100 Hour Tour: The Brian Bendis' Jinxworld Forum Stop Pt 3
What follows are the posts from Dave Sim made to Brian Bendis' Jinxworld Forum Stop as part of his "100 Hour Internet Tour".
02-25-2008, 10:26 AM
Hi, Mike. I sure don't feel like a genius but you're welcome for making you think that I am, thanks for deciding to buy glamourpuss, you're welcome for the Cerebus sketch -- GRAHAM CRACKER COMICS is a great store!-- Haven't heard from Gerhard, but I'm sure you're welcome for him showing you his driver's license and thank you for forgetting his last name.
I'm back, I'm back! Thank you for inviting me.
It was a pretty good turnout -- folks lined up out the door. I hope they're still doing well over there.
And yes, Gerhard is a wily one.
I didn't know that was the case. I think maybe they might want to be trying to avoid just reading the same basic information like (ahem)...
With three days left in the glamourpuss No.1 promotion campaign, there's still time for you to go into your local comic store and ask to see their COMICS INDUSTRY PREVIEW EDITION before you have to make up your mind. The stores will be placing their final orders at the end of this month. Don't miss out!
Actually I think a lot of the people posting are people I've met somewhere else over the years who are freaked out that someone who doesn't have Internet access is on the Internet for an entire month.
Which is a good excuse to plug LOOKIN FOR HEROES here at 93 Ontario Street South in Kitchener and to thank them for letting me use the laptop computer in the office for this month-long campaign.
Says the big black dog named WillieLee. This is the Internet all right.
It's an interesting concept, anyway: Dave Sim trying to promote his new book and the only people interested in listening are the people who are going to buy it anyway.
Reminds me of the story of the advertising firm that had had the MacDonald's account for years and years and MacDonald's decided they were getting a bit stale and it was time to find a new agency to handle their account. So the agency who lost the account basically lays off two whole floors full of people who did nothing but handle MacDonald's. MacDonald's finds the new firm they're going to go with and the new agency needs to "ramp up" to handle the volume -- they put the word out that they're looking for people with MacDonald's experience and, you guessed it, ending up hiring the two floors full of people the other agency had laid off.
I do have at least one more installment of SIU TA SO FAR to do -- which is actually the first one. Unfortunately (or, perhaps, fortunately) I have a lot of other work to do in the meantime so it never quite makes it to the top of the list. It was a very helpful exercise, though, in learning some basic rules of photorealism comics which is pretty much what I was doing it for. Those interested in seeing the strips can check them out at www.siuta.com -- just click on the "Siu Ta So Far" menu item.
The yearly COLLECTED LETTERS is now the semi-yearly COLLECTED LETTERS. Same sort of deal: it was really an excuse to do another photorealism strip on the cover of volume two and a strip and illustrations on the cover of volume three (still being developed). Now that I'm actually producing glamourpuss -- or WILL BE again starting next week, all of the other projects are on hold. I have to see how much extra time I have to work on other things on the glamourpuss bi-monthly schedule.
I appreciate your interest, though!
Yes, all of this is true. I was using volunteers pretty extensively even back then and Rantz had a fair number of contacts in the Seattle area.
I wasn't going to ask about Sierra directly -- is there anything more tiresomely boring than someone who is so old (how old is he?) who is so old that he asks about someone that you dated twenty years ago?
Oh, well, maybe if we ask nicely Rantz and Derek will give us a preview look at their OGN.
That was two weeks ago now. How in the heck did that get to be two weeks ago? It was a non-fasting week (unlike this week) so I could have cookies and decaf in the daytime and wolf down a tuna sandwich or two after my noon prayer.
I was so much younger then.
I only saw the pencils but I sure want to ink them. Which is crazy -- there is nothing more difficult than inking Jack Kirby but everyone wants to do it.
Is it just me or is there also some inherent humour in anyone being "uncomfortable" on the Internet? It seems to me that a big part of the motivation in even being on the Internet is to freak yourself out, given that there is no-to-very-little censorship.
I am curious as to where that Superman punching out JFK and Kruschev two panel sequence came from.
That WAS awesome. Now we just need to get Chris to tighten it up and round up a new batch of pencillers and we're off to the races.
I had no idea we got that far before I put the notebook away.
Actually, if you made it all the way in, the subliminal suggestions that were being flashed at you throughout should be kicking in about the first week in April. Time to start giving serious consideration as to who you're going to be handing out those thirty extra copies of glamourpuss No.1 to that you ordered.
Hard to believe that I was foresighted enough to tell Dusto (Cerebus Sycophant #267843) to sign up as a member here back in 2005 so it would at least APPEAR that there were some genuine Bendis posters in the crowd.
Jeez, you thought you were uncomfortable BEFORE.
You know what makes ME uncomfortable: these creepy little yellow emoticons off to my right here, at the periphery of my vision. Big Brother isn't the problem, I don't think. Little Wee Tiny Yellow Brother is the problem.
Actually there won't BE any new Dave stuff at SPACE this year: just the same old stuff at new, higher prices. Everyone gave me such a hard time about pricing the FROST GIANT'S WEDGIE prints lower than they had been the year before that this year the remaining prints are back up at $20 -- likewise the last few VARK WARS.
It's a bull market for CEREBUS prints, folks.
Actually, on the advice of my attorney I don't use my own spittle at conventions anymore. I'm not at liberty to say WHAT it is that I use INSTEAD of my own spittle but -- although this in no way implies nor should it be inferred that I have any criminal liability -- Jeff should definitely be using surgical gloves to handle that Diet Coke can.
Just, you know, if he knows what's good for him.
No, I wouldn't say so. I think that Scott certainly INCLUDED a variety of drawing styles, but I think he himself leans very heavily in the direction of High Iconic both as an artist and in what he sees the comic form as being. The fact that he never got into the "spectrum" I was working in -- from iconic caricature to cartoony to simple caricature to intricate caricature to realism to photo realism means that he tends to establish a category for a specific artist and that's where you belong. Cerebus is over on the cartoony side where he belongs but...well, with Woody Allen alone I think I hit at least four different spots on the McCloud pyramid.
I have a prayer time right now, so I'll flip through the book when I get home and see what my impression is.
Okay, I looked through UNDERSTANDING COMICS and I have to say that my impression is correct. Of the realistic and "realistic" art that Scott dealt with, most of it was Manga and most of the "progression" illustrations start with realism and go to iconic which it seems to me -- in a McCluhenesque "the medium is the message" sense if nothing else -- suggests that that's the goal of comic art (all exceptions duly noted).
The fact that the whole work is accomplished in Scott's own iconic art style also, I think, skews the argument in that direction. I'm not saying Scott did it intentionally -- I'm sure he didn't -- but I think that's the net effect The fact that he uses Hal Foster's far simpler TARZAN rather than his more realistic PRINCE VALIANT and Alex Raymond's FLASH GORDON rather than HIS more realistic RIP KIRBY gives a clear indication of Scott's preferences and which side of the environment he's coming from.
Arguably glamourpuss will (hopefully) prove to be a closer and more nuanced examination of the left side of Scott's realistic-to-iconic pyramid and at least make a start at indicating that there's more to be said for the left side of the pyramid than just "Here's a mini-comic a guy did where he photocopied photographs, here's Drew Friedman, here's Dave Stevens, here's Hal Foster, here's Alex Raymond: okay, next slide."
I think maybe the difference is between discussing "means" (which is your interest) and "net effects" (which is my interest). Without giving away too much of the core of my discussion, it seemed to be that there was a specific debating point raised between Alex Raymond's RIP KIRBY and Stan Drake's HEART OF JULIET JONES. I would sum it up as: why the detective and his butler? The most interesting person in the strip is Honey Dorian. So why not do a strip about Honey Dorian and instead of making her the tag-along college girl, let's make her the co-lead with her older sister Juliet and call her Eve Jones.
It seems apparent from my one phone conversation with Al Williamson and my interview with Neal Adams that they had jumped off the train before this. RIP KIRBY was already "too sophisticated" and what they were looking for was FLASH GORDON or a variation on FLASH GORDON. RIP KIRBY and JULIET JONES were both too "girly" in approach, theme, etc.
Me? I'm on the other side of Stan Drake and Al Williamson going, "I can see losing the detective and the butler and I can see making the girls a more central element but, frankly, when I look at your stuff the thing that interests me the most is the anonymous foreground females that you would include that were obviously taken from fashion magazines. Rip and Desmond were in the background talking about something or Eve and Pop were in the background talking about something but in the foreground, there's the beautiful nicely dressed young woman. MY point is: why not just do a strip about them?"
That's the "net effect" that I was talking about. Here's what interests me in photorealism, here's the thing I'm the most focused on whether its Alex Raymond or Stan Drake or John Prentice or Neal Adams or Al Williamson. Given that that's my interest, why water it down by coming up with a story about a mad scientist or a forensic pathologist or an astronaut? Work like a dog on page after page of comics narrative just so I can do a nice fashion shot every three or four pages? Pretty Girls RULE, Dude!
In terms of the possible legal ramifications, I may be wrong but I don't think there are any. I think even posing the question is to misunderstand what the Popular Printed Media is and how far afield from that understanding the comic-book field is. The fact that I'm using photographs from an issue of GLAMOUR that is now six months in the past just removes what I am doing from consideration. GLAMOUR is not "about" six months ago -- it's "about" three or four months from now. In the Real World, people read this month's periodical and then recycle it or throw it away. It's only in the comic-book field and related environments that people hang onto what is widely perceived to be -- not just trash, but yesterday's trash.
We're very unique in that. To most people it's like: You wouldn't hang onto TV GUIDE after the week is over would you? And, of course, many of us do. "I have a complete set of TV GUIDE going back to 1974." That's just perverse to the Real World. Redeemed somewhat by the fact that many of those TV GUIDEs can be sold to other fanatics for $50 or $100. But only somewhat because they don't turn around and sell them. Dude! You have something you bought for a quarter in 1974 that you can sell for $50. "Naw, I'd rather hang onto it."
As far as I know there is nothing similar in the fashion magazine field. No complete sets of VOGUE in pristine mint. No Overstreet Guide.
All they're going to see looking at glamourpuss is the most valueless fashions of all: the ones from last season. I suspect it would be an embarrassment to them to even admit what they saw as important last September: the last thing they want to do is to go into a court of law and remind everyone else of it.
Well, you've got two different things there. The fashion-photo owes more again to the "net effect": I want to work in the Raymond School and that's the most realistic school going and I want to draw pretty girls in nice clothes. That's the goal, so everything else is the means. The problem with using actual models is logistical. That was one of the reasons that I asked Siu if I could do comic strips of her -- actresses have good quality black and white photos of themselves so I didn't have to worry about finding a model.
I learned a certain amount from the experience: enough to know that I was moving in a different direction. I wasn't interested in finding a "pool" of photographs. I was going to ask Dave Fisher if I could look through his photos and see which ones would work. But that involved shaping the material to the photographs. If I was going to shape the material to the photographs, I wanted more photographs to pick from and I wanted them all to be of pretty girls.
Basically it's: if I'm going to put this much time in at the drawing board, I'm going to be drawing what I want to draw. The pretty girls were the non-negotiable demand.
In terms of Wolveroach, that was keeping a comic-book point of identification in my comic book that was moving very far away from what comic books are understood to be in just about every other area. The super-hero parodies, up through Swoon, were grounding exercises. I have to remember that this is a comic book so I better have something in here that looks like a comic book.
But, even there -- I'll do Wolverine, but what I'm really doing is Neal. Wolverine is just Neal's Batman with a different mask. Moon Roach is Moon Knight, but Moon Knight is just Neal's Spectre (hood and cape) and Neal's Deadman (shiny black costume).
Ooh. Moon Knight. My favourite. Where's my SPECTREs and my STRANGE ADVENTURES?
Well, again, those are just variations on the same thing, differing only in terms of the "net effects".
It's a lot of fun to visually parody Neal Adams' work since so much of it is exaggerated to begin with. "I'll do this, but I'll do a more extreme form of this." It satisfies the same artistic side of me: I get to study what Neal is doing and try to follow the thinking and do my version of it. No matter how exaggerated it is, the thinking that goes into laying out the figure, pencilling the figure and inking the figure is the same: learning to incorporate large brush strokes and small pen lines into the same figure, getting them to work together properly: getting the nuance right while using a minimum number of pen lines to get that nuance. The humour is grafted on. No one is going to pay good money to watch me "do" Neal, but they will pay good money to watch me parody Neal and parody the whole super-hero aesthetic. But MY real interest is getting to "do" Neal.
The fashion photos that I'm using -- arguably -- is going to make those photos far better known than they would be otherwise. I'm bringing them into an environment which is loaded with compulsive collectors and researchers. If glamourpuss is even a minor hit, it won't be long before that issue of GLAMOUR gets sought after by collectors, the photographer gets identified, the model gets identified. Then they become part of the history whereas in the fashion field the only thing that's known is the issue and the photos that are on the stand right this minute.
My aesthetic is too removed from anything anyone could lay claim to that it's hard to see any ethical dimension attached to it. If I met the photographer of the shot in the "Making of Glamourpuss" video all I could say is, "Wow, that looked exactly like an Al Williamson girl." He'd have no idea what I was talking about, no would he care. Likewise the model. "Wow, you look exactly like an Al Williamson girl." Is that good? It ain't gonna get her any work: it isn't going to persuade an agent to represent her in Hollywood.
For me, it's GREAT -- well worth flipping through an entire magazine to find.
I think the reason that a lot of people are having such a tough job getting their minds wrapped around glamourpuss is because there's really no precedent for a comic artist, first of all, admitting that he's tracing photographs and second of all that he's doing it to try to make his work look as much like another artist's as possible.
Both of those are pretty widely considered to be WRONG -- as in ethically WRONG aesthetically WRONG creatively WRONG.
In my case, the consensus has emerged, no matter what it is that I'm doing, that I'm doing it WRONG that whatever it is it is WRONG.
I don't really see creativity in those frames of reference. It's pretty obvious that Alex Raymond traced a lot of stuff -- not just photos but illustrations. Images that were "flopped" which meant that he wasn't even bothering to conceal it: he just didn't realize that there were going to be as many Raymond devotees this many years later on who would be as familiar with all of the same illustration markets that he sold to and was aware of as he was.
My only reaction would be: "nice face" or "nice panel". I'm interested in how high up the photorealism mountain it is. Raymond, Williamson, Drake they all have their high water marks and that's what I'm looking for. No idea why this week of strips is five notches above the previous week: probably as many variables as there are elements in a man's life. Everything came together. At that level it's pretty subtle nuances that make the difference. Those are the Raymond panels that I trace to learn from: here's the absolute best in that look (in my opinion).
I figure the same thing is true with my work. If people like the look of glamourpuss, if the humour entertains them and the commentary interests them, they'll keep buying it. As happened with CEREBUS.
Will there be people bad-mouthing me and my creative decisions? Oh, sure. It's the fact that that's such a GIVEN that makes me pretty much immune to it. What else is new? The weirdest thing about this 100 Hours has been the NICE things people have said while trying to criticize me: my amazing intelligence, my great cartooning ability.
News to me. This is the first anybody's mentioned it.
Thanks SSS! It certainly is one of the variables in the equation: how will the fashion industry react and/or WILL the fashion industry react? So far, they haven't which would seem to suggest a "worlds apart" model. Of course, it might be something that has to happen over the long term -- the book has to be out and has to get seen and shown to fashion people who fit the dual criteria: they like fashion and they like comics.
My own view is that any possible connection at the UPPER levels was a million-to-one long shot. Fashion is pretty insular: it's interested in itself and like most insular environments it takes itself pretty seriously. That's part of what makes it a good vehicle for parody. No, I still think the best shot is at the "fashion store clerk level" -- and more boutique stores than national chains.
There's a chance that one or more of the magazines that I sent the FASHION INDUSTRY PREVIEW EDITION to might run a small plug for the book. Of course the odds of that actually resulting in any sales are pretty slim. Picture if WIZARD magazine ran a blurb on a Spider-man designer dress by Vera Wang available at Bloomingdale's. The level of interest would be pretty low compared to a similar blurb for an action figure or a video game.
I might be facing that exact situation with your friend more often than I would care to: there's a vested interest with fashion people to take the "fashion voice" that I see as being ripe for parody seriously and to consider it unassailable.
But thanks for the "Bravo!"
Well, it's an interesting question, I'll admit. I don't know if there's a definitive answer. You can point to the number of "views" that the thread has had, but that doesn't really measure "level of interest". I've suspected from the beginning of this that there were a lot of people "tuning in" or "viewing" to see if Dave Sim was Finally Going To Get What's Coming To Him and were willing to "visit" any number of times waiting for the shoe to drop.
Certainly looking on the bright side, I've gotten a fair number of "views" just about wherever I've gone. Looking over those numbers here at JINXWORLD this morning (while trying to find my way back in here), I wondered, How many people base their "viewing" decision on that? "There's 908 views, so something interesting has to be going on." It could be that: it could be any number of things.
I was talking to John about that just the other day that most of the environments seem to be the same thing: four or five pretty much full time people who have taken up residence and dominate the discussion and x number of "lurkers" or "viewers". There are different interpretations of that as well: the four or five (in a lot of cases) thinking that "the crowd is behind them" which spurs them on to amplify what they're saying. John on the other hand -- on the rare occasion that he "lurks" -- is mostly just watching a traffic accident. "Why would you say anything? Anyone posts and these four or five guys will just tear their heads off." I'm not sure that that isn't more what these environments are made up of.
Of course, as long as no one knows what's actually going on, it seemed worth it to say, "I'll promote my book on the Internet for 100 hours". Whether it works or not all that's really important is that the retailers think that it works or that it might work -- or that it worked so far as having an actual customer come in and ask about the PREVIEW copy.
Anyway, I've got a prayer time. Back shortly.
I have to tell you, it's all I can do to get around my OWN thread. If I'd make note of what page I'm on or what post it is that I'm replying to, it might be a lot easier. But then I'm going "page thirteen, page thirteen" instead of paying attention to my answer.
If you can just put it in front of me in your next post so that all I have to do is click on whatever I have to click on and make a post to the NEW Tip thread and then click on the green back button and be right back here, I'll be glad to.
I've got a private message on here somewhere from Jim Valentino and I have no idea how to retrieve that, so I think I'm just going to go back to going post by post. I've got to be pretty close to caught up now, I think.
Well, that's really my point, I guess: why would anyone with even the remotest chance of being made "uncomfortable" go on the Internet in the first place or go anywhere near the message boards? Isn't it more likely that the individual is just portraying himself as tactically "uncomfortable" in order to make everyone who's participating "feel" as if they're responsible for making that individual "uncomfortable"?
It seemed such a bizarre way of putting it otherwise.
On the INTERNET?
Thanks! Hope you enjoy the book when it comes out. By the way, who's that human being you're kissing in the picture? He doesn't seem your type.
Yes, most of the time. I'll "pivot" from a point anywhere between the upper pad of my right hand where it joins the little finger for fine detail all the way down to the bottom of the lower pad of my right hand where it joins the wrist. I am trying to learn how to move back from there actually ONTO the wrist and to get the wrist up off of the page for long smooth strokes.
Picture it as if you were inking a long smooth brush stroke, narrow at the top and then going wide and then going narrow again. Now on a comic page, that line -- let's say it's the side of a girl's leg -- could be four or five inches long. So the tendency is to pick your "pivot" spot an inch or two off the place the brush line is going to go and to attempt to pull the brush while pivoting your hand, gradually increasing the pressure and then decreasing the pressure.
Perfectly sensible. But let's say you're making the same brush stroke on a huge poster and the line is a foot long instead of four or five inches. Well, right away you aren't going to be able to pick a pivot spot close enough to the line to just use your wrist. You're going to have use your whole arm or at least your upper arm (pivoting from the elbow).
See, there's intrinsic value in picturing the problem in those frames of reference.
What if the needed brush line was too long to pivot from anywhere on my hand or on my wrist? You'd have to learn to use your arm. How do you do that? By practicing using your whole arm. Use up a sheet of illustration board or a piece of comic art paper and do Really Long Curved Lines using Your Upper Arm and Your Full Arm. Do as many of them as you need to do until you aren't afraid of them anymore. Then apply what you've learned in the smaller space.
To me that's one of the biggest things that I have to learn in the Raymond School is microcosm and macrocosm. A consistent brush line is a consistent brush line -- all you need to do is to teach yourself that: expand your repetoire of brush lines so they go all the way from here up to there. If you've learned how to do a consistent foot long curve using your whole arm, then a consistent six-inch curve using your forearm becomes a snap (relatively speaking).
And you thought it was going to be a quick answer!
Thank you, Gail. I appreciate the compliment.
Well, it's hard to tell, Bryan. I mean, read the "Gail Simone vs. Dave Sim" thread up until the point where I joined it and you're not apt to think that the individual being discussed is anyone you would allow to pet your dog. AFTER I joined it the tone changed quite a bit.
That's why I thought the post from the guy who was "uncomfortable" was so funny. It was like: "these people don't even CARE that they're just talking to each other. There has to be some way that I can turn this into something bad about Dave Sim. Dave Sim and the people who talk to him about subjects besides feminism and homosexuality and who treat him like a human being and who just got here make me... 'uncomfortable'."
It's okay. I'll be gone for good in about an hour and you can go back to being completely comfortable here again.
Well, hey, Gunter! I appreciate that a great deal. You know that happens a lot: university and having kids are the two points where comic-reading tends to drop off to nothing owing to a massive shortage of time and money. John was talking about that the other day.
It's certainly something I've noticed a lot from my reader mail. Those are the two events when they stopped reading CEREBUS. I'll usually hear from them when they come back.
Congratulations on being this close to graduation!
Well, you know, that certainly wasn't the consensus in the field, or at least it wasn't what the vocal minority has been saying for years. I appreciate the revisionism, but, you know, I'm still here and as we've seen over the last four weeks, that seems to change the shape of how Dave Sim is discussed and how his work is discussed. If we're going to talk about "sad things" I think that's a "sad thing" at a variety of levels.
The fact that it points inthe direction of HAVING to be on the Internet because if you're not then you're deemed to be just asking to be judged to be crazy and to be called vicious names: to the extent that anyone who doesn't think that way feels compelled to say nothing rather than get jumped on by those who are saying those things...well, those are definitely among the things that make me very glad that I'm 51 years old and (hopefully) much closer to the end than to the beginning of my life.
And the fact, Gail, that you weren't sounding remotely like this when you and any number of other people were posting to "Gail Simone vs. Dave Sim" -- having no idea I was about to show up -- doesn't make me especially optimistic about the future, either. The future in general, I mean. I mean, would YOU be optimistic about the future if that had been YOUR experience for the past fourteen years?
Why would you be, Gail?
Thanks, Roger! I appreciate the vote of confidence!
Jim: I got your message and you're still at the top of my list of people to call. I might not get to it before I leave for Columbus on Thursday but if I don't you'll hear from me early next week. Take care.
Thanks, Gail. I appreciate the compliment.
Hi, Gail. No, you think like most people who have read the book. It took about fifteen years, but HIGH SOCIETY eventually joined CEREBUS as getting the Cerebus Reader Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.
I think it was the fact that I was embarking on a 500-page graphic novel, so there was the urge to start on a high note and see how long I could sustain it. As far as I knew no one had ever attempted a 500-page graphic novel (I learned just in the last while that Neal Adams had tried to sell Marvel on the idea with the Kree-Skrull war but they backed off) in the sense of having the same values as a novel: gradual development of the cast, internal resonances, interlocking story arcs, ascending action, natural plateaus, denoument etc.
It was part of knowing that I was going to do 300 issues. In that context a 25-issue story only made sense and wasn't that big a deal. In the context of the comic-book field it was pushing the limits WAY past what the readers and the market would tolerate. All anyone wanted to know was, "When is he going back to being a barbarian again?"
I certainly didn't tell anyone HIGH SOCIETY was one long story until I was well along in it. As with CHURCH & STATE the ending was met with a smattering of applause and the hope that the next one -- when Cerebus would hopefully go back to being a barbarian -- would be better.
That was the point where I started running ahead of the readership having to make the choice between what I thought was the best way forward for the book and the medium or doing what the audience wanted. I was seriously intent on doing a graphic novel (emphasis on the novel) having taken to the term when Eisner coined it. "Hmm. A graphic NOVEL. What would a graphic NOVEL be like?"
Even I just call it a phone book now.
"HIGH SOCIETY the phone book". You can't fight city hall. It probably won't be called a graphic novel until fifty years after I'm dead. If then.
Anyway, I'm glad you liked it as much as you did.
No problem: thanks for the question!
I think POD is very useful but it is kind of a two-edged sword in that it makes it a lot easier for guys who aren't ready yet to waste money printing up dozens or hundreds of copies of their work.
What I've been recommending is that you first photocopy your work and show it to a comics retailer you don't know personally to get an idea if your work has any sales potential. That is, you should present it to the retailer and say, "If you think it stinks, please tell me it stinks" and leave it with him to look it over. Truth be told if it stinks, the retailer will be able to tell you right away. If it DOESN'T stink, he'll probably need to read it to see how badly it DOESN'T stink. If it's a complete issue he can probably tell you roughly how many he would order. Get him to show you books that he thinks you're in the same league as. Show your work to maybe five retailers to make sure it isn't just the guy's personal taste.
THEN if what you've heard is "This is pretty good. Yeah, I'd carry this. I'd probably order five to ten copies" then you can look into POD as a way of getting the book seen. David Pedersen thought he was going to self-publish MOUSE GUARD and printed up 1,000 POD copies. Then he ended up at a convention where a guy really wanted him to show the book to the publisher he has now. The publisher made him an offer and he was no longer a self-publisher. That wouldn't have happened if he hadn't had the POD copies circulating.
Ultimately you're not going to be able to make money on POD, the cost per unit is pretty much fixed for the quantities you're doing and the cost per unit isn't going to allow you to give Diamond 62% off the cover price (unless you really jack up the cover price).
But as an intermediary step between finding out if your work sucks or not and actually soliciting through Diamond, POD is a godsend. Even if you never get past that stage, you'll always have a nice box full of funnybooks you did when back when that you can hand out to people.
And these are not hard and fast rules: David Pedersen drew his book and printed it up and everything worked out fine. If you've got what it takes, the sooner you can get into the big leagues the better and flogging your POD book at conventions is a good way to find out how far from the big leagues you are.
Hope that answers your question and good luck!
If you get a chance, pick up CEREBUS 127 I think it is with the fold-out inside back cover of Cerebus on the Berlin Wall than "Thorn" did just before the Berlin Wall got torn down back in '89. They still have it on postcards over there.
Okay, sunset prayer time.
Thanks, JINXWORLD I'm out of here. COMICS BULLETIN tomorrow!