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#533723 - 01/16/09 11:11 AM GARY REED'S MURDER OF SCARECROWS
Jennifer M. Contino Offline
Member

Registered: 08/01/02
Posts: 22928
Loc: PA

BY JENNIFER M. CONTINO
When Gary Reed was thinking of the next project he wanted to create for comics, his mind stretched back to Colonial times and the tale of standing up against oppression. In A Murder of Scarecrows, the rift between the Colonists and British is growing wider, with taxation and lack of representation heavy on most Colonists minds. Reed told us why he wanted to work in this era, how his A Murder of Scarecrows is different than Dr. Syn: The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh and lots more ...


THE PULSE: What is A Murder of Scarecrows? Besides something I'd bet Batman has considered a few times or more and something the Wicked Witch tried to do?

GARY REED:
A Murder of Scarecrows is an original graphic novel set in Colonial America and although the American Revolution hasn't started yet, there is definite tension between the occupying forces of the British and the American townspeople. Actually, at that time, most of the colonists were proud to be British subjects and viewed themselves as one extended family. But there started to be discrepancies over taxes and representation and the arriving troops from Britain had a different attitude towards the colonists and vice versa. I start the story with the animosity already brewing and it escalates from there. The name A Murder of Scarecrows is a play on the collective term for crows, which is a murder of crows.


THE PULSE: When I read the solicits for your story I had to wonder if you were influenced at all in your story by Dr. Syn: The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh, the priest by day, hero by night. Are you familiar with the work? If so, did it play an influence? If not, what did inspire A Murder of Scarecrows?

REED:
I'm very familiar with Dr. Syn. Most people know it from the Disney version starring Patrick McGoohan although there were a couple of other films based on the character. I'm probably one of the few people that have read all the novels by Russell Thorndike. I actually wanted to do a Dr. Syn adaptation and Tom Mandrake was planning to draw it and even did some pages for it…as expected, just beautiful stuff. But there was some question on whether it was truly public domain or not so I decided not to go there.

So, yes, A Murder of Scarecrows is influenced by Dr. Syn. But if you read the Syn novels, much of it deals with his life as a pirate and it was extremely bloodthirsty and of course, Syn dies in the first book so the rest of the series is a flashback. Syn is a British smuggler who basically fights for his economic well being, again, tying into his pirate beginnings.

I guess once I got the bug in me to do something like that, I took it on a different path and set it as a colonial rebel and of course dropped the pirate part. Like most stories, it has the usual standard group of characters---the loyal assistant, the love interest, the bad guy, you know, just what you'd expect in a typical action adventure yarn. I was also influenced by Nathanial Hawthorne's "Feathertop" which I loved as kid and I had just watched Brotherhood of the Wolf and I wanted to sort of capture that feel as well.

So, lots of varying influences but Syn, of course. It is likely that it is public domain but I didn't want to be restricted to that because if you're going to do an adaptation, you should try to be true.



THE PULSE: It's tough to do period pieces, what attracted you to the setting of the pre-Revolutionary War for your saga?

REED:
Much of my work is based in historical settings in some form or fashion. That's why I love doing the Saint Germaine stories as they allow me to travel through just about any time period in history. It's funny that as a child I found the Revolutionary time period one of the most boring parts of history but now I'm really into it. I was thrilled when they did the John Adams series and I find the whole American Revolution saga quite interesting.



THE PULSE: For those who aren't steeped in history, what was America like at that point in time? How close to the Revolutionary War is your story set?

REED:
I purposely didn't really set a date but played up that the developing rift between the colonists and the British troops. I wanted flexibility in the time scale so I could do more tales of the Scarecrow. At the time of setting of the graphic novel, America was proving itself as a valuable member of the British colonies and rather self sufficient. The French and Indian War had passed and the colonists and British had acted as a single unit. So, the colonists were British even with the influx of immigrants starting to come in. But as the colonists were forced to start bearing more of the cost, and in their minds, an unbalanced share, a division began to form and many colonists started putting America ahead of their country, especially the people born here who lost the identify of being British.


THE PULSE: Why do your leads decide to dress as Scarecrows? I don't think of them as typically being frightful to humans.

REED:
No, they're not…generally. Basically they had to have some kind of outfit that could hide their identities and spandex just didn't seem suitable for the time period. One thing about the scarecrow is it is something that is very Anglo and was first used in England so it seemed like a natural that it would be used in the colonies. To me, it fit perfectly as even back then, there was something mysterious about these figures dotting the countryside. Even Nathanial Hawthorne gave them a creepy substance in Feathertop and they were used as a tool for evil or sometimes to ward off evil.


THE PULSE: How do the Scarecrows keep their identities secret? Do they have a cave or hideout like other "heroes"?


REED:
Nothing as elaborate as that but hey do have a hideout which is actually more of a meeting spot. Primarily its an area to store goods or keep their horses but it certainly isn't like the old JLA clubhouse or anything. The face coverings keep them secret so no one in the town knows who is in the group. That plays a factor in the storyline.


THE PULSE: Is Seaton a real city or one you fictionalized for this work? If it's real, why choose that as a setting? If you made it up, what city or cities did you base this work upon?

REED:
Totally fabricated. It's a non-descript town in a non-descript area with the only guidelines is that it is in a coastal area surrounded by farmlands. I didn't really use any existing town as the source material but rather just wanted to convey a feeling for the area. If there are going to be future stories, I may be forced to define Seaton a bit more.

THE PULSE: How did you research a project like this? There is a lot in the history books about this era, but how did you get to know the dialect and other finer points?

REED:
Researching is often one of the more enjoyable aspects of doing historical works. For Scarecrow, though, I have to say that I didn't have to do much in additional research as for this initial graphic novel, it's not as crucial. As for the dialect, I learned a long time ago that you can't become a slave to capturing the exact dialect at the time or else you make the work unreadable at worse and a distraction at best. What I did to try and capture more of a flavor for the language was to be very proper, avoid the use of contractions, and give the dialogue an almost stilted, methodical cadence. But there are some characters who weren't as educated so their dialogue is a bit rougher.


THE PULSE: This sounds like a story that could go beyond this initial graphic novel. What plans do you have in place to show what happens next?

REED:
My intent was to do this as a one shot graphic novel with the hopes that there could be more stories to follow up. However, I didn't want to sacrifice this story by seeding it with too many setups for subsequent storylines. I did introduce the idea of a previous Scarecrow but felt that it was superficial enough not to be a detriment to the story yet if I get a chance to explore that avenue, it fits into the scheme of this story. And the ending is set up that it's a satisfactory ending for this first tale yet viable enough to continue with more stories.

I guess it all depends on sales. It doesn't necessarily have to be the initial sales because we all know that really doesn't tell the overall impact of a series or graphic novel. I have to see what the follow-up response is through the comics market, book market, and direct sales.

THE PULSE: What were the challenges of getting this tale created exactly as you imagined?

REED:
Well, it never ends up as one totally imagines it. When I write, I think about it as visually as I can and sort of play it out like a movie but that isn't exactly the same thing because a movie has a constant fluidity to it whereas comics is a series of static shots. But it gives a good sensibility when writing the scenes. Now saying that it never ends up as imagined is not a complaint against artists, on the contrary, often times they bring something in that not only surprises me but conveys much more than I had expected. I understand that it's a collaborative medium so I have to rely on the artist quite a bit and I also understand that each artist is going to see things different from me and different from each other.

I have to say that the vast majority of time the final version as drawn by the artist is an enhanced version of what I envisioned when laying out the story so I look forward to seeing those pages as they come in.


THE PULSE: What made Wayne Reid a good fit to draw this tale?

REED:
I've worked with Wayne in the past and our relationship goes back to the early days of Caliber. He's not a flashy artist and isn't going to wow anyone with his gorgeous pinups but he's a craftsman in the mold of the old school artists. He uses his art to tell stories rather than just a series of poses.


Since this was a historical piece, I knew Wayne would ensure all the details were correct. I mean he was worried about the type of buttons on the British coats as that time. And I don't know of anyone who can handle drawing horses in so many scenes and from so many different angles than Wayne.

I've done quite a bit of historical work with Wayne. We did the Zulunation series for Tome Press about the British-Zulu War and he did a full color painted series on the later life of El Cid which was released in a grey toned version but sometime in 2009, it will be released in a trade paperback in the original colored paintings. Wayne also has a Saint Germaine story coming out with me dealing with Genghis Khan.

When I think of historical works, Wayne is usually one of the first artists I think of.

THE PULSE: How did Desperado Publishing come to release this GN?

REED:
I have a very strong relationship with Joe Pruett so Desperado is almost a given as far as where any of my projects are going to go through. I do some of my collections of previous series via Transfuzion as being reprints, I don't expect the same response as new material. Joe pretty much gives me carte blanche so it's usually a case of me letting him know what I have in the works. It's not an automatic but we discuss ways of making things work out. Of course, I haven't worked exclusively with Desperado since their inception and I have no aversion to publishing elsewhere but I guess with Desperado, it's the path of least resistance and we have a great dialogue. I have absolutely no complaints.



THE PULSE: What other projects in or out of comics are you working on?

REED:
It seems there's always a lot going on. In comics, I have another Saint Germaine trade paperback coming out from Transfuzion and that will contain some new stories such as a tale of The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Genghis Khan. I'm also collecting the Sinergy series with a new name and that's quite a mix as it is a retelling of Dante's Inferno and each level of Hell is illustrated by a different artist. As far as all new material, I have a mystery set in the early 1900's with art probably from Wayne Reid. I'm real excited about a hybrid book I'm doing right now which deals with scandals, scoundrels, rebels, traitors, and spies. That one is called SUBVERSIVES and is a mix of prose, spot illustrations, and comic art. This is kind of unusual in that I have virtually all of the art completed from a number of different artists and now I have to bring it all together and finish writing it. Outside of comics, I have two novels I'm working on and I may be doing a series of science books with illustrations. Certainly enough to keep me busy...





A Murder of Scarecrows should be in stores by the end of February.

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#533740 - 01/16/09 12:48 PM Re: GARY REED'S MURDER OF SCARECROWS [Re: Jennifer M. Contino]
granfalloon Offline
Member

Registered: 10/27/03
Posts: 721
Loc: Toronto, Canada
Real questions for Gary Reed:

1) Who is going to buy this thing, your mother?
2) Why didn't you publish it yourself? Where did your company go? Don't you still have some sort of publishing company?
3) Is this another try at getting a film made? Do we need a remake?
4) Are you glad that Patrick McGoohan chose this time to shuffle off this mortal coil?
5) Did the artist get paid? If so, and it seems unlikely, who paid him? Who much?
6) Don't you wish there wasn't so much stuff out on the market? Doncha, huh, doncha?
7) Does Joe Pruett send out the free comps with good speed? How many do you get? Has he ever tried to pay you in comps?
8) Is it in print now or do you promote now, print later? What does something like this sell to stores these days? How many of the copies in stores actually sell?
_________________________
Jeez, granfalloon, that longer post above might be one of the most thoughtful, best written things I've ever read on Comicon.
--Lawson

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#533840 - 01/17/09 12:25 AM Re: GARY REED'S MURDER OF SCARECROWS [Re: granfalloon]
Gary Reed Offline
Member

Registered: 05/09/05
Posts: 36
Originally Posted By: granfalloon
Real questions for Gary Reed:

1) Who is going to buy this thing, your mother?
2) Why didn't you publish it yourself? Where did your company go? Don't you still have some sort of publishing company?
3) Is this another try at getting a film made? Do we need a remake?
4) Are you glad that Patrick McGoohan chose this time to shuffle off this mortal coil?
5) Did the artist get paid? If so, and it seems unlikely, who paid him? Who much?
6) Don't you wish there wasn't so much stuff out on the market? Doncha, huh, doncha?
7) Does Joe Pruett send out the free comps with good speed? How many do you get? Has he ever tried to pay you in comps?
8) Is it in print now or do you promote now, print later? What does something like this sell to stores these days? How many of the copies in stores actually sell?



Wasn't sure if I wanted to answer these as I question the sincerity...and I usually don't like to answer forum messages from people who don't use their real names but some of it is suggestive so I think should address it.

My mom passed this last year so no, she won't be buying it. I don't know the names of all the people that pre-ordered the book via Diamond Previews.

Transfuzion is used to reprint collected works and since this was new material, it didn't fit into Transfuzion.

As for the rest of the questions, yes, the artist was paid...upon completion of story...the rest is none of your business. Yes I get comp copies...on time (usually before the stores or even Desperado as they come right from the printer), only got paid with comp copies on Negative Burn as that's the way it works with that book...has for a long time.

I have no idea of what you're talking about regarding the film. A remake of what?

And no, I don't think that there is too much stuff out there. Why do people complain about too many choices???? I don't think there's too many movies, books, music...why would comics be any different?

I think I mustered serious answers to your more direct questions. I won't dignify the remark about Patrick McGoohan.

Are you implying something with your leading questions? It might easier if you just said it.

_________________________
Gary Reed
www.garyreed.net

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#533871 - 01/17/09 01:05 PM Re: GARY REED'S MURDER OF SCARECROWS [Re: Gary Reed]
Jennifer M. Contino Offline
Member

Registered: 08/01/02
Posts: 22928
Loc: PA
I think the story is intriguing, that's why I contacted Gary to interview him about the subject matter. I really didn't care for hte Dr. Syn Disney films, but think this comic might hold my attention more.

Jen

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#533904 - 01/18/09 09:29 AM Re: GARY REED'S MURDER OF SCARECROWS [Re: granfalloon]
JasonMoore Offline
Junior member

Registered: 08/22/04
Posts: 2
Man what an a**hole.
Sorry, I just can't stand people on forums who have nothing better to do then to try to stir up problems or just be an a**hole in general.
If you don't have anything constructive to say or any 'real' questions to ask then simply keep it to yourself.

Gary is a stand up guy and always has been. I worked for Gary when he was publishing book under the Caliber banner and it was always a pleasure. Never once was I treated badly.

Anyway, glad to see this book coming out Gary! Also, glad to see Wayne Reid being put to use. Like you mentioned, he is an old school artist, but that's something we don't get a chance to see much of these days.

Looking forward to it!

Best,
Jason Moore

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#533907 - 01/18/09 10:48 AM Re: GARY REED'S MURDER OF SCARECROWS [Re: JasonMoore]
granfalloon Offline
Member

Registered: 10/27/03
Posts: 721
Loc: Toronto, Canada
Thanks for the honest and direct answers Gary. Sorry, my comments seemed funny, at least to me, at the time.

My questions were flippant, and I can understand how some will take offense to that. Again, I apologize. Jennifer, I thank you for your comments on the reason for the interview. They are appreciated.

The questions I asked, some not really meant to be taken literally, are on the marketing of the book. Books like yours don't seem to sell much these days. Even when they are published and distributed there is often very little feedback from readers. Low circulation makes it difficult to pay people. Artists and writers of considerably quality, who may invest hundreds of hours in their creations are sometimes not paid.

I could go on, but a commentary on those issues from a long time creator and publisher who has worked primarily in small press could be quite interesting.


Edited by granfalloon (01/18/09 12:09 PM)

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#533923 - 01/18/09 12:17 PM Re: GARY REED'S MURDER OF SCARECROWS [Re: granfalloon]
JasonMoore Offline
Junior member

Registered: 08/22/04
Posts: 2
I dunno....In my opinion, the agreements made between Gary, Desperado and Wayne Reid are between those parties involved. Why should they have to discuss their agreements in public? Do you see Jim Lee discussing his financial agreements / contracts in an open forum?

So what if a book such as this has a low print run. Most B&W independent do have low print runs. Shouldn't we just be happy that there is still an outlet for those who are creative to express their artform?

To me, it seems as though you are / were trying to insinuate that Gary or Desperado has a past of not paying people. Maybe I read it wrong, but even on a second or third reading, it still seems that way to me.

As a comic professional myself, I just think that the agreements made between the creative team and publisher is strictly between those parties. If the creative team or publisher initiate an article or conversation to discuss such a thing, then it's up to them.

Sorry, I might be taking this too far, but I've seen this type of stuff before and it's just unnecessary in my opinion.

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#533936 - 01/18/09 02:38 PM Re: GARY REED'S MURDER OF SCARECROWS [Re: Jennifer M. Contino]
Steve Chung Offline
Member

Registered: 08/01/02
Posts: 3800
Loc: San Bruno
Originally Posted By: Jennifer M. Contino
I think the story is intriguing, that's why I contacted Gary to interview him about the subject matter. I really didn't care for hte Dr. Syn Disney films, but think this comic might hold my attention more.

Jen


What did you think of McGoohan in "The Three Lives Of Thomasina"?

I liked it when Veterinarian Mr. McDewey punches out the bad guys.

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#533938 - 01/18/09 02:42 PM Re: GARY REED'S MURDER OF SCARECROWS [Re: JasonMoore]
granfalloon Offline
Member

Registered: 10/27/03
Posts: 721
Loc: Toronto, Canada
Thanks Jason. Certainly, I would be foolish of me to expect a dollars and cents statement, made publicly, about the money received from Gary Reed or Joe Pruett. With Jim Lee, there is no begging of the question. He is a uniquely talented man. We all assume that he is paid commensurate to his skills. Like a hockey player, Jim Lee would usually play for the highest bidder. We know how the system works. I am sure that Jim Lee would be no more likely to discuss the details of his finances on an open forum than I would.

When I look at Wayne Reid's art, I see impressive drawing skills and a real intelligence in story telling. Gary's assurance that he is getting paid, quite frankly, surprises me, because I assume that the print run on the book is very low and the small amount of money received by the publisher will do little to compensate the creators. I don't doubt Gary's statement, but it surprises me. I find the situation of someone so capable working for so little (I assume), curious.

I am happy that there are still small press publishers. But, (and I don't mean to argue semantics or make a dig) there is nothing wrong with not "just" being happy. It would be great to know how the system works. I thought I knew how it worked, at least in part. I now find out that I am wrong and the artist got paid.

My questions were leading and most would read an insinuation that Gary and Desperado have not paid people for their work. It's true; at times they haven't. What I certainly don't mean to suggest is that they have broken any agreement in doing so, let alone any written contract. I have never heard even a suggestion of that, anywhere, and I don't want to start a false rumour. My understanding however, is that some of their books don't sell well. With lack of sales comes lack of payment. Looking at the samples and reading about A Murder of Scarecrows, I can't imagine it selling enough to compensate the creators financially. I assume, perhaps erroneously, that they are doing it for the love of the media and for the off chance that the property will one day become a high budget film and then there will be money enough to go around.

It used to be that discussing sex, religion and politics was out of bound for decent people. Today, discussing money is out of bounds. None of us have to discuss it but I am still glad that Gary did, even when prompted to do so in such a rude way.

I made some people feel bad largely through a misdirected phrasing of my questions, which reflect genuine interests. That is always unnecessary. I hope I wouldn't have made anyone feel bad had I asked, "Do you hope to achieve distribution of your graphic novel to the point where you will feel compensated for the tremendous amount of work involved?" The safe answer to that would be, "I just like to draw" or "I had this story in me", but things are always more complex than that. Hearing a broad answer would be nice.
_________________________
Jeez, granfalloon, that longer post above might be one of the most thoughtful, best written things I've ever read on Comicon.
--Lawson

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#533963 - 01/18/09 08:04 PM Re: GARY REED'S MURDER OF SCARECROWS [Re: granfalloon]
Gary Reed Offline
Member

Registered: 05/09/05
Posts: 36
While I still have no plans to reveal the financial situations, I can understand the curiosity and your surmised ideas are actually built on a solid foundation. Most books don’t make money that hit the direct market except those from the larger publishers. But remember, there are different degrees of “small”. Caliber wasn’t exactly a small press publisher back when…we occasionally broke the top ten in market share and we moved millions of comics annually. But different times, different market.

Transfuzion is a small publisher, I’ll grant that but Desperado has more of a base as Transfuzion is primarily reprint collections. Like most publishers, Desperado has some titles that do very well, others…well, not so well. But a book that may sell dismally in the direct market might do well in the book market. I know of a number of examples where the book market was 5-7X the direct market sales.

Yes, I have worked many different situations with Caliber as has Desperado. Some people got page rates, some worked on a flat fee, some got paid only in royalties. Each project is different. The success also varies considerably. I’ve had creators earn enormous royalties on some titles (granted, not most of them did, but it was not uncommon for a creator to get the equivalent of $300-$600 a page). After running Caliber, I would not pay a page rate for a creator owned book but I can’t say for sure if Joe Pruett shares that same philosophy.

A lot of creators took the plunge on creator owned books because it gave them exposure and they maintained ownership. Image is set up the same way except they charge a flat fee against royalties first which Caliber didn’t. However, Image has the benefit of being a larger publisher at the front of the Previews, so that added benefit is worth the cost. But if you look at some creators who worked for “nothing” (and sometimes they did get royalties), it allowed them to launch their careers. Michael Carey, Guy Davis, James O’barr, Patrick Zircher, Jim Calafiore, Michael Lark, Brian Bendis, Mike Perkins, Laurence Campbell, Paul Tobin, David Mack, Mike Allred, Ed Brubaker, Phil Hester, Ande Parks, Georges Jeanty, Jason Lutes, Stuart Immomen, and others all worked to establish themselves (not just with Caliber but most of their early work was with Caliber) and although they didn’t make a lot of money, they sure got the benefit for the long range. And some of these did get a page rate, depending on what they worked on.

When you said that you thought you had it figured out but now you’re not sure, well, that’s because there is no one way it works.

The only thing that I still find offensive (well, slightly and with tongue in cheek) is the fact that you think A MURDER OF SCARECROWS sells so miserably that there’s no way it can make any money at all and no way can the artist be compensated. Well, just to let you know that on the initial orders alone (and no, it wasn’t a big seller), A MURDER OF SCARECROWS will make money. And like most books, it gets a substantial amount of orders (it varies from title to title) from reorders, libraries, book stores, conventions, and mail orders as well as from stores that order copies direct.

Without solid numbers, I’m sure you can have your doubts but all I can say is that Wayne is teaming up with me on another project that you’re likely to find also not sufficient to cover compensation and who knows, maybe it won’t. But it’ll come close enough, I think, to take the chance.
_________________________
Gary Reed
www.garyreed.net

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