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. Continue reading “10 Things That Our Kickstarter Campaign Taught Me”
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:
1. Helping my dad at this farm with their computer systems
(This job happened sporadically and really is still kind of on-going)
I have never been handy or good with anything farm related, but I took to PCs quite young. When I first got serious about working on them for other people, my dad took me to the farm where he still works, and I would do some training, troubleshooting, and trying to implement the vision that he had (which was way ahead of its time for the Canadian Dairy Industry). To give you an idea, I still remember paper spreadsheets when I first arrived, moving to Lotus 1-2-3 (for MS-DOS of course!) and finally getting to the promised land of Excel. Since then, I have helped troubleshoot automated milking systems and a Bluetooth Milk Tank. My how things have changed 🙂 Lesson learned: adopt technology or stay behind.
I found that working at a young age was very helpful; it builds work ethic, and if framed correctly work can be kind of fun. This didn’t last long, but it did allow me to re-connect with my grade 5 teacher (thanks Mrs. Matthews for all of your hard work!) and taught me the value of being on-time. Lesson learned: get your customers to pay – ontime!
3. Carwasher/Book Keeper/Bartender
After Grade 9, I moved to Mexico for 2 years with my family. My father’s cattle exporting business need the chance to grow, so we moved. I remember crying, wanting to stay. Looking back I am grateful that my father gave me this opportunity. I brushed up my (at that point) almost non-existent Spanish, re-connected with family there, and got to spend more time with my Dad. I got to learn more about his business by travelling with him to client meetings, and got involved in his car repair shop. I washed cars, and when money went missing I learned how to book keep. It took years for me to realize the amount of trust that was placed in me, and the accounting was kind of fun. I did manage to find significant amounts of missing cash. Later, at the age of 15 and part of a highschool co-op, I bartended. Not legal to drink, I was pouring drinks all day long. Leaving Mexico was bittersweet, although driving back with my father was a fantastic experience; seeing the transition from a suburb of Mexico City, to the US/Mexican border at Nuevo Laredo, to the farmlands of the Southern US, and back to St. Thomas, Ontario (a city of 25,000 vs. Mexico City’s 25,000,000) was mind-blowing. Lessons learned: way too many, but trust that if you have a family that loves you, they’ll be around longer then some of your highschool buddies.
4. Tobacco Farm-hand
This job was BRUTAL. For the first month, I would wake up at 4:30 AM, get to the farm for 6:00AM, work until about 2, come home and be asleep by about 5:00PM. Yeah, seriously. Dinner at 4PM. Heatstroke, having chunks of my finger tips just kind of torn-off/disappear with no real bleeding (still trying to figure that out). Jumping off a 12 foot drop that my buddy swore to me was only 2 feet, getting pesticide sprayed in my eyes by the machine we rode to pick on, and having to learn to work fast, efficiently, in a team, and basically try to become twice as strong in a matter of weeks (bags of wet tobacco leaves are heavy!). This was a test of my endurance, and one that I like to think I passed. Overall, it was fun. Lesson learned; hard work builds character and tests your limits.
5. Working at a Compost Site
So, who would take a job working in a warehouse full of smelly compost that needs to be kept at 45° in the middle of summer? This guy 🙂 I worked with some interesting characters, amongst them a super-serious boss who could not change his facial expression or show any real emotion, was super efficient, worked like a robot, yet could not seem to show up to work in a T-Shirt that was not Rage Against the Machine, Metallica, etc.. I also had the chance to meet a cool individual from Africa, a gentleman by the name of Ring, who told me something that I had a hard time understanding: he had not seen a movie before the age of 15 or so. The movie? Kevin Costner’s Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. It really puts things into perspective, like the things we take for granted. I’ll go home and watch Netflix, while many people on this planet have never used a telephone in their lives. Lesson Learned: if you have the ability to read this, you are probably lucky.
6. Working at a Poolstore
This was a bit odd, as I actually got to work with the father of one of my best friends from elementary school. Suddenly I was working with “Dave” instead of “Mr. O’Grady”. It’s funny how we drill into kids that Mr. & Mrs. are forms of respect, yet the act of being allowed to be on a first-name business with Dave really earned him points in my eyes (of course I respected him before; he is one of the nicest people you will ever meet, a life-long learner, and just all around bright). I learned a lot about warehouse type stuff, and to never, ever mix muriatic acid and chlorine. A fun summer gig, but one that I had to let go because of a spinal cord injury. Lesson learned: respect is earned, and can be earned easier then you think.
7. Warehouse Worker/Proof Reading
Municipal World is a very interesting business – it is a publication for municipal governments, and they also handle materials for municipal elections. It was there that I met my buddy Craig (who is a fellow wrestling fanatic), as we did warehouse type work. Our bosses were super-cool, and I feel that I learned a lot. Beside the warehouse and election components, Municipal World also helps to draft municipal law, and I was allowed to assist in proof reading, and reviewing some French content. It was just a really unique experience. I’ll never forget the interview process – “Yeah looks good. Can you start right now?”. Lesson learned: you can learn some cool stuff at jobs that might otherwise seem crappy.
8. Exporter, Wholesale PC Equipment
This was a job that just felt a bit over my head. Fresh out of school, I worked for straight commission. My job? To export refurbished/off-lease PC equipment to Latin America in wholesale quantities – i.e. in 20 and 40 foot containers. This is where I learned about NAFTA, how it prevented the importing of used PCs into mexico (my homeland and the largest target market in Latin American for us at the time), and trying to do business with Cuba. I made virtually 0 dollars, but had a delegation from Cuba come to visit where I leanred the ropes of translation. I did speak Spanish, but never really had played translator before. Our delegates didn’t just want our hardware; they also wanted to tour a manufacturer of water treatment equipment, a health software development firm, and a few other places. I learned and had to translate stuff related to a bunch of industries on the fly. It all went well, but unfortunately a greedy boss threw it all away. Lesson learned: take control where you can, because one bad apple can piss away a great deal. I did get a chance to make some great friends though.
Ok, so I’ve just realized that I’ve had a ton of jobs. I’m going to break this up here, and hopefully you’ll find this interesting enough that you’ll want to read part 2 of Almost There!
Jack-of-all Trades, Lucha Comics
So, how did I launch a Comic Book Publisher?
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 who Stan Lee and Bob Kane got their starts.
To be fair, she has been quite supportive, but as a young family with a limited budget, I decided that if I really wanted to do this, I was going to make some sacrifices to get this thing going. This meant it was time to go into the basement and sell some of my coveted Walking Dead books. I’ve told myself that if I make a go of this thing, I’m going on eBay and buying myself a nice copy of a #1, even if I pay some ridiculously inflated price. Anyway, without any further ado, here are the sacrificial lambs that made Lucha Comics a reality:
Sacrifice #1: The Walking Dead #10 & #11
I picked these up off of eBay awhile ago. I made a bit of money off of them, but not a ton. While profit is nice, I told myself if I can turn some books into cash, it can help me to get things going. Parting with these hurt a bit, but not as bad as the next one…
Sacrifice #2: The Walking Dead #27
I’m not going to lie – this one hurt (Especially since I scored this at a local shop’s back issue bin for cover price less than 2 years ago – this was an absolute STEAL). Yes, besides The Walking Dead 1 and 19, this has got to be the most sought after issue. Before this, the world knew not of how awesome and sadistic the Governor was. Despite the fact that I have more valuable comics in my collection, this was probably one of the hottest books that I had. Letting it go wasn’t easy, but I had a goal to reach, and while I could have saved over a few paycheques to make this happen, I really wanted to see if my comic book collection could spawn a comic book business.
Other sacrifices included The Walking Dead #20, #42, #61,63, #85-91 and the variant of #75, and some DC New 52 stuff. So, what did this leave me with?
Enough funds to get my friend Emilio (the most talented visualizer I have ever met) to come up with an awesome logo for my brand, and a new website design that will be rolling out here soon. It also covered some web hosting costs, and, in case if I ever learn to draw or can find an intern, a Bamboo tablet. While this doesn’t sound like much, it’s more then enough to get me going. Now I just need to finalize some content deals and get some cool stuff out there…
So, I’m Launching a Comic Book Publisher
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.
I have loved comics for quite some time; for nearly 30 years I have been collecting them (mainly Batman, but I love my Punisher books amongst others). When my children arrived, I did take about a 5 year hiatus from reading them, but now I am back at it full force, and what a great time to be a fan! Marvel is doing some awesome stuff thanks to Jonathan Hickman, Matt Fraction, and a bunch of other talented individuals. I believe that DC has done amazing stuff with their New 52, although lately they do seem a bit greedy to me (52 covers for a B team JLA book?). Image is really kicking ass, and capturing a nice market share from the big two thanks to The Walking Dead, Saga, and some other really good titles. Apart from that, digital has exploded thanks to these guys, levelling the playing field for a lot of independents. I know find myself reading as many Monkeybrain titles as I do DC!
So, what does this really mean? It means that despite having a day job as a Project Manager, I know see that I finally have a chance to be a part of an industry that I have loved nearly as long as I have been alive. Using some of my professional experience in the business world, I have decided to launch Lucha Comics, my own digital publisher. I’m not expecting to get my hands on the next big thing and make millions, but I feel that the tools that the Internet offers us now can allow me to finally participate in the industry.
What? Yes, someone who could maybe write a comic book, and who cannot draw anything decent (and I mean anything) is launching a comic book publisher. I am lifelong fan, and am fascinated by the industry, so I figured, how hard can it be?
Well, like any new business or project, these things do take time and money. First, I decided that this new venture should be sustainable. That is, it should be able to pay for itself year after year, otherwise it would not be much of a business. So, what about start-up costs?
After speaking to my wife (who despite hating comic books and complaining that I spend too much money on them) it became clear that she was fully supportive, and probably would have used our family savings to help fund the kick off. While we could have afforded it, having 2 young children makes you think. That is when I decided that my comic books should sustain my dreams of launching a comic book publisher. That’s when I went into the basement, started rifling through the longboxes, and picked which comics would be sold in order to fund the dream. I suppose that if one could pick a favourite child, the conversation would go like this: “sorry sweetie, but daddy can get a good price for you because you’re pretty popular right now”
Desire and the willingness to give up some pretty cool comics are not enough to launch a publisher; fortunately, I have had the privilege of coming across some very cool content, and I am hoping to work with some talented creators to bring it to all of you very soon. Who knows, this thing might just take off. I really hope that you’ll check back frequently, to see where this experiment goes.
Editor/Project Manager/One-man Show at Lucha Comics