Wednesday, March 16, 2016

A New Online Comic Magazine: StArt Faire



http://startfaire.com/home.shtml


StArt Faire is a fairly new monthly online comic magazine and artist resource organized and launched by Draco Plato, the creator of the webcomic Zenchav.  Their current roster of artists includes Draco, JD Benefield, and CalimonGraal, and StArt Faire is open for comic submissions from both writers and artists.



Comics that are currently running include Witch Carnival, Chronicles of Fenaur, Restitutor, and Soul Hymn, and StArt Faire hopes to add more in the future.

Page from Witch Carnival, one of the comics featured in StArt Faire


You can check out a fantastic demo issue here, or keep reading for an exclusive interview with Draco Plato regarding all things StArt Faire.




What inspired you to create StArt Faire?

The Japanese comic industry was a huge influence on me growing up and I always enjoyed the community feeling of their magazine comic system. The magazine system is such a great focus for artists because it gives them a set number of pages to do on a regular basis with a clear focus for why they’re doing it. You also are a family of sorts with the other artists working within the magazine, a team, and I think that’s a really nice way to work.

Is there any particular demographic StArt Faire is hoping to reach? 

Teens to adults are the main focus for the project. Our rating is PG-13, but it’s very loose since we mainly want to prevent getting submissions that are overly graphic with their sexual situations and use of violence. In general we expect readers to be on the older end since most comic creators and readers I know personally are outside of their teens, although we’d like the content to be entertaining for teens as well.

How often can readers expect updates? 

Right now the magazine is planning on updating once a month, at the beginning of every month. Depending on how the magazine grows we’ll try to update in other ways, and more often than once a month if we can. I know a few people have suggested having several magazines with different themes, so depending on how much interest there is in that we could potentially have several magazine themes that update at different times during the month in the future.  There’s been a few other ideas tossed around that would create for more regular updates too, but a lot of it is still up in the air based on submissions and interest. The main thing right now is the fantasy themed magazine updating once a month.

Have you considered offering email alerts to remind readers that new chapters are available? 

Yes, I think this is a good idea and is something we’ll try to get set up before the first issue is live.

The format- monthly digital magazine that you click to flip through- is the closest I've seen yet to a true digital comics magazine.  This is a great way to get readers to consume ALL of the comics in the issue, which seems like the perfect way to introduce new artists along with popular favorites.  What inspired you to lay StArt Faire out this way, rather than the more traditional webcomic collective method?

 It’s always been my goal to make something online that was as close to a physical magazine as possible, while still utilizing the benefits of being digital. I’m still looking for more ways to further this ideal since I feel like there’s still untapped potential, but I think right now we have a good start.

This format ALSO seems ideal for long form comics that may still be in progress- it gives the readers a substantial chunk to read each month, gives them a date to expect the next installment.  I really like the bookmark system too- readers have the option to read each comic individually, and save their progress.  Is this an existing system, one you built, or one that has been modified? 

When I had the idea I was surprised to find that there’s actually a lot of programs out there for creating digital magazines and books. Originally I thought that it would be just a bit of coding, but apparently it’s a lot more than that. There are a couple of JQuery codes for it, but they were a bit tedious and limiting for inputting the pages. The program I have for it is really easy to work with which helps me out when setting up the magazine itself. I do really like that it works well on mobile, lets you view thumbnails of the pages, and easily choose a spot within the magazine. I have some complaints about it too, but overall it’s a nice program for right now. I really love the idea of a digital magazine for something like comics, I feel for webcomics particularly it’s really a great way to be introduced to a chunk of the comic at a time, since with individual updates you usually get one page at a time weeks a part which can really hurt the pacing and reader interaction with the story.

Will readers be able to download chapters to read offline as PDFs, or will the magazine remain online only?

 This is an idea we’ve been tossing around as something to offer in the future. A lot of it depends on how the artists involved in the project would feel about it, since they’re the owners of the work in the magazine. There’s also the option of just allowing the magazine PDF download for all the artists involved in the issue, since it may be easier for them to use a PDF magazine copy to promote their own work with.

 In the full issue, what sort of features can readers expect to see?  Do you plan on following the traditional comic magazine print model like Jump with fanart sections, letters to the editors, and editorials at any point, or is the focus firmly on comics?

The magazine content is very dependent on the kind of submissions we receive. I would love to see a lot of the traditional comic magazine type content be submitted. I’d also really like to see Indie comic reviews and news since I think that’s something that’s really missing from the indie comic community. We don’t really have a good source of news for what’s going on in our community and we’re overlooked by mainstream sites. I’d like to see that be something that’s incorporated on the website as well, but we really need some dedicated writers that share the same interest in the indie comic community before we can really push through with that idea. The other thing I’d like to see for the magazine (outside of comic submissions) would be more promotional content from creators. I would really love to see the magazine be a forum of promotion for creators so I highly encourage them to submit ads for anything they’re working on; be it comics, or a store, or their Patreon, projects, commissions. For me personally I always thought it’d be really nice to have a place to go where you could find all of that information without having to dig around for it through a sea of links, so I think other people must want to have something like that too. Helping to give artists a venue where they can promote themselves is one of StArt Faire’s aims.

When will readers be able to read chapters of Chronicles of Fenuar and Restitutor?

 All current Magazine Exclusive Comics will be available to read after the first issue of the magazine is released, which will be during the first week of March. Tentatively March 1st since that’s very likely the release date for the first issue.

Right now you have a fantastic demo up, when can readers expect to see full issues?

 The goal right now is the first of every month. Since this is the first issue we’ve kept the date a bit loose by saying the first week of March in order to be prepared for any disasters that may come up, but the first is looking very likely.

What sort of stories are you looking for?

We like diversity in stories, so a wide variety in subject matter would be great. The theme of the magazine is fantasy, which means there should be at least one element of fantasy in the story. How we define fantasy is any element that’s outside of the ordinary, so it’s very broad.  So broad really that I’d say the only thing we don’t particularly want to see are comic submissions that are strictly based on the creator’s every day life. Maybe we’ll make a magazine with a theme for that in the future, but that’s not something we’re currently looking for.

What type of art? 

We’re open to most styles but there are a few we’re not really looking for; such as photo based comics, or stick figure comics. There’s also a quality standard, so submissions need to be approved before being accepted. One thing I’ll say is that we don’t want to see artists sacrifice quality for quantity. This is something I’ve had several artists suggest and I don’t think it’s fair to the magazine to give substandard work.  Please only submit your best work, and make sure when submitting an idea that you show us what style you’re planning to use in your comic. As a comic artist myself I completely understand time constraints, which is why there’s the option for artists to submit as a Magazine Exclusive Comic every other month if that’s easier for them. We would much rather that than an artist sacrifice their quality of work to meet a deadline.

Can creators who started out on their own site submit their comic to StArt Faire?

 The idea is for Magazine Exclusive Artists to begin their comic for the magazine in the magazine, rather than having already been posting it elsewhere. This is also so that the newest pages of the comic will always be read first in the magazine. We do have the option to submit as a Featured Comic, which is a preview for a comic that’s already available online. An artist can only submit their comic once as a Featured Comic though.

What length is StArt Faire typically looking for in a submission?

 Our minimum page submission a month for comics is four pages and a cover, and our maximum is ten pages and a cover. Artists can also submit ads separate from their comic submissions, but ads should be kept to one page. Articles can be up to two pages in length.

Are one shots also welcome?

Yes~! Ones shots can be up to 24 pages and a cover.

Would StArt Faire be open to motion comics in the future? 

This is a great idea, I’ll need to look into the how to of making it happen, but I definitely think this is something we could do if someone was interested in submitting one.

For artists who are accepted, what does the submission process look like?  How will artists submit pages to StArt Faire, and how does the editor determine how many pages to include?

 All submissions are sent to StArtFaire@StArtFaire.com , for anyone interested in submitting I recommend reading the submissions page . We have a page for artists and another page for writers.

For Magazine Exclusive Comics we’d like artists to send us a brief summary of the story they want to do for the magazine and an example of the style they’re going to do for that specific comic. The comic doesn’t need to be drawn yet since it’s supposed to start in the magazine, but we do need to see the style it’ll be in, that’s very important so we can gauge your quality of work.

 For Featured Comics we just need a link to where we can read your work online to see if it’s appropriate for the magazine. If it’s accepted we’ll ask for up to ten pages of anywhere in the comic you think will represent it best, in the size closest to our magazine size of 1440px height x 960 px width, along with a cover that has the title of your comic on it and the link to where it can be read online. One shots and short two issue stories submissions are the same as Magazine Exclusive submissions, and for everything else feel free to submit them as an attachment to us in an email. For writing sometimes we do like to help with editing if it’s needed so we like those to be sent in an editable format. If anyone needs help with any aspect of any part of the submission process we’re always more than happy to help so don’t be shy if you have a question regarding anything.

As the magazine grows, will StArt Faire also include the option for a webcomic collective/ community like SpiderForest, an online magazine with a paid subscription model like Sparkler, or to include an ad network like HiveWorks? 

I don’t think StArt Faire is that different from a collective, but I do think we’re more of a team. In collectives it’s more just a collection of comic links, but in StArt Faire we’re part of a magazine which is a group project. We’re all meeting a deadline together, and we all want to see the magazine do well and grow, which is why I think team is more appropriate than collective. We’re more invested in promoting our work and the work of others in this project than I think a collective would be. I do like the HiveWorks model, I’m very fond of what they’ve done and I’d like to incorporate some of those creator benefits within the StArt Faire project as well, particularly with promoting artists. We haven’t really decided if we want to incorporate an ad network yet for artists, I think this is something I’ll bring up with the artists themselves to get more of an opinion on. As for Sparkler Monthly’s paid subscription model, that’s something I’d like to avoid. I’d like the online magazine to always be free for readers and artists alike.

As StArt Faire grows, do you have any intentions or plans for monetization? 

StArt Faire is a non profit project, it’s run by an artist for artists. We have been trying to think of ways to monetize it for the artists but we haven’t narrowed it down to anything concrete quite yet.

If so, how? 

The main idea being tossed around was for a Patreon under the magazine name where all the money was divided between the Magazine Exclusive Artists. This presented a few complications though, since the number of Magazine Exclusive Artists would need to be limited then to keep the split within the same range. Limiting the number of artists would create a very first come first serve comic line up within the magazine, where potentially really amazing comics would be turned away just because all the Exclusive slots were full. There was then the idea of making a Gold Tier for Magazine Exclusive Artists where artists based on the popularity of their comic would be the Patreon receivers, that way we could continue to allow new artists to submit comics to the magazine while also keeping an even split of whatever the Patreon would be.  The problem with this is that the magazine would then become a popularity contest which isn’t a mindset we really want to promote. While we’re still actively trying to think of ways to help monetize the project for the artists involved we do highly encourage Magazine Exclusive Artists to make individual Patreons and stores that we can help them to promote and direct people towards for right now.



Are there any partnerships or collaborations in the works for StArt Faire?

 StArt Faire is itself a collaborative project between dedicated artists and writers. We’re always open to new ideas though if there are other ways that people are interested in collaborating with us.

After a year of digital publication, is StArt Faire considering offering physical copies of the comics currently published?  If so, what's the game plan for sales and distribution?  Kickstarter?

Opening an online shop? StArt Faire makes no claim of ownership towards the comics released in it so their being published is up to the creators behind the comics. Having said that we definitely want to see the comics do well and have successful Kickstarters and publications, so we will do everything we can to help support that. Our game plan right now is to get the magazine up and running since we still need to release our first issue. So our main priority has been getting submissions and Magazine Exclusive Artists. After that we need to make sure it can sustain itself in a steady momentum for issues to come, and then once we know that it can we can think more in terms of how to make it grow further and reach more people. We do plan to open an online store at some point in the near future too.

Where do you see StArt Faire in two years? 

I’d like three things for the magazine: 1. For it to be a place to read awesome new and ongoing comics 2. For it to be a promotional venue for creators  3. For it to be a source of indie comic news. Hopefully these are things that will happen within the next two years.

 What can fans do to help StArt Faire thrive?

Submitting is huge, I think a lot of people think they can only submit a Magazine Exclusive Comic, and that’s really just one aspect of the magazine. There are so many other ways to submit. We’re looking for articles, tutorials, ads, we’re open to every and anything right now so if you have an idea please don’t shy away from throwing it out there for us to see. Because we’re new this is such a great opportunity since the potential for what we can allow in is still wide open. Other ways people can help is by mentioning StArt Faire on forums and social media sites where other people may be interested in it. Reading the magazine when it comes out is also a great way to help support it.  Sharing it, talking about, supporting the creators who are dedicating their time to it by reading their other works and letting them know what you think. Feedback is in itself such a great way to support artists since so often being an artist is like screaming into a void. And then of course helping to support those artists on their Patreons if they have one or choose to have one in the future.

Make sure to visit our site for more information 
Twitter is also a great place to reach us 
You can also get in touch with me on my personal Twitter 

Submission Goodies!

Below you'll find a template for comic pages and articles, so keep reading!

Comic Template

Article Sample, full of super helpful information for submitting to StArt Faire as a writer