Do you have a passion for webcomics? Do you know how to get started? Do you know how to create a joke or an emotional reaction within a 4-panel comic? Look no further my friends- Star Prichard is here to save the day.
Star began her journey in comics in elementary school. It was always more fun to hang out in the back of a class and draw comics rather then, you know…be an extrovert. Don’t let the label fool you. She brings an untapped energy and initiative to the table that will make even the most disciplined comic creators drop their pencils in awe. combine that with an exceptionally welcoming personality and it’s no wonder she’s the dynamo behind a webcomic like Castoff. She credits her dad for giving her some artistic perspective and let her addiction to multiple projects take off from there. Her drive, as inspiring as it is, pales in comparison to her desire to shine a light on webcomics that seems way over do.
As Star would say, webcomics are awesome because no one can tell you what not to do. Sounds a lot like indie comics in general, but here’s a just a couple of things you can learn from this queen of creativity. Maybe you’re interested in running a panel at a con. She’s done several including San Japan. Would you like to learn how to build up your instagram as an artist using fan art? Maybe you wanna learn the challenges of having a Patreon and how to overcome them? Most of all, you’re gonna learn why webcomics still have an audience worth reaching. That alone makes this episode a must listen. She reminds us that comics, unlike animation, can be done by yourself in an amount of time that allows you to still have a life. While her marketing skills are self taught, her art on the other hand comes from the Savannah College of Art and Design. In short: she knows what she’s doing friends.
Welcome to the blog series; Daddy’s Issues, from Indie comic creator, Johnny Craft. Come along chapter by chapter as this comic book writer explores the journey of expecting his first child and all the emotions and creative challenges that come along with it.
I traveled back in time to 2001. Or, rather, I am going to eventually. I’m just not entirely sure when that will be yet. I guess I’m waiting for them to actually invent the Time Machine. I know this will happen because I remember hanging out with Future Me back in 2001.
Before you ask, yes I probably WAS on drugs, but nothing stronger than the drugs I’m currently under the influence of. Of course, I had to convince my sixteen-year-old self the same thing. See, I went back in time to talk to my teenage version about how, yes that totally-out-of-your-league, super hot, Goth, Punk, Asian chick WILL, in fact, be your wife and the mother of your child.
In school, I always knew Jovelyn as my buddy John’s best friend and (in my opinion) someone so goddamn gorgeous that I shouldn’t even bother hitting on her. Her beauty was intimidating. She was womanly gorgeous in high school and I was an awkward comic book nerd who liked to make fun of everything. I’m pretty sure she could do better for a date to the prom, for fuck’s sake.
Did I want to ask her out? You bet your ass! She’s the most attracted I’ve ever been to a woman. EVER! I couldn’t do it, though. I wouldn’t. I would walk by her in the hallway between classes, interact with her briefly when I talk to John, and we went to the same house party once, but aside from that Jovelyn and I had very minimal interaction in high school.
That’s because Future Me went back in time to sort myself out, so I could actually get the girl of my dreams. Disaster was imminent if I let my teen, stoner, idiot self-try to pick up Jovelyn. I just didn’t have the life experience to keep such an amazing woman.
I remember I was in my blow-off typing class when I faked that I had to go to the bathroom. Probably so I could roam the halls, and see if any of my other degenerate friends were sent out in the hall, that I could bullshit with. That’s when I saw a bright blue, Dr. Manhattan glow coming from the bathroom in the hallway.
Future Me stepped out of the glow, and I was a little freaked out. I (as in teenage-me) felt the need to express my concern.
“Who are you?” I asked.
“Well, buddy,” Future Me said to myself. “I’m you… I’m you, from the future.”
“Oh, dude,” I said. “You’re not here to molest me, are you?”
“No!” Future Me exclaimed. “Why would I molest myself? Couldn’t I just go jerk-off?”
“Just making sure. There’s this new Catch a Predator show that has a lot of people concerned, these days.”
“I’m here to make sure you have an amazing adult life,” Future Me said. “I need to show you something.”
“Dude… You ARE going to molest me!”
After I was told to shut the fuck up and listen, Future Me led me to the end of the hallway, where I usually walked by Jovelyn. We stood and waited for the end-of-class bell to ring, and I totally knew I was going to get a detention for ditching class. Future Me walked alongside me, telling me who I shouldn’t bother talking to. Pointing out who would become junkies, which girls I would end up dating unsuccessfully, and who I would never even hear from again after high school. Then… he pointed her out.
“Jovelyn?” I said, confused. “Yeah, I kind of know her. Is she still hot? Is she still friends with Gay John? Not a judgment, by the way. There’s just too many Johns. Big John, Little John Goofy John, Redhead John. It’s just a descriptor. But hey, you know that. You’ve said it before.” “That’s your wife,” Future Me said, so matter-of-factly. “Bullshit! Now, I know you’re a fucking con artist!” “Believe it, asshole,” Future Me said. “That woman fucking LOVES you, dude. You may not know it yet, but as far as women are concerned, you’re the luckiest man on Earth.”
“How do I know you’re-”
“Her name is Jovelyn Jade Ross,” he interrupted. “She was born October 14th. Two years, one week, and one day before you. She loves black and white patterns, miniature things, and cats. She’s a sucker for horror stories, a master with eye makeup, and, OH, we have a full-on family at this point. You know I’m not lying, because I know my wife, dude. Trust me. You’re going to have the privilege of getting her pregnant.”
“So, then, what’s the point of you coming here?”
“Life is going to be hard. Dating is going to be some rough waters for you to navigate. You’re not going to have the easiest time figuring out what women want in a partner. You’re going to be with women that you’ll think are The One, and others that you can’t wait to get rid of, but I’m here to tell you that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Jovelyn and your family is that pot of gold at the end of this rainbow.”
Future Me went on to explain how I should hold onto this thought, anytime I was heartbroken, or felt like I was helpless in the world of romance. He also explained what social media was, and how it’s going to be much easier to reach out to people you knew from school, eventually.
Future Me stepped back into the school’s bathroom, took a piss, didn’t wash his hands (I don’t blame him. That school soap smells awful.), and the Dr. Manhattan glow emitted from the doorway once again. He was gone.
Fast forward to 2012 and I found out Future Me was no con artist. Sure enough, social media put me back in contact with none other than… Jessica! Jovelyn’s sister. Jessica had actually invited me to hang out at her house, one night, after I found out that her husband was a guy I graduated with and worked with at Blockbuster.
I expected a night of cracking jokes, watching movies, and probably getting hammered (I was still drinking, at this point). I actually had no idea that Jessica had a roommate, and I had no idea that roommate would come home from work in the middle of us hanging out, and I especially had no idea that roommate was her sister Jovelyn Jade- the love of my life. We immediately connected, in a BIG way! We had the same twisted sense of humor, and we both embraced our weird sides as a positive, instead of dwelling on the shame that society likes to place on eccentric fuckers like us.
We got along famously! Thick as thieves! Peas in a pod! Cliches in a blog post! Not a problem in the world, except for that whole pesky her-having-a-boyfriend issue. No, we did not reconnect after all those years and fall magically, immediately, in love. I know it’s not romantic, and I know you’ve had a sci-fi story for part of this, but that’s just reality. I’m sure I loved her, but her heart belonged to someone else.
Or so I thought. Turns out, Jovelyn wasn’t in a very happy relationship. I wanted to be with her so badly. I knew that I could make her happy and I could see that, deep down, she knew it too.
There were moments where I thought things would go differently. Plenty of times that I thought Jovelyn had a change of heart and actually wanted to be with me, but nothing ever seemed to fall in my favor.
I moved on. I met someone else, we started a relationship, and even lived together for a short time. I even thought I loved this woman and would probably end up marrying her. Fate has a funny way of stepping in, though.
During the time of my pre-baby-making relationship, Jovelyn actually became single, and started to get pretty annoyed at the whole dating scene in general. She had given up on the idea of being with someone all together.
My relationship ended for reasons that are literally so stupid and childish, that I don’t even care to tell anyone why. Let’s just make an already long story just a bit shorter, and say goodbye and “Best of luck to ya”.
It didn’t take long for me to reach out to Jovelyn. She is the one person I’ve always been able to be myself with. The only person I could open up to, completely honestly, and share all my insecurities without the fear of judgment. Why wouldn’t I turn to her, to help me make sense of a shitty situation?
That’s when it happened. She agreed to come over and it was like that magical, immediate love, that everyone expected from earlier. We have spent all of our free time together, ever since and I’m still not sick of her. I don’t see myself ever being sick of her.
We live together now. We are expecting our first child together. We are engaged. We love each other and we’re very happy. I guess Future Me wasn’t a fucking con artist.
Now… Where is the hell is that time machine? I really have some shit I want to do, well before I go back in time and talk to that little teenage douchebag.
Future Me must have run out of things to see.
Johnny Craft is a comic book writer, who is constantly looking for new talented artists to bring his scripts to life. Johnny’s physical composition is made up of 20% ambition, 30% talent, 40% coffee, and 10% illicit drugs.
Do you have what it takes to tackle comics and animation?
Do you have the skills to handle digital and print thousands and thousands of times over? Can you love what you do, even when it means leaving work just long enough to shower? Did you love 90’s and 2000’s hero cartoons? Then you’ve got to listen to the all-around-awesomeness of the 20-year comic/animation veteran Roy Burdine.
Roy is different from a lot of guests we’ve had before. Many comic peeps I’ve interviewed previously fell into the passion as a teenager or even later. Not Roy. He knew he wanted to be a comic artist from the beginning and never looked back. For Roy Burdine, it’s always been about constantly moving forward and adapting while staying in love with your craft no matter where the industry takes you. Trust me, he would know. He had the courage to send in his own character creation as a child and get rejected by Stan Lee himself… sort of. Either way, rejection never kept him away from the desire to live his cartoon joy full-out. This drive eventually landed him a spot working on the beloved X-men animated series in the 90’s and the rest is history.
Roy Burdine has been through the ringer. Animation is all about deadlines and staying in the room until you get it right. Over the years, styles, settings and job titles may change but the passion never falls by the wayside. That’s the kind of steadfast love it takes to spend so much time on a project that night and day no longer exists. In this episode, we learn about the true meaning of dedication and the evolution of the artistic process. We learn what comic artists and writers can learn from animators and visa versa. Talking with Roy puts you right in the animation studio. You can feel all the hustle and excitement that comes with the job with every recorded word. His love of art is only surpassed by his admiration of story as we learn about his transitions throughout the industry. We talk about the importance of storyboarding. We talk about the value of going digital. We talk about the dangers of staying inside a box of “purity” versus the value of being multidimensional. We talk about “finding the frame” that matters the most in comics versus drawing thousands of frames for animation. Most importantly, we talk about what the internet has done for the lone creator. Indie is the new jump to lightspeed for a career at Sony, Image, or Dreamworks if you’ve got the care, wherewithal and artistic heart necessary for the journey ahead. Bottom line: Big two or no big 2- people care about indie and they are looking for you.
Don’t forget to check out the links below for information on Roy Burdine
On this weeks episode of “Adventures in Interviewing” Chris Hendricks interviews J. Adam Farster
“There’s probably gonna be a robot.”
Join Chris while he finds out makes the delightfully inspiring and motivating creator of the Humalien series, J. Adam Farster tick! Adam, Indie Comic creator, graphic designer, Kickstarter, and one of the founding members of the Indie Comic think tank and collaboration group, “The Lab”, shares his own personal origin story, how he creates his comics and drops some mad wisdom for new and wanna’ be creators along the way. So turn it up, put your brain on “soak in” mode and let’s meet J. Adam Farster!
“Don’t be afraid of failing, because the entire process is about failing.
Even when you’re succeeding, you’re probably failing somewhere”. – J Adam Farster
Hello readers! Today we have 2 badasses for the price of 1 Creator Spotlight!
We are delighted to have the opportunity to pick the brains of the creative team behind the jaw-dropping, action-packed, delightfully comedic and beautifully illustrated, RAGS: Prologue. If you haven’t read the first issue of this comic, stop right now, (well read this spotlight first) then, go get a copy, immediately.
“RAGS is a comic involving two military veterans and their quest for a sense of normalcy during a zombie plague that has wrecked the liberal state of California. But this isn’t a tale about Zombies. This is a tale about pants. A tale about PTSD. A tale about finding a purpose. About setting aside your own prejudice. About overcoming guilt and insanity. Things that most other authors are too afraid to tackle. Hold onto to your poopers and get your tactical onesies ready.”
So without further ado, may we present A Fireside Chat with Brian Ball and Trent Luther. Let’s do this! Oohrah!
To start, tell us a little bit about yourselves.
Brian: Well my is Brian Ball, I’m a 14year Active Duty Army Veteran, currently in the San Diego National Guard. I’m the writer of RAGS, and my partner in crime in this is Trent Luther. He and I came up with the basic premise. My friend Rudy help us polish it up with the Unicorn Onesie. I’m withholding the name of my artist for the time being as I’m unsure of how he wishes to be credited.
Trent: My names Trent, I’m from Fargo North Dakota. I work at an auto salvage yard. I don’t think I really known for much.
What kind of comics do you guys like to create?
Brian: I’m actually unsure of how to answer this one, as RAGS is the first Comic I’ve actually created, from concept to what it is now. I’m not quite sure what I’d call the genre. Maybe Black Humor is the most accurate as I subtly make take jabs at lots of things.
Trent: Zombie comics I guess. Though I used to draw some dope stick figure comics that had to do with the civil war and the supernatural (Ethan Allen was my main protagonist.).
What made you decide to start making comics and get into the business?
Brian: So what got me to create? I would have to say that I’ve always enjoyed writing. That’s been my passion since I was 8years old. The military came a very close second when I was 10. But what really pushed me is that Comics now, Marvel in particular, no longer speak to me as an Individual. I see a lot of push towards inclusivity and diversity but I’m not really seeing any characters with personality. I’m half-black, ¾’s Latino and there has yet to be a character that I could really get behind. So I figured, rather than complain about it, I’d just go out there and make my own.
Trent: Brian’s ambition. He’s been a rock that waves break themselves upon this whole time.
What do you see as the biggest obstacle to your success?
Brian: Right now, the biggest obstacle to success is marketing. Marketing, marketing, marketing. Some early feedback I’ve seen is that ‘Oh, it seems like another by the numbers zombie story.’ It’s not. In many ways, the zombies are a bonus.
Trent: Marketing. Marketing has been rough. Mainly lack time and funds to do so. I try to make an enticing post on Imgur and Reddit. But getting them rolling can be tough
Coffee or Tea?
Brian: Coffee. Definitely Coffee. There’s this saying amongst me and my battle buddies; “If it wasn’t for caffeine and hate I would have no reason to wake up in the morning.”. But honestly, I need about three cups of coffee just to get the old brain synapsis plodding along.
Trent: If you ain’t down with Alwazah tea you can get outta my life.
Who are your biggest inspirations in the comic realm?
Brian: My biggest inspirations are Adam Warren, the old crew from Antartic Press. Eric Johnson, if you’ve ever seen his work, he’s drawing the book for Vikings. Masamune Shiro, Kentaro Muira, Hajime Kanzaki, I read a lot of manga. Akira Toriyama for his pun-based naming structure. John Kantz and Christopher Reid for their EXCELLENT book: Legends from DarkWood. I was really sad they didn’t continue this, it was great series!
Trent: For me Todd McFarlane, Frank Miller and R.A Salvatore (I know he doesn’t do comics, fight me.) But I grew up with Spawn comics and toys and everything Drizzt.
Where the inspiration for RAGS come from? Tactical onesies? WHERE?! We love!
Brian: So the inspiration from RAGS initially grew out of a drunken night of Left4Dead2 with Trent. The initial plot we came up with was just some chick running from store to store trying to find a pair of pants while fighting off a zombie horde. And each time she found pants, she’d lose them somehow or some way and have to go find some new ones. It was funny in our heads, but after initially writing the whole thing, I knew I could tell a better story if I just changed some things, so that story evolved into what RAGS is now. The idea for the tactical onesie though, that grew out of me, being absolutely sick and tired of seeing the skin-tight spandex suits that you saw in all these female superheroes run around in. I’m sorry, but Black Widow, in that lycra she runs around in, would constantly be splitting her the backside of her pants. Also, I dislike the idea of a woman in 5-16”inch heels being able to beat up 210lb guys with just her fists. So while trying to come up with a suit that would be practical, my buddy Rudy simply suggested ‘Why not a unicorn onesie…like they have at Wal-mart.’ Then it just grew from there.
Trent: The inspiration for RAGS. That’s tough. Brian came to me one day with a small idea of a story and it just kinda evolved. Tactical onesies…It seemed like a joke at the end of our story. However, it just worked so well. Then when we got a few illustrations and it was so damn amazing seeing it on paper.
You clearly love zombies. What made you decide to throw your talents into the zombie storytelling world?
Brian: I’m a HUGE Resident Evil Fan. I have the S.T.A.R.S logo and two of Rebecca Chambers tattooed on my arms. Since the inspiration for the story came from Left4Dead2 it was only practical that the zombies followed. But there’s a slight twist to mine, that make them much different….much more lethal than what we’re used to seeing. Creating a new plague was tough because I’m just a soldier and not much of a scientist. But I have figured out something that is very realistic and COULD come about if the right minds got together and were able to put two and two together.
Trent: To me… a Left for Dead 2. We talked a lot about it while playing an impossible to beat player made campaign. Also, Zombies fit perfectly for Regina’s main struggle in the story.
Your choice of coloring for RAGS is very unique. Could you tell us how you guys decided on this approach?
Brian: The coloring for RAGS is done that way, because I wanted people to focus on what the was important to the character, Regina. Her freckles are important, and obviously her tattoo’s, (which is a story arc I hope to explore much later.) I wanted to add to the tension by tricking the reader into focusing on things that I wanted them to focus on. I hope that makes sense. Color is going to come into play much later, I hope the audience appreciates what I have in store.
Trent: Brian’s call on that. I yes-manned cause it was a wonderful choice.
What would you say is your ultimate goal in comics? Where do you both hope to be in 5 years creatively?
Brian: My ULTIMATE GOAL is for everyone to be Cosplaying Tactical Onesies at all the cons. If that happens, I’ve met my goal. In five years I hope to have the entire story of RAGS completed and on the shelves of bookstores. Maybe a movie deal, or a t.v. series if it gets popular enough.
Trent: Super cheesy Syfy Movie with a dank cult following.
How far are you wanting to take RAGS? What do you guys see as the “Big Picture?”
Brian: I’d really like to get RAGS into the hands of a publisher. I have a story that’s actually inclusive, diverse (being set in California gives me a wide array of characters to choose from and topics to tackle) and I KNOW with the right backing would be a huge hit. Also, having someone else handle the marketing (you’ll see me spam twitter almost daily) would be nice.
Trent: All the way. I’d like to see our idea flower into a whole series of comics.
What do you find to be the most difficult part of creating a comic?
Brian: The most difficult part I would say is getting feedback. Especially when something is good and you personally know it. Sometimes I’ll hand over a copy for a friend to read and I won’t hear back from them for months….and when I see them again I ask about it and they’ll say “Oh, it was good.” Yeah, but how good? What did you like best? What worked? What didn’t? Finding the right people help steer you in the right direction. That’s pretty tough. Thankfully I had a few people give me honest reviews and critiques, so moving forward I know exactly what how to handle things.
Trent: Picking a genre. There is a lot of criticism jumping into any kind of genre when there is so much of it all readily available. Really have to make an impression right off the bat.
Are you for sale? I say that as a joke, but not really. Would you sell RAGS to a large publisher? And on that note, would either of you consider working for the Big guys?
Brian: I would SELL RAGS ONLY to the publisher that would handle it properly. I’m tackling lots of issues in ways that I have seen or experienced that are relevant to me and so I’d like to find a publisher that would appreciate the nuances that are baked into the story. I would LOVE to work for Marvel and write Spider-Man. I kinda feel old Peter could use some fresh blood. But IDW is actually my second pick if I had a choice.
Trent: Hmm. Definitely to Image comics. Spawn and RAGS mashups all day baby. Honestly tho though that’s a tough question. IDK?
How has the response to RAGS been? And what do you think you’ve learned for your next issues?
Brian: So far (for everyone that’s taken a chance on it.) the response has been positive. Usually, my pitch is what gets people raising eyebrows. “Naked chick running around town trying to find pants during a zombie plague!” I get it, it sounds perverted. I would be a skeptic too. But usually, after I show off the script and artwork…people get it. I’m getting a lot of requests for physical copies, which I’m only sending off to those who’ve supported me on Patreon as a reward, and it sucks to say ‘I can’t right now.’ But it’s also great to know that there are people out there that want to see this on shelves!
Trent: The response has been great but I feel pretty localized. Hard to get my old, gearhead co-workers into comics. I get called a nerd a lot. Marketing. Definitely, marketing is a must. It’s hard let me tell ya.
Trent: The Patreon and Facebook. I try to post teaser albums on Imgur and Reddit under the username Niehlis. I’m normally fairly busy with the daily grind so Brian tends to knock out this stuff.
It’s been awesome getting to know you guys and learn more about the stories behind RAGS. Is there anything else we can tell the reader about you?
Brian: Anything else I wish to add? Oh yes! I’m not sure if anyone noticed, but there are a TON of Easter eggs hidden within the prologue. One might be a little obscure and I have no problem giving this one away but Regina, the main character, her face is modeled after Liz Finnegan. If you do not follow her on twitter…you’re failing at life. There are some other things that are hidden too! Most of the other tidbits we probably won’t see until we’re further along. But this comic…it’s my magnum opus and I hope those that are tired of the big two right now, give this a chance. Trust me, if you think this is JUST another Zombie story you’ve barely scratched the surface. Even though I play up tropes, like say Regina quickly getting surrounded by zombies. Well, there’s a legitimate reason for that, but again, only someone with a very discerning eye will catch on.
The other thing I’d like to say, really quick, is that I really have to give a shout out to my friend: Balam, who taught me how to write scripts. And Jim, my old Army buddy from my first unit. Joshua Foster has been helping me maintain the website/blog. Rudy Vallejo and Heaven Perez have been my local support as has Deanne Vicedo. Everyone that supports me on Patreon. Morgan Marino, Candy Dax, Grace Harney (for the edits she did for my revision.) and Elizabeth Stryker. And my biggest cheerleader Samantha Johnson. All the boys in the Quality Control Discord. Captain Frugal the youtuber for his honest review. And Zetha202, one of my favorite Deviant Art Artists who let me borrow a character of his (check him out here: https://zetha202.deviantart.com/). There are so many people to shout out too, but I know that alone is going to be about 4 pages long.
Well, that’s it for this Creator Spotlight! Thanks so much for joining us. If you’d like to learn more about Brian and Trent, connect with them, buy their products or support RAGS directly, you can find the links to all that and more below!
Episode #8 – up close and personal with Nick Gonzo
On this episode, Leigh Jeffery interviews Nick Gonzo, the dynamic and wildly talented creator behind 50 Signal, Funk Soul Samuari and most recently, Corsair! Also the co-founder of Madius Comics and one of the most silver tongued story tellers we’ve host on the ComixCentral podcast. Get ready for a fascinating, charming and sometimes bone chilling good time with Nick Gonzo.
Greetings everyone. Today I’m honored to connect with the very prolific, and very honest, J. M. Bryan.
While I would normally put together some color-coded, alliteration-obsessed introduction to focus your attention, this artist is far too personal for heavy-handed words. It doesn’t take much Internet stalking to become attached to J’s style. It’s near impossible to not get pulled underneath the “criminally” emotional riptide that is Closer, and his collection of shorts, Stuff, seems to be the perfect marriage between a childish heart and an old soul. Whether you’re healed by the young vulnerability of “Broken,” or choose to breakdown reality itself with the abstract storytelling in “Galaxia Apparatus” (soaked in just the right amount of fear mind you), the journey always seems to end in quiet reflection.
Without giving away too much, Ted is my new favorite member of the undead community. J’s humorous take on humility and relationships makes being undead seem very life-like. Lastly, his colorful take on a bad dream just might leave you looking forward to your next nightmare. Take a deep breath, my friends. Let’s find out what’s it’s like inside the open heart of an artist just crazy enough to be himself.
Chris: Good to have you with us, J. I understand you have a comic writer in the family. Did that inspire/influence your storytelling? How long have you been writing, and what was it like shifting from poetry to short stories to novels to comics?
J: I have a cousin, Rich Woodall, who has been writing and illustrating comics for as long as I can remember. I remember being a kid looking at his comic collections and at his books thinking, “I want to make something like this someday.” So I guess it inspired in that I knew that I could do it if I put my mind to it and actually did it. My adventure in writing comics has just begun, but I’ve been writing prose and poetry since I could write. I actually have an old notebook full of “ghost stories” I wrote in first grade. They are terrible, truly terrible, but I suppose the positive side is that I was putting something down on paper. When I finally started writing comic scripts, the first few drafts were incredibly rough, but thankfully there are a lot of resources on the internet that help you learn to write in any kind of medium. So the transition really wasn’t that bad.
Chris: Kickstarter is a typical avenue for many indie comic creators, BUT I understand you managed to get it 250% funded via mostly strangers without much connection in the community or strategy. How do you explain your success?
J: Dumb luck, mostly. I was fortunate to have a lot of people share the project and, if I can take any credit (which I don’t want to), I would say that my low goal amount and low pledge levels really helped me meet my goal. I think people are a lot more likely to help any kind of crowdfunding effort when they feel like they are going to get their money’s worth or more. I tried my best to offer a lot for a little. My goal with Closer was not to make money but to make something people would want to read, so I really just wanted to get it into people’s hands.
Chris:Closeris a wonderful story. I’m curious. It’s in Black and White, and yet, Nathaniel’s love Marie has scars. The simple choice seems to pull emphasis away from the injury, but Marie is very self-conscious about them. Is that symbolic of how we as humans tend to focus on “imperfections” more than we should, or is it simply coincidence? I have many scars myself and would love your take on things.
J: I’m going to try and keep this answer as short as I can, but I could spend all day talking about this aspect of Closer because, at the core, it’s what the comic is about. I’m a believer, mostly by experience, that everyone has something that they would give up everything for. It’s that old cliché that “everyone has a price.” When I was a teenager and the story for Closer began forming in my mind, that something was love. I would have done anything to find that one person I could be with forever. Now, as a married man with kids, I think that family is that thing I would give up everything for. I would do anything to make sure they are safe and taken care of. Now those are pretty standard answers, but I wanted to explore the darker side of all this in Marie’s self-consciousness about her scars. If someone were to come along and offer to take those away, to give her the relief from the stares and the whispers of people she walked by, what would she do to get it? If there truly is something that haunts us all, something that we suffer with every day, what would we give up to have that taken away and finally be at peace? That’s really where the focus on the scars comes from.
Chris: Did you always want Closer to be a 2-Issue story? Where does your love of the short story form come from? Do you prefer a quick knockout punch to longer bouts of exploration? I understand it was initially meant to be a novel.
J:Yeah, I originally planned it to be a novel, but I found that I needed some sort of visual to go with it in order to fully tell the story that I wanted to tell faithfully. That was really frustrating to me and bothered me for a long time until I decided to put it into comic form. I fully intended to release it as a one-shot comic, but after talking with some people about it, I decided to release it in two parts to really raise the tension and have that cliff hanger that I really wanted in there. While I love a good ongoing comic, I feel it’s easier for me at this point in my writing career to write shorter stories to ensure that I can really write a full beginning, middle, and end to a story. I suppose that means that right now I write shorter stories for convenience, but I don’t want to bring myself into a situation this early on where I wouldn’t be able to finish something that I started. I must also add that some of my favorite books growing up were the collections of short stories of any genre, especially scary stories. Those have always meant a lot to me because I spent so much time getting into them.
Chris: I love to read. I tend to dive into non-fiction, though I agree with you in terms of it being dry at times. Stephen King taught me to love the more imaginative form, but why do you feel reading fiction is important for people in general?
J: I think that any kind of reading is beneficial. For instance, I noted recently to someone that while I might not enjoy a book like Twilight (just an example, no one needs to jump on me), I know that I can learn something from the writing, whether it is what to do or what not to do, when writing a book. Reading fiction allows me to explore worlds I never imagined and can really open my mind to new possibilities with my own creations. Even if you aren’t looking that deeply into the work, there are many classic works of fiction that challenge us in many ways or just entertain us. Some fall into both those categories, being both entertaining and challenging, but either way I believe they can be beneficial to anyone. Siddhartha by Herman Hesse taught me to challenge my faith. Harry Potter was a ton of fun and taught me a lot about right and wrong. We can always learn, whether it’s a biography about a president or an outer space adventure.
Chris: My love of comics has been a tremendous learning experience. I’m still trying to understand the importance of lettering. Can you tell me where your passion for it comes from, and why it’s more important than new readers might realize?
J: Someone told me that good lettering is pretty much invisible, but bad lettering can be a flashing light on the page. I think this is incredibly true. If the lettering is bad it can make a page confusing, difficult to read, or ruin what could be a great comic by making it feel like a jumbled mess. Good lettering, on the other hand, makes a comic flow in such a way that you barely even know it’s there. I think the good lettering is the reason why lettering has gone unnoticed, which is a good thing. I have a bit of history with graphic design and typography, which led me to look into learning lettering as another form of comics to explore. I like to make things look clean, and taking a comic and trying to make it readable is exciting to me. I’m a bit of a design nerd.
Chris: I read that you believe the Internet tends to “frame” a creator’s vision. Can you tell me more about that, and why it might be something worth avoiding as a creator?
J: Absolutely. We live in this “social media era” where what’s trending seems to be monitored more than real world issues. In that world, our ideas and opinions literally change with the time of day because we are constantly looking around to see what’s popular and what people want. Unfortunately, this sometimes can cause people to limit their vision and their minds to just that scope of view. Sometimes in comic-making you have to make the stuff that no one wants to read just because you want to make it. We need to be alright with not being the popular comic. If we are constantly chasing trends, we betray the creative spirit within us all. I truly believe that. We need to make what we want to, not what the internet wants. On the positive side, though, if you hit the right side of one of those trends it can really boost careers and help spread your work. Retweets and shares can boost exposure exponentially. There are two sides to everything, I think.
Chris: You know more than anyone that the Internet also allows for collaboration. It’s one of my favorite things about creativity. Tell us about what that has been like for you, and how other people have helped bring your vision to life.
J:This has been the coolest thing for me. Because of the connectivity of social media and sites like Reddit, I’ve been able to work with people from all over the globe. Only in 2017 can a guy from the US work with a Serbian artists and a British letterist. Only in 2017 can I talk to people from 4 different time zones on 4 different continents. We may take this for granted a lot, but I had to take a step back in awe at the fact that this was the reason my comic could be made. While I have met and made friends with an artist from the area in which I live, when I started making comics my “creative circle” was more of a dot, me. Closer came to be because I put out ads on social media and met the right people.
Chris: Stuff was a really interesting collection of shorts. It’s very clear that you have a mind of exploration and vulnerability. I think everyone has their own answer to this, but why is it important to make storytelling so personal?
J: To be honest, I don’t think a comic is worth reading if it’s not personal in some way to the creator. The reason I think that is because I feel like we are more invested in the things we create if there’s a piece of us in it, not just something we did for kicks with no thought. What makes any comic unique is that it is written/illustrated/colored/lettered by different people with varying experiences and feelings. If they put those into their work, readers get a very personal, yet different story. It makes our books special. It makes them part of us and that’s something to cherish and be proud of.
Chris: It’s clear to me that faith and family are very important to you. Since you’ve had the courage to be so personal with your audience in your storytelling, may I be so bold as to ask about your own love story? How did you meet your other half, and how has family been an asset to your own creativity?
J: My wife really saved my life. I met her at a time in my life where I was pretty sure I was going to die alone and didn’t really know what my purpose was. We met when one of my exes told me about this site she met her husband on, Christian Mingle (yes, the one with the terrible commercials). I didn’t really know what to expect, but, to make a long story short, I ended up meeting my wife. It turned out that she went to highschool with one of my best friends and knew a lot of the same people that I did. I think that’s what made her decide to actually meet me. Since then, our life together has been a whirlwind. We dated for just over 2 years before we got married, and we now have two beautiful baby girls. They really are my whole world, and it absolutely frames my writing. As I watch my girls grow, I’m leaning toward more all-ages comics because I want to make things that they can enjoy. At the same time, though, I now understand the heroes in the books that sacrifice it all to save someone because that’s what I would do for them. They have made me a better writer, and I’m even more determined to succeed in what I do because I want them to be proud of me.
Chris: Thank you J. It’s been a joy to learn from you.
As much as I value words on a page as conduits for learning, my true love for individual creativity comes from those moments that transcend skill, methodology, or practice– something that can’t be read in a book or absorbed from a computer screen.
The truth is, we do not find creativity. Creativity finds us when we are ready. J. M. Bryan is more than ready. His love story alone is proof that honesty and art can come together to form an endearing and trustworthy spirit I can only describe as family. His pages feel like one-on-one conversations. His body of work feels like bandages anyone would love to wear. He’s the new medicine man of the indie comic world with plenty of scar tissue to go around. Don’t worry. There’s nothing to hide. With someone like J. M. Bryant around, you might just give those battle lines you’ve drawn over the years a much closer look.
To learn more about what J.M is up to, buy his work or just connect, check out the links below: