‘Don’t avoid pain’: An Interview With Eleanor Davis

diplopia2

I was first introduced to Eleanor Davis’ work after someone posted one of her short comics at an illustration blog. The comic, The Beast Mother, is a black and white mini-comic about a monstrous creature who seems to have kidnapped children and is now raising them as her own. While its cutlass and pistol-wielding hero echoed sword and sorcery, the comic resonated on a deeper level for me. It’s a strange mix of a stand alone hero story blended within a universe that is deeply grim and brimming with untold history.

The same can be said for much of Davis’ work. Her projects, even when presented as simple story, are loaded with a sense of a real past. We are rarely told the whole tale, but that’s the point. Her comics are meant to present us with a portion of time, a sliver of history shadowed and hidden. We aren’t the archeologists digging into Davis’ work. Instead, we are the museum patrons gazing at dinosaur bones from a distance.

I spoke with Davis recently about her career as an independent illustrator and artist. She imparted some really brilliant knowledge about creating not only comics, but artistic expressions. Davis also included an FAQ she shares with students, which includes some choice advice regarding a career in illustration. We’ll add a few questions from that at the bottom of the page.

I’ve read that you’ve been drawing and writing comics practically your entire life. What attracted you to comics as a young person?

 

My family has always been into comics. I grew up in a house full of them – my mom collected Little Lulu, my dad was really into Pogo, Popeye, Little Nemo and all the rest. I read and re-read all those comics until I had them memorized. I’m not sure if I was drawn to them because I had an innate love for comics, or if my love for comics came from reading them so much?

You’ve primarily worked in independent comics or self-publishing. What about indie comics appeals to you over something more mainstream?

I’m not a mainstream lady, I guess. I like the rawness and punkiness of indie comics. I like that indie comics don’t tend to be gender-normative; that’s very important to me. And although I see the value of fantasy & escapism, it’s not what I’m interested in exploring in my own work most of the time. I’m mostly interested in making art as a form of self-expression, & indie comics has a strong tradition of that.

beastmom1

You style has a dream-like quality akin to that of Winsor McCay. How did you develop your specific artistic style when drawing comics or creating illustrations?

Thank you! That’s high praise. I draw what feels true. I draw dream-like images because life is dream-like.

Do you first remember when you knew you wanted to pursue comics professionally? Was there a watershed moment that steered you in that direction?

I’m not actually a professional cartoonist, depending on your definition of professional. I’ve tried living off of the money I’ve made making comics in the past, but it was too hard! Too much work for not enough pay. Now I make a living doing illustration and I make comics for myself.

I think I realized that I was making comics that were good enough for other people to be interested in reading maybe my Junior year of college. Some cartoonists I really admired – Chris Wright, Lance Simmons and David Youngblood – asked me to put together a mini with them. That was thrilling, to get that sort of affirmation. But before that, I never doubted that I would be making comics. I just didn’t know if anyone would be reading them.

We have readers who are artists and would likely be interested in your process. How do you develop a comic like The Beast Mother from start to finish?

I did the Beast Mother my junior year of college, I think. I was in a psych 101 class & drew this image of a giant woman-beast covered with babies. As soon as I drew that image, I knew what the story would be. I just had to sort of shake it out. I thumbed the comic out in a day, then had my husband (boyfriend, then) Drew Weing read them & I edited it a bit. Drawing the whole thing took about a month, I guess. I wasn’t very fast back then. I remember all those pine trees being a real headache.

Davis-TNY-desks

Do you have any advice to impart on up-and-coming comic creators? What would you go back and tell yourself? Would you go back and tell yourself anything at all?

A young illustrator just asked me this question; it’s a good one. Here’s what I told him, about a month ago – not much has changed since then, but ask me again in another month!

I don’t know what advice I’d give myself. My career trajectory so far has been irritatingly round-about and inefficient, but I think maybe I had to do it like I did. The big mistake I made was rush into things too fast at first & burn myself out. I tried to embark on a long series of graphic novels – my kid’s GN The Secret Science Alliance was supposed to be the first in a series – when I wasn’t fully developed as an artist yet. I signed a two-book contract & only did one book and it’s been a real headache since then. But that’s a choice other artists have made and it’s worked out very well for them.

Figure out how to be happy and have fun. There are easier ways to get love and money so if you aren’t having a good time you should rearrange your life and work process so you are having fun, or you should quit.

There’s no shame in getting a part-time job. If you aren’t strong & developed as an artist & you’re trying to make a living right away, you’re not going to make the work you want, you’re going to make work you think other people want. And that work will not be very good. If you focus on making the work that excites you, that’s important to you, that will be your best work. And then you’ll get jobs. You might need to buy time to focus on that, and in that case getting a pleasant low-key job that will get you out of the house & around people will take a lot of the pressure off.

“Don’t try to imitate another artists’ voice. Find your own voice. And don’t go looking for your own voice. Just draw and think and draw and think. Don’t harden your heart. Don’t avoid pain. Feel those feelings and draw them. Your voice it will come out on its own. Then, when it comes out, trust it.” That’s what I would tell myself. That’s what I would tell anyone, I think.

From the FAQ:

What advice would you give to an illustration student?

My advice is to have a simple, professional website that you update frequently, a decent web presence, and constantly, constantly strive to produce the best, most interesting, most honest work you’re capable of. Don’t try to do what you think other people want. You simply won’t be able to produce your best work that way. Make art that speaks to you and comes from your heart. Be true to yourself. Remember why you’re doing this. Also, live cheap and get a part-time job. Don’t think you have to make a living on art right away. It’s okay not to. Once you build up enough clients decide if you’re ready to live off of art alone.

What do you think of the current trends in illustration and where do you think this field is heading to?

I have absolutely no idea. I don’t think anyone does. People have told me I’m part of a new wave of illustrators who get more professional jobs through art directors seeing their personal work. I think that’s really neat and I’m excited to have had the opportunities I did.

Don’t avoid pain’: An Interview With Eleanor Davis

diplopia2

I was first introduced to Eleanor Davis’ work after someone posted one of her short comics at an illustration blog. The comic, The Beast Mother, is a black and white mini-comic about a monstrous creature who seems to have kidnapped children and is now raising them as her own. While its cutlass and pistol-wielding hero echoed sword and sorcery, the comic resonated on a deeper level for me. It’s a strange mix of a stand alone hero story blended within a universe that is deeply grim and brimming with untold history.

The same can be said for much of Davis’ work. Her projects, even when presented as simple story, are loaded with a sense of a real past. We are rarely told the whole tale, but that’s the point. Her comics are meant to present us with a portion of time, a sliver of history shadowed and hidden. We aren’t the archeologists digging into Davis’ work. Instead, we are the museum patrons gazing at dinosaur bones from a distance.

I spoke with Davis recently about her career as an independent illustrator and artist. She imparted some really brilliant knowledge about creating not only comics, but artistic expressions. Davis also included an FAQ she shares with students, which includes some choice advice regarding a career in illustration. We’ll add a few questions from that at the bottom of the page.

I’ve read that you’ve been drawing and writing comics practically your entire life. What attracted you to comics as a young person?

 

My family has always been into comics. I grew up in a house full of them – my mom collected Little Lulu, my dad was really into Pogo, Popeye, Little Nemo and all the rest. I read and re-read all those comics until I had them memorized. I’m not sure if I was drawn to them because I had an innate love for comics, or if my love for comics came from reading them so much?

You’ve primarily worked in independent comics or self-publishing. What about indie comics appeals to you over something more mainstream?

I’m not a mainstream lady, I guess. I like the rawness and punkiness of indie comics. I like that indie comics don’t tend to be gender-normative; that’s very important to me. And although I see the value of fantasy & escapism, it’s not what I’m interested in exploring in my own work most of the time. I’m mostly interested in making art as a form of self-expression, & indie comics has a strong tradition of that.

beastmom1

You style has a dream-like quality akin to that of Winsor McCay. How did you develop your specific artistic style when drawing comics or creating illustrations?

Thank you! That’s high praise. I draw what feels true. I draw dream-like images because life is dream-like.

Do you first remember when you knew you wanted to pursue comics professionally? Was there a watershed moment that steered you in that direction?

I’m not actually a professional cartoonist, depending on your definition of professional. I’ve tried living off of the money I’ve made making comics in the past, but it was too hard! Too much work for not enough pay. Now I make a living doing illustration and I make comics for myself.

I think I realized that I was making comics that were good enough for other people to be interested in reading maybe my Junior year of college. Some cartoonists I really admired – Chris Wright, Lance Simmons and David Youngblood – asked me to put together a mini with them. That was thrilling, to get that sort of affirmation. But before that, I never doubted that I would be making comics. I just didn’t know if anyone would be reading them.

We have readers who are artists and would likely be interested in your process. How do you develop a comic like The Beast Mother from start to finish?

I did the Beast Mother my junior year of college, I think. I was in a psych 101 class & drew this image of a giant woman-beast covered with babies. As soon as I drew that image, I knew what the story would be. I just had to sort of shake it out. I thumbed the comic out in a day, then had my husband (boyfriend, then) Drew Weing read them & I edited it a bit. Drawing the whole thing took about a month, I guess. I wasn’t very fast back then. I remember all those pine trees being a real headache.

Davis-TNY-desks

Do you have any advice to impart on up-and-coming comic creators? What would you go back and tell yourself? Would you go back and tell yourself anything at all?

A young illustrator just asked me this question; it’s a good one. Here’s what I told him, about a month ago – not much has changed since then, but ask me again in another month!

I don’t know what advice I’d give myself. My career trajectory so far has been irritatingly round-about and inefficient, but I think maybe I had to do it like I did. The big mistake I made was rush into things too fast at first & burn myself out. I tried to embark on a long series of graphic novels – my kid’s GN The Secret Science Alliance was supposed to be the first in a series – when I wasn’t fully developed as an artist yet. I signed a two-book contract & only did one book and it’s been a real headache since then. But that’s a choice other artists have made and it’s worked out very well for them.

Figure out how to be happy and have fun. There are easier ways to get love and money so if you aren’t having a good time you should rearrange your life and work process so you are having fun, or you should quit.

There’s no shame in getting a part-time job. If you aren’t strong & developed as an artist & you’re trying to make a living right away, you’re not going to make the work you want, you’re going to make work you think other people want. And that work will not be very good. If you focus on making the work that excites you, that’s important to you, that will be your best work. And then you’ll get jobs. You might need to buy time to focus on that, and in that case getting a pleasant low-key job that will get you out of the house & around people will take a lot of the pressure off.

“Don’t try to imitate another artists’ voice. Find your own voice. And don’t go looking for your own voice. Just draw and think and draw and think. Don’t harden your heart. Don’t avoid pain. Feel those feelings and draw them. Your voice it will come out on its own. Then, when it comes out, trust it.” That’s what I would tell myself. That’s what I would tell anyone, I think.

From the FAQ:

What advice would you give to an illustration student?

My advice is to have a simple, professional website that you update frequently, a decent web presence, and constantly, constantly strive to produce the best, most interesting, most honest work you’re capable of. Don’t try to do what you think other people want. You simply won’t be able to produce your best work that way. Make art that speaks to you and comes from your heart. Be true to yourself. Remember why you’re doing this. Also, live cheap and get a part-time job. Don’t think you have to make a living on art right away. It’s okay not to. Once you build up enough clients decide if you’re ready to live off of art alone.

What do you think of the current trends in illustration and where do you think this field is heading to?

I have absolutely no idea. I don’t think anyone does. People have told me I’m part of a new wave of illustrators who get more professional jobs through art directors seeing their personal work. I think that’s really neat and I’m excited to have had the opportunities I did.

Read This and Live Forever: ‘Mars: Space Barbarian’

Not much can be said about Mars: Space Barbarian that isn’t already conveyed by its title. It’s a webcomic about, well,  a space barbarian doing what space barbarians do best: stabbing things with a spear while looking like a real badass.  With razor-sharp artwork by the Andrew MacLean, a killer opening arc by writer Jim Gibbons, and insanely vibrant colors from Ryan Hill, Mars: Space Barbarian is out of this world… sorry about that.

Check out a little of the comic below and read the rest here.

MSB

Review: Jason Walz’s CRAP SHOOT

First off, I would like to say that Mr. Walz has the patience of a saint.  Not only have I told him on multiple occasions that this would be published ASAP, I also gave him direct dates and totally just forgot.  So to you, Jason, thank you for putting up with little old me.

Now to the nitty gritty.  Jason Walz is the author and artist of a new comic by the name of Crap Shoot.  Two issues are currently out on his website, with an option to pay what you want option, as well as through Comixology.

The art style in this story is almost reminiscent of Charles Burns’ Black Hole, with a heavy contrast of black and white and definitely does not make the mistake of over working the smaller details.  What I thoroughly enjoyed regarding the connection between the story and the art, was the fact that it isn’t as grown up.  The faces and movement of the characters could easily translate into a Calvin and Hobbes-esque strip.

Screenshot 2013-11-12 08.27.12

It really is a cross between an actual graphic novel and a strip.  Short stories punctuated by longer narratives and small guest drawings and panels really bring a unique twist to the first issue.

Overall a charming read with some wonderful guest art, my favorite being the last piece by Trungles.  Jason Walz’s story telling is surprisingly innocent and light.  If you’re looking for something a little different and nothing too heavy to pick up and breeze through, this is it for you.  I genuinely enjoyed this read.  I’m even going to go back and purchase the second issue.

Screenshot 2013-11-12 08.25.23

Thank you again, Jason, for that unbelievably calm demeanor and a lovely read.

Josh Tierney And Kyla Vanderklugt Drop By To Talk The Wonderful World Of ‘Spera’

Spera is one of the most innovative comic projects out right now. This combined effort of multi-artist storytelling continually, in the best possible way, astounds both comic readers and the media as well. Last year, Publishers Weekly had this to say about Volume One of Spera: “With beauty as its tool and mischief in mind, this book is a winner all the way.”

It’s truly no surprise critics and readers are flipping their proverbial lids of this series as it’s unique blend of vignette-style storytelling is like nothing you’ve ever read. Instead of telling a straightforward narrative, writer Josh Tierney with the help of dozens of artists, has crafted three volumes of Spera like a photo album full of snapshots detailing his characters’ journey.

This series isn’t always on track (the key storyline involves two rogue princesses searching for adventure), however, Spera shines for its flights of fancy with brilliant writing and an extremely rich sense of the world it inhabits. I can’t praise this series enough.

Luckily, Tierney and a key Spera artist Kyla Vanderklugt took some time out of their naturally busy schedule to catch up and chat with Panel Bound about Spera, webcomics and everything inbetween.

Spera-v2-HC-Cover

Spera is one of the more innovative comics to come out in the past few years. How did this project get started?

Josh Tierney: I had written a novella of the original story in 2009 and wondered what it might look like as a comic. Before Spera I worked on various online projects that combined prose and illustration, where different artists would illustrate different chapters of novellas that I wrote. Comics seemed like the most natural extension of this format, and so I brought in many of the collaborators from the previous projects to help adapt the novella into comic form. Since then I’ve focused my writing efforts almost entirely on comic scripts.

Each volume of Spera features a wide range of artists. How has this changed the way this comic is written, if at all?

Josh: If the artists are set beforehand, I’ll write each chapter to what I believe are the artists’ strengths, or at least what I like most about the artists’ works. If the scripts are written beforehand, I try to give each chapter a different feel, so that I can then seek out the most suitable artist for them from there.

Kyla, as an artist on Spera how do you maintain the continuity and tone of this story while working with several other artists.

Kyla Vanderklugt: A lot of the credit for this has to go to Afu Chan. His distinctive character designs are easy to recognise throughout all the shifts in technique and style, and that really helps to tie the chapters together. As for the environments, the designs are often established by the first artist to tackle a particular section. When I drew my pages for the second chapter of Vol. II, I used Giannis’s interpretation of Kotequog as reference, since he’d already finished the first chapter.

The lore and world of Spera is so expansive and detailed, it almost reminds me of a fantasy-driven Prophet, where is inspiration coming from for this book on both the written and art departments?

Josh: Old school console RPGs on the writing side. Spera is a chance for me to indulge in everything I like about RPGs, such as town exploration, treasure hunting and random monster battles. The characters are basically leveling up with each book. I’m also a fan of Studio Ghibli films, and their sense of magic and mystery, along with their amazing female protagonists, have been an inspiration for sure.

Kyla: One of the great things about this project is that all the artists come from completely different backgrounds, so what inspires and informs Spera’s art style changes with every chapter. A common thread, though, is that we all love fantasy in some form or other.
It’s also getting to the point where I can refer back to Spera’s lore itself for inspiration. Some background characters in my Vol. III comic are decorating a cake with bugs – Pira and Lono ate enough bugs in earlier chapters that I figure bugs-as-food counts as Spera canon, now.

b95d61e4b15db056e017a6b43f177115

Josh, why work so many different artists on this book? Wouldn’t it in some ways be easier to work with just one artist?

Josh: Having multiple artists means less pages for each artist, which means each artist can put the maximum amount of effort into their chapters. There are also a great many artists I’d like to work with, but it would be impossible to work with them all on individual projects. On Spera, I can work with everyone all at once, and do it on a project I’m very passionate about.

I also personally find it fascinating to see the same characters rendered by different artists within the same story. Everyone sees the world differently, and I feel like Spera’s structure is a kind of visual approximation of this.

Volume three of Spera is now being collected on comiXology, how has the process of putting together this comic evolved since Volume one?

Josh: The more I work with artists, the more I learn what to put into scripts, including what not to put into them. The Vol. 3 scripts are probably the most detailed so far, leading to comic pages that are more in line with what I was thinking when I wrote them.

As both a writer (Josh) and an artist (Kyla), do you recommend aspiring creators start on the Web? What benefits does web publishing offer?

Josh: Publishing on the web is the best way to get your work to as many people as possible. Most of the published artists I know today were first discovered on the web. Webcomics are being treated as seriously as print projects by every editor I’ve spoken to, and are often the first place independent comics publishers will look to for new projects to pick up or creators to hire.

Kyla: There are probably as many different ways to start a career in comics as there are comic creators, but sharing your work on the web definitely does give you a big advantage. Aside from the exposure, it puts you on common ground with other comic artists, art directors, and editors. Everyone browses the web, after all.

jV8Wx

Any advice for aspiring comic creators?

Josh: Don’t give up. It could take years before you have a successful project, but during those years you’ll constantly be improving. Post your works on whatever social networks are available to you — this is the best way to gain support for what you’re doing.

Kyla: Take inspiration from everywhere. I mean, from other comic artists, obviously, but don’t stop there. Don’t be insular.

If people haven’t checked out Spera yet, why do you think they should, and where can they pick up a copy?

Josh: If you like the sound of princesses going on dangerous adventures with a giant flaming dog and super tough warrior cat, all of it illustrated by some of the coolest artists on the planet, then Spera is the series for you. It can be found wherever comics and books are sold, including online retailers such as Amazon and the Archaia store.

Kyla: There really isn’t anything else quite like Spera on the market. And aside from the novelty aspect… there’s a fussy middle-aged man who turns into, yeah, a giant flaming dog. Something for everyone!

Josh Tierney And Kyla Vanderklugt Drop By To Talk The Wonderful World Of ‘Spera’

Spera is one of the most innovative comic projects out right now. This combined effort of multi-artist storytelling continually, in the best possible way, astounds both comic readers and the media as well. Last year, Publishers Weekly had this to say about Volume One of Spera: “With beauty as its tool and mischief in mind, this book is a winner all the way.”

It’s truly no surprise critics and readers are flipping their proverbial lids of this series as it’s unique blend of vignette-style storytelling is like nothing you’ve ever read. Instead of telling a straightforward narrative, writer Josh Tierney with the help of dozens of artists, has crafted three volumes of Spera like a photo album full of snapshots detailing his characters’ journey.

This series isn’t always on track (the key storyline involves two rogue princesses searching for adventure), however, Spera shines for its flights of fancy with brilliant writing and an extremely rich sense of the world it inhabits. I can’t praise this series enough.

Luckily, Tierney and a key Spera artist Kyla Vanderklugt took some time out of their naturally busy schedule to catch up and chat with Panel Bound about Spera, webcomics and everything inbetween.

Spera-v2-HC-Cover

Spera is one of the more innovative comics to come out in the past few years. How did this project get started?

Josh Tierney: I had written a novella of the original story in 2009 and wondered what it might look like as a comic. Before Spera I worked on various online projects that combined prose and illustration, where different artists would illustrate different chapters of novellas that I wrote. Comics seemed like the most natural extension of this format, and so I brought in many of the collaborators from the previous projects to help adapt the novella into comic form. Since then I’ve focused my writing efforts almost entirely on comic scripts.

Each volume of Spera features a wide range of artists. How has this changed the way this comic is written, if at all?

Josh: If the artists are set beforehand, I’ll write each chapter to what I believe are the artists’ strengths, or at least what I like most about the artists’ works. If the scripts are written beforehand, I try to give each chapter a different feel, so that I can then seek out the most suitable artist for them from there.

Kyla, as an artist on Spera how do you maintain the continuity and tone of this story while working with several other artists.

Kyla Vanderklugt: A lot of the credit for this has to go to Afu Chan. His distinctive character designs are easy to recognise throughout all the shifts in technique and style, and that really helps to tie the chapters together. As for the environments, the designs are often established by the first artist to tackle a particular section. When I drew my pages for the second chapter of Vol. II, I used Giannis’s interpretation of Kotequog as reference, since he’d already finished the first chapter.

The lore and world of Spera is so expansive and detailed, it almost reminds me of a fantasy-driven Prophet, where is inspiration coming from for this book on both the written and art departments?

Josh: Old school console RPGs on the writing side. Spera is a chance for me to indulge in everything I like about RPGs, such as town exploration, treasure hunting and random monster battles. The characters are basically leveling up with each book. I’m also a fan of Studio Ghibli films, and their sense of magic and mystery, along with their amazing female protagonists, have been an inspiration for sure.

Kyla: One of the great things about this project is that all the artists come from completely different backgrounds, so what inspires and informs Spera’s art style changes with every chapter. A common thread, though, is that we all love fantasy in some form or other.
It’s also getting to the point where I can refer back to Spera’s lore itself for inspiration. Some background characters in my Vol. III comic are decorating a cake with bugs – Pira and Lono ate enough bugs in earlier chapters that I figure bugs-as-food counts as Spera canon, now.

b95d61e4b15db056e017a6b43f177115

Josh, why work so many different artists on this book? Wouldn’t it in some ways be easier to work with just one artist?

Josh: Having multiple artists means less pages for each artist, which means each artist can put the maximum amount of effort into their chapters. There are also a great many artists I’d like to work with, but it would be impossible to work with them all on individual projects. On Spera, I can work with everyone all at once, and do it on a project I’m very passionate about.

I also personally find it fascinating to see the same characters rendered by different artists within the same story. Everyone sees the world differently, and I feel like Spera’s structure is a kind of visual approximation of this.

Volume three of Spera is now being collected on comiXology, how has the process of putting together this comic evolved since Volume one?

Josh: The more I work with artists, the more I learn what to put into scripts, including what not to put into them. The Vol. 3 scripts are probably the most detailed so far, leading to comic pages that are more in line with what I was thinking when I wrote them.

As both a writer (Josh) and an artist (Kyla), do you recommend aspiring creators start on the Web? What benefits does web publishing offer?

Josh: Publishing on the web is the best way to get your work to as many people as possible. Most of the published artists I know today were first discovered on the web. Webcomics are being treated as seriously as print projects by every editor I’ve spoken to, and are often the first place independent comics publishers will look to for new projects to pick up or creators to hire.

Kyla: There are probably as many different ways to start a career in comics as there are comic creators, but sharing your work on the web definitely does give you a big advantage. Aside from the exposure, it puts you on common ground with other comic artists, art directors, and editors. Everyone browses the web, after all.

jV8Wx

Any advice for aspiring comic creators?

Josh: Don’t give up. It could take years before you have a successful project, but during those years you’ll constantly be improving. Post your works on whatever social networks are available to you — this is the best way to gain support for what you’re doing.

Kyla: Take inspiration from everywhere. I mean, from other comic artists, obviously, but don’t stop there. Don’t be insular.

If people haven’t checked out Spera yet, why do you think they should, and where can they pick up a copy?

Josh: If you like the sound of princesses going on dangerous adventures with a giant flaming dog and super tough warrior cat, all of it illustrated by some of the coolest artists on the planet, then Spera is the series for you. It can be found wherever comics and books are sold, including online retailers such as Amazon and the Archaia store.

Kyla: There really isn’t anything else quite like Spera on the market. And aside from the novelty aspect… there’s a fussy middle-aged man who turns into, yeah, a giant flaming dog. Something for everyone!

‘Comeback’ Writer Ed Brisson On His 19-Year Career And The Upcoming ‘Sheltered’

Ed Brisson recently hit mainstream comic audiences like a kick to the jaw (metaphorically in most cases) with his recent five-issue run on the Image title Comeback. While his name may be new to some, Brisson has been working in comics since the 90s as a letterer, writer, artist and publisher.

If all of that still isn’t impressing you, Brisson has new title with Image dropping in July 10, 2013 titled Sheltered. It’s shaping up to be one of the most innovative books of the year, especially as Brisson has an incredible sense for dramatic tension, which more often than not, is built at the end of a loaded gun.

I caught up with the comic maven recently to talk Sheltered and the mysterious (or not so) circumstances that lead to getting a book picked up by Image Comics.

Sheltered01

Okay boring question first, how did you first get into writing comics?

Not boring at all!

I’ve been making comics for about 19 years. Back in the 90s, I used to make mini comics that I’d photocopy and sell through record shops and out of my backpack. Initially, I wanted to be an artist and only wrote comics so that I’d have something to draw.

From there, I just kept on. I did mini-comics, zines, comics for college papers, webcomics, you name it.

At some point around 2007ish, I started to cut back on illustrating comics and focused on writing. I didn’t have time for both and, by then, was more interested in the writing side of things than I was illustrating.

You started a small press, New Reliable Press, in 2005. Why dive into publishing?

Looking back, I’m not sure. I guess I was fresh out of school, where I’d gone to learn publishing (from technical to promo) and thought that I’d try publishing other people’s work for a bit.

However, it was tough going and I folded it a few years later because it was hard to get retailers interested in a newer publisher and because I wanted to focus on my writing.

Murder Book is an extremely interesting project. How did that first get started?

I’d done a few pitches that hadn’t made it through with any publishers and was frustrated with the process. With pitching, I was expending a lot of energy on something that only a few editors would see and ultimately pass on. I didn’t want to keep doing that.

So, one year (on my birthday), I decided that I was going to stop pitching and just start writing. I’ve always loved crime as a genre (books, comics, film, everything), so decided that I’d try my hand at writing it. I sat down that day and wrote most of the first draft of Catching Up. From there, I just kept going.

The important thing, for me, was that I was just doing what I wanted to do. Writing stories that I’d want to read. I think that showed through because it wasn’t until I started doing Murder Book that I started to get attention from publishers.

Was Murder Book in any way a successful means to get your work out there?

In a lot of ways, posting short stories was almost like having a writing portfolio. If you want to be a comic writer, you need to have something to show and you’re not going to get very far by just posting your scripts. Having completed comics helps get the word out there. As mentioned above, it’s MURDER BOOK that seemed to have put me on the radar of publishers and editors.

MB

You write the stories for Murder Book and other artists illustrate them. As a writer, how do you typically approach an artist to work on your scripts?

I don’t think that there’s been a “typical” approach, to be honest. I knew Simon Roy from my New Reliable days and approached him about working on the first couple stories. Vic Malhotra and I met through a book he’d illustrated and I’d lettered. Michael Walsh had initially hired me to letter something of his. I really liked his work and we got to talking and really hit it off. Jason Copland is a local artist who I’ve known for years and we were basically just looking for an excuse to work together. Similar with Johnnie Christmas.

You just finished a five-issue run on Comeback with Image. How did that project get picked up by Image?

I wish there were a sexier story beyond “I pitched it to them and they picked it up”, but there isn’t, really. I just followed the pitching guidelines for Image/Shadowline.

Michael and I had been grinding out some pitches. Comeback just happens to be the one that happened to catch Jim Valentino’s attention.

comeback-ed-brisson

You have a new book coming out, Sheltered, the premise seems extremely innovative and a step away from the true crime genre you primarily worked in. Can you tell us anything about it?

It’s a book about survival and living with consequences of your actions. SHELTERED follows the children of an off-the-grid survivalist community. Their entire life has been about training to survive any sort of apocalyptic scenario – from nukes to societal breakdown. I wanted to put them in a situation where they’re faced with a potential threat that they’ve prepared for, but then realize that they’re not as ready as they thought. They won’t all survive and they have to make some choices, quickly, about who will and why.

I don’t want to give away too much right now, for fear of spoiling the first issue.

You’ve lettered several issues of Prophet. Do you ever read the scripts for that insanely good space opera and think “what the hell is going on here?”

Haha. Nope! I know Simon and Brandon, so usually know what’s coming up well ahead of time. I really love working on that book.

prophet21

Any last minute advice for aspiring comic creators?

Worry less about getting a publishing deal and more about making comics. Get your work out to as many people as possible. Don’t pander. Put your work online for free. When you’re starting out, there’s no money to be made anyway. Do it for the love of creating.

Where can people catch up with you and your work?

My website is www.edbrisson.com. People can find me on twitter as well: @edbrisson. Obviously, be sure to pick up SHELTERED at your L.C.S. on July 10th!

Pitch Packets And Werewolves With The “Feeding Ground” Gang

And we’re back. It has been a while, but Panel Bound is back…back with a vengeance. Luckily in our vengeance-seeking, we were able to set up some time to talk with the astonishingly talented team behind the Archaia graphic novel Feeding Ground.

The creative trio of Jonathan “Swifty” Lang, Michael Lapinski (great comic advice blog here), and Christopher Mangun, as I’ve heard at several “how to pitch a comic” panels, put together one of the best comic pitches the gang at Archaia had ever seen. We figured if you’re coming to Panel Bound to read about how to pitch your book, why not learn from the best there is? So, we asked team Feeding Ground about it and they were kind enough to oblige.

After checking out this pitch, you’ll agree that this is how it should be done. If you’re looking for a template, a gold standard in pitching then read on, this is the interview for you. Also, check out Feeding Ground, it’s about werewolves, which in my book is always a Michael Jordan circa 1986 backboard-breaking slam dunk.

Feeding-Ground-001-Press-Proof-1

It’s been said that the Feeding Ground pitch is one of the best the team at Archaia has ever seen. Did you guys go into pitching the comic with any previous pitching knowledge, with comics or otherwise?

Michael – I come from a background working as an artist on children’s television shows like “Blue’s Clues” and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” when it was on Fox. There was a while when, besides my day job, I was constantly pitching new show ideas. Some made it through early stages of development, and one aired as a pilot, but “pitch book designer” became a craft unto itself. Chris was the man responsible for making our finished book look and feel as swanky as it did.

Chris – At the end of 2008, Feeding Ground evolved from concept into a full plotted story with characters and specific design. We knew we had something worth showing to publishers and the opportunity presented itself in NY Comic Con of February 2009. A month before the con we decided we would leverage Michael’s art, Swifty’s storytelling and my production skills to create the pitch book. For years I’ve worked in the advertising world which demands a its own level of presentation craft and for years it was my job in small studio to create compelling well packaged pitches for companies like Pfizer and Bayer. Marrying these skills of print production with some heavy stock-full color paper and a Look-book style (common in the film industry with scripts being viewed quickly by producers and media companies) seemed like something that would best showcase our story series quickly to an editor (which Mike did an amazing job of using to engage Archaia at NYCC).

Swifty – My background in visual storytelling is rooted in film (I studied film studies at the University of Amsterdam). I had been writing since I was a kid, but hadn’t really tackled comics before. As far as comic reading, I truly grew up reading Mad Magazine. Sergio Argones and Jack Davis were some of my favorites. My pitching experience, and this is the chief responsibility of a writer, is to get other talented people hooked on a concept. I had to do this working with directors in theater and simply trying to convince friends to read my work. Translating this into a visual package was unchartered territory. While I had a very strong sense of what I imagined the packet might look like, I lacked the experience and technical knowledge to manifest this. Chris and Mike are magicians.

The Feeding Ground pitch features an incredible amount of detail and planning not often seen in comic pitching. Why go about it this way? Did any past experiences foster this pitch’s detail?

Michael – I’d say past experience informed the intention to make the book a whole, complete, package but it was Robert Kirkman’s guidelines in a reprint of Walking Dead #1 that laid out what we should include.

Chris – After 2 weeks of work, our pitch book was finished with roughly 40 pages of content: a synopsis, a series beat breakdown, a map of our story setting, character designs, sample art, cover art and a sample our first script.

Swifty – Something we believe as a team very strongly in is the concept of “curb appeal” that one experiences in real estate. From the moment one pulls up to the house, the buyer should have a strong, visceral reaction. When someone picked up our book, it was important not only that Feeding Ground conveyed our narrative, but we knew our world so thoroughly we could drop a reader into it. The more firmly that the aesthetic demonstrates the act of conscious decision making, the more trust a publisher will have in a creator. You saw our cover and you knew right away the landscape you would be traversing.

In your opinion, what is the best thing a comic team can do to get their pitch looked at, let alone picked up?

Michael – As best as you can, know who you are talking to. Before the show, I researched what different publishers were printing and who I’d ideally talk to. You save yourself a lot of time and fuss just by having some sense if your material is right for someone and what their pitching requirements are, often posted on their website.

Swifty – Be assertive. The odds that someone will stumble on your work amidst all the amazing content being made is unlikely. Be a champion of your ideas and confident . I can’t tell you how many people I see sitting in artist’s alley waiting to be discovered. It may happen that way, but there is something about reaching across the table that is powerful. Practice your elevator pitch on friends. If you can tell someone in a sentence what makes your story unique it increases the likelihood that you can do that for an editor.

Feeding-Ground-003-Preview_PG71

Originally, it has been said that Feeding Ground was planned for a movie. How has transferring it into the comic medium been different with both mediums being so visual?

Swifty – After a couple of sessions with Chris and I attempting to tackle this as a screenplay, it became clear that film was not the ideal medium to tell this story. It was simply too vast and the absolute freedom that comics allows was magnetic. Mike and I had a very specific set of visual concerns and an understanding of how this story could be best represented. I think what comics allowed us to do was be very specific about our graphic references (in this case EC Comics meets Mexican Day of the Dead iconography). Whenever a story is created, I really think it’s important to consider not only the what, but the why. Why should something exist as a book, as a physical object, versus a novel, or a screenplay. For us, we wanted Feeding Ground to appear as an old object that conveyed a mythology, almost as if someone stumbled upon it within a barren landscape.

Michael – I’ve been a comic fan since pre-school and I had done comic strips in college but got excited to do my own comic when I saw a number of friends self-publishing their books. I’m also a horror fan and the story for Feeding Ground immediately appealed to me as staking out new territory. Swift and I are both into EC Comics and the woodcut prints of Jose Posada and wanted to illustrate a print object that was a marriage of the two. Presentation is everything and, like Swift said, we created a visual style that was as sun-baked and broken as the story.

As successful creators, how much do you believe a team should have completed in their pitch packet before actually handing it to editors? (art, script, plot, etc)

Michael – When you look at the list of what we included, it’s really about including as much as you need to take what’s in your head and present it on paper without actually showing up with a fully completed book. Especially with including the cover designs, the goal is to place something in a publisher’s hands that conjures what will be on the stands. By printing and binding the book as a traditional comic, I think it made it even easier to visualize. All said, you leave enough evidence that you could get the job done.

Chris – Getting story right from the start is important. Tell people about your story, they will let you know what’s working or not. Since there’s not a ton of time invested at this stage with production, which can eat up a year plus, it’s easy to move ideas around, cut and slice or invent characters. Having that conversation with a small audience and sharing with peers early on is key to knowing if your “elevator pitch,” a two sentence synopsis, the story and overall materials are working for or against you or simply require just a little more editing. We actually practiced and targeted our elevator pitch prior to Michael going to NYCC to ensure we all were on the same creative page, but also to see how our concept held up in other peoples’ minds on the fly.

Swifty– Even though your script will be revised (both internally and by an editor) I think it’s incredibly important to demonstrate that a writer knows how to complete a story. A complete script showcasing an ability to tell a story both panel-to-panel and with a narrative arc is essential. Mastery of all of the elements of storytelling (dialogue, panel description, establishing character moments) are necessary ingredients to gaining the confidence of an editor. An understanding of the larger beats and how they fit into the complete story is equally important. You are taking the reader on a ride and you must know where the exit is.

Reading the Feeding Ground pitch story, it would be easy to say you were very lucky. However, in reality, it seems that it was a combination of extremely hard work and a little luck. Do you believe that a team needs luck? Or can they thrive on virtue of their hard work alone?

Michael – What’s the quote, something like “Fate is when timing meets preparation.” The fortunate timing in our history came when I was taking a break from talking with publishers on the Comic Con floor and inadvertently found myself talking with Stephen Christy, the editor-in-chief at Archaia, while I was just browsing their table. I thought I was just having a passionate conversation about comics with a salesperson. Even with my handy list of publishers, Archaia wasn’t on my radar at the time and soon I found myself handing over the pitch book and I was all set to talk about it as it made it’s way up their chain of command. To this day, they’re still great about making time to meet with aspiring creators at conventions in their swanky library of a booth.

Swifty – I agree to a certain extent that one makes their own luck. If you don’t do the work, nothing will happen. A strange thing occurs when one keeps pushing ahead, and I don’t mean to sound too mystical, but the effort attracts opportunity if the intention is pure. We truly did this for the love and that came through with all of our interactions. We stayed humble, and we stayed open to possibility. The right people emerged. My luck began when Mike and Chris wanted to partner with me. From there, as a united front, all things became possible. If there were a recipe to guarantee the opportunity to get work out there, I certainly do not know it. I do know that you are only as good as your team and being someone people want to work with greatly increases your chance for success.

Feeding-Ground-004-Eng-Preview_PG3

If people haven’t read Feeding Ground yet, why should they now?

SwiftyFeeding Ground rose from a conversation between myself and a good friend of mine, Thomas Peyton, who is a documentary filmmaker. He had been working for the past couple of years on a documentary about border crossing. What struck me as remarkable about his story was his desire to put a face to the numbing statistics we hear about people crossing the desert. Even a second-hand account proved far more harrowing than anything I could concoct.

We also tossed around ideas about the most underutilized mythology during the horror renaissance. He believed it was the werewolf. I couldn’t argue. The silly talismans and mythology hungered for a reexamination. The legend of the werewolf coupled with the horrors of a man crossing the Mexican border proved revelatory; there was a genuine “a-ha” moment that I think translates into a modern myth of transformation.

Feeding Ground is vital in that it examines one of the most important issues that define our country; the role of immigration and what it means to sacrifice for opportunity. This is the story of America. Yet, this is also a story that resonates on a universal level. It asks the question, what would you do to save your family. The stories I most admire are both uniquely linked to their current historical circumstances and ask questions that are timeless. Mike likes to say that some of my best ideas are “myths of the moment”. I agree, but the reason that we still watch shows like the “Twilight Zone” is that anxiety and fear of the unknown have no expiration date. I hope readers recognize this in the work.

Any last minute advice for aspiring comic creators?

Michael – If you don’t know it already, comics are an extremely time consuming artform. Your work will most likely be a labor of love so make sure you believe in it before sitting down at your drafting table. But, the sooner you get something on paper, the sooner it becomes a reality. Beyond that, the comic community is relatively small. You’ll learn a lot just by being nice and engaged with other creators of every level of experience.

Swifty – Your energy and enthusiasm for your project must be boundless. If you can’t communicate the urgency of your need to tell your story, you will not find the artists who will best bring it to life, you will not find the publisher who will shepherd it into the world. Be kind to everyone you encounter, creator and fan alike. Their support is essential to completing your work. You may meet someone who can offer a piece of advice that will propel your project forward or make an introduction. Accidental mentors are there. Don’t be a jerk.

Pitch Packets And Werewolves With The “Feeding Ground” Gang

And we’re back. It has been a while, but Panel Bound is back…back with a vengeance. Luckily in our vengeance-seeking, we were able to set up some time to talk with the astonishingly talented team behind the Archaia graphic novel Feeding Ground.

The creative trio of Jonathan “Swifty” Lang, Michael Lapinski (great comic advice blog here), and Christopher Mangun, as I’ve heard at several “how to pitch a comic” panels, put together one of the best comic pitches the gang at Archaia had ever seen. We figured if you’re coming to Panel Bound to read about how to pitch your book, why not learn from the best there is? So, we asked team Feeding Groundabout it and they were kind enough to oblige.

After checking out this pitch, you’ll agree that this is how it should be done. If you’re looking for a template, a gold standard in pitching then read on, this is the interview for you. Also, check out Feeding Ground, it’s about werewolves, which in my book is always a Michael Jordan circa 1986 backboard-breaking slam dunk.

Feeding-Ground-001-Press-Proof-1

It’s been said that the Feeding Ground pitch is one of the best the team at Archaia has ever seen. Did you guys go into pitching the comic with any previous pitching knowledge, with comics or otherwise?

Michael – I come from a background working as an artist on children’s television shows like “Blue’s Clues” and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” when it was on Fox. There was a while when, besides my day job, I was constantly pitching new show ideas. Some made it through early stages of development, and one aired as a pilot, but “pitch book designer” became a craft unto itself. Chris was the man responsible for making our finished book look and feel as swanky as it did.

Chris – At the end of 2008, Feeding Ground evolved from concept into a full plotted story with characters and specific design. We knew we had something worth showing to publishers and the opportunity presented itself in NY Comic Con of February 2009. A month before the con we decided we would leverage Michael’s art, Swifty’s storytelling and my production skills to create the pitch book. For years I’ve worked in the advertising world which demands a its own level of presentation craft and for years it was my job in small studio to create compelling well packaged pitches for companies like Pfizer and Bayer. Marrying these skills of print production with some heavy stock-full color paper and a Look-book style (common in the film industry with scripts being viewed quickly by producers and media companies) seemed like something that would best showcase our story series quickly to an editor (which Mike did an amazing job of using to engage Archaia at NYCC).

Swifty – My background in visual storytelling is rooted in film (I studied film studies at the University of Amsterdam). I had been writing since I was a kid, but hadn’t really tackled comics before. As far as comic reading, I truly grew up reading Mad Magazine. Sergio Argones and Jack Davis were some of my favorites. My pitching experience, and this is the chief responsibility of a writer, is to get other talented people hooked on a concept. I had to do this working with directors in theater and simply trying to convince friends to read my work. Translating this into a visual package was unchartered territory. While I had a very strong sense of what I imagined the packet might look like, I lacked the experience and technical knowledge to manifest this. Chris and Mike are magicians.

The Feeding Ground pitch features an incredible amount of detail and planning not often seen in comic pitching. Why go about it this way? Did any past experiences foster this pitch’s detail?

Michael – I’d say past experience informed the intention to make the book a whole, complete, package but it was Robert Kirkman’s guidelines in a reprint of Walking Dead #1 that laid out what we should include.

Chris – After 2 weeks of work, our pitch book was finished with roughly 40 pages of content: a synopsis, a series beat breakdown, a map of our story setting, character designs, sample art, cover art and a sample our first script.

Swifty – Something we believe as a team very strongly in is the concept of “curb appeal” that one experiences in real estate. From the moment one pulls up to the house, the buyer should have a strong, visceral reaction. When someone picked up our book, it was important not only that Feeding Ground conveyed our narrative, but we knew our world so thoroughly we could drop a reader into it. The more firmly that the aesthetic demonstrates the act of conscious decision making, the more trust a publisher will have in a creator. You saw our cover and you knew right away the landscape you would be traversing.

In your opinion, what is the best thing a comic team can do to get their pitch looked at, let alone picked up?

Michael – As best as you can, know who you are talking to. Before the show, I researched what different publishers were printing and who I’d ideally talk to. You save yourself a lot of time and fuss just by having some sense if your material is right for someone and what their pitching requirements are, often posted on their website.

Swifty – Be assertive. The odds that someone will stumble on your work amidst all the amazing content being made is unlikely. Be a champion of your ideas and confident . I can’t tell you how many people I see sitting in artist’s alley waiting to be discovered. It may happen that way, but there is something about reaching across the table that is powerful. Practice your elevator pitch on friends. If you can tell someone in a sentence what makes your story unique it increases the likelihood that you can do that for an editor.

Feeding-Ground-003-Preview_PG71

Originally, it has been said that Feeding Ground was planned for a movie. How has transferring it into the comic medium been different with both mediums being so visual?

Swifty – After a couple of sessions with Chris and I attempting to tackle this as a screenplay, it became clear that film was not the ideal medium to tell this story. It was simply too vast and the absolute freedom that comics allows was magnetic. Mike and I had a very specific set of visual concerns and an understanding of how this story could be best represented. I think what comics allowed us to do was be very specific about our graphic references (in this case EC Comics meets Mexican Day of the Dead iconography). Whenever a story is created, I really think it’s important to consider not only the what, but the why. Why should something exist as a book, as a physical object, versus a novel, or a screenplay. For us, we wanted Feeding Ground to appear as an old object that conveyed a mythology, almost as if someone stumbled upon it within a barren landscape.

Michael – I’ve been a comic fan since pre-school and I had done comic strips in college but got excited to do my own comic when I saw a number of friends self-publishing their books. I’m also a horror fan and the story for Feeding Ground immediately appealed to me as staking out new territory. Swift and I are both into EC Comics and the woodcut prints of Jose Posada and wanted to illustrate a print object that was a marriage of the two. Presentation is everything and, like Swift said, we created a visual style that was as sun-baked and broken as the story.

As successful creators, how much do you believe a team should have completed in their pitch packet before actually handing it to editors? (art, script, plot, etc)

Michael – When you look at the list of what we included, it’s really about including as much as you need to take what’s in your head and present it on paper without actually showing up with a fully completed book. Especially with including the cover designs, the goal is to place something in a publisher’s hands that conjures what will be on the stands. By printing and binding the book as a traditional comic, I think it made it even easier to visualize. All said, you leave enough evidence that you could get the job done.

Chris – Getting story right from the start is important. Tell people about your story, they will let you know what’s working or not. Since there’s not a ton of time invested at this stage with production, which can eat up a year plus, it’s easy to move ideas around, cut and slice or invent characters. Having that conversation with a small audience and sharing with peers early on is key to knowing if your “elevator pitch,” a two sentence synopsis, the story and overall materials are working for or against you or simply require just a little more editing. We actually practiced and targeted our elevator pitch prior to Michael going to NYCC to ensure we all were on the same creative page, but also to see how our concept held up in other peoples’ minds on the fly.

Swifty– Even though your script will be revised (both internally and by an editor) I think it’s incredibly important to demonstrate that a writer knows how to complete a story. A complete script showcasing an ability to tell a story both panel-to-panel and with a narrative arc is essential. Mastery of all of the elements of storytelling (dialogue, panel description, establishing character moments) are necessary ingredients to gaining the confidence of an editor. An understanding of the larger beats and how they fit into the complete story is equally important. You are taking the reader on a ride and you must know where the exit is.

Reading the Feeding Ground pitch story, it would be easy to say you were very lucky. However, in reality, it seems that it was a combination of extremely hard work and a little luck. Do you believe that a team needs luck? Or can they thrive on virtue of their hard work alone?

Michael – What’s the quote, something like “Fate is when timing meets preparation.” The fortunate timing in our history came when I was taking a break from talking with publishers on the Comic Con floor and inadvertently found myself talking with Stephen Christy, the editor-in-chief at Archaia, while I was just browsing their table. I thought I was just having a passionate conversation about comics with a salesperson. Even with my handy list of publishers, Archaia wasn’t on my radar at the time and soon I found myself handing over the pitch book and I was all set to talk about it as it made it’s way up their chain of command. To this day, they’re still great about making time to meet with aspiring creators at conventions in their swanky library of a booth.

Swifty – I agree to a certain extent that one makes their own luck. If you don’t do the work, nothing will happen. A strange thing occurs when one keeps pushing ahead, and I don’t mean to sound too mystical, but the effort attracts opportunity if the intention is pure. We truly did this for the love and that came through with all of our interactions. We stayed humble, and we stayed open to possibility. The right people emerged. My luck began when Mike and Chris wanted to partner with me. From there, as a united front, all things became possible. If there were a recipe to guarantee the opportunity to get work out there, I certainly do not know it. I do know that you are only as good as your team and being someone people want to work with greatly increases your chance for success.

Feeding-Ground-004-Eng-Preview_PG3

If people haven’t read Feeding Ground yet, why should they now?

SwiftyFeeding Ground rose from a conversation between myself and a good friend of mine, Thomas Peyton, who is a documentary filmmaker. He had been working for the past couple of years on a documentary about border crossing. What struck me as remarkable about his story was his desire to put a face to the numbing statistics we hear about people crossing the desert. Even a second-hand account proved far more harrowing than anything I could concoct.

We also tossed around ideas about the most underutilized mythology during the horror renaissance. He believed it was the werewolf. I couldn’t argue. The silly talismans and mythology hungered for a reexamination. The legend of the werewolf coupled with the horrors of a man crossing the Mexican border proved revelatory; there was a genuine “a-ha” moment that I think translates into a modern myth of transformation.

Feeding Ground is vital in that it examines one of the most important issues that define our country; the role of immigration and what it means to sacrifice for opportunity. This is the story of America. Yet, this is also a story that resonates on a universal level. It asks the question, what would you do to save your family. The stories I most admire are both uniquely linked to their current historical circumstances and ask questions that are timeless. Mike likes to say that some of my best ideas are “myths of the moment”. I agree, but the reason that we still watch shows like the “Twilight Zone” is that anxiety and fear of the unknown have no expiration date. I hope readers recognize this in the work.

Any last minute advice for aspiring comic creators?

Michael – If you don’t know it already, comics are an extremely time consuming artform. Your work will most likely be a labor of love so make sure you believe in it before sitting down at your drafting table. But, the sooner you get something on paper, the sooner it becomes a reality. Beyond that, the comic community is relatively small. You’ll learn a lot just by being nice and engaged with other creators of every level of experience.

Swifty – Your energy and enthusiasm for your project must be boundless. If you can’t communicate the urgency of your need to tell your story, you will not find the artists who will best bring it to life, you will not find the publisher who will shepherd it into the world. Be kind to everyone you encounter, creator and fan alike. Their support is essential to completing your work. You may meet someone who can offer a piece of advice that will propel your project forward or make an introduction. Accidental mentors are there. Don’t be a jerk.

You can check out the Feeding Ground pitch packet here courtesy of the team.

Panel Bound Indie Spotlight: Dark Ink Pictures

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Sarah Hoppes, the executive producer of Dark Ink Pictures and the wife part of a husband/wife team.  Dark Ink currently has several comics that are out for download and your reading pleasure, and you can find them here.  This is excellent information for those of you who are looking to pitch your comic in the near future.

LanciaFlamme_Promo

What was the inspiration behind Dark Ink Pictures?

Dark Ink Pictures is the brainchild of myself and Chris Rizzo, who is a writer, editor, and now the Creative Director at Dark Ink. Chris and I both spent many years working in the advertising, film, and editorial worlds, and are grateful to have had the opportunity to hone our skills there. We eventually found ourselves growing unsatisfied with bringing other people’s visions to life, when we knew we had ideas of our own to share. We wanted a creative outlet, where we could put our efforts into telling our own stories, making our own art, and building something we could be proud to leave behind. In the fall of 2011, we launched Dark Ink Pictures to do just that. Dark Ink Pictures is a multimedia production company, and our goal is to tell stories, without limitations on the medium.

You go beyond just comics, what else do you do?

Currently, our biggest focus is on comic books.  We’ve released the initial issues in two ongoing series, Planet of Women, and Cursed Mountain, along with two one-shot comic books, The Patient and Hunters since our launch in October 2011, and we have several more comics in various stages of production.

In addition to comics, we work in photography and film, and we have plans to expand to music and podcasting in the future.  We did a spec commercial, Justify My Burger, which applies a high fashion sensibility to the concept of fast food advertising, in 2012, and we have a short film in the works to be released in 2014.  We also did a photo shoot to promote our comic Cursed Mountain, where we brought characters from that world to life. We photographed three models as the members of “Debbie Does Deathmetal,” an all-girl zombie thrash metal band, and we have plans to do photo shoots with more characters from Cursed Mountain,  as well as the characters from Planet of Women.  We also have plans to release a sci-fi podcast drama with a comic tie-in.

DarkInc01
What does one need to do to be published with you guys?We are very open to collaboration, and we consider it to be a valuable part of our business model.  Our goal is for the artists who work with us to succeed as we succeed.  When we sign on an artist, we always add a link to their work on our site, and we include that link when we mention the project anywhere on our site, and we make every attempt to mention the artists in any press we get about the project.Currently, we are only publishing comics based on our original concepts and characters, all written by Chris.  We are always on the lookout for new concept artists, pencilers, inkers, and colorists, because we are constantly adding new scripts to the lineup.

For artists interested in collaboration, we ask for an email explaining their experience in illustration, particularly in comics, and examples of their work in visual storytelling and sequential artwork.  Then, we set up an interview to discuss the project/s further.  If the artist seems like they’d be a good fit for a comic, we send out a contract for the project, with a detailed schedule, and we start the process with concept art.  Often, we sign on people to do concept art and a promotional poster at first, to make sure everyone is happy with the workflow and that it’s a good fit, and then the comic illustration is a separate project.

Explain the process of getting Planet of Women out there.The first two issues of Planet of Women are available for digital download at amusedom.com now. This is a six-part series, and when it’s complete, it will be available in print and digital formats as a stand-alone graphic novel, and will be around 350 pages.  As you might imagine, the process of illustrating 350 pages is a long time commitment.  Chris wrote the script in the fall of 2011, and we first started working with the illustrator, Dan Wolff, in the winter of 2012. The full series is slated to wrap by early 2014.

Chris’ script and Dan’s artwork are so engaging, we didn’t want to wait over a year to start promoting them, so we’ve been releasing chapters of the book as individual issues.  We also created a trailer to promote the first issue, and we released promotional illustrations for the series.

The biggest thing we’ve done to promote the series is to put the books and promos in front of fans as we visit comic conventions across the country.  Last year, we went to New York, Ohio, West Virginia, and Tennessee.  This year, we’ll be in New York, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Arkansas, and Texas. You can view our full convention schedule on our news page. At our convention in Texas (Wizard World Austin), Dan will be joining us and drawing pin ups from the series.