The Creative Journey so far…

What I’m doing

Howdy… Wow, it sure has been a while since I’ve put together a blog post for you over here. I’m tempted to apologize, but really I think it was for the best. I needed time to reflect, reconfigure, and grow. I thought I knew what I was doing on my creative journey… Until I realized I didn’t.

PAw Print trail by Jayel Draco
Jayel Draco illustrated by Walter Ostlie
Illustrated by Walter Ostlie

Building experience.

Starting early on in college at The School of Visual Arts, I spent 15 years building up a wide array of professional skills all relevant to my interests and my one-fine-day-goals… I worked for graphic design houses, tee-shirt designers, Neal Adams’ Continuity Studios, Marvel, DC, Disney, half a dozen films, The Metropolitan Opera House, and countless freelance illustration projects. Then I realized having the skills to do what I wanted wasn’t enough, I needed a platform, and it was starting to look like no one was gonna give me that platform.

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Jayel Draco and Lynsey G of Oneshi press. Featured Blog post Image
Illustrated by Michel Abstracto

A quest…

When I met Lynsey G, she too was acquiring and developing all of the professional skills she needed as a story teller with 15 years experience she’d been building up on her own. While I was approaching things from the visual side of storytelling, she conversely was approaching things from the literary side. Early on, we started talking about our projects and decided to do an exchange for a couple comic ideas we each had lying around. She would work on the writing and I would work on the illustrations. With solid samples of both PACK and Tracy Queen printed, my intrepid partner and I went on a quest to find the right platform together. With our combined efforts, we were prepared to kick the doors in and get noticed.

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Fail stamp

A failure…

It failed, miserably. We didn’t know the industry. We thought the product was all that should matter. It seemed like most publishers we approached appreciated our projects, but already had their aesthetics and styles of their own brand, and ours didn’t quite fit. We got great feedback about Tracy Queen, one of the earliest stories we tried to shop around. We heard that it was fantastic, out of the box and fresh, but it was divided up between multiple markets and didn’t quite fit on any one shelf. PACK was as yet a bit nebulous and undefined; we didn’t quite know its heart yet let alone how to really talk about it. But our creative journey was not at an end.

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A crash course…

After an exhaustive series of rejections, we decided that with all my knowledge about the visual aspects of production, and all of Lynsey’s knowledge about the literary aspects of production, we had everything we needed to be our own producers. So we decided to start an indie publishing company, Oneshi Press. We then spent the next 5 years crash-course-ing our way through building a business up from literally nothing but the will to do it. Our super indie, out-of-the-box, cross-genre, nuanced stories would not only get the platform they deserved, but we’d also share our platform with others who were facing the same struggle of being new to an industry that can sometimes feel unwelcoming to those who don’t quite fit one shelf or another.

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Adding to the conversation.

In the years since starting Oneshi Press, we’ve made stories that we believe are not only good, but also important. They have the ability to transform you for the better. Not that you aren’t perfect already as you are… but a story is a way of experiencing something outside of your purview. Experience is how we grow. As creators, we know this, we choose to own it, and strive to hone it. Now, I’m not talking about simplistic moralizing, we’re not here to proselytize… It’s not about us sharing with you how you should think. It’s about sharing scenarios with implications that are important to think about. It’s about sharing stuff we’re already thinking about anyway and don’t always know how to feel about. It’s about adding to the conversation, not ending it with our own answers.

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At the end of the day…
…it’s the end of a day.

We explore these concepts with characters who have different approaches to navigating them, and most important, we’re doing it in a way that’s fun and engaging. Why? Well, quite frankly, sometimes we all want to be done thinking about our own shit, but that doesn’t mean we shut off… It doesn’t mean we don’t want to continue experiencing and evolving. At the end of a hard day, sometimes we want to be done with with our own lived stories. We’re tired from our own creative journey, tired from putting in our all and living to the best of our abilities… We want to kick back and take in a story that someone else made for us. That’s what we’re doing for you. We let our characters do the hard work of living through these hard scenarios for you, so you can kick back and take it in.

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A choice I didn’t give you.

Now we’ve been storytellers our whole lives, and professional storytellers for two decades, and an indie publishing company for over half a decade… But in all that time, we never really learned about marketing. To many people, marketing is synonymous with promoting, which can be synonymous spam… So, you might be thinking that’s a good thing that we didn’t get into marketing. Who wants to be marketed to, right? Just make the best stuff you can, make a good and worthy product, and let people decide if it’s good, right? That’s more-or-less what we thought… Well, it turns out that’s crap. Yes, people will decide what they’re going to decide… But no one can decide anything about a choice they’re not being presented with.

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Like that thing I didn’t show you?

Any story or piece of art, no matter how good it is, won’t just get up and go find its audience. If I make the best illustration I could possibly make and leave it sitting in my closet, and don’t tell you about it, is that illustration going to enrich your life in any way? Of course not. If I told you, “Hey, I’ve got this Illustration that I spent the last year on and I put everything that I’ve got into it, it’s got heart, meaning, purpose, and style,” and I briefly qualified each of those statements, then asked if you want to see, could you imagine being like, “Nah…”? Well, we weren’t quite leaving our work in our closet–we were hanging them up around our place, so to speak. People who stopped by saw them and appreciated them. That’s wonderful! But we needed to get our projects out to the world. And we simply weren’t doing that.

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When a pupil is ready…
…a teacher appears.

Slowly the realization that we didn’t understand marketing had begun to dawn on us. Our eye was caught by some VERY well-marketed offers for help from our teacher, Tyler James, in the form of ComixLaunch Pro. With the help of Tyler and our coursemates in the ComixLaunch community, we’ve begun to look at things much differently. We realized that marketing isn’t some fappalappachino hopped-up gimmicky spiel… It IS exactly the very thing we had spent our whole lives striving to excel at. Marketing IS storytelling.

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Illustrated by Michel Abstracto

Who doesn’t like Dream Fuel?

So we re-branded our mailer from a newsletter, to Dream Fuel. we’re no longer trying to advertise to you, with hopes that you’ll cave and get our comics and then be pleasantly surprised with how much you like them… We’re contextualizing our comics, with content ranging from free spin-offs and crossovers, to unique and personal stories about the journey leading up to their creation. We realized that telling you about our progress on these projects might be relevant to a percentage of people, though perhaps a bit dry… But giving you the story of how we got to be where we are on our creative journey, and on any given topic that touches upon. We’re sharing something meaningful with you, from our hearts.

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Dream Fuel Comics Sampler

The FREE Oneshi Comics Sampler!

We’re offering a free sampler of our 4 flagship comics just for signing up to our mailer, including: Mr. Guy: Zombie Hunter, a zombie-comedy caper that takes place on a post-apocalyptic fantasy world with each chapter illustrated by a different artist; Tracy Queen, a biochemist, war-lord, adult star who will stop at nothing to liberate herself from forces of domination that seek to control her; PACK, a gritty vigilante crime-noir urban drama about 6 stray dogs led by 1 stray man who roam the streets of Brooklyn putting bad-guy under the fang; and Children of Gaia, a high fantasy sci-fi crossover centered around a rapacious empire’s quest for expansion throughout a realm already richly populated by all manner of fae. In all of these stories, nothing is at it seems. Slivers of truth can be gleaned from shades of grey. And very real-world issues are broken down in unexpected and often fantastical ways. Every two weeks, we send out more free content and spotlight other indie creators we admire. We’ve put together a creative journey just for you, and it’s free! Please check that out at: oneshipress.com/4free.

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We’re getting back on the horse.

It’s been about a year since we’ve launched anything new. We’ve been spending this entire time reading up, taking as many classes as possible, and doing a LOT of soul searching to figure out how we can make every part of this experience as enjoyable for you as possible. Now we’ve got our first big test. We just launched a new kickstarter for PACK issues 1-3. The kickstarter page in and of itself is crafted of all that we’ve learned so far on our creative journey. I’m hoping that even if you’re not in a place where you can back a kickstarter, you’ll go check out our page, watch the video, read through it, and enjoy it. If you’re not already familiar, you can get a free copy of PACK 1 right on the page. By letting others know what you think of it, you’re helping us to be able to continue sharing our creative journey with you.

Join the PACK!

Check out the Kickstarter campaign for PACK 3: Temperance

Live till August 31st!

PACK kickstarter cover image - Just Launched - Projects We Love

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