So here it is, the art that will be seen on the cover of Book One of THE LARA-SU CHRONICLES. I tossed out a "draft" of the cover a couple of days earlier on Twitter more to provoke a reaction to see what the comments were, if anything said would alert me to something I missed. Naturally, the text on that version sparked most of the discussion, which I anticipated. But overall, I didn't see anything to dissuade me and if anything was encouraged by the positive response I did receive. Thus, this is the official cover art.
I'm not going to comment on the various elements composing this piece, as it is a combination of both the literal and metaphorical aspects of the story within its covers. To discuss it now would give too much away. Suffice it to say, I expect longtime readers of my Knuckles stories should be very pleased and new readers will find it easy to climb aboard and follow along.
In the meantime, besides working on further character design, set design, data files and other material for both the graphic novel and website, I've committed to doing an appearance for charity on behalf of the National Ataxia Foundation. The details of which can be found here:
Hope to see you there as it's all for a good cause. Thanks for checking it out.
Posted: Thu Jul 03, 2014 12:48 am
CMDR MYKHAL TAELOR FIGURE REFERENCE FOR FAN ARTISTS
BobR here posting for Ken who's a guest at the Florida Supercon in Miami Beach this July 4th weekend:
I thought I’d get the ball rolling on this aspect of fan relations. This is the first of what I anticipate to be a line of reference videos so everyone can be on the same page when drawing these characters.
I had planned to do something similar if Larry and I had gotten our Sonic film project off the ground, providing fans with reference material that I thought would be helpful. While it may not have come to pass with the SONIC film project, it will certainly come to pass on THE LARA-SU CHRONICLES, with Lien-Da, Lara-Su, the Praetorian and Geoffrey St. John scheduled for similar treatment. As I said, I anticipate a library of characters when all is said and done.
A 720x480 version is available in the Lara-Su Chronicles section of the forum message board. As usual, any and all comments are welcome. Thanks.
Posted: Wed May 28, 2014 8:33 pm
Introducing... CMDR Mykhal Taelor
As story and art take shape on the first book of THE LARA-SU CHRONICLES, it's time to meet a pivotal character in the saga, none other than Commander Mykhal Taelor of the Alpha Centauri Astro Force.
That's right. He's not from the 3rd Planet from the Sun, but he is front and center trying to figure out what's going on with Lara-Su and her people. His story is the entry point for all new readers to get on board the adventure of a lifetime...and beyond.
In related news, the first book has had a title change, which henceforth will be known as THE LARA-SU CHRONICLES: SHATTERED TOMORROWS. As the story has come into sharper focus, I felt the change was warranted. Stay tuned for more info. I'll have more to say as we get closer to Florida Super-Con. Thanks.
Posted: Thu Apr 24, 2014 11:56 pm
Lien-Da Is Now Ready For Her Close-Up
Before I get to my latest reveal, I'd like to introduce two names who already are and will continue to play a big part in helping me launch THE LARA-SU CHRONICLES.
First up is Patrick Luque, who has been working with me on a number of projects, including being part of the production crew on THE REPUBLIC. I've known Patrick since he first visited me while he was a young boy when I attended the San Diego Comic-Con in the mid-90's with my family. Since then Patrick has gone on to pursue work in the video game industry. Patrick's main responsibilities until lately have been focused on developing the app for TL-SC, which promises to be more advanced than other comic apps I've seen. Recently, however, he's taken on the task of creating a Lara-Su 3D CGI model from my drawings, and I'm excited by what he's accomplished on both the app and CGI model so far.
The second member of Team Lara-Su is a new discovery, Kevin Knowles, who was responsible for taking my drawings and creating the resulting 3D CGI model of Lien-Da which you can see below:
Kevin has more than exceeded my expectations and proven to me that just because he's located on the other side of the world from me is no reason we couldn't collaborate.
The model Kevin built will be used as the reference standard for all things Lien-Da. I'm hoping to have the 360º view of her ready when I post the Lien-Da Data File on TL-SC website which is currently being assembled.
On top of that, a well-known actress will be the voice of Lien-Da as we assemble the video presentation, to say nothing of Costume Designer Mike Philpot putting on the finishing touches to the Praetorian's Hat for unveiling, as well as a couple of other goodies to be announced shortly.
The main focus, though, is on the story and art. I'm hoping to wrap the story very shortly which will then allow me to focus exclusively on the art going forward.
As usual, I will try my best to respond to questions and comments. All I ask is a little patience as I juggle my schedule. Thanks.
Posted: Sat Feb 01, 2014 3:07 am
Breaking Into The 21st Century Comics Industry
One of the most frequently asked questions I get these days outside of inquiries of what I’m up to amounts to this: How do I break into the comics industry?
The sad fact is that unless one is already plugged in and/or has Hollywood connections, chances are it’s virtually impossible these days for one to break into the business working for the major publishers without establishing oneself first. Even guys who have worked in the industry a long time have an incredibly hard time landing their next gig once they’re taken off a title.
When I was first trying to break in at Marvel and DC back in the 80’s, virtually every editor had a huge slush pile of writing and art submissions that they would tell me they intended to get to someday when they had the time. Translation: probably never.
The Marvel Try-Out Contest that was held back at the time yielded over 5000 submissions from people who wanted to work for Marvel. I ended up being one of the 30 finalists, while Mark Bagley was judged the ultimate winner in the penciler category. A friend who was one of the actual judges of the contest later confirmed this to me. He didn’t know I had entered as he didn’t even know me at the time, but his version of what happened matched the version I was told by another friend who was also working at Marvel at the time.
Since that time, and with the proliferation and increasing popularity of comic conventions such as San Diego Comic-Con, more people than ever want to get into the act.
What many don’t realize, however, is that by wanting to work at a Marvel or a DC, they are essentially saying all they want is a job with a paycheck and benefits.
Any goals of creativity or becoming the next Stan Lee or Jack Kirby will never be achieved because none of those goals are compatible with the needs of a Marvel or a DC, who want nothing more than established creators to take their existing intellectual property and simply rearrange the deck chairs with a new coat of paint for today’s audiences.
Since a DC or Marvel tend to look for established creators, that means one must create their own body of work before the Big Two – and most likely other publishers as well – even bother to consider that creator for a slot working on one of their books.
But by that time, once the creator creates that body of work, why would they bother with a Marvel or a DC?
Seriously, you’ve created characters in a setting in a series of stories that has gained a following. You’re more than likely posting pages one at a time online for free, selling merchandise based on what you’ve created, and probably barely breaking even. Maybe making a small profit if you’re lucky and worked hard enough at promoting what you’ve done.
Is your next step wishing for an invite from a Marvel or DC or Archie or whatever publisher out there is willing to throw a few coins your way? Or is it working to take your creation to the next level?
And by next level, I mean thinking beyond the American market or simply just doing comics. I’m talking print collections of your work released on a global scale. Or even bigger, such as a TV or film or digital project either animated or live action based on your work.
Here’s the reality of working in comics for the major publishers: it’s like sports, in which the writers and artists have a limited shelf life just as the athletes do with their employers. An athlete has on average 4 years or so to make their fortune, similarly most writers and artists can’t count on sticking with a book for the long term if there’s an editorial replacement or a dip in sales.
With current sales being what they are, the likelihood of royalties from comic sales as opposed to the trade collections isn’t what it was back in the heyday of the early 90’s. (IDW doesn’t even acknowledge it owes royalties to the creators whose work they use in their various reprint collections.)
There’s also the barrier of the current creators working at the companies to overcome.
Let’s say you want to write or draw SONIC for Archie. At best, you may get the chance to work on a story or a cover, as the editors like to shake things up every now and then. But to write or draw for the book on a regular basis? That means the current writers and artists lose work and the income that goes with it. (I’m using Archie as an example because in comparison to Marvel and DC from what I see, they are a relatively stable company, relying on the same creators in general throughout their line of products year in and year out.)
No matter which path one decides to tread, working for an established company or doing your own thing, it’s a hard road either way, requiring a back-up plan to put food on the table and pay the rent while working to establish oneself whichever road is taken.
Due to advances in technology which makes it easier to get one’s work out to a wider audience than ever before, we’re now seeing plenty of examples in various arenas where people are jettisoning the old paradigm in favor of an evolving new order.
Look at Nate Silver and Ezra Klein as but two examples of individuals who began to make their mark with the help of the Internet. Both began by blogging about topics they had had an interest in. As a result of their writing, they attracted the attention of such established media companies like the NY Times and Washington Post respectively.
Both became selling points by their respective companies as a reason to buy the companies’ product, namely the newspapers and websites they published. Both individuals eventually left their high profile established positions for better opportunities, including in the case of Ezra starting his own news company dealing with explaining official policy to the average person, something he excels at.
In other words, working for an established company such as a NY Times, Washington Post, Marvel, DC or Archie Comics is no longer a viable long-term career strategy for success.
What Silver and Klein did that assisted their trajectory upwards is that both filled a niche where previously there had been a void. For a writer or artist or filmmaker, finding a void to fill can be especially daunting because of what’s already out in the marketplace. It’s not impossible, however, and entirely dependent upon the creator being able to offer up a fresh take on a particular subject or genre with their characters.
Part of the problem creators face when starting out is the economics of undertaking such a venture. At a bare minimum, a computer, a hi-speed internet connection and a website are still going to require some expenditure just to get the work out to the public. Filing for copyright online costs $35 (which every creator should do).
Going beyond the basics with efforts into merchandising still require time and effort and possible expenditure if one bypasses an outlet such as cafepress.com, to say nothing of the cost of trademarking your creation, but it is the efforts to take one’s creations to the next level that really require a significant investment of time, effort, determination, ingenuity and possible expense.
When I recently threw out the question “Do people prefer print or digital comics?”, I received a number of responses that somewhat answered the question, but more often than not people responded by relating their experience of most people wanting their comics for free while supporting the merchandising of the comic and its characters.
For my money, I felt this was short-sighted for a number of reasons, one that doesn’t really address the economics required to grow one’s creation.
While many look to Kickstarter as a solution to get a project funded, it’s not a guaranteed avenue, as many projects never make the established goals. The risk to going this route for funding is the fallout from perception the project isn’t viable in the marketplace if one doesn’t make its goal. Zach Braff and the Veronica Mars crew may have hit home runs, but there were incredible risks to them going this route. As it is, most filmmakers going this route lack the cache or fan base to guarantee similar success.
I’ve been asked why I don’t get other creators, particularly other creators who have worked on the SONIC series published by Archie Comics, involved with my own project THE LARA-SU CHRONICLES, and economics definitely comes into play where this topic is concerned.
I’ve been approached by certain creators (definitely more than one) who have expressed an interest in contributing to the project, a couple even offering to do something for free. That said, however thoughtful or well-intentioned the offer, I can’t accept unless there’s some way to financially compensate everyone contributing on an equal level.
Putting together a collection of short stories of 5 to 6 pages in length each featuring a different character – Lara-Su, Geoffrey St. John, Julie-Su, Lien-Da, Spectre and a couple of new characters – illustrated by different artists – all with previous SONIC experience except for one newcomer selected in a similar manner as I did with artist Dawn Best – that would be written and inked by me would be a tremendous promotional tool for my project, one that would draw a good deal of attention, but I can’t pay some artists and not all. And if I don’t have some method for the artists to derive some form of revenue stream from the project, I can already hear the cries that I’m exploiting others for my own gain.
And for the project to work as I envision it, that requires an app, which is currently being developed. The individual programming that app also deserves some form of compensation for the work he performs as well.
So free only works up to a point. If one wants to grow and support themselves through their works, economics has to come into the picture at some point. So too do realistic expectations.
In summation, there are no easy roads. There is only a lot of perseverance, hard work and no guarantees of success. One must have their priorities in order and a complete understanding of the risks involved before embarking on the journey. One must also have a genuine passion for what they’re doing, as there are no rewards for any half-hearted efforts. Excuses are for the weak. Having read all of the above, if one is still determined to make one’s mark as a comic creator, keep in mind there is no “one size fits all” answer. It’s up to the individual to figure out the path that works best for them.
My journey has been one of evolution. I was lucky in that my very first professional comic book assignment was working for a major publisher (DC) on a property that was near and dear to me (STAR TREK). With every subsequent assignment came a learning experience. It wasn’t long before I discovered real opportunities were few and far between, and that if I really wanted to make working in comics a long term goal, I had to create my own assignments instead of waiting for some editor to have something he or she needed to make a publishing deadline.
That evolution continues to this very day in the form of designing THE LARA-SU CHRONICLES as a multi-media project instead of just a stand-alone comic book series. I’m still in the blueprint stage of the effort as I work to finish the script. Where it goes from there depends on a number of factors, none of which are guaranteed.
I’ll keep you posted as I make my way through the new world order. To those that attempt their own journey down the same path, I wish you all the best.
Posted: Mon Nov 25, 2013 11:03 pm
The ROYAL SECRET SERVICE Is Looking For A Few Good Recruits
I just received the prototype of the very first product produced under the banner of my Floating Island Productions. I'll let the picture speak for itself before getting into the details:
It's a fully embroidered patch, 3" in diameter, featuring the emblem worn by Geoffrey St. John and members of the Royal Secret Service on their berets, jackets and vests, similar in style and manner to the patches worn by the US Military, as will be seen in THE LARA-SU CHRONICLES.
The goal with this product and others yet to come is to allow readers an opportunity to become part of the world the characters and settings exist in.
While many may have been expecting a comic book or a sneak preview of the actual graphic novel or a T-shirt or poster featuring a favorite character, those are yet to come. For now, as I said, I'm just starting small and building to something bigger.
I know I initially said I wasn't saying anything until Black Friday, but the information I was supplied with erred happily on the cautious side. Thus, when I received the prototype today, I decided to launch now.
The patches are $8.00 each plus $2.00 shipping and handling. Anyone intending to purchase more than one of the item please contact me first so I can confirm a shipping price. Payment can be made to me either via Paypal at KenPenders@kenpenders.com or by sending a check or money order made out to me mailed to 12147 Woodley Ave., Granada Hills, CA 91344-2846.
The first batch of patches will be ready for shipping on December 7, 2013, and will be mailed on a first come-first serve basis.
Check back for future announcements of other upcoming releases. Thank you.