Interview: Jon Rosenberg on the ‘Goats’ Book Deal
When I spoke with Goats creator Jon Rosenberg a month ago, he hinted at big things in store for his long-running webcomic that may or may not involve lasers, contracts and lawn care professionals.
Well, the news broke today, and despite a conspicuous absence of lasers and lawn care, there is indeed a contract at the heart of Rosenberg’s big announcement. Rosenberg tells ComicMix that Random House imprint Villard will be publishing collections of the color strips of the series (everything from late-2003 until the current storyline) in a set of 150-page volumes. He expects to have the first volume ready for San Diego’s Comic-Con International next year, with two more volumes following in six-month intervals.
From the official press release:
Villard Books will publish the recently completed Goats story arc, The Infinite Pendergast Cycle, as a trilogy —in the style of the great sci-fi sagas Goats so affectionately parodies. Each trade paperback volume will be full color and published at six-month intervals. The first volume, Goats: Infinite Typewriters, set for July 2009, will include newly revised and created material intended to introduce new readers to the colossal and complex Goats universe—and set up the audience for the rest of the epic. Book 1 will cover material published on the Goats website from December 2003 to January 2006. The second book, Goats: The Corndog Imperative, scheduled for a November 2009 release, covers January 06 to March 2007. And the third book, Goats: Showcase Showdown, due out in April 2010, covers March 07 to April 08.
I spoke with Rosenberg about the publishing deal and what it means for one of the ‘Net’s longest-running webcomics.
COMICMIX: So how did this deal come about, Jon? Who approached who?
JON ROSENBERG: My agent, Judy Hansen, made everything happen. I called her up one day and she said, "Hold on, I’m going to call up Random House and get you a book deal." And I waited on hold for a bit and when she got back on, it was all taken care of.
I’m beginning to suspect that Judy has some supernatural abilities, it has been an amazing education watching her bend reality to her will as she works.
CMix: What can you tell us about the specifics of the deal? Do you receive anything on a per-book basis, or was this a flat-rate arrangement?
JR: This is a standard book-type deal as far as I understand, with a royalty rate and an advance paid on those royalties and that sort of thing. It’s a nice deal, I’m not going to retire early on it or anything but I’m quite happy with the terms.
CMix: Are you planning to do anything in particular to format the strips for print publication, or will they translate to print easily in their current form?
JR: There may be a bit of formatting here and there to accommodate odd-shaped strips but everything has been designed in mind with making the transition as painless as possible. The books are 8" square, which means each page can hold up to three rows of comic panels. And even though I publish on the web at 72dpi, I still have 600dpi source files of all the comics in print-ready formats.
CMix: Who’s going to write the forewords to the books?
JR: Good question! I’m not sure yet, I always feel like I’m imposing when I ask for someone to write something about my work. Maybe I’ll send out my requests for back-cover blurbs and see who’s the most enthusiastic respondent.
CMix: Are print collections the ultimate goal for you, or do you consider them a successful off-shoot of the webcomic?
JR: I think the print collections are the antepenultimate goal.
The penultimate goal is a line of Goats-brand genetically engineered pets, or maybe a movie or TV series or something like that.
The ultimate goal is to finance the construction of a robot exoskeleton that will give me superpowers and lasers and shit.
CMix: What will the collections offer fans that the webcomic doesn’t?
JR: I think the primary thing that it’s going to offer is a different reading experience. People come to the webcomic for a daily fix. They read the story over time, in tiny installments. That’s a fun way to experience it but I think it’s an entirely different thing to be hit with the entire epic scope of the thing in a continuous, condensed, convenient format like these books are going to be.
There will also be some new and reworked introductory material at the beginning of the first book that sets the stage, so to speak. As far as other extras go, I haven’t made any final decisions on that.
CMix: Where do you hope these collections end up on people’s shelves? What other books do you hope they’re placed between?
JR: Shelves! I would never dare to dream so high. I am guessing they will mostly be used as coasters or to stop drafts from coming in under doors. If someone out there feels the need to put these books on a shelf and they are staunchly opposed to the Dewey Decimal system I would be loath to impose my own organizational quirks on them.
Want more interviews with webcomic creators? Check out the ComicMix Webcomic Interview Archive, and feel free to send your suggestions for interview subjects to: rick [at] comicmix [dot] com!