Talking Transfuzion Begins
Welcome to Talking Transfuzion! This is a new column running exclusively up on Comic Related and will deal with my discussion about everything to do with Transfuzion Publishing. Obviously, I'm going to hype things that you should know about but I also plan to talk about what's going on with Transfuzion Publishing, some of the processes involved, and areas that sometimes people might not realize that publishers deal with. I'm not saying it's going to be a magical "behind the scenes" look because, well, there's really no magic or earth shattering details to reveal.
I'd love to get questions that anyone might have on anything to do with Transfuzion and publishing in general. I'm going to assume anything sent to me if for public consumption unless specifically stated otherwise. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
A good start is at the beginning. What is Transfuzion and how did it form?
Right now, Transfuzion is a publishing house that primarily collects comic series that have gone out of print. We currently have about 25 titles. But that isn't what Transfuzion started off as.
In 2006, Rafael Nieves and I were discussing comic ideas. I had recently returned to comics (after years of running Caliber Comics and then stepping away) and was writing for Penguin and other publishers but not really doing new stuff in the comics market. Rafael had worked with some local groups in his hometown Chicago but also was not actively doing any comics work. We both had lots of ideas and properties so we decided to form a writers' studio and bring in artists. We decided that we would have to share ownership on the properties with the artists as we had no intention of hiring freelancers on titles that had yet to find a home. We decided to bring in two other writers that I had worked at with Caliber. Steve Jones was very prolific for us and had done some Sherlock Holmes and Lovecraft comics and had written for Malibu and other publishers. Randy Zimmerman was involved in the early days of Arrow and in fact, took over the revamped Arrow and always had lots of ideas. Both had a lot of proposals that were different from mine and Raf's, so it gave us a very diverse pool to work from.
Raf and I decided on the name Transfuzion. As you can see on the logo, Raf got a sense of "transfusing new blood" and put the blood flow in the log, whereas I got more of the fusion part rather than a transfusion (combining rather than infusing new). So, it hit both of our sensibilities. The spelling was just so we could trademark it.
We received quite a few art submissions but unfortunately, most of them weren't very good. It became the usual problem with finding good artists who had the time to work on projects that were, uh, a bit speculative. But to be honest, the real problem was that none of us were as active in the group as we needed to be to make it successful so instead of just having this "group", we decided to just end it. However, Raf and I figured that I had so much material available to reprint and he was working on a number of different projects with his group in Chicago, that we would form a publishing company between ourselves. Keep it small, just do our stuff. Raf had some new ideas and we discussed launching a number of themed anthologies to bring in a lot of people and concepts.
So, that's how Transfuzion started in 2007. What was surprising was the response. We had a number of other creators come to us to be included and we also received quite a few submissions. So, Transfuzion grew from our initial idea and expanded to becoming a "regular" publisher. Granted, many of the books were still collections and quite a few were mine but there is a continual expansion into other titles not originally published by Caliber.
We really didn't do much as far as promotion goes. There were some conventions, mainly in our respective hometowns (Motor City Con and Chicago Con) and the usual press releases. I realize that some people, especially retailers, would say that we didn't live up to our obligations as a publisher and advertise and promote as we (and all publishers) should. That's a fair criticism. But we were doing collections of material and not really expecting much from the direct market. On some of the titles, we felt we had a better chance with the non-traditional market (especially on stuff like Jack the Ripper, Lovecraft, Holmes, Oz, and the war comics of Zulunation and Witness to War). And we do get quite a few mail orders and sales via online stores (Amazon, for example). Many of the books were released via Diamond and some did okay. Most made money initially and the ones that didn't had negligible losses that would be made up with other sales. I'm not saying they made a lot of money but if you can eke out even a small profit initially, well, for us, that was good enough.
Transfuzion isn't our livelihood as both of us have full time jobs outside of the company. In today's market, I feel sorry for those who depend on their publishing as their main source of income. I'm not going into detail on that here, but everyone knows that it's tough out there. There's no one to point the finger at, it's just the way things are for a number of different reasons.
So, in future discussions, I'll talk more about various things that impact Transfuzion and the market in general. There are no specific guidelines on what I want to talk about or don't want to talk about. And, of course, any questions forthcoming may take a whole column to answer.
In addition to conversations about Transfuzion, I have some components of this column that will appear each time (and no, I have no idea of what the actual schedule will be but hopefully weekly). One is to spotlight a title from Transfuzion. I also want to spotlight a creator and give a short profile and a short interview (five questions). This serves as a chance to get to know what Transfuzion is all about without having to slog through press releases and other hype.
Raven Chronicles: The Curious Cases of Raven Inc.
This was an important title for me and Caliber. I created it initially to be a way of dealing with a group of investigators that explore the paranormal. I wrote the first few issues and then allowed other writers to do stories under the guidelines I gave them. I grew to like the characters so much that I started using the cast in other books. They were an integral part of the Ripper Legacy and Red Diaries. One of the characters was featured in Saint Germaine and another one was the lead character in Black Mist. The group also made appearances in Helsing and Seeker. The group from Raven Inc. became my shared universe that linked many of the other titles. The Transfuzion edition features all of the Raven Chronicles stories that I wrote and features art from Craig Brasfield, Frank Turner, Galen Showman, Wayne VanSant, Gene Gonzales, and others.
A brief look at one of the creators from Transfuzion. I figured since I was the publisher, I should go first. Since I'm writing this about myself, I will try to keep the adjectives and superlatives to a minimum.
I was the publisher of Caliber Comics, one of the leading independents of the 1990's with over 1,300 issues and 70 graphic novels releases. There are dozens of creators working today that got their start or made their mark with Caliber. I was also the Vice President of TMP (Todd McFarlane's Toy Company) for the first three years. I have written about 200 comics including Baker Street, Deadworld, Renfield, Saint Germaine, and books for other publisher such as Penguin. I also had a chain of comic stores in the Detroit area. When not dealing with comics, I teach (college Biology). Married a long time to a fantastic wife and have four great daughters.
The same five questions will be asked of all the creators spotlighted.
1. What do you consider your first major project and your thoughts on it?
Baker Street. It was my first comic work, although I might have done a short story previously, it was so long ago. I look back on it with fondness and overall, it holds up although there are some parts of my writing I just cringe at. It was nominated for two Harvey Awards so it must have been okay.
2. Of all the projects you've worked on, what was your favorite?
That's a tough one. I felt Renfield was the complete package and it's a project I'm really proud of. Saint Germaine was a series I loved doing and it allowed me to explore a lot of different areas. But if I had to pick one, it would be OF SCENES AND STORIES since it is a collection of many short stories and scenes from some longer works. I think it gives a good range of the diverse interests and styles I had.
3. If you could return to any of your previous projects, which would it be?
Either Raven Chronicles or Saint Germaine with the leaning slightly towards Saint Germaine. Raven was nice because each issue was self contained but Saint Germaine allowed me to explore virtually any time period and situation.
4. If you could do any project, what would it be?
I'm probably unusual as I don't have any strong desire to do any mainstream characters. If I did, I'd want to do it more science based (well, within the comics world) such as Ant Man, Challengers of the Unknown, Adam Strange...something like that. I have a number of projects that I am working on now but one that I'd like to get going is a murder mystery set in the early 1900's. Wayne Reid is already on board as artist but I just don't know about today's market so it isn't something immediate that I can do but I think about it a lot.
5. Who has worked in comics for awhile and should be much better known?
There are so many that I'd hate to mention in case I forgot about someone. See, I'm taking this tact so no one else can later.
Sin Eternal: A Return to Dante's Inferno is a collection of the Sinergy series. I re-titled it because people didn't make the connection with what it was. It's an updating of Dante's Inferno and the traveler goes through the levels of Hell. Each level is drawn by a different artist and include Guy Davis, Vince Locke, Mark Bloodworth, Jim Calafiore, Michael Lark, David Mack, and many more. Galen Showman handles the continuity art.
Saint Germaine: The Magus. This collects the Magus storyline and the full length story from Negative Burn plus two new adventure so Saint Germaine... one with Genghis Khan and one of Hunchback of Notre Dame.
As for new stuff, I have a few things going but I'd rather not discuss at this point. I hate putting things out there so far ahead.
Gary Reed is the publisher of Transfuzion Publishing and was the former publisher of Caliber Comics. As a writer, he has written a number of graphic novels and comics including Saint Germaine, Deadworld, Baker Street, Renfield, Raven Chronicles, A Murder of Scarecrows, and others. Outside of Talking Transfuzion, he has his regular blog covering a wide variety of topics at http://reedgary.blogspot.com/ and his website www.garyreed.net
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