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Wed, Oct. 9th, 2013, 10:32 am
Talent and recognition.

Sometimes I think about M. Alice LeGrow.

I just finished reading the first volume of her new graphic novel, The Elephant Book, which was published with the help of a Kickstarter campaign. It's a great book, and I enjoyed it, but I think it could have been infinitely better with professional editing. The art and pacing were wonderful, but an outsider with experience in editing could have said things like "this character is underdeveloped, and you should take this very specific opportunity to develop her," or "your reader might be a little lost here, so you should trim down this wide panel and include another panel pointing the way," or "you're coming on too strongly with the central theme here, so cut out this sentence of dialog to leave it more open to the reader's interpretation." In other words, an editor could have helped the artist make the small touches that would render her work less amateurish and more of a polished product.

The point of the above paragraph is not that I think LeGrow is a bad artist or writer, because I don’t, and in fact I have been a huge fan of her work ever since the first volume of Bizenghast came out in 2005; I actually used money I didn't have to buy extra copies of the book and to send them to some of my friends from high school. My point is that I think she's a fantastic artist and writer, and that I don't understand why she isn't working with a real editor at a publisher like Oni Press or Arcadia. I might understand if she has a strong commitment to the indie and self-publishing scene, but I've never seen her at any recent anime conventions or at any of the local Philadelphia and Baltimore comics conventions. If she's not in it strictly for the community, but rather for the art, then wouldn't it make sense for her to contract herself to a publisher and distributor so that she can reach more people and, you know, get paid?

Obviously this is just speculation; but, reading between the lines of her blog, I wonder if maybe she couldn't find a publisher for The Elephant Book. Maybe she's a huge bitch who's difficult to work with, but I really haven't been getting that impression from what she's written and what people have written about her; she seems friendly and responsible.

What I'm trying to say is that it breaks my heart that the latest work of someone as motivated and talented as LeGrow was self-published through the Ka-Blam digital printing service and doesn't even have an ISBN or barcode. It just doesn't seem fair.

Wed, Oct. 9th, 2013 06:00 pm (UTC)

Marty has strong opinions, but she works like a dog and isn't especially difficult (to work with, anyway). I know she's had multiple meetings with Oni Press and other labels, but her work is more niche than most and so she's had a much easier time selling direct to the consumer than she has getting a non-Tokyopop publishing deal. That said, I think she's got some stuff in the pipeline from non-self-pub channels (though I haven't hung out with her in over a month now, so I'm a little out of the loop).

She hasn't been to any regional cons lately. She hits SDCC for networking and sometimes NYCC, but the smaller cons just aren't worth her while. Plus, as a full-time artist, she's almost always close to if not completely broke, so she has to get the most bang for her buck.

Wed, Oct. 9th, 2013 06:46 pm (UTC)

Holy crap. Is there anyone you don't know?

How do you meet all of these people?

I mean, besides your natural charm and charisma, obviously. Practically speaking, how do you know everyone doing anything interesting in the tristate area? Do you guys have, like, SMF gatherings in a smoky basement somewhere in New Jersey? Are you secretly a bestselling author publishing under another name?

Wed, Oct. 9th, 2013 07:03 pm (UTC)

Everyone? No, not at all. But I'm working on it. ;)

I've known Marty for years now, probably since 2003 or 2004. We haven't done much work together, but I put her in Where I Write (http://whereiwrite.org/legrow.php) and I made some of the rewards for her Bizenghast kickstarter. Alas, we never dated, though she did kiss me one New Years Eve because we were the only singletons at the party.

Wed, Oct. 9th, 2013 07:18 pm (UTC)

Wait, so that name on the hotel sign in the comic was... Oh okay.

I noticed how you sneakily evaded my question about whether or not you're a bestselling author. I see how that is. I am going to be back in Philly for a week starting on the 20th. I know I am not as cool as your other friends, but let me buy you a beer and maybe you can tell me things that can't be put in writing.

Wed, Oct. 9th, 2013 07:31 pm (UTC)

Hotel sign? I know she put me in the official RPG, but I'm not sure if I'm anywhere in the comic.

The 20th of October? I'm in Santa Fe that weekend, but should be back by Tuesday.

Wed, Oct. 9th, 2013 11:11 pm (UTC)


You are totally in The Elephant Book; I will scan it and send it to you.

In the meantime, have fun with the other SMF Illuminati in your bunker in Santa Fe.

Thu, Oct. 10th, 2013 04:57 am (UTC)

Bizenghast, yes. Not Elephant Book.

And no need to scan anything. I just checked my copy. How 'bout that! I never noticed that before.

Edited at 2013-10-10 05:03 am (UTC)

Wed, Oct. 9th, 2013 07:56 pm (UTC)

I am going to be back in Philly for a week starting on the 20th.

Make your way up to New York, and I'll buy *you* a beer! Or several. Or we can do shots!

Wed, Oct. 9th, 2013 11:08 pm (UTC)

Yes. This is a thing that should happen.

Bring yourself, bring your awesomesauce girlfriend, bring whomever you think will not be offended by my terrible sense of humor, and we will destroy the city like a bad American remake of the Godzilla franchise. It will be epic.

Thu, Oct. 10th, 2013 03:22 am (UTC)

She's self-publishing now? That's too bad. I knew her (not on any really intimate level of friendship) back in the day.

I shall use my icon of her illustration of child-Snape in her honor!