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Crowdfunding: The Circle Graphic Novel

16 Aug

Crowdfunding is when a whole bunch of people you know and most likely don’t know, have an opportunity to support your project. Whatever the project might be. From a short film to a tuition fee to get you to a special course to further your skills, to getting a new computer application off the ground.

Recently there has been a huge variety of websites across the West doing really great things for Creators and Artists as well as for amateurs.  So, I decided to give it a go to see if I could get support to get my graphic novel printed.

(Click on here for my project on Pozible.)

Having tried to get onto the US Kickstarter website, after the initial acceptance of my project, I found out I had to live in the United States or have a US bank account to qualify. So, when I heard about the Australian site, Pozible.com which is a bit closer to myself here, in New Zealand, I decided to have a go.

As a creator, we spend a vast amount of time creating and refining our project/s and if you are anything like me, you just want to move onto the next project. Most of you who have been following my weekly post here or  my Facebook page, know I like to work on several projects at the same time. I haven’t figured out whether this is because I like the idea of working on different projects at the same time or whether I don’t like finishing projects. Despite that, I did however finish one project, The Circle.

The Circle has been like pulling teeth from the beginning. I know most people say how excited they are about working on their art and creating a masterpiece. But, this one was a killer. Imagine sitting there for hundreds of hours in front of your CRT screen with a mouse and PhotoShop, just clicking away for 2 days a week and other time I could spare, after getting home tired from work in a very busy retail environment, having the pressure of selling thirty five thousand dollars of product a week, only to get home and hope that what I was doing would end up printed and in someone’s hands.

Well, after 2 yrs of working on it, and a year of promotion on myebooks.com, I am now ready to get the book printed.

I spent the past 4 weeks, back and forth on emails trying to get quotes.  Trying to find the best option in page numbers and print size wasn’t the easiest job. There are many options if you have the money. But, if you don’t? Well, you know the rest.

Deciding that since this book was my first and hopefully not my last, I placed a promo on Pozible. So, now its up to folks on Pozible to see what they think of my graphic novel and whether they believe its worth getting printed up. Fingers crossed. You can, but try after all.

Check out the website and see whether your project meets the guidelines and who knows you may get that masterpiece funded too.

Catch up next week, Aru

Aru (Aruneshwar Singh) has a Bachelor of Arts in Digital Media -Digital Film-making. 
Always writing and illustrating and currently working on a graphic novel about the 30yrs of Institutionalised Slavery of Indians in Fiji from 1885 -1915. 
He also has a weekly graphic serial on Facebook called
Zero© and also on his blogsite.

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Will the real Captain America please stand up?

30 Jul

Jack Kirby (& heirs) Vs. Marvel Comics

Yes, I am going there. But for all the right reasons. For a little while now, a court case has been under way to get back the rights or at least get royalties from Marvel Comics for the late Jack ‘King’ Kirby and his heirs from the 100s of millions made from creations which without Kirby would not exist, such as Hulk, Fantastic Four, and oh, that money spinner, X-Men. Every comic fan/reader must know about Kirby for it goes without saying, that he is as important to American/Western comics as Leonardo Da Vinci is to modern art and as Anant Pai was to Indian comics.

 As you may or may not be aware of, this past week saw the final verdict given on the decades long struggle between the estate of Jack Kirby and Marvel Comics -which is owned by Disney.  The court ruled ‘legally’ in favor of Marvel Comics. And therefore all rights to Kirby’s work will remain in the hands of Marvel to do as they see fit and as with any powerhouse they have every right to. Rich Johnston of Bleeding Cool has been so cool as to place the entire ruling up for all fans and interested parties to read for themselves. So, I am not gonna try and explain the legal fine print here in this column, but do have a read for yourselves. It will give you a good understanding of how far things have come.

Capt. America #1

For years, to all of us who have/had been Marvel Comics fans due to the great ensemble of superhero and mutant books put out by the stable. The company for years helped various artists and writers to break into the medium in the USA. Having grown into a pop culture icon, Stan Lee has taken the characters Jack created in a whole new universe. Just look at the movies, toys and over the top branding of the recent Thor and now Captain America, both were also co-created by Kirby.
Loyalist and those who believe a person should get recognition for his creations and royalties paid, especially in this age of multi-million dollar lawsuits, and brands which could easily buy some countries around the globe, should at least step aside from the legal decision now that its over,  and look to rectify to the Kirby Heirs and to us, as consumers who indirectly allow an injustice to continue by allowing a man like Jack Kirby to continue (even after his passing), to be treated as a Coolie, carrying the bags of Marvel Comics while others reap of his work, slaving for a company, he felt, had for years mistreated him.

‘King’ Kirby

As both a writer and artist, not trying to say I am anything of any import among these giants, when I hear about someone who is unfairly treated by companies, I get angry, for lack of a better description. As part of my Bachelors Degree in Digital Filmmaking we discussed at length over ownership rights and work for hire and creations made and or, written whilst in the employ of a company, as the legals issues seem not to allow for creator rights in certain situations, (make sure you read the fine print). You see the law is always clear cut when it comes to who owns what, when and also how long for. But what it sometimes seems to ignore is the emotions, creative passions and angst which comes with trying to bring about something out of thin air.
In this case Marvel Comics have won, and also we must remember as has Disney. The losers are of course, Jack Kirby, who just doesn’t seem to catch a break and his heirs.

   Now I am not saying that the fault lies with Marvel Comics or the Kirby Heirs here, but its a done deal. A loser and a winner. But, I as a comic fan and creator feel something needs to be done here for Jack. Its time to let the world know that without him American Comics would not be the rich green pasture it is today and that those comic characters would not have the same appeal they did for fans before us and those who will follow.  But it would behove, Stan Lee to at least set the record straight and put the matter to rest as to who did what and when, now that the gavel has fallen. Lets have a clean slate. Jack Kirby will always be King.

(ARU), Aruneshwar has just finished his Bachelors Degree in Digital Media -Digital Film-making.
Having decided to become a teacher so he can see the world, he has just begun a
Diploma in Digital Media -Multimedia. On the creative side Aru,
is writing and illustrating a graphic novel about the 30yrs of Institutionalised Slavery of
Indians in Fiji from 1885 -1915. He is a prolific script writer and writes in all comic
book genres which include several graphic novels for his own company,
Rising Sun Comics.


A Hell(Blazer) of a week.

22 Jul

I have been reading comics as mentioned the other week for close to 30yrs. And a small portion of that time I have spent a small fortune buying, selling and re-collecting, after my first collection was burnt in a fire. Amongst those were the Uncanny X-men run from #180-295. Some of the greatest X-Men stories told were written during those years. But I am digressing. Anyway, I restarting collecting 10yrs ago and haven’t stopped since. As well as you know writing and creating my own. 


Hellblazer Pandemonium Jami Delano is a Must Read.





One of my top 3 fave non-super-powered is John Constantine, Hellblazer from Vertigo, (Batman and Punisher are the other two). John was created by Alan Moore back in issue #37 in Saga of the Swamp Thing. That character has is the longest running non-hero comic book. I had a couple opportunities over the past few years to get my hands on #37, but due to lack of funds or having already committed myself to other books, I missed out.


Hellblazer: Rare Cuts is a good starting point.

   The character of Constantine is so rich with lore and mysticism that there is so much that you can do with him with ruining the history as long as you stick to the archetype. John is the Trickster, the Court Jester and The Magi all in one.  It was this that after setting myself to reading from Hellblazer #1 to the lastest that was available in October last year that led me to write Black Waters, my own take on John Constantine,


Intro to Black Waters©, by Aru Singh. 2011

 Writing a 148+ page Hellblazer standalone graphic novel based in the Fiji was not something I gave much thought to. I was waiting for my plane ride back to Auckland from Nadi Airport, after a stressful trip back from my ex’s father’s funeral and I guess I needed to clear my head and so I just started writing. It was messy but after some rewriting it came together. I have no idea what I am going to do with it. I did have a guy consider working on it, to see if we can get DC Vertigo to look at it, but after discussing it I thought to let it rest for a bit. And who knows, I might illustrate it myself after I get Zero completed.


Thats the background to how much I like the John Constantine Archetype. The following is 3 amazing events which took place in the last 6 days.


Event 1.
  Last weekend while at Zinefest I stopped by a comic shop and bought the DC Direct Collectible Figure of John in his Hellblazer set-up. It wasn’t in the store but they would have it the following week. This  was an out-of-the-blue purchase.

Event 2.
  Having gotten home and still feeling unwell I had stayed up and was browsing comic on an online auction site and came across Saga of Swamp Thing #37 from June 1985. It was on Buy Now for $5 + $3 for Delivery. I actually have my comic shop guy, Jeremy at Gotham Comics here in New Zealand looking out for one. I better tell him I got a copy now. This comic goes for around US$30+ and around US$90 on milehighcomics So, I was quite excited about this. 



Event 2.
   If you look in the letters section of this months Hellblazer #281 you will see at top right hand side my very own letter. I have never written a letter, that I can remember to a comic company about one of their comics, so when I heard talk that they might be bringing Hellblazer in to the main DC Universe with Superman and Batman etc. I thought I better send a message. So, I can’t remember when but a couple weeks back I got on the Vertigo site and left a message. 


Hellblazer #281



Now, you are probably wondering why I shared this with you guys? Well, I thought you guys might like to share in my hell of a week. 
-Aru


Further info John Constantine, Also, Straight to Hell. Both sites were helpful when I was writing the graphic novel. 

   


Auckland Zinefest 2011 part 2

20 Jul



So, as I mentioned the other day, I was quiet sick and wasn’t feeling too good having spent the previous day locked up in my hotel room with the blanket over my head coughing and blowing my nose every ten minutes. But I made it up to the event after being dropped off by my father who had driven me down.


I was really interested to see what the turn out for this event would be like, since it was my first ever Zinefest. All day there was an even amount of people flowing through the tables, looking and buying books and items on display. I bought a ton of items myself.


But being my first Zinefest, I wasn’t aware of the difference between a comic book and a zine. So, I sat in on a panel, which was being held below the event at an adjacent room to a wine bar.

A ‘Zine’ is dissimilar to a comic book, although toons and comic books have been used as part of the Zine Culture to get their message across, whatever the message maybe. Unlike comic book creators, those who create Zines are more interested about the environment, conserving and politics. Of course comic book creators also use these themes in their work, but lets just say that we are not as overt about such things. To us we are more about writing it into a story, than it being the story.


Amongst the Zine tables there were a few comic book creators, a couple I recognised and some I had met before. Amongst them, who I knew would be attending was Richard Fairgray through the facebook New Zealand Comics site.


Richard Fairgray has worked in comics for nearly 20yrs and has done some work overseas as well. He has always been on the go and at the moment is working on a collaboration with William Geradts of Beyond Reality Media, on a online serial, called The Inspiration Duncans as well as on his own site blastosaurus.com on a daily toon serial called ‘I Fight Crime‘ written by his wife, Mary Ann-Cotton. 

At the Fest Richard had the I fight Crime books as well as a couple different other comics he has worked on. But I think the I fight Crime books really stood out as not many folk do print forms of toons and especially if they are already online.  


Marc, -whose surname I didn’t catch- also had his  print form version of his ActionManAdam, webcomic, ‘a weekly comic about a young Canadian trying to find love in Christchurch, New Zealand’. The comic book unlike the website version is in black and white. But, the stand out points about Marc’s comic is that he had virtual hand drawn the background to every cover for the new set he brought. And only having gotten them back from the printer the day before he had each issue sealed up with stickers and a pin.

More on other comics and creators from the ZineFest soon.


Aru







Auckland Zinefest 2011 (Saturday pics)

18 Jul

I was pretty sick leading up to the Fest and also during the Fest on Saturday. The article about the day will be up on Thursday, while I wait for the anti-biotics to clean out my system,  but in the meantime here are some pics.


Sorry about no captions. More pics with all juicy details to be added soon… Stay tuned.


Who is Aru, anyway?

13 Jul



A little History… 


Archie Comics, Walt Disney, and 2000AD

The first memory of ever seeing or reading a comic book was in, Nacovi, Nadi Town in Fiji. It was two different ones, an Archie and a Walt Disney Comics, with Goofy etc. Its reading these comics at the age of 7 or 8yrs old that has become the focal point in my life. 

The second memory is, when having moved to New Zealand with my mother in 1981.  A tent created with my knees under blanket at night, a small torch lighting the 2000AD comics, my friend had lent me.

Who would have thought that the from the age of 17 to 21yrs old would see myself spending thousands of dollars on comics and then losing then to the fire in 1999. And then I didn’t pick up a comic again till I began my studies for a Bachelors Degree in Digital Filmmaking in 2003. I got back into the comics as a way of meeting/making news friends in a city, Invercargill, New Zealand. I also started trading in them and also collecting as an investment. And have continued that trend up till now 8yrs later.  

A Writer is Born
The previous 2yrs I had watched all the Star Trek Next Gen, Voyager, Enterprise, Deep Space Nine,

and then the best Sci-Fi series in the universe,

. And having read almost all the Babylon 5 novels I became inspired to write my own Sci-Fi series. (I have written the 1st Pilot and most Season 1 and will at some stage, will illustrate or get an Illustrator it for a graphic novel.  


The Circle Graphic Novel
The highlight of the studies was making my own 90mins length Student Feature Film, which I wrote/directed and shot on a HDV Cam. It was this that U decided to turn into a graphic novel and I then spent 2.5yrs using a mouse with Adobe Photoshop turning the film into a 148 page graphic novel, called The Circle. A crime/drama story about four male students. Which had, up till last month 55000+ hits with 8 to12 months on myebooks.com until I took it down as I want to get this printed.

Incredi-Girl  Comic Book Series
I then decided to write a Superhero book especially for my niece who was 6yrs old at the time and Incredi-Girl was named by her and an acquaintance who I had given a PC drawing tablet to work on it only did the 1st issue before ended all communication with me. 

Months later while asking for an Illustrator to help complete the artwork on DeviantArt.com, I was able to find Mike Burbbeck, who completed 6 of the 7 issues, which I decided to Color (my 1st time) and Letter it. I still need to finish lettering and coloring it.  
(art by Mike Burbek in pics, left & right, all others are by me.)


The Girmit Graphic Novel

Last year I separated from my wife after 9yrs of marriage and did two university papers in Bachelors Degree in Visual Arts. For one of the papers I decided to put my 5yrs of research I had been doing on the history of the Indians in Fiji Islands. I wrote/illustrated/colored and lettered the first volume.  I have several trips to Fiji for this book. I have started work on the 2nd volume, but since this volume is very emotional and has a lot of painful ordeals in it I want to be in a right set of mind to write and illustrate it. 





For the past 10 weeks I have been doing a weekly single page upload of a comic book series on to a Facebook page about a world parallel to ours, only 25yrs ahead of ours. It’s a Sci-Fi political drama with the main character being a radio talk show host.  I am hoping to have this in print after I have completed the first pages.

Scriptwriter/Storyteller
 I have written and completed several movie and graphic novel scripts. And having created the world of Zero © I will be including some of those as part of Zero©. My strength lies in script writing but due to necessity I have also started doing my own illustrations. 

For Scriptwriting I use a programe called CeltX. I have been using this app for over 6yrs and I find it very user friendly and since they add the Comic set-up bit its made comic writing so much faster and easier. 

As far as stories go, I write in nearly all the genres; from Science Fiction to Crime to Horror to Dramas. 

Artist 
I actually don’t like illustrating as it takes too much time and I like to utilize my time writing, but due to costs involved in acquiring an Artist to work on my projects I have started to work on my own work. And so, from now on until I can afford to pay someone I will carry on working on my stories myself as I have enough stories to keep going for 10yrs.  

Software
I work on a Windows OS HP DV3000 Notebook and a MacBook Pro Snow Leopard OS 10.6.8. Manga Studio Ex is the Software I use but I also use Photoshop CS5 and Illustrator from time to time. But I find the best software for illustrating, lettering and design for comics is Manga Studio EX 4. I also use a Wacom InTous4 Drawing Pad 6″x9″ which for me, due to my wrist injury is flexible to use and using the pad makes the process of drawing digitally so much easier.

Freelance Comic Work
I am looking for work as Freelance as a Letterer and Graphic Designer for Comic Book logos and layouts. I have an extensive background in Art and Graphic Design and am fluent with several Creative Suites.
  
Well, that’s my comic addiction in a coconut shell. 

I am off to Zinefest over the weekend and so next I am hoping to have some video interviews and pics from the festival. Zinefest will have lots NZ comic book creators around promoting and selling their works.  

A Rising Star from the Rising Sun: Aru’s Debut @ CA

8 Jul

Before we begin, let me introduce you to Aru.
Aru is the newest addition tothe Comic Addicts family, currently residing in the land of the Kiwi and is the owner / operator for Rising Sun Comics, based in New Zealand. OK, no more interruption, stage is all yours Aru. Shoot!



The Comic Creators and Their Trials
                                                     by Aru
Much has been written on the trials and tribulations of the Comic Book Writer or Artists, but it doesn’t make the issues we face any lighter or smaller. From day to day we are continually faced with the same thoughts that any artist who is passionate about their work face; is what we are doing making any difference? Will the readers accept my work? Will I ever make it? Will I ever make a living from my work?
Sadly none of these questions have any easy answers. Either wise we would either give up. A fellow Kiwi (New Zealander) Dylan Hyrocks has spent 20 yrs. trying to make it into the big times and he has after a while but he would be the first to say how hard it is. Similar, Richard Fairgray, another or of the hard workers in the comic book medium is now getting a greater recognition for his passion.


Aru’s tools of the trade… Errr… Except the Boba Fetts helmet and the Elmo doll, of course! 😀
Click on the image to view full size

I mention these two because they stand out amongst the many who daily wile away at on their sketch pads, and some like myself on the Wacom pad. Its real tough being in a art/literature form that to the outside is known widely as ‘the funny papers’. And so we are not taken seriously. 
But, is it because we want to be famous and rich that we create our art?
But, we need money to survive and notoriety to get our work out there. And so, we do our day jobs, or study for a better income and use every spare minute to work on our art. Its nothing new, but it still doesn’t make it easier. What we must keep in mind is that we do it for the art. We create because if we don’t we might as well stop breathing.
Artists walk a thin line between depression and anxiety. But we are at peace best when we are creating. So, create. Ignore that voice, which says you what you are doing, is just for kids. Remember those kids stuff is worth millions now and someone had to come up with the drawings and write the stories and they weren’t children. 
Russell Peters says it best, ‘Be a Man!’ and for the females who are finding it harder than the males in our medium, ‘Be a Woman!’ We are who are.

About Aru:
Aruneshwar A Singh or Aru as everyone calls him, has just finished his Bachelor’s Degree in Digital Media -Digital Film-making.

Having decided to become a teacher so he can see the world, he has just begun a
Diploma in Digital Media-Multimedia. On the creative side Aru, is writing and illustrating a graphic novel about the 30yrs of Institutionalized Slavery of Indians in Fiji from 1885 -1915. 

He is a prolific script writer and writes in all sorts of comic book genres which include several graphic novels for his own company,Rising Sun Comics.