At this point in my journalistic adventures I think it’s pretty clear that I enjoy the indie scene the most out of all comic book areas. Indie creators have so much heart in the game that it’s impossible for me to ignore. Not just heart either; because heart means so much more. Practice, late nights after working all day, devotion, passion, believing in yourself when no one gives you a chance, working and reworking, perfecting their craft under uncertain circumstance, and really so much more that I could go on forever. All of these things make for some pretty amazing books with creators that believe in themselves and bring their best to the table so I really want to make it clear that just because I enjoy indie creators and indie books that doesn’t mean that I don’t wish success and mainstream recognition for these creators. I feel that there have been two big developments in the indie game recently; Indie Distribution Catalogs that put together indie books into a distribution catalog to rival Diamond Distribution, and Octal is in a curated catalog of comic pitch packets. Like I said, I wish indie creators all the success in the world, and what Octal has done is setup creators for success with publishers and given them a platform to get their book seen. Often times a lack of exposure is what indie creators suffer from and Octal has came up with a seriously smart product that assists with exposure and in my humble opinion any publisher should be looking for Octal when trying to search for titles to add to their library.
Octal takes a very smart approach to marketing; it takes a several small samples, eight page pilot story from eight different books, and puts it into a comic anthology that showcases each comic. Octal is the only book of its kind that I know of and is meant to provide publishers a first look at potential books. One of the things that makes Octal so innovative is that it’s free for anyone in the publishing game and provides feedback and go between for publishers and creators. Basically what Octal does is makes a true and real attempt to help with the success of the books, it doesn’t just add the book and say “well good luck” Octal stays proactive and is invested in the success of all the books involved. Several books have found homes and I have even bought one; Sane6 has since been published under Rats and Crows Publishing and I have been following it from Octal to publishing. Sane6 isn’t all, another book from Octal Volume 1, Necromancer Bill, will be published under Darby Pop Publishing. The love for indie comics and indie comic success is evident and this new tool for success is much needed and even more innovative.
Octal starts with an introduction to the books cover but is quickly followed by an introduction to the creative team. I like this because I get a good feel for the creators and instantly get a feel for the people behind what I’m about to read, this also has to be good for a publisher because it gives the team a platform to show their prior comic history or their ties to the comic world, but if their are none then it can show the dedication they have while still working day jobs. After the eight page preview of the book there is a character design page followed by a contact information page that also has a log line, plan for initial run, target audience, protagonist description, and setting. This page is clearly meant for the publishers but the more I read the more I enjoy looking at the information and tying things into the preview. I also like to read this because I like to compare pitches and see how people get their books published. Here is a small preview of the eight books that are featured in Octal Volume 2.
Co-Creator Dixie Ann Archer-McBain
Co-Creator Everard J. McBain Jr.
Celflux, by their audience description, is an Afrocentric science fiction and superhero comic. Celflux is centered around a priestess named Okira and follows her through a small adventure that is more than likely just the first eight pages of what should be the first issue. What sticks out to me about celflux is the original look and story. Celflux looks like a cross between something like Metal Men and just about any slick looking Sci-Fi book, and did I mention a giant BA panther like cat? Can’t go wrong with a giant BA cat.
Night of the Living Dead Omnibus
Anyone that hasn’t heard of Night of the Living Dead simply can’t be helped and if that is the case then just stop reading this now. The only thing I can add is that the art is in black and white and personifies the feel of the original movie that started the zombie craze.
For Blotch Comics
Disunity is a Sci-Fi tale after my own heart. Disunity is certainly something I would pick up on my own accord because it’s very heavy Sci-Fi and has a great premise. Dr. John Connati knows that we live in a multiverse because he tried to make a wormhole between worlds. As you can imagine things don’t go as plan and Dr. Connati has to fix it. What I like about this book is the solid art and the couple of pages they use broken panels, it shows me that they took their time in design and wanted to do something original, at least for a few pages. The character design is great and the writing is heavy, by heavy I mean very Sci-Fi centered.
This book is plain fun. The art is cartoon like and some of the faces the characters make coupled with the funny dialog makes me laugh aloud. The tagline is pretty brilliant because it sums up the idea behind the book and is a great hook all in one sentence. “A trio of viking outlaws embark on a journey to find and destroy the powerful sword, Ulfberht.” Quick, to the point, and hooks the reader, I don’t think it’s a coincident that this book has already been picked up for a series contract by a publisher.
Writer Bill Williams
Pencils Ricardo Silva
Color Natalia Marques
Letterer Thom Zahler
Charmer is another book featured in Octal Volume two that has a quick one sentence log line, “A young sorceress attempts to destroy the cult that raised her to be their ultimate sacrifice.” I like the log line but I feel that it doesn’t do the book justice because it has a thick world that is full of magic and backstory. This team has a solid foundation for release set in four month increments with an issue a month and trade to come out after the four, it’s pretty clear to me that the team knows what a publisher is looking for and they offer a small but important piece for a publisher to see. Professionalism. The professionalism doesn’t stop behind the scenes, this artist team has made a book that can stand toe to toe with anything in the big leagues and I feel like this combination will make for a quick pick up for this series.
Traveler is done in black and white and the art has a bit of a noir feel to it. The tag line describes the two main characters travelling around Europe solving crime but this eight page preview is more of a small introduction to the characters. Sometimes, with some of these previews, I get the feeling that their the first few pages of the first comic, but with Travelers I feel like the art team made a special preview. If this is the case then I feel like it’s a smart move from the team. Getting to know the characters a little can be a bit of a plus for the publishers to look at. The preview idea encompasses all of the comic book production aspects but the fact that the characters and character development can be very important isn’t lost on the publisher that is reading Octal.
Mary Ann Vaupel
So far I feel like the pitch for Possession is the best of all because every one of the points that are meant for a publisher are addressed perfectly. The log line is quick and to the point, the initial run information is transparent and well laid out for a publisher to judge production time, and all of the other categories like protagonist and audience are accurate and easy for a publisher to see the correlation. I feel like the art is wonderfully done and they went out to get HdE for lettering as well so that shows me that their serious and coupled with a great pitch I can see someone picking this up. It isn’t just the pitch and the art either; the idea of super powers bestowed by greek gods, set in a world of sexuality, explicit relationships, and adult themes is something that lacking in the comic book world.
William Henry Dvorak
Imagine the movie True Grit meets the TV series Supernatural. A supernatural western, what could be cooler than that. The writing has the western feel and the art is in black and white which for some reason seems to enhance the western feeling. The characters are compelling and their dynamic is engrossing but what really helps their chemistry is the art. The art is done very soundly and solidifies the feel of the old west as well as the character balance. If the eight page preview isn’t enough for publishers the pitch package is also done very well with short and concise descriptions that hit the books feel right on the head. This art team seems to know what their doing and how to put together a pitch.
At this point I think the theme is that Octal sets them up for the artist team to knock them down and Octal provides all of the tools for a successful pitch package. If I was an employee with a publisher I would welcome a tool as effective as Octal, the eight pages is just enough to see what the product is about, and the following features like the estimated production timeline gives an in depth look at to where the mindset and possible production timeline of the team is. Octal has already showed that they can find willing publishers for books and I feel like Octal is quickly becoming a major player in the publishing game.
Octal Volume 1 and Volume 2 can be found on Octal’s website as well as Drive Thru Comics and Comixology.