And now, we need to talk about Miranda Mercury…
More specifically, we need to talk about this past weekend where the character’s very first hardcover collection was released at the Big Show. Obviously, a big moment both personally and professionally, as I (and many others) have been living with this story and these characters for quite a while now, and there were so many times it appeared this book would simply never release, and as we were told by a couple folks along the way, shouldn’t release.
Almost everything I’ve done in the last year has been about getting this book finished and released in time for this convention, and once I got the book in my hands, I was a little overwhelmed like I’d imagined I’d be. I’ve literally dreamed about this book and had more than a few nightmares about any and all manner of printing and/or shipping mishap that could randomly occur and somehow diminish all we’ve tried to accomplish.
But none of that awful stuff happened and the book arrived just in time and was all kinds of beautiful. And finished. And completely done. And (insert any other word that means finished here). And then came the fun part—an entire weekend of interactions with people to either convince them to pick up a copy, or thank them for remembering that first issue fondly enough to buy the entire hardcover on sight. That last situation is what I’ve been surprised by the most in talking up the book these last couple months, how many people still regard that single issue pretty fondly. Which we’ve taken as somewhat encouraging news, since we believe that it’s the weakest chapter in the book and something we’ve evolved way beyond creatively in the last few years. Or perhaps we’ve underestimated the allure of the cube-breaking sequence and the samurai genie that comes out of it.
Only one way to find out, right?
So the first copy went to a good man that was directed to us by the recent interview I did with David Brothers on Comics Alliance, who showed up at the Archaia booth himself not long after. David has been incredibly kind to us over the years and has always fiercely supported the book through its many ups and downs, so I hope it lives up to his full expectations and those of all the people his feature sent our way. Having the chance to visit with him for a little bit, and talk about not only Miranda, but also Voltron and the other project I’m doing for Dynamite, helped make my first official signing a great, great experience. It also wasn’t long before I realized that my plan for making regular or even periodic Facebook and Twitter updates from the floor was not gonna happen. Between me talking everyone’s ear off, spotty cell reception, and my phone’s general inability to even send pictures to my man Lee Ferguson by e-mail, who was anxious to get some impressions in realtime, the whole thing seemed like an unnecessary distraction.
It was unfortunate that Lee couldn’t be there with me though, as he’s fought and bled for this book just as much as me, so the next morning I gave him a call so I could excitedly jabber on more extensively about how amazing the book came out and how wrong it felt that he wasn’t also there to experience the whole thing. Only a few minutes into the conversation, I thought about how cool it would be to somehow overnight him a copy of the book without telling him it was on its way, because seriously, why would I tell him? Where’s the fun in that?
Obviously though, we were both feeling pretty ecstatic about everything, so we took the liberty of deciding exactly which stories would make up the always planned volume 2 of the book. There’s an ever expanding file where we’ve been keeping ideas for future stories, character names, etc. for years now. And I know the major beats of probably the next six or seven hypothetical volumes. Where they start, where they end, and how the major relationships change and evolve. So most of volume 2 has been figured out for years already, but Lee had a great idea for one of the particular stories that automatically twists a halfway decent idea into a great one, and I’ll soon be getting back to working on full scripts for the series. Can’t wait to get back to it and we’ll probably slowly pick at it around other business until getting the official greenlight from Archaia. We have a date by which we’d like that to happen of course, but one (or perhaps only two) things at a time. Great conversation that left me completely energized and ready for another day at the booth(s), where sales and visitors ticked up noticeably.
I started to better learn what things people needed to hear about the book to get excited and for most it was the conceit that Miranda Mercury comics have been around for several years, but in our dimension only just recently. That and talk of the evolving relationship between Miranda and Jack following the revelation that she’s dying really seemed to grab additional interest. Oh, and I heard a lot of comments about how happy people were that Miranda’s costume was somewhat sensible, especially when compared to other female heroes. So the first full day was again incredibly positive, and suggested to me that the book might do fairly well if it gets in front of people. Even had someone come all the way over to the Archaia satellite booth near Artist Alley to get their copy signed after they’d just bought it at the main booth, which was pretty impressive, considering how far apart both locations were.
And yeah, I sent Lee his copy before coming in that day, and he got it about exactly 24 hours later. The e-mail he sent was awesome and I hope it really made his weekend. Because I hadn’t planned it early enough, I wasn’t able to get him a super cool bookmark too, but that can easily be corrected in the next few days after I get back.
But the next couple days were pretty much a flurry of good conversations with visitors old and new and I got to sign a ton of books and bask in the temporary glory of being able to finally hold my first creator-owned project in hand. No idea about the final sales numbers and I learned early on that trying to actually keep track was another terribly unlikely prospect, and I don’t even know that Archaia themselves will know definitively until they get back and unpack everything. Someone told me at one point they only had one box left plus what was on the shelf, so it seemed to be doing quite nicely. And despite my efforts to thank everyone personally, I know a lot of people were buying books either without getting them signed or when I was off shift. Fortunately, it was clear that the excitement and the interest was there and I’m very interested to see what the reaction is once it officially hits shops and everyone can get their hands on it.
So I’m sure it comes as no real surprise that I had a fantastic weekend and was pretty charged up and inspired every single day of the show. Usually by Friday morning, I’m already completely exhausted and ready for the whole show to just be over, but I went to bed late and woke up early every day without being smashed in the face by absolute fatigue, so maybe once I get home and the con buzz starts lifting away, I’ll feel it all at once. But I read, I wrote, planned world domination, wrote some more, ate at least one cookie every night, never once turned on the TV in the room, and barely took the hotel shuttle, choosing instead to walk the mile back to the hotel with bags bursting with books and things that I’d gotten for unbelievable prices.
One of the two exceptions was Sunday evening, when I just had too much stuff and was feeling a little lazy around the edges after everything. When I got on the bus, I had my badge firmly secured to my lanyard, but by the time the bus dropped us off, the actual badge portion had disappeared somewhere and though I was a little disappointed (I keep all my badges in a shoebox as souvenirs and this was an important one) it was obvious that it happened at just the right time, with most of the trip wrapped up in a fairly neat bow.
Then I wrote my column about my inability to stop spending money at the show and packed up everything as intelligently as I could manage. Barely slept again and now I’m on the plane about 500 miles from Chicago writing the lion’s share of this column on my iPad. Tonight and tomorrow I spend some time with my wife and my dogs, polish the final version of this up, and after that, I get back to work. More Miranda, more Voltron, more other kinda secret Dynamite project, and who knows what after that.
Thank you to everyone that came out and bought the first copies of Miranda Mercury in existence, and I can’t convey how thankful I am to have made even a single sale. To have people coming out there specifically looking for it was great, as was watching folks head around the corner to the Archaia register after talking a little while with me about the book and deciding to put 25 bucks behind it. If you like it, let people know and if you didn’t, we’ll do better next time. Thanks again to the entire Archaia team for their hospitality and mutual excitement about the book, especially Scott Newman, Steve Christy and Josh Trujillo. If I didn’t mention you, no offense intended, but my word counter is telling me this thing is long enough as it is. You know who you are anyway and I hope you know how much I appreciate you and your support.
Can’t even imagine where Miranda and us will be next year, but hopefully we’ll be talking about the dope cliffhanger at the end of the next volume which I don’t dare even hint at. It should be a nice one though, so you should all buy the first volume so you’ll have the chance to read it.
More later I’m sure, and sorry for all the words…sure you understand…