This Alessi/CrossGen/Diamond thing has becomes the beast that will not die. Regarding his claims he was being frozen out of Diamond's power base, I wrote last week:
On the other hand, I can't believe Marvel, DC, Image and Dark Horse (I presume that's Diamond's "Big 4") have engaged with Diamond in what amounts to a conspiracy to prevent other publishers from competing on their terms. Aside from restraint of trade issues - and, if I were smaller publishers, I'd have banded together to take Diamond to court on those issues already - there's that conspiracy thing. Some smart lawyer could easily jimmy RICO laws into that situation. There's a scene in CITIZEN KANE where Kane returns from a '30s junket to Europe, and claims something along the lines of he has met with the leaders of Germany, Italy, etc., and they're smart enough to refrain from embarking on a path that will mean the end of civilization as we know it. "Trust me, gentlemen," he tells the press, "there will be no war." (Or words to that effect.) This echoes in my head as I say I know many big players at the Big 4 companies personally, and I find it hard to believe any of them are that stupid. I really hope they aren't."
Which prompted this reply from the marketing director of another "Diamond-secondary" company:
"Don't quote me by name or company on this, but I've encountered most of the things described at the Alessi-lunch at Diamond. The conspiracy really exists, or at least that's what Diamond told me.
"I've asked many times about getting a cover on PREVIEWS, and what I've been told is that the Big 4 are "premier publishers," and that this means a couple of things. One, Diamond can't make anyone else a premier publisher without the approval of the big 4. Two, only premier publishers can advertise on either of the two monthly covers. It's interesting to note that Marvel, because they came to the Diamond exclusive thing late, only get two covers (out of a possible 24) per year. You may have noticed that Marvel doesn't appear on PREVIEWS very often."
If this is true, given that the covers are often the most effective means of pimping product known to a publisher, it does mean that Diamond is effectively conspiring with the major publishers to lock the rest of the market out of a place of prominence. In other businesses, this is known as a cartel. It means a rigged game, at least to that extent: the equivalent of if ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY only "gave" their covers to Warner Bros. films. (For those who don't know, EW is published by TIME, which is the "Time" in AOL-Time-Warner, and Warners is the Warner.) Though I do know that when they were around, Capital also placed a high premium on their covers and often had them booked up to a year ahead of time. I don't know that they deliberately froze out "lesser" publishers, though between price of the covers and advance booking that was often the effective result. Diamond could, of course, make the argument that PREVIEWS is a "commercial" magazine since it's sold in comics shops, and in order to make it competitive with magazines like WIZARD (whose editorial policies have also been subject to question over the years) it must put the most "commercial" elements on the cover, which would suggest one of the big four's characters would naturally dominate each cover, except... some of the most popular and "commercial" characters of the past several years have not come from the "Big Four." How well have they been represented on PREVIEWS covers, even at the height of their marketability? If, in fact, the covers are reserved for Big 4 properties, it effectively limits Diamond's ability to commercially compete by restricting them from using the covers to spotlight non-Big 4 properties that would maximize their exposure and sales, and, by extension (given PREVIEWS is a catalog, after all), the exposure and sales of the entire comics industry. Unless Diamond considers the good will of the Big Four to be of paramount importance in the long run, taking precedence over any short term spikes by other companies. Which would tends to encourage only short-term gains by other companies, making continued market dominance by the Big Four a self-fulfilling prophecy. Or, rather, a Diamond-fulfilling prophecy.
"Alessi's to be commended for getting that 5% clause in there, but we're missing some piece of the puzzle here. I mean, Diamond would never have signed that without inserting some additional clause about needing the other companies' approval.
"As for banding together to sue... Despite the DOJ ruling, Diamond is a monopoly in the comics market. Who can afford to sue the only distributor who can sell their books?"
Which is, yeah, the crux of the matter. And the tension out there in publisherland is strong enough that the writer of this letter specifically requested I withhold his name and his company's for fear of reprisals from Diamond. One has to wonder: now that Diamond is making a bid for dominance in the burgeoning bookstore-based graphic novel/trade paperback market as well, and many smaller publishers are rushing to sign exclusive deals with them, is this for Diamond's profit and the health of the bookstore/TPB market, or is it to ensure, to the best of Diamond's abilities, that the Big Four end up dominating that market as well? (POSTSCRIPT: Just after I wrote this, it was revealed that Marvel is taking their bookstore trade from Diamond and going with CDS, the new distributor taking over for defunct LPC. An interesting turn of events. Marvel was reportedly Diamond's biggest bookstore account, so how will this impact Diamond's ability to crack that market?)
Another reader who has spent time talking to Mark Alessi sent these comments"
"I was reading your last column, and having had dinner with Mark Alessi at Wizard World, I can perhaps shed a little non-industry BS perspective on his plans.
"I love Alessi's business ideas, though. He's really trying to do an end-run on the direct market. That's where he established his beachhead, and everything else he has done in the last year is expansion.
"He's really going after bookstores. Barnes & Noble is supposed to feature the line with endcap displays soon, for example. You ask me, those $10 anthology reprints are an excuse to get a couple monthly products in the bookstores.
"The comics on the web site is specifically targeting a non-comics audience, and that radio cross-promotion deal with Satan, er, Clear Channel could be huge. Of course, without product in bookstores, I'm not so sure how well that will work, but see above.
"I'm not really sure how much money is really in foreign reprints. I'm told it's strictly incidental income, but they seem to be very active there as well.
"Everything of late is predicated on outside market expansion.
"Alessi is really approaching this from more of a software perspective. His bullpen configuration is modeled on object-oriented software development. His reprints are software licensing agreements. The website is almost shareware. He's charging a buck for the same principle."
"I have no doubt he's willing to tell Diamond to go screw themselves and do something different with distribution. I get the impression that Crossgen is sort of a SF geek variant on alternate comics: shops that carry them do so in bulk, and many don't bother. If that's really the case, doing a Cold Cut sort of deal might not hurt the numbers as much as one might think. I could also seriously see him just drop-shipping everything.
"You as well as anyone know how insular the comic biz is. Alessi is as fed up with the stupidity, as anything else. I don't know how well it will all turn out, but I like his ideas a lot. I have a feeling the Code 6 books may have me picking up more of his product, too."
Of the several responses to last week's "mystery pro"'s critique of current shoddy printing of many comic books, a former pro gave the best explanation. Sorry for the "censorship," but even former workers in this business often prefer to keep their names out of it:
"I don't think anyone sets out to have a bad looking book, but in my tenure as production guy I found several factors always conspired to keep things from being the best they could.
"1) The volume of work vs. the time given to do the task.
"The [name withheld] hardcover that was my downfall at [company] is a perfect example. Let's forget for a minute that before I edited the book that I had made a list of the actual surprints, knockouts and overall production problems about three years before [company] actually put the book on the schedule. When the book was finally put on the scheduled they wanted us to recreate [name withheld] at the pace of one issue every three weeks. An impossible task. We had to recreate all the surprint art from negatives and remake the individual surprint and knockout art and retouch the base art.
"Management could only conceive that such a task could be handled like one of the monthlies. This when we were literally reconstructing the whole series out of thousands of pieces. But it was considered a 'reprint'.
"To 'save money' the job was given to the sep house with the lowest per page rate. This also happened to be the place that did the lowest quality work. Needless to say we proofed some issues three or four times.
"Then when they found 'a mistake,' they went into finger-pointing mode.
"2) The knowledge level of the creative people who make the art.
"I distinctly remember playing with a 'Joe Superstar' artist who used certain painting techniques that conspired to lessen the reproduction of his paintings. He paints his fleshtones with a red that fluoresed with the scanning device. He also paints with black, when he should be greying down his colors with a mixed compliment. Once, after listening to the 'advice' of someone, it was suggested to him that we should make transparencies of all of his pages. An experienced person knows that scanning from the originals will always give the truest reproduction. Of course, whenever we would explain to him the technical flaws of his work we were sneered at and treated like creative morons. Hence, less than perfect repro.
"3) The actual process itself.
"When [company] did the [name withheld] mini-series it was printed web, a high speed printing process with less than perfect for such delicate art. The low quantity made it tough to get perfect repro (press time vs. fewer pieces). When the hardcover was printed it was done sheet fed. A more expensive, more time consuming process. But comparing the two projects, the sheet fed book is far more superior.
"Just because everyone has a computer doesn't mean they know how to use it. The fuzzy linework you spoke of was probably the victim of improper scanning or file construction. Whenever some editor was hot to use some hot young turk my first inclination was to get some files and see how the stuff was put together. Just because their work looked nice didn't mean it would print.
"There are many more reasons why the end result can be less than stellar. I found the largest culprit was always management's lack of understanding as to how long it really took to do things right. But it 'had to ship on time'.
"If it's any consolation, the world of advertising that I currently play in has all the same procedure/creative woes that comics do.
"It's all part of the creative landscape. I've just always tried to do the best with what I'm given."
I received another letter I've somehow misplaced from a current pro citing many of the same factors. Though certainly in a business this big and diverse there are bound to be inept production people, there's certainly enough blame to go around, particularly among artists, editors and publishers who don't understand the new technologies they're being forced to deal with.
Another writer dropped me the quick, related note: "if I send them an electronic script in text format, then why do the computer-based letterers get so much of the text wrong? Aren't they just cutting-and-pasting?" Not being an initiate into the mysteries of computer lettering myself, I couldn't say, though I believe it's somewhat more complicated a procedure than that. Any computer letterers out there want to clear this up?
Marv Wolfman of NEW TITANS and TOMB OF DRACULA fame has done an interview with me so humongous, so comprehensive and so controversial it had to be split into two parts, and the first half is currently up at Silver Bullet Comics, where Marv has a new weekly column. (Second half next Sunday.) Okay, so maybe the interview's not all that controversial (then again, maybe it is), but it is long, and you do want to read it. (Maybe I should interview Marv here as payback. Whaddaya think?)
Meanwhile, there's also a very good interview with writer/artist/painter George Pratt (ENEMY ACE, BATMAN, a forthcoming WOLVERINE project) currently running at Negative Pop (v.2.13).
It's been a big week for letters, and my political writing must be hitting nerves again because I've started getting those anonymous e-mailings written in the patiently annoyed tones of someone's prissy but worldly maiden aunt tsk-tsking me for my viewpoint and vaguely warning of the horrible repercussions to my career and well-being should such writings persist (in public, at any rate). Because, y'know, my audience is either 98% in opposition to my views and doesn't want to hear them, or are only interested in comic books and don't want to hear about anything going on in the real world.
If the latter's true, it just means that they should, because try as we might, we don't live in a comic book world.
The upshot is always: I should stick to my area of true expertise, comics, and leave political analysis to the "experts" there.
I love these letters. I really do. They all use oddly similar language and phrasing and sound like they're written by the same person, and they might be. And they all miss the point completely.
I write political commentary here because politics is something that deeply interests me, and I don't separate it from my comics work. My longtime readers are aware of strong political underlinings in my work. I don't really consider myself a leftist because that term carries certain connotations I don't believe apply to me in the slightest, but it's safe to say my viewpoint is "left-leaning," to the extent that phrase has any more meaning than "liberal" or "conservative" or even "Democrat" or "Republican" anymore. On a level of practical politics, all those terms become increasingly interchangeable by the day. But I write these things here because this is my venue to discuss any aspect of our culture that I care to, and because I can, because we still live in a country where (for now at least) I can express my opinion even if it's not a popular opinion or supportive of "our leaders" without fear of getting jailed without trial, tried without representation or murdered. And if I can use this meager forum to help, in some tiny way, prevent it from becoming that sort of country, I will.
Those who don't choose to read my political comments are welcome to skip over them.
Homeland Security Czar Tom Ridge, reportedly concerned neither about chit-chat that he's not the main candidate to become Secretary Of Homeland Security when it becomes a cabinet post nor the narrow escape of the CIA and FBI from oversight/control by his uber-agency (since they proved so effective at intercepting terrorists on their own, there's no reason to collapse them into another federal bureaucracy when you can have three instead of one) has now put himself back in the game with the strong suggestion of granting the military police powers. I presume he means when operating within the USA. What a shocker that staunch liberal Joe Biden is rushing to agree with him. Since 1878, of course, the military has been legally forbidden from operating as a police force in most instances, though that hasn't always stopped them. At President Reagan's urging, Congress weakened some of the "posse comitatus" restrictions on the military in '81 to facilitate the war on drugs, another "war" that cost billions and billions and turned out really, really swell.
Of course, if you've been paying attention, this isn't really anything new. Reagan called for "policizing" the military when governor of California in order to suppress anti-war protest and other social movements, at the same time he was doing everything in his power to militarize the California police. It was no surprise that these attitudes carried over into his presidency. The legend, widespread and fondly held in conspiracy circles, is that on Reagan's watch none other than Lt. Col. Ollie North, the hero patriot of Irangate, concocted the notorious Rex 84 plan that, among other things, supposedly converted a number of military bases into concentration camps, ostensibly to house a flood of captured illegal aliens expected to flood over the border from Mexico and points south, but which were so scattered across the country as to imply other uses, specifically the detainment of parties "hostile" to a Reagan administration military invasion of Nicaragua. (And let's not forget President Nixon's very real "Project Garden Plot," a contingency plan for total national martial law and round-up of "insurgents" who challenged that administration's policies, particularly regarding Vietnam, and which partly involved using the military as a national police force.)
It's entirely possible that "Rex 84" was an intelligence ploy, "leaked" through notorious right-wing paper THE SPOTLIGHT, to discourage and discredit the American left, or what still existed of them at the time. It's not like such behavior was unheard of, particularly in California during Reagan's gubernatorial stint. I still know people who insist it was 100% real. I tend to doubt it for various reasons. But whether it was or wasn't real is irrelevant at this point. What's germane is that many of the changes inflicted on us in the "war on terrorism" fall into goosestep with "Rex 84" and similar plans generated during the Reagan years, as if, fictitious or not, someone decided to use them as blueprints for the modern era. If this is feeling less and less like the 21st century you signed on for, there's probably good reason for that.
As one reader wrote: "The true parsing of the TIPS acronym: The Inevitable Police State." Too bad no one's heard from him since...
(In case you think I'm picking on the Hand Puppet's policies too much, especially when we should all be focusing our energies on winning the all-important war on terrorism, dammit!, turns out I'm not the only one. THE NEW REPUBLIC has up a very interesting article about the Hand Puppet's campaign of largesse toward the land that made him possible, Brother Jeb's fiefdom of Florida. Hey, at least he aspires to being a benevolent despot, at least when paying off pivotal swing states. As opposed to, say, California.)
As AOL-Time-Warner looks ripe for investigation over their accounting practices (thus joining Enron and WorldCom in the tiny handful of bad apples the Hand Puppet insists are all that's wrong with free enterprise today – but why are all the few bad apples the ones with the most money?) rumors are flying over possible repercussions on AOL-T-W asset DC Comics. Clearly if the media megacorp joins Enron and WorldCom in collapsing it won't be good for DC, at least not in the long run, but, due to corporate structure, I'd also expect DC to be fairly well insulated from any trouble short of that. Even if the corporation shattered into numerous pieces, I'd expect most of those pieces to be spun off, and, as DC's under the Warner Brothers media umbrella, barring last ditch machinations, that's most likely where they'd stay, being sold along with the movie/TV studio. In other words, for AOL-Time-Warner-(Turner?) we're talking possible bad times ahead, but for DC Comics look for the near future, at least, to be business as usual.
A couple TV notes:
My trashing last week of ABC's obnoxious game/reality show THE MOLE (Tuesday, 9 PM) prompted one reader to suggest, if I hate "reality" shows, I should check out director Daniel Minahan's film SERIES 7: THE CONTENDERS, a satire about a SURVIVOR style TV show where the players flat out kill each other. It sounds a wee bit too easy a target for my tastes, but when the movie hits DVD I'll likely watch it. But I don't hate "reality" shows. I raved up AMAZING RACE (CBS) as genuinely fascinating and exciting and recommended it to all. Galling as it is to say it, I've been enjoying the hell out of AMERICAN IDOL (Fox, Tuesdays and Wednesdays), mostly because judge/producer Simon Cowell's acerbic criticisms are almost always right on the nose and his pop instincts irrefutable, despite the apparent desire of every American on the show to sentimentalize whatever they possibly can. I don't watch FEAR FACTOR, but I do check in while passing to see what kind of disgusting vermin or offal the contestants are expected to eat. And I've been following BIG BROTHER 3 since its debut a couple weeks ago – but, since virtually everyone on the show is appalling (I don't know what to call Josh, since he's way too short to be a troglodyte) and the show sports the worst host ever on TV, I don't watch, keeping track instead via the excellent summaries provided at Zap2It, probably the best site for media info on the web. I did think of a wrinkle that would make BIG BROTHER more interesting, should CBS stupidly decide to go another season of it. (Fox, I hear, has already decided to do AMERICAN IDOL 2, while filming on AMAZING RACE 3 should start any second now.) As things stand, every week one housemate becomes new head of household (no one can hold the post twice in the game) via some stupid contest, which gives them a swank private room and the power to nominate two housemates for eviction the following week. (Another housemate then gets veto power to save one of the nominees, forcing the HoH to pick a new nominee. Confused yet?) One person gets voted out each week. Here's what I propose: scrap the "only once for each HoH" rule, and make whichever nominee doesn't get voted out the new HoH each week. The possibilities and ramifications of that ought to make the poor little heads of the twits playing the game explode. Now that would be entertaining TV.
It's often nice to be wrong. I noted not long ago what an interesting time for comics art the late '60s were. Besides the sudden bombshell arrival of influential artists like Neal Adams and Jim Steranko, there was the sudden stylistic flowering of accomplished longtime artists like Gil Kane, Joe Kubert, John Buscema and Gene Colan, all of whom suddenly went from notable standards to stylistic powerhouses as their work suddenly got looser, wilder and more exciting. High on this list was Nick Cardy, who had started out drawing for Will Eisner in the '40s and, by the '60s, had settled in as one of DC's house artists, notably on second tier books like AQUAMAN and TEEN TITANS. He was someone I was never really aware of as a kid. Not until his own stylistic explosion on DC's first western in years, the short-lived BAT LASH. After years of being a "solid" artist, he was suddenly doing things with lighting, perspective and page design that simply hadn't been seen in DC comics before. It seemed that Cardy, like Kane and Kubert at DC, had suddenly hit some kind of artistic epiphany, their own true vision.
So I thought.
John Coates' (with Nick Cardy) THE ART OF NICK CARDY (Vanguard Productions, 59A Philhower Rd, Lebanon PA 08833; $19.95 softcover, $29.95 hardcover, $39.95 signed deluxe edition) pokes all kinds of holes in that theory. The book's broken into three sections: what's essentially a long interview with Cardy discussing his career from his childhood in the '20s through his post-comics career in the '80s and '90s in commercial art; appreciations of his work by Richard Howell, Kurt Busiek and a host of others; and a bibliography of his work. And lots and lots and lots of art. Tons of it. Enough to make me realize: Cardy had it in him almost all along, in places I wouldn't have looked like DC's romance comics. He was a chameleon who could change his style all the way from pure caricature to absolute photorealism for the requirements of the job – but never lost the Nick Cardy essence doing it. While a critical examination of Cardy's work has yet to be written, THE ART OF NICK CARDY is a great document of both his artistic evolution and the inner workings of the comics business over 35 years, and sits well in the company of Greg Sadowski's absolutely essential B. KRIGSTEIN book (Fantagraphics Books, 7563 Lake City Way NE, Seattle WA 98115; $49.95) I've been touting for weeks. It's great to see these forgotten masters finally getting their due, and it'd be great if their influence could leak back into the comics business. Lord knows we need it. Meanwhile, when Comic-Con International issued their schedule recently, I was thrilled to see Cardy would be a guest, and pissed to realize I had nothing for him to sign. Now I do. Cool.
Seemingly a lifetime ago, I collaborated with the great Gil Kane on EDGE, published by now-defunct Malibu/Bravura, about a non-super person whose mission in life was to take down superpersons. In that case, they were masquerading as the good guys, which put him in the position of being the bad guys, though they had secretly adopted the philosophy that they were the next wave of evolution and human beings were on their way out. For numerous reasons, the last issue of the mini was never published (it exists, though the ending is somewhat anti-climactic because there were two more mini-series intended to follow it to finish off the story, which may be why other publishers haven't rushed to pick up the slack). And now Wildstorm is publishing STORMWATCH: TEAM ACHILLES, by Micah Wright, Whilce Portacio and Scott Williams, about... non-superpersons who take down superpersons!
A great comic? Not so far, but I kind of like it. (What can I say? They got me with the premise.) It's part of Wildstorm's new "Eye Of The Storm" "mature" line, though I'm not sure why since there's nothing here aside from the odd scat word that suggests anything more extreme or "adult" than any other book in Wildstorm's line-up. I can understand wanting to keep the STORMWATCH trademark active, but you'd think after THE MONARCHY and THE ESTABLISHMENT you'd think Wildstorm would want to avoid again giving the impression they were trying to con the audience into thinking it's in some way a Warren Ellis comic, and, let's face it, Warren finished off the last STORMWATCH run and is now associated with the title. New writer Micah Wright's not bad, with a nice ear for unforced dialogue, but I had to hunt for awhile to figure out what the black hero's name was (Coleman), while when he deals with foreign dialects his ear goes a bit stiff and wonky. The "Islamic terrorists" (they talk about Allah at one point, so I guess at least some of them were) seem a little kneejerk, mention of any "faith" unnecessary, even – maybe especially – post 9/11; it has never been explored anywhere but I suspect in a world increasingly populated by persons with powers those of normal mortals would quickly develop religious precepts considerably different from ours. On the other hand, the concept's good enough for an action comic, the action (mostly in the bowels of the UN as the unarmed, stripped down team assesses a terrorist threat) is well-handled, story development is clean and unforced, it's great to see Whilce's art again (in a tighter, more controlled and illustrative style yet) and I've always had a soft spot for Santini, the former Black Razor who now apparently heads the new Stormwatch, once again run by the UN. The second issue, bringing in the full team, is better, as Wright and Portacio settle in; it really could've been used as the first issue. Worth a look, especially #2, but the new Stormwatch world and its implications could use a little more through-thought and extrapolation. If they can get that, they might be able to put the inevitable Warren Ellis comparisons to good use.
I've never heard of Christopher Baldwin's BRUNO ( Moody Cow Publishing, Box 1141, Northampton, MA 01061; Chris! Stick a price on it somewhere!) but LEBENSRAUM is the seventh volume, so it's been around awhile. In the introduction, Kip Manley jumps through hoops to suggest BRUNO is something other than comics. It isn't, but it's pretty good comics, starting in this instance as sort of "Shary Flenniken does LITTLE NEMO IN SLUMBERLAND as a parody of PROMETHEA, though I'm reasonably sure the PROMETHEA part never entered Baldwin's head. Good dialogue, expressive art, interesting thoughts and slice of life done right, as Baldwin's eponymous heroine spends a year trying to sort out her tangled, tortured existence. What's not to like?
A hint of what's coming soon to a PERMANENT DAMAGE column near you:
Just for you. Speaking of which, the AiT/PlanetLar Books reissue of my classic crime graphic novel BADLANDS, beautifully drawn by Vince Giarrano, will be out July 31, just in time for San Diego. Where I'll be signing most days at the AiT/PlanetLar Books table, right where you come in at the center doors. Where you'll also be able to buy BADLANDS: THE UNPRODUCED SCREENPLAY and see pages from the forthcoming graphic novels WHISPER: DAY X, VIDEOACTIVE and RED SUNSET. And numerous other forthcoming cool AiT/PlanetLar Books publications. If you're real lucky, you might even overhear me giving away secrets about my other new projects... but only where Larry can't hear me...
Those wishing to comment should leave messages on the Permanent Damage Message Board. You can also e-mail but the chances of a reply are next to nil these days, given my workload, though I do read all my e-mail as long as it's not trying to sell me something. IMPORTANT: Because a lot of people apparently list it in their e-address books, this account has gotten a slew of virus-laden messages lately. They're no real threat but dealing with them eats up time I don't really have, to the extent I can no longer accept unsolicited e-mail with attachments. If you want to send something via attachment (say, art samples) ask me first. If I say okay, then send. Unsolicited e-mail with attachments will be wiped from the server without being read. You can also leave messages for me and have discussions on other topics at my Delphi forum, GRAPHIC VIOLENCE. Please don't ask me how to break into the business, or who to submit work to. The answers to those questions are too mercurial for even me to keep up with.
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I'm reviewing comics sent to me – I may not like them but certainly I'll mention them – at Steven Grant c/o Permanent Damage, 2657 Windmill Pkwy #194, Henderson NV 89074, so send 'em if you want 'em mentioned, since I can't review them unless I see them. Some people have been sending press releases and cover proofs and things like that, which I enjoy getting, but I really can't do anything with them, sorry. Full comics only, though they can be photocopies rather than the published version. Make sure you include contact information for readers who want to order your book.
If you want to know something about me, you can probably find the answer at Steven Grant's Alleged Fictions. Be warned that this site is functionally dead – I've switched to a different server and am prepping a new page – but it's still up and the backstory details are still germane even if the news page is a bit dated.