about the Chance project

asked if Chance was a spec project or something I’d gotten a publisher for already, so I thought I’d talk about that some.

(The short answer is, this is on spec. For the longer answer, read on.)

Chance started out as me wanting a project to work on my sequential art skills with. About three weeks after I decided that’d be a good thing to do, Marvel announced it was reopening its Epic line, and that it’d be a creator-owned, creator-controlled line, like Image Comics produces.

I wrote a script, a series overview, beatsheets for the next 5 issues (now lost, waugh), character descriptions (both physical and psychological), and shanghaied into doing a few pages for me, then sent it all off to Marvel a matter of days before they reneged on everything and the Epic line disappeared off the face of the planet again.

But by then I’d gotten the bug. The thing about comic books is they’re all about the art. When someone picks up a comic, they don’t look at the words to see if you’ve got a great story. They look at the pictures to see if you’ve got a great artist, and if you do, they’ll take time for the words. It was and is my stance that if you want to do comics, you need to start with a professional-quality artist, and if you want a pro, you have to pay them. My approach to this first issue, at least, is that it’s strictly work for hire (comic books usually are), because I can’t promise somebody that this will get published, but in order to have a chance of getting published, I need somebody whose art is absolutely knock-out.

So I advertised for an artist on DigitalWebbing.com, promising I could pay a pittance. I got several possibilities, though the one I really wanted to work with, Ryan Stegman could only commit to doing the first 5 pages, and I wanted someone who could commit to at least one issue. With one thing and another, the whole deal eventually dissolved. I kept thinking about it once in a while, but didn’t go any further.

Ted and I said to each other, cheerfully and somewhat wistfully, “Hey, if the first printing of URBAN SHAMAN sells out, maybe I could hire an artist to do the first issue of Chance with some of the royalty money.” This went under the category of pipe dreams.

But then URBAN SHAMAN sold out.

Ted, who is insanely supportive, said, “Go for it,” when I approached him about the idea of spending what would eventually amount to a few thousand dollars on a pitch for a publishing industry that may be even harder to break in to than novel writing.

I went back to digitalwebbing in February, posted, and in relatively little time found the guy I’m working with, Ardian, who is in Indonesia. I like that. The girl from Alaska who’s living in Ireland is working with an artist in Indonesia. That’s a lot of time zones, baby. :)

To actually *pitch* a comic book, you generally need 5 pages of artwork, which can mean just pencils, or pencils with inks, or full-color with lettering, whatever you want to do; and a cover page. You can do as much more than that as you like, but that’s generally considered your basic pitch package.

I’ve hired Ardian to do the entire first issue of Chance. He’s doing pencils, we’re still discussing colors, and I’ll probably get somebody else to do letters. I am doing this for my own joy and happiness. It is an expensive joy and happiness, but no matter what else happens, I will have one *full* comic book that I wrote penciled and colored by a professional-quality artist. In the worst case scenario, that’ll mean I have a very cool, very expensive web comic. In the best, of course, it’ll mean Image Comics picks up the title as something they’ll produce, and we’ll all get rich and famous.

(Image, BTW, is really the only good choice out there. They’re the only ones who allow creators to retain control of their work. Dark Horse, which is a licensing company, lets you retain about 30% control, but the astute will notice that’s not a controlling percentage. I don’t know what Vertigo, which is DC’s independent line, is doing these days, and Marvel just plain doesn’t have anything that’s creator-oriented at all. Anything else runs to the independents, which is okay if you’ve got distribution; independents in comic book publishing are not like independents in book publishing, for some reason. Still, Image is the way to go if you want to be noticed without giving your life up for the comic book.)

So this really is a labor of love for me. The first issue will come totally out of my pocket, and I’m good with that. If Image *does* pick up the title, my plan, because this *is* a labor of love and because I am doing this for myself, not for money, is to do the first issue as a fundraiser for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. If it sells, anything I make on that issue, above and beyond paying my staff what they’re worth, will go to the CBLDF. The idea just makes me insanely cheerful. (And my husband, bless him, just shakes his head and smiles and says, “Okay,” to my wild-ass ideas like this one.)

Anyway, with any luck we’ll have the issue done around June, and I’ll be able to send it off to Image. We’ll see what happens from there. :)

13 Comments


  1. Cool story. Thanks for sharing. Good luck with it! Being able to use it to help CBLDF would be super cool!


  2. Dude. I need to email you about something, speaking of.


  3. I’ve got to say, you are really, truly, insanely cool for planning the CBLDF thing. That’s just wonderful–I hope it comes to fruition, for more than one reason!

    And while it looks like Marvel’s Icon imprint is only for established writers/stories at the moment, they do have a creator-owned line now. Not that it might help now, but Powers started over at Image and moved to Icon when it launched last year, so maybe that could be Chance in a few years!


  4. Awesome babes!
    If you need some digital detailing done (for free, cause I dig the Kit and Ted) let me know.
    Yes, an industry more difficult to get into then book publishing fo’sho’.
    -=Jeff=-


  5. if it’s urgent, use cemurphyauthor at gmail dot com, which I can actually check while I don’t have email access at home. Otherwise, either catie at cemurphy dot net or my personal email address which if you don’t have, er, email me at the gmail account and i’ll givei t to you. :)


  6. I don’t even know what digital detailing would entail. :)


  7. I think Powers is the only story they’ve *got* right now, isn’t it? I’ll wait and see what happens with that line, but Image is still the way to go.

    *grin* Glad you like the CBLDF idea. It just seems like the thing to do. :)


  8. Knockouts and glows specifically. There is also the extreme end of digital comic art and detailing which would be more like Dave McKean’s Sandman covers.
    -=Jeff=-


  9. June?! Dang, like you don’t have enough to do in the next 3 months…But I be happy. The only comics books I ever sort-of got into were the Dark Chylde ones, and the art in those is gorgeous, but seriously boob-oriented. Oh, and I like the Barry Ween ones too. But I like comic books, they were the closest I got to reading back when I hated reading. And even then, they had too many words…Anyway, coolness.

    I have to mail you too, but since you’ve no net, I have a few days. I have stuff to say, I just gotta get to it. I’m packing, we’re hoping to move into a HOUSE on or by April 1st. :D Halfway through March, and I’m STILL not sure where we’ll be in April…*snort*


  10. Wow…thanks for the info! You are such an amazing and forward thinking person. Way to have the guts and go for something like this. So next month is the TV series and movie right…because its not like you are doing anything else with your time.


  11. I was thinking of putting the movie thing off til, you know, like, July. Just to spread things out a little. :)


  12. Can’t super agent Jenn help out with project of joy?


  13. The impression I’ve gotten is that within the comic book industry, agents are more for vetting contracts than selling things. If you’re an unknown, having an agent reportedly doesn’t help (and may, I get the impression, hinder), and if you’re a known, you don’t need one to land gigs (Warren Ellis or Neil Gaiman is not going to need an agent if he goes to somebody and says he wants to write a comic book for them; they’re going to be saying when where and how on the way up, as it were). So SuperAgent Jenn will be there for the contract, should it get to that point, but everything I’ve heard about the industry suggests she’s not going to be any more able to *get* me to the contract point than I am on my own.

    I’ll keep people posted on the whole procedure as it, er, you know, proceeds. I think it’s interesting. :)

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