OUR FIRST BAD REVIEW!
It's very strange, looking at the first :01 titles, on the shelf. They exist! And next week, as you know from Eddie Campbell's pacing around -- the first six of them appear in stores.
From concept to realization, to release -- and then what?
Well, there are reviews.
The way it works: first come the trade journals, in other words magazines and websites devoted to some aspect of the book industry (for instance, for librarians, or independent booksellers, or educators, or other publishers) -- those reviews usually come out in the weeks and months before the book's release. Then come the mainstream media, papers, magazines, TV and radio, for the general public -- usually timed at or soon after the book's release.
So this blog aims to report First Second's firsts (and seconds), and I would be remiss not to report OUR FIRST LOUSY REVIEW.
Oh you, wide eyed young visitor, who wonder about the exciting adventures that await in the great world of publishing! Perhaps you have felt its powerful lure, its hypnotic pull?
Be ye warned! There are dangers which you should know about! Explore at your own risk!
For your benefit, under this category of ADVENTURES IN PUBLISHING, I'll occasionally post some information about the strange creatures you are likely to encounter in your journeys...
THE AMAZON DEVILS
Many an author, editor and publisher has run afoul of these critters, who abide in the bowels and subroutines of the Amazon.com website. If a book has twelve good reviews and one bad one, they are the ones responsible for keeping the bad one at the top of the page, wherever the visitor's eye goes first.
Should cartooning types be allowed to run their own graphic novel imprints?
Fortunately, I'm not alone: for a number of years, there's been Chris Oliveros running his stellar DRAWN & QUARTERLY, and now overseas, there are two new graphic novel imprints, one called SHAMPOOING, within Delcourt Publishing, and one called BAYOU, within the prestigious Gallimard house... And their editorial directors? Respectively: Lewis Trondheim, and Joann Sfar.
D&Q continually offers must-read authors and literary graphic novels, and these two new ventures are off to exciting starts. And it sounds like BAYOU is very close to FIRST SECOND in its editorial vision.
Hey, I'm in illustrious company!
Well, they keep coming... Here's a note from Don Daglow, of the impressive STORMFRONT STUDIOS. He confirms some of the problems and possibilities for art in a commercial world.
"As video games have grown bigger and budgets have spiraled, we sometimes get preoccupied with the business issues and lose sight of the creative passion that brought all of us into this profession. Spending the day with the writers, artists and gamers at the conference gave me a very personal reminder of the importance of that creative passion in everything we do.
Media where one person can create a work of art -- like graphic novels and traditional fiction -- make the link between artistic commitment and the reader's experience very visible. On game development teams that may have over a hundred members, we need to keep looking for ways to bring that individual vision and commitment to the player's experience so we create collaborative works of interactive art, not factory-assembled machines.
I came away from the conference excited about what we can do to keep these creative fires burning, and filled with respect for the writers and artists we met during the event."
Don L. Daglow
President and CEO
Stormfront Studios Inc.
A few last thoughts for now. First these just arrived from author ERIC NYLUND, who has written a number of science-fiction novels, including some in the HALO universe. HALO is one of the most popular XBOX games of all time.
"I came away with new hope for storytelling in the 21st century. Traditional publishers will still be here, I'm sure, but they can't move as fast as the newer industries (video games and graphic novels) that are not (yet) as restrained by an antiqued business model.
As far as the round table, I wished it was longer: it could have been three separate panels: traditional linear storytelling in games, MMOs (massive multiplayer online games), and experimental storytelling in games). Maybe next time.
Just as impressive as the conference and round table discussion--was the Academy Of Art. After touring their game design labs, I asked all the hard-to answer questions(tm), and the director had all the right answers(tm) (they are using the Unreal engine to design in...they are launching a semester-long class with a twenty student team to construct a working game...and so on). All extraordinarily impressive. They've taken the best people from the gaming industry and plugged them directly into teaching the next generation of game makers--hopefully so they can circumvent all the mistakes the last generation made, and concentrate on making outrageously terrific games.
I told the director I wished I was twenty years younger so I could enroll.
Quick pencil sketch above is of Eric speaking at the conference. If I remember right he was saying something that made him quite unpopular: that for your typical videogame, the three most important things are 1) Gaming/action, 2) Visuals and a very distant 3) Storyline/character; but if a videogame aims to be a successful franchise, a series that gamers will keep returning to for years, then it's number 1) story & memorable characters, then 2) gaming, then 3) visuals. Thought that was interesting.
For books, I'd say Story and character tend to be the very purpose. Everything serves Story. In a lot of games I get the sense Story serves everything else. Reminds me of that cover for the NEW YORKER art spiegelman did a few years ago, called "The Eleventh Muse" (?) Can't find it online. Can't find any of his covers at the New Yorker website. Hm.
Well, here ends this little report on the visual storytelling summit. Didn't think I'd make so much of it, but it does strike me as significant about our day and age. There's lots that went unreported here. Like when the videogame people turned onto the subject of new technologies on the horizon. Their eyes lit up (be afraid?), when they started talking about A.I. / Artificial Intelligence as the next great leap for the gaming experience.
What if an A.I. is cut loose to decide and react within a gameworld? What if they have their own tastes? Author Greg Bear summed up by painting a picture of a virtual party to which you go, and discover everyone else in the room is an A.I. or synthetic human . . . and none of them want to talk to you.