Armored Soldier Valkyrion: My Book Series

My current favorite fantasy comic book is Girl Genius, by Phil Foglio. What's yours?

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So, what do you think?

It looks good! Keep it up!
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No votes
I've got some issues with it, but overall, good stuff!
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No votes
I'm really not that interested...
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Total votes : 0

Armored Soldier Valkyrion: My Book Series

Postby Adam Schiller » Mon Mar 31, 2008 9:24 pm

With less and less self-respecting SF hitting the comic book market nowadays, it's been my dream to launch some good stories into the hands of readers. Since September of 2007, Armored Soldier Valkyrion has been aiming to do just that--providing SF stories rooted strongly in reality, challenging the politics of history and the present, and showing how technology influences the face of warfare.

All the current book listings of the series can be found here, at the Doukeshi Productions website.

War machines, armoured soldiers, Martian and Lunar bases, aliens attacking from other planets--it's what fans of traditional SF are looking for, infused with hearty doses of psychological and sociological questions. Is peace really a good thing? How far should we take our technology? Can Earthians ever get along enough to reach beyond our solar system? What are we capable of, if we ever did reach that point?

It's all here in Armored Soldier Valkyrion.

Independently published and defiant of the standard SF fare.

I welcome you to come visit our world.

Adam Schiller
Doukeshi Productions
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suggestion

Postby admin » Tue Apr 01, 2008 3:30 pm

I suggest you make the first few pages available free so readers can make up their minds before they buy.
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Re: suggestion

Postby Adam Schiller » Wed Apr 02, 2008 10:06 pm

I suggest you make the first few pages available free so readers can make up their minds before they buy.
- - - - - - - - - -

That's a good suggestion, but how does this compare with the fact that all four already-published books have four or more pages available for viewing via the links provided?--Do you mean that they need to be hosted on my own server, or is it counterintuitive to click on each book for a look-see?

Thanks for the feedback. I really appreciate it.
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links

Postby admin » Thu Apr 03, 2008 7:30 am

I clicked on your links, saw the books offered for sale, did not realize that clicking on the books would bring up pages to view. Others could make the same mistake.
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Postby Adam Schiller » Thu Apr 03, 2008 10:26 pm

I'll improve on the website as soon as possible, adding galleries for readers to preview each book in the series! 8) Thanks and, if I might ask, what do you think?--Even if it's scathing, depreciating commentary, I don't know what I can improve upon unless you let me know what turns you off or turns you on to potentially buying my hard-fought works of science fiction!

~Adam Schiller
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comments

Postby admin » Fri Apr 04, 2008 10:23 am

Clicking on your link took me to a page advertizing the books. Clicking there took me to something called Indyplanet, where there were a number of pages -- it wasn't clear which were yours. Clicking on one of those pages took me to a badly lettered and cartoonish page that, to my inexperienced eye, looked like an American trying to draw like the Japanese. The bad lettering put me off -- if you can't do professional lettering, use the "comics sans" font from word. But, in any case, there wasn't enough there for me to follow a story, and so there was no way of telling if I would be interested or not.

You did ask for comments.
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Re: comments

Postby Adam Schiller » Sat Apr 05, 2008 4:42 pm

Each link on the main page takes one to a different book; unless my browser is somehow behaving differently, there should be no confusion as to "which books were [mine]."

Based on your comments about "badly lettered and cartoonish" I can only presume that you clicked upon and reached a link to one of the "bonus" sections of the comic, which are intentionally left to be rough-edged and more silly than the main content. Within that same book, there is quite a variety of different pages, including this comic book style one and this, more technical look at the weapons used by the characters in the story.

Whatever your feelings, I'm indebted to your comments, but one in-particular intrigues me: "looked like an American trying to draw like the Japanese."--Is this a bad thing? I mean, in all honesty, does the adopting of one artistic style or other make you (and potentially others in this community) turned-off from reading something which may very well be of good quality? I'm not accusing anyone of anything, but if SF fans in general are somehow built-against Japanese-style composition, then it's important for me to know as we create more of this series.
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manga and anime

Postby admin » Sun Apr 06, 2008 10:17 am

Many Japanese artists I like a lot. The key word here is "imitation". Minor artists imitate, great artists steal. Here's the difference.

If you are trying to "look like" another artist, then why would I read your work instead of his or hers? Imitators are seldom as good as the people they imitate, and my time is valuable.

On the other hand, in developing your own style, you learn every minute of every day. Everything you see, everything you imagine, everything you dream is grist for your mill. You'll steal from Manga, yes, but also from Picasso and Wyeth and Rembrandt, and instead of looking like somebody else, you will grow as an artist.

It all depends on how serious you are, but the competition is numerous and already established. You need to be better than they are to break into a crowded field.
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Postby Adam Schiller » Sun Apr 06, 2008 2:52 pm

I completely understand what you're saying. It's all too often the case that beginning artists never get past the "imitation" phase. But I think that, looking through the five books which have come from Armored Soldier Valkyrion thusfar, there's something which sets its artwork aside from the pack--heavy amounts of line variation, an ill-affinity toward "beautifying" everything, and opposition toward using the same tired character designs--and makes it worth a paying of attention.

No one on our staff is trying to "look like" or "sound like" anyone else. The difference is that, yes, we're trying to do something new here. The majority of western-made, Japanese-inspired comics are flatly-placed in the mainstream of goofball, effeminate, or otherwise not-stimulating-to-one's-mind genres and rest assured, we are well-aware of the stereotype which follows them. But ultimately, it's all about the content. The hard part (as I'm learning with these posts as well as through conventions and casual discussions) is to get people to focus on the content instead of the aesthetics, as if snap-judgment is the cool thing to do nowadays.

I mean, any suggestions? Should I just make the first page full of text, this way people will gear their brains for reading instead of looking?
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text

Postby admin » Mon Apr 07, 2008 7:36 am

Text pages in comics are deadly. Of all the current artists, I think Frank Miller has the best balance between text and art.

You say, "snap judgments are cool these days". That's being defensive. The point is that there is too much stuff out there for the new reader to render anything other than a snap judgment. You've got about fifteen seconds to grab a new reader, or they will pass on the next thing making demands on their attention.

What has done this for me in the past few years? Bone. Amelia Rules. Get Fuzzy. On page one you need a character the reader will fall in love with at first sight, in an situation so interesting the reader wants to find out what happens next.
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Re: text

Postby Adam Schiller » Mon Apr 07, 2008 2:29 pm

Yes, I do suppose that was rather defensive. :cry: I'm just trying to get a good feeling for what people think about my comic, what I can do better, and the like, and you've helped immensely so-far, Mr. Admin, and for that, I thank you very much.

admin wrote:Text pages in comics are deadly. Of all the current artists, I think Frank Miller has the best balance between text and art.

Maybe it's just me, but I've really rather been enjoying the "Adult Erotic Science Fiction"-type comics which are often slathered with text. On the other hand, I will agree that Frank Miller's work (I only have experience reading Ronin, which he both wrote and drew) does have that certain edge which requires a reader to be both willing to look and read, sometimes at the same time, sometimes separately. It's good to manipulate the comic medium for what it's worth.

But in that same vein, where does "pushing the comic medium to its limit" end and "pushed the envelope too far to handle" begin? I ask this because, as a writer with no editor but myself, I have an extraordinary amount of creative room when designing our books, yet the last thing (of course) I want to do is alienate readers who may possibly be frightened-off by a comic which does not meet their preconceived notions of what a "comic book" should be. I mean, if one had asked comickers in the 1970s if today's issues of Marvel Civil War were "truly comics," the answer might very well have been in the negative due to a different style, right? So I humbly ask for your advice, sir, as you have helped me so much thusfar: In a SF comic which you'd consider buying, what are the ingredients which MUST be included and what MUST NOT be included?

Thank you,
Adam Schiller
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you ask

Postby admin » Tue Apr 08, 2008 7:33 am

You ask, "In a SF comic which you'd consider buying, what are the ingredients which MUST be included and what MUST NOT be included?"

Characters I love.

Characters like Scarlet O'Hara, Jim Hawkins, Frodo and Sam, Bugs and Daffy, Kim, Wart, and Anna Karinina.

Of course, that goes for all fiction. In sf, I also require a solid understanding of the way the universe works. I gave up on a fairly well written Star Trek comic book when a character said something to the effect "We're traveling at almost the speed of light. We'll be in the Delta Quadrant soon." No. Lightspeed won't even get out out of the solar system, much less halfway to the Delta Quadrant.

Good luck.

There is a new comic book by Jeff Smith called RASL that is a good example of how to hook a reader on page one. Notice that there isn't any violence in the comic until amost halfway through the book, but when the violence comes, it has a real impact, because we care about the characters.
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Re: you ask

Postby Adam Schiller » Wed May 28, 2008 10:56 pm

In lieu of new posts or forum-posters, I'll do my best to find new ideas through continuing discussion.

admin wrote:There is a new comic book by Jeff Smith called RASL that is a good example of how to hook a reader on page one. Notice that there isn't any violence in the comic until amost halfway through the book, but when the violence comes, it has a real impact, because we care about the characters.


This idea in-particular struck me off guard when I read it again today, because I've never honestly read a science fiction story (novel or shorter) which "hooked" me on page one. The same discretionary look applies to comic books, at least in my case. Nothing grabs my attention better than good stories and characters, and I feel the same is likely true for many people who enjoy science fiction, but it takes pages and pages for me to care. I go into a book, comic book, movie, TV episode, et al. knowing that I'm going from beginning to end, no questions asked. Perhaps it's just my personality, but it seems to be directly opposed to your statements of a need for immediate "hook."

Take, for example, the classic "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?"--Frankly, the first page (of my printing) is boring. The next ten pages are boring. The story begins at a snail's pace and builds-up to mini-climaxes where the reader is left thinking "Huh. Well, that could never happen in my world. I wonder if the book has more?" and so on, until the book comes to an end, and the reader realises that it was a damned good trip. If one attempted to apply the "page one hook or else death to the book" premise, then A.D.D. would force me into missing all which comes after. In the same vein, comic books are after all stories told with pictures in addition to words, and to say that a change in format automatically validates a reader being unopen to anything different than expectations set by a different world, writer, artist, genre would be a crime against the piece as a whole.--Ultimately, it would make it more marketable but also less reflective of the author's intent.

I say all these things with the hope that your rebuttal will either confirm or pick-apart the logic--either one to find a better answer--and also that you will respect a different view from your own, regardless of personal preferences or writing style. We're all trying to create something interesting; those who enter into fantastic worlds with expectations may get frightened before they get the chance to see something new.
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Re: Armored Soldier Valkyrion: My Book Series

Postby admin » Thu May 29, 2008 7:12 am

The page one hook is needed by a new author/artist to get the material published in the first place. An artist has an advantage over an author, because an editor can quickly thumb through a stack of pages and maybe stumble on something on a later page that grabs his interest. But for an editor to read a short story requires at least a half hour of that editors time. Since most editors get about 300 stories a month, needless to say they do not read all of them all the way through.

Beginners often make the mistake of assuming that a "hook" means a big action scene. That is probably why so many movies start with a big bang, and then flashback to introduce the characters. Iron Man is one successful example. For me a hook is a character the reader cares about, and a professional style that gives the reader confidence that the author knows what he or she is doing.

As I said, it may be different for comics. On the other hand, when I look at the hundreds and hundreds of comic books on the shelves at my local comics shop, and know I am going to read at most half a dozen, there has to be something that makes a particular book stand out for me.

The most recent new comic I started reading came out about five years ago, Amelia Rules. The art style was fresh, the characters appealing, and it was free (free comic book day). I took it home, read it, and have bought every book by Jimmy Gownly that has come out since.

One new artist in five years.

Younger people probably have more spare time to read books that don't hook them right away. You mention Philip K. Dick. I read him regularly when I was younger, rarely now. His ideas are great, his style -- well, unless he developed a better style, I doubt he could make it in today's more competative market. And, keep in mind that he did not really break out of the sf ghetto until almost the end of his life, and then in movies, where only his ideas matter, and his prose is lost.
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