Hi everyone! My name is Grace, and I’m a 1st year business student at Western. As a freshman, I was eager to get my hands on any opportunities that seemed interesting, so when Pre-Business Student’s Network posted applications for an internship program, I didn’t hesitate to apply!
***Update: If you are reading this, you may not now about our latest kickstarter project, which you can view here – Macbeth: The Red King***Late last year, we took a big leap and launched our first crowdfunding campaign via kickstarter. It was perhaps the most stressful experience I’ve had in the 2 years that Lucha Comics has existed, but it was definitely one of the most satisfying as well. From a slow start, to getting into Bleeding Cool, and (just barely) crossing the finish line, I figured I was long overdue in reflecting on what I believe was our largest accomplishment to date.
The story of Lucha Comics, and our kickstarter for The Kursk made it to bleeding cool! Check it out here…
This is probably the question that I get asked the most, day in, day out. Not just by creators that want to publish with me, but by fellow comic book fans, and even outsiders who, while they have little interest in comic books, find their distribution (both physical and in print) to be interesting from a business perspective. So, are comic books going digital? Or aren’t they?
I love comic books – they constantly amaze me, and take me to new and impossible worlds. Now I’d like to tell you about why I had to launch a comic book publisher. Yes, why. Sure it’s enough to love something, to turn it into an expensive hobby, and let it consume a lot of your free time. But it takes a special kind of crazy to look at juggernauts like Marvel and DC and think to yourself “how hard can it be?”. Well, here are just a few reasons (and I am sure that I can think of so many more).
14 years ago today, The Kursk Disaster hit the media outlets. In memory of 118 brave souls that were lost with their ship, I would like to share Sasha Janowicz’ afterword for The Kursk #1.
In August 2000 The News of The Kursk disaster exploded on the network channels around the world and I, like many, watched the events unfold in
silent horror in what became the first submarine incident in the history of all Navies, transmitted almost literally live on Television. Like many, I hoped for a successful
rescue of the sailors for those long eight days.
The news blamed the Russians for not asking for international help soon enough and thus jeopardizing the chances for the rescue; they commented on the ailing state of the
country and its fleet; they speculated about alleged attempts on behalf of the Russian Government and military authorities to cover up some mystery concerning the submarine and its mission, and about their inability to rescue the seamen and suggested that only the American and British Naval rescuers could do the job if called upon in time. Then, at the end, along with the world, I saw how Norwegian divers finally tore The Kursk’s escape hatch open with a powerful robotic arm which released a small air pocket from the already flooded submarine, taking away with it the last hope for survivors. I felt that something broke inside me.
Powerless fury – that is what Albina Konolova, the Liason Officer of the 7th Submarine Division (where The Kursk belonged), called that feeling.
I refused to believe some of the media reports, particularly those which alleged the delay of the rescue operation. I also wanted to learn the reason for the tragedy. For the next few years I collected information and talked to specialists in the field. In my studies, I found the rescue operation was record-breaking in many aspects: the submarine was found very quickly, the rescue submersibles were delivered and dived only around 14 hours after the submarine was discovered – the rescuers showed true heroism working against the bad weather above the Arctic Circle, risking like and limb around the clock for ten days trying to save their comrades, fighting until it was obvious that there were no chances and beyond. Nevertheless, the negative coverage continued to reappear in the Western Media.
I felt I needed to speak about it. the form of a stage play seemed, to me, the most appropriate. Quite a few books on the subject were published by journalists. The english language print, however, followed the ideological default: when speaking about Russia, speak negatively. The interesting, well-grounded materials appeared in Russia and were unavailable for the English speaking reader. Besides such books are released in limited numbers of copies and relatively few people get to read them. Making a film was out of the question, not only because of the lack of resources, but also because a film is a passive experience on the part of the viewer. Only a live theatrical experience, as opposed to a simple delivery of facts and images, seemed appropriate for sharing my knowledge and feelings with the audiences.
For those who lost their relatives on board The Kursk, this tragedy will never lose its relevance. But as the sinking of the boat becomes an increasingly distant historical event, the uneasy questions about what actually happened to the 118 men, or what could have been the consequences of it, are slipping out of the public focus.
It is not, however, in the headlines anymore; there are new stories of grief and distraction around.
The powerful images are shown on screens every day and become almost a part of the household furniture – something common. It takes the human experience away from the tragedy and turns it into statistics. Also common is the ever-renewing nature of the news broadcast, which bombards the viewer with new information every day, replacing the previous sensations. Today’s sensation is tomorrow’s stale gossip.
Those who control the media know this all too well and manage stories accordingly. The French government, for example, decided that the documents concerning the loss of one of their submarines in the distant 1970 would not be made public until 2078 – long after that entire generation is gone!
By then it will become just a piece of trivia. Thus the questions that are so painful and important in the present (like what gives the authorities of any country in the world the right to push humankind to the brink of a global catastrophe?) will become a mere anecdote of history in the future. Truth can be buried, forgotten, and reality changed so that the lessons of the past remain unlearnt. We have developed an alarmingly short historical memory as a civilization. This means we are sailing without a compass. We must become aware of the course before we get where we do not want to be.
In the words of the leading character from Vladimir Gubarev’s play Sarcophagus: “According to Socrates, all our troubles stem from ignorance.” [London: Penguin, 1987]. To avoid it we must question, because knowledge allows understanding, understanding invokes compassion, and compassion denies confrontation.
With this story, I want to share my grief of the loss of life and truth because I believe that by sharing grief we remind ourselves that we are human.
– Sasha Janowicz, December 2008
Want to learn more about The Kursk? Get The Kursk #1 on your preferred platform:
Ok, so hopefully you read Part 1 of Almost there! and learned how Lucha Comics will be a real thing in a matter of days, so I just wanted to touch on the professional path that brought me here in Almost There! Part 2.
9. Customer Service Guy
It was time to move away from home after being PC Exporter guy didn’t pan out. I left London, Ontario for the big city of Toronto, and my first job was that of Customer Service Representative at Nikon Canada. I worked with some great people, but soon found that the pay wasn’t very competitive, and the IT systems really needed updating. I also learned that Mexican work ethic could outdue the Japanese if it was needed, and I was fortunate enough to learn a bunch about digital photography. I also learned that my gut wasn’t particuarly bad when it came to tech: I remember making the argument for better connectivity, and being told that Digital Cameras would never really be consumer goods, they were more the high-end amateur. I was allowed to borrow some sweet digital cameras (keep in mind that this was over 10 years ago; a D-SLR was probably worth about $20,000 and shot at between 2 and 4 Megapixels). I got to meet pro-photographers, but after being passed up for promotions, I decided to move on. Lesson here: don’t wait to get pushed out of job. Jump – you’ll be far better off.
10. PC Wholesale Guy (Again)
I connected in Toronto with someone from my old gig, and under better leadership I was made Internet Sales Manager, learned a ton about eBaying, and about standing your ground. There was a ton of conflict between the guy that brought me on, and the owners (husband and wife). They also over-expanded. Unfortunately, the razor thin margins in the PC industry really impacted the place, and so I lost my job as the company massively down-sized. Lesson learned: don’t over extend, and don’t let someone else’s personal conflicts drag your career down.
10. ESL Instructor
With nothing left for me in Toronto, and just being fed up with the life that I had, my (future) wife and I decided to go to Korea to be English teachers. Our concerns over North Korea never happened, and overall we had an amazing time! I learned a tiny bit of Korean, learned about Korean and Asian culture, got to work with kids, and just had a great experience. There were definitely some negatives here, but this is something I’ll never forget. Lesson learned: go abroad while you can; I would have hated to look back 20 years from now and say “Gee, I wish I had gone to Korea”
11. Insurance Agent
My wife and I decided to leave Korea early, because she received the opportunity to do a Master’s at Queen’s University on a scholarship. So, time to leave the surreal world of Korea which offered tons of wages, the easiest job I’ve ever had and bizzare little adventures. Now I had to re-enter the real world. I applied to work with a wonderful woman named Mary Quist, who was like a mentor, a mother, and who showed me that I could have a better career then just above minimum wage. I was taught to be professional, to listen to people, and how to really work in a team to achieve results. I knew nothing about insurance going in, but more importantly didn’t know anything about sales. With Mary, Nicole, Melissa and Karen, along with all the other great people that I met, I really had a chance to grow professionally. Leaving this job to move closer to home was heart-breaking. It also killed my love of the insurance industry. My professional development took years to recover from this, because I knew that I was leaving something that couldn’t be re-created. I can’t do this part of my career (like many others, such as Korea or Mexico) justice in one blog post. Lesson learned: it’s tough to let go of a good thing.
12. Insurance Agent (again)
After moving to London, I became an insurance agent again. My heart just wasn’t in it, despite working with some fantastic people. Lesson learned: it’s good to specialize but know when to move one, because after this I decided to move on to…
13. Insurance Agent (yup, again again)
I tried going independent as an insurance guy. I had grandoise visions, but with my kids being young, I was losing their childhood to something that made me little money. But more importantly, I didn’t love the financial industry anymore. It was time to move into the world of consulting, where I took the best of this industry (working with Small Businesses) and got rid of the worst (doing the same thing over and over). Lesson learned: failure isn’t always bad, but know when you have failed.
I played landlord with our rental property, and all around just got screwed by business partners who pretended to be friends but turned out to be terrible human being. I hate that I wasted time, energy and money with them, and again missed time with my babies. Long-story short, it took nearly 5 years to smarten up and get out, and culminated with my “partners” fleeing the country on fraud charges and their proceeds being paid into the courts. Lesson learned: bad partnerships can’t save an otherwise good project.
15. The Non-Profit Sector
This is what helped me to find my passion again. I focused my efforts on the non-profit world, where I had the opportunity to learn something new, work with great people, do social good, and really take ownership of something and create it. This still is a very important committment for me, and I still love it. Lesson learned: new career paths & industries can revitalize you.
16. Project Manager/Consultant (again/concurrent)
…and this is my night job (which I just finished at about 1:00AM). I am part of a start-up with some friends of mine looking to take EHR functions and data into the cloud. I am learning about software development, MYSQL, HTML5 and some other really cool stuff. It’s a lot of fun, but like a lot of tech startups it doesn’t really pay. I do really enjoy it though, and it doesn’t detract from my day job so it can’t hurt too much. Lesson learned: bootstrapping.
This has been part of my professional identity for over 10 years, and something that I am proud to be part of thanks to my beautiful wife. She has always pushed me to do better, and through our firm Reimar Group, I have learned how to write effectively, grow businesses, and just work with people to help them reach their goals. For those entrepreneurs getting started, we also developed an inexpensive way to lend them our expertise – BizMula – start-up business plans in about 2 hours for $199.This has been a fun, but long process, with the software taking way longer then anticipated. Lesson(s) learned: software dev takes forever, entrepreneurship is awesome, and most importantly, be professional and always give truthful advice to your clients.
I think that just about does it. I really don’t want to sell any particular aspect of my professional development short. It’s been a long path, and each part has been integral. I’m glad that along the way I have picked up the skills needed to fulfill a boyhood dream: to be involved in the comic book industry.
Senior VP of Arms about to fall off after a day full of typing, Lucha Comics
Lucha Comics is coming along nicely; I am happy to announce that we should have our first creator owned content in a matter of days! This is an exciting time, and honestly I am a bit nervous since I really don’t know much about the comic book industry 🙂 However, I do know business and have had the pleasure of doing a few different thing which I think have led me here, and that hopefully will allow Lucha Comics to grow into a successful comic book publisher. Here’s a brief rundown of numerous jobs that I have held over the years:
If you read my last blog post, you’ve basically surmised that someone who reads lots of comics and can’t draw worth anything has decided to enter the business. Yeah, seriously. So, I have the ambition, some business background and tons and TONS of comics in my basement that my wife keeps threatening to get rid of, or worse yet, put into the hands of two toddlers. I’m sure that’s exactly how Stan Lee and Bob Kane got their starts.
I expect that of the millions, and millions (read: If I’m lucky, the dozens, and dozens) that read this blog post don’t really know much about me, or Lucha Comics. So, before really getting into things, I just wanted to talk about it and fill you in about why I am launching this project.