UPDATES & RANTS
First off we had the financing all set up only to see it all fall through because some idiot felt that I'd not been in my current day job long enough to warrant financial approval. Work wise I could get the time off, but without the funds then why bother? That was done after we'd been told it had all been approved and was set in place - hence we told people were coming, made plans etc etc and now that's gone for a burton. We're trying our hardest to get it all in place, but at this stage the stark truth is that it's going to fall through because we simply just can't afford it. No-one is more angry about it than I am - my first book and I won't see the launch. There's no funding for projects like these. Trust me, we've tried. Along the way we've been told that, at the age of 38 I'm too old, that we're not going to be considered because I've written about Americans, that I can't be considered because I've already finished the book. Every excuse under the sun has been given for why the various bodies that fund the Arts and writing here in both South Australia and Australia refuse to assist us in seeing our book launched. Having said that I'm open to corporate sponsorship and I'd be happy to wear whatever shirt or hat you want and place links all over the main site. Fire me an email and let's nut out a deal.
The Andru/Esposito book is weeks from appearing. It'll be ready in time for San Diego, so if you're in America then you'll probably see/own a copy before I do. Such is life. I signed off on it a while back and I'm now thinking of going back and doing a total re-write as I'm not happy with the end result and the format. Nothing new there. I'm never happy with my work and once it's done I can spend years picking away at it if given half the chance. Still, all in good time. The Mooney book has been picked up by TwoMorrows and I've been told it'll be published in February 2007. It's coming along a little too well - it's full of great stuff and some killer artwork. In between doing all of this I'm busily writing articles (both comic book and non-comic book related) and working a day job in order to get some steady cash in as writing pays me nothing. Part of the reason why I probably won't make SD is because I'm over $10,000 in the hole for the Andru/Esposito book and I'll be paying that off for a fair while to come. Thankfully the Mooney hasn't cost that much, both in lost time and artwork.
The biggest problem I was faced with the A&E book is the sheer number of people who appeared more than happy to rip me off for material - artwork and research alike. They must have figured that I needed the stuff and as such they took me to the cleaners. A classic example is this: A comic book professional had three Ross Andru pages from the '80s. There was nothing special about them but on the back of the pages were some pencil roughs/layouts. I asked if he'd be willing to scan the rear of the pages for the book and was told this, "No, but if you BUY the pages I'll scan them." So I bought the pages at a grossly inflated price, got them in and scanned them myself. Said professional then contacted me and said, "Seeing how you got the pages from me I think it's only fair that you send me five copies of the book and give me a credit." My reply was, "You can just f*ck off. I paid too much for the pages, but seeing how I BOUGHT them, well they're mine now." Then the professional quoted me to work on the books cover (not artwork, just colours) - $8,000. That was one person out of many. That's what I've had to deal with. A good number of people were kind with their time, efforts and products. The rest, well it's just extortion under another name.
Perhaps they figure that me being in Australia means I'm either backwards or far enough away that I won't, or can't, do anything about it. Now with the Mooney book I've learnt. If someone wants too much I just let it go and move on. I've gotten a fairly decent amount of Mooney items and thankfully all of his friends have been as generous with their time and research material/knowledge as Jim himself has been and continues to be. One email to Stan Lee and there's the intro. Same with most people. Some have demanded money/products in return and those people I'm just avoiding from now on. I can't afford to keep spending huge amounts of cash to do these projects, but I'll keep doing the projects. Hence the need for a day job.
The books have been a great journey for me and I don't regret writing them at all. In fact I want to do many more (if you know of an artist who wants a book done, or an article then drop me a line - I'm your guy!). If I had my time again I'd do things differently, but they've been a great learning experience in more ways than one. I'm now better suited to write these books, both as a writer and as a person. I like to think I've grown as a writer over the years and I've certainly become a lot more savvy when it comes to cutting deals - I'm happy to pay for stuff I want/need, but I'm not going to be gouged anymore. There's a huge list of people whom I should thank, people who've come along for the ride on both books, who've been more than generous with their time and knowledge. And, well, why not thank them? Why make this a totally negative post, full of bad news? The reality is it's not been a totally negative experience. After all I've gotten to speak to many artists and writers who I grew up admiring - and who I still admire - and I've made some life-long pals along the way.
In no order at all I'd like to thank the following, and when (if) you buy either book then direct your applause to the following, without whom these books just wouldn't be happening:
First up - Jim Mooney and Mike Esposito. Those two go without saying.
Will Murray - he's been there from day one of the Andru/Esposito book with suggestions, input, encouragement and well, he also suggested the title. Without Will I doubt I'd have finished the first book and I owe him a great debt of gratitude which is long overdue and which I'll start repaying this week.
For the Andru/Esposito book:
Bob McLeod, Alex Toth, Len Wein, Josef Rubinstein, Don Perlin, Dick Ayers, Neal Adams, Dick Giordano, Mark Evanier, Jim Mooney, Gene Colan, Michael T. Gilbert, Pat Bastienne, Peter David, Alex Saviuk, John Romita, Sal Buscema, Marty Thall, Murphy Anderson, Stan Goldberg, Nick Cuti, Dave Hunt, Jerry Bingham, Norm Breyfogle, Michael Dunne, Lyle Tucker, Jonathan Mankuta, Dusty Miller, D.D. Degg, Ger Apeldoorn, Joel Adams, Cary Burkett, Al Bigley, David Anthony Kraft, Hayley Timms, Chad Eglinton, John Morrow, Eric Nolen-Weathington, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez and Jim Amash.
Michael Netzer, Michael Eury, Tony Isabella, Roy Thomas and Marv Wolfman all went above and beyond. All five were part of the project from start to finish, all five contributed encouragement, assistance and their time and efforts freely along the way and those five are the lifeblood of the book.
For the Mooney book:
Stan Lee, Steve Gerber, Al Bigley, Mark Waid, Joe Sinnott, Bill Schelly, Gene Colan, Michael Eury, Richard Howell, John Romita, Fred Hembeck, Mark Evanier, Tony Isabella, Roy Thomas, Craig Shutt, Michael Netzer, Dr. Michael J. Vassallo, Norm Breyfogle, Bob Almond, Mark McKenna, Jim Tournas, Bill Black, Clifford Meth, Jim Reeber, Chad Eglinton, Ray Cuthbert, Ray Falcona, Jeff Sharpe, Louis Lachance. All of whom I contacted and mentioned the book and all of whom said similar things back, along the lines of, "For Jim? Anything you want, just name it!"
You'll notice some names are repeated - that's because some people are damn good guys. Chad Eglinton especially - he's donated time (and as such money) to edit both books for free. Without his efforts the books wouldn't read anywhere near as good as they do.
Not to mention my darling other half and the Kidlets. They've put up with me staying up late, working all weekends and generally being a pain in the arse. You guys are killers!
Perhaps I should do a name and shame section...hmmmm
So now you know. Unless a miracle happens, it's no San Diego for us this year. Hopefully next year.