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To the Winner's Circle...

Posted On Thursday, December 24, 2015

Without a doubt, Mark Millar is one of my favorite writers.  From Superman to the X-men, he's penned some of the most notable stories of the last twenty years, his words the framework for most of the current Marvel Cinematic Universe.  And when he launched his own, creator-owned imprint, Millarworld, he shook the foundations of what it meant to be a successful comic book creator -- openly bridging the gap between comics and their cinematic adaptations!

As a writer myself, Mark's influence has been pretty obvious: from the heavy-grit tone of The Samaritan, the outright Nemesis-inspired piece, The Villain, to the race to release Wonder Care Presents: The Kinder Guardians (before his promoted Kindergarten Heroes) -- it's safe to say, that he's meant a lot to me.  So this fall, when he announced that he was opening up the Millarworld playground in an INTERNATIONAL talent search, I LEAPED at the chance!  Okay...maybe I had a little bit of a push!

Since gaining so much ground as a self-publisher, I feared I would be betraying my DIY cred by throwing in -- even someone as influential as Mark!  But per the man himself:

"...You’re at a stage where you want to get noticed and to be noticed there is little better than established characters." -- MM

So with that bit of a pep talk, I went all in, whipping out a short-story under his American Jesus option of the contest.

And then the waiting began...


Here are all the winners, and the corresponding franchises they'll be creating stories for:
  • "Kick-Ass" - Writer Ricardo Mo/ Artist Ifesinachi Orjiekwe
  • "Kingsman" - Writer Philip Huxley/ Artist Myron Macklin
  • "Starlight" - Writer Deniz Camp/ Artist Prancheta Banerjee
  • "American Jesus" - Writer Cliff Bumgardiner/ Artist Steve Beach
  • "Chrononauts" - Writer Shawn Brill/ Artist Conor Hughes
  • "Hit-Girl" - Writer Mark Abnett/ Artist Osgur Yildirim
  • Cover artist: Satine Zillah
First and foremost -- CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL THE WINNERS!  As the stats have rolled out, I understand there were over 1500 entries from around the world!  And the competition was FIERCE!  And these super talented folks were the cream of the crop!  I know I'll be first in line to nab the annual they'll all be featured in when it comes out (and you should grab it too)!

Of course there comes a measure of disappointment that my name isn't amongst the winners.  But, I can certainly take solace in that I wrote the best story I could and that it held its own right up the very end!  In fact, I'm so sure of it, I've included it for YOUR viewing pleasure below!  

Read my American Jesus Entry: HERE
A HUGE thanks goes out to Mark Millar and the ENTIRE Millarworld Crew, who so diligently poured through every submission and entry.  You guys are true heroes to us all and as the contest continues, I'm sure the rise in talent will make the selection process that much harder!  

The Force Awakens Gets the V:IP Treatment...

Posted On Wednesday, December 16, 2015

There's a little movie premiering this weekend, maybe you've heard of it...maybe not (lol).  That's right people -- STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS is making its LONG awaited DEBUT!  After Disney purchased the rights from Lucas Film, this has been one of the most talked about productions in cinema history -- and it's FINALLY HERE!!    

 And unless you've truly been under a rock (or even in a galaxy far, far away), you've seen that under the guidance of the House of Mouse, the marketing for it has been absolutely EVERYWHERE!  From car commercials to make-up lines, to mega-market stores and beyond -- and as you guys know, I'm FAR from shy when it comes to throwing my hat in any ring I see insight into!  But, I'm not an affiliate of Disney, Lucas Film or even Marvel Comics (who are KILLING IT with their new Star Wars series of books!!!), so HOW did I manage to take part?

With some #ExclusiveVariant covers!

But we didn't just slap some some cool imagery on our books, we took some time to REALLY think about how the stories themselves really tied into the Star Wars mythos.  While we wanted to do covers for all the books, time constraints (i.e. me, since I elected to tackle the art duties myself) limited it to just two of our titles: Origins Unknown and The Trouble w/Love!

Origins Unknown: 

We were already working on revamping how to brand Origins Unknown (more to come on that soon), but even using the initial concept of people suddenly imbued with power, possibly beyond their knowledge and understanding -- it just seemed to fit so well with what we presume is happening in The Force Awakens!  Taking the characters from the 3 stories in the first volume, we MIGHT get a analog for the main trio of Finn (Benjamin from Point of Authority), Rey (Gala from Somewhere I Belong), and Kylo Ren (Mitch from Breaking the Habit).  I'm honestly curious how well these comparisons actually fit -- I suppose I'll find out tomorrow like everyone else!

The Trouble w/Love:

With our Dare to Compare challenges at shows, I've definitely likened this book to the relationship between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader.  In both, you have a father/son confrontation that stems around the formers pursuit of love and the things they were willing to do to protect it.  So with that in mind, I went for a play on the iconic shot of Luke and Vader's lightsaber fight from Return of the Jedi!

These will be in VERY limited supply this weekend, and since they're going for only $5 they're sure to sell out quick!  And for you collectors out there, we'll also FIVE #SketchCover Variants ($15) that are simply MUST-HAVES!  So come by the Gateway Film Center from 6pm-12am, Thurs-Sunday and MAY THE FORCE BE WITH YOU!!!

Posted On Thursday, December 10, 2015

Episode #92 - "Chewing Gum & Cashews"

On the Talking-Block this week!
Monstress #2 (Image) - Marjorie Liu (w) and Sana Takeda (a)
The Ultimates #2 (Marvel) - Al Ewing (w) and Kenneth Rockafort (a)
TMNT/ Batman #1 (DC/IDW) - James Tynion IV (w) Freddie Williams III (a)
Secret Wars #8 (Marvel) - Jonathan Hickman (w) Esad Ribic (a)

Honorable GWENtion:
Gwenpool Holiday Special (Marvel)

Make sure you give our FACEBOOK page the ol' #ThumbsUpSalute and #SUBSCRIBE to the YouTube channel!!!

Coming Soon -- Wonder Care Presents: The Kinder Guardians #4!!!

Posted On Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The next installment of the Wonder Care series is on it's way!  Keep your eyes open for issue #4 of the award-winning series!!

Wonder Care Presents: The Kinder Guardians #4
"The New Kid"

Written by Victor Dandridge
Art by Justin Castaneda

Meet Cub -- the newest member of the Kinder Guardians team!  Promoted from the detention class, is this rough-and-tumble, new kid here to help or a wolf in sheep's clothing?

12 pgs (8pgs of story + activities)
Full Color
$2.99 USD

Check out these sneak peeks from his Instagram (@whenuwerelittle)!

And here is page 1 -- all gloriously colored and ready for letters!

GET An EXCLUSIVE Print @Wizard World NOLA...!

You should ALL know that I'm a pretty enterprising guy, always with a keen eye for boosting my signal and success!  So when the opportunity came down the pike for me to sell tickets for Wizard World Comic Cons, a show tour that I'm already heavily invested in, it was an opportunity I couldn't pass up!

But I don't just want to sell you tickets -- that's not good enough!!  I want to make sure that you're getting the V:IP treatment -- regardless of the ticket package!  So, with every ticket purchased, I'm throwing in a FREE Exclusive Print, featuring one of the hit covers from our 2015 Wizard World tour of The Samaritan!*

Each print will be hand-signed and personalized, printed on 11x17" white cover stock!  Top-loaded sleeves will be provided while supplies last.

You'll also get a quick photo op and shoutout on my social media outlets -- and possibly a spotlight from Wizard World itself!!!

Hit the jump and come see ME at Wizard World New Orleans!!!
Wizard World New Orleans
January 8-10, 2016
 New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Ctr
900 Convention Ctr. Blvd
New Orleans, LA 70130

*Prints will be limited to those that bought their tickets through the provided link -- ONLY!  Don't miss out and buy your tickets to Wizard World NOLA TODAY! 

Got math...?! A quick look at V:IP book sales in 2015

Posted On Tuesday, December 8, 2015

I'm a bit of math geek, so when it came to crunching the numbers from this year, I was maybe a little TOO eager to see where everything broke down!  So...without further ado, here's how things went in the numbers!

Total number of books produced: 2360 (WOW!!!!)
Total number of books moved: 2279
Which gives an inventory sales percentage of 97%

It's long since been my fear to be sitting on LOADS of product, which has always kept me ordering in rather conservative measures.  I'm glad that it seems to pay off, having moved a VAST majority of the books we ordered.

TOP 10 Books by Units Moved:
1.) The Samaritan #1 - 344/413 = 15%*
2.) Wonder Care #1 - 310/310 = 14%
3.) The Samaritan 2-4 - 302/304 = 13%
4.) Wonder Care #2 - 294-294 = 13%
5.) The Samaritan 5-7 - 285/287 = 13%
6.) The Trouble w/Love - 205/205 = 9%
7.) Origins Unknown - 186/189 = 8%
8.) Wonder Care #3 - 145/145 = 6%
9.) The Samaritan 1-3 - 98/98 = 4%
10.) The Samaritan 4-7 - 97/97 = 4%

The Samaritan #1 was definitely a super-star on the con circuit this year!  The variant cover exclusives were the most likely to sell-out and it SHOWS!  But Wonder Care #1 definitely held it's own...and with no special sales incentives to boost it!

Percentage of Total Sales by Title:
1.) The Samaritan -- 49%
2.) Wonder Care -- 33%
3.) The Trouble w/Love -- 9%
4.) Origins Unknown -- 8%
5.) Ol' Crazy & the 40oz of Death -- 1%

Collectively, The Samaritan was a force to be reckoned with!  Nearly 50% of our sales for the year were made by our inaugural title!  We're looking at ways to drop the gap a bit for more sales output The Trouble w/Love and Origins Unknown -- look for some early initiatives in 2016 to help with that!

Ordered vs Sold: 
1.) Wonder Care -- 100%
2.) The Trouble w/Love --100%
3.) Origins Unknown -- 98%
4.) The Samaritan -- 94%
5.) Ol' Crazy & the 40oz of Death -- 72%

What's fascinating about math is that even a project that hasn't sold as well, quantitively, can still be deemed a commercial success at the rate of percentage of product!  Here, Wonder Care takes the top spot, but both The Trouble w/Love and Origins Unknown show significance, even outshining The Samaritan!

Gross Profits:
1.) The Samaritan #1
2.) Wonder Care #1
3.) The Samaritan 2-4
4.) The Samaritan 5-7
5.) The Trouble w/Love
6.) Origins Unknown
7.) Wonder Care #2
8.) The Samaritan 1-3
9.) The Samaritan 4-7
10.) Wonder Care #3

Even with different price points, the value of how many units we moved doesn't have any effect on the top 3 books, but after that, quite a few titles shift in their positions!  

2015: A Year in Review...

Whew!  Just...whew!  As I finally wind down from the rapid pace of such an eventful year, I can't help but look back on all the wonderful experiences and opportunities I've seen come to fruition!  I think every year, I claim the current to be my biggest yet, and without fail, it's been true.  2015 has been no different, but with some brilliant surprises along the way!

By the numbers:
19,475 - That's the number of estimated miles I've clocked in my journeys across the US, promoting comics, the U Cre-8 line, and Vantage:Inhouse productions.  Oh...and that's only counting one way!

49 - Over the course of 2015, I've attended, hosted, or participated in 49 DIFFERENT comic book related events.  And that's NOT counting any of the episodes of Black, White & Read All Over (Subscribe now!).

26/19 - The perspective number of cities and states I've been to on my yearlong tour.  And that's only accounting for the host cities, not any of the stops along the way!

Notable accomplishments:
Every year has its successes and here are a few that we think are worth mentioning:

 - We moved to a "Books First" platform, completely rebranding our convention appearance setups and focus!  While the pixel art was a fan-favorite, it wasn't what V:IP was intended to be known for and consequently, our wonderful lineup of books was routinely overshadowed.  It was risky, but we took the plunge to put the books at the forefront and the response, overtly has been one of excitement and praise!  And through this push, we had a number of initiatives to sell/ market our books better -- from cover redesigns, exclusive variants, to our first successful Kickstarter (From Bits to Books), all worked to build the brand that V:IP was intended to carry!

- We've had our first complete sell out!  At the Wizard World Cleveland event, despite the near whiteout weather that HAD TO BE close to a winter emergency, we sold out of our ENTIRE stock of books!  Not one book was left on the table by noon on Sunday -- a first and a truly welcomed experience!

- Our partnership with Wizard World has seen the recognition and participation of the U Cre-8 Comics line grow by the thousands!  Getting the marketing push from Wizard World was an incredible boost to the U Cre-8 line, making it a focus-point for attendees for their Kids Day event, and driving home that it's important to inspire the next generation of comic book readers/ creators!

- We beat our production numbers from last like a lot!  In 2014, we only managed to release Wonder Care Presents: The Kinder Guardians #1 (with Justin Castaneda) and while many cited my hectic schedule, I was severely disappointed in such a small amount of output.  This year, we ramped things up in to high gear, not only producing 2 installments of Wonder Care (Issue #2 "What Can't Your Dad Do" came out in April and Issue #3 "Beware the Kid Napper" was released in July), we also released the long-awaited, Ol' Crazy & the 40oz of Death (with Bryan Moss)!  And because the year's not quite complete, there's a chance that The Kinder Guardians #4 may see release before the end of the year, as well as a brand new story from the Origins Unknown series!!

Better Luck Next Year:
Of course, not everything went according to plan.  There were a few projects we would've liked to have made more headway on: I still need to finish the script for Never Too Late #2 (and beyond), The Fection is still only a third of the way laid out, and I'm ONLY getting started on Spectrum.

I've also got to get better at my daily shoutouts and some sort of consistent posting schedule for this very blog site!  We should EASILY be over 100,000 views by this point and that will ONLY come about with consistent content being uploaded.

Speaking of Next Year...:
There's plenty we've got cooking, and I don't just mean making sure what deadlines we've missed are picked up.  Already, we're working on incorporating a U Cre-8 Comics tour (a plan put on hiatus since 2012) into the schedule.  Look for more distribution to retailers in regions outside of Central Ohio -- we've got initiatives out the wazoo to get comic shop owners not only aware of what we have to offer, but interested in getting our books into your hands!

Also, stay tuned for some upcoming announcements for projects with a 2016 release!  I think one in particular is gonna make people VERY happy!

IT'S FINALLY BACK -- Black White & Read All OVER #Ninety-Fun!

Posted On Wednesday, December 2, 2015

My Read Pile this Week -- VERY Marvel heavy!

After way too long, I'm returning to reposting these, I've got THIS WEEK'S episode of Black White & Read All Over!

Episode #91 - "Chuckie Soule-Train"

We get chatty about... 
The Visions #2 (Marvel) - Tom King (w) Gabriel H. Walta (a)
Star Wars #13 (Marvel) - Jason Aaron (w) Mike Deodato (a)
Spidey #1 (Marvel) - Robbie Thompson (w) Nick Bradshaw (a)
The Sheriff of Babylon #1 (Vertigo) - Tom King (w) Mitch Gerads (a)

Daredevil #1 (Marvel)
Robin War #1 (DC)
Black Jack Ketchum #1 (Image)
All New Inhumans #1 (Marvel)

Make sure you're subscribed to the ComicTownTv Channel on YouTube and give the ol' #ThumbsUpSalute to the Black White & Read page on Facebook!

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