Justin Leach’s Majestic XII, and some tips for other self publishers!

A few weeks ago, my internet chum Justin Leach emailed me about his fantastic just-released comic book Majestic XII. He’s self-publishing through Ka-Blam.com, and I got to see the finished comic, which looks incredible. A perfect printing. It amazes me that there’s such an awesome resource now for indie comic authors. If you don’t know, Ka-Blam specializes in print-on-demand comics. So an author like Justin would upload his work (for no fee), and then send his friends, family, & perfect strangers to his sales page to order the comic. Speaking of which, why not buy Majestic XII #1!

I asked Justin some questions about the process, here’s what came back…

Me: The quality looks fantastic, some of my students might be curious about printing their own comics too. Would recommend Ka-Blam to others, and do you have any tips to publishing through them?

Justin: When dealing with Ka-Blam make sure that the pages are pre-pressed(they have exact sizes and everything on their FAQ page. Also make sure they are TIF files. And you will have to load a zip of the files onto a FTP server like Sendspace.

Also make sure that your lettering is good. That is the first thing that usually goes in an indie comic. Great art and great coloring but they are using COMIC sans which is a no-no.

Me: Tell us about your illustration process: Did you draw on paper then scan and color, or do you use a Wacom / Cintaq tablet to go straight into the computer?

Justin: My artist in Montana drew in blue pencil, then inked over the top , scanned it into the computer, then sent it to the “flatter” in the Phillipines who lays down the original flat colors(most likely in Wacom), then the colorist puts down the next set of colors using Wacom, He then sends it to the letterer who uses a computer to put down the lettering and sound effects.

Me: Whoops, I thought you drew it. Take me further back in time then.

Justin: First it starts out with me (the writer) and then I send it to an editor to make sure spelling and grammer are correct.
Me: Ah, well I can’t imagine the process ended for you at that point, did you then have to manage the production?

Justin: Yeah it is even more a job about dealing with people than a creative job. It has to all mesh. I had to fire a couple of people or else the project would never have looked as good as it did. You have to be good at dealing with different personality types and sometimes just listening to people’s problems.

Me: And personalities aside, artists don’t work for free. Any idea of the total cost of the project?

Justin: It can cost alot of money, so find the best unknowns that you can to keep the cost down. Sometimes you might have to give up a little ownership in order to get the cost of production down.It also makes your crew willing to put more of themselves into it. SAVE like there is no tomorrow. It will cost around 1,500 – 2,000 to produce a good comic. Unless you are doing the artwork and or the coloring yourself.

Me: How long did issue 1 take to do?

Justin: It took us 4 months. Issue two is going to take us 2 monthes and be released in January.

Me: Just curious, what’s your favorite comic? Aside from your own of course

Justin: My favourite comic? Ummm, My fave when I was kid was Uncanny X-Men by Chris Claremont and John Byrnes. I also loved it under Jim Lee.

Me: Yeah, I read that one too. I think I’ve still got a pile of them sitting under some leaky pipes at my parents house.  Anyway, thanks for the interview! Best of luck with everything!

(I shut my laptop before giving him a chance to reply…jk )

Again, you can pick up the first issue here.

Also check it out, Majestic XII got a nice mention in this video podcast…

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