook.  I also need to finish the comic book, and get it into comic stores, but at this point that is still a long term venture.

Now, it occurred to me, halfway through drawing it, that the idea is similar to that seen in the wonderful movie UP, where Karl takes his house on a trip with the help of thousands of balloons.  It also occurred to me that some wiseguy was going to point that out. :0)

First of all, creative people are going to come up with similar ideas all the time, and usually independently.  Oh yes, there is idea theft, where people steal other people's work and claim it as their own, and more's the pity.  I mean, if you can't come up with original work, you really should not be a cartoonist, or writer, or whatever.  Me, I have more ideas than I could ever find the time to use them.  Some of them are fantastic, and I wish I could drop everything and work on them. The point is, though, that the truly creative mind never rests, and for some of us we have little choice but to find outlets for that creativity.
More importantly, we don't need to steal ideas, since we already have too many.

Actually, where the above idea came from, and yes, it probably was before I saw UP, is kind of interesting.  First off, let me explain that I have notebooks... lots of notebooks with ideas and sketches that eventually get lost to time as I move onto the next notebooks.  Once in a while, when I am focusing on one project, like the Inquiring Minds, I go back through those notebooks and gather together ideas that I flagged as good, but hadn't used before.  This idea was one of those... I have no idea at this point when I first came up with it.

The idea is probably as old as balloons themselves... I mean, who as a kid didn't dream of taking off into the skies if you bought one too many balloons from the balloon guy in the park? The truth is, though, this particular cartoon came from reading an article about art somewhere, where the author was talking about the deep meaning behind the art, and it was total BS.  I mean, really... sometimes a painting is just a painting and a story is just a story.

And yes, great art and writing often does have multiple layers, which is why we can look at something for years and still learn from it.  Sometimes it is deliberate, and the author tells a story that can be deciphered for those who want to look deeper, or the artist may lace their painting with symbolism.  Sometimes, and more often than not, I guess, from being an artist myself, that meaning is subconscious.  We are driven to create, and sometimes meanings come across that are not deliberate, but are there none the less.  Sometimes we see it, sometimes it must be pointed out to us, and sometimes, it is really the viewer herself who is doing the interpreting.... seeing something that they need to see, or feel, in the work, and not at all what the creator intended.

That can be the beauty of art... the beauty that resides in the eye of the beholder.  But when a critic starts going on and on about "what the artist is trying to say" and the artist isn't around anymore, well, that gets to be a bit too much.

So, angered by some idiot know it all, I created this idea.   I was going to have all the balloons be famous cartoon characters, and have the wagon represent my career, and my desire to get syndicated... a desire that obviously has yet to 'get off the ground'.  I was going to put the meaning into the cartoon, quite deliberately, and debunk it, as I'm doing now. :0)

I tossed the idea aside, for obvious reasons, but brought it back now on it's own merit.  The Inquiring Minds is about childhood.... especially the hopes and dreams and excitement of being young enough to believe, if even for a second, that balloons can carry you into the sky.

Cheers,    JOHN :0)
PS What I'm listening to? Andi Starr, of course. :0)

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Publishing in the New World, Part 2

So I've finished my first eBook, and it is now online and exclusive to the Amazon Kindle Store!

Don't worry, if you don't have a Kindle... the Kindle APP is free, and available for most tablets, personal computers, and other devices! Download the free App for your device, and you have instant access to eBooks such as The Inquiring Minds: Cattle X-ing!  With one touch, you get a Free Sample, and with another click, the entire book in seconds... and for the low price of only $2.99!

As you may have read in the last post, creating this eBook wasn't easy, but now that it's done, a companion book will be available soon, The Inquiring Minds: Kiss My Spleezix, which will continue the adventures of Bobby, Albert, and Iris as they explore all things strange and unusual in their hometown of Three Craters Lake.

Soon to follow, I hope, will be the graphic novel 3 Knights in India.  It's a huge eBook, though, with all those graphics, so I am wondering if it should be separated into at least two books?  I hate to do that, though, although if I did the price for both would be equal to the price of the entire book.

Most eBooks are small, and easy to load, and read.  The entire process is very different from creating a paper book, and putting it together should be easier since there is so little formatting, and page design and book layout are stripped away as well.  All those skills we spent years learning are no longer necessary.  Add graphics to the mix, though, and it's a whole nother ballgame.  The book gets bigger... much bigger, and fighting the size versus resolution battle we fought when the web came about is back again.  This, however, is just the beginning of the battle.

One of the earliest of The Inquiring Minds strips to be found in the new eBook, Cattle Xing.

There are books about creating eBooks, and several blogs, but much of it is basic stuff.  There isn't much for the cartoonist, and even then, the industry is still growing.  The challenges are awesome, and then, just when you think you're done, you now have to choose a place to make your eBook available, and then try to match your book to their standards. And then there's the forms to fill out, and the step by step process of what to do to succeed in publishing your eBook. 

I spent an entire day following the Amazon stuff step  by step, and got nowhere.  Eventually, as in most things computer and web related, I tossed it all aside, and worked from scratch, and found a process that worked for me.  Hopefully I'll remember it all when I have to do it again... and again. 

Maybe I should write it all down?  When I get the time....

For those curious, Paul asked at the facebook page if there is new material in these Inquiring Minds books.  if you have any Inquiring Minds book, either Number 1, or Funny Papers, then you should have most of the material from the second book, and some from the first.  What is new is about 40 dailies that haven't been seen on the web in a long time, so most of you will find the material new.  And if you haven't read The Inquiring Minds, I highly recommend the print books, but the eBooks are portable, and can be read whereever you go with your tablet or other device.

I am thinking of adding something new to the second book, to reward those who buy the set. At $2.99 each, though, you're getting a bargain. :0)

If you buy them, please let me know how the book looks on different platforms.   Tell me the device you are reading on, and how the strips look, if you can.  I do recommend reading with the Kindle App on a large screen tablet, to get the strips in color,and at optimum size.

Thanks,    JOHN :0)