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Showing posts with label comixology. Show all posts
Showing posts with label comixology. Show all posts

Wolf’s Head on Kindle


Coverage Montage of Wolf's Head digital comicsAs many are no doubt aware, Amazon’s ComiXology app has been integrated into Amazon’s Kindle app. This has created a surprising number of headaches for regular users of the ComiXology app and it’s difficult to know exactly how this will play out. For now, there’s been quite a bit of coverage of the problems this transfer has entailed (here and here, for example).


Technically speaking, I submitted my titles to ComiXology through their Submit program (aka “ComiXology Submit”). With this option eliminated, all previous ComiXology Submit titles needed to be uploaded to Kindle via Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing platform. When this move was first announced, I scrambled to convert my titles to Kindle format. I’m pleased to say that this went pretty smoothly and all of my titles that were previously available through ComiXology are available for digital reading using the Kindle app. No problems there.



The one problem I can’t resolve is Amazon’s curious decision (well, curious to me, at any rate) to discontinue subscriptions to a series for all non-Americans. For my ongoing series WOLF’S HEAD, this is a thorny issue and one I can’t solve on my own. The Amazon.com Kindle Store page for WOLF’S HEAD (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08MTGCS49) does not offer a subscription option that I can see; of course, I’m Canadian and I’m probably “geo-locked” out of any subscription option that might otherwise be available to American users. For Canadians, the Amazon.ca Kindle Store page for WOLF'S HEAD (https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B08MTGCS49) clearly doesn't offer any subscriptions options at all.

I’m hoping that a subscription option will be made available for digital comics worldwide, but as of this writing I have no idea if that’s even being considered let alone knowing what a potential timeline would be. See? Irritating, right?

The other significant issue is “discoverability.” Lower profile creators (ahem, like yours truly) are not easy to find. Searching the Kindle Store is a frustrating experience. That’s also true for the new ComiXology “store” page. How that will effect lesser known and/or indy creators is anyone’s guess, but I suspect the results will not be positive. Again, irritating.



Coverage Montage of Wolf's Head digital comicsGiven this situation, here’s what I can suggest:

  1. If you enjoy my comics and want to show support, then please consider purchasing the digital versions of my titles (WOLF’S HEAD can be found at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08MTGCS49,  WIZARDS FOR HIRE — CHEAP! can be found at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B089QXBYY9 and STORIES! 2015 TO 2019 can be found at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B089QX5LJC).

    I put a lot of effort into converting these to read very smoothly on digital devices (tablets and cell phones) and I’m very pleased with how they turned out. One drawback to losing ComiXology Submit was they themselves created the Guided View technology that allowed for panel-to-panel viewing. This now needs to be created by individual publishers using Kindle Create, Amazon’s software for creating ebooks of any format. I think I did a pretty good job and hopefully you’ll agree.

  2. For those who prefer print editions, then the first hardcover of WOLF’S HEAD (collecting issues 1 through 6 of the digital series) can be found at https://www.amazon.com/dp/1989885179/. And my hardcover collection of short stories LOVE, LAUGHTER, AND LOSS (which contains both WIZARDS FOR HIRE — CHEAP! and STORIES! 2015 TO 2019) is available at https://www.amazon.com/dp/1989885160.

    And, of course, both hardcovers are also readily available through bookstores and comic book shops worldwide. If your local store happens to be out, then these can easily be ordered by the store. Ordering times are pretty quick. Both hardcovers look beautiful in print, too. Really, really sharp. If you’d like to see some evidence of that claim, then please visit https://www.vonallan.com/2021/12/wolfs-head-book-1-in-hardcover-worldwide.html and https://www.vonallan.com/2021/05/Love-Laughter-Loss-Comics-Collection-by-Von-Allan.html).

    Also, there have been some really lovely reviews! For example, Frank Plowright over at The Slings & Arrows Graphic Novel Guide has reviewed both (here and here).


Okay! This describes the current situation, at least from my point of view. How long it will remain this way is anybody’s guess. For my purposes, regaining subscription options for non-Americans is a key goal. In the meantime, you can obviously purchase individual digital issues easily enough. And if you’d like to keep on top of future releases, there’s always the handy-dandy RSS feed for this site (https://feeds.feedburner.com/Von_Allan_Homepage) as well as the dedicated WOLF’S HEAD “mini-site” (https://feeds.feedburner.com/Wolfs-Head).

Coverage Montage of Wolf's Head digital comics


WOLF'S HEAD on Kindle with Guided View


As many of you probably know, ComiXology announced their recent decision to discontinue their ComiXology Submit program. As of September 15th, 2021, publishers are no longer allowed to publish their titles through ComiXology Submit. As I write this, titles published prior to September 15th are still available, but my understanding is that the ability to purchase any of these titles will eventually be “turned off” sometime during the fall. Exactly when that will occur is anyone’s guess.



For me, this was an unfortunate but not unexpected turn of events. One of the problems with ComiXology Submit is that titles available on that platform are not “discoverable” on Amazon. In other words, readers already keen on comics and already using ComiXology were fine. Other readers— perhaps not diehard comic book fans but those who still read comics — would not be able to easily find digital comics. In a sense, ComiXology was a “closed ecosystem,” appealing to current fans but not proactively cultivating new readers. Maybe.



There was always a bit of a weird schism between fans of digital reading in general (often using Amazon’s various Kindle devices and/or using Amazon’s Kindle app) and fans of digital reading through ComiXology. In my experience (and it’s just that: my experience), digital readers struggled to find comics on Amazon’s main website. Using my own digital comics as an example, if you searched for “Von Allan” or “Von Allan Studio” on Amazon prior to 2020, you would only find my print comics and graphic novels. None of my digital comics would be found at all. Based on that — as well as some conversations with my wife — I made the decision in late 2019 to begin jointly publishing my digital comics on Kindle as well as ComiXology, via Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) platform.



At the time, I was using Amazon’s KDP software “Kindle Comic Creator” to create the Kindle versions of my comics. This was inferior to ComiXology’s versions, mainly because the KDP software required a lower maximum resolution. And, of course, with comics the art does matter. It was frustrating, but at the time I wasn’t aware of any workarounds.



Fast-forwarding to today and given ComiXology’s decision to end their Submit program, I’ve spent the last couple of weeks reformatting all of my digital comics using the newer KDP software “Kindle Create.” This new software matches ComiXology — at least the files I had submitted to ComiXology —  and are also set up for Guided View. In other words, the Kindle versions of my work look just as sharp as those on ComiXology, something I’ve wanted for quite some time.



Since ComiXology Submit will eventually disappear, the Kindle versions of my work will be the only digital versions available through Amazon. As ComiXology themselves noted, “In the coming months, the Kindle Store will replace www.comixology.com as the primary avenue for fans to purchase new comic content.” Not knowing exactly when this will occur is frustrating and was a big part of why I decided to go ahead and make the changes now. I suspect other publishers are doing the same thing.



So, if you’re a fan of independent digital comics (“indy digital”? “indydigy”?!), Kindle is a great way to go. And with that in mind, here are links to all of the current issues of WOLF’S HEAD on Kindle. I’m thrilled with how great they look and the Guided View works extremely well.



Give them a shot, won’t you?



Wolf's Head Issue 1 cover by Von Allan     Wolf's Head Issue 2 cover by Von Allan     Wolf's Head Issue 3 cover by Von Allan     Wolf's Head Issue 4 cover by Von Allan
Amazon shop button     Amazon shop button     Amazon shop button     Amazon shop button

Wolf's Head Issue 5 cover by Von Allan     Wolf's Head Issue 6 cover by Von Allan     Wolf's Head Issue 7 cover by Von Allan     Wolf's Head Issue 8 cover by Von Allan
Amazon shop button     Amazon shop button     Amazon shop button     Amazon shop button

Wolf's Head Issue 9 cover by Von Allan     Wolf's Head Issue 10 cover by Von Allan     Wolf's Head Issue 11 cover by Von Allan     Wolf's Head Issue 12 cover by Von Allan
Amazon shop button     Amazon shop button     Amazon shop button     Amazon shop button

Wolf's Head Issue 13 cover by Von Allan     Wolf's Head Issue 14 cover by Von Allan     Wolf's Head Issue 15 cover by Von Allan     Wolf's Head Issue 16 cover by Von Allan
Amazon shop button     Amazon shop button     Amazon shop button     Amazon shop button

Wolf's Head Issue 15 on Kindle


Teaser image for Wolf's Head issue 15 on Kindle
First, the elevator pitch: “Lauren Greene has left Alaska in an old VW Bus, headed for Detroit with her dog Sankó and the young artificial intelligence they’ve befriended. Hoping that her return to Michigan will finally secure the AI’s safety, Lauren is shocked to discover that she’s being tailed. Mustering up her courage, Lauren challenges the ‘tailers,’ only to uncover a far greater danger to both her and the AI.”

This issue can be found at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09GHFZTB8; as always, if you’re living somewhere aside from the United States, simply change the domain to reflect where you live. For example, I’m in Canada, so I just need to replace the “dot com” with “dot ca”; in other words, the link becomes https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B09GHFZTB8! Easy!

I truly love issues like this. Why? Well, last issue resolved a lot of the action and intrigue that Lauren Greene was experiencing in the mysterious town called Flat City in Alaska. This issue picks up some time later and spins the story in a different — and hopefully fun! — direction. Not out of the blue or out of character or anything like that, but taking the logic of the previous issues and continuing to build both the world and the characters. That’s something I find incredibly rewarding… and damn exciting, too!

My feeling is that if I’m excited, that will be something that the reader will pick up on, too. I hope so, anyway! Doing the research on this issue was also a great deal of fun; while I know a number of people from the north, I have never been to Alaska myself. To do it properly takes some research and adds, I think, a certain “verisimilitude” to the story. I actually learned a few things, which is part of the fun of doing research.

One of the inspirations of this issue is the just unbelievable artwork of Hasui Kawase (川瀬 巴水, born May 18, 1883 and died November 7, 1957). If you’re not familiar with him, Wikimedia Commons has a decent collection of his artwork online. Take a peek and I think that you, too, will be blown away. See if you can spot his influence in this issue of WOLF’S HEAD — it shouldn’t be hard!

Wolf's Head Issue 14 on Kindle


Teaser image for Wolf's Head issue 14 on Kindle
Teaser image for the third story arc of Wolf's Head on Kindle
This is a big one! With this issue, we close the book on the third story arc of WOLF’S HEAD. That actually kinda blows my mind; when I was initially brainstorming the series, I had no idea it would ever get this far. Nor did I have any of this fully planned out. One of the wonders of episodic storytelling is just this: seeing where and how the story takes you. And often being delighted in the unexpected directions it goes!

This issue also features some special guest stars! Chuck Freight (of course!), but also Maggie Vraic, Fang Ting Him, and the effusive Foolbert Bong! What?! YES! I had a blast writing and drawing them and I dearly hope you enjoy getting to know them, too!

This issue also marks the end of the third story arc in WOLF’S HEAD, which is pretty remarkable from where I sit. It is amazing to think back to that very first issue and compare where Lauren, Sankō, and the AI are now to where they were back then. It is one of the things I love the most about comics; that notion of real change, of issues building on what came before, and leading into new directions. I won’t lie; it’s a lot of work and often very challenging to do, but it is truly rewarding. I hope feel the same way, too!

As always, here’s the pitch: “During an attempt to rescue a group of people who disappeared into an abandoned gold mine, Lauren Greene broke her arm… and still couldn’t find them at all. Lauren is now faced with pain, bills, and the pesky fact that the people she was looking for are still lost. If there’s any hope of finding them, Lauren has to learn to ask for help. But trusting others is the one thing that is not easy for her. With time running out, will Lauren enter the mine alone? Or can she get over her issues, find a team to go back into the mine, and face danger… together?”

And, of course, here are the usual links:

And don’t forget that the series page can be found at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08MTGCS49; and you can just change the “dot com” part of the url with your specific top-level domain. In Germany, changing the “dot com” to “dot de” means that the series can be found at https://www.amazon.de/dp/B08MTGCS49. See? Easy!

Lastly, issues 11 through 14 of WOLF’S HEAD form the third story arc of the series! Loads of great characters, tons of real change, boatloads of drama, a great deal of fun… plus, as always, a little bit of heartache, too. If you love the series and know someone who likes great comics, please consider sharing that love along!

Wolf's Head Issue 13 on Kindle


Teaser image for Wolf's Head issue 13 on Kindle
This issue is slightly bitter sweet. Why? Well, on the one hand I’m extremely proud of how it turned out. It’s a terrific issue, featuring some fairly terrifying elements and (if I do say so myself) some neat storytelling twists. However, it’s also the last issue that will be collected into trade paperback format. As many of you know, the way WOLF’S HEAD was serialized in print was a bit of a problem. The idea was simple; collected two digital issues into one approximately 60-page book, give it an ISBN, and get it into bookstores (probably a stretch), online retailers like Amazon (much easier), as well as Diamond so the series would get into comic book stores. It was that last point that proved such a massive headache and I’m still not sure why. I’ve written a much longer piece that goes into some of the “ins and outs” of this situation, but suffice to say it was (and is) pretty discouraging.

However, with a negative often comes a positive. In this case, there are two. First, the digital series will certainly continue! Awesome! Secondly, I’ll be moving the series into hardcover format very shortly. The first WOLF’S HEAD hardcover will collect the first six digital issues — the first story arc — and be about 170 pages in length. Other hardcovers will follow that. This means that readers will get a beautiful hardbound graphic novel!

What about this issue? Here’s the quick pitch: “While hiding in Alaska with her rescued Artificial Intelligence and dog, Lauren Greene has been pulled into a desperate search for a group of locals who’ve disappeared into an abandoned government complex. With no help from the police — and afraid that asking anyone else for assistance would risk revealing the AI to the people hunting it — Lauren chooses to return to the mysterious complex and search alone, despite the mysteries and terror she knows await her there.”

This issue can be found at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09FWD2Z8W; if you’re living somewhere aside from the United States, all you need to do is change the domain to reflect where you live. If you live in Germany, just replace the “dot com” with “dot de”; in other words, the link becomes https://www.amazon.de/dp/B09FWD2Z8W! The same idea works for the series page. On Amazon.com, it’s https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08MTGCS49. In Germany, it would be https://www.amazon.de/dp/B08MTGCS49.

Wolf's Head in Print and Digital Formats


I just wanted to take a moment and point out that the WOLF'S HEAD mini-site (https://wolfs-head.vonallan.com/) is slowly but surely building out. While I would like to include more content, there is quite a bit there already and more is still to come. So you haven't taken a peek, please do.

I'm currently hard at work on issue 13 (about halfway through illustrating it as I type this). For those who read my previous update on the state of WOLF'S HEAD, not too much has changed. However, one thing I did want to add to it is the great community support I receive here in Vanier (for those who don't know, I live in Ottawa, Ontario and Vanier is a large neighbourhood inside it). The support from Vanier has been wonderful; not just from my neighbours, but from people in the broader community, too. Given the pandemic times we live in, it has been a key part in keeping my spirits up. That spirit or "joie de vivre" is really something to see.

In addition, I also wanted to take a moment and briefly touch on serialized storytelling. While I love the medium of comics in any form, there is something about serialization—the way story after story becomes more than the sum of its parts—that I truly love. One of the great joys I've found in WOLF'S HEAD is exactly that. And that means the story has taken me in directions I wasn't expecting. It also means that it's continued to delight and surprise me as I start writing each issue.

Eventually, WOLF'S HEAD will be collected into hardcover editions—this is something I've wanted to do right from the beginning—that will enable individual issues to be collected into a thematic unit (kinda like what a season of a TV series feels like on DVD or Blu-Ray). I've been very pleased, despite all of the difficulties I've faced, in presenting the series in a serialized format first.

The current storyline has also allowed me to explore horror and that's been something I've been wanting to do for quite some time. Andrea Subissati from RUE MORGUE did a great video that explored a definition of horror that I find pretty useful. And fun! And it's been a great deal of fun to take Lauren, the current star of WOLF'S HEAD, from an action/adventure-style series and move her into a more horror-style tale.

See? That's what I love about serialization. You can do things like that with it. You can play with tone, with theme, with style. And by exploring these things you can also push the characters into different and unexpected directions. And push and explore yourself, too. I find that incredibly exciting. There's no formula. There's no "story engine." There's just questions… and the answers help to shape and form the narrative.

That's fun! That's what good serialization can bring to the table. What happens next? Let's find out together!

Teaser featuring issues 11 and 12 of Wolf's Head on ComiXology and Amazon Kindle

Wolf's Head Issue 6 by Von Allan

The State of WOLF'S HEAD


Teaser image for Wolf's Head on KindleWhew, boy, what a tough couple of months. While there has been some joy (receiving the City of Ottawa grant and being shortlisted for the Peter Honeywell award being the best), for the most part it has been one helluva frustrating slog. I’m going to do my best to outline what the current situation is, mainly to help solidify my own thoughts on what’s gone wrong. Or, to put it another way, what hasn’t?

To put it bluntly, sales are not good. Worse, every attempt I’ve made to mitigate that has failed. What’s discouraging for me is that I clearly have no fan-base. How do I know that? Well, sales (both in print and digital) are the biggest example. Sales are extremely poor and are not getting better. In fact, they are getting progressively worse. In different circumstances, that would be enough to shut the series down. In fact, I have done exactly that in the past (specifically with my previous graphic novel series STARGAZER, ended after two volumes, and with the digital-only series METAL GODS, ended after four issues).

What makes WOLF’S HEAD different from those two? The biggest difference is that WOLF’S HEAD has never reached the Direct Market and, as a result, has been cut off from its largest potential audience: comic book fans. Mixed in with that are the aforementioned awards and grants; these have been especially important in teaching me that WOLF’S HEAD does have merit in certain (local) art circles, but there’s a “circuit break” between that and the larger comics community world-wide.

In fact, one of the biggest examples I could point to in terms of specific my role with in the comics community is the utter lack of media coverage and interest in my work. Not just with WOLF’S HEAD and not just recently; a significant disappointment to me was when the documentary film I’m in (titled I AM STILL YOUR CHILD) received no traction whatsoever with comics media. If the film had been covered, then more people might have been introduced to both me and my work. I had partially launched WOLF’S HEAD with exactly this in mind: maybe my role in the film would help galvanize interest and awareness in the series. Since that didn’t happen, WOLF’S HEAD did not receive the momentum from the film that I hoped it would.



Diamond and the Direct Market

Teaser image of Lauren Greene, the main character from Wolf's Head, on KindleTeaser image of various scenes from Wolf's Head on KindleThis has been difficult for me to place, mainly because getting a direct answer from Diamond Comic Distributors has been so difficult. For those who don’t know, Diamond is the largest distributor of comic books in North America and Great Britain and they also distribute comics and related merchandise throughout the world. Prior to 2020, they were a de facto monopoly in the world of comics; however, with DC Comics breaking from Diamond in early June 2020, the monopoly label is harder to apply. Diamond was also a de facto monopsony; though that, given DC’s departure, is harder to apply, too.

For a small press like Von Allan Studio (that’s me, folks), Diamond plays a critical role in facilitating sales of comics and graphic novels to comic book stores. Fortunately, I have an account in good standing with Diamond; in fact, STARGAZER was distributed into the Direct Market (under Item Numbers NOV101057 and AUG111259) through Diamond a decade ago. Unfortunately, my amazing sales rep departed the company and his replacement has been fairly problematic. This is key: while Diamond never outright rejected WOLF’S HEAD, they’ve never accepted the series, either. In other words, WOLF’S HEAD exists in a sort of limbo for the past few years.

That has been dismaying for a few reasons:
  1. WOLF’S HEAD is a far stronger work than STARGAZER and it remains baffling to me why the latter was accepted for distribution while the former hasn’t been.

  2. “Limbo” also means that WOLF’S HEAD could be accepted for distribution with Diamond tomorrow… or never.

  3. The specific format of the print versions of WOLF’S HEAD was a result of attempting to meet Diamond’s specifications.

    While I don’t want to stray too far into the weeds here, the basic process works like this: once Diamond has agreed to take on a title for distribution, each issue/volume has to maintain a minimum sales threshold or risk cancellation. That threshold is based on total dollars; so selling 1,000 copies of issue 1 of a $2.99 US series results in a total dollar amount of $2,990.00, but selling 600 copies of issue 1 of a $9.99 US series results in $5,994.00! But that requires a print format that justifies the higher cover price. To do just that, I went with a trade paperback trim size and approximately 60 pages of content per issue for WOLF’S HEAD. I felt that this would give the series the best chance of meeting Diamond’s benchmarks while still giving readers a terrific experience.
Now, if Diamond had formally declined distributing WOLF’S HEAD, then I would have went in a very different direction with the print version of the series. Since I was in “limbo,” however, I decided to go ahead with it, hoping that, as the series progressed, Diamond would get on board and distribute the series. Sadly, that has never happened, leaving me with a print format that I’m not particularly happy with.

I did manage to get a few Canadian stores to pick up the series. But a combination of the pandemic (see below) and bad luck have basically ended that experiment. The store that did the best with the series was Librairie Astro in Montreal. Sadly, they closed in the summer of 2018 and I lost one of my biggest advocates. Strange Adventures in Halifax was carrying the series, but has apparently stopped. I say ‘apparently’ because I’m not exactly sure what happened; I suspect the audience simply never developed for the series.

What format would I be happy with? Well, either a saddle-stitched periodical series (i.e.: ye olde 32 page comic) or, better, a beautifully produced hardcover series that collected each story arc.

As it stands, I suspect the next release of WOLF’S HEAD (issue 7) will be the last with this 60 page format.













Comics Media

Teaser image of Sanko the dog and his best friend. Both star in Wolf's Head on KindleTeaser image featuring the first six cover of Wolf's Head on KindleWithout Diamond distributing the series, gaining media attention for WOLF’S HEAD from “comics media” (for lack of a better phrase) has been problematic. Some of this is understandable; a lot of comics media supports the Direct Market and are very plugged into Diamond’s distribution cycle. WOLF’S HEAD lack of distribution with Diamond falls outside of this purview and, as a result, few media outlets have been interested in discussing the series.

What’s been frustrating to me is that WOLF’S HEAD is broadly distributed. Finding the series is not difficult for either readers or retailers, primarily because WOLF’S HEAD has world-wide distribution through Ingram. This also means that the series is easy to find at online at retailers like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Chapters/Indigo, Waterstones, and so on. However, from the point of view of “comics media,” this isn’t enough. Worse, this lack of distribution from Diamond has also disqualified WOLF’S HEAD from the Joe Shuster Canadian Comic Book Creator Awards (while I’m not positive on this score, I believe that the “Shusters” require distribution through Diamond for eligibility).

More importantly, the lack of media attention has meant that the series is pretty much unknown with the audience I need the most: comic book fans. Especially comic book fans who like independent or alternative comics (or “comix”). It is very hard to grow a series if your key demographic doesn’t know you exist.

Comics Media are also tricky to talk about because there’s a split in what and who receives coverage. More mainstream sites like Comic Book Resources or Bleeding Cool tend to focus on corporate intellectual property. This means titles from Marvel, DC, as well as licensed properties. Sites like The Comics Journal focus on more literary titles. Unfortunately, either due to the lack of distribution from Diamond or other reasons, I’m persona non grata with both. And that’s certainly not for lack of trying on my end.

The knock-on effects of all this is problematic. As a simple example, there is now a great deal of scholarship being conducted on comics with some truly fascinating insights from some remarkable scholars. Unfortunately, comics scholars aren’t, as far as I can tell, aware of my work. Or even aware of me, for that matter. A second example are librarians. Librarians have become key advocates of comics, but I’ve never managed to gain library support for WOLF’S HEAD outside of my own local Public Library. WorldCat certainly illustrates this plainly.

This is disappointing because my work has been in libraries in the past, but without awareness of the series it would be difficult for a librarian to justify the purchase of the series, especially given the times of austerity we’ve been experiencing for the past twelve years.

COVID-19

The pandemic has effected everyone. In the face of the death toll (it boggles my mind that 200,000 people have died in the United States alone and we’re not that far from 1,000,000 dead throughout the world), it’s a bit hard to think of anything else, but there have been knock-on effects for everyone, even those who haven’t directly been hit by the virus itself.

Obviously declining retail sales are a significant example. The effects are more horrifying when you think about food scarcity, layoffs, evictions, and the like. Yes, it could certainly be worse; in fact, I’d argue that one of reasons that COVID-19 has not been as horrific as, say, the 1918-19 Influenza pandemic is that there are still enough social programs by various levels of government to help prevent the situation from spiraling out control. Plus science has a far greater understanding of how pandemics spread than it did back in 1918-19. Still, the official governmental responses has been problematic (really? 200,000 dead in the US?) and we are clearly not out of the woods yet.

Since art tends to be a discretionary purchase, in the face of the global pandemic my print sales have declined. Not that sales were robust before 2020, but the pandemic has destroyed them. While book sales in general slumped when the initial lockdowns occurred, there seems to be some evidence that book sales are now stronger, at least in some markets. Unfortunately, this has not led to any sales growth for WOLF’S HEAD or any of my other backlist, though this is not surprising given what I’ve outlined above.

Digital Comics

Teaser image of Wolf's Head issue 6 on KindleTeaser image of Wolf's Head issue 17 on KindleWhat about digital sales? WOLF’S HEAD is available on both ComiXology and Kindle and released in periodical format (i.e.: approximately 30 pages) for $1.99 US each. This format has not led to strong sales. In fact, sales have been very weak. Kindle is almost a non-starter; while it doesn’t take too much work to format titles for Kindle (using the Kindle Comic Creator software), I’ve only had a handful of sales in this format. My ComiXology sales have been marginally better, but ComiXology (and Kindle, for that matter) really require reader awareness and interest when seeking out titles. What do I mean?

Well, there’s a conundrum with digital discovery that I don’t think has been solved yet. In a ‘brick and mortar’ environment, people can stumble across titles that they might not have known about simply because they are on a shelf, let alone activism from a passionate sales staff. While COVID-19 has obviously effected the ability of people to enter into retail stores of all types, this is still a key element of what makes ‘brick and mortar’ stores so compelling. Wander in, stumble across something interesting, buy it, and try it. With digital comics, it would appear that you really need to know what you’re looking for. I realize that digital does allow some degree of browsing, but (at least from my point of view and experience), this doesn’t seem to work all that well in practice.

As a result, my digital sales have been very poor. What I find interesting about this is that my 2020 experiences with Kindle and ComiXology mirror my 2014 experiences with ComiXology and my series METAL GODS. Things really haven’t changed all that much at all.

Where Things Are At

As disappointing as this has been, the good news is that the comics art grant from the City of Ottawa has helped mitigate some of the damage detailed above. In fact, if it was not for the art grant and the Peter Honeywell award shortlist, I suspect I would cancel WOLF’S HEAD immediately. As it stands, WOLF’S HEAD will continue, at least through the current story arc, and then I’ll revisit in 2021.

Self-publishing is hard. Frankly, I’ve never wanted to do it, not because I’m against self-publishing per se, but because of the immense amount of work involved in doing it. Hell, I already wear all the hats (writing, art, production, etc…). Adding “publisher” to that list is a bridge too far. I badly need a publisher. I badly need an agent, too.

With WOLF’S HEAD, it’s hard to know how things will go. My efforts to find a publisher for the series will continue, though that is one helluva slog right now (my jealousy of authors with formal publishing contracts knows no bounds!). For the short term, this means that WOLF’S HEAD will probably be turned into a webcomic.

Webcomics actually terrify me. While once-upon-a-time I did do a webcomic through Girlamatic (THE ROAD TO GOD KNOWS...), that was both a long time ago and with a group of allies. Doing it alone is scary. And WOLF’S HEAD was never designed to be a webcomic; I’m leery of how transitioning the series to that format will work in practice. At the same time, I know that a WOLF’S HEAD webcomic might be the best (only?) chance that the series has to find a real audience.

To paraphrase one of my favourite movies, “art is a cruel mistress, but she is her own reward.” Easier said then done. I don’t like writing and drawing in a vacuum. While I’ve never minded the solitary nature of the craft, my stories are meant to be read. I’ve never wanted to make ‘outsider art’ that few if anyone reads. My goal was never to ‘hermetically seal’ my work from the world at large, either.

It’s not a fun feeling to be where I’m at, struggling to find an audience and struggling to make a living at it. Solutions are difficult to find. And the loss I’ve been feeling is difficult to place. Given the state of the world (not just with COVID-19 but with the wildfires in California and Oregon, the explosion in Beirut, and so on), there’s a lot to be thankful for. There really is. Art and writing bring me a great deal of joy, not to mention the fact that I’ve grown a great deal as an artist.

I’m extremely proud of WOLF’S HEAD, despite the terrible sales and lack of awareness that it even exists. I think it’s some of the best work I’ve ever done. And it’s been a joyful experience, too.

It would just be truly awesome to be able to share that joy with readers.

Wolf's Head Issue 12 on Kindle


Teaser image for Wolf's Head issue 12 on Kindle
This issue was both a great deal of fun and one helluva challenge to write and draw. Why? Well, so far at least, WOLF’S HEAD has had a lot of action, adventure, emotion, and drama. And while there have been terrifying moments (including when Patty, Lauren’s mom, died), there hasn’t been any horror. This issue does. And that’s pretty special.

Wait, why special? Well, one of my convictions about comics — as a medium — is that any type of story can be told. This was, once upon a time, a contentious argument. There were those people in North America who felt that comics told simple stories mainly aimed at young children… and that was the end of it. Case closed. Hah! While obviously a stereotype and not a particularly sophisticated one at that, the past few decades how clearly showed that this is not the case. Comics are a medium and thus can use genre to tell any type of story.

For WOLF’S HEAD, I’ve long wanted to explore horror. And, for me, that means character-based horror. Something that terrifies Lauren, the main character in WOLF’S HEAD, as well as the reader. That is not such an easy thing to do. I debated a lot on how to do this and how to make it work. Plus a lot of research, too. Andrea Subissati over at RUE MORGUE came up with a definition that I quite like: “Horror is any art that aims to recreate an extreme feeling of repugnance and fear by usually—but not always—using elements of violence and/or the supernatural. So how does horror, as an art form, accomplish this recreation of physiological responses and what might that look like? Well, that’s going to be the hardest part to explain to an alien because really that’s the most exciting part of being a horror fan. There are so many ways to do it and content creators are finding new ways to freak us out all the time. That’s part of what makes the genre so rich.”

Did I do a good job? I hope so. As always, you’ll have to tell me!

Oh, the elevator pitch: “Faced with the disappearance of a homeless man named Billy, Lauren Greene correctly guesses that he went inside Alaska’s mysterious and abandoned Safeguard Missile Complex. While searching deep inside the Complex for Billy, Lauren stumbles across an abandoned goldmine… and is confronted by a nightmarish creature that can’t possibly exist.”

This issue can be found on:

Wolf's Head Issue 11 on Kindle


Teaser image for Wolf's Head issue 11 on Kindle

Eleven issues? Who would have ‘thunk’ it? Not me! When I was first brainstorming what would become WOLF’S HEAD, I had the first six issues roughly locked down. I had some loose ideas for what could come next, but these weren’t ‘firmed up’ plans. Of course, many of these did find their way into issues 7 through 10. That, however, was that. I had nothing written for what came after those loose plans.

Scary? A little. Exciting? You bet! That’s one of the great joys in storytelling, regardless of the medium. Letting the story take you in different, unexpected, and weird directions. There is a great deal of fun to be had in that. Not to mention some nervous moments, too. I always feel like I’m juggling raw eggs; not only might they all tumble down on top of me at any moment, but I’ll have literal (ahem… if you’ll excuse the metaphor) egg on my face, too.

I’m very pleased to say, though, that I love how this issue turned out. The first ten issues were set in Detroit, Michigan and I tried very hard to root those issues in place. This issue the story changes focus entirely to Alaska. And that means new situations, new challenges, and new characters. The reasons for the move, hinted at last issue, was something that Lauren decided to do deliberately. Will it work out for her? Time will tell. That’s fun, too! Join me, won’t you?

The quick pitch: “Lauren Greene, her dog Sankō, and the young artificial intelligence she recently befriended have left Detroit and have ventured north to Flat City, Alaska. As Lauren attempts to restart her life, she’s confronted with the frustrations of trying to make ends meet in a tough economy. At the same time, she’s forced to keep a very low profile in order to safe guard the artificial intelligence from the grasp of the people who want it back… at any cost.”

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Wolf's Head by Von Allan

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