After the Kickstarter Edition of Patriot-1 was published, I felt it was strong enough to do bigger and better things. I'm still tweaking the screenplay version and I'm exploring options of crossing into other media, but the heart of the project will always be the book.
It took 7 years from initial idea to finished form. Mostly because I was still finding my voice as a writer, I was trying to figure out how I wanted to do things. I teamed with a few artists but none of them clicked until Dexter. And of course, Donna Gregory's colors really brought the book to life.
But I poured a lot of heart and soul into that book and not just crafting the story. I did ALL of the graphic design work. I did the lettering. I did the book layout and format. I designed the covers, the spine, the back cover. That book is very much a part of me. And after the book was finalized, proofs approved and printed, I was able to actually sit down and read it to enjoy it. Are there things I would do differently? Yes, of course.
When the script was finished, my
editor and good friend Keith Dallas said to me "honestly, that was better than I thought it would be." Keith's guidance and opinion means a great deal to me and he used to edit my reviews at Comics Bulletin and he's been with me since I decided to jump into comics. But after I sat down and read it, to actually enjoy the finished product, it hit me. I thought to myself, "the book is actually pretty good." That's also around the time a lot of the positive response came in from Kickstarter backers. Then in Baltimore and New York Comic Con, regular readers, indie creators and established creators all commented on how the book looked.
I really thought I had crafted something special. So I did a little research and found the Independent Book Publisher Awards (IPPY Awards). These awards are legit, and looking at past winners, I didn't think I had a snowball's chance in hell. But I believe in my story, I believe in the quality of my work - it's something I pride myself on. So I submitted the book to the awards.
About a month or so later, following more positive praise from readers on Amazon, Kickstarter backers and beyond, I submitted it to Diamond for distribution.
Diamond is the lifeblood of the comics industry. Love them or hate them, if you want your book to really get out there, it has to be in the PREVIEWS catalog. I debated about it for a few days. You see, Diamond is scary for indie creators. A lot of us are afraid of rejection whether we want to admit it or not. Diamond is this big, scary entity that has a reputation for not being friendly to small press and indie comics.
I debated and debated. I have a weird knowledge of Diamond because I've worked at a comic store for 13 years, so I've seen the ups and downs at the retail level.
Then I read Tyler James' really insightful column at ComixTribe. I've known Tyler for a few years, we used to hit a lot of the same conventions and he's a really, really good dude. If you ever come across ComixTribe at a convention, meet Tyler and the crew. They are good bros that love comics and have some really great, unfiltered and honest insights into the business.
As I've mentioned, the book was accepted by Diamond, it was in last month's catalog and hopefully it does well sales wise. And it was because I believed in the project. I ignored the fear of rejection and went for it.
And that brings us back to the IPPY Award. I felt confident, but I wouldn't be upset if I didn't win anything. However, as it turns out, Patriot-1 won the Bronze Medal for Outstanding Graphic Novel - Drama/Documentary. I am much more excited about the award than I thought I'd be.
I've always believed in this book, I believe in the characters and the message, and I believe in my ability to craft an entertaining story. The IPPY Award is a small piece of validation that all the hard work has meant something.
Now Patriot-1 is an award-winning book, I'm an award-winning writer. Dexter is an award-winning artist and Donna is an award-winning colorist. It's kind of neat.
Next time you think twice about submitting your project to Diamond or putting it up for an Award... ask yourself if you really believe in the project. What's your biggest fear? What is holding you back? Don't let anything keep you from believing in the work you have done.