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CRIMINAL #9 out this week!

The month just sped past, apparently. Issue 9 of the current run of CRIMINAL hits this week, and this is the Leo-centric issue of this big CRUEL SUMMER arc, and we're heading into the big finale, as crimes start to happen, for both the teenagers and their parents.

Here's a quick preview of the issue...
As you can see, Sean and Jake just continue to kill on the art and colors, making me look good once again.

I'm currently at work on issue 11, while they finish on issue 10. Here's a tiny tease of that issue...
A little behind the scenes peek, before the color is added.

As I mentioned up top, we're heading towards the big finale of this arc with issue 12, and starting to figure out what comes next. We have lots of big plans ahead, is all I can say at this time.
In Other News...
We won a RINGO award for BEST GRAPHIC NOVEL for MY HEROES HAVE ALWAYS BEEN JUNKIES, and Sean won BEST ARTIST, which made me quite happy. We have won a few awards for the book now, which is very encouraging for us doing more original stories in that format.

And congrats to all the other winners and nominees.

The new softback edition of JUNKIES is at the printer right now, for anyone who missed the hardback edition.
So... What Am I Up To Lately?
Most of my days the last few weeks have been spent on writing or reading or research, or thinking about what I should be writing, reading, or researching.

My current work schedule begins early, whenever I wake up - anywhere from 5 to 6AM. I make some coffee and wake up looking at the computer, answering emails from the day before (I generally stop looking at the computer even to check email, around 4:30 or 5PM every day, because I've found it healthier to be checked out).

Then I start either notebooking, or trying to write script. Sometimes I need to watch a movie or TV pilot or read for a while, for research, but I don't totally count that as "work" even though it's something I need to do to be able to write sometimes. So even on days where I spent most of the time reading or watching stuff or just thinking - all important parts of the process, especially the thinking - I still try to at least write some pages in my notebook, so I have the feeling of progress. And that incremental progress is how I work. Just slowly, page by page - anywhere from 2 to 4 pages a day, if I'm writing comics scripts - building the story. I always have an outline that I notebooked, but even with that guideline I don't always find the right flow from scene-to-scene until I'm deep into the script.

Sometimes I think I know the ending, but the scene right before it doesn't want to work, won't lead to it the way I wanted, and I have to go for a walk and mull things over for a while... Sometimes I'm stuck like that for days, honestly, until I see the way to make it all work. And sometimes the solution is so simple that it's just deleting a panel or a sentence or getting rid of the narrative and letting the characters just talk more... For me, a lot of writing is about the pace, not of the plot (or not just the plot) but of the language on the pages. The silent panels, the dialog, the space between captions in a full tier panel. If the rhythm of all that doesn't flow right, it will drive me crazy.

Currently I'm juggling three things - CRIMINAL scripts, an unannounced comic project with another favorite artist of mine, and a TV pilot that I also can't talk about yet. I used to be better at juggling things than I am now, so it's been a bit difficult, but I'm really happy about all three of these projects. All of them are exactly what I want to be writing right now.

I'll have more news on the two secret projects soon, so keep your eyes on future newsletters.
A bunch of readers have written in asking about my and Sean's exclusive deal at Image. Some wondering why we'd lock ourselves to one publisher, or what the advantages of Image Comics are compared to other publishers, some looking for advice about publishers in general, because they're aspiring writers and artists themselves. When I was trying to break in I was always lucky enough to find professionals at conventions who were willing to give straight advice about publishers, and even still I made decisions I regretted later, as we all do in our careers. But I managed to avoid some of the pitfalls... so hopefully I can help others do the same.

Warning - skip to next section if you have no interest in publishing deals.

There are a few reasons that me and Sean brought our books over to Image and ended up doing an exclusive with them. Robert Kirkman and Eric Stephenson are a big part of it, because they're friends and partners who have only ever done right by us and our books... but at the end of the day, the best thing about Image Comic is their deal. Image is the only publisher working in comics where "creator-owned" actually means what it says AND where those creators get ALL the profit on their single issues, and the vast majority of it on trades and hardbacks. And that's not just for "famous" creators, that's been their standard deal (with minor variations) since the company was founded.

Other publishers that put out "creator-owned" comics - your Dark Horses and IDWs and Booms and Onis, etc - all have different deals. They take a bigger piece of the profit (usually half) and they generally want to control the media rights. Some even want to co-copyright the work.

Image doesn't do that. All the rights stay with the creators, who get to decide everything from paper stock to design to printrun. Does it do everything right, and does everyone publishing there make a living? Of course not, publishing comics is a really hard thing to do and all of us who are able to make a living doing it are incredibly lucky. It takes a ton of work and years and years of trying to get press coverage and hoping readers will dig a book enough to spread the word about it. But it takes just as much work to do that at any publisher and at Image when it pays off, it pays off for the creators.

(Side note - alt comics publishers like D & Q and Fantagraphics also give all rights and ownership to creators and always have, but their profit-sharing is not as good as Image's deal).

A lot of publishers can do a great job getting your work out there and helping you build a name. There are smart people at these companies who can teach you a lot about comics and the industry, and that can mean a lot in the course of a career... but when you see the words "creator-owned" about some publishers, you should realize they don't actually mean that. They mean 'co-owned' - and if that's good enough for you, then go in eyes wide open.

All right, that's your comics business 101 for the day... now onto crime...
Okay, here are the crime or crime-related stories that captured my attention the past few months...

This story is just as creepy as the headline makes it sound.

Go watch the movie after you read the article.

I swear I'm not making this up. Go see.

This is a great one, not so weird or depressing this time.

Where this one is both, and horrifying.
Okay, that's it for this time...
Send in any questions to and I'll try to answer them in a future newsletter... and don't forget to look for the new issue of CRIMINAL in stores this week.
Copyright © 2019 Basement Gang Inc., All rights reserved.

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