Interview

Being a Comics Ambassador with Chris Arrant - CAL #042

Chris Arrant is a writer, editor, and self-described Comics Ambassador. He’s the Editor of Newsarama, where he started in 2003, and was a judge for the 2019 Eisner Awards, awarded at San Diego Comic Con. In this episode he joins me to discuss:

  • The process of judging comics across the Eisner's 31 categories

  • What makes an award-worthy book

  • The state of comic book journalism

  • How creators can better get coverage from comic news sites

  • What it means to be an ambassador for comics

  • The American Library's Association Graphic Novel & Comics Roundtable

  • & more...



QUESTION: Are you going to San Diego? I'll be there wandering around. Hope to see you there!

The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum with Caitlin McGurk - CAL #041

Caitlin McGurk is the Associate Curator for Outreach at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum and an assistant professor at Ohio State University - the university that the library is a part of. As part of her role, she takes part in many of the library & museum's different functions, including developing the library's collection, organizing exhibits, and leading research using the library's extensive collection of American comic art (the most extensive collection I'm aware of). In this episode she joins me to discuss:

  • Her career up to this point

  • The mission of the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum

  • The importance of comics as a medium

  • The evolution of formats in the American comic industry

  • How the museum develops its exhibits

  • The integration of comics' as learning materials in curriculums across different fields

  • Her experiences working with artists at the end of their lives to discuss the future of their work beyond the extent of their own lives.



QUESTION: Have you been to any exhibits of comic arts? Which ones & what did you think?

Passion, Profit, and Practicality with Jim Zub - CAL #040

Jim Zub - Passion, Profit, and Practicality

Jim Zub (@jimzub) is a comic book creator who’s had not just one, but two 30+ issue creator-owned comic series (Skullkickers and Wayward). Ever since his first comic in 2001 he’s built a career for himself utilizing his experience as an artist and the security of a day job to build a creator-owned career on his own terms. In this episode he joins me to discuss:

  • The long path to his career in comics

  • How his love of Dungeons & Dragons has shaped his career as an artist & writer

  • His experiences working on licensed properties (in particular on the D&D comics)

  • His mentality behind why he continued to invest into Skullkickers even after it stopped being profitable and how it paid dividends

  • How he would go about building his career today if he had to start over

  • Why he's glad he's kept his dayjob & how he's utilized it to help progress his career in comics

QUESTION: Do you have a dayjob? How do you fund your comics?


Making Art and Commerce as a Comic Book Creator with Jim Rugg - CAL #039

Jim Rugg - Making Art and Commerce as a Comic Book Creator

Jim Rugg (@jimruggart) is an independent creator who’s never been afraid to pursue projects he’s scared about. As a result he’s assembled an interesting catalogue of work including comics like Street Angel and Afrodisiac, as well as other comic-related projects over his long career in comics. In this episode he joins me to discuss:

  • How he got his start in comics

  • The evolution of his comic "Street Angel" since he first published it in 2003

  • Straddling the line between independent and mainstream work

  • How he makes a living from his patreon, comic sales, digital store, and other sources

  • His other comic-related projects (like his podcast & YouTube channel)

QUESTION: Who is your favorite new comic book artist?


Diving Deep Into Comic Book Retail with Steve Anderson of Third Eye Comics - CAL #037

Steve Anderson (Third Eye Comics) - Diving Deep Into Comic Book Retail

Steve Anderson of Third Eye Comics (@thirdeyecomics) founded the comic book shop back in 2008. Since then, the store has grown rapidly - moving four times in the last nine years and expanding across multiple locations. In a time when retail and comic shops have struggled, Steve and Third Eye have thrived. In this episode he joins me to discuss.

  • His journey in retail all the way to starting his shop

  • How comic book retail works

  • The challenges facing comic book retail today

  • The best way for comic book creators & salespeople to pitch their books & work with them

  • How publishers can help or hurt comic book stores

  • What is (and what isn't) bringing new readers to comics

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QUESTION: How often do you visit your local comic shop?


Licensing, Editing, and the State of the Comics Market with Sarah Gaydos - CAL #036

Sarah Gaydos - Licensing, Editing, and the State of the Comics Market

Sarah Gaydos (@SarahGaydos) is the Editor-in-Chief of Oni Press, with a long career behind her in the comic industry, including work at IDW and at DC Entertainment (and Wildstorm within it!). Through that she has incredible experience with corporate-owned characters and licensed publishing. In this episode she joins me to discuss:

  • The work of an Editor-in-Chief

  • Her journey to that position

  • The propagation of publishing imprints among publishing companies

  • Staying competitive with larger publishers coming to comics from the Book Trade

  • Her experience working on licensed properties and hiring creators for them

  • Her hopes for the future of comics

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QUESTION: Do you read licensed comics? If so, which ones?


Indie Comics Distribution with Anne Bean of Emerald Comics Distro - CAL #035

Anne Bean (Emerald Comics Distro) - Indie Comic Distribution

Anne Bean (@AnneBeanTweets) founded Emerald Comics Distro in 2016 to help independent creators and small press publishers with their distribution efforts. Since then she’s built a distribution network across the Pacific Network. In this episode she joins me to discuss:

show to share what she’s learned about comic distribution and give advice to independent creators looking to self-distribute their work.

  • What she's learned about comic distribution

  • Advice on creators interested in self-distribution

  • The state of comic distribution in the comic industry

  • The work of building an independent distributor

  • The place of alternative / indie comics in the comic book market

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QUESTION: Do you buy zines?


Sharing the Medium of Comics with Andrew Woodrow-Butcher - CAL #033

Andrew Woodrow-Butcher - Sharing the Medium of Comics

Andre Woodrow-Butcher (@Dixitque) is a bookseller & industry professional who not works at The Beguiling, a fantastic Toronto area comic book store, as their Director of Library Services, but also at TCAF (The Toronto Comic Arts Festival), as the programming coordinator for their Librarian & Educator programming track, Kid's programing, and the TCAF Abroad program (more on that in the show). In this episode he joins me to discuss:

  • How comic festivals & conventions compare to each other

  • How he thinks about professional programming in conventions

  • The importance of librarians & educators with regards to the comic industry & how they work with comic professionals

  • How he helps libraries of all types build compelling comic collections

  • His perspective on book buying, informed by years of experience

  • The recognition of sequential art as a medium of literary merit

  • & more...

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QUESTION: What kind of professional panel would you love to see at a convention or festival?


The Modern Independent Creator with Jason Brubaker - CAL #032

Jason Brubaker - The Modern Independent Comic Book Creator

Jason Brubaker (@Jason_Brubaker) is an independent comic book creator ("reMIND" + "Sithrah") who built a living for himself creating his own independent comics, making them available to read online for free, and using crowdfunding to support his income. In this episode he joins me to discuss:

  • The lessons he’s learned after nearly a decade of independent publishing.

  • His work in the animation industry & deciding to leave his full-time job

  • Making ends meet by tying together different income sources

  • Lessons he's learned about self-promotion

  • How he's made use of crowdfunding platforms (both Kickstarter & Patreon)

  • How he's thinking about his career moving forward

  • & more...

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QUESTION: How many income sources do you have supporting your creative work?


Launching a New Image Series with Brian Schirmer - CAL #031

Brian Schirmer - Launching a New Image Series

Brian Schirmer (@BrianSchirmeris a comic book creator still early on in his career. But he's already achieved what many creators dream of - having a book published at Image Comics. In this episode he joins me to discus: 

  • His career so far

  • His new series, Fairlady, and how it came to be

  • The work of launching a series in the Direct Market today

  • Lessons he's learned about self-promotion

  • & more...

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QUESTION: If you could work with any single publisher? Which publisher would you choose?


How Artistic Careers & Communities Thrive​ with Ramon Perez - CAL #030

Ramon Perez - How Artistic Careers & Communities Thrive

Ramon Perez (@theramonperezis a talented, Eisner-award winning comic book creator and artist who was worked on projects including "Tale of Sand," "Jane Eyre," "NOVA," "All-New Hawkeye," and more. In this episode he joins me to discuss:

  • The RAID artist studio he runs in Toronto

  • What it takes to build an artist studio

  • His experiences in comic book publishing, from Big Two to webcomics

  • How he's thinking about his career today

  • What he wishes all comic book artists knew about the industry

  • & more...

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QUESTION: Are you part of a creative studio or local artistic community?


Building Authentic Stories and Careers with Kwanza Osajyefo - CAL #028

Kwanza Osajyefo - Building Authentic Stories

Kwanza Osajyefo (@Kwanzer) is a talented creator who turned phenomenal Kickstarter success into an entire series of creative, original, and politically prescient stories. In this episode he joins me to discuss:

  • How Dwayne McDuffie helped him launch his career in comics

  • The experiences he's had working at Marvel & DC

  • How he's turned BLACK from successful indie comic to trilogy & media property

  • Diversity in comics & how diversity can be done right

  • His role as an Architect of Humanoid's new shared universe of comics "H1"

  • What being an "Architect" of a larger shared universe entails

  • & more...

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QUESTION:What was the last comic you supported on Kickstarter?


Starting from Scratch with Brad Guigar and Dave Kellett of ComicLab - CAL #027

Brad Guigar and Dave Kellett - Starting from Scratch

Brad Guigar (@Guigar) and Dave Kellett (@DaveKellettare both independently successful cartoonists and webcomic creators. Together, they also run the wonderful podcast ComicLab, all about "making comics and making a living from comics." In this shorter episode of the Creator At Large podcast I wanted to bring them on to discuss the following question:

"If you had to start over today, how would you go about building your career?"

Their answers are informed by their own experiences creating webcomics, but don't stay limited to just that. Along the way we discuss:

  • How webcomics have changed

  • Utilizing Patreon & Kickstarter

  • How to use social media effectively

  • Taking advantage of digital formats for comics

  • Patience & prioritization with your own career

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QUESTION: How many webcomics would you say you regularly follow on a monthly basis?


Surviving Indie Comics with Lucy Bellwood - CAL #026

Lucy Bellwood - Surviving Indie Comics

Lucy Bellwood (@LuBellWoo) is an independent artist and self-described “adventure cartoonist.” She’s done a great job of building a career for herself through the clever utilization of social media and crowdfunding platforms. In this episode she joins me to discuss:

  • The path she's taken in building her own career

  • The importance of learning from & giving back to a community

  • Burnout & other harsh realities of creating comics

  • The real work of making an independent living

  • & more!

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QUESTION: Do you have a local community of comic creators around you? Where/How do you spend time with them?


Creating Comics & Building IP with Andy Schmidt - CAL #024

Andy Schmidt - Creating Comics & Building IP

Andy Schmidt (@ComicExperience) has had a long career as an editor. He's worked at both Marvel and IDW on major properties there. Since then he's built a career for himself as an independent creator and consultant in the entertainment industry, all while running Comics Experience, an online school for comic book creators that provides the support & instruction necessary for aspiring professionals in the comic book industry. In this episode we discuss:

  • Considerations to keep in mind when trying to create a comic with ambitions for other mediums

  • The founding & evolution of ComicsExperience

  • The importance of understanding your personal goals

  • How creator ambitions have evolved over the last few years

  • What he wishes all comic book professionals new

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QUESTION: How are you continuing to improve your craft?


Hard Work and Passion with Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou - CAL #020

Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou - Hard Work and Passion

Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou (@HassanOE) is prolific. The projects he’s created, including the video series Strip Panel Naked and the comics magazine Panel x Panel, are some of the highest quality comics media being made today. In addition to all that, he podcasts, letters comics, writes and edits. In this episode, he joins me to talk about where his passion grew from and break down how he’s developed all his projects to where the are today.

  • The craft of making comics (a rare type of conversation on this podcast!)

  • What led to the creation of Strip Panel Naked

  • Panel x Panel and what the future holds for this great comics magazine!

  • Realities of making a living from your passion

  • What we’re excited about seeing in the comic industry in 2019

I'm a big fan of what Hassan busies himself with & I hope that you'll check out his various projects if you're not familiar with them already!

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QUESTION: Where do you get your comic book industry news?


Building a Business and Audience with Jake Parker - CAL #019

Jake Parker - Building a Business and Audience

Jake Parker (@mrjakeparker) is an independent comic book artist and a veritable comic industry entrepreneur. He has been extremely smart and proactive about building a large following for himself, making it possible for him to create his own comics independently through crowdfunding and pre-orders. He's also started initiatives like Inktober, which he's turned into popular movements throughout the entire comic industry. In this episode he joins me to discuss his projects and how he's built his audience.

  • How he balances business and art

  • The rise of Inktober

  • The development of his latest project: Art Drop Club

  • The value of having an agent

  • How he would go about building a career as an artist if he had to start over today

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QUESTION: As of this date, I'm off to France for Angouleme. Do you read any Franco-Belgian comics? What are your favorites?


Turning Failure Into Success with Roye Okupe - CAL #018

Roye Okupe - Turning Failure into Succes

Roye Okupe (@YouNeekStudios) is a Nigerian comic book creator & entrepreneur who's done an incredible job overcoming the obstacles in his way towards telling his stories and sharing them with an audience. Through those experiences he's learned about hard work, perseverance, and the effort it takes to build an entertainment company production both comics and animation.

  • How to turn failures into successes (absolutely vital!)

  • How Kickstarter has made his ambitions possible

  • Why he's self-publishing

  • Strategies for getting publicity

  • The comic book market in Nigeria

  • How to become more skilled with business & marketing

I think you'll find his enthusiasm as contagious as I did!

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QUESTION: What international comics market are you curious about or reading books from?


Career-Building and Self-Awareness with Karl Kerschl - CAL #016

Karl Kerschl - Career-Building and Self-Awareness

Karl Kerschl (@KarlKerschl) is a Canadian comic book artist/creator that I've been a fan of for a long time. He's not only created (or co-created) his own independent webcomic - the fantastic "The Abominable Charles Christopher" - a very cool DC Comics title - Gotham Academy - and most recently ISOLA, at Image comics. But on this episode, we don't chat about the way he approaches his work creatively, instead we have a great conversation in which Karl reflects on his career and we discuss:

  • How Japanese Manga has influenced his work

  • His thoughts on self-publishing vs. working with publishers

  • His experience working in webcomics

  • The ways he's seen his audiences carry over between his different projects

  • How publishing has changed over the course of his career

  • The work of building an audience as a career

...And he even turns one of my questions on changing the industry back on me near the end... 

I'm sure you'll enjoy this one! If you're not familiar with Karl's work yet, I highly recommend you check it out!

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QUESTION: What's your favorite webcomic you're reading right now?


Indie Publishing Master-Class with Spike Trotman - CAL #015

Spike Trotman - Indie Publishing Master-Class

Spike Trotman (@Iron_Spike) is a cartoonist and the founder/publisher of Iron Circus Comics - Chicago's largest alternative comics publisher. She's an indie powerhouse who transitioned from self-publishing her own work, to publishing amazing comics by other creators, raising more than a million dollars on Kickstarter in the process. I could talk about how impressed I've been with what Spike has accomplished for a very long time, but I'd rather let you listen for yourselves.

In this episode, she joins me in an extra-long episode of the show to talk about:

  • Iron Circus' evolution over the years and where it is today

  • Her plans for Iron Circus' future

  • How webcomic business models have changed

  • The evolution of the comics industry through the rise of digital and crowdfunding platforms

  • What she would do if she was starting over today

  • Her top self-publishing / indie publishing tips

  • & the Creators for Creators grant (which just might be right for you)

It's a packed episode that I'm sure you'll get a lot out of!

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QUESTION: If you could emulate the career of any one creator, who would you choose?