Since we've announced that pood will be ceasing publication, I'm going to stop posting the Moon Prince updates on this blog after today. If you've been following it here, please drop by themoonprince.comto keep up with the story (there's an RSS feed you can subscribe to there if you like).
don't know why this post is suddenly so hard to write. I've been
writing it in my head for a couple of months now, ever since it became
clear that there wasn't going to be a pood #5. Yet suddenly I
find I'm a bit overcome, and the words that have floated around my head
as I made the four hour drive week-after-week from my home in upstate
NY to my job in Long Island escape me now.
There are so many mixed emotions. I realize now that I'd invested a good deal more of my heart than I'd thought-well, pood
was always a labor of love, I mean, it's never about money in this
game, is it? But that the loss of it might hit me this hard is not
something I was prepared for. Deb and I have lost a lot these past few
months, the flood in September took away her store, and so many other
things; one would think the loss of pood, in the scope of things, wouldn't be quite so difficult. But...
I'm not a publisher. I'm an artist. and pood
was an art project. The difference -obviously, is that artists aren't
business people. I've never written up a business plan in my life, it's
always been on a wing and a prayer-with just enough money to produce the
thing, and no more. From an artist's point of view-that's
enough. To me-the format was the inspiration; newsprint, man! I love the
stuff! And I love great art that comes cheaply--found in the most
innocuous places; 12 cents for a masterwork, right? Well, pood was that-and more---it was about the page;
the single, canvas scale page-in the tradition of the great comic
strips of that Golden Era long gone- there's still no better format than
that great, wonderful page.What can we do with that format? Where can
we go with all this space?
Well, the results are there. Four
issues. The idea made manifest. And what's great about comics,the
"comics world" as it were, is that you can make that happen. Anyone with
the idea and a couple of bucks can go out there and make a comic book,
can put their vision out in the world, right up there on the comics shop
shelves with the books and characters that you've grown up with and
dreamed about your entire life.
Of course, in the "marketplace of ideas"-- the thing
isn't enough. "....Build it and they will come...." Well, only in the
movies. Advice to those just entering the game, put three times as much
dough into promotion as you do the book--and bring on somebody to do PR
who isn't embarrassed by the process and has no qualms about shamelessly
peppering all the news outlets with info, endlessly. I could only do so
much before I began to feel ashamed for being so rude. It's just not in
me. And it's necessary- if you're gonna survive.
That was the dream- to create a self-sustaining
vehicle for continuous exploration and experimentation, a place for
comics of all kinds and comic creators of all stripes--that would
entertain as much as it played around with form. In many ways, like the
Sunday funnies in the first few decades of the 20th century. But---in
the 21st century---the vehicle wasn't self-sustaining.
I suppose one might be tempted to draw all kinds of conclusions from the end of pood,
regarding alternative comics and the state of the market,unique
formats, the retail business, etc.etc. But for now, that's for others
to do if they wish. Like I said, I'm not a business person. So....if I
ever publish a paper comic book again, will I take these lessons to
heart before I send the money to the printer?
I have to laugh. Are you kidding? What am I in this for? For the buzz,
man! The buzz of a good idea, an interesting formal play-a twist on an
old format! Look at the stuff I've done the past few years, "Monsters", "fandancer","pood" not a viable format among them! Retailers hate that shit! But artists love it. (I'll never forget the reaction to "fandancer" from one owner at a very famous comic shop--famous for their support of alternative comics---"oh christ, we hate oversize". )
the stuff that motivates me is antithetical to good comics business! So
where do ya go from there? Well, you probably don't print more
comics--at least not for distribution to comics shops. Maybe
mini-comics-or hand made stuff. I don't know--somehow I've never been
torqued by the mini-comics thing. I'm a little guy, but I like my comics
BIG! Napoleon thing, I guess. And I don't find enough variation to play
with at Kinko's or POD. And when I've tried to be conventional("Nice
Work") well, let's just say that I chafe at the restrictions after
awhile and find my attention diverted elsewhere. At the moment, I'm all
consumed by this damn website. And trying to produce enough content, in
enough variety, to make it an interesting...space. I'm enjoying the
simple, repetitive nature of the webcomic strip. As much as I love comic
books, maybe more, I love comic strips-(pood, again!)-and it
was a dream as a kid to do a comic strip. "Babyheads" seems very
conventional in format, but from an artist's POV the process of writing
in short bursts has a mantra-like characteristic that's very interesting
,almost like minimalist music, in the way one note grows out of the
last note, etc. So, "Babyheads"is not only a challenge, in many ways,
but it continues a play with form that's essential to keep my interest
active. As far as my future is concerned, I think it will-- for a time
anyway--- revolve around lookoutmonsters.com more than print. That's the world we live in.
Reading the responses from the "pood artists" to my "farewell pood" letter of last night has been a humbling, emotional and joyful experience. The pood
artists were hand-picked by Kevin, Alex and myself to be a part of this
project, and each and every one of them did it for the love of art and
newsprint and the challenge of the big page. To compete with Herriman, Crane, Foster and Raymond!
That was enough for them-not a single one of them asked about money,
not a single one did it for pay-other than copies. It has been an honor
to work with each and every one of them-these are among the best comics
artists in the field today--and they worked from their hearts and it
shows. Pood was theirs as much as mine-and its because of them it is such an enjoyable package to behold.
I've said this privately many times, and I'm proud to say it publicly now. The best part of pood
was working with Kevin Mutch and Alex Rader. They are two of the
smartest, nicest guys you'd ever want to meet, and I feel blessed to
have become partners and friends with them both. They are the best, and
I've enjoyed every minute of our collaboration. We're still buds, but
I'll use the opportunity to wish them the best of luck, and love. (read "The Moon Prince"!)
morning was hard. After reading some of the kind and thoughtful replies
to last night's letter, and then Skyping from work to my wife back
home, I found myself involuntarily breaking down. Crazy, huh? It's just
comics. But that's the point--there's no "just" about it.
My graphic novel Fantastic Life (which won a Xeric Award and was included in TheBest American Comics 2011) is in the November 11 issue of Diamond Distribution's Previews catalog, so if you'd like to see it in your comic shop now's the time!