Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Recovery and the road ahead.

I just wanted to let everybody know that since Bell's Palsy struck seven weeks ago, there has been a little bit of improvement in the movement of my face. My left brow is almost fully recovered, and I can move the left corner of my mouth about an inch. It will still be a long time before I fully recover though. The important thing is that it is only superficial at this point. I was experiencing severe eye stress at the beginning because I couldn't close my eyelid. I still can't close it fully, but I have adapted. I am able to work, and started a new job at CORE Digital Pictures several weeks ago. I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

What to look forward to in 2006

February 24-26: New York Comicon - Crozonia Ashcan Exclusive
April 16: Disney's The Wild finally opens!
Spring 2006: Toronto ComiCON - Fan Appreciation Special Event
Late Spring: Matchbox Deeds Dragon Adventure Comic Book
August 3-6: Chicago Wizard World - Debut of Crozonia Issue 2!
September 1-3: Fan Expo Canada
Late September: The Word on the Street (Toronto)

Monday, November 07, 2005

A Minor Setback

It's been a while since I posted. A couple of weeks ago, I was stricken with Bell's Palsy. It is a condition where the left side of my face is paralysed. I have feeling sensation in my face, but I can't move the muscles. A facial nerve has been damaged by what is believed to be a virus. In the majority of cases, there will be a complete recovery. So that is what I'm hoping and praying for. The main priority for me right now is to get lot's of rest and recover.
I will be back and kicking ass in no time.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

The Word on the Street Sales

The Word on the Street is funny because there are exhibitors that pay a huge sum of money to exhibit there, and then there are the littles guys like us who essentially are the "artist alley" of the festival. Unfortunately, the artist alley / fringe beat section isn't on the street, but on grass amongst the trees in the park.

The day didn't start off promising because of heavy rain in the morning. What made matters worse, we were in a dingy tent facing a tree! The time schedule for the festival was from 11am - 6pm. The first hour of the show was slow as usual. I only sold 3 books. The second hour began when I sold 3 books and then decided to break the rules and leave my tent to sell on the street corner where most of the people traffic was. As a result I sold Crozonia like hotcakes and lost track of how many I sold! Eventually some other exhibitors took notice and moved their tables up to the curb, and so did we. Soon there were 12 tables along the side of the road. We kept selling untill some security guard and organizers found out, and pushed us back to our tents. They said it was illegal and would revoke our previledge to sell next year. Yeah right. So we were back in the tent from 4-6 and sold only 6 books.

After deducting our float cash, we ended up selling 87 books! This means we sold about 75 books in 3 1/2 hours! Next year we may spend more money on the expensive tables on the street. The highlight of the day was selling a copy to NDP leader Jack Layton and Olivia Chow. Those two are great and honest people.

And that ends our summer tour of Crozonia Issue One. It's time to get busy and get Issue 2 out for February for the innaugural New York Comicon.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Silver Bullet Comics Article

A great article about Crozonia by reporter Jonathan Encarnacion has been posted at silverbulletcomics.com The interview took place a couple of weeks ago at the Canadian National Expo.
Here it is:

Friday, September 09, 2005

The Word on the Street

The next up is The Word on the Street in Toronto Queen's Park on Sunday September 25,2005.
Over a half million people attended the one day festival last year! What's great about this festival is that it's free, so the people I will be selling to are outside the comic book fandom.
We will be located in the Fringe Beat section, so check us out!

Friday, August 26, 2005

Canadian National Comic Book Expo Sales

Just got back from the Convention Center tonight. Although it was packed, it was also slow and comparible to Friday at Chicago Wizard World. I sold 46 books compared to 55 in Chicago, but the 46 number is a little inflated because I sold 12 books wholesale to some comic book retailers. But then again, there were three less hours for Friday at this show than at Chicago. I'm expecting better sales on Saturday. 81 is the magic number to beat from Chicago for Saturday!
As expected, Saturday was really busy. But surprisingly it started off slow. The show opened at 9pm, but we didn't sell our first book untill 10:30! In the end, we did sell alot of books, especially in the afternoon. I had to host a panel on CGI for an hour from 2-3pm, so I was not expecting many for that hour, to my surprise, my wife and a friend of mine sold 12 books! Not bad at all! In total, we beat the number for Chicago for Saturday selling 87 books. But far short of the elusive 100 mark. Maybe next year when I have issue 2 out! You may note that around 4-5pm, we only sold three books. By then we were dead tired, and very hungry. We barely made an effort to sell untill we had some food in our stomachs. This is a very important lesson too, it shows that as an unknown comic book publisher, Crozonia as nice as it is, doesn't sell for itself. We really need to make an effort to sell. If all we did was sit back and relax, we would probably have sold less than thirty books.
Just like Saturday, didn't sell a single book untill 1 1/2 hour after the show opened. The sales were down from Saturday, as to be expected. In total we sold 195 books. It seemed like we sold more, so I was a little dissapointed. We also sold 22 posters for $5 each. Selling 200 copies remains elusive, it probably won't happen untill San Diego next year.

TimeFriday Saturday Sunday
9 - 10-0-
10 - 11-40
11 - 12-169
12 - 1-65
1 - 2-118
2 - 3-1215
3 - 4-138
4 - 5236
5 - 661311
6 - 789-
7 - 89--
8 - 94--
9 - 1017--

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Canadian National Comic Book Expo

This is the third largest comic book convention in North America, and it boasts a stellar line up of comic book, sci-fi, anime, horror, and gaming guests. Although smaller than Chicago, I feel I can outsell what I did in Chicago because of a number of reasons. The location is in the middle of the exhibitor hall, I have some people who will be helping me, and I have learned some lessons from selling in Chicago. 300 copies sold is the goal! I'll let you know the results.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Chicago Wizard World Sales

While I was selling my books at Chicago Wizard World, I made a tally of the sales and broke them down by the hour. This should be very usefull for other self publishers to use as a bench mark and see some trends.

Thursday - I arrived late, saw that half the artist alley was empty, so I decided against setting up. It made more sense to walk around the convention floor, and make some business contacts and avoid line-ups.

TimeFriday Saturday Sunday
9 - 1026-
10 - 115126
11 - 1271313
12 - 16720
1 - 2899
2 - 379-
3 - 437-
4 - 588-
5 - 6910-

In total, I sold 194 books. I brought to the show 300 books, and my lofty goal was to sell out. Even though I only reached the 2/3rd mark of my goal, I consider my sales a success because I didn't sell on Thursday, and I left early on Sunday and missed four potential busy hours. Also, I was there by myself. Notice on Sunday at noon, I sold 20 books in one hour! That's because one of the guys I traveled with was nice enough to leave their own artist alley table and help out. All he did was stand outside the table, and non-chalantly hand out the books as people walked by. I believe my product was eye-catching enough that most people would make an effort to look through it. Whether or not they decided to buy was another story.
The price point was $3 a book. On the last hour of Friday and Saturday, I sold them for $2 each. On Sunday, I sold them for $2.
Chicago was an eye-opener as far as learning how to sell. There are a few things I learned:
1. Don't sell too hard, but don't sit on your ass with your arms crossed either.
2. Don't do sketches for free, unless they buy a book. And sketch only your character. If someone wants a sketch of Spider-Man or Wolverine, then charge $10 for it.
3. Bring more than one product. It will increase and diversify sales. I was so worried about bringing these books to the border, I only brought the published books. At the Canadian National Comic Book Expo next weekend, I will be selling posters as well and offering package deals.
4. Bring help! My wife will be there helping me sell. Should help alot.
5. Bring a Laptop. This will show my CG reel, which will "reel" potential costumers in.

Any other tips, drop a comment PLEASE!

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Cross Promotion

During Wizard World Chicago, I had the pleasure of meeting Darren Davis of Bluewater Productions , who publishes a variety of comics through Alias Publishing including 10th Muse and the Legend of Isis. I asked him if it would be possible to draw a cross-over pinup featuring one of his characters facing off against Acaste. We could publish the pinup in both books to help each other, and Darren was gracious enough to agree. His line of books have a much higher profile than Crozonia, so it would be a good opportunity to raise public awareness of Crozonia, as well as draw a cool pinup!
I will be inking and colouring this piece as well, so check back on the progress of this piece.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Online Shop now open!

I have set up a shop using PayPal to sell the newly published Crozonia : The War Beneath the Waves, as well as the original black and white issues of Crozonia. What's great about Pay Pal is the store front is all html based using forms. So it was relatively easy to figure out. Go here to buy a copy! I'll have to start figuring out ways to bring in traffic to that page.
Stay tuned.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Mailing Costs

I need to begin to set up the online store to sell Crozonia on the web. I fear I may have made a mistake with the weight of the comic book. Yes, the book looks really nice, and feels like something special when you hold it in your hands. But after going to post office to get an issue wieghed with packaging (Document size Envelope, Comic book bag and board) the cost for mailing the book in Canada is $1.70! Even worse, the cost of mailing to the US is $2.90. This is because the package weighs 161g, over the 150g limit. This puts a serious blow to the viability of selling the books online. It eliminates any possible chance for International orders at the moment.

Here are the mailing expenses from Canada in $CAN:

Letter Mail
Up to 150g $1.00
Up to 300g $1.70
Up to 500g $2.45

US (in $CAN)
Up to 150g $1.70
Up to 300g $2.90
Up to 500g $5.80

So tentatively these are the prices including (S+H) that I have set up for online orders:
$5 US for American orders, $5 CAN for Canadian orders.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Back from Wizard World!

Wizard World in Chicago came and went. There were a few bumps in the road and lot's of traffic! I didn't get there on time to debut on Thursday night, and the artist alley that I was in wasn't a great location. Despite all of that, I would have to say the trip was a success!
I sold 200 books, but more importantly gained new readers, and made some important business contacts.
To see some of the pictures I took, click here.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Off to Chicago Wizard World!

I will be leaving for Chicago tomorrow to exhibit Crozonia for the first time in the US. I'm excited to see what kind of reception I will get. Wizard World is also boasting the largest Artist Alley of any kind (even larger than San Diego), so there will be some tough competition. I'm hopefull with the quality product as well as great pricing, that I'll be able to sell all 300 copies that I'm bringing.
I'll be taking pictures while I'm there, so I should have something to report after the convention.

Thanks CORE!

On the "day minus one" of Crozonia's release, I sold 25 copies to my friends and co-workers at CORE Feature Animation. Now only 2975 more to go!

Issue One finally printed!

The first issue of Crozonia: The War Beneath the Waves has finally been printed! The books look phenominal! They will be on sale startomg tomorrow at Wizard World Chicago, as well as available on the website very soon!
See you in Chicago!

Friday, July 29, 2005

Printing Delay

I just talked to the printer, and everything has been printed. The pages have been sent to a bindery where it needs to be folded, stapled, and cut. Apparently it is common for printers to outsource this work.Because of the civic long weekend, the books won't be delivered untill Tuesday. Hopefully there are no further delays as it is cutting it really close to Chicago. I leave on Thursday morning! At least I can market these books as literally hot off the press!

Tuesday, July 26, 2005


Originally, Crozonia was published as a b/w comic for two issues in 1999. Dan Merisanu and I never registered Crozonia for copyright. Now that Crozonia is going to be back in the public eye (well kind of), I felt it was important to register it with the copyright office in Canada.
For the comic book creators reading this, any artistic work you create automatically becomes your copyright. I don't have to register with the Copyright Office, but by doing so, I get a certificate that proves the date that I published Crozonia and a couple copies will be sent to the Library and Archives of Canada. Crozonia will also be added to the online Canadian Copyrights Database.

It costs $50 to file an application online here:
Canadian Intellectual Property Office

As far as trademarking the name Crozonia goes, it costs $250 online to do so. I may decide to do that in the near future if I find the brand "Crozonia" is lucrative enough. We'll find out.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005


Luckily, I found out about this before I go to press tonight. Apparently, I need to put MADE IN CANADA or PRINTED IN CANADA somewhere on the book if I want to sell it in the US. While looking for a brokerage to move my product across the border, I came upon some information about markings from http://www.aacb.com/imex/usa.asp:

All merchandise entering the commerce of the US must be marked with the country of origin of manufacture. It must be marked indelibly, conspicuously and legibly and in English. For upper body ware, such as shirts or jackets, the country of origin label must be in the neck. The marking must be such that the ultimate consumer in the US is able to determine the originating country. There are some exceptions to marking. US Customs can seize merchandise not properly marked.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Bring on the Conventions!

The San Diego Comic-Con International was held this past weekend, and it was torture to see pictures of the exhibition hall on the internet but not being able to attend.When I first pondered which conventions to sell Crozonia at for 2005, I made up my mind that San Diego was too large a convention to make a good impact at. I have been to the Comic-Con three times, and as a fan, it is an amazing and unique experience. The attendance for this show is approx. 80,000! As a small press publisher, I'm sure you get lost in the crowd very easily. I would only have the first issue there to sell, so after some number crunching, it just wasn't worth it. Consider the price of a plane ticket from Toronto to San Diego in July, at least four nights hotel, and a table that costs $800. I hope to build up the awareness of Crozonia by hitting some other note-worthy conventions first before taking on San Diego!

2005 Conventions Schedule so far:
Chicago Wizard World (August 4-7)
This is the second largest convention in North America. Over 50,000 in attendance, but I think I'll have a chance to actually make an impact with my book and display. I have never been to Chicago outside of O'Hare airport, so I figure this will be a fun trip. I have only booked an artist alley table at Chicago, so there should be minimal risk. I am driving down there with the another local Toronto publisher, DMF Comics.

Canadian National Comic Book Expo(August 26-28)
The largest convention in Canada, and the third largest convention in North America with approx 30,000 in attendance. I have exhibited at this show in the past, so there's already a bit of an existing audience for Crozonia in Toronto. This is the show I plan on moving the most units at.

The Word on the Street (September 25)
This is an annual book fair held at Queen's Park in Toronto. It's actually the larger than San Diego, Chicago and Toronto combined with over 200,000 visitors in one day! Since it does not specialise in comic books, it's a good chance to sell to an audience outside of the comic book fandom.

As for a convention schedule in 2006, I hope to exhibit at San Diego for the first time and debut my second issue there! As well as return to the conventions I'm already exhibiting at this year.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Last Call for Revisions

I received the proofs last night from the printer. They were only printed from a colour copier (Which may explain why she could beat the other price). That's okay, I didn't make an issue with it. The importance of the proof was making sure everything printed okay, and that there were no technical errors such as postscript or font issues. I took the proofs home, and now it's time to start circling errors or issues so that the printer can keep an eye out for them when the comic goes to press.
Here are some examples.

Quark Xpress has an option to print tiffs as full resolution or not. In this case, it is EXTREMELY important to get the cover right.

This may just be a color copier issue, but the border is being printed with alot of noise. It should be a pure flat border. The colours were initially C 2%,M 1%,Y 10%, K 0%. This may not be a "good" colour because it requires a screen for the Cyan and Magenta layers. So just to be safe, I changed the colour to C 0%, M 0%, Y 10%, K 0%. This will require me to give the printer a new tiff file for that page.

This problem is the font is too dark. It looked fine on screen, but there's not enough contrast when printed. In this case, I will change the colour to white.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Printer Drama!

Wow! Yesterday was a crazy day. Because my visit to Point One was rescheduled by them on Monday, a twist of fate occured. I was ready to submit my files to proof on Tuesday when the lady from H&E called in the morning to check up with me. She didn't seem too thrilled that I had gone with another printer for more than $700 less. But she said she would match any final offer from Point One and and upgraded the interior stock to 80lb paper.

I went back to Point One and asked for a final price, but they couldn't move down. They also informed me that they only accepted certified cheques (COD). That's when H&E called for one last time to make an offer for a total price of $4000. But she had to charge me 2% since I was going to use credit card to get some air miles. That brought the total price up to $4080, just one dollar less that Point One's offer with 70lb stock! I decided to go with H&E, and submitted the files for proofs. While I was there I inquired about business cards. For 500 full colour cards, the price was $75. But when I informed her that I had chosen her over the competition over a mere dollar, she gave me the business cards for free!

In summary, it pays to haggle and hold your cards until the very end. The difference between Monday and Tuesday was:

-Upgrade on the stock of paper from 70lb to 80lb
-Free business cards
-Credit Card payment
-$1 off! That lowers the unit cost after tax by 0.038 cents :)

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Web vs. Sheet Fed Printers.

A reader asked me what's the difference between a web printer and sheet fed printer. I posted this question to the Digital Webbing Creator Community about a month ago, and no one had an answer for. But here's a good explanation.

From http://www.austex.com/resources/tips.htm

"Depending on the length of your press run, your print job will be produced on either a web (roll-fed) or sheetfed press. It pays to learn what equipment your printers have on the pressroom floor--and hence what kinds of jobs your printers focus on--since most printers do not have both web and sheetfed capabilities.

As a rule, web presses are best suited for longer runs. Web presses run at much higher speeds, and most have some finishing capabilities folding, gluing, etc.) at the delivery end of the press. Whereas a press sheet comes off a sheetfed press as a large, flat sheet of paper, a web press may deliver a complete, folded signature, ready for binding. This can speed up the entire production process significantly.

Sheetfed presses are best suited for shorter runs and where showcase quality is required. Sheetfed presses can also run heavier paper, and conversely web presses can run newsprint or other thin paper. Some sheetfed presses can turn the sheet over within the press and print both sides in one pass. However, all web presses must perfect (print both sides at once), since it would be nearly impossible to run the roll of paper through the press a second time while achieving close register.

As a general rule, consider a web press when the number of impressions exceeds 25,000. Remember that a brochure that would fit "six-up" on a sheet would count as 1/6 of 25,000 impressions. If you are confused as to which press would be more appropriate, bid out your job to both web and sheetfed printers.

*[Steven Waxman is a printing consultant. He teaches corporations how to save money buying printing, sells printing services, and teaches prepress techniques. Steven has been in the industry for twenty-five years, working as a writer, editor, photographer, graphic designer, art director, production manager, and print buyer.]"

In summing up, you can usually get the best price and best quality for a comic book print run such as mine (3000) from a sheet fed printer. Marvel and DC books are web based for cost purposes - you can tell be feeling how thin the paper is.


I was supposed to go to the printers on Monday, but that has been rescheduled for today. Which is a good thing because now I've brought a digital camera along. The sales associate will be touring me around the building, so I should be able to get some good pics and some good information about the printing process.
Stay tuned.

Monday, July 11, 2005


Today, I'm submitting my digital files for proofs to PointOne Graphics, a printer in Etobicoke (just west of Toronto). It took a while to find a printer with the best price and the price varied by more than $1500.

Here are the quotes for my case. I recommend that you contact the printer directly if you want prices, but these should give you a rough idea.

Project Reference: Booklet, 32pp + Cover, 6.625 x 10.25, Cover 4/4 Process on 8pt Gloss C2S, Text: 4/4 Process on 70lb GLOSS text, Fold, Stitch, Trim, Carton

Quantity 2500 2000 3000
Signature - Interior Spreads 24pp x 1 Signatures $1491.00 $1400.00 $1583.00
Signature - Interior Spreads 8pp x 1 Signatures $804.00 $770.00 $838.00
Signature - Cover Spreads 4pp x 1 Signatures $682.00 $636.00 $728.00
Folding $248.00 $236.00 $261.00
Cutting $25.00 $25.00 $25.00
Saddle Stitching $176.00 $171.00 $182.00
Proofs $449.00 $449.00 $449.00
Plain Cartons $13.00 $10.00 $15.00

Unit Prices: $1.56 $1.85 $1.36
Total Before Taxes: $3888.00 $3697.00 $4081.00
All prices in Canadian Dollars .

What does this all mean to the uninitiated?
First the paperstock. I'm using a really thin 8pt Gloss C2S cardstock, the type you find for some night club flyers. The interiors are on 70lb gloss paper, so it's much thicker than what you would find on a typical Marvel book. The reason why I'm going with these premium papers is because I want the book to feel special. There should be some wieght when holding the book, and it shouldn't be flimsy. Also the underwater scenes in my book are fairly ink heavy, so I wanted a paper that you won't be able to see through the other side. Nothing ruins artwork more than the poorly chosen paper that it's printed on.

The book is 32 pages interior. So two signatures are needed to match that page count. A signature is essentially one large piece of paper where you print a number of pages on both sides. That paper is folded in a manner and cut so that you end up with sequential pages. It's alot more cost effective than to print each page on a side of paper.

Proofs are necessary because they are the last measure to spot errors such as common spelling and gramatical errors, colour variations, and technical issues such as corrupt fonts or postscript files. Also, what a proof will show you is how the overprint and knockout of inks is working out. Something a postscript laser printer won't show you. It is expensive though, $449 for 36 pages (including covers and interior covers). I'm going to see if I can get that price reduced. Anything to help bring the unit cost down would be good.

Stay tuned.

Friday, July 08, 2005


The truth of the matter is that Crozonia is a vanity project. If I do make any profit, I don't expect to make enough to quit my day job: a cgi artist for an upcoming Disney feature film; or my night job: a freelance package illustrator for the 2006 Matchbox toy line.
There are no grand illusions, only moderat hope. Let's look at the realities of the comic book industry in North America:

- As far as newstand distribution goes, only the largest companies such as Marvel and DC get to play. In exchange for a smaller profit margin and huge volume of distribution, retailers are allowed to return unsold covers, usually by tearing the covers off and mailing them back for a refund. There's no way smaller publishers can afford that.

- Direct market distribution is much smaller, with I'm guessing only 2-3 thousand accounts. These include specialty comic book shops and individual dealers that sell at comic book conventions. Diamond Distributors, Inc. is currently the only major distributor in the direct market. If you look at the estimated orders for the top 300 comic books in May at ICV2.com2, you'll see that many of the independent books from Image and Avatar hover around the 3000 to 5000 mark. Why so low? Take a look at the Diamond monthly catalogue. It's the size of a small phone book! The first half are simply solicitations for comic books for that month alone! It's easy getting lost in the crowd. And the worst part is you only get one chance to solicit. There are simply too many titles and too many publishers for too little comic book buyers. To stand out, you really do need a unique product. More on that later.

If my book is "wildly" successfull, I can expect those kind of sales through Diamond. If I were to profit one dollar off every book, well..., you can do the math. Nothing to leave your day job for. The reality is, I'm an unknown. So retailers don't know what to expect from me. When they order my book, and can't sell it, they can't return it unlike newstand distribution. They eat the costs. Therefore realistically, I can expect an order of around 500 copies if I were to solicit now.

And that's why I'm not soliciting now. I don't need to play the distribution game just yet. Especially when the earnings would be a measley couple of hundred bucks. Instead I plan on printing a couple of thousand copies for the time being and selling them at conventions and book fairs. Spread the word and build my name. Then when I feel it's time to distribute, I'll have probably a thousand books ready in the storage room. It's a vanity project, to communicate my stories and display my artwork pure and simple.

Does it sound like a good idea? Let me know. I'm sending the digital file on Monday to get proofs. Stay tuned.



First off, an introduction.
My name is Jim Su, and the reason why I'm creating this blog is to chronicle the business venture that is Crozonia, an underwater comic book created by myself and Dan Merisanu.
I will be publishing Crozonia in a matter of weeks, and I'll go through the step-by-step process and misadventures along the way. Hopefully, this blog can serve as a resource for aspiring comic book publishers as well as bring a little extra attention and sell a book or two.