Makeshift Miracle Book

Sorry I haven’t posted much since I got back. The post-vacation/pre-San Diego Comic Con time here has been a tornado of things to do, but not necessarily in a bad way.

The print proofs for this summer’s convention-exclusive Udon Sketchbook look amazing. The 48 page full color booklet is jammed with the best personal works or rough material we gathered from the crew. You will not be disappointed. Last year I had 2 pages inside with a mix of old and current work. This year it contains 4 pages of my artwork, all current stuff culled from the sketch paintings and work I’ve been posting here since mid-May. The sketchbook is a great cross section of our gang and a bit of a time capsule as far as who was involved with the company and what kind of work they’re capable of producing.

And then there’s the book.

I debated about whether or not to post this announcement so soon. I’ve been working my butt off on it since I got back, but haven’t posted anything, so I was worried that people would think my personal artwork kick had died down or that I’d gotten post-Cuba lazy; Quite the opposite actually.

Ever since Makeshift Miracle wrapped up in mid 2003 I’ve had people ask me about when I was going to get it published. I’ve talked with a couple small publishers about releasing it, gotten some print quotes here and there, but never been able to move forward with it. Life got in the way – work commitments, moving back to Toronto, relationship stuff… the further away I got from it the more I wondered if it was worth putting in print at all. People would bring it up every so often after that, but I’d mentally back burnered the whole thing indefinitely.

Some of my friends in Toronto, most notably Chris, Mike and Eric, really hammered me about it.

“Stop wallowing in whether you should do it and just do it.”
“You’ve got a complete graphic novel that had a solid readership. Are you an idiot?”
“You’re part owner of a fucking publisher! Why isn’t Udon publishing your book?”
“If you don’t get Makeshift Miracle out by SPX, I will kill you.”

You have to understand that my boss Erik doesn’t read indy books. His mainstream access and contacts are unbelievable, but he’s not a web comic guy or involved with small press. Me asking the company to print my surreal coming-of-age story just felt wrong for the longest time. Publishing with another company would mean less control, less royalties and more headaches, but I didn’t even consider Udon an option. It didn’t matter how many readers I had or how much praise I’d gotten for it, I never asked because I didn’t want it to feel like vanity publishing.

The conversation ended up going something like this:

Jim: “Um, Erik. I was wondering… You know my web comic thingee, right?”
Erik: ”Makeshift Man or something… yeah. What about it?”
Jim: “Do you think it would be possible for Udon to publish it? I’ll take care of all the pre-press stuff on it and make sure it doesn’t lose a dime for the company, I just need to know if you’re interested at all.”
Erik: “You mean it’s done?”
Jim:“Uh, yeah. It was done before I even met you.”
Erik: “Oh yeah? All I saw were those preview pages on your site. How big is it?”
Jim: “172 pages.”
Erik: “Holy shit, dude. Why didn’t you tell me?”

The conversation rolled from there. Last week I wrote the solicitation text for the 2007 book market catalogues and Diamond Previews solicitation that will come out in a couple months. I’ve gotten printer templates and started laying the book out, as well as remastering and relettering the pages. I’ll go over the joys and nightmares of that in my next post.

The important thing is that it’s actually going to come out.

There’s a lot to do before it’s ready and you may get sick of my posts about it, but right now I’m pretty damn happy.

Thanks, as always, for your love and support.

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