Mind Meld With Purple Eyes Anthology’s Phillip Maira!

1. Hello there, and welcome to the Mind Meld here at IndieComiX! For those who may not be aware of who you are and your work, could you tell us about yourself?

Its Phillip!

I’m a comic book writer from Chicago best known for my annual self-published Anthology series, Crackle. This time around, I’m editing a new, larger Anthology series called Purple Eyes.

2. You’ve currently got a Kickstarter going for a new Anthology, what can you tell us about that?

This new Purple Eyes Anthology has 18 stories from 33 creators. This 140+ page book is set in a world where 73 minutes before you die, your eyes turn a vibrant purple. There is no action, decision, nor medical assistance that can reverse this ocular ticking clock toward death. It’s 100% accurate and occurs to everyone in the world. The concept is an expansion on a short story Sean Dicker, Justin Birch, and I created. I held open pitch submission for 6 weeks and received 185 pitches. The best 18 are in this book. The stories are a mix of Heartache, Humor, Revenge, Supernatural, Sports, Medical Drama, and more. The creators and I meet several times a month to find visual and narrative ways to link the stories together.

This is a combination of having characters in different stories be related or a character pop-up in several stories, as well as stories occurring at the same time but in different locations in the same city. It’s been a blast building this world together and watching all the creators pour their skills and passion into making this the best experience for the reader. It’s been so amazing and we can’t wait to share with everyone what we’ve been creating.

3. Why choose to use purple? Funnily enough I had a friend back in high school who thought the color was evil.

Here’s something I don’t reveal often. The color purple was decided for a couple reasons. The main one is that it is not a natural iris color. The other is that purple, to me, feels non-threatening. Red usually signifies high alert and grabs your attention. On the opposite end of the ROYGBIV spectrum is Violet. It has the shortest wave length and can transfer easier than the other colors. In these stories, violet/purple helps give a false sense of security for such a dire situation. I really liked that dichotomy. It’s been fun incorporating purple themes in the stories such as giving someone a violet flower can be seen as a death threat. One last connection I’ve never mentioned, my birth stone is Amethyst, which is purple. In all my comics, I input a little piece of myself as a reminder of who I was at the moment in time.

4. Provided you are not able to reach your funding goal by the end of the Kickstarter, do you have other plans in mind for the Anthology?

If the Kickstarter does not get funded in the next week, then it might be best to attempt again, but with 1/2 the stories. Instead of having 1 TPB of 140 pages, maybe do two 70 page books with separate KS campaigns. This seems like the most attainable contingency, but Purple Eyes is the culmination of so many talented creators. This is a group effort and I trust their knowledge and guidance. I’ll ask the other creators their thoughts on how to proceed. Regardless if this campaign does not reach it’s funding goal, Purple Eyes will be brought to life in the near future.

5. What’s been your personal favorite story in the Anthology so far?

There are so many talented creators and imaginative stories in this book. If I had to choose one, then it would be Alex Jourdain & Nenad Cviticanin’s tale of a Boxer. During a fight, the main character notices his opponent’s eyes turned purple. The main character struggles with the knowledge that every punch he lands on his opponent might end up killing him. There’s so much complexity to the story such as the purple eyed opponent continuing the fight knowing it will be his last. On top of the complacency and consent of the ref and promoters and each individual attendee not trying to stop the fight knowing that win or lose the purple eyed Boxer will die shortly. The story continues from this point, but I don’t want to spoil anymore.

6. Provided the KS is successful, is there a potential for a sequel for Purple Eyes in the future?

Of course! All the backers will have their physical books and custom commissions by the end of the year. So in early 2023 we’ll begin pre-production for Vol. 2. There will be another round of open pitch submissions for anyone to apply. It’ll be interesting seeing the various ways the creators for Vol. 2 link their stories to those in Vol. 1. Each story, each volume, will make the world of Purple Eyes that much more realized.

7. What advice would you give to others looking to put together an Anthology of their own?

After you figure out your theme and/or genre, estimate how many page you want. Paying your creators a fair page rate is important and will be the main factor when finalizing your budget. More pages are more money for creators’ page rates as well as a little bit more for printing. Once you estimated a range for how many pages, you then choose which printer will produce the books. You can go to their website and play around with quantities, different paper weights, and other add-ons to get a rough estimate of how much it’ll cost for your print run. Also, knowing which printer is helpful when giving the creators any templates or file specifications they’ll need for their final files. Don’t forget to factor in shipping costs including packing materials when budgeting as well.

The last step is to include $500-$1000 extra in the budget for wiggle room. This can cover the printer raising prices, international shipping being more, wanting to get a variant cover artist for the book, or a hundred other little expenses you didn’t foresee.
Other quick tips:

Decide early if you want title cards for each story or not. This will determine when the page turns are for each story. With title cards – Page turns on the odd. Without title card – Page turns on the even. On the same note, list the estimated page count in the pitch submissions form. For example, for Purple Eyes’ pitch submissions form I requested an estimated page count of either 3, 5, 7, 9, or 11 since each P.E. story had title cards.

Create a shared folder for all the creators. This can be a Google Drive or Dropbox or something else. Fill it with templates and file specs from the printer, list of all the creators and pitches, a doc with everyone’s social media accounts (it’ll help when promoting and gets everyone to follow each other), as well as a doc filled with pre-made social media posts so creators can copy and use.

The last quick tip is to always put the name of the book in the subject of each email to the creators. It helps visually to keep track since most creators are working on multiple projects and/or use their personal email for comics. Don’t forget to bcc in order to keep people’s privacy.

8. During the creation of the Purple Eyes Anthology, would you say it’s provided any new learning experiences?

There are many lessons that will stay with me. The main lesson is to hire a PR Consultant. This was my first time and was very helpful to get the word out about this large scale project. He handled all the initial set-up and communication with the 25 podcasts that I was on. That alone gave me so much more free time. Highly recommend. Another lesson I’m not proud of is it to create the campaign page earlier. I was still making updates to the page up until hitting launch. For all future projects, I’ll make sure the campaign page is completed 2 weeks before launch in order to get the other creators’ feedback as well as implementing those changes.

9. As for my final question, what advice would you give to those looking to get into the Industry?

First, I wouldn’t use the term Industry. This is Indie Comics. We’re all a loose tangle of creators telling the stories that we’re passionate about. It’s all grass roots. We connect to our audience directly. We build relationships with comic shops to carry our books. We choose the printer and mail out all the books ourselves from our tiny apartments. It’s a lot of work, but there’s no greater feeling in the world. Knowing all this, my initial advice is to start small. If you’re new to creating comics, create a 5-10 page short story with a clear beginning, middle, and end. You’ll learn a lot during each step of the creation process: scripting, character sketches, thumbnailing, inking/digital line art, coloring, lettering, printing/digital release. During each of those steps the story changes shape and becomes more defined. It’s exhilarating.

If you’re interested in crowd funding, then I suggest reprinting some older work that you’re proud of for your first campaign. Since the work is complete, the funding goal will be smaller. You can get used to that crowd funding platform’s interface and the whole process. You can see which add-ons such as prints or custom commissions work for you. Fulfillment will be quick since it’s reprints. Most importantly, whenever you launch your second campaign to help fund a new and more expensive project, you have all those previous backers that believe in you as a creator. Plus, you already proved you can complete and fulfill a project so that’ll help entice potential new backers. Snowball effect.

Editor’s Note: Huge thanks to Phillip for taking part in this interview! The Purple Eyes Anthology is currently is at 6,774 dollars of its 18,000 dollar goal with 6 days to go. So donate today and help make this project a reality!