I dropped off ‘A Long Forgotten Fairytale’ at the printer on Friday. I started this book almost 3 years ago, so it’s very strange to know that the life of the book, in terms of creating it, is almost over it. Soon people will read it and I really want to know what people think of it. I have never second guessed myself about anything more in my life than this book.
Anyway, when I left the printer the other day, I remembered picking up the first Uptown Girl graphic novel ‘Big City Secrets’ in 2011 and I was so excited. It looked so good, so much better than I had expected, and much better than what I was doing before. It looked like how I always wanted Uptown Girl to look. The comic finally looked good enough to submit to real publishers.
When Uptown Girl was a monthly comic book, I submitted it to a couple publishers. This was early on in the series when the art was even worse than it was at the end of the series. I’m being unfair to the younger me, but even then I knew the art could be better. A monthly schedule and a full time job makes it hard to give the comic the attention I wanted to give it. Which is why I moved to original graphic novels. The idea was to take my time with the art and submit the book to publishers with the goal of it getting out there and maybe, maybe make a career out of comics.
Looking at the finished copy of the book, standing in the parking lot all those years ago, I felt I was at my peak. This was the best I could do. I still feel that way. If this wasn’t good enough, well, I had tried my best. I honestly felt that. Still do.
I set aside a handful of the book to send to publishers. The thing about ‘Uptown Girl’ is that it doesn’t really…fit in anywhere. It’s not a superhero comic, so that eliminates a few options. The comic isn’t a horror comic, or based off a license, and doesn’t have swearing in it. The swearing thing surprised me. What I heard from one publisher was that they don’t publish comics for kids. If Uptown Girl dropped the occasional f-bomb, well, then things would be different I suppose. I don’t look at the comic as a kids’ comic, it’s simply a comic anyone can read. Another publisher said it was a girl comic, and girl comics don’t sell. I know, right? There was an editor who raved about Uptown Girl and really, really liked it, but passed on it because it didn’t fit in with the rest of their titles. The feedback that I got from the other publishers were encouraging, they liked the art, the characters, whatever, but at the end of the day, the didn’t feel they could sell it.
Over the next two years, I had tried the publishers that I thought would be the best match, but even then, I didn’t think Uptown Girl didn’t fit in anywhere. The publishers agreed with me. It’s not off beat enough for Slave labor, not different enough for Top Shelf, not…I don’t know what for Image.
I would love to find a publisher for Uptown Girl. But I don’t see that happening. When the comic started, it was a labor of love. It is once again. With each book, I lose money with every copy I sell. I start to make money on second and third printings but that takes a while. If I was doing this to make money, I would’ve quit a long time ago.
One might think I have become a pessimistic bitter man, but I haven’t. I made the best book that I could, sent it to publishers and, well, I am not saying I’ve given up, but I know that the chance of finding a publisher is pretty slim. But you know? When ‘A Long Forgotten Fairytale’ arrives in that big brown box in a couple weeks, all those ambitions and dreams will come back, and I’ll think that maybe, just maybe this book has a chance…