End of the Year Musings

Well, that was an adventure!

2012 draws to a close today. Tomorrow dawns a new year and a new set of 52
Wednesdays. That is 52 weeks of comic releases. And, at the rate we are going, almost that
many conventions! But, before I start counting my comic chickens ,
I think it is best that I look back on the year that was.

No, I am not going to recount every news story, every rumor, and every little thing that got our
collective knickers in a bunch. Nope. I’m going to stick closer to home and talk about the things that happened behind the scenes here at STR. Some of them you know all about. Some are just now coming to light.

First off, there was Paris in the 20th Century. The talented artist, Keri Grassl, and I started working on this book in early 2011, and began publishing it to the web later that year. We wrapped it up in October of this year, putting the finishing touches on fifty pages of story. As I write, Keri is hard at work coloring the pages, making a few touchups to faces, and generally cursing at me for putting so many scenes in front of book cases. Once she has finished, we are off to the presses. Stay tuned for when and where you can obtain your very own copy! Hopefully we will be making appearances at conventions this year!

Speaking of conventions, 2012 brought the STR team to several conventions. We hit Emerald
City Comic-Con, Stumptown Comic Fest, San Diego Comic-Con, Trickster, and Geek Girl
Con. We also checked out the inaugural Rose City Comic-Con. Out of all of those, I would
have to say Emerald City was my favorite. I continue to be impressed by the egalitarian nature
of it all. Industry giants are seated right next to self-publishers and all are treated like royalty
by the fans. This year was a bit crowded as appearances Robert Kirkman brought in a crush of
Walking Dead fans.

While I was lucky enough to score an interview with Kirkman, regaling you with details of our face-to-face time isn’t what I want to focus on. I want to focus on something I saw one of his handlers do. Each morning there was a mad dash for tickets to have Kirkman sign books. Each day there were only a hundred or so tickets handed out, and they were usually gone in a matter of moments. As I stood waiting for my interview time to arrive, I saw a young man in a wheelchair approach the booth. He was quadriplegic and assisted by a friend or family member. The friend inquired about an autograph ticket for his wheelchair-bound companion. The young lady at the booth shook her head and apologized, saying that there would be more tickets tomorrow. As the friend turned to start the difficult task of maneuvering a wheelchair through the crowded aisles, one of Kirkman’s handlers reached out and tapped him on the shoulder. Silently, a ticket was slipped into his hand. Signatures are cheap. An act of kindness is priceless.

What many people probably did not know about the Emerald City trip was that Thor was not
able to accompany me. Normally we work as a team with me doing the interviews and Thor
providing camera work and technical support. However, with Thor out of the picture, I was left to scramble to figure out how to do interviews on camera by myself! So, out came theMacBook and multitude of microphone adaptors! Overall it worked pretty well. The audio/video synch was off for Kirkman which is why I only posted the audio, and the camera angle formy interview with Jarret Williams makes us look like we are ten feet tall!  This year Thor assures me he can make it, so we should have some competent camera work!

San Diego was another pleasant surprise. I am always amazed that we are invited to attend
such a gathering. We met and interviewed Eddie Campbell, Terry Moore, Jimmy Palmiotti, the crew from Valiant, and Jeff Lemire. Jimmy Palmiotti was a true gentleman, going above and beyond, having lunch with us (on his tab!) and sharing stories from his days coming up through the ranks. It was fascinating, candid stuff which I will let him decide which should or should not be repeated. However, if you ever get a chance, introduce yourself to Jimmy and say hello. He is a great guy and a lot of fun to chat with.

More behind the scenes stories. When we went to San Diego this year, we decided to invest
in a wireless mic setup. The idea was that it would be one less thing for us to trip over as we
moved through the jam-packed aisles and set up our shots. Unfortunately, when we arrived, we found out that everyone else had brought wireless setups this year and all of our microphones were interfering with each other! We lost a great interview with Matt Dembicki because our mic frequency kept getting crossed with someone else. Luckily we had it figured out by the end of the first day, and had a clear frequency. If we are fortunate enough to get invited back this year for The Big Show, we will be sure to check our mic frequencies early and often! Lesson learned? Check everything two or three times before heading onto the con floor!!!

I would like to thank the organizers of Emerald City Comic Con, San Diego Comic Con, and
Stumptown Comics Fest for providing us with media passes for their shows. Each media pass is incredibly valuable and represents faith that we will be able to generate interest and excitement for their show. We take our end of the bargain seriously and hope that we will continue to live up to expectations. Each year we get a little better at this and appreciate the continued faith.

Speaking of getting better, we must be doing something right. We reviewed over 150 books in
the past 8 months, and started a spotlight feature on self-published books. We produced over
twenty interviews and published 857 posts.  We made connections with major publishers and were able to review an even wider range of titles than ever before.

I would like to thank Gina Gagliano at First Second, Aub Driver at Dark Horse, Stephen Robson at Fanfare/Ponet Mon, Mel Caylo at Archaia, Leigh Walton at Top Shelf, Tom Shimmin at Oni Press, Tom Green at Titan, Hunter Gorinson at Valiant, Michiko Clark at Random House, Michael Molcher at 2000AD, and the dozens of other publicity and marketing folks who have worked with us over the past year to procure review copies, interviews, and answered all kinds of questions. We could not exist without their kindness and consideration.

Most importantly, I would like to thank you, the readers. Our number of visitors grew
significantly this year. In fact, our average monthly readership tripled from last year! We had
single days which outranked entire months just a couple of years ago! Thank you to each and
every one of you who takes the time to read the posts on our site. We know there are plenty of
comic sites out there. Hopefully we will continue to carve out our place as your online resource for independent comics and their creators.

May your 2013 be full of imagination and creativity.

Brian Gardes, STR

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