Having worked with the nonprofit Prism Comics for years now, I’ve learned to hold my tongue and try to act constructively, even when all I want to do is cut loose. Sure, it’s not as satisfying as stomping my feet and wailing, but 90% of the time that just makes the problem worse.
The heart of the matter is the challenge of reaching the audience for The Mark of Aeacus.
Mark and I had originally planned to self-publish MoA, or to approach a small publisher who wouldn’t be scared off by the strong sexual content. When I showed the finished book to Patrick Fillion at Class Comics, I wasn’t sure they would go for it, since it’s downright tame compared to their other offerings, but Patrick said they were very interested. Class got it solicited in record time and the first installment hit store shelves back at the end of 2007.
From the beginning, I knew that since this would be a different book from the other ones Class publishes, it would be tricky to market. (I even thought they would have to start a “non-explicit” imprint to really make the point that it was a new animal altogether. What a turnabout that would have been!)
For the past two years, I’ve been pushing MoA up and down the west coast, appearing at Comic-Con, WonderCon, APE, Emerald City, trying to connect with readers, while Class has working hard on distribution channels and new media options.
And though we’ve gotten a good reception from a core group of readers, it’s frankly been a struggle.
On top of that, pulling together the second issue proved more challenging than Mark or I expected, which has slowed the book’s momentum even more. I recently did WonderCon and Emerald City Comic Con, but armed with the same book I’d brought a year ago, it was hard to keep my energy up.
But over the past few months, we’ve really gotten on the ball. Meetings have happened, pages have taken shape, and we’ve only got a handful of pages to complete. Book two is tight! A dense plot, a lot of story, Mark’s art is better than ever, and I think it’s more than a worthy successor to the first issue.
So what’s the problem?
The fact is that the book still stands on the border, for better or worse, between “mature” and “adult,” and it’s hit home yet again just how much of a challenge we are going to have reaching readers with it.
The good news is that Class is definitely in our corner; we had a little “Aeacus summit” this past weekend and Class reiterated that they love the book and are committed to making it a success. When you know you’ve got support, it’s easier to get excited about overcoming obstacles. We’re all going to be working together twice as hard in the coming year to make The Mark of Aeacus a success, and I think we’ll be able to do it.
If you’re reading this, you’re probably at least a bit interested in this odd little yarn we’re spinning, and we’re going to need your help. We’ll be thinking of new ways for you to help spread the word online, and I hope you’ll pitch in a little and help spread the word.
And to those readers out there who haven’t picked up the book…
If you’re a mainstream comics reader who shies away from adult books, try and look at MoA as a challenging miniseries that has a great story to tell, with mature content that’s integral to it. When you root a story in Greek myths, you’re steeped in sex and violence, and rather than sidestepping it, we’re going to face it head on.
And if, up to now, you’ve only been a fan of adult comics, try and stretch your horizons a bit and give MoA a try. You might not get “the money shot” you’re used to, but our hope is to provide something that’s exciting and engaging and pushes the boundaries more than ordinary comics. Think of this as the kind of gay action thriller you’d never get in the theater, but always wished you could.
The best is yet to come! We hope you’re on board for the rest of the ride.