Q&A: Blueprint Saints Magazine

Why is it Taking so Long to See the Light of Day?

That's an honest question that deserves a good answer. The answer is, it's going to take as long as it does because it has to.

There is an infamous story from the game creators of Half-Life. The key people involved at Valve (the software company) were expected to make a 3rd version of their game. They said they were working on it, but it was years and years of not even a screen-shot. The stubbornness of the Valve team has publicly been disappointing to many gamers, and certainly the press. This brought doubt that their next game would ever happen. But what's important to know about Valve is that they have quality standards, and want to make games that are not evolutionary, but revolutionary, not just in graphics, but in gameplay physics and concepts. They always provide the best product known to man. They're not arrogant or secretive. They just simple want to make great products, and set themselves out of the demanding timelines that the public and gamers can force upon them.

The same can be said for our publication. Certainly artistically we have high standards, but we also have a serious technical mountain to climb. When you are in the process of inventing something brand new, there's nothing more shameful than an early product release that is half-baked, and even more so, a structure to a product and or organization that can have future products that deteriorate because of technical or artistic negligence -meaning, giving into the pressure of the public to give them when they want before its totally finished or polished.

Can you imagine playing a game from Valve that you could finish in about 15 hours? Something that was briefly fun, but did not have replay value? No substance? It's important for the people at Valve to have products that THEY are proud of. It's not really about the public. Why? Because they seem themselves as the public -like they are making the game for themselves.

What uniquely happens every time with Valve is that when they finally do get to releasing their games, they are the best games ever made. The players end up thanking them endlessly. They even sometimes grow more fond and loyal to the developers because they see the craft. There, as far as we know, have been no reports of disappointment over a Valve game -especially Half-Life. 

So, why is it taking so long to see the light of day? I think we just answered that. It's all in how you see yourself, who you think we are, and what you are waiting for. If you trust us, you'll find we're worth the wait.

We're doing something really hard. This isn't easy for the teamleads or the comic creators. This is something that is truly a labor of love, and unlike Valve, we are not a for profit company. It makes for an even harder development implementation. It makes for a more interesting family story of the creators involved. 

We hope that when we get this on the streets, you'll see it -just one problem, you'll have to be in our city or have someone come here and get one for you. That's frustrating, isn't' it. 
We thought of that too.



Who is Involved in Making the Magazine?

There was and is a tremendous amount of technology behind building an Open Age Magazine. We started with drawing out what kind of publication we wanted, what it would feel like, what it would look like, and what it would mean. We stared at our illustrations and told ourselves we didn't want to make just another magazine. We wanted principles behind it that would allow for absolute freedom and openness to the environment in which the comics were created.

We started with industry standard tools after we had drawn out the template. This mean putting the monies forward to actually pay someone to go from the illustrations to a digital template that was close to what we wanted. This template would be refined over and over again -streamlined so that cel dimensions made sense, the files were delivered correctly, and the content would be popped in like puzzle pieces once the artists knew what they were doing.

At the end of the day, the first template to Blueprint Saints Magazine had a research and development cost of $14,000 out of pocket. It allowed for the recruiting of artists, but also the understanding as to what we were recruiting them for, and what they would be placed inside.

What was unique to us in our own publication was that it took us years, and because we were inventing the entire process by trial and many many errors, there were environmental issues that came to the forefront -one of which was leadership structure and what it would take technically to roll the project forward to a prototype.

When we started, there were immediate technology problems -much of it communications and virtualization. The irony is that we were making a print magazine to honor the origins of comics and the medium that made them special. With all our efforts toward print is could be assumed that there wasn't much digital planning. When it came down to it, beyond the paper and its gloss, weight, colors and texture, most of our efforts were digital processes. 

Many times we had differing versions of the same software, and it could create havoc with the file delivery. We knew were were getting into tough territory, but what we didn't know was what the human factor would do through us, and to us.

What's involved in making an Open Age Magazine is adherence to the principles of The Open Age of Comics. That means that the people that are involved (mostly volunteers) need to be sacrificial and be working on the project for the common good without ulterior motive, a want for profit, and also a need to be accepted and recognized. This kind of magazine has a natural way of seeding out people that are like that, but that process is painful and can cause real damage to a project -it did ours. It cost as two years.

It can be assumed that there will always be "haters". There will be people that hide their intentions. But when making a publication like this, truth has a tend to rise up, and anything hidden is revealed. 

This isn't just a magazine. It never was.



What is Blueprint Saints and How Does it Function?

Blueprint Saints Magazine (BPSm) is the worlds first Open Age Magazine. It is comprised of 124 comic creators from one city that have come together to make a magazine that allows for printing of their comics in a free publication. This publication is financed through The Comic Arts Partnership (a 501(c)3 organization -or non-profit).

Some of the key principles of The Open Age of Comics have allowed for this publication to exist, and in some ways, it was the process of creating the magazine itself that revealed many aspects of the tools, resources and freedoms that the Open Age of Comics brings. 

What is important to know about this magazine is that it has no advertising structure, and the legal requirements of the Arts organization prevent any commercial revenue from taking place through the publication. This allows for an edge-to-edge comic and visual storytelling magazine that doesn't feel like a trade-rag, a commercial product, or an anthology. Unlike those kinds of publications, the artists are able to publish their comics and stories freely with out giving up their intellectual property. There are no contacts, percentages, membership dues or profits required or taken from the comic creators. The publication also allows for a communal copyright so that the comic creators involved are able to prove their works have actually been printed.

With this course of action planned out, the comic creator is able to be legally represented, and in a way represented by The Comic Arts Partnership as the person(s) responsible for the original ideas that are contained in their creations. That means that when they submit their works to major labels, they already have public protection and documentation that their work is legitimate. They then can in turn negotiate contracts with comic labels more forcefully, and know that they are not in danger of having their works stolen by the labels in their review process.

The alternative to this project is a sea of comics lost in the wasteland of the Internet where people can get your works for free, and ultimately maybe never find your work at all.

One of the most significant strengths to Blueprint Saints Magazine and publications that are like it that function within The Open Age of Comics Arts structure, is that the publication is region specific. Local comic creators in one city have come together to make the publication, and that allows for each of them to truly be known in the city they live in. The magazine, which is not for sale, is only available in the city in which it is created. An Open Age Magazine is about local creators and giving comics back to the everyman. That's exactly what we're doing. They are immediate collector's items, worth $3.50 an issue in printing costs. 

That's something you've never seen before. It's hard as heck to build, and we're proud to finally say we have the prototype to prove that it is not only possible, but inevitable if the city rallies behind the publication itself. What city doesn't want to put itself on the map in this way? It's tremendously exciting to us.