Jeff here. The guy who started pushing this crazy train until it picked up it’s own momentum. Some of you may have already seen our latest call for submissions, and I know many of you have had comments and questions. The two main one being; “I don’t think I can write a script in one month”, and “Is this the end of Cloudscape Comics?”.
I have two great answers to this. First, one month is not enough time, and we have decided to extend submissions into the end of November. Second, no, Cloudscape is not ending. It is however changing.
When I started this group, it was in the hopes of building a larger, more vibrant comic community, and to hopefully promote the works of the many talented comickers and cartoonists in the city of Vancouver. A goal I think we have been extremely successful at. I’ve been extremely proud to see early contributors like Angela Melick, Jordyn Bochon, Steve LeCouilliard and Johnnie Christmas have their careers take off in new and exciting projects outside of Cloudscape.
Over the years we’ve seen our Wednesday meet-ups grow beyond the capacity of the Grind cafe and the new opportunities presented by the Parks Board Field House program has allowed us to vastly expand what we do as an organization. Cloudscape has also been very successful at getting grant money from the city and province to run new and exciting programs like ‘Comics in the Clouds’ to teach comic making to youth and ‘Comics in Transit’ to put comic into public spaces.
Cloudscape has been playing host to a weekly meet-up for almost a decade, but on top of that we’ve also began monthly board game socials, and life drawing sessions and have been heavily involved in the workings and events surrounding the Vancouver Comic Arts Festival. We are teaching comics classes, and doing public art events. We’ve also launched the personal projects of some of our membership with titles like Una the Blade, Last Night at Wyrmwood High, and the Epic Canadiana series. In short we have expanded far beyond our initial mandate.
The Cloudscape board has multiple projects and events to manage now, and overseeing an annual anthology in addition to that has become difficult. It has also occasionally been a source for friction. As Cloudscape starts to fall into the role of publisher (in fact, we are the largest comic book publisher in BC), the lines between friends having coffee on a Wednesday night and editors overseeing artist have become more and more blurred. There can sometimes be a feeling that putting in enough time socializing at Cloudscape meetings guarantees you a spot in the anthology. Or worse, that there is nepotism within the board as far as what stories get accepted for the books. For these reasons, the anthologies have caused rifts within the community we are trying to build and maintain.
That is why we are ending our annual board-run anthologies, replacing them with anthologies (and other graphic novels) spearheaded by individual Cloudscape members. The original anthologies built Cloudscape Comics and gave many artists their start, but it is time to switch gears to what will be better suit our new status, and help us grow in directions we never thought possible. Making all future books organized by individual members rather than Cloudscape as a whole will relieve pressure on the board to do an anthology every year, and allow the board to instead focus on publishing the works of numerous creative BC individuals without fear of dividing the community.
More than anything, this is an opportunity for people in the BC comics community to step in as creative leads! The Cloudscape board will still oversee the events and activities that foster a vibrant comic-making community, and we will still continue to apply for funding grants and lend our knowledge and assistance to anyone trying to make their projects a reality. However, all future Cloudscape publishing will be selected on a project-by-project basis. This means that individual or teams will apply to the board for funding and assistance for relevant projects, and, if approved, it will be the job of that particular individual or team to see the project through to completion.
Beyond the initial funding approval, all other creative decisions will be left up to them, including picking the artists and approving the stories. It is our hope to continue publishing all manner of comic books, and details on how to pitch a comic project to Cloudscape will be posted in 2017. We are definitely interested in publishing more anthology projects as long as someone not on the board is willing to act as the main editor and be the main drive behind it.
So this is an exciting time. We’d love for you to be a part of our ‘Swan Song’ and if history has shown me anything, it’s that this will be our best book yet!