The webcomics blog about webcomics

NYCC: A Talk With George

Couple of quick notes for you before we get to the main discussion today. One, I’m on Pacific Time this week (and with intermittent internet access), so expect less-timely-than-usual postings. Two, congrats to webcomicky types Darryl Cunningham and John Allison for their nominations in the British Comics Awards (for Best Book and Best Comic, respectively), to be presented in a month’s time at Thought Bubble Festival in Leeds. Also thanks to the BCAs for pointing me towards Josceline Fenton, nominated for Best Comic for Hemlock, a webcomic with which I was not previously familiar. Fenton is also nominated as Emerging Talent for broader body of work, which is going to bear some examination in the very near future.

Okay: George (it is the general policy of this blog to refer to people by their full names on first reference, and to prefer family name thereafter, with first name used to make thing read well, but really — “George” is the only way to name this fine gentleman).

He doesn’t make himself the center of attention, but he’s a significant guy in the world of web/indy comics. When he’s not scouting for talent and finding people for projects at Oni, he’s the behind-the-scenes make-things-happen guy in the Benign Kingdom, and may understand Kickstarter better than Kickstarter does (I believe he may have been involved in more campaigns than anybody else on the planet at this point). But apart from the day job, the Kingdom appears to be his major avenue for world domination right now, so that’s what we talked about. With the second B9 collection getting ready to ship, I wanted to find out what the future directions for the Kingdom might be.

First of all, I have to change the terminology I’ve been using, because “B9.5″ isn’t going to cut it much longer; it worked when there was an original book, then a second book, but plans are for two more artbook collections every year (Spring and Fall), so I’d be running out of decimals pretty quickly. Like the Fall 2012 collection, these new books will be:

  • collections of four artists
  • by invitation (please, no unsolicited submissions)
  • ongoing for the forseeable future

That last one is pretty important — the original four creators (Ota/Green/Dreistadt/Dahm) won’t be returning until 2014, which means that the intervening 18-24 months are already planned out and the respective details are already being worked out¹. George wouldn’t spill as to who the contributors to the 2013 books would be “until pen’s on paper”, but he was quite interested in knowing who I would want to see included. I dropped some names² on him, carefully looking for tells that I’d guessed correctly, but he gave away nothing.

More than just having a beautiful book of your best/favorite work, being in one of the biannual collections means that a creator is now “part of the Kingdom”, with the ability to do other projects that strike your fancy; the Kingdom means having a structure to arrange for the logistics of production and fulfillment, as well as serving as a guarantee of quality. As the number of projects from the Kingdom increases, expect to see an ever-wider audience that was not familiar with the creators in question³ to dominate the purchasing, based on a string of previous projects, each successful and full of positive feedback from backers.

These projects can be solo or in combination with other creators (George allowed that there will be an Exquisite Beast/Capture Creatures tandem project), and I can think of a few other projects that I’d love to see — I’ve mentioned more than once that Aaron Diaz should do an artbook of dinosaurs, and I all but begged Anthony Clark over the weekend to revive his collaboration with Emmy Cicierega, Laserpony Studios. Heck, while casually talking with Evan Dahm and Frank Gibson, we accidentally came up with an idea for a Kingdom book that would be awesome and unique and I’m not sure I should talk too much about it.

So there you are — the Kingdom is an ongoing concern, it will continue to expand as makes sense, it’s got a plan for convention appearances, and a store is on the way. The foundations are solid, in part because nothing (not even more Big Gay Ice Cream than you could eat in a lifetime) can distract George when he has a goal in mind. Also, never forget that he has the power to end the world, so let’s all make sure that he meets those goals — it’s safer for all concerned.

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¹ One of the key things to realize about George: the man pays attention and has a plan at all times. The first B9 collection shipped a month early, and the only reason the second isn’t going out early is that a quality issue made the first printing unacceptable, causing a delay to merely “at the time we promised”. George is ready to go to press the day the Kickstarter ends, because he’s planned for submissions and layout before he announces the project.

² In no particular order (and keeping in mind that the goal of B9 is to provide a channel for creators to do artbooks separate from their usual work, so creators already working in an artbook mode like Scott C don’t really need the Kingdom): Carly Monardo, Dylan Meconis, Ursula Vernon, Erika Moen, Vera Brosgol, Emily Carroll, Karl Kerschl, Cameron Stewart, and man oh man I’d kill to see a book of Randy Milholland’s watercolors. I have no idea who on that list would have the time/inclination, but there you go — more than enough people for 2013 and beyond.

³ This is already occurring. The first B9 collection had about 20% of the backers come from Kickstarter itself rather than from the established audiences of the creators; for the second collection, it was over 60% from people searching out KS projects to back.

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