Monday, September 04, 2006

Sureshot Presents Collectormania interview

This is the full text of an interview that was conducted with Kevin Patrick which appeared in the August edition of CollectorsMania. It was edited down to 600 words, this is the original text which i've slightly edited to improve spelling and grammar in an attempt to make myself look smarter.

1) What inspired you to launch the Sure Shot format? Did you see a gap in the local comics market that needed to be filled, or were there other reasons?

I considered the format of SureShot Presents for almost a year before it took its final shape. It was borne from gaps in the market and the books I first got into when I started reading Australian comics in the early 2000s. A lot of creators started self publishing with grand plans of doing 4 issue miniseries or ongoing series and as a reader it was really exciting but as time went on issue 2 took three months to come out, issue 3 took six months and issue 4 never came out. It was frustrating to see these great creators get burnt out and never finish their stories. It was bad for me as a fan and i can understand why retailers and normal comic readers don't get into local product when they never get a satisfying narrative. So I knew whatever I did would have to be self contained. Anthologies involve working with too many people and readers are wary of them; especially the multiple creator anthologies. DeeVee and Phatsville are the only anthologies that have had any legs to sustain a reasonable run. Most of the others have died after 2 issues. So i wanted to only work with one or two creators per book to keep things simple and flexible.The physical format is based on cost per unit and the marketing considerations; its designed to sit next to the cash register in whatever shop its being sold at while not looking to "comicky". Because i can't write or draw but wanted something to sell i thought of providing creators an outlet to tell their stories. That's what i really love about Australian comics, they provide stories relevant to us as a society and created by people who live with us. To overcome the lack of funds to pay for work i devised the 50/50 split as a means of recompense for their creation.

2) Why did you decide to use external judges to select material for inclusion in Sure Shot?

The idea of external judges came from wanting 2nd and 3rd opinions on a project because its about providing an audience a story which they like and want to buy. Having those extra opinions means that I'm not just publishing work that I want to read but a wider variety of genre, art styles and story. Also i wanted "names" to give the book some credibility so people would submit stories and buy books.

3) How did you come to select Doug Holgate and Daren White as the selection judges?

When I was trying to formulate what Sureshot Presents was going to be i'd periodically discuss it with Holgate. I respect Doug a lot, sure he's an exceptional artist but more importantly, and what I believe leads to his success, is he works hard. He takes the maximum advantage of any opportunity and he works for those opportunities. He's not a shrinking violet waiting for someone with a big bag of money to draw comics - he creates opportunities. So he's a great role model for the artists i'm hoping to connect with and he has his views on the local scene which sometimes agree with my views but sometimes contrast. He was a good sounding board and gives well considered feedback where necessary. An asset, for sure, in the selection process. Daren White, just offered after my initial blog post about SureShot Presents, which was like getting struck by lightning, really good Chocolate-covered lightning. Daren is a writer who has worked with the larger American company but he's also published one of the more interesting and artistic anthologies, DeeVee. He understands the commercial realities of writing for the larger audience but also understands publishing and art.

4) How many submissions did you receive for the first issue of Sure Shot Presents?

None. Which is understandable, I think a lot of creators have been stung by anthologies that failed to materialise so they're a bit wary. Secondly, the marketing of the concept hasn't really been that widespread but I don't mind that, it’s meant to be organic. I don't want to be pushy and harangue people into submitting because if people aren't motivated or excited enough to approach me then they most likely will split when they discover they actually have to do some work.

5) What criteria, if any, do you & your judges’ use when evaluating material for inclusion in Sure Shot Presents?

Marketing and quality. Who would want to read this and where would they want to buy it from? Can we get the book into those shops? Is the creator ready to sell their portion? What markets will they be approaching? Is the comic itself any good? Will it be beneficial to the Sureshot Presents brand?

6) What strength(s) do you think the Sure Shot format has, especially when compared with other self-published Australian comics currently on the market?

Strengths are that the model I’ve formulated means that it is not a drain financially. Whilst it’s not designed to make me money, its not going to send me broke. I'm in for the long haul. Each issue is stand alone; it doesn't require people to hunt down multiple issues (that may never eventuate). There is a beginning, middle and end. This is reflected in the numbering, there is no issue #1,2,3 etc - there's Autumn 2006, Winter 2006, etc. Each issue will be good - the submission process means the wheat gets separated from the chaff. Retailers are getting 50% of the cover price which is a better rate than what they receive selling American comics and SureShot takes up less space on the shelf.

7) What is the current publishing schedule for the magazine?

At this stage no more frequently than Quarterly but it depends on submissions.

8) Can you tell us whose work will appear in the next issue? (Judging by the preview, I'm betting it's Doug Holgate, right?)

The next issue, Winter 2006, will actually feature the work of Mandy Ord (already out). Doug's workload means he'll be appearing in the Spring 2006 issue.

9) Have you had any feedback from readers/comic shops about the magazine? If so, what's their overall reaction been like?

In terms of retailing, I sold a healthy chunk of the print run at Supanova but only recently got the comic in shops around the nation. I'll be contacting retailers next month to see how sales are going. I've received some positive feedback from creators who i really respect which is nice. I have a schedule to send out copies to reviewers, now that it’s available to be bought in major centres. Overall, it’s positive.

10) As publisher/editor of the magazine, what ultimate goals (if any) do you have for the project (e.g. newsstand distribution, enlarged format, colour printing - that sort of thing?)

Whilst I would love newsstand distribution with colour covers, I’m content to be a boutique publisher with print runs designed to sell out while being profitable. My main goal is to produce good comics and get people to submit comics. Secondary goals though are to show comic retailers that there is an audience for locally produced comics, to expand the distribution (retailers) and market (readers) and make it easier for creators to get their work out there. A tertiary goal is to access new markets (retailers other than comic shops) but I need a backlog of books before that is feasible. Lastly, to lure advertisers to the book, mentally i have that in year 4. Once I've got advertisers/investors involved then sky's the limit.


Anonymous said...

Nice interview Mark. I feel a bit of a fake getting a mention given that I haven't actually helped at all. I should be ramping up the comics stuff in about a months time and so hopefully I can offer some constructive help then.

Thumbs up to Kevin as well.



Mark Selan said...

thanks daren, i wouldn't worry about the commitment yet, i'm slowly rolling this out.

Once i start getting submissions and need a sounding wall i'll be bugging you relentlessly.

The Frase said...

I'm looking foward to getting my hands on the Sure Shots when I get back!

I reckon it looks great!

Oh.... and nice interview!

Liz/Azahru said...

top stuff mark