Mike Schneider/Readymade Comics

A great many comic creators have drawers filled with completed short stories, that perhaps ran in an obscure anthology for a time, or never ran at all.  If that’s you, get ready to dust off those pages, because Mike Schneider has come up with a solution for you with Readymade Comics.  Readymade has recently put out an open call for submissions of any previously produced comics of all genres, styles, and subjects. I’ve had the opportunity to speak with Mike about the project.

Mike, having come across your work on Octal and reading a little about this project, it seems your work tends toward finding an audience for other indie comic creators. Could you give me a brief rundown of what Readymade Comics is and how or if it plays into that general idea?

Readymade is an anthology of previously produced comics which puts those stories in new and exciting contexts. Between anthologies, periodicals, sand-boxing ideas, experimenting with style, and pilots developed to pitch or crowd-fund a comic… there are a lot of great short comics which could use a first or second crack at connecting with an audience.

Readymade Comics is essentially a label that you’re publishing anthologies under, not the title for an actual comic series.  The website explains that the anthologies will be curated, linking connective threads.  Can you give an example of how that works?

First run anthologies tend to be built around genre. They call for the production of specific stories and then ask for the first print rights of the ones they choose to publish. Our call is wide open to submissions of all previously produced shorts, regardless of style, theme, tone, or genre. We’ll be looking for connective threads in those submissions which could be pulled together into issues.

Any detail could be the connective tissue which holds a collection together. Rather than going as broad as ‘horror’, we might go more specific and have a book titled ‘Monster Mash-Ups’ which collects genre-bending kaiju stories or we might shift focus from genre entirely and put the frame on characters with purple hair to see if there are any personality traits commonly associated with that design choice. The submissions dictate what the specific threads will be.

Whenever you change the context a story is framed in, that gears it toward a different audience and offers a different reading experience. If it connects, there’s room for advancement. If it doesn’t connect, the door’s wide open to submit it again and have that story framed in a different context.

As a creator, how do I know what kinds of stories you are looking to publish?

We’re calling for submissions of any/ all previously produced short comics, including those which have been previously published elsewhere. No submissions are rejected. Creators have the option of putting an expiration date on the offer otherwise we keep it on file until there are enough related works to frame it in an interesting way. Once a story runs in an issue of Readymade, creators are welcome to submit it again to be framed in some other context.

Naturally, quality matters but beyond that you don’t have to tailor your comic to fit Readymade. Our whole production model is designed to build books out of the comics as they already exist.

I’ve noticed the plan is to ultimately release these books on Comixology with the possibility of becoming a print edition.  What are the guidelines and expectations for that happening?

If an electronic issue sells 1000 copies, it will see print. Every time the print edition sells 1000 copies, we’ll offer one of its creators/ teams the option of producing a one-shot. If the one-shot sells, then we’ll present them with an offer for turning it into a series. No original work is produced without advanced payment.

With a list price of 99 cents, 1000 copies isn’t profitable but it is trending in that direction while also proving enough audience to warrant print. Even with those modest goals, I do not expect every issue to see print and certainly don’t expect every short to go onto its own one-shot and series, however, if we keep losses to a minimum on the ones which don’t, then the series will run long enough that some will.

Where Octal’s targeted audience is mostly editors and publishers, how would you describe Readymade’s reader?

Octal is a collection of comic pitch packets. It reads like an anthology because each packet is built around a pilot comic. It has a mailing list of dozens of publishers who have subscribed to review its featured proposals. The books being proposed through Octal couldn’t be more diverse and the titles which have already launched are each targeting different readers.
With Readymade, each issue is its own title and will have its own audience. Some titles will be all age and others mature. Each will be marketed according to its specific content.

What would you say is the primary experience that you had in the industry that lead you to this path of essentially mentoring and promoting indie creators?

In college, my majors were Art Education with a concentration in Painting, Fine Arts Studio: Sculpture, and Digital Media. I started out in the slide room assisting an Art Department and transitioned into a Production Assistant, running light and sound boards. When I had questions my professors couldn’t answer, I got certified to do research involving human test subjects, where I focused my studies on visual communication. After graduating I bounced between teaching workshops and gallery curation before producing the mass-collaborative, animated feature, Night of the Living Dead: Reanimated. My first comics were produced in collaboration with NOTLD:R contributors and we swapped them with magazines for coverage and ad space. I continued doing more shorts for various anthologies and periodicals… yadda yadda yadda.

Long story short: Art is Art. By any other name, it’s still arranging visual information so the total experience has a greater impact than the sum of its parts. Part of Art is advocacy. It’s awesome if you can help a fellow creator succeed but no matter what, always try to leave people with a better understanding and appreciation of Art and The Creative Act.

Any other projects on the docket or are Octal and Readymade keeping you busy enough?

I edit for and consult on a handful of indie comics. As a creator, I’m currently knocking out some guest comics for a friend’s web series, scripting a draugr one-shot, developing a pitch packet for a giant monster romcom, etc.

If I’m a creator reading this and I am interested in reading more and submitting a story, what’s the best way to find out more, or get my work to you for consideration?

For info on Octal, head over to www.OctalComics.com or join our production group www.fb.com/groups/OctalComics . Full details about Readymade, can be found at www.OctalComics.com/Readymade . If you have questions about these or any other projects, email me at neofluxproductions@gmail.com.

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Eric J Cockrell is a Chicago based author/illustrator of anything from books and comic books to album covers to logos and letterheads.  Eric is a traditionally trained illustrator, having graduated from The American Academy of Art in Chicago, IL with a Bachelors of Fine Arts degree.  For more information about Eric J Cockrell, please visit www.studioerbo.com

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