Once Our Land #1 (Scout Comics)
Props to Clint Joslin from the Comic Book Speculation & Investing (CBSI) Google+ group for starting the talk about this book earlier than I expected. By the time he posted, I had already interviewed the creator of the book, Peter Ricq, and begun the process of writing this article. His post started an interesting discussion about the subject of my article and allowed me to see what others were already thinking about the book. I had decided to write about Once Our Land #1 when I saw that it had already sold out on Midtown Comics website more than a week before it was even available for purchase in stores. It has since been re-stocked on Midtown and subsequently re-sold-out. There are now at least 11 sales on ebay of between $9 and $10 (including free shipping) and the price of available books is going up.
Once Our Land #1 is written and drawn by Peter Ricq and published by Scout Comics. If you are able to grab a copy of it this week, I think you are in for a treat (and a possible speculation opportunity). When I read the synopsis, I couldn’t help but smile and nod my head. This is my kind of book.
An amazing debut comic from a visionary new creator! Once Our Land is a post-apocalyptic tale set in 1830s Germany. It is the tale of two survivors, Ingrid and Fritz, as they battle each day against mysterious invaders that have surfaced and wiped out everything they once knew. A fantasy, sci-fi, period, and action story rolled into one epic package, Once Our Land is destined to be an all-ages classic!
The cover image seems to tell you so much. We see the backs of our two main characters as they stare out at the empty village that used to be their home. The desolation is looming, but they seem to have each other and are prepared to face it bravely. If I hadn’t already spent more than I budgeted for comics this month, I would definitely order the poster print of the cover that is for sale at www.onceourland.com. Instead, I bought the Once Our Land 110-page, signed and sketched, graphic novel from their website and a copy of the comic from www.scoutcomics.com. Scout Comics, at the time I am writing this article, still has cover price issues on their website.
Scout Comics recently had success publishing Henchgirl by Kristen Gudsnuk (though it was also originally self-published). Comic readers and speculators who discovered this hit book early on were very lucky. A first print edition published by Scout Comics is listed for $90 on ebay. That is the lowest priced copy listed as “Buy It Now.” The more rare Ashcan and self-published versions sell for much more. I am not telling you that Once Our Land #1 is the next Henchgirl. What I am telling you is that there is potential for this comic to continue to go up in value.
Once Our Land first took shape some time around 2000, when the creator Peter Ricq was only 19. Life happened and the idea stayed only half-finished. If you look at Peter Ricq’s bio you will see he is a creative and ambitious person who has worked in film, animation, production, and music. When he finally got around to finishing Once Our Land, and went to seek out publishers, he was offered a bad deal by a Canadian distributor. He chose to take his idea to Kickstarter. He made a slick promotional video, starring himself, available to view on the Kickstarter website, and succeeding in raising more than three times his goal to fund the publishing of the Once Our Land graphic novel. With the funds from Kickstarter, Peter produced a small print run of graphic novels. These too are still available to purchase, but on Peter’s website www.OnceOurLand.com. There are several options available to be purchased, including editions featuring original sketches for very reasonable prices!
As stated in the synopsis, Once Our Land is a post-apocalyptic tale set in 1830s Germany. Monsters similar to those created by H.P. Lovecraft have invaded and are causing mass destruction. The two main characters are thrown together and must face the situation together. Allow me to introduce the two main characters:
Fritz is “a 62 year old warrior who carries a big heart. Unlike most warriors, Fritz likes being in the company of others, sadly enough, there aren’t many people left. Weapon of choice: A huge stick/spear.”
Ingrid is “an 11 year old survivor who never gives up no matter the outcome. Ingrid likes to keep to herself although everything changed once she met Fritz. She also has a big appetite, too bad portions are scarce. Weapon of choice: Slingshot.”
There is much more that I could tell you about Once Our Land #1, but Peter Ricq was kind enough to agree to an interview with me, so I’ll allow his words to give you more information.
First of all, congratulations on a successful Kickstarter campaign to fund your graphic novel! I am always pleased to see unique, creative projects like yours get into the hands of the public. For a project like yours, that took so long in the incubation process from original idea to final product, I am sure that you are beyond pleased. What was it like for you to go through that process?
Thanks Mark! Yeah, when I did the first chapter as a teenager, I never thought about publishing it. It was more of a learning experience. I wanted to be a comic book artist and I needed to show publications that I could do a full story from beginning to end. When I started the second chapter and was planning to pair it up as a graphic novel, I thought it wouldn't take that long but my illustrator just ended up having to take real work because I couldn't afford much and so I just took over and drew it then coloured the whole thing at night for over a year.
The Kickstarter campaign was successful and the original run of graphic novels are in the hands of your supporters. You are now partnering with Scout Comics to publish your story in comic book form. What went into that kind of a decision and what are your goals for this partnership? Also (if you are able to answer) will you continue self-publishing the graphic novel beyond the original print run, or will Scout Comics be printing a collected edition in the future?
Scout Comics messaged me while I was doing the Kickstarter Campaign. They offered me a really fair deal where I got to keep everything I wanted. I originally was offered a deal by a big publication/distribution company in Montreal that would basically leave me with almost nothing. When I received the offer from Scout Comics, I was so pleased and happy to work with someone that supports their creators as opposed to steal from them.
As for self-publishing more, I don't know yet, I'll wait and see before making that decision.
Your story features two main characters. Fritz, a 62 year old warrior with a big heart, and Ingrid, an 11 year old who never gives up. Why and how did you choose these two very specific characters to tell your story?
I love stories with wise/badass old men (Clint Eastwood Films) and I love stories where kids do their own thing, are brave and save the neighbourhood (Goonies, ET, Monster Squad, The Lost Boys.) I thought why not pair the two together. I would've loved to develop the two characters more but that would mean more pages and more time and the possibility of never seeing the project to it's end.
I am excited by the concept (post-apocalyptic world) especially in the context you have chosen (1830's Germany). Then, you throw in the fact that it was caused by Lovecraftian monsters and I think that you have a concept that comic fans will be very intrigued by. Are there any other concepts, characters, or themes that comic fans might really be attracted to in your story?
Yeah, the book has time travel, wormholes, mini machine guns, an alien world and many many different types of creatures. When I wrote the story, I always thought it was a super simple narrative but the more I think about it, the more I see it's influence from so many of my favourite films and directors like Ridley Scott, James Cameron, David Lynch, David Cronenberg, Stuart Gordon, John Carpenter.
Are you an avid comic reader? If so, are there any titles in particular that stand out as your favorites?
I used to read a lot of Novels and comics. I had to take an hour Bus Ride to school and back when attending College then University. I became friends with David Dumouchel who kept feeding me all the best comics and for Christmas, I always gave a big list to my parents of comics. My favourite comics were Preacher, AKIRA, Dark Knight returns, Battle Angel, Louis Riel, Sin City, Uzumaki Spiral, Osamu Tezuka M3, Punk Rock Jesus, The Watchmen. I love Hellboy but mostly just for the amazing art.
I saw that your comic was already sold out on one major comic retailer's website. That's disappointing because it means that potentially fewer readers will have access to the material. However, sell-outs do get headlines and even more attention on your book. It is, thankfully, still available on several other sites and in the Scout Comics webstore. What are you thoughts on availability? Also, are there plans to bring your book to upcoming store events or conventions?
Sold out?! Really? That's amazing, I had no idea. If the demand is there then hopefully we could always print more. I would love to go to stores and events, the problem is time and not knowing much about the comic world as much as I would like to. I have two bands and am touring all the time, I'm performing almost every weekend so I usually miss all the good stuff.
I read that you hope to continue the Once Our Land story after these first two issues are published. Also, that the tone will shift as the characters age. Have you thought about what format you would choose to publish those continuing adventures in? Graphic novel or individual comics?
Yeah, The story is done, it's 100 pages and I have 50 pages fully inked. I'm working with Jake Bibao who's doing the final pages off of my designs and page sketches. It's moving along pretty quick, the colouring process is a different story. The new chapter takes place 5 to 6 years after the previous books. We focus more on humans as villains as opposed to monsters. Think Mad Max meets Day of the Dead. It's for a slightly more mature audience although I know if I were a young child, I'd love to read it. I loved the two first Alien films growing up and The Road Warrior so I might be a bad judge.
Also, with your very busy professional life, how long might it be before your fans get to see more Once Our Land stories?
I think it might be done in a year from now. After that I'm gonna work on something new, a very dark story, the story for that is done, I just can't work on it at the moment because of time. I was trying to do two comics at once but it was just too much work.
I later might do somewhat of a prequel to Once Our Land, I've been thinking about it because there's just so many unanswered questions in the first book (not a bad thing). There's so much to work with and develop, it's hella fun.
I wish you the best in all your creative endeavours, be that comics, music, film, or another form! I hope to be seeing many more comics from you in the future. I've already ordered a comic and a graphic novel and I can't wait to read them! I hope that comic fans who read this article will be interested in finding out more about your story and will pick up a copy for themselves! Thank you for your time!
Thank you so much Mark, I hope you enjoy the book. Thanks for taking the time to do this. I have a book Launch in Montreal on July 29th, not sure if you were aware but here's the event link. https://www.facebook.com/events/1725697651005208/
Because of the limited and small-press nature of Scout Comics, I would recommend jumping on this book, and the graphic novel, now at these prices or risk paying more later. It looks like a fantastic read and I can’t imagine you will be disappointed, even if the price never goes beyond $10 – $15. I will let you know that I have bought a couple copies of the comic book to stash away as a wait-and-see investment. I don’t plan to re-sell in the near future. If a dramatic price increase were to occur, I might see myself letting one or two go, but I think this will grow nicely. I did not ask, but I feel that because he is already accomplished in the areas of film and animation that, if the book is successful, Peter may choose to turn his book into an awesome film of some kind. Maybe that’s me being optimistic, but Peter is a hard-working, ambitious, and creative guy. Like he said, he is already working on finishing up a second volume, with plans to tell more Once Our Land stories in the future. I’d never heard of him before I discovered his book, but I will definitely be watching to see what he does in the future. Please decide for yourself if Once Our Land is a book you want to read or invest in. Like I said, I’m doing both and hoping for the best. Have fun and see you next week!