I’m anxiously awaiting the arrival of the first printed copy of Psychosis. It’s coming via lulu.com, a print on demand service that is by all accounts reputable and reliable. This first copy is just that: the first copy, one copy, a proofing copy I purchased for the cost of the printing ($6.53) and shipping (approximately $5.00). According to the status report on lulu.com, my order is being fulfilled, which means its being processed and printed. It will then be packaged and shipped. I anticipate it arriving some time during the week of November 19, 2007.
If you’re familiar with the history of this project, I’ve been shopping the finished graphic novel to publishers for the better part of 2007. That seems like a long period of time but considering most publishers don’t want simultaneous submissions (which I completely understand) and taking into account the amount of time it takes a publisher to review the material and provide a response (which I also completely understand), I’ve only submitted to a handful of publishers.
I started with Moonstone and Narwain. I didn’t do a formal submission. I contacted each to inquire if they were accepting submissions for completed projects. Moonstone replied they weren’t looking for new projects. Narwain never got back to me, and I have to wonder if they are even still in the comics publishing business. If memory serves me correctly, I tried APE next and then Arcana. Online research had revealed the two of them were well known for supporting new creators and for responding to submissions in a timely fashion. Both passed on Psychosis, but both did get back to me in a timely and professional manner, which was greatly appreciated.
And thus ended my attempt to shop the graphic novel around. I’ll admit I threw the towel in early. There are a lot of comics publishers and perhaps I could have found one that was willing to give Psychosis a chance. I considered continuing the submission process but ultimately it came down to the realization that I was ready to close this particular chapter in my comics creating career.
Psychosis was the first real attempt I made to write a complete comic script of considerable length. It was also the first project I tried to get completed in terms of finding and assembling a creative team and seeing the project through to the very end. Looking back, a project like Psychosis wasn’t exactly the best “first” project. It was too ambitious for a guy that was as green as me. I say “was” because I’ve learned a lot in the two years it took me to get Psychosis to where it is today, which is at the printer. The lessons learned and experience gained has helped me land and excel at more recent collaborative gigs.
With some great forward momentum gaining on a few of these collaborative gigs, I felt it was time to close the first chapter in my story as a comics creator: Psychosis. I’m a guy that likes closure and I did not yet have closure on that particular project. It was nagging me. This is the main reason why I decided to go the print on demand route. It will give me a printed book I can put on my shelf, but I am also able to sell it online and print small runs I can sell at local comic shops.
Like all the other stages of Psychosis’ birth, working with lulu.com wasn’t without its challenges. It took me several attempts to format the pages correctly as the PDFs that will be used in the printing process. What was most frustrating about this was that each mistake I made wasn’t noticeable until after I uploaded the resulting 300 MB file to lulu.com and reviewed the online proof. An error meant I had to retouch the original image files, recreate the PDFs, assemble the PDFs into one big PDF and then upload and process that big ass PDF for the next online proof. I had my fair share of cussing fits and moments where I was on the verge of throwing my hands up in defeat and walking away completely, but cooler heads always managed to prevail. This is in no small part to my wife who supported me throughout the ordeal and reminded me that after almost two years of hard work surely I could spare a few more hours to get the project printed and thus finished for good. She was right, of course.
I’m not out of the water yet, however. When I get the printed proof and open the cover it could very well be that Psychosis is filled with printing errors. Perhaps the text in the dialogue balloons will be blurry. Perhaps the blacks will look like greys and the greys will be barely visible. Perhaps the margins were wrong and I’ll lose important edges of the artwork to trimming. All of these unknowns plague me now. I hope, hope, hope I open that finished graphic novel and breath a sigh of relief and thus can close this chapter. It’s not going to be perfect. I know that. Psychosis isn’t perfect and that has nothing to do with the printing. What I hope though is that it satisfies me to the point where I can say I’ve done all I can do, it was a great and worthwhile effort, and now it’s done.