Ahoy Me Mateys Captain Cats here! I had the pleasure to interview the Co-Owner of Azimuth Media, Mr. Matthew Clemens and this is how the interview went.
(Matthew Clemens) My name is Matthew Clemens, I am one of the two owners of Azimuth Media, an intellectual property creation company based in San Diego.
(CC) What is your position in the company?
(MC) I primarily do original content creation and intellectual property acquisition.
(CC) When was the company created? How was the company founded and who are the founder or founders? Are they still involved with the company now?
(MC) We started working together in 2010, the company was formally incorporated mid 2014 if I recall correctly. The two founders are myself and a gentleman named Phil Roberts. We’re definitely both involved, and likely always will be, especially on the creation side of the house. Phil just finished a book called Capital: Abey’s Saga that we’ll get to later.
(CC) Can you tell me what does your company do?
(MC) We’re the new Jack Kirby or Edgar Rice Burroughs, a very creative group of people turning out new original content for licensing so we have comics, graphic novels, books, and video games that aren’t ‘based on a true story’ or ‘fan fiction’ and more like the original release of “Star Wars” when it was a new setting in a galaxy far, far, away from modern thought. I think Capital has done just that by creating a unique science fiction universe independent of earth, and we aim to have several series of stories set within Capital.
(CC) If the company has been around for a long time or not, what do you and the company think of the current state of comic book industry right now?
(MC) I have a mixture of optimism and disappointment with the comic book industry. Why isn’t it mainstream in America like it is in Japan? There are comics in the convenience stores, in their versions of Blockbuster (three thriving chains, I might add), and my ex-wife has shelves full of them. Given print on demand capabilities, there should be some serious new mainstream stuff like in the late 1990s with the electronic comic sites. The problem, I think, is the lack of new stories to drive content. I’d like to help fix that–though I don’t have a graphic novel/comic team fully built out yet.
(CC) What do you and your company think of the superhero movie boom? Will it continue or will it pop like it did in the comic crash in the 90’s?
(MC) Well, I’ve actually written a white paper on how the current crash has already started. The merger and acquisition process is about to minimize our new content as no ‘film company’ has ever created a seminal new work. Unless they start picking up my stuff, we movie lovers are done, CC. I’ve got to make this work unless you want to see ‘stock spandex superdude(tte)’ movies for the next two decades. If they don’t mind short business papers, I’ve posted this on LinkedIn so your viewers can read it here: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/clash-titans-goliath-meet-david-matthew-clemens/
(CC) Is your company going to introduce a new IP or make a announcement down the road in the near future about what it will do next?
(MC) I’m in the middle of editing a new science fiction series by a United States Marine Corps veteran. I suppose that just gave you an exclusive inside look. Currently working on world-building for two projects called Flux and Frost Garden. These are more Fantasy in nature and in no way based on Tolkien. I’m so tired of ‘Elf Orc Dwarf Human’ vs ‘all powerful evil wizard similarly propertied to Sauron’. Extremely excited about these because the author is quite young and Frost Garden would both make for awesome comic visuals and can be fully modeled into an open world RPG along the lines of Skyrim but without boundaries.
(CC) Will you and the company will be planning to attend any major comic conventions this year or next year and have a booth or anything like that?
(MC) We’ve been–well, several of us–a constant professional presence at Comic Con International since around 1991. I’m not planning a booth for 2019, though if I do get funded in time there’s an aspiring 14-year old comic artist who I’d get one for. Met her and her father at the convention this year, decent artist, very nice person, and I just enjoy making dreams become a reality for others. It’s why I started Azimuth Media. Now, once we’ve got a few more products out, I’d like to take over as much of the show floor as I can because, you know, fun. I think I can dramatically improve the fan experience and bring back the older fan-friendly methods and interaction. I’m not sure these ‘media conglomerates’ are nearly as fan-friendly as the individual owners and Azimuth Media intends to be fan and artist centered. Please keep me honest on that as I grow larger, don’t want to lose the proper focus.
(CC) How long have you been working in the industry and you have any good or funny stories to tell during your time working?
(MC) Personally? I’ve been creating since I was 5, so about 30 years with the last 5 being truly part of the industry. And yes, I’ve got one story you’ll all get to laugh at from last year. So I’m walking through the halls of Comic Con 2017 with my Professional Badge on next to this massive line of patient fans and look up at the banners above me. “GoT what? What’s GoT?” I thought out loud. Everyone went silent, you could hear a pin drop as half the line turned and stared at this so-called ‘Professional’ before an angry-looking bald man asked “How can you not know what Game of Thrones is?” I knew my very life hinged on the answer, you could see the pitchforks materializing out of nowhere–wait, that was Aquaman’s trident–as I said “I’m sorry. I live in Japan, never seen Game of Thrones advertised before.” After a few tense seconds, he said “Oh, that’s ok. Where in Japan?” and the line went back to talking as if nothing was wrong. You see, I was an Officer in the United States Navy for about 10 years, of which I spent 7 overseas or deployed. Not much stateside TV and in fact I had not seen a single episode of Game of Thrones prior to a personal request by Robert Meyer Burnett. When I did watch as his request, I felt sorry for the poor actresses because they must have run out of money for the clothes budget in the first season.
(CC) Is there any published works from your company people can go pick up now? If so what are they and where can they go get it?
Yes! And I’ll give your fans a free short film just because.
Right now, we’ve got a science fiction novel that is an ‘incredible new world’. Capital: Abey’s Saga: A Course for War by Phil Roberts follows Abey Doris, who has been living in her near-perfect brother’s shadow on Nearous, as she engages in her society’s version of an advanced job placement exam. That would be a grueling 30-day trek across a hostile wilderness to demonstrate survival skills, teamwork, resource management, decision-making skills and ability to adapt to the conditions found inside the three star-systems of the Phoer Federation. The 1600 competitors aren’t allowed to take any of their advanced technology along, so they are quite unaware of the ominous failures befalling their home outside the Course.
You can buy it here: Sales Page for Capital: Abey’s Saga This is a true old-school novel, down to the late 19th century word and paragraph spacing. It not only takes time to build out the world in the beginning, down to new sports like Capital Stand, but then picks up and provides truly unexpected plot twists. It would be about 570 pages in the format of quality modern novels, and is actually less expensive per page than other popular modern works. If you just want to see some book-inspired artwork, drawn by Lucy Freeman, you can head over and check out the photos on our Facebook page: Facebook Page for Capital: Abey’s Saga I’m not really able to devote much time to maintaining it right now with all the other projects in process, so replies may take a day or two.
If your readers like Horror, here’s a short film set between two movies in ‘The File’ universe. It’s called The Interview, and can be watched at this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DWahjsesrk8. I really like how many details are in it that you miss the first time, and the flashbacks contradicting…well…you’ll see. I’ve got the screenplay for the first horror film with an accompanying live action storyboard complete. The series would also make for an excellent comic or graphic novel with some dark themes to it.
(CC) Is it hard working in your position? Can you give me a example of what your work day is like?
(MC)Very. I sleep from 11pm to 2am JST, or 5am to 8am Pacific time. I wake up at that point and start working with the artist world-building for Flux and Frost Garden, making sure things are proceeding logically and no outside issues are interfering with the work or the well-being of my author. Somewhere between 5am and 6am, I place calls with outside companies to maintain and grow my network both for Azimuth Media and personally. Then I play whatever the daily challenge is on Slay the Spire because it’s become a habit. I generally dislike card-based games and rogue-likes but somehow this combination of both grew on me. Grab lunch and start editing. Sometimes I take a nap, especially when the words aren’t flowing (yes, Brendan, I get writer’s block too) and then I go exercise and take care of home/personal errands until getting back to bed. On the weekends I try to sleep in until 5am. Now, I also have tendencies to want to be lazy which further complicates things. We are are own worst enemies, yes?
(CC) Do you and any of the founder or founders have any advice for someone who want to get into this industry?
(MC) 1. Plan ahead and prepare to work a day job for several years before you succeed. You will put in far more effort upfront than should be necessary, because in the words of a former major studio content acquisition VP “The purchasing and licensing process is a mess, it’s a wonder we get any movies done at all.”
2. Make friends. If they don’t like you they won’t look at your work. My business partner is a brilliant, exceptionally creative, tactically-minded jerk. He doesn’t care what you (or I) think, which is great for getting honest opinions and keeping the work on track. It’s also why people usually talk to me and not him. That said, there was a line of people to see him at Wonder Con and Comic Con San Diego every year which is a good sign. Everyone (~40% of the Disney booth traffic at Wonder Con) wants to hear the cold hard truth and not a sugar-coated lie.
3. Original is not based on a true story, fan fiction, someone else’s universe, mythology, or occultism. If you can do truly original in volume I will be honored to count you as a competitor–I don’t want to know the end to all of the stories and movies coming out by reading old comics. I don’t want to know what’s about to hit the US market from my house here in Japan. And, therefore, I will wish you luck if you choose to compete or you can look me up on LinkedIn and join us. www.linkedin.com/in/matthew-clemens-csp/ (Yes, I’m looking for work despite all of this. I take a strange pleasure in safety, industrial workers and pipes.) Do send me a note indicating what you are doing and make sure your story passes my valuation test located here https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/valuation-original-intellectual-property-lines-matthew-clemens/ so we don’t waste time. Before you send me anything, read the ‘Protect your work” section first.
4. Learn to Market. You’ll need about $2,000 to actually publish a paperback book, the average first run printing sells 250 copies. Depending on where you buy it and in what format, I get $2 to $8 per copy sold and you’d be surprised which combination of websites and formats is worth what. Averaging about $4 as of this moment and that means I need about 500 copies total to pull ahead. Unless your story is captivating less than halfway through (note: I didn’t say well-written or well-edited, though these both help) you will need to earn every single sell yourself. Every best-selling author I know earned her status through a number of tricks plus good marketing or having connections in a major publishing firm.
5. Protect your work. There’s an organization called the Writer’s Guild of America (WGA), once you have a completed original story, register it with them. This will make an easier avenue to resolution if someone else steals it and tries to pass it off to the major players, as well as proof in court of when you completed the work. I’m not saying everyone is out to get you, the majority of them aren’t, but some are. There are definitely times to get a non-disclosure agreement, and some companies will only operate through trusted literary agents. You will need a social battering ram or well-placed friend to pass that hurdle if you eschew agents. You can’t ask for non-disclosure agreements too early or fear will set in with the licensor, nor can you provide your work before some sort of established rapport and written proffered confidence is established in some form. Easier in person, not always an option.
(MC) Artist: the guy who did the book cover on Capital: Abey’s Saga: A Course for War. He turned that piece out in three days and then gave it to me! Wouldn’t let me pay for it, doesn’t want credit, and as long as I have the money to pay him he’ll have an open job offer with me. I don’t think I’ve gotten a better birthday present in my life. Met him sitting at Starbucks during Comic Con.
As to writers, I want a relative unknown near the start of their career, to join the team. We all hear about ‘James Patterson’ and other famous ones, but it’s much more awesome to find that rising star and watch them win. Maybe someone with a different viewpoint than the stale industry standard? I don’t know who today, but they have starting writing and I’ll know them when I see them.
(CC) Does your company have any social media outlets such a Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram? If so what are they so people can look for it?
(MC) Yes, though we’re a small operation and I’m more focused on content creation and our next few books than social media management right now. There are some good pictures at https://www.facebook.com/AbeyDoris/ and www.instagram.com/azimuthmedia/.
(CC) Anything either you or the company would like to say to the readers of this interview?
(MC) Please support my artists. If you like science fiction novels, grab a copy of Capital: Abey’s Saga: A Course for War and read it. My portion of the profits from the book will be going to charity (see below). It’s the only way we’re not going to be looking at chain after chain after chain of boring formulaic superzero movies turned out by Marvel and DC’s managers. Mass production makes neither great hamburgers nor good stories. I wish those two had taken Jack Kirby’s lessons to heart in the early 1990s before he died and not sold out to the media titans in the early 2000s. They could have been inspirations to us all. If you just want to support us, gift a copy to someone who does like reading or stick it in the waiting room of your local dentist or doctor’s office. We’re here to make new for you, give us the chance to get it done.
I’m planning on sending a substantial portion of it to Apricot Children (http://apricotchildren.org/) which helps the children displaced by the Fukushima Daiichi fallout from Japan’s 2011 quake. I used to live near the area and was professionally involved in disposal of some of the waste material, so it’s a matter close to my heart. After that, likely some education and literary training for children around the Pacific. I’ll have to see where it’s needed most.
To those that have read this far, thank you. I’m going to reveal one last thing: The author will only be signing books, comics, and merchandise for people who own a first edition paperback copy of Capital: Abey’s Saga or have an established business relationship with Azimuth Media (and those will be very limited). This gentleman has about 40 different universes/storylines and a couple of them could easily take off to Star Wars level proportions. So if you believe, as I do, that the industry is ready and waiting for original content, buy a paperback copy or two (from http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/capital/ if you’d like to be really helpful) so that when we succeed you’ll be able to get a sought-after signature otherwise unavailable to the general public. We have great respect for the fans, especially those of you with the faith to jump onboard first.
Not sure what our one-of-a-kind convention exclusive will be for next year yet.