A few weeks ago we posted the latest Xeric Grant winners, with the rather odd note that Kevin Colden has turned down the Xeric in order to publish on the web.
Now Colden is a very talented cartoonist, as well as being part of yet another cartooning power couple as the husband of Miss Lasko-Gross. FISHTOWN, his Act-i-vate contribution, is off to a great start and the Xeric was well-deserved. So what happened? The story as run seemed to have something behind it, so we dashed off a few questions to Colden to find out the rest of the story:
Q: When did you submit your story to the Xeric foundation and what was your plan for it at that time?
A: I submitted Fishtown to the Xeric Foundation at the very end of 2006. I had been shopping it around to publishers as a graphic novel, and sent it in hopes of self-publishing a five or six issue series.
Q: Why did you start putting it on the web?
A: I wanted to get it out there and I lost track of time. When pitching a comic project or submitting samples, half the time you get no response at all, and I didn’t realize I would have gotten a letter either way. The opportunity to join ACT-I-VATE came up, and I had this great project that I thought would be a perfect fit.
Q: What happened when you got the announcement the book had been picked by the Xeric Foundation?
A: The first installment had gone up the day before, and I instantly knew there was a potential conflict, so I contacted the foundation immediately. As I suspected, there was a conflict.
A: I’m not entirely sure what the Xeric policy on webcomics is. I suspect (though I can’t say for sure) that the issue was not the web serialization per se, but that it wasn’t part of my proposal. All I know for sure is that I was told that I couldn’t continue to serialize online and accept the money. I didn’t press the issue, because the foundation has the right to handle its funds how it sees fit, and it was my choice to make.
So I refused the money, because the response was huge and I didn’t want to abandon the audience. As I understand it, the foundation then reviewed the situation, but the ultimately, the response was the same.
Q: Are you happy with the current resolution of the situation?
A: Absolutely. I’m reaching people on a weekly basis as opposed to several issues spread out over a few months or years. This type of online serialization is just starting to really come into its own. Though we’re not the first online comics, collectives like ACT-I-VATE and The Chemistry Set are waving the digital indie comics flag for the next generation of creators, like the 70’s undergrounds or Fantagraphics or even Peter Laird himself did for us in print.
On top of that, the Xeric now has more money to keep doing the great work that they do. And they are still very supportive of my project, for which I am very grateful.
Q: Tell us about FISHTOWN!
A: Fishtown is a planned 120-page graphic novel, split into six distinct parts, serializing every Thursday at www.ACT-I-VATE.com (archive at http://hottencolden.livejournal.com/13015.html). It’s about Philadelphia kids who murder their friend, and why they do it. The publishing plan for right now is to continue online until it’s finished, and I’m currently looking for a publisher for a print collection.