Featuring the Webcomics and Graphic Novels, Fantasy and Sci-Fi by Mark Oakley!
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What is, Thieves & Kings?

“Thoroughly engrossing self-published black-and white fantasy saga. [. . .] This is a story for fans of Bone, Elfquest, Nausicaa, or Harry Potter to fall in love with; highly recommended for teen and adult fantasy readers everywhere.”

   -The Library Journal

Learn about Mark Oakley and his work!

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Read a 25 page
sample chapter!





Mark’s sci-fi Web Comic!

Stardrop! Featuring the space Princess Ashelle living on Earth.
Bi-weekly webcomic!

Email Me!


or write to. . .

I Box Publishing
#1 - 614 Main St.
Wolfville, NS  B4P 1E8
Canada



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Articles of Note:

Response to Amazon and Kindle Direct Publishing


Art Software Review - OpenCanvas 6


Why Facebook is an unreliable tool for the Self Publisher


Three Questions from a Beginner Cartoonist


Comics in the New Media ~ How to Publish Comics on Tablets and eReaders Without Getting Ripped Off


Mark at the Movies:Superman, Man of Steel. Propaganda to dim the spirit and fan your fears.


Mark at the Movies: What do, Mirror Mirror, Hunger Games and Cabin in the Woods all have in common? More than you think!


Drawing Democracy


365 Days of Digital Cartooning - Drawing Comics on a Tablet PC


UPDATED!
Tablet button bar Button for Photoshop / PaintTool Sai / MangaStudio5


Photoshop CS4 vs CS5 Speed Comparison for Tablet PC


Photoshop Speed-Up Trick for Digital Art


Portable Drafting Board - Drawing Comics Outdoors

 

 
   Stardrop. . .
 
 
   Jenny Mysterious. . .

First Day Back

Webcomic Jenny_Mysterious by Mark Oakley www.iboxpublishing.com

 
 
   Thieves & Kings. . .

Sample Chapter from, Thieves & Kings, Volume 3, "The Blue Book"

Thieves & Kings, page from the graphic novel series by Mark Oakley www.iboxpublishing.com

Thieves & Kings is not a webcomic. It is an all-ages fantasy/adventure graphic novel series which I've been working on since 1994. It is nearly done; I hope to wrap up the story in the 7th volume, (currently in production). The chapter featured here offers a good example of what it's like to read Thieves & Kings. --It's a peppy sequence, and it contains both regular comic pages, and some text pages. It doesn't show much of the title character, (Rubel) and none of the Shadow Lady, but Heath and Varkias carry the show quite nicely. I hope you enjoy this sample of my work!

 
 
   The Walking Mage. . .

The Walking Mage webcomic #2 - Fired

The Walking Mage is a complete story. Originally it was done in black & white, (which you can check out here, if you like). I wanted to experiment with color and so began by using a computer to color the Walking Mage for its print release. After a few panels I decided that it would be a lot more fun to paint it by hand, and so switched to water-color around episode six.

The story itself is quite a good little yarn; funny and pointed in many places, as political satire ought to be. I was actually quite surprised to learn this! I found myself laughing out loud in several places. --I don't know why this story in particular was so hard for me to accept, but it was. I avoided reading it for several years after it first went to press. The ending is rather abrupt, but it was a serial strip, after all.

So anyway, after having let this web-comic languish in the digital attic, I've decided to pull it out and post it again for all the world in its full-color glory. This is the first time the Walking Mage has been available in full color on the web. I hope you enjoy the adventures of Quinton and Varkias. Cheers!

 
 
   News From the Studio. . .
                  Part 1  Part 2  Part 3  Part 4  Part 5

April 14th, 2012

Comics and the New Media, Part I
How to Publish Comics on Tablets and eReaders Without Getting Ripped Off

Introducing The New and Sparkling World of eReaders!

iPads, Kindles, Clone Tablets, eInk Readers, Smart Phones, and every other thin-screen, pocketbook-sized gadget. Welcome to Star Trek. We're here. It's happening. And naturally, this interests me quite a bit.

As it happens, I am right now in the process of breaking down my comics project, Stardrop into single panels which can re-organize themselves depending on the screen size they happen to be read on. (Via basic ePub formatting, which is rather like a stripped down version of HTML.)

I deliberately set a creative boundary when I began drawing Stardrop, requiring of myself that all the panels (or 99% of them, anyway) be square and optimized for viewing on e-reader screens. -Squares are wonderful this way; they can stack and re-organize nicely so that you can get full page layouts on a big screen, or with the same file, they can display happily one panel at a time, which is perfect if you happen to be reading on a smaller gadget. The prototypes I've spun up work and read surprisingly well, and I quickly forget the medium itself and just find myself in Ashelle's world. So far, so good. . .

But I've held off for a loooong time in releasing digital versions of my books because the distribution and the devices and payment structures, the market as a whole, hadn't crystalized. In fact, it looked like one giant lumbering mess, at least from my publisher's viewpoint. Now, however, that's all rapidly changing. . .

At the moment, I'm just wading into the research on the rights side of the issue. And, no, I'm not talking about the murky world of digital rights management (DRM). Rather, the thing I'm curious about is. . , revenue sharing. How does the pie get divided? Who provides which services? Who is deserving of what? (Or thinks they are deserving). And boy! At the moment, the answers to those questions are all over the map!

If you want to get your work on Apple's iTunes store, they'll want 30% and an IRS number, (even if you're not an American). Second tier publishing companies such as Ingram and LuLu work in partnership with Apple to offer what they call, 'aggregation', where they provide a block of graphic novels and books and market them to the iPad customer base using the Apple iTunes system. After sales are finalized, Apple takes a cut and pays Ingram or LuLu or whoever, then they pay the publisher. (Ingram takes a bit over 50% of the remaining pie, and LuLu between 10 and 20% depending on which page on their website you read.)

Amazon has its own little fiefdom, (surrounded by swamps and walls), and its own ways to cut up the pie on digital works. Within fairly short order, the revenue from a comic book sale dwindles into very little for the people doing the actual work of writing and drawing. -Keeping in mind that Apple and everybody else is not in the business of traditional publishing; they aren't printing or shipping books, (notwithstnading print on demand services, which are a whole other ball game), and in many cases, the creator pays for bandwidth. Frankly, the whole thing looks kind of Wild West to me.

Then, and perhaps more importantly, there is the issue of exclusivity. Apple, for instance, if you want to distribute through their iTunes/App stores, will only apparently allow you to do so if you agree not to also sell your own work on your own website.*** That sort of thing makes my neck hairs stand on end. Amazon is pulling similar tricks.

***Correction: Turns out the exclusivity aspect of Apple's contract is related only to eBook files created using the Apple layout package. That is, if you use their layout software, their contract terms forbid the files it creates on from being sold anywhere other than through the Apple iBookstore. -Thanks to Steve Crooks for writing in with this clarification.

I remember the comic book distributor wars which tanked the whole industry in the 90's, and the battles before that for creator rights. It seems the stew pot is heating up once again and the creators are again being handed the short end of the stick, all while the industry itself wholly depends on their existence and continued labors. "The more things change, the more things stay the same."

It's going to be an interesting journey.

So for me, this is an experiment. Stardrop will be the litmus test. The first stick in the water, and I'll be learning as much as I can from the process. -Cuz' I've also got a bunch of new Jenny Mysterious material starting to pile up in my outbox, and T&K is in the process of being colored, with new pages also stacking up. . .

Yes indeed! Interesting times ahead!

Yet while there are devils in the details, and battling monolithic corporations, I can also see some lovely gaps in the brickwork. What fun! This is a very exciting time; a new golden age where many possibilities are floating all about in flux. New ways to reach readers. New ways to share stories. It's all rather exciting!

So as I research this, I will post my findings here. If you happen to be in the self-publishing e-book world yourself, and have comments or discoveries you'd like to share, please send them along. If you're just learning the ropes and perhaps have an eBook of your own you're hoping to market, hopefully my explorations into the subject will be of use to you. Come back next week for Comics in the New Media, Part II: Apple, Savior of Publishing, or Jobs' Con Job?

Cheers!
-Mark Oakley

       

 

                  Part 1  Part 2  Part 3  Part 4  Part 5

 


Readers Respond. . .
Nice discussion to have.

I looked into the Apple contract when new Apple eBook "Author" software was released and I DO think you are able to sell -physical- copies on your own, you're just not supposed to sell digitally on Apple AND Amazon or whomever (and THAT was when you were utilizing the Author software to 'fabricate' your eBook).

Apple and Amazon are just really popular distribution streams. In no way should you rely on them, at least initially. I would encourage you to find a friend with Adobe InDesign 5.5 (if you don't have it already) and fabricate your own idealized eBook. InDesign has the best creation tools so far and you can save it in formats that are friendly with all sorts of gadgets. Send it to friends to see how they relate to the interface, try it out yourself. Only then will you know if eBooks are right for your books.

And... I've remained pretty opposed to reading comics digitally. There have only been about 3 webcomics that I've enjoyed, but I've cherished them more once they were collected into physical formats. That said, I just got a new tablet and paid for few comics just to get the full experience... and it wasn't bad, but it wasn't great.

Anyway, I look forward to seeing the rest of your thoughts.

Shawn McLeod

 

Hiya, Shawn. Wow. You know, the thought that sales of physical copies might pose a contract issue hadn't even crossed my mind. What a thought! Brr. Thanks for the info on Adobe. I've not actually looked very far yet into the how-to of a final product yet.

Cheers!

 


 

Very curious to see what I Box Publishing decides to do with all this fun stuff. Ultraist Studios endorses the Louis CK and Nine Inch Nails model... it's the self-publishing of the internet.

Mike Kitchen

 


 

Well the Adobe side of things in the most basic sense is easy. Once you have your InDesign file that you might send off to print created, you can export as epub.

But you are right, making a file is fairly easy. NOW what do I DO with it? Really interested to see what you come up with. Makes me wish we in closer proximity and could do some longer sit and talk type thinking.

Chris Howard

 


 

 
 


 

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