The Lance Fensterman Interview: THE CONCLUSIONA column article by: Park Cooper
Lance Fensterman is the guy who makes sure the New York Comic Con runs on time, as well as Book Expo America, which happens yearly, alternating between NYC and L.A. I interviewed him recently about his life and stuff. I kept it informal so as to trick him into giving his opinions about the publishing industry, books, comics, and stuff like that. This is where that plan all comes together.
Read the first part here:/main/sites/default/files/pb/124301056226517.htm
And now the rest--
Park Cooper: Okay, do you have a favorite movie?
Is it maybe Let The Right One In?
Lance Fensterman: Fast Times at Ridgemont High
PC: Wow. I don't think anyone has ever given that answer before
To almost any question
Well not in the last 20 years anyway
LF: I don’t know what to read into that
PC: I have no problem with it
I’m just glad you didn't say the breakfast club
LF: Oh no
PC: That's what EVERYONE said... that... year... in... like... 1986
So, what have you been up to super-lately? Globe-hopping, I take it
LF: Traveling a bit, but I'm now home through BEA. I'm getting restless though.
PC: Restless you say. Eager to go out and walk the earth again?
LF: In deed. I like to be out of the office, not in it.
PC: o rly
So you must really like walking the con/expo floor... and perhaps attending panels, too
LF: Both. I'm a fan too, so I enjoy seeing what's going on. I never stay in one place for very long, just kind of cruising continually through the whole place.
PC: Sooooo... How did the NYCC get started? It wasn't your idea, I don't suppose?
LF: It was actually my current boss’s idea. We hoped for 10,000 people to show up - if we were lucky - and nearly 30,000 came. It was a total disaster. The cops shut the con down.
PC: Oh yeah, I heard that the first one was a little troubled in that way, but that the second one was awesome, which is why I decided I had to come to numbers 3 and 4. What was the attendance this year? also, what's the attendance of the Expo like? And how long has it been going on?
LF: We've gotten a little better each year with 09 being the best yet. We had 77,000.
BEA usually draws about 28-33,000 professionals. BEA started about 107 years ago when it was known as the American Booksellers Association show. Mark Twain was the first keynote speaker'
PC:Let's hype this year's Expo: do we want to increase attendees? We do want to keep clear that it's definitely for professionals/those who are already in the publishing industry, and those who are serious about being professionals... right?
LF: Oddly enough, I am looking to decrease. We are aiming towards making sure the right people are in the room, not the most people. Booksellers, librarians, book/comic retailers, right professionals, authors, etc. If you are one of those folks, we want you at BEA!
PC: Yeah, that's why I put that one in there... do you have a lot of people in the public, who don't have ambitions to be authors, but who are just lovers of books in general, who show up and want tickets etc? I suppose that's why there are all those questions on the application...
Me, I'm an author. Oh and an editor come to think of it. And a college English professor. No surprise I stuck author up there first, though...
LF: We call it the "Aunt Tilly" factor. People that love books or who are related to a bookseller. Also aspiring authors that wish to shop a manuscript. BEA is not the place for that. Man, I sound so stern.
PC: Well let's help those people understand: why isn't it the place to shop a manuscript? if they read it in this interview, we'll help them understand. And as usual, I could guess, but then if I was right, you wouldn't get to answer…
LF: The publishers are not there to review or buy manuscripts. They are neither interested nor equipped to do that. Pubs are there to promote new books and buy and sell rights, mostly.
PC: So tell (my readers) a bit about the Writer's Conference. Going on for just 7 years, yes?
LF: Simple concept - The Writers conference is where you learn about the biz, get a chance to pitch your book, prepare yourself to wrote something great, and then the following year when your book is published, you come to BEA and flog it!
PC: How's the attendance of the writer's conference going these days?
LF: About 15% behind the last time we were in NYC. That is about what we are seeing on all registrations right now for BEA
PC: Because registration isn't done yet, in other words?
LF: No, mostly due to the econ. We are off pace from 2007 the last time we were in NYC
PC: Ahhhh yes. Do you (personally) handle the times it goes to the west coast, too?
PC: do you have any self-publishing authors attending...?
LF: Many, I don’t have a stat in front of me, but yes
PC: after all, more and more people are looking to use new technologies and stuff for ways... yes, okay
LF: One could question if authors need publishers anymore
PC: Indeed... and yet it's certainly far from a foregone conclusion... although you also put me in mind of how everything, but also/especially this economy, has shaken up the various publishing houses...
LF: Pretty violently....HC's earnings were way down. S&S was to announce today I thought, but I have not seen anything yet
PC: I'm personally always interested in such self-publishing (or at least they start out self-publishing and then get picked up by a publisher afterwards) stories...
LF: There are so many ways to now get your "book" to readers...
PC: So when DO you world-travel again? Not until after the Expo? Or sooner?
LF: No, I have been in NYC 3 days a week meeting with publishers preparing for the 09 show and laying the groundwork for 10 as well. After BEA I will retreat to my native woods of Minnesota for a few days to rest, then I hit the road. Vegas, Chicago, L.A., Vegas again, Chicago again, San Diego, Baltimore, Atlanta, Vienna, Beijing. You get the idea.
PC: Oh that's right, MN, like my wife... so does BEA wear you out?
LF: Where in MN is she from?
PC: Oh, the twin cities. Before that... the southwest corner
LF: BEA wears me out a bit, but it’s not as hard as NYCC.
PC: Why not? The size?
LF: BEA is just a tamer show. Less insanity.
PC: Okay, let's see... I'm going to ask this question anyway, even though it relies heavily (but not completely) on the role of the economy... where do you see the publishing world in, say... a couple of years?
LF: In a place not unlike the newspaper world. Print purchases declining, but overall consumption of the content rising and trying to find the business model to make that work
PC: Is this something we should all be sad about? or is it the sometimes-hated, sometimes-loved "progress" marching on?
LF: Nah. It’s scary, but not necessarily sad. Things change.
PC: where do you see... YOURSELF, in, say... 5 or 6 years? or 10? Same job?
LF: No. I will own something in 5 or 6 years. I've worked for myself for a number of years and love it. Not sure exactly what it will be, but I love content, community and creativity. Those are broad areas in which to have an interest, so who knows!
PC: well then I'm glad to know you! and I'm glad you like my work! Because it sounds like it will involve... publishing and/or new media? Or else... movies or TV or something... I feel like your high school guidance counselor
if you start an agency, tell me ...any kind of agency. For anything.
LF: You are my guidance counselor! Yeah, it will definitely be in the world of content, just not sure which world, you know? I can't create it (content) but I love be immersed in it, marketing it, talking about it, positioning it, etc.
PC: See and that's why I will let you be my agent
But I understand you're kind of busy with this whole Book Expo thing first
In comics, it's so rare to meet anyone who doesn't also want to create the stuff. Like... I can't really think of any such person
LF: I have no talent. None. But I can talk and I can connect people and I have a very strong vision and I can hold my beer.
PC: Four good qualities!
Say, fellows and girls:
Remember when everything you needed to know about Wicker Man Studios was at this site?
Well, now there's another site that's just as important! That's right, it's:
Yes, it's true: Gun Street Girl now has its own site, just to fool those readers who sayeth in their hearts, "I love webcomics-- but I hate studios!"
Now, Gun Street Girl comes to you in a manner free from the confines of its role as a webcomic brought to you by people-- now it's almost as if it just appears on the internet spontaneously! But wait, there's more! GSG has also broken free of the confines of a regular ol' computer screen-- now it's ALSO on your iPhone or iPod Touch, thanks to Apple's iTunes App Store! Read the following press release for the nifty keen details!
Wicker Man Studios Launches Gun Street Girl on the iPhone App Store
Wicker Man Studios is proud to announce the launch of a new website specifically for flagship title Gun Street Girl, www.gun-street-girl.com, from which WMS is already offering its latest Gun Street Girl story, “The Jealous Dead,” on the iPhone App Store. “The Jealous Dead” will cost 99 cents to download (in the US and Canada–other stores may vary), and can easily be read on the iPhone and the iPod touch with Wicker Man Studios’ own brand-new application, a comics reader which will allow readers using these devices to easily read stories panel-by-panel, simply by touching the screen and dragging the panels from right to left; tapping the screen will show thumbnails of all panels in a story so that one can, for example, easily pick up where one left off during a previous interrupted session.
In addition to the brand-new, never-before-seen story “The Jealous Dead,” WMS also offers another GSG story, “Where It All Began,” for free on the iPhone App Store, for new readers to try out the Gun Street Girl experience free of charge, featuring the secret origin of GSG’s main characters, bodyguard Liz Pendragon and down-on-his-luck magician Eddie Caution. All one needs to do is visit the iPhone App Store and search under “applications” for Wicker Man Studios, and then download the stories– “Where It All Began” is free, and all others are 99 cents.
For those who do not own either of these devices, regular PDFs of each respective story are also being offered, to be purchased, in the case of “The Jealous Dead,” using PayPal to pay the 99 cents.
Gun Street Girl’s archives will still be mirrored at the main Wicker Man Studios site of www.wickermanstudios.com.
With a high concept that feels like La Femme Nikita meets Grosse Pointe Blank with a little dash of Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Gun Street Girl has won praise from a variety of reviewers, such as Curve Magazine: “Our current rave [for digital graphic novels] has to be Gun Street Girl . . . Sassy, smart, and socially subversive…”
When Gun Street Girl’s Eddie Caution, a heavyset magician and supernatural investigator, meets tough-girl Liz Pendragon while she’s getting herself in trouble defending her girlfriend from the roving hands of some relations of the local mob, he offers her a job as his bodyguard and muscle, and she accepts, having wanted all her life for there to be a way to encounter magic on a regular basis. The two of them investigate ghosts, rescue those kidnapped by monsters, try to stay out of trouble (often difficult), and generally enjoy life.
Barbara Lien-Cooper and Park Cooper, the creators of Gun Street Girl and owners of Wicker Man Studios, have a column on popular culture at the website Comics Bulletin, found at www.comicsbulletin.com/pb. Barbara has written for many websites, and served a one-year stint as Managing Editor of the multiple-Eisner-award-winning print magazine Comic Book Artist. Park is the Editor-in-Chief of indie comics company Septagon Studios, and of the website MangaLife. Together, they also co-wrote the graphic novel Half Dead, published by Dabel Brothers Productions and Marvel Comics, and later picked up again by Desperado Publishing, and the New Media project The Hidden for manga publisher Tokyopop. They both also adapt manga and edit manga and comics for various companies.
Ryan Howe is the illustrator of Gun Street Girl, and the Art Director for Wicker Man Studios. He is also currently drawing the third of his three issues of the political comics project Female Force for BlueWater Productions. The previous two issues he drew both sold out and went to multiple printings.
The new application was created by Dale Zak, a mobile software developer living in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. His website can be found at: http://www.dalezak.ca
For all inquiries write to: Park Cooper at firstname.lastname@example.org
Apple, the Apple logo, iPod, and iTunes are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. iPhone is a trademark of Apple Inc.