It is my profound pleasure to write the following sentence: The Guns of Shadow Valley has been nominated for an Eisner Award in the category of Best Digital Comic!!!!! I almost can’t believe it. I’ve known for a couple of days and have had to keep a lid on the news, which has been nearly impossible. For those of you who may not know, the Eisners are the premier awards for the comic book industry. What the Oscars are to movies, the Eisners are to comics. I hardly know what to write, I’ve been euphoric for days.
I’m astounded and intimidated by out fellow nominess. I’m a huge fan of all of these webcomics. Along with us, the nominations for Best Digital Comic are:
Abominable Charles Christopher, by Karl Kerschl, www.abominable.cc
Bayou, by Jeremy Love, http://zudacomics.com/bayou
Power Out, by Nathan Schreiber, www.act-i-vate.com/67.comic
Sin Titulo, by Cameron Stewart, www.sintitulocomic.com/
Read the complete list of categories and nominations for the 2010 Eisner Awards.
It was almost 3 years ago, at San Diego Comic-Con 2007, I was sitting at the Dial R booth with my collaborator for the last 2 years, Jim Clark. We had worked together on our first project, the comic series Scar Tissue. He wrote it, I made with the scribbles. That 5 issues series had just been finished, and we were selling the collected edition there at Comic-con. I don’t recall which day it was, that convention is overwhelmingly insane and everything tends to congeal into one big amorphous memory. But I remember this moment: There was a lull in the crowds, I was working diligently on a sketch request, Jim was lightly plucking at his Ukulele, which he always brings to these shows, when he turned and asked me: “Now that we’re done with Scar Tissue, what do you want to work on next?” Jim mentioned that he had more ideas for Scar Tissue stories, but I looked up and told him: “I’ve got this idea for a Western…mixed with superheroes.” Jim was intrigued and I went on for several minutes about these loose, still undeveloped ideas that I had had knocking around in my head for the past year or so. I can’t remember if I had finished or if Jim interrupted me, but I do remember what happened next. “Dude,” he said with a light in his eyes, “let’s do that!”
Since that time, this project has had it’s starts and stops, and Jim and I have had our ups and downs. We brought in somebody we knew and trusted for a long time, Thomas Mauer, to set his masterful hands at work on the lettering and sound fx. We’ve gone through the submission process to publishers, struggled in and out of negotiations, all which eventually led nowhere. I’ve been traveling the country selling the preview book at conventions for cost, along with a little head sketch on the back for free, just to get the word out. After talks with a couple of publishers had been less than fruitful, we decided to take the comic to the web. Here on the internet, we weren’t bound by the constraints of the printed page. Each chapter could be as long or as short as we wanted. We were free to take the time to focus on the characters, expand on the themes, and basically just tell the story the way we wanted. I really need to thank Bryan Deemer for putting the idea of webcomics into my head. It was just after the first CGS SuperShow, Bryan was driving me to the train station and we were discussing, or rather I was complaining about, the offers we had received from a couple of publishers. Bryan suggested publishing on the web, and we went back and forth for the rest of the ride about the pros and cons. I got pretty excited about the idea and passed it along to Jim. We had both been a bit disheartened by the deals that were offered, but this gave us new life and a completely new outlook. We could, basically, do it ourselves. Put it on the web, build our audience, promote it, do all the work we had done with our previous self-published print series, but this time there would be no printing costs, and the potential for who we could reach was limited only by our own efforts and imaginations.
July of last year, I had finally finished enough pages and we launched Guns of Shadow Valley onto the web. Since then we’ve been slowly, but surely, growing our audience. The immediacy of the feedback and all the heartfelt support we’ve received so far has been our inspiration. This experience has been exhausting and thrilling, and we’ve only just started on this journey. While it may seem like just a big adventure story, Guns is a very personal work. Jim and I have put a lot of ourselves into these characters. This isn’t a sideline project for me, while I work on my paying gigs. No, my paying gigs are the sideline projects that allow me to work on this. I’ve been told, and it’s probably true, that I would be more well known and have a more impressive career resume, if I just applied for pencilling gigs with some of the larger publishers. Basically, give up on my own stories, at least for a while, and tell other people’s stories. Maybe I will do that, later. Right now though, I’m going to do my best to have a go of it. These characters, this story, this experience, this is my career, this is my life. That’s why this nomination means so much. We poured our hearts out into this thing, and now the biggest awards in the land have chosen us to place on a platform with some of the best work currently found on this expansive and seemingly boundless thing called the world wide web. I can’t rightly express what I’m feeling right now as I receive all these messages of congratulations on twitter, facebook, and email, from my fans and friends. If it wasn’t for these people loving and encouraging this work, it would cease to exist. I’m rambling, so I better just wrap it up. Huge thanks to the nominating committee for the Eisner Awards for this incredible honor, and to our fans, friends, and family for all the love and support.
Now, to book those plane tickets to San Diego…