Hey Reddit!

We are Mike and Andrea, co-creators of a new comic book called Songs for the Dead, which had its release on ComiXology on November 9th. The story's about a young bard named Bethany with the powers of necromancy. She's on a one-woman quest to restore the tarnished reputation of necromancers by helping those in need, no matter the challenge!

While we're both creative people, neither of us had ever worked in comics before we started this project, so in many ways it's been a huge (and expensive) learning experience that we'd love to share with you!

Ask us anything!

PROOF: https://twitter.com/songscomic/status/797126430756896768 https://www.facebook.com/songscomic/posts/1765939747001072

EDIT: Thanks for staying and chatting with us, Reddit! If you decide to pick up Issue #1 of Songs for the Dead, we'd love to hear your feedback! So reach out to us on social media or through our site to let us know what you think!

Andrea and I will be checking back periodically if there are any more questions. <3

Comments: 72 • Responses: 40  • Date: 

FaisalAbid10 karma

What are the challenges you face when starting up a comic.

Is it as simple as coming up with a story, do the art and release?

Edit: I also bought the book yesterday and enjoyed it!

songscomic10 karma

Andrea- I think I speak for Mike as well when I say that I'm thrilled you enjoyed it! That means so much to us!

I think the biggest challenge was all the technicalities. Mike and I are both very creative people and all of a sudden we were worried about things like copyrights, contracts, and coordinating dates for the printer. Figuring all of that out was the hardest part.

songscomic6 karma

Mike: For me, it was a huge learning curve. I come from a film background, so I'm use to working with storyboards if I'm panelling anything. Even as a fan of comics, it was a huge adjustment to resist the urge to apply that same kind of storytelling. I had to basically start from the ground up and recognize what makes comic storytelling so uniquely fulfilling.

Thank you so much for picking it up, I'm so glad you liked it!!

Knight12ify6 karma

Hey guys, fellow Canadian here. Has Justin Trudeau's recent election influenced the politics in your comic book at all? Is there a character with nice hair doe? My more serious question is this, comic books are a visual medium, like movies, so how did you decide the art style for your book?

songscomic3 karma

Andrea- LOL Trudeau influences everything!

Seriously though, this is a really cool question. We looked at a lot of comics and compared our own aesthetic preferences before discussing how we wanted the book to look. Even though it's a fantasy story, we wanted the world to feel grounded and believable, but we also wanted to reflect the innocence and naivete of the protagonist, Bethany. That's how we settled on a style that is bright and a little playful, but also still looks believable when there's violence.

zuperkamelen5 karma

What was the hardest part of making it? Coming up with a good story or coming up with good artwork and getting the pictures in your head down on "paper"?

songscomic5 karma

Andrea-Our situation is unique. We are a couple, but also cocreators and writers of the comic. Working together could have been a disaster, especially since we were critical of one another and editing each other's work. Luckily, the hardest part was working through the technicalities, like finding a lawyer and getting registrations. I would also say finding an artist who understood what we were trying to do was a real challenge. A lot of artists just weren't on the same page when we reached out to them. We were very lucky to find Sam.

songscomic4 karma

Mike: The art was honestly the easiest part. Once we found Sam, we knew we had found someone who fundamentally understood our vision, which made communication as far as concepts and tone an absolute breeze.

Writing really came with its own challenges. While Andrea and I had both written fiction in the past for different mediums, comics really is its own beast. Coming into it, there's really this misconception of "movies but with still pictures", and it's really so far from that. The decisions made in each panel have to be so precise in order to really communicate what you need, both in dialog and in the visual storytelling.

Butt_Puncher4203 karma

I am an American. Can I move up there and live in your basement? I like maple syrup, and say please and sorry a lot. :)

songscomic5 karma

Mike: ...I mean, our basement's unfinished and pretty gross.

Do you like spiders? Cause if you kill all the spiders, you can have it for free.

Butt_Puncher4202 karma

Spiders..? Uuummm.. I think I'll take my chances with Trump. Thank you though! Where can I check out your Comics?

songscomic2 karma

Mike: Dude, I don't blame you. They're huge. Or should I say "yuge"?

Issue #1's available right now as a digital purchase on ComiXology!

songscomic2 karma

Andrea-Seconded.

ARandomWoollyMammoth3 karma

What is the process of making and publishing a comic?

songscomic3 karma

Andrea- Well Mike and I spent a lot of time world building, developing characters, and writing the story. Once we had a story arc, we started reaching out to artists. We also found a good lawyer early on who could help us through the process. We were really lucky to find an awesome artist that we love working with.

From there we started production; approving pencils, editing, and stuff like that. We also had to choose a printer and how the book would be presented while our artist was working on the pages.

Once the pages were complete, we sent them to our letterer and then we took the finished pages, formatted them and sent them to print. We also submitted to ComiXology. The whole process took about a year.

ARandomWoollyMammoth2 karma

Thanks for answering! Do you go through multiple drafts before achieving the 'perfect' copy?

songscomic3 karma

Andrea- We definitely did! We went through so many versions of book one, both in written script and with small changes to the art as we saw it. It's mostly the writing that gets edited since we want to make sure we send the best possible script to our artist. We also have to be very careful to maintain continuity, so somethings things change in book two, because as we look at book four, we need a different set up.

songscomic2 karma

Mike: On paper, creating a comic is as simple as coming up with the idea, drawing it, and printing it. One of my favourite things about the artform is that there isn't a whole lot of red tape keeping you from getting your idea into a store.

But there's a ton of minutae in there. Figuring out how your story fits into an ideal page length, learning about and implementing contracts, deciding how the panels will interact with each other on the page. Every simple step in the above comes with about a dozen little things to work.

EDIT: Typo

skyrimisagood2 karma

Is the title a Queens of the Stone Age reference?

songscomic1 karma

Andrea-The fact that it happens to be a QOTSA song title shows just how amateur we were when we started. Also as Mike said, we had started working with that title long before we realized. Pretty big derp on our part.

songscomic1 karma

Mike - It's not actually, though we're both QOTSA fans.

I have this habit of naming projects and only after the fact realizing that it's the title of a popular song...

skyrimisagood2 karma

Any other examples of that?

songscomic1 karma

Mike - I wrote/directed a short film called "Turn Smile Shift Repeat" years ago, which ended up being a Phantom Planet song. (Thought it was a turn of phrase at the time)

Then a year later I wrote/directed another short called "All You Need Is (The Televised Equivalent Of) Love", which ... well, you know. (That one was intentional)

IronedSandwich2 karma

late in the development cycle did you ever think "damn, we need to do [X] at [point Y], not [Z]"? did you stick to your original idea in the end or change it?

songscomic2 karma

Andrea- We ended up making changes pretty often. Some of them were easier to make than others. As Mike points out, we were making small changes right up until the last minute. I'd like to say that we've learned from that, but we literally just discovered a change that needs to be made in book 2! LOL

songscomic2 karma

Mike: Oh god yes, this happened quite a bit. We'd think we had things planned out and sit on them for months, only to get ready to put them into motion and see major problems. There were dialog changes being made I'd say even a couple of weeks before going to print.

We've designed Songs for the Dead with the intent of being an ongoing, and as such, changing something even a few issues down the road has repercussions in earlier books and vice versa.

bender-b_rodriguez2 karma

Did the process take longer or shorter than you anticipated? What, if anything, would you have done differently?

songscomic1 karma

Andrea- Mike is right, looking back I would address artists differently, but I'm glad it worked out the way it did. It was a long process, I don't think I realized how many moving pieces we would have to juggle, and it took us a long time to ask for help or advice.

If we had to do it again, I would ask for advice sooner and talk to people sooner. We spent so much time trying to figure it out by ourselves when we could have saved a lot of headaches just by reaching out and having a conversation.

songscomic1 karma

Mike: You know, I hadn't really even thought about that. I guess it took longer? I know when we started, I thought we'd have an artist super quick and hit production within a couple of months. Turns out it was way longer. The delays gave us a chance to really tune up the script, so it worked out in the long run.

What I'd do differently is definitely our initial interactions with the artists, especially at first. I think we said some stuff that made us seem super green (which we were), and I imagine it cost us a few talents.

drawnbytracy2 karma

Congrats on publishing your comic and accomplishing this incredible feat!

My question is: what is your opinion on print comics versis digital copies? In an ideal world, would youbrather see your comic in stores or are you happy with people purchasing digital copies instead?

Personally, there's nothing like cracking open a new comic book and inhaling that inky, papery goodness. Do you have similar olfactory responses?

How do you feel about this modernization of the comic industry to release titles digitally?

songscomic2 karma

Andrea- As someone who reads a LOT of comics, I do have an extensive library of both hard copies and digital. Digital copies have made it easy for me to read on my commute and enjoy a comic whenever I have a few minutes. Still, nothing compares to picking up a new comic on NCBD and pulling it out of the bag! I love the feel and look of comic books and no matter how easy digital is, it can never fully replace the tradition of books for me, even though they are taking over our home.

songscomic2 karma

Mike: We actually heard from a number of people that printing wasn't worth it. It's expensive, and some argue that it's a dying format. Yet we decided early on that we needed to see it in print.

It's a much bigger argument, but I'm one of those whose in the camp that physical formats aren't dead yet, and probably never will be. Time will tell if the decision to print was financially sound for us, but those responses you mentioned are what we're counting on with other readers. There really is nothing like a new comic book that you can hold in your hands.

RaveRacerN642 karma

I sometimes wonder what will happen with comic books? I heard comic book sales are down at comic book stores. Some people say comic books are now for tablets, but the problem is people that are not into into comics don't about about these comic book apps.

How many copies have you sold at comic book stores and online sales?

songscomic2 karma

Mike: Really good points, and really something we had to consider when we made the decision to enter into comics at this stage.

On one hand, comics are thriving in ways they hadn't in decades past, yet it's still a very niche market with a technological gap as you mentioned. It's a bit of a trade-off: more accessibility in exchange for a more crowded marketplace. For us, it was really about finding the medium that fit the story, and also allowed us to tell it in our own voice. I forget who said it, but it was said recently of comics that it's "the last true pirate medium", and that was a huge motivator for me.

songscomic2 karma

Andrea- To be honest, we haven't received our physical copies yet, they are still shipping. We hope to have them in stores soon and they will also be available as we travel to conventions.

We chose to put our book up on ComiXology because it is very difficult to distribute an independently published book. Songs For The Dead will hopefully be available across Toronto very soon.

gmacWV2 karma

How did you start writing the story? Did you have the whole thing planned out from the start, or did you make it up as you went along?

songscomic2 karma

Andrea- Like Mike said, he had been playing with the idea for a while and one night we were going for a super long walk and he looked at me and said "I have this idea and I think it would make a great comic book." We started chatting about it, filling in the gaps and exploring the world. By the time we were home, we had planned the first story arc. I think we started committing it to paper the next day, and it's evolved through many edits to become the story it is now.

songscomic2 karma

Mike: I had the basic idea hit me about two years before we started the comic process. There was something really striking to me about an unassuming and noble necromancer who was shunned by the world. At the time though I had only worked in film, and knew the idea was way too ambitious for that, so I just sorta sat on it.

It was meeting Andrea (who knows way more about comics than I do) that made me realize it had the potential to work as a comic book. Then it was a matter of sitting down and fleshing out the characters and the world around them, some of which I had already done over the course of two years.

prinsesstarta2 karma

Are you guys self published? I'm an aspiring cartoon artist and do you have any tips to share?

songscomic1 karma

Andrea- I think Mike's advice is really solid. I would add that if it's just you working on the project, find a friend or partner to check in with and hold you accountable or bounce ideas off of. Someone you can talk to while creating is always a huge help.

Also, protect your work. File copyrights, talk to professionals, do all the messy business stuff. It's not fun, but it's really important.

songscomic1 karma

Mike: Yep, fully self-published!

I'd say as a cartoonist, you've got the advantage of having full control over your vision. My advice would be to decide how much you want to put into it, both time-wise and financially, and stick to that.

If it's a webcomic, find a schedule you can work with and stick to it. If it's a traditional book, think about how much print quality means to you, how often you'll realistically be able to put out new content, etc. I feel that it's all about measuring what's achievable, and making sure you hit those checkpoints consistently.

SomeGuyInSanJoseCa1 karma

What is the fixed and variable cost of printing the comic?

songscomic1 karma

Mike: In terms of printing, I'd say the variables include who you decide to print with (which naturally affects quality), and from that, what kind of bells and whistles you can use.

We printed with PrintNinja, who have been super awesome from start to finish. They're on the pricey side, but the quality is incomparable, and Andrea and I are stickers for paper quality. We actually just got our proof copy from them last week, and every person we've shown it too has commented on how great the printing is.

Print Ninja offers neat things such as spot gloss and even glow-in-the-dark ink. They cost a pretty penny, but the examples we saw were high quality and worth it for the right project.

Shadow_Ash1 karma

How successful do you expect it to be? What would you suggest to someone who wants to make a comic book?

songscomic1 karma

Mike: Realistically, I think we can go pretty far. When we started this project, we started it with the intent of creating a book that could stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the big two in terms of quality. Our ultimate goal is to get the attention of a publisher, so we can not only stop fitting all the bills ourselves, but so we can ultimately reach a larger audience.

As far as advice, echoing something I said earlier in the thread, just know what's within your reach and stick with that. If you're a writer, figure out how much you can pay an artist to work with you. If you're an artist, measure your workload and figure out what's feasible for you. The more I've worked in the arts, the more I'm realizing that consistency is the name of the game, both in terms of building a following and to keep yourself on track from start to finish.

FiveDozenWhales1 karma

"The big two?"

songscomic1 karma

Mike: Referring to Marvel & DC, as the biggest comic publishers running today.

wadafuqqq1 karma

How did you begin marketing your comic, and getting a fan base established?

songscomic1 karma

Andrea- Mike covered this pretty thoroughly, I would add that we made it a point to talk about the book. Not just for marketing purposes, but I think it did help. We were super excited to be working on it every step of the way and I think that was contagious.

songscomic1 karma

Mike: Our biggest focus so far has been social media. With this being our first book, we didn't want to show our hand too much in the lead-up, so our timing of when we reveal what has been pretty strategic. We started our Twitter account around May, and opened other accounts a few months closer to the projected release.

With the book now having released, we're starting to look into paid advertising, but for the lead-up we just tried to stay really consistent with our messaging and interacting with people, sharing bits of story info and art where we could.

l-Am-Nicolas-Cage1 karma

How often do you have sex?

songscomic2 karma

Mike: ...you mean with each other?

songscomic2 karma

Andrea- Is there something you wanna tell me, Mike? ;)

songscomic2 karma

...no...

SquaggleWaggle1 karma

What are your favorite artworks?

songscomic3 karma

Andrea- I love art. Some of my favorite classical artists include Degas and Mucha. My list of favorite comic artists is much longer. I think Joe Quesada, Marko Djurdjevic, Olivier Coipel, Nick Robles, and Rafael Alburquerque all have really amazing and original asthetics.

And of course, there's our artist Sam Beck, who is brilliant and made our vision come to life!

songscomic2 karma

Mike: My art preferences are all over the place! In comics and digital artists, I love Alburquerque, Babs Tarr, Cameron Stewart, Sara Pichelli, Nick Robles, and Rob Porter. In filmmakers, I love Aronofsky, Inarritu, Jarmusch, and Fede Alvarez.

Elisabirdy1 karma

What makes your book a comic and not a graphic novel?

songscomic1 karma

Andrea- We consider Songs For The Dead a comic because it's ongoing. The first story arc will take place over four issues and we will hopefully continue on after that. A graphic novel tends to encompass a whole story at once. We hope to be able to make a graphic out of our first story arc.

Midnight-_-Shadow1 karma

Before my question I just want to say congrats guys! I just finished the issue and I really really liked it. Everything is great in my opinion, from the idea and the story, to the art. The ending left me wanting to keep reading and I think I am hooked to the series.

My only question is, if you have a schedule for releasing the comics, how often will they be released?

songscomic2 karma

Mike: That's incredibly kind of you to say, thank you!! We're both thrilled that you liked it!

Right now, we're aiming for quarterly releases. We don't want to say too much about an exact release date for Issue #2 yet, but it's looking on track for Early 2017.

I promise the next issue is gonna be so awesome!

Paulrik1 karma

So I bought this book up on a whim, because the premise sounded cool. Comixology billed me in US dollars. Is there a reason a Canadian reader buying from a Canadian creator is paying in US currency? Is there a reason you're dealing with Comixology as opposed to another digital comics publisher?

songscomic2 karma

Andrea- First of all, thank you so much for buying our book! I know I speak for Mike as well when I say that it means a lot to us!

As for Comixology, we hear you. We are Canadians and buy comics from them as well. If it's any consolation, we spent a looooooong time considering what to charge because we knew it was in US currency and we wanted to be considerate to our Canadian readers. I'm not a huge fan of dealing in US currency, and it created a lot of complications for us, but Comixology is the largest distributor of digital comics and after the time and energy we spent creating the book, we wanted to make sure as many people saw it as possible.

songscomic1 karma

Mike: To add to what Andrea said earlier, this is also the reason we planned physical copies from the beginning that would be available locally.

Since getting international reach with physical copies at this stage is a huge endeavour that we're not quite ready for, we went with ComiXology largely to make our book available worldwide. The hope is that this path will get us big enough that everyone will have the option to purchase our work in the means that they're most comfortable with.