The Family Graves will be released on April 6-8, 2018 at C2E2, as part of Comics Experience‘s partnership with Source Point Press! Written by Creators Workshop member Tim Bach, drawn by Brian Atkins, colored by Dijjo Lima, and lettered by Marco Della Verde, the narrative blends sci-fi and family drama for a heartracing adventure through reality itself! We spoke with the team about the upcoming series!
What is the creative process like for The Family Graves? What does your working relationship look like, and can you give an example of a time you worked together and merged ideas to create something even more engaging and interesting than originally envisioned?
Tim: Brian and I have worked together on a previous comic, Gargoyle By Moonlight, and we developed a really good collaborative relationship on those stories. We trust each other, talk through stuff, and really listen to the each other. Comics is a team sport, and collaboration is everything. The best comics come from the artists and writer working together to tell a great story—and that’s true in our case.
The Family Graves began as an idea I had to do something about a team of monster superheroes. The concept came together in the Advanced Writing Class, and then I pitched Brian on the idea. He read the first script and the series outline and made some suggestions. And we talked and went back and forth, and the concept changed and evolved. I really value Brian’s input as a storyteller, so while I came up with the basic framework and write full scripts, everything is open to his interpretation.
Brian has a way of taking what I’ve written and making it better. His input on story beats or characterizations helped to shape the whole story, and his page layouts often change the pace or the way we show things. I’ll write one thing, and then when Brian is doing his rough layouts, he’ll add a panel or subtract one, or just do a totally different action—and the story gets better.
Marco is a very talented letter and production guy. I look to him to pull everything together and make it a comic book, you know? He’s good at font selection, balloon style, and all the finer points of production design. We have a few special things in The Family Graves: creatures who speak with different balloons or telepathy and all kinds of different sound effects. Marco designed some really great solutions. There are some pretty crazy pages in this series, and Marco’s lettering works to tie everything together—to guide the reader through it all seamlessly.
Marco: As the letterer I’ve started working on The Family Graves at a later stage, so I didn’t have the same involvement Tim and Brian had. I mainly worked close to Tim, and he knows what he wants, so his feedback is always clear and accurate, even though I had more than enough creative freedom to enjoy the process. There’s a moment, towards the end of the series, when we do something special with a couple balloons: working on that was fun!
How did your work with Comics Experience and Creator’s Workshop influence the creation of The Family Graves and subsequent opportunity with Source Point Press?
Tim: As a workshop and a creator community, Comics Experience is filled with supportive and serious people. It’s a great place to work out ideas, get feedback, make contacts, and just learn about all the ins and outs of making comics. And the courses provide excellent opportunities to learn basics but also to continue to hone your craft. I’m a member because I’m inspired and challenged by the cool people and projects here. The whole atmosphere pushes you and your work to another level.
I developed the core concept and the first script for The Family Graves in one of the advanced classes, and then I workshopped the script through several iterations, getting critical feedback and insight from CE members, both professionals and novices. As the story came about, I continued to workshop the individual issues. The feedback and nurturing I received was invaluable.
Working with Andy, I’ve developed a discipline I didn’t have as a writer. He doesn’t teach you a checklist like some kind of screenplay writing book, but he has really great ideas for how to set yourself up for success, how to build a good foundation for your script and your overall project. And as part of the CE community, I’ve learned how to table at cons, how to network better, how to pitch, and all kinds of nuts and bolts things, from lettering and basic production to contracts. I’ve also met collaborators.
In the end, there’s just no way I could have managed to bring a project like The Family Graves together without the people I’ve met and the knowledge I’ve gained through Comics Experience.
Being published through Source Point Press is another great thing. It’s very hard for new talent to get noticed let alone published. The Comics Experience and Source Point Press partnership is a great new way for talent to break into the industry. I feel very blessed to be a part of an initiative that’s redefining what publishing, selling, and marketing books is. To be a part of such a great team is awesome.
Marco: I met Tim in the Comics Experience Workshop a few years ago, I’ve been lettering his comics for a while now, and I’ve also met the Source Point Press people thanks to Comics Experience. Actually I met a lot of people in the Workshop, and some of the best comics I worked on come from there: Animal Control by Rob Anderson, Drones by Chris Lewis, Achilles Inc by Andy Schmidt… Comics Experience is a very good community, the perfect place for comics creators who want to grow.
What has it been like working with Source Point Press? What have you learned about publishing along the way that you think aspiring creators should know?
Tim: So far, Travis and the others have been very supportive. The health of comics and the direct market seem to be perennial issues. And what I like about Source Point is that they are innovating the way comics are sold. Their primary market is selling books direct to readers at cons. They’re at dozens of shows each year selling thousands of books, and that gives them a huge reach both in person and online. They also had a great presence in the direct market with sales relationships directly with key comic shops, and now they are expanding into the direct market with a distribution deal with Diamond. It really is a visionary and dynamic sales model—and it really benefits creators. We’ve been in touch about all the cons they have scheduled for 2018, and Brian and I plan to attend as many shows as we can.
Making a comic is only half the battle. Once you’ve made a comic—hey, congrats, pat yourself on the back—but now you have to have to get the comic in front of people, and hopefully sell it. You need to define your audience—who are your readers?—and you need to get the book out there. I’ve learned a great deal about marketing and networking from Comics Experience.
Aspiring creators need to stop aspiring and get creating. You need to get your work out there. Don’t just keep working on pitches to companies or submitting portfolios. Make comics. Tell your stories. There’s no stigma to self-published comics—self-published comics are published comics. Yes, pitch. And, yes, submit portfolios and samples. And, yes, network—but don’t wait around for someone to offer to pay you to make your comic. It’s not going to happen. Don’t let some publisher be a gatekeeper. With the Internet and all kinds of sites and apps to connect you with collaborators and printers, the barriers to making your own comic have never been lower. Yeah, it’s still hard, but it’s so rewarding. Brian and I made Gargoyle By Moonlight, and we went out and promoted it wherever we could. And doing that was a huge learning experience, and it led to all kinds of opportunities for both of us. You’re going to learn more putting a comic together than you ever could just reading about it, or hoping it’s going to happen.
Marco: We are just at the beginning of this partnership, and while I’m writing this I’m also preparing the files for print (deadline is 2 days from now!), that’s when I’ll work closer with Travis McIntire and Josh Werner. But so far I think they are great and professional, and friendly. Maybe that’s what I think aspiring (and sometime veteran) creators should know: be professional, but also kind to your colleagues, it’s easy to become superb when you move forward, but it’s important to be humble and keep your patience, even when things are not going your way. Which, by the way, is not what’s happening with Source Point Press, everything is running pretty smooth! This, I think, is the main lesson I learned while being part of the Comics Experience Workshop: respect your peers and use your words wisely and kindly, be constructive.
Without spoiling anything, describe The Family Graves in your own words.
Tim: The Family Graves is The Munsters meets The Fantastic Four with a dash of Locke & Key.
Together with his dysfunctional, mismatched family of monsters, Phil Graves, an alchemical engineer recently turned unpredictably shifting werewolf, must race across dimensions to collect a set of magical mirrors in order to stop a chronal vampire from devouring the space-time continuum and destroying reality. But can the family hold together before reality falls apart?
At its heart, The Family Graves is a family drama—primarily about fathers and sons—dressed up in the teeth and claws of a monster adventure story. There’s yelling and hugging, tears and laughs, but also monsters and grand adventure. The Family Graves is a book for anyone who loves monsters, sci-fi/fantasy, family drama, and unabashedly fun comics.
Marco: I think it’s a very well done comic involving a beautiful family on an exciting adventure… and there’s braaaaains!
If you want to make comics, write, draw, letter, and color comics, or improve as a comics creator, you’ll find like-minded friends and colleagues in our online workshops and courses. We hope to see you there!
Posted by Meredith Nudo