JayDee Rosario: Unstoppable!

Overwhelming chitchat with an accomplished independent comic book creator.

July 7, 2020

JayDee Rosario is an accomplished independent comic book creator. He has published numerous books including The Shield of the Interceptor, The Stormchasers, Dragonstorm, New York versus the World, and many more. JayDee had also done several Kickstarters. In 2008, JayDee started the Unstoppable Comics and had been publishing for more than 11 years.

Ramon: So tonight, we have our guest Jaydee Rosario. I don't even remember how I met Jaydee, all I know is when I started going to conventions Jaydee was there.


JayDee: I think that's how we met, out of Con, bro.

Ramon: What is it? At a Con?

JayDee: Yeah.

Ramon: Was it New York or is it another one, I don’t remember.

JayDee: I don't know I do. I mean, I did so many times you lose track of it, you know. But I know definitely New York.

Ramon: But from the very beginning JayDee was always welcoming and I was like, I was a newbie and he was just like very warm and very supportive so. And I really appreciate that, so.

JayDee: Thank you, man. You know, this is hard, right? I don't know if we can say it, it's a business, business. But you know, this is a hard-creative endeavor for all of us. So, I don't think it's my place to turn a shoulder to anybody if they got a question or anything like that.

Ramon: You know, you're right, you know. I always hear from some veterans in the businesses is there are a lot of other easier ways to make money than to make…

JayDee: Oh, hell yeah.

Ramon: We got to really love it to do it.

JayDee: You got to be stubborn to stick with it for…

Ramon: You got to be stubborn, you got to be a little bit crazy you know, so

right? So, with big cons like New York Comic Con which, of course maybe about 1,800 for like a 10x10 booth. You got to find ways to bring in that revenue, you know, And they're making shirts like this, shot glasses, pint glass or something where we can charge a premium price to get the margins, to get the revenue, to end up making more books.

Ramon: It's ironic that I wouldn't be surprised if the margins on the other stuff are probably might be better than the actual comic book.


JayDee:
Yeah, man. Yeah, I mean, you know, if you buy it both you can do a shirt for about five bucks. You can sell it for 20, you know, that's how long the numbers are not great. You know, dude. We're doing pint glasses like this my glass cost me $16. We sell it for anywhere between five to ten bucks depending on what kind of bundles we work in to try to sell the books and try to you know, bring a bigger saving per customer.

Ramon: What percentage of your time is actually spent on making a comic book and the rest on the business?


JayDee: Making a book. I try to put it well, I have a day job, I don't know if anybody else does, right? And if I'm lucky, if I'm lucky I can get 15 hours a week working on comics themselves. And that's anything from working on one of the drafts to editing pages that come in from different freelancers at different times to even promoting the book. Coming up with the ancillary merchandise, like shirt and glasses that's the easy thing to do, you know. You get a freelancer to put together an image for you and you clean it up on Photoshop. You put it on a shirt, on a glass we send it away, you just wait for the product to come in. That's a quickie.

Ramon: How many books are you putting out in a year you think?


JayDee:
If we can do four books a year, that's a lot. You know, I'd like to keep it kick it up more at least, you know six books, but dude, they’re costly.

Ramon: Now all the books you’re putting out are books that you wrote?

JayDee: Yes. I've had three different issues that were worked on by other people. But other than that, everything else has been me. Like if you see back here, we've got the shield of “The Interceptor” and he's a character that spun off of our team book the “Stormchasers”. So, the first few issues of his many series were written by Brandon Easton. I don't know if anybody's heard of Brandon.

Ramon: I know Brandon, yeah. I worked with Brandon.

JayDee: Yeah.

Ramon: So, I'd like for us to just welcome with a nice round of applause our guest tonight JayDee Rosario of Unstoppable Comics.


Jaydee: Oh, thank you, thank you. Thank you, everyone, thank you for joining us, I appreciate this. Thanks for giving me the time to speak to everybody. Share a little bit of what I learned. Hopefully, I can save you a couple of bucks, you know somewhere down the line.

Ramon: So, JayDee, tell us how did you arrive at where you are today? What has been your career?

JayDee: My career path. Okay, so like everybody else, I guess I try to get into comic books, try to be a writer, and nobody wanted to hire me. I guess I wasn't good enough and that showed when I produce my first ashcan. But senior work, you know on paper, I guess I learned, okay. I had to put a book together, even though it was a 12-page ashcan, but I knew I could do better. And my stubbornness and my drive, I guess kept me from stopping you know. And I had to put something out there that was better than the last thing that I did and my stubbornness kept me going this long, you know, kept me going to a point where we finally started to make money. It's not like I'm outside here, you know with fancy cars or a big house, you know, I'm not making beaucoup bucks or anything like that. But enough money where I could pay the people that work with me. A decent freelance wage and not lose my shirt when making new books.

 Ramon: When did you make that first ashcan?

JayDee: That very first Ashcan happened sometime around 2003, 2004.

Ramon: Oh.


JayDee:
Yeah, yeah. Yeah, then I got married and I moved to Virginia in 2005 and anybody who has a family knows well, family comes first and your creative endeavors take a back seat…

Ramon: And how many…?


JayDee:
and everybody else on the table…

Ramon: How many books have you produced since that first ashcan?

JayDee: Well, since that book, I took a big cost, we did three ashcans and then like I said, you know, we bought a house, we started a family and by 2011 I was divorced and I was back home in my mother's couch. And super depressed but New York Comic Con was coming back around 2011 and I had a full 24-page story. So, my sister, my best friend, you know, they figured it would be a good jump start to help me get my head off the pillow. So, with three ashcans and a fourth comic book that I printed out through an on-demand company called “Comics Express”. I don’t if anybody ever uses them, I believe they were out of Jersey. So, we did a couple of on-demand prints, some T-shirts, some 11x17 poster prints and I got a booth in New York Comic-Con. Made a couple of bucks, some people invested in not just the books, I felt people were buying into me. And those books and they’re making another issue since then, I don't, we printed up about 40 issues, collected a couple of trades and yeah done other things like other merchandise events such as some shot glasses. Hey, if anybody knows about selling comic books, you know, the margin is not high, right? You're making maybe if you're lucky you're making 40% on a book,  right? So, with big cons like New York Comic Con which, of course, maybe about 1,800 for like a 10x10 booth. You got to find ways to bring in that revenue, you know, And they're making shirts like this, shot glasses, pint glass, or something where we can charge a premium price to get the margins, to get the revenue, to end up making more books.

Ramon: It's ironic that I wouldn't be surprised if the margins on the other stuff is probably might be better than the actual comic book.


JayDee:
Yeah, man. Yeah, I mean, you know, if you buy it both you can do a shirt for about five bucks. You can sell it for 20, you know, that's how long the numbers are not great. You know, dude. We're doing pint glasses like this my glass cost me $16. We sell it for anywhere between five to ten bucks depending on what kind of bundles we work in to try to sell the books and try to you know, bring a bigger saving per customer.

Ramon: What percentage of your time is actually spent on making a comic book and the rest on the business?


JayDee: Making a book. I try to put it well, I have a day job, I don't know if anybody else does, right? And if I'm lucky, if I'm lucky I can get 15 hours a week working on comics themselves. And that's anything from working on one of the drafts to editing pages that come in from different freelancers at different times to even promoting the book. Coming up with the ancillary merchandise, like shirt and glasses that's the easy thing to do, you know. You get a freelancer to put together an image for you and you clean it up on Photoshop. You put it on a shirt, on a glass we send it away, you just wait for the product to come in. That's a quickie.

Ramon: How many books are you putting out in a year you think?


JayDee:
If we can do four books a year, that's a lot. You know, I'd like to keep it kick it up more at least, you know six books, but dude, they’re costly.

Ramon: Now all the books you’re putting out are books that you wrote?

JayDee: Yes. I've had three different issues that were worked on by other people. But other than that, everything else has been me. Like if you see back here, we've got the shield of “The Interceptor” and he's a character that spun off of our team book the “Stormchasers”. So, the first few issues of his many series were written by Brandon Easton. I don't know if anybody's heard of Brandon.

Ramon: I know Brandon, yeah. I worked with Brandon.

JayDee: Okay. So, Brandon Easton, he's worked on the “ThunderCats” reboot series that was on Cartoon Network a few years ago. He did “The Mask” comic book. He's now working on “Transformers” the new show that's coming out. So, Brandon wrote the two issues of that mini-series there. And then there is a horror Bigfoot-themed writer named Eric Brown, Eric S. Brown. And Eric wrote one of the stories in our “Unstoppable” origin anthology, so, he put that together. Other than everything else to me.

Ramon: You know, you're so good at the business end of things…


JayDee:
Thanks.

Ramon: Have you ever thought about just being a publisher? You publish other people's stuff and sell them.

JayDee: I thought about that, but it's not fun, bro. I'm not trying to be a jerk or sound high and mighty in any way but I got into this because I got stories, I want to tell you to know…

Ramon: Fair enough.


JayDee:
They’re not the greatest stories, I'm not going to say that it's not a, “oh if I had a Superman character, how would I put Superman in this story and then put my spin on it?”. You know, I'm not trying to reinvent the wheel. There are certain art types that are bleeding into my stories. I want to tell it from my point of view, my perspective, and have fun doing it.

Ramon: Have you ever tried to sell your stories to like Hollywood or Studios on things like that?

JayDee: I would say haven't tried but spending the time to try to navigate that is just, it's a headache and it takes away time from building the brand, you know.

Ramon: Yeah.

JayDee:
I’m not opposed to it at all, you know. I just, I don't even have the time to figure it out.

Ramon: One second. Let me ask you this question, I have to go get the doorbell. Tell us about Kickstarter in comics.

JayDee: Okay, so prior to Kickstarter, I don't think I launched my first Kickstarter until about maybe five, six years ago? Prior to that everything else was just me doing the print and going to Cons and you know trying to build up through Cons if it wasn't for Kickstarter, I don't think I would have been doing things this long. Most of my Cons have been on the east coast. I've gone to some West Coast shows and done Philly. I've done Chicago but mostly everything has been from Boston all the way down to Puerto Rico. I don't know if anybody's flown with their merch before but it's costly, you know go to over the country. Kickstarter has allowed me to reach people, you know, in other countries forget about the east coast.

Ramon: What was it like putting together a book and funding a book before Kickstarter and after Kickstarter?

JayDee: Funding a book, there was no business plan. That was, “okay, I got this much money, I know how much it's going to cost me to print the book. Who can I hire? Who's willing to work for x amount of dollars to help me put this stuff together and you know, can I afford this Con?” And the money you build up from each Con helps you go to the next one. All right, at the beginning, it wasn't about trying to make a business. It's how much money can I raise to keep this going for as long as I possibly can.

Ramon: And then when Kickstarter happen, how did that change?


JayDee:
Once Kickstarter happened as I said, I reached a larger base of people. And I was able to fund offset printing. So, when it comes to offsetting printing, I don't know if anybody has done offset printing. But…

Ramon: As opposed to print-in-demand.


JayDee:
I’m sorry?

Ramon: As opposed to print-on-demand.


JayDee:
As opposed to print on demand, right. So, print-on-demand a 24-page full-color comic book would be anywhere from two and a half bucks, you know but depending on whatever company you use. Offset printing, I was using this company called Avenue 4 which was based in Canada. They subcontracted to Richmond Virginia and for a thousand units of a 24-page full-color book, it was coming out to about 1,400 hours. Because the setup fee was the biggest charge but every thousand copies after that were only a hundred bucks. So, by the time you get to three thousand units, it's coming out to about 60 cents per unit and you sell it for, you put a price tag of five dollars on it. But you can make money bundling it up at Cons for oh, you get two books for six bucks or two books for five bucks yet I'm still earning a margin of you know, a two hundred percent per book, right? And that's where you can make money is offset printing. That's where you can keep funding the rest of your endeavors is through offset printing. I'm not saying I don't print-on-demand, print-on-demand, you know if I want to put together a small alternate cover for certain convention and while I can't go back to the offset run. I'll do a quick print-on-demand, but something like that you could charge a premium. You know, that's not going to be your regular cover price. That's okay set up for just this Con only, you can charge anywhere between five to ten bucks. And then you can, you will set the price higher so that way you can negotiate down or people to think they're getting a bargain at the contrary.

Ramon: You know, now that you say that it makes a lot of sense what you told me at New York Comic-Con years ago. He's said that “before you even start the Kickstarter, your book is already put together”.


JayDee:
Yeah. Yeah. also, about that. Well, I guess it comes from a guilty conscience, you know, I don't want somebody waiting on a book to come. I mean, once the book is ready then you know, I'll get the funds from Kickstarter takes about two weeks if anybody's run, and then about another two, three with the to print up the book. So, I got to turn around time about a month, a month and a half until the Kickstarter is over. If the book isn't ready who knows how long they going to have to wait for the book. And then what happens if, God forbid something happens to one of the other people of the creative team and they can't complete the book.

Ramon: That happened to me.


JayDee:
Yeah, you know.

Ramon: So basically, you fund all the Freelancers before the Kickstarter.

JayDee:
Right.

Ramon: You picked before the Kickstarter, finish the book, and then only when you have the book ready to go to print that you do the Kickstarter.


JayDee:
And that's when we rock and roll.

Ramon: So, any money you make off the Kickstarter and sales after that is you’ve already covered your production costs?


JayDee:
Yeah, and that most of the time just goes back to taking care of the crew, taking care of the team, making sure that they're paid for the next book, you know.  Most of my revenue comes from doing conventions, online sales. All right, you know I do digital through drive-through comics. And then we have stuff on our a website like our, so the graphic novels, right? They'll run for 15 to 20 bucks each retail but I bake the shipping in. So, Media Mail on a hundred-page graphic novel runs about $2.80, you know, and that's what we do of the website but we make most of our money at Cons. So, with Cons not coming through we're going to be hurting.

Ramon: Are your Con graphic novel is basically like what a couple of issues put together?


JayDee:
They are and I try to put extra content chibi galleries or if I can with the Kickstarter stuff, I'll put a like a digital commentary. Try to pack in a little bit more but mostly just collect the older issues that we're out of print on.

Ramon: So, what are some things that are “do's and don'ts” when you're kick-starting a comic book project?


JayDee:
Don't be humble, you know. Let people know what you got, put it out there. I'm not saying it all to, I don't know if anybody's ever heard of Crazy Eddie, but he used to do commercials, solar product, you know, don't act like crazy Eddie, but you know pay to put up some Facebook ads. I think Facebook ads get you the best bank for your buck when promoting one of your products, right? Or even boosting a post because when you boost the post you can invite people to like the page which you know get you more traffic to the overall group page. Twitter ads, kind of expensive. Oh, the other thing with Facebook ads it also connected to Instagram to reach a wider audience. Don't, don't get into online arguments with other people it kind of tarnishes, you know, the idea of what you're trying to do and put up a good quality product. Do put up other items that you can, that bring you a higher margin. Like I said shirts, knickknacks, tchotchkes. One of the things that we do with our kick starter’s do trading cards, right? And trading cards is a really affordable stretch tool to add to your books, right? A trading card costs about 10 to 12 cents to do and it's not going to break your neck when it comes to shipping the product out to people, they're feeling like they're getting something extra. I kind of look at it like a collector's edition DVD, right? When you open up a collector's edition DVD, you'll have, you know, poster cards of illustrations and tchotchke that will fit in there. Something that's not going to break your neck when it comes to shipping and not going to cost you a lot of the money you need to print the book from the Kickstarter revenue. Does that make any sense? I got a little long-winded on that one.

Ramon: Hey, your comics are like all ages, right?

JayDee: They all are… [inaudible] definitely physical violence in there. No nudity, cursing is the old school way with the glyphs in the pound sign and the dollar sign out there. Yeah, definitely PG-13. I do have adult content. If you look over here, I get the zombie book, “New York vs. The World”, and no sex, no nudity, but definitely a lot of blood and guts and gore and some foul language.

Ramon: So, the people who buy your books at the Cons usually how old are they?


JayDee:
Anything dude. When it comes to the Con, I'm trying to grab everybody's ear. A second ago I said, you know try not to act like crazy Eddie when you’re doing videos to promote your book, but when it comes to the conventions, I'm a carnival barker. You know, I'm the, “Hey step into my tent guy”, you know. When it comes to Cons, I got a team. New York, I’m kind of I mentioned a minute ago is really expensive to exhibit at New York Comic-Con. I guess one of the reasons why is because I pay for extra tickets to get other people in there with me to try to help sell the books. I don't know if anybody's not to New York Comic-Con before. But for those who have if you've ever seen Funko Booth sets up at New York Comic-Con, well for the last four years I've been directly across from that. So, where there are people waiting in line for their stuff at Funko or were Funko has their book bag side company, you know, they're waiting online to get those collectibles. So that's a captive audience. They're going to hear me. They're going to hear my mouth, they’re going to hear our team and what I'm involved with trying to sell to one person, somebody in the other teams trying to grab somebody else. It's a group effort.

Ramon: Now, are the people on your team are these the creators also? Are these just people who are…?

JayDee: Sometimes, yes. Like, so with Shield and the Interceptor here, we have a Russ Leach and he is an artist that works out of the UK. But we've also had somebody who's done the last two issues of that one and he comes from Colombia. He flies up. Russ from the UK, he doesn't. Then we've had one of the artists, Craig Shepherd out of Boston, you know, he's driven down. Then we got our colors, Mike from Florida, he really does come up to New York. But other people on the team include my sister. my brother-in-law, you know, one of my best friends anybody who's willing to help you toe the line, you know.

Ramon: Are you compensating these guys or are they just getting the tickets to get into the Con?

JayDee: Well, yeah, the artist just, look I can't pay these guys top dollar, right? I wish I could. So, one of the ways I try to compensate them at least is, you come to the Con, I pay for your way to get in, not for your flight over, not for your lodging, but I pay for your ticket to come to the convention. And we do sketch covers at the booth. But you know, what, whatever they earn on the sketch covers that’s them, you know, that's not coming to us. I know to some people that doesn't sound like a great big thing. But I feel anything you can do to help put money into the pockets of the team that works with you, hopefully, keeps you all going in the right direction.

Ramon: Well, that's great. That's actually a pretty good deal. So, you mentioned that you know, like I always under the impression, I guess the wrongfully, that you know, you make a lot of your sales on Kickstarter, but it sounds like a lot of your sales are Comic Cons, right?

JayDee: Yeah brother. Kickstarter is just raising the money to print up the books.

Ramon: So, how many buyers do you have on Kickstarter? And how many than…?

JayDee: A hundred or less? You know.

Ramon: At least you don't need help raising money to print the book and then the rest of your sales are Comic Cons.

JayDee: Comic-Cons and online. Yeah.

Ramon: And you said that your print runs are what like what 3000-5000?

JayDee: Well, for the individual books? Yes. For the graphic novels, running off maybe let me see, I had to be our printer out of California, but they were subcontracting that I believe it was Kentucky and hundred-page graphic novel was going for about 4 bucks with shipping it came out to maybe about 4 dollars and 35 cents per unit. So, you know, we charge between 15 to 20 bucks on that, you know those for a couple of hundred copies. The other reason we went into doing trades, graphic novels, whatever you want to call it. It's easier to carry. I don't know if you know going to a convention with a couple of hundred copies between maybe five different titles and four to five different issues from each title. That's a lot, that takes up a lot of tablespaces. Yeah. Or graphic novels you get you could trim that tablespace down your set of time is quicker and then you got more tablespace the put up, like I said shirts, you know, pint glasses prints, shot glasses…

Ramon: And your margins are higher with a graphic novel.

JayDee: Yeah. Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah, but catch 22 is, you know when you got a parent with their child coming around then I'm going to spend 15 to 20 bucks in a graphic novel, you know. They'll pay three to five dollars for a single issue to test it out, you know. So you got to have, you got to try to find a balance and that's not always easy.

Ramon: Got it. Now, since you put out three to four books a year, what are some of the challenges are encountering?

JayDee:
Finding the time for everybody to be on the same page, to get it all done at the same time, you know. Timing timing timing, timing timing is the biggest challenge. No matter how much you try to schedule and prepare for everybody to have their stuff at the right time to move it on to the next phase, sh$# happens. I'm sorry to say, I'm sorry, I’m going to apologize for cursing. But look, dude, you know the current pandemic, slowed everything down man, slowed everything down big time, you know. We had two trades being paused and then we're moving on to do an action figures, you know, not customs of anybody's done action figures anybody set this up. I mean for a Kickstarter will look at about sixty-five thousand dollars just to get them done and then add another 12 to 15 percent for fees and shipping, be looking at about $78,000 Kickstarter, man. And…

Ramon: Where are you getting them made?

JayDee: China, baby.

Ramon: Okay.

JayDee: China.

Ramon: What's the per-unit, you think?

JayDee: Well, originally when it was going to be four figures it was going to be 3,000 units approximately $40,000 and see figure six to seven books per unit depending on shipping and import fees and stuff like that. But since that point we expanded to six base figures, a build to figure, a troop figure, a blank figure and three variants figures. Basically, all coming off with two different molds, but the paint jobs and stuff like that. So that kicked us up with accessories to approximately $65,000. I'm still waiting on the final quote because stuff is sold down on there and too, yeah timing.

Ramon: Wow.

JayDee: You know…Yeah, see but the thing is the funding from that came from the revenue, you know from selling books. I mean if it came out of my pocket, you know, my girlfriend should leave me and I'll be back, I'll be back on my backside again, you know go back to mom's. So, you know, I'm happy to say that this has come from selling from Cons, building relationships with people, you know. I don't have a big newsletter, I got to maybe about 4,100 people on the newsletter, you know, I try not to overwhelm them but I do try to keep them up-to-date and informed. And working people at Cons, brother, you know, and I hope nobody's taking me say working people at Cons is trying to swindle them, but trying to build a relationship with people at conventions.

Ramon: Absolutely. I have one more question, but you know what I want to open it up to the audience before I do that.

JayDee: Okay, yeah.

Ramon: Anybody has any questions? And when ask your question, two things, if you could turn on your camera and the second thing is if you could just introduce yourself briefly on where you're calling in from. So, who wants to go first?

Andre: Oh, I have a question.

JayDee: Go ahead.

Andre: Cool beans. So, I'm Andre…

JayDee: What's up, buddy?

Andre: I'm from Washington DC. I’m a comic writer and I guess producer all-in-one...

JayDee: Yes.

Andre: … do all my self-publishing.

JayDee: You got to [inaudible].

Andre: My question was you had mentioned earlier about like put your shirts and making like your glass, glass cups and things like that…

JayDee: Collectibles.

Andre
: Yeah, yeah collectible items. Is there a particular company that you're going through to produce your merch?

JayDee: Yeah, I was using “DiscountMugs”. The price point on that was good for a while, you know they had a reward system, but I was stupid and we try to buy our own machinery to do it at home and it bit of [inaudible], you know, and I didn’t like the quality of what I was producing with the equipment that I had, so we go back to “DiscountMugs”.

Andre: Cool beans. And your trading cards? Is there any company they're still doing?

JayDee: Yeah. Okay. There's a bunch out there but funny enough I was using a company that did not do trading cards called “UPrinting”. Again, they have a reward system and all I did was expand on their business card, right? So that allows you to do custom sizes with your business card. Your normal business card is about I think two and a half inches by 2 inches something like that, whatever angular form it is. And then a trading card is about two and a half by five inches, you know, you just make sure that your bleeds are correct and they give you, you review the proofs before you send them through. What are the reasons why I like these “DiscountMugs” and I liked “UPrinting” and maybe a little bit pricier at the end but I like the customer service, I’m happy with the quality I get? One of my, one of the things that sting me in the butt is my loyalty sometimes and I'd rather stay long to a company, pay a little bit extra as long as I know I'm getting the same consistent product.

Andre: I know that feeling JayDee: Yeah, yeah. Andre: And the shirt, is anything that you do for your shirts if you still print them?

JayDee:
Yeah, man. So, I wish I can show you something but one of the things we try to do is our own screen printing here at home. And if anybody's done single color screen printing, it's a pain in the butt, if anybody's done four-color screen printing, it is the mindf#*k. You’re going to spend more money damaging the product than anything else. But if you can get heat transfers, may sound stupid but there's this company FM Expressions, right? So, you got to set up charge but let's say single-color heat transfers from FM Expressions, if you do a hundred units, I think the setup charge was 30 bucks, 35 around there, right? And if you stayed within their normal format, which was I think 12.75 by 9 inches, it was around 15 cents for every piece printed over a hundred pieces, right?

Andre:
Nice.

JayDee: For full color, I think after a hundred pieces, you may come down to a dollar 75 for heat transfer. And then you are 200 bucks and more it's free shipping. So, you might as well go up, you know few more pieces. And then you try to find where you can get the shirts cheap, you know. Frugal is your friend, right? You can buy both in one place for like Michaels last summer had a sale on all their t-shirts two dollars and twenty cents. Dude, we rack up man. I spent about maybe five hundred bucks just buying shirts, anywhere I could, any size. We kept that stuff in bulk, you save on shipping and try to keep yourself within one color like this is an ash gray, dudes trying to keep ash gray shirts and stock over here. It's going to break your bank, right, if you trying to buy in bulk, so try to keep them all in one color and go from there, you know.

Andre: I really appreciate it. Thank you.

JayDee: Yeah man.

Ramon: Anybody else has a question?


Charlie:
Hey, this is Charlie from Queens.

JayDee:
Hey, Charlie.

Charlie:
Very interesting so far. So, it sounds like you get most of your mailing list and your sales in the Cons?

JayDee: Yeah. Yeah, we do.

Charlie:
So…

JayDee: Yeah.

Charlie:
… how do you stand out on the Con, because there’s a lot of competition there?

JayDee: I'm sexy, bro. Oh, no…

Charlie:
Alright, that's it.

JayDee: We pay for the corner booth, right? We try to stand out at the edge of the aisle. That's one. I know it sounds cliché but location is everything, bro, you know, that's one thing. We try to have an attractive display. We try to fill it with the product. I have a retail background and one of the biggest things that were drilled into me as your square footage, you're paying for even the space of air, that's all we here in the Con. That's a dollar amount that’s attributed to that, right? So, what can you put up there? You see these banners that are behind me? We hang out in the booth behind us. I used to have this one long 10 foot by six-foot banner, it was a pain in the ass to transport the pain in the ass to the keeping storage, you can roll them all together in one. It's easier to transport, to use it as spaced out when you are at the Con. Another thing that we build in our booth is, for those of you who shop at Target or Walmart, there's these 12 feet, excuse me, one foot by one-foot modular bridge, right? And that's what we could build a nice little goof display. So, we're taking advantage of the table. You got a 6-foot table, right? Usually by three to four feet. So, with those one-foot modular bridge, we build stacks of four cubes and we can put books in front and books that are on top, make it, you know, nice and presentable. But we also use it on the side of our booth, which is a corner booth and we'll put one of these banners drop down right there on the side of it, which we change on a daily basis hopefully, backyard as a standout. Knowing how to talk to people, you know at the Con where not just want to say to somebody who's passing by, “Hey come here, we're not doing the crazy Eddie.” You know grab a people. Comic book people are introverts, right? For the majority of us. Very timid. So, we try to make as many things answered for them as possible. Your priced signs are big and you can see them from far away. How many times will somebody come up to you and you know, they'll be like Oliver Twist, “We may have some more?”, you know. And you just want to protect them, right? You want to take them home and you want to nurture them. But if you if you try to answer some of those questions for the shy people, right, they'll come up to you then, you know, they have the money their hands and they'll be happy going away with the book, right? And yes, we want to make money. But we wanted to take people at the same time, right? And you'd be happy, you know, give him the book for a dollar if you know, we're going to read it and they're going to come back tomorrow, they're going to tell their friends about it. Being in the same spot in certain Cons helps out people know when to come back to you. Not everybody's on the internet, not everybody wants to sign up for the newsletter, right? But if they see your book and they feel comfortable the year before, they’ll come back again, will come back with people. So, building that relationship it helps you stand out also. And yes, being crazy Eddie does help as well.

Charlie:
Now you had less product at the beginning...

JayDee: Yes.

Charlie:
So, was it mainly the sales pitch that’s be getting them? The relating to the customer?

JayDee: One of the things I noticed that first time at the Con was it’s easier when you're on the inside of the table than when you're on the outside, trying to get people to find your book, right? My very first Con, I had people coming up to me and I didn't know about this, they're like, “oh can we do a book exchange”, right? “Can I give you one of my books for one of your books?”. “Okay, no problem.”. Do you know what I mean? As long as you’re living with the book, I'm happy, right? We make money, made about maybe $2,000 that very first Con. Definitely was just a few ashcans, more shirts, poster prints than anything. And dude if I knew what I was doing that very first Con, I’d be lying to you, you know. It was more winging. It was more feeling the people. You know, I had a Halloween pumpkin with candy, and people were coming more to take the candy than they were to take the book. So, by the second day that Halloween pumpkin was off the table, you know…

Charlie:
I've been there.

JayDee: … you know and talking to people, talking to people trying to find out what to do at the next time, you know, networking is huge. So, if you didn't if you do Con, for those who are new to this, or haven't done it. If you do a Con don't think as making money as your only goal, right? You want to get to meet as many people as you possibly can, you want to develop a relationship with as many as you can, right? And be genuine, don't be a jerk, right? If somebody says, “Hey, how doing? You know, you don't, right? Don't bulls*#t them. Most people know how to read a bulls#*ter with the first few words, right? And you're potentially killing somebody who can bring somebody else to you know they are on down the road.

Charlie:
Pretty good. Thank you.

JayDee: You got it, man.

Ramon: You guys have a question?

Jonah:
Yeah, I've a question.

JayDee: Yeah, yeah. Hey, Jonah.

Jonah:
I’m Jonah calling in from Brooklyn.

JayDee: What’s up, buddy?

Jonah:
Hi. Not much, I'm hanging out at home, watching a comics chat via Zoom, so it could be worse, I guess. So, you mentioned shipping and transportation…

JayDee:
Yeah.

Jonah: … and you've already talked about so much different merge that you've got and books that you get shipped from, you know, printing facilities and all that and obviously to transport all that stuff to Cons…

JayDee: Yeah.

Jonah:
So, how do you deal with sort of the massive enterprise that is you know, storage, shipping things out to people getting things to Cons. Is that something you going to manage from your personal budget with like storing things in your house or are those costs that you have to build into your budget?

JayDee: Yes, and yes, right. Those are definitely cost you got to build into your budget. And that's not from hey knowing ahead of time bro stuff’s going to pop up on you, you know. There’re hidden expenses in everything. Where is it stored? It is stored at my place. It is stored at my mother's place. It is stored at my sister's place. It's “hey you got extra room? Let me keep these cases in the back of the closet when it's not going to bother you.” And my place I try to keep as many bits and pieces of everything as I possibly can. So that way, you know, when the sale pops up the boom, I got it ready to go, brother. I mean we shipping these hard-cardboard mailers, you know. Did I get to store it someplace, right? I got a couple of hundred here at my place. I got a couple, but 300 at my sister's place. Yeah, she's got a garage. It's like there it goes, you know, oh excuse me, these hard mailers, guys, these are a lifesaver. May sound cheesy, but I learned the hard way shipping stuff anybody in a manila envelope just with a board and a plastic. Man, the post office going to rip you up and they don't care. And I know because my day job was at the post office, but I had learned the hard way from people saying, “Hey, my stuff was ruined”, and you don't want to be a jerk so you send them another one. You don't care how much it costs you. Whether they come back to you or not, you just hope that they don't tell somebody else how bad it was, right? But getting these bad boys, right? It saves you the headache at having a send out another product. Pretty much-losing money on it.

Ramon: Is the price the same if you’re ship it on one of those cardboard?


JayDee: Price? Yeah, brother. Just simple graphic novel, hundred-page graphic novel, 2 dollars, and 80 cents, Media Mail. Excuse me, I use it through PayPal. But you know, even though I work at the post office I don't take it to the window, I’ll have all the stuff printed the night before. I knew through PayPal and eBay they get a discount. I don't know how much but that's the price. So, this hundred-page graphic novel and the cardboard itself is going to run about eight ounces. So, long as you cover eight ounces and shipping you get to go on that one. And sliding a trading card to is not going to you know, raise the weight of it. But going back to the storage and costs and kinds of stuff like that. So, for a convention I drive, right? The reason why I've never done anything West Coast is that like I said, I got a day job, and there are only so many days out of the year I can take out. Driving Chicago is 12 hours. Driving to  Orlando that's an 18-hour drive. Brother, I throw everything in the trunk as much as I can fit, you know me and my lady. The clothes that we take are minimal because we're going to buy shirts at the Con, right, that we're at, so. So, just you know take for the first two or three days and then I try to do Cons where I got friends and family, so that saves me a lodging. One of the reasons I do Puerto Rico's my family’s from Puerto Rico. So, all I'm paying for is the flight. Florida, I got a ton of Florida, right? I know you guys are in, those in Maryland and DC, right? You got awesome Con out there. You got the Baltimore Comic-Con, right? Baltimore Comic-Con from New York that's a two-and-a-half-hour drive. All right, so we'll get you to know, we'll get a motel but you're looking at 30 bucks. So, if I were to say that the entire plan is laid out before I do a convention. I'd be lying by this point it's pretty much okay, this sounds like how much we got to spend. And once the Con is over then I'll total up expenses, this how much I made, this how much went to lodging, travel, gas. And then for the next con, I'll know, alright, I got to put this much aside before I go into it.

Ramon: Great info. Anybody else?

JayDee:
Yeah, did I answer it well? I don't know if I kind of did it…

Jonah:
That was illuminating. A brief follow-up question would be like, how much of your time is spent fulfilling online orders and packing things into those little cardboard mailers and printing labels doing all that…?

JayDee: Dude. I do a packing party bro, you know. Listen, you got friends? You got a family comes through, you know a pizza, a bottle of whiskey a couple of beers, sorry for those that don't drink, I apologize. I know there are people out there who seem sensitive. But you do that, you know what I mean, you try to get it all together within 2-3 hours. You line it all up on the kitchen table, like a, you know like a fast-food ordering system. Hey, you get this, you get and then you make sure you double check everything before you send it out the next day. Guys, ask away, ask away, ask away, I'm here, you know. I got 12 years’ worth of losing money, doing this, you know what I mean?

Ramon: Somebody else has a question?

Kingsley:
The action figure that you displayed…

JayDee: Yeah, uh-huh.

Kingsley: … where do I get one of those? Where do I get one of those pieces right there?

JayDee: The one that I have currently…?

Kingsley:
Yeah.

JayDee: … or how do you get yours put together?

Kingsley:
No, the one that you have currently. That a, who’s this character?

JayDee: So alright. So…

Kingsley:
“The Interceptor”.

JayDee: “The Interceptor”, my brother.

Kingsley
: Yeah, yeah.

JayDee:
Okay. Here we go. Ramon, earlier you asked about you know, scheduling, right? How do you get everything together? So, I was supposed to do two books. I was supposed to have two books out before did these action figures and the books aren't ready yet. So, pretty much it comes down to which is going to come first? Is the book going to be ready or are these final quotes going to come down from China so I can launch the figure? All I know is once I make the first installment, it's usually going to be can be divided up by three installments. It's got to be 18 months at least before the figures are in hand.

Kingsley: Wow.

JayDee: So, the Kickstarter is going to be up but there will still be, you know pre-order set up for the website. Once the Kickstarter is down but if the Kickstarter doesn't hit, nobody's going to get them, you know.

Kingsley: Unbelievable, that could actually be a thing, might be an exclusive piece that you had in your hand just now, you can sell it for like what or something, you know what I mean?

JayDee: No, no, I could, right. But you know, I need it to have my own stuff, bro. I need it, that’s my baby. If it sells, yeah, I saw the prototype. So, each figure from development to solder prototype in hand cost about maybe, I want to say 800 more or less, you know, that's including shipping, right? So, you got the artwork done which is usually a three form turn around, right, front, back side. And then you got the sculptor, the digital sculptor his work. Then you got the printing costs on that, then you got the painting costs on that. And then shipping between each person, you know. So, multiply that by 7, about 13 figures, you know, that's a penny, bro. But again, that's come from selling books, you know.

Kingsley: Most certainly, right.

JayDee: And is there a grand business plan scheme involved in that? No, you know because what are the figures going to do for me later on? The figures are going to sell books later on, right? The figures are going to be incentives for the next Kickstarter. The figures are going to be intent at the conventions if we ever get back to that point, right. The whole idea for this was, the whole business structure was based around conventions, and that's what biting in the ass right now. I can't get to a price point where I could get it to a price point or I couldn’t get it to big box stores or I can’t even get it to comic book shops, right? At seven dollars per unit, you got to, I mean who's going to buy that, to sell it at their shops for the 25 to 20 bucks, right? What am I going to make on it? A dollar figures? That's not it's not going to fly for me, right? So, everything came down to the comic book shops. I mean, excuse me, everything came down to conventions or basically DTC, direct-to-consumer, right? That's why that newsletter supports it. That's why building relationships with you guys is important. Hopefully, I can follow up with you, later on, you know. Whether it's, yes to either buy the product or introduce me to other people who may be interested in the product, right? I'm putting it on a front seat. I'm not going to you know, try to be humble, right? Humble’s, going to get you nowhere, right? It's nobody's going to find you if you don't speak up.

Kingsley: Right

JayDee: Right.?

Ramon: Thanks for that.

JayDee: Yeah man.


Kingsley: Another question?

Ramon: Another question?


Kingsley: From earlier, you guys mentioned ashcan? Now, what is that exactly?

JayDee: So, ashcans, pretty much way back when Marvel, DC and other companies. They used to produce an in-house Xerox copy that they would send out to the US Patent Trademark Office at the Copyright office, right to make sure their book was protected before they put it out. And once it was done, they tear it up and they throw it in the ashcan, right? But later on, the independent people would do zines, right? There were Xerox copies, there were stenograph copies, stuff like that thing that you can print out at home. Ashcans, zines, small little copies usually 10 to 12 pages, and that's gone through a big mass printing system.

Ramon: Okay. Next question?


Josh:
I have a question.

JayDee: Yeah.

Josh:
So, hello, I’m Josh. I also live in Queens…

JayDee: Hey, Josh. 

Josh: I was just wondering do you have a UPC code, barcodes, ISBN number, stuff like that…?

JayDee: No, I know, I used to be a number if you buy them in bulk runs about maybe a hundred and seventy-five bucks. You got to buy about 10 ISBN codes, UPC codes, they're a lot more expensive. There's about foreign change, I'm not doing it because I'm not selling it to libraries, I'm not on Amazon. I have been told by my editor and by other people to incorporate UPC codes or ISBN numbers, but to this point, I saw him pull the trigger on it.

Josh: Okay. You’ve found that it's a detriment or anything?

JayDee: No. No, because like I said, I'm not an Amazon. Maybe if I was on Amazon or I was doing BookCon for librarians and stuff like that, maybe. Again, I am pressured by my editor and by other people to do that mainly my boss, my girlfriend and again, I still haven't pulled the trigger on.

Josh:
Gotcha. Okay, thank you.

JayDee: Yeah.

Ramon: Next question? Well, I have a few, I even…

Question:
I have a question.

JayDee: Well, go ahead, shoot, whatever you got.

Question:
I came in a little late, but you probably covered this, I have no idea. But I guess the whole copywriting situation…

JayDee: Okay.

Question:
I also, not only, you know for your content or whatever, but also your merchandise…

JayDee: Okay.

Question:
I use this site called Red Bubble, it's probably outdated now. But they do Copywrite for merchandise so that way like if somebody likes your T-shirt design, they won't steal it because it's already copywritten and what not. Yeah, I want to know what you're taking on that?

JayDee: So, I have used the Library of Congress to copyright my stuff and I know when you do it online it is about 35, 40 bucks, right? If you do it, you know Paper Snail Mail stuff it’s a bit more expensive about 80, 90 bucks. But the stuff that you know, when it comes to copyright and trademark, it's tricky on a lot of things. And it's hard to say, I'm not here giving, you know, not trying to give legal advice but I have used the USPTO, U.S. Patent Trademark Office to protect my logo, which is the biggest thing more than anything else. When it comes to the stories that's something, I go through for the Library of Congress to copyright your stuff because that's all it's going to protect. The other thing is how do you litigate to protect yourself? Is it worth spending the thousands of dollars, right? To go to a small claims court to protect the T-shirt? You know, to some people, yes. All right, and of course, right but for me, you know what I'm happy if somebody's bootlegging my stuff. I'm not and I think I'm a Brooklyn guy, right? Old-school Brooklyn stuff and if anybody's, you know, bootlegs, right? I'm not popular with bootleg. Once people start bootlegging my stuff, I guess, maybe I've hit the mainstream. That's an indicator for me, but I'm getting somewhere. They're bootlegging me. but it's been a risk-reward scenario for me, right? Is it beneficial to spend all that money and all that time protecting the smaller things like T-shirts and stuff like that or is it more beneficial to pay the team for the work that they got to do, right? Like one of the things, somebody brought up contracts to me. Oh, do you have your team signed contracts for yourself? Almost everybody's International, right? If they don't finish their book, right if they don't finish the pages and I got to spend the money to reach out to somebody, Columbia to finish the book and I get to spend the money to reach out and, in the UK, to get to finish the book. No, don't and I know there are a lot of you against that, right? There's a lot of people that are saying otherwise. Yeah, okay, you know, but for me one of my first experiences, I had somebody do the very first issue of this, right? So got a tragic story right? So, paid the guy upfront to do the entire book for about twelve, thirteen hundred bucks, he did five pages. Guys in the Philippines, I don't know anybody out there, right? That's gone, bless it to the wind. It's done, right? I spent the money to get somebody else to do it over here. I finished it and look did I eat it? Did I bite the bullet on that? Yeah, but you know what in the long run I got my book and I'm making money on it, you know.

Question: My other question is…

Ramon: Go ahead.

Question:
Sorry, cutting everybody up here. You mentioned an editor. So, are you doing this to a traditional publishing team or like a…?

JayDee: All through our house, our umbrella. There is a young lady that I met through Cons. This is why Cons are important, right? And she’s now a doctor of English, I think at Suny Rockland, Dr. Shamika Mitchell. And she's always loved the Con, right? And she came back to me says, “you know Jay this is off here, this is off”, doing copy-editing, right, doing simply your comma, your word place with stuff like that. But we develop the relationship and it and it blossomed into her now being more of a creative editor. Somebody, I can bounce ideas off. The fact that she is a doctor at a Suny college, means just a little bit more credibility, right? Not that's something that's going to you know, bring me the to the top of whatever dirt sh$* that's out there. But in the long run, it makes me feel comfortable that the product I'm putting out is sound, right? And the person that's going to be reading that book, picking up that book knows that from the first page to the last page as many people as possible have gone through it with a fine-tooth comb to make sure that this knucklehead here got something wrong.

Question:
Thank you.

JayDee: Yeah.

Ramon: Next question.

Kingsley:
Again, no, you know actually, you mentioned like you're not going through Amazon though, so technically it's all digital in that perspective now and a sort of like it kept popping in my head, “Why not Amazon”?

JayDee: Why not Amazon. Dude because I’m not, again the opinions are going to vary on this one, but on Amazon, my margin is going to be like, maybe two to three dollars on a twenty-dollar trade, you know. If you're doing Amazon Fulfillment, where you keep it stored in their warehouse, you're paying the beaucoup box to keep it stored and for them to fulfill the orders on their own, right? And if you're doing it on your own, it's got to go through Amazon, they're still making the cut that they're going to take but I'm the one doing all the work. Maybe it's the chip on my shoulder, right? But why am I going to pay, why am I got to get somebody else a cut because I make it visible on their platform when I still got to do the work.

Kingsley: That was a good answer. Sorry, it was good altogether I didn't realize that stuff until you told me

JayDee: Yeah.

Kingsley:
So now it's something to think about. Thank you.

JayDee: Yeah, no if it comes down to that, right? I said before I'm frugal, right? But I'm not frugal because I'm trying to afford a big house, a big mansion. I just want to make sure I got enough money to pay the team, right? So, I try to be as cost-effective as I can be. So no, I'm not on Comixology, I am on drive-thru Comics, a digital platform and because I am non-exclusive to them, they take about forty percent of every sale, right? But I also do digital off of our website through the paywall and PayPal takes, I think 10% for every sale, you know, so where do you know, you find the risk and the reward on that, right? Where do you balance that out, you know? Look, again folks my answers are not going to work for everybody, right? It's just my experience and I hope that helps you make a better decision on what you want to do with your stuff.

Ramon: Okay. Does anybody else have one last question before we, we’re at the hour mark already?.

JayDee:
Oh really? I’m ready to go, brother. I'm here all night.

Ramon: Oh seriously, you don’t have any more questions? Okay. I got one for you.


JayDee: Go ahead.

Ramon: In light of the whole pandemic and the lockdown. What's your vision?

JayDee: Yeah.

Ramon: Are you making any changes to the way you're doing business?


JayDee: Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. The first change I have is trying to stop from pulling my hair out, if I can stop doing that’s a great way to keep productive. We are redoing our website. We're trying to make our website a lot easier to sell through, right? Pretty much it's a blog with you know, sales points all over it, right? And you got to search for the product even within our website. So, we're trying to scream like that to make that easier for sales to come across. I'm spending a lot more money on advertising, you're getting people back to the website, right? So, we go back to Facebook ads for a second, right. Facebook ads or boosted post. So, for $5, you can reach anywhere between 700 to 1,300 people on your group list. Conversion on that may be out of those that like, you're lucky if you get 80 to a hundred people that like it, but again, you can invite them to come to the page and again build on that, build on that and bring them back to the website at the end of the day. You know men, other than hoping that conventions come back, I'm still trying to figure it out if I had an exact answer, brother. I've been lying.

Ramon: Okay, last question. What is your vision for the future of Unstoppable Comics? What would you like to be Unstoppable Comics?

JayDee: What would I like to be Unstoppable Comics? All right. Let's start small first. I'd like to be able to leave the day job and do this full-time. I'm not going to lie to anybody, right? I still got a day job. I need benefits, medical and dental is costly. So, if I can bring this to a point where I'm bringing in the change where I can leave the day job and do this full time, but I rock and roll with it. You know, my I'm lucky that I got a girlfriend who is, she’s got a great job, and she said listen, even if you're making $50,000 a year, I'd be happy because I know you're happy and you wouldn't be as stressed out with the day job because you're putting all your time and energy into building the brand. I'm not going to lie and say yes, I would love to have a multimedia establishment, but it takes time to build, you know. What do I want? I want to find the next piece of the puzzle. That's it.

Ramon: I think we all do.


JayDee:
yeah.

Ramon: Guys if you could give Jaydee a nice round of applause for coming out.


JayDee:
Thank you, everybody.

Ramon: Again, this is the Comic Arts Workshop. We welcome everybody especially the ones who are from outside of New York. For future events, even if we go back to live events, I'm going to try to incorporate an online component so that people outside of New York City can attend as well. And like I said, I'm going to announce pretty soon a Course / Workshop that we're going to be offering and you know, just pay attention to your emails for a meetup or if you're on my emailing list already. Okay? JayDee, again thank you so much. This has been very enlightening.


JayDee:
Thank you. Folks if you got questions, you know you can reach out to me on Facebook, Instagram…

Ramon: What’s the website address or your social media.

JayDee:
The website, almost everything is Unstoppable Comics.com and Unstoppable Comics on Instagram, Unstoppable comics on Facebook, Unstoppable Com on Twitter, because you only get 15 letters. And then my full name is J-A-Y-D-E-E, R-O-S-A-R-I-O or you could reach me on Facebook, you know hit me up, folks. Did you get questions? I'm not going to you know, this is not a vault. I got no problem sharing what I learned.

Ramon: JayDee thanks so much.


JayDee: You got it.

Ramon: Guys…


JayDee: You got it. So, look everybody I hope...

Ramon: … I'll let you guys know about the next event in August. Okay?


JayDee: Alright.

Ramon: Thank you so much.

JayDee: Take care folks.

Jonah:
Thanks, JayDee. Great to see everybody.

Andre:
See you, everyone.

Kingsley:
Take care everyone.

Ramon: Bye guys. JayDee thanks so much man.















 






Categories: Guest Speakers