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A Written View – Submitting a Story

By Doug OwenDougHeader-web

Okay, so you have written a story and want to submit it to a magazine or publisher. Before you scour your records for the email address and send in the work, take a deep breath and read this.

Besides the obvious, there are some things to look for. Let’s start with the first few things and move forward.

File Type

How do they want that story submitted? You need to know this right away. Do they want the story in a .DOC or .DOCX? Maybe they say .RTF. You have to verify which one, because if you submit an .RTF and they want it in .DOC, the story will go right to the recycle bin. Why? Because you didn’t follow the instructions. Believe it or not, they can be that petty. But from their standpoint, if you don’t follow one simple request, what else will be wrong? Why should they continue? So look for that required format.

Submit With

So, they say to attach the story and a letter that includes a synopsis of the work and a short bio. You put it all in one. So why did you not hear from them? Your story was amazing. But you forgot to follow the instructions. They only saw one attachment and off to the recycling bin it went. Remember, they asked for two attachments: the story and a letter of introduction. You didn’t submit two, so they deleted your submission.

The Introduction

Bio

This is a test. It is the first thing they open in order to see if they should delete your story. Is there a bio that makes sense or did the writer make a funny story? If it’s a funny story with, say, a disclaimer stating that some of the bio may be fictitious, then into the recycling bin it goes. Make sure when you submit a bio that it is real and not a “smartass” response. Your ego may land you in the recycling bin.

Synopsis

See what they want. One paragraph? Then make sure you only submit one paragraph. Any more than that and they story is in the bin. Make sure it is a synopsis, for if it is not, into the bin it goes. Make sure you deliver what they want.

Brag

Yes, here you make sure everything is real. This is where you brag about publications and awards you have won. No publications? Don’t list any. No awards? Leave it blank. Are you really a writer? Make sure you write. Find a magazine that is looking for writers, even if it is free. Having that on your brag will make you look better than the one with nothing. Even a short list is better than nothing.

Okay, so everything is done correctly now, but the story needs to be adjusted. Why? Because you want to follow the submission instructions. Even if they say the font does not matter, you still want to revisit it. Your favourite font makes you happy, but not everyone likes Goudy Stout. So stick with the standards: New Roman, Cambria, or Garamond. Want some advice? If the editor is older, use Garamond; it is the old standard that we old guys love.

Oh, don’t forget to stay within their word count.

But did you make one of the big mistakes? If you’re not sure, here are the ones to look out for.

  • The Far Hook

You sink the hook in the first paragraph, so why does it take you until the hundredth page to show a dead body? It is now far too late. Time to cut out a lot of words to get to the point.

  • Tags Ahoy and No Substance

Is every line of dialogue tagged in your work? “He said… She said… John said… Bill said…” Oh, please, break it up and do something else. Have someone move or pick their nose. Give me something other than a tag. And make sure you describe things correctly. “He looked about the living room, powder blue and green, landscapes framed in oak, a porch through double doors…” Ready to eat a bullet for just a little excitement?

  • Name Dropper

Don’t have a lot of names in your story, especially not in one scene. If you do, don’t have them talking at the same time, for it will confuse the reader. Three, maybe four talkers at the same time, maximum.

Remember the golden rules: Introduce no more than three named characters per scene. If a character is not important, don’t name them. Period. Give each character a name that starts with a different letter.

  • Verbal Pyrotechnics

 Please don’t do this in your narrative. Martin Amis from the UK does it and for some reason he has a following. Tell me what you think?

“But I go to Hollywood but I go to hospital, but you are first but you are last, but he is tall but she is small, but you stay up but you go down, but we are rich but we are poor, but they find peace but they …” (The start of Yellow Dog)

I don’t know about you, but I would not read on. The book would land back on the shelf.

  • Protagonist Hate

If your protagonist is not lovable, then why would anyone care for them? And why would anyone read a story about someone they cannot connect with? Make your protagonist lovable in some way.

  • Dangling Modifier

Starting a sentence with a word ending in “ing” is frowned upon. Why? Because it is, potentially, a fragmented sentence. Don’t do it.

If you are going to take away anything from this article, it is to read what is needed when submitting, and always polish your work before you do.

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From Daniel’s Mind to Caleb’s Journey

By Nichi Scribbles

This month, Indyfest Magazine sits down with Daniel Pagac to talk about his newly-released novel Caleb’s Journey. Daniel is a first-time novelist from Waterford, Michigan, who found his inspiration in mythology and fantasy. With a little hard work, Daniel has finaly completed his life’s dream of writing his first novel. We discuss his personal journey as he forges into the the self-publishing world, with his creation: Caleb’s journey.Daniel

IM: How did you get into writing?

DP: I’ve been writing stories since I was a child. Back then, they were short stories. As a teen, I started writing my own comic books from a pantheon of superheroes that I had created. Writing has always been a passion of mine.

IM: Can you tell us what your motivations and inspirations were for writing this novel? What triggered Caleb’s Journey?

DP: I loved playing Dungeons and Dragons as a young adult, teen, and young man.  That and my love of mythology inspired me. For years, I had this idea for a story rolling around in my head and I would scribble on notepads, journals, etc., free writing. It was my goal to finish writing one novel in my lifetime, that I felt like I owed God, and to do it by the time I turned forty. Many were the Saturday nights that I sat at my dining table, listening to classical music, a glass of wine or cigar in one hand, a pen in the other, working on my novel.

IM: Where does this story take place? What is the general setting?

Caleb's journey-webDP: Caleb’s Journey takes place on the living planet, Mithkre.  It is the child of the unholy union between a goddess and a demon.  For time periods that we know, it’s medieval in terms of technology, structure, and the like.

IM: Can you tell us a little bit about the characters and their role in the story?

DP: Caleb represents the young everyman who wishes to fix his past. A twin sword-wielding squire turned barbarian, he has his chivalrous principles mixed with what he learned in his time among the barbarian tribes.

Malachael, the wizard turned monk who refuses to use his dark powers, speaks to those of us who have done less than scrupulous things in life to get ahead and now regret them.

Candellah, a priestess in the service of Uua, the primary deity of the planet, is a wide-eyed, kind hearted female. She represents acceptance, love, and kindness. She has a great deal of empathy for others.

Nostarius, one of the primary villains, a vampire, is the dark side of our psyche.  He relishes his immortality and will take a life for the thrill of it. He is arrogant, cruel, clever, witty, and has no conscience.

IM: What is the overall plot of Caleb’s Journey?

DP: The story follows Caleb Hart and his attempt to restore his family honor and lands. He interfered in a duel between a knight and a barbarian. He was left to live among the barbarians and his family was punished  by the king. Meanwhile,  Xerax, the Lord of the Undead has obtained an artifact called Uua’s Tear. He is using it to try and bring about the ruin of mankind. Caleb and a band of adventurers are charged with the task of stopping him.

IM: What have you taken away personally from writing this?

CJ Cover-webDP: That writing is only the beginning of the process. I had no idea how difficult it would be to get an agent, so I self-published. That meant that I had first publishing rights.  I had an agent who wanted to see the manuscript until I told her about what I had done. I also commissioned an original cover, which was beautiful,  but expensive. The creative process is something that I loved, but I profess ignorance to the business side. I’m thankful that publications like this one exist to give us little authors a voice.

IM: If you could give one piece of advice to budding writers everywhere, what would it be?

DP: Be very mindful of the editing process. As an independent author, finding a good editor is truly important. I put my English degree to use, but still had the input of an editor. I sometimes do review swaps with other authors and find so many grammatical errors in the first few pages that it makes me not want to continue reading. Nobody is perfect. I’ve seen works by major authors with grammar and spelling mistakes. If grammar isn’t your forte, find someone who lives and breathes it.

IM: What’s in the future? Do you have any other projects on the horizon?

DP: I’m working on a sequel to the novel Caleb Returns. I’ve completed a general outline and have started the creative  process of writing, reading other fantasy novels, and daydreaming about how to not retread the first book.

IM: What’s next for Caleb’s Journey?

DP: Caleb’s Journey now takes him down the self-published road, searching for an agent or a publisher.

IM: Where can readers learn more about you, as well as find out more about your book?

DP: My book is for sale on Amazon.com. I’ve got an author page there as well. I have a Twitter account, @danielpagac. People can find me on Facebook as Daniel Pagac Author.

IM: Is there anything you would like to talk about that we have not yet discussed?

DP: Yes. For all aspiring writers, be prepared for lots of rejection from potential agents and publishers. It’s rare that they take on a new author. Write as much as you can. Research what you are writing, and never stop trying.

Amazon Profile: http://www.amazon.com/Daniel-Pagac/e/B00Q0GGM0A/

Get it Online: http://www.amazon.com/Calebs-Journey-Daniel-Pagac-ebook/dp/B00PD5D7RU/

More from our Interviewer: Nichi Scribbles

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Polar Bear Zombie

By Steven Pennella

Jason Mansfield is the creator and writer of Polar Bear Zombie and owner of Polar Bear Comics. Jason has written comic books and dabbled in comic book art for years and has now decided that it is time to get them out to the public. WIN_20140812_085504-web

IM: Can you tell about your love of Polar Bears and Zombies, which came first?

JM: First off, let me tell you that this is my first official interview with a comic book magazine. So, thank you for taking the time to interview me.

Now let’s start with my love of zombies. I grew up on horror movies from the 80s and zombies were always one of my favorite types of horror characters. I remember seeing Dawn of The Dead for the first time on VHS when I was six. I’ve been hooked ever since.    

DOD polarbear print-webNow as far as polar bears go… you can thank my wife for that. That is her nickname for me. That is where the name Polar Bear Comics came from. Once I started watching documentaries about them, I realized what magnificent creatures they really are. I decided one day to combine a polar bear and a zombie and the rest is history.

IM: Tell us how your love of comic books got started. What titles did you follow? Who were/are some of your favorite characters, writers, and artists?

JM: I grew up on 80s Marvel comic books. I was really into Byrne’s X-Men stuff, as well as Amazing Spider-Man. I just gravitated toward Marvel at that time. I didn’t really follow writers and artists. I was more interested in the characters. Comics were an escape from some of the things going on in my life at the time.

It was a fun time in my life growing up. There were about six of us in my neighborhood who would always collect and trade comic books. Anytime I had a few dollars, I would go to the nearby 7-11 and buy a few comic books. I actually remember buying an Amazing Spider-Man #300 from a 7-11. I remember trading it for some Doctor Strange and Alpha Flight books. The other guy made out on that trade.

pbz page 3-webIM: How did you learn to write and draw comics? Did you have any formal training, or was it the school of hard knocks?

JM: I am self-taught in both areas and feel that I am still learning every time I put pen or pencil to a piece of paper.

When I was about 11, I started creating characters and writing background stories for each one. It was like an Official Handbook of The Marvel Universe-type layout. Of course, a lot of my characters seemed similar to already existing characters. I still have the binder with all of them in there. I can always reference them when I need a character to plug into a book.

I went through a period where I gave up drawing and am now just getting back into it. I have been writing off and on for years and just recently started putting full stories together. My wife finally talked me into really putting some more time into writing and that’s when the idea of Polar Bear Comics began to take shape. I have so many ideas floating around that it’s hard to get it all down on paper.

IM: You work with freelancers to complete your creator-owned characters. Are freelancers strictly work-for-hire or would they receive something on the back end if one of your books ended up being optioned for film, television, or other media outlets?

pbz page 4-webJM: When it comes to working with a freelance artist, myself and the artist come up with the terms of the book, such as pricing and time frame for the book. I usually type up a short contract that we both feel comfortable with. I don’t include back-end deals in the contract. But if a project were to blow up or get , I would definitely take care of them. Although the freelance artists I work with don’t own the rights to the characters I create, they are still a part of the project and have devoted their time to make my vision for a book take shape. It is a great bonding experience when you work with someone to create concepts and characters from scratch. I’ve been pretty lucky with the freelance artists I have worked with. I met Frank, of course, as well as Ken Leinaar, who is working on A Superhero’s Life; I choose to work with freelance artists because I feel that most of them are just your normal everyday people who have a love for creating comics. All of the freelance artists I have worked with have day jobs and do freelance work on the side. That is why I relate to them. I am writing during my free time, in between working a 9 to 5 and raising a family. Most of us do it for the love of comics. If it was for the money, most of us wouldn’t be doing it.

IM: How did you meet Frank Castro, the artist of Polar Bear Zombie?pbz page 5-web

JM: I actually met Frank through freelanced.com about a year and a half ago. He responded to a posting I had for “The Dead Among Us,” in which I was looking for an artist. Unfortunately, he responded after I had already picked an artist to do the book. I really liked his work, and told him that I had some other ideas and projects I wanted to do in the future, and that I would let him know when I was ready to start those projects. After “The Dead Among Us” fell apart, I contacted him to do “Polar Bear Zombie.” Frank has been my go-to guy ever since. He is currently finishing The Dead Among Us #1. He just contacted me the other day and told me that after this issue, he would be giving up his freelance work for a while to pursue other career opportunities, so future issues are up in the air right now.

IM: What are the qualities you look for in a freelance artist or collaborator?

JM: It all depends what kind of book I am doing. I always have a picture in my head of what I want the feel of the book to be. Picking an artist is the hardest thing, because there are so many talented artists out there and I am trying to work with as many as possible. When I am looking for an artist even if I don’t think will work for the current project I am doing, I start looking ahead at some other projects and keep them in mind when I start. I also want to see how hungry they are. Everyone will tell you how interesting your story is and how they would love to work on it. I always like to see how fast they work as well. I don’t want to wait a year to get a book done. Communication is key. If we are communicating through email and it takes you more than two days to get back to me, it’s probably not going to work out.

pbz page 8-webIM: What do you do to promote your comics? Are you active on the comic convention scene?

JM: I promote a lot through social media, as does everyone else. I have been trying to make my convention debut and have had to cancel two shows in last six months due to my non-comic book career and not having the time to get done what I needed to. I think conventions are a great way to promote and get to talk with the comic book reading public. Hopefully, I will be making my convention debut shortly. For now, I am relying on social media, as well as independent magazines like Indyfest Magazine to do interviews or book reviews. Promoting a comic book and trying to get it into comic book shops without a proven track record is very hard work.

IM: Kickstarter and other crowdfunding platforms have opened a lot of doors for the independent comic book creator. Polar Bear Zombie was financed by Kickstarter. You’ve run other campaigns that fell short of the funding goal. Can you tell us a little about those projects?

JM: These days, the cost to self-publish books is pretty huge. You either try and save and pay out-of-pocket, or crowdfund your project. Polar Bear Zombie would not have happened so quickly if it wasn’t for our Kickstarter campaign. I paid a lot of money up front to get promo work done for the campaign. I would have eventually finished the project, but it would have taken twice as long. Of course, when you run a campaign, your friends and family usually kick in a majority of the pledges—or at least, that was the case with Polar Bear Zombie. Now for the two other projects that failed… the first project was The Dead Among Us. I think the campaign failed because I went too big with the book and ideas. I was doing variants and original artwork and the amount I needed was pretty huge. I reached a little over half the amount I needed. I am self-funding these two books now. A Superhero’s Life, I am a little more stumped on. I think that maybe people just saw another superhero book without really looking more into it. Also, the amount of people running campaigns has grown as well. Sites like Kickstarter are great for independent creators who wouldn’t be able to make comic books otherwise. As someone that supports crowdfunding campaigns, it can be hard to decide what book you want to back. I am now self-funding my next two projects, thanks to 401 k from my previous employer. I will be self-funding all future projects on my own, as long as I am able to sustain enough money to continue.

IM: Was it the fans’ lack of awareness of the campaigns, getting lost in the crowd?

pbz page 9-webJM: Both. Some of it was my lack of time to really promote the campaigns the way I should have. Running a crowdfunding campaign is tougher than most people think. It is almost a full time job on its own. The only advice I would give to someone getting ready to start a campaign is to know what you are getting into and make sure you have the time to put into promoting the campaign.

IM: If you could redo one of the unsuccessful Kickstarter campaigns, what would you do differently?

JM: I would try to put more time into it and possibly explain the plot of the comic book project in a little more detail and try to provide more artwork to showcase the project. I would also wait a few months in-between campaigns. I got a little too confident with Polar Bear Zombie reaching its goal and I jumped right into my next campaign. That might have turned some people off. They were probably thinking, “This guy again? We just gave him money.”

IM: On a more positive note, Polar Bear Zombie was a success. Can you tell us about the campaign and what that was involved?

JM: A lot of work went into that one. I can’t really say exactly why this campaign was successful while the other two weren’t. My family and friends were a big part at helping it reach its goal. I think people just wanted to see what a polar bear zombie was all about. I had Frank do some promo pieces, along with a few kick-ass prints that he did. I think people just gravitated toward the whole concept. It was a great experience, especially once the goal was met. And then, the real work began.

IM: What about after the campaign? Were there any issues with delivering the product to your backers?

JM: We were actually able to get everything out a few weeks before our original shipping schedule. Thanks to Frank working so fast to get the book done and the printers getting everything done in a timely matter. It was a lot of work, but we were able to do it. In the end I was pleased with the results and I’m sure the backers were.

IM: What are your future plans for Polar Bear zombie? Is there a sequel in the works? Will this be a continuing series?

JM: Originally, Polar Bear Zombie was just going to be a one-shot. I wanted to do something fun for my first book and not really do something on a larger scale, like a miniseries or ongoing. Once the first issue was done, I started brainstorming ideas and have decided to do a few more issues and see where it goes from there. I have the script for issue #2 done. Which, once my next two projects are done, I will start looking for a new artist to replace Frank with.

IM: Tell our readers where they can find you online and where they can purchase a copy of Polar Bear Zombie.

JM: I have the website www.pbcomics.com, as well as a Facebook page under my name. If anyone would like to purchase a digital copy of the book, you can purchase it for 99 cents at www.drivethrucomics.com. For a printed copy, you can purchase it at www.comicfleamarket.com. Or you can order directly from me. Just send $4 through Paypal to [email protected] and I will send you a signed copy, shipping included. If you really want to help me out, tell your local comic book shop to take a chance on the book.

More info on our interviewer: Steve Pennella

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Moving People Through Storytelling

By Everard J. McBain Jr.Steve_Masseroni

Some say that civilization as we know it was constructed upon the foundation of storytelling. In ancient times, many different people groups communicated their culture and history down through each generation by telling stories. Steve Masseroni believes in the power of storytelling and hopes that he will be able to move people by telling his stories.

If there was such a thing as a resume-measuring contest, and the thought ever entered your mind to take part in such a contest, the last person you would want to go up against would be Steve Masseroni. The gentleman’s resume reads like a copy of Wired Magazine or The Wall Street Journal. He’s worked for some of the biggest names in the entertainment and technology industries. Some of his employers have included EA, Lucasfilm, and Disney. He is currently the creative executive producer for social media over at NVIDIA, a company that is the largest maker of graphic cards for high-end computers and film. Most of the Oscar-nominated movies you have seen were developed using the technology produced by NVIDIA. He hails from Silicon Valley, a place he affectionately refers to as the Center of The World, and has Google, Facebook, and Apple as his neighbors. Despite all of this, Steve still finds the time to pursue one of his major passions, graphic novels. I had the pleasure of chatting with Steve about his life, his current graphic novel project called The Silver Cord, and the independent comic book industry as a whole.

IM: Could you tell us a bit about yourself, your background and when you first realized you wanted to create comics?

Art_Adams_1st_published_art-webSM: When I was six or seven years old, I used to go up to Sierra Nevada in a little town called Strawberry to visit my older cousin Dave for summer vacation. Dave had a cardboard box filled with Marvel and DC comics. Looking through those on summer days got me hooked. I started collecting my own comics pretty early. Being a child of the sixties, I saw a lot of the end of the comics that came out of the end of the silver age. My collection grew into just about 4000 comics, which I still own up to this day. Many unbroken series, including Fantastic Four and Spider-Man. They’re all plastic-bagged and everything. Initially, I was into superheroes, but then, in the early seventies I came across Bernie Wrightson’s Swamp Thing and that blew my mind. I started getting into darker themes as I got older, like the Warren Magazine’s Creepy, Eerie, and Vampirella. So I got really enthused about comics.

Then I realized that I had artistic capabilities and I realized I wanted to become a comic book artist. So, at a very early age, I started visiting comic book conventions. At fourteen, fifteen and sixteen, I would set up my table in the artist section with all my crude drawings and whatnot. I started making friends with a few people who went on to become some of the biggest names in the business. Some of those were Arthur Adams, Mike Mignola, and Sam Keith. We all used to hang out. Sam Keith and I used to carpool to get to San Diego Comic-Con in the early days. I had a close encounter with Marvel at one of those conventions. I was only about sixteen years old when Al Milgrom, who was one of the editors of Marvel along with Jim Shooter, came to my table and was just gazing at my art. He liked what he saw and wanted to hire me. So we get to talking and he asked me “How old are you?” I say, “I’m sixteen”. He says, “Well, as a general policy, we don’t hire till you’re out of high school. So come back to us in a couple years.” So, at the time, it was flattering that I got noticed.EM_page_9-web

So what happened was, as I was still hanging around with these artists, I decided I was going to publish my own fanzine. So we got together and published our own fanzine called High Energy. It had a full-color cover and was about one hundred pages. We printed about two thousand copies. We billed it as some of fandom’s best young talent. Arthur Adams contributed a ten-page story. So my claim to fame there, if anyone wants to know who published some of Arthur Adams’ earliest work, it would be me. Every time I talk to him about that, we have a good laugh. Eventually, that fanzine got noticed by the Comic Book Journal and got a write-up in issue 77. We eventually got into some comic book stores. In those days, we didn’t have internet, so we used to snail mail the fanzine in manila envelopes to comic book shops and ask if they wanted to order. A lot of them ordered boxes. We even got a write-up in a comic book journal in Finland.

When I was about seventeen and eighteen, my fascination with superheroes started to wane and I started getting into more mature themes and independent comics. That was around the time when Pacific Comics and Image came out. Some of the independent comics houses who were trying to challenge the big boys. They were attracting professional artists. I wanted to work for Pacific Comics (aka PC). I had an interview with PC down at San Diego Comic-Con and they loved my work, but still passed on it. I then decided to retreat within my art studio and take a year to perfect my skill, so at the next Comic-Con, I would blow them away and they would have to hire me. What happened though, along the way, was I got into Cerebus the Aardvark by Dave Sim. They were really hot, and they were publishing fan submissions in the back of their issues. So I and a few other writers decided to submit to that. While working on that submission, I attended a comic con at Berkeley and showed some of that work to Dean Mullaney and Catherine Yronwode, who at the time were the chief editors of Eclipse Comics. They said they wanted to hire me. Everything happened really fast. We met with them and it turned out they wanted me to do the cover of their premier magazine, Eclipse Monthly. I also did a ten-page story called Steel, Stealth, and Magic. It was a really big deal. By the time the 1984 Comic-Con came around, the issue had come out with my story. Arthur Adams got picked up by Marvel. Sam Keith got picked up by Image. We all broke in at the same time. It was a great summer.

HIgh_Energy_Bio1-webAfter all of that, after everything I had finally worked for had happened, I walked away from it all. The walk-away came because, at that time, you know that big question about the meaning of life, came upon me really strong. I went through some serious soul-searching. I had to know, what was the meaning of life? So I walked away from it all. I had just broken in, I had great promise, but I walked away. So for the next 20 years, I just did various odd jobs. I was a construction worker, I worked at a restaurant. I even became a home nurse. It was all part of a spiritual journey of soul-searching. I had no desire for comic books or art. For 20 years, there was nothing. Except for one thing. Every three or four years, I would stop into a comic book shop to trace the careers of my contemporaries, Arthur Adams, Sam Keith and Mike Mignola. Those guys have become huge over the years. The only one I was able to get in touch with was Arthur Adams.HIgh_Energy_Bio2-web

IM: Ok, so how did you get back into comics after all that time?

SM: Fast forward to 2003. I got introduced to Kevin Kelly, who is the co-founder of Wired Magazine, among other things. He found out that I had a history in comics. So one day while having lunch, he asked me if I had ever thought about doing graphic novels. He’s a futurist and he said that all his data suggested that the genre would really explode in popular culture. My short answer was, “No. I’m done with comic books, let’s move on.” So, I went to the graphic novel section of a bookstore with my three-year old son and I saw Mike Mignola’s Hellboy. I thought to myself, “I can do this again.” It wasn’t a comparison of me and Mike, but me thinking that I could, once again, get into comics. So, I went home that day and I said to my wife, “I can’t say to my son with full confidence to live out your dreams, if I haven’t really lived out mine”. I told her I wanted to go back and give it a try one more time. Another thing that happened was I got a letter from a fan who came across my High Energy fanzine that I published twenty years ago, and who followed my brief career with the work I did at Eclipse. They wanted to know what happened to me. I read that, I looked at my son’s eyes, and thought about Kevin Kelly saying his research pointed to a graphic novel explosion.” So I went back to Kevin Kelly, and I said, “I want to do a graphic novel.” He said, “Ok. Let’s do it.”

EYE_MONTAGEWe started doing our research. We looked at the big guys, Marvel and DC. We even looked at Image and a few others. We always got hooked up on the creative rights. We wanted to control our own intellectual property. So Kevin said, “Let’s skip the conventional means and go straight to the New York publishers and sell it to them.” Kevin’s literary agent is John Brockman. He had a great deal of connections. He’s the literary agent for Richard Dawkins. At the time, their particular clientele had everything to do with science. They had nothing to do with fiction or graphic novels. He was fascinated by the idea of trying it. The short story is that he got us a huge deal with Simon & Schuster for a multi-graphic novel series. It was called The Silver Cord. John is also a futurist. At the time, e-books were only just beginning to emerge. He negotiated with the publishers for us to own all the digital rights. They had no problem with that, because at the time, digital was nothing. So that was a wise move. The other benefit of going the New York route was we would get their distribution muscle and we would also be in the mainstream. At the time, you could only get comics in comic book stores. At the time, Diamond controlled all of that. They still do. We wanted to go around that, and we did with the New York deal.

Gobi_EmergesI got together a team of concept artists and writers from Pixar and Industrial Light and Magic who were friends of mine, and we spent an entire year working on concepts. We had everything when we presented the concept of The Silver Cord to Simon & Shuster. They bought it. So, once we had the deal, and they gave us a huge advance, I quit my job and, for the next couple years, we worked on getting this 200-page book finished. At the same time, my friends from Pixar were just finishing up their work on The Incredibles and writing the first Cars movie. They were a husband-and-wife couple and they were also having their first baby. So, the project was delayed for two years. Within those two years, the editors who bought our project at Simon & Shuster moved on to another company. So we lost our in-house champion. No one told us. Our project was passed on to another editor who did not know or care about it. Also at that time, Oprah’s book of the month club was pretty popular, and all the publishing houses were jonesing to get their authors on Oprah’s show. All the publishers were re-organizing their inventory to suit Oprah’s taste. So the next time I checked in with them, I found out that they had no more graphic novels, and they had dropped us. Not only that, they wanted their advance back.

Gobi_SqueezeIM: Really? From the guy who quit his day job?

SM: Yeah! We were like, “Are you insane? It’s two years into it.” So, to make a long story short, we settled. They basically said, if we sold it to another publisher, that publisher would have to pay back the advance. Remember, though, when the contract was negotiated, we got the rights to our intellectual property for all digital. That meant we could self-publish. What also happened is that, over the years, the entire industry got turned on its head and in favor of independents. Publishers were now approaching independents and asking them, “Can we publish you?”

So, with them dropping us, I had to go back to work and put the book on hold, so I could stabilize my financial situation. That was a blessing in disguise. I got into the entertainment industry and I got to work at EA, Lucasfilm, and Disney. So, my art career was fast-tracked. Not in comics, but in other areas. So in 2010, Kevin Kelly says we should try to finish the first book. So we did it different this time. We went to DeviantArt, and solicited an artist. So we finished Book One. So it’s finished, now what do we do with it? We passed it around to a few publishers, but remember, we still had the old contract hanging over our heads. So, we decided to bypass the publisher and go straight to the fans. We started a Kickstarter campaign in June of 2012. We did something different than what others were doing at the time. We actually did not ask for money. We said, we are going to give you something we’ve already made, which was Book One as a downloadable PDF. If you like what you’ve read and you want to help us finish the story, fund us. We did it and we got a great result. We got forty-five thousand dollars to finish the second book. We got another writer from Hollywood and expanded our art team. So, along the way, you know how we talked about publishers now going to success stories? Well, PGW book distributors, one of the largest independent book distributors in the world, got wind of Silver Cord and they decided to pick us up. Their sales agents were able to get us advance sales of 2500 copies. For an independent publisher with someone unknown, that was a risk. But bookstores bought it. The advance sales helped us scale up our product. We got world-class printing and a major distribution, all because of that Kickstarter. The best thing is, we still own everything top to bottom. So that’s the story of how it all got started.Oriax_Bio

IM: That’s a fascinating and inspirational story. So, who are the people that most influenced you as an artist?

SM: Bernie Wrightson of Swamp Thing. Barry Windsor-Smith from Marvel’s Conan. Michael Kaluta from the Shadow, and Jeffrey Jones, who was a great artist. All four of these guys, for one brief moment in history, all worked together in a studio in New York called The Studio. Frank Frazetta was another one. Also Neil Adams and Al Williamson.

IM: What is your motivation to draw/create and keep on creating?

SM: Storytelling. There are stories in me that I need to express. There is so much in me that I want to unfold and unpack before I die. I also want to move people through stories. I think that’s a noble expression: to move people emotionally. If you have the power to do that with a story, I think that’s a special interaction between the storyteller and the audience. Our whole civilization, I believe, is based on storytelling and fantastic storytellers. It goes all the way back to the story weavers of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey.SC_BK2_PG1n2_Gobi_Solo_WEB

IM: Tell us about your first book. What was the experience like?

SM: Well there were two. My fanzine High Energy was great, because I was in high school and had no responsibilities. So I was free to work on that and it was great. Working for Eclipse was special in the sense that it was my first professional debut and all that’s attached to that. That was a magical time. Then working on Silver Cord. It’s worked out fine, but initially, it was a very agonizing experience. I tell people that it wasn’t the hardest thing to do, but it was the hardest thing to get to do. There were so many obstacles. The financial strain, the things that we went through as a young family was not nice. But it worked out.

SC_COVER_MSIM: How did the idea for your first book emerge?

SM: Very simply it was this. Going back to Kevin Kelly, he once showed me some bonus features of the first Matrix movie. They were doing an interview with Keanu Reeves. Keanu was talking about some things Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, and he had to do to prepare for the movie. He said, even before they could read the script, there were some books they had to read. One of those books was called Out of Control by Kevin Kelly. I saw the movie and read his book. Whole chapters on concepts were used by the Wachowski brothers. He also conceptualized some of the stuff from Minority Report. So, I thought, if we’re going to do a graphic novel, we have to use it as a vehicle to get some of Kevin’s ideas into popular culture. So, at the time he was fascinated with this whole concept of parallel universes. Quantum physics. Particles and how they interact with each other. So his idea was a mashup of parallel universes, quantum physics, robotics, human consciousness and artificial intelligence. It hovered around fact/fiction. There’s a rule we all follow when it comes to high concepts of science fiction. That is the willing suspension of disbelief. We all do it. If we didn’t, we would immediately dismiss this as impossible. So, what we wanted to do was add a second rule. A post-experience rule. That is after they finish reading the book, they walk away going, “Could this be true?”

SC_FAN_LOVE_1So our story elements all create entry points for certain people. If you’re a new-ager, or religious, or a quantum physicist, or a futurist, or into robotics, or a teen who feels no one understands them, or a mystic, there’s a point of entry for you in The Silver Cord. Peter Schwartz is a well-known futurist and atheist. He read the book, loved it, gave us a great write-up. He said the book had him thinking.

IM: What is your assessment of today’s independent comic book industry, and what do you think the industry needs?

SM: I think it’s very healthy. There is so much inventory. Comixology is helping a lot with independents. Crowdfunding is also helping. The industry needs more, attention I think. Social media can play a big role in that. That type of viral awareness that’s possible with Social Media.

IM: Let me get your perspective on this. Some have suggested the independent comic book industry has gone beyond the independents. Take Image, for example. With huge titles such as The Walking Dead and Spawn, Image is so big, they’ve become out of reach for the common independent man who has a book he wants to pitch to them. How do you feel about that?

SM: Yes, I would agree with that. I think what’s happening is a redefinition of what an independent is. It’s almost as though once an independent gets big enough, it almost becomes mainstream and ceases to be independent. The industry is so fluid and dynamic, and it is still being defined. There’s a lot of room for new methods and processes. So you have a lot of Kickstarter millionaires. Not the ones who are already famous and come to Kickstarter, but the ones who were relatively unknown before they came to Kickstarter. The middlemen are being stripped out of the equation. So, there is room for new models of distribution and new ideas. Now you can go directly to your fans. Now creators can own their own properties like never before.

The_FOLD-OUTIM: In your opinion, how difficult is it for an independent comic book artist to make a living today?

SM: That’s a quick answer. It’s way easier. There are far more options available now for independent comic book artists than there were before. It’s a lot easier now. If you’re still trying to get hired by the big guys, well that’s a different story. But I believe if you’re talented, people will find their way to you. Talent makes a way for itself. Kevin Kelly came up with a concept a few years ago, even before crowd sourcing came about, called One Thousand True Fans. The basic idea is, “What is a true fan?” A true fan is someone who will follow your career, drive a hundred miles to your small concert venue, and buy all your CDs. Let’s put a number on it. Let’s say a true fan is someone who will spend one hundred dollars a year on you. Let’s say you have one thousand of them. Ok, you now have one hundred thousand dollars a year. You are self-sufficient. You don’t need anyone in the middle. So what I’m saying is. If you can find a thousand true fans, you can make a living. The task is finding those true fans. Awareness through avenues like Indyfest is part of that.

Look at Silver Cord, for example. For our second book we took it to DeviantArt to build our team. We recruited people from all over the world. Our colorist is in Argentina. We have another artist from France. We had another from New Jersey. Their work is world-class. It would have been very difficult for them to have been discovered by conventional means. Technology is so much better than it was up to five years ago. I worked on Silver Cord on my laptop for the last two years while traveling for my real job all over the world.

IM: Do you use social media, and how has it helped in getting the word out about your work?

SM: Yes, yes and yes. Social media is the driving force behind building awareness. We’re having this conversation right now because of social media. In fact in recent months I’ve shifted my career. I was a video producer and now I’m an executive producer for social media at a tech company in Silicon Valley. Social media is going to be the big thing for the next five to ten years. There are going to be things that emerge that we can’t even imagine. It’s all about reaching your fans in media channels.

SC_BK2_COVER_CR_MASTER_FINAL-webIM: What is the most important thing you hope to accomplish as a comic book creator?

SM: Again, it’s moving people with stories. The story is the most important. The art is secondary. You can move people with stick figure art if your story is powerful. The real art is the art of the story. The most important thing I can do as a creator is tell a damn good story. If I fail there, it doesn’t matter how great the art is, how great the special effects are, it has to have a soul. If it has no soul, it’s dead. It’s hollow.

IM: What are your future plans and where do you see your career as a comic book creator in the next five years?

SM: Well, I don’t have a career plan, but I do have a wish. We have something in social media circles called “User Generated Content” or UGC. Others call it fan-fiction. I would love for fans to take Silver Cord and create their own stories. That will happen if Silver Cord becomes part of the lexicon of popular culture. Once it does, the next step will be fan-created content. That’s our ultimate goal. No controlling art team, but fans. I would love fans to take and re-invent the story. Take these characters and create your own worlds. We want to hatch this universe, let it become recognized by a core fan base and, once that happens, critical mass will occur on its own. Some might call that a plan, but it’s not really a plan; it’s more like a wish.

TheQuantumChip2-webIM: What advice would you give to an up-and-coming comic creator?

SM: One thing I tell my kids is it’s never too late. I’m in my fifties. It’s never too late to have success with your dreams. It’s only been in the last seven years that I’ve emerged as a mark in the entertainment industry as a comic book creator. So it’s never too late to have success late in life.

Speaking with Steve was a very inspirational experience. To see someone who was so passionate about comics walk away from that and then, twenty years later, return to it and regain the success he once sought is indeed a great motivation to me personally, and I’m sure to everyone who would read his story. Check out Silver Cord and support this independent project.

You can connect with Steve at the following links.

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Silver_Cord

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Silver-Cord/1496018327338459

Websites: silver-cord.net  –  www.mazz-art.com

More from our Interviewer, Everard J. McBain Jr.

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Where It’s At

By Ellen FleischerILY_Puppy_16

Dan Bodenstein is a self-described nature-lover, photographer, web developer, visionary, writer, and vegan. The president of Totem Tales Publishing and co-owner of Vivid Imagination Studios, Dan has published two childrens books through Totem Tales: The Tale of Eartha the Sea Turtle (2009) and Steven the Vegan (2012). Vivid Imagination Studios launched a GoFundMe campaign last year, and aims to bring out its first book this spring. This month, Dan took some time out of his busy schedule to chat with Indyfest about his books and plans for the future.

IM: How long have you been writing?

DB: I always enjoyed creative writing, but growing up, I never really pursued it. I have always had a very active imagination, which is why I enjoyed reading. I could always visualize the scenes and actions, bringing to stories to life in my mind. In 2007, I started writing down ideas for stories, and even a little fan-fiction. I was actually attempting to write a graphic novel.

IM: Tell us a bit about what it was like for you growing up.

Eartha_the_sea_turtle_cover_frontDB: My parents always encouraged reading. I was a bit of a loner. I’d rather have spent my day reading than being outside. I’m what you would call, athletically-challenged. My parents had a small store right across from a public library, so I had access to a wide range of books. I read most of the classics and then, in high-school, started reading comic books. A bit backwards, but my creative side was fascinated by not only the written word, but the visual word.

IM: Who, or what, would you consider to be major influences on your writing?

DB: I love Robert Louis Stevenson, and Jules Verne. I was reading Treasure Island and Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea, while other kids my age were reading the Hardy Boys. In high-school, I started reading Piers Anthony’s Xanth novels. I’d easily read one a week. I loved the way he added humor to the stories without overpowering the underlying action. Stan Lee has been a great inspiration for me. Not just what he’s created, but if you listen to him talk about writing, his passion is contagious.

IM: Can you share with us what attracted you to writing for children?

DB: I never considered writing stories for children. I am married with no children. I’m a web developer by trade and an amateur nature photographer. So, children’s books seem like an odd outlet. It really started with Eartha the sea turtle… not the book, the REAL turtle. My father-in-law was ill and my wife returned to Michigan to be with him. On the first weekend she was gone, I decided to take my camera and head to a local sea turtle marinelife center. There, in one of their rehabilitation tanks, I met Eartha. Eartha was being treated for anemia and an infection. The tank she was in had a viewport, so I was able to kneel down and get some photos of her. As I began walking away, I noticed she followed me. I thought nothing of it until I saw her ignoring other visitors. I walked back over and she came right up to the viewport again. I spent quite some time there, talking with the staff and asking questions about Eartha. When my wife returned from Michigan I told her about Eartha and took her to the center. pg_03There, she met Eartha and saw how she would watch me through the viewport. We learned she was going to be released back into the sea the upcoming weekend, so we made it a point to be there. That day, I watched as she made her way down the beach, to the water’s edge, and then out to the sea. On the ride home, I told my wife that the experience would make a great children’s story. She said, “Why don’t you write one?” I struggled at first with it, as I had never written for children before. I really wanted it to have a strong conservation message, but not be preachy. After a few months, I had the story written. Anemia was not an illness or injury that could be illustrated. So I decided that, like other sea turtles at the center, she would be entangled in fishing line. I’ve seen what it can do to a turtle and it’s horrible. The tighter the line gets as they struggle to break free, the more it cuts into their skin. Sea turtles don’t tuck themselves into their shell; they are always exposed and breathe air. If they cannot swim to the surface for air, they die.

IM: Could you tell us a bit about the book? What’s the elevator pitch? What age group is it geared toward?

DB: The story follows a happy sea turtle, who becomes entangled in discarded fishing line. Her ocean friends try set her free, but they can’t help untangle her. Sad and unable to free herself, she floats to the surface, where she finds some unexpected help. Without any spoilers, let’s just say there’s a happy ending and, like the real Eartha, a return to the sea. It’s targeted at five-to-six-year-olds.

IM: What kind of research did you need to do before writing this story?

pg_07DB: I had all the research I needed at the Loggerhead Marinelife Center where Eartha was cared for. Growing up in South Florida, an ocean story comes rather natural. The center is actually part of the story. I still visit the center to see the current patients and do book signings. The center has a story time and I love watching the kids listen to my story being read to them. I was once introduced as “A real live author”.

IM: How did you go about finding an artist?

DB: Finding an artist was difficult. It was 2008 when I started the story and, although I contacted many artists online, I got very few responses. I think part of it may have been my own fault. I could “see” how I wanted the pages illustrated. I knew how I wanted each page drawn. I think that may have put off a few of the illustrators. But, after a while, I was corresponding with Brian Krümm. Brian did an amazing job on the illustrations. We never met once during the entire process. Start to finish, it was all done via email and phone calls. We still keep in touch and have collaborated on a children’s book about bullying.

IM: What prompted your decision to self-publish?

DB: I sent out letters pitching the idea to several of the mainstream publishers. I also contacted a few children’s book literary agents. They all basically said that they are publishing fewer children’s books than in previous years. One agent outright told me, if I’m not a celebrity, chances are, I won’t get published. So, I did some research, and ended up self-publishing. I had nothing to lose. I wasn’t doing this to get rich or sell thousands of copies. It was something I felt I needed to do.Steve_the_Vegan_cover_front

IM: Were there any challenges along the way that you hadn’t expected? Conversely, were there any lucky breaks you couldn’t have predicted?

DB: The first self-publishing company I went through was a real let-down. They dragged their feet with the production of my book and, eventually, stopped even communicating. I became very frustrated with the whole process. I actually had to contact their state attorney general’s office, just to dispute the charges. It was then I found CreateSpace.com. They were extremely helpful. I cannot tell you the joy I felt holding the first proof of my book in my hands. Even though there were “issues” with my layouts, I still felt a strong sense of pride. It didn’t matter if I sold one copy or one million. I published a book. What I couldn’t have predicted was how it made me feel. I felt triumphant. I felt like I had proven to the big publishers that aspiring writers don’t need them as much as they think they do. It’s David versus Goliath.

IM: Let’s talk a bit about Steven the Vegan. What was the inspiration for this book?

steven_pg_09DB: I’m a vegan. No surprise there. When I changed to a vegan lifestyle, I was bombarded with questions, not to mention that I had my own questions about being vegan. Today it’s a bit more mainstream, but back then I’d get less of a reaction from people if I told them I had a prehensile tail than if I told them I didn’t eat meat. More and more I read about kids being raised in vegan households. I mentioned it to my wife, who had gone vegan before me, and she thought I should write a second book. At the time, I was not a vegan. I wasn’t eating meat, but I was still eating seafood. I realized, in order to properly write the story, I needed to go vegan. So I did it. I then started focusing on the story. It was complicated to create. I wrote several iterations, all which I deemed unusable. I wanted to write a story that empowered a child. Eventually, I came up with the idea of having the story take place at an animal sanctuary. I even visited a farm sanctuary, just to experience it myself. After that, I wrote the entire book in less than an hour. Since it was published, I’ve received emails from parents who have told me that the book had helped their child and, in once instance, acted as an anti-bully tool for their child. Something I never expected.

IM: What’s the elevator pitch?

DB: On a field trip to a local farm sanctuary, Steven’s classmates discover he doesn’t eat meat. He then uses the animals of the farm to explain where food comes from and why animals are his friends, not his food.

IM: And for this one, you hooked up with an old friend for the illustrations. How did that come about?

steven_pg_12DB: Thank you, Facebook. My friend Ron Robrahn and I have known each other since grade school. Ron is such a talented artist. I always tell people, you can ask Ron to draw anything, and he’ll do it. Need a kangaroo wearing a sombrero, and scuba gear? No problem. Bam. There it is. But, as time goes on, life gets in the way, and we lost touch. I found Ron on Facebook one day and told him I needed an illustrator. We set up a meeting and, within minutes of our first face-to-face meeting, he had Steven designed. We were back in sync, just like in school. He totally gets me. I barely have to finish describing what I need, and he’s there. Like I said, he’s an extremely talented and imaginative, artist.

IM: Can you share your writing process with us, from inspiration to publication, as it were?

DB: Inspiration comes from everywhere. Twice a year, I go to Orlando and visit the theme parks. Ron and I both go. We wander the parks, ride the rides, and get inspired by everything around us. Sometimes Ron will doodle something and together we turn it into a story.

As for my writing process, I try to outline first, but usually a story is a jumble of notes that represent scenes. I use Evernote, and have it on my computer, my laptop, and my phone, so I can jot down notes whenever the moment strikes. Sometimes I know the ending of the story, but not how to get there. Other times, I use the snowflake method to build a story. During my commute to and from work, I often go over a scene in my head, over and over and over. I also do the same while riding my bike on weekends. I then flesh out the outline of the scene, and then go back and add little details. Once I have the outline, I use Scrivener to set up each chapter, first as a draft, then as a final. But ‘final’ is not always final. I share my writing with Ron’ so he can work on character design and sometimes, like with one of our latest stories, he will come up with something so amazing I have to change the story to fit the character design. That’s what makes our relationship great. We play off each other and fill in all the gaps. Once a story is done, I usually send it to family or friends and ask them to read it and tell me what they think. I usually end up editing it up to the last minute before I upload it for a proof.

IM: How have you handled the marketing and publicity end of things?

DB: I had no experience in marketing. I realized quickly that I had to learn whatever I could to market my books. The Tale of Eartha the Sea Turtle was marketed at marinelife centers, gift shops, and other nature-related outlets. With Steven the Vegan, I targeted health food stores, as well as a wide variety of vegan groups and forums. Steven the Vegan took off like a rocket once I focused my efforts. It’s also available in Italian now, and sells very well in Europe. Marketing should be 50 percent of what you do. I’d contact bloggers and asked if they wanted free copies for a raffle or giveaway. I also offer the books on consignment for some retail outlets. You do what you have to in order to get the word out.

IM: Is Vivid Imagination Studios also looking to publish work by other authors? If so, what sort of material would you be looking for?

DB: That is our plan for the future. Once we have ourselves better established, we want to help other people get their stories out there by giving them the benefit of our experiences. The name suits us, because we want to focus on stories that inspire imagination. Growing up, our toys didn’t fly on their own, and they couldn’t be controlled by a phone. We had to make them fly and move with our imagination. That little spark seems to be dying out and we want to focus on stories and tales that reignite the flame. Vivid Imagination Studios is a sister company of my primary publishing company, Totem Tales Publishing. With it, we plan to publish additional items such as posters, t-shirts, and of course, books.

IM: Can you give us a preview of what you have planned for 2015 and beyond?

DB: Later this spring, we are scheduled to release a children’s book titled, I Love You Puppy. It’s a traditional rhyming bedtime story about a boy and all the adventures he goes on with his plush toy dog. It’s based on Ron’s son David and his toy dog. Imagination is where it’s all at.puppy_sketch

We are also deep into our first pre-teen novel, The Legend of Buc Buccaneer. It’s a pirate story where all the characters are different varieties of birds. Aside from being a swashbuckling adventure, it has a deep sub-plot about family and being true who you really are. Beyond that, we are working on a series of short stories that take place in a silly western town, and our first kids’ comic book titled, Fields of Dreams.

IM: Finally, where can we go to keep up with you and your work?

DB: We are going to be updating our web presence very soon. You can see our existing books on amazon.com, or at our website, totemtales.com. Soon, we’ll have vividimaginationstudios.com updated, so people can order signed copies of our work.

IM: Thanks so much!

Follow Dan at his Website: http://www.totemtales.com/

More from interviewer Ellen Fleischer

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MuchaMuchaMota Interview – Gaspare Orrico

By Gabriel Ramirez

Welcome to The official 4/20 MuchaMuchaMota interview! Today we will shine the spotlight on artiste extraordinaire Gaspare Orrico.Gaspare8-web

Gaspare Orrico was born in Cosenza (Italy) on January 22, 1978. After attending art school and graduating with a degree in medieval history, Gaspare decided that he loved to work and study  graphics, character design and. At the same time, he decided to follow his dream and achieve what had always been his true aspiration: to become a cartoonist. His first published work was in November 2012, in the comic anthology Steam Punk Originals for Arcana Comics, a Canadian publishing house. In January 2013, he worked for Arcana Comics again and did the cover of the book Steam punk Originals II. Gaspare can currently be seen showcasing his kick-ass art as the artist for Crazy Monkey Ink’s two-issue miniseries Deathsquad-0. Recently, he began working as a cover artist for Landslide, published by the Headshrinker’s Press.

Now, on to the interview. Let’s get to know this awesome artist shall we?

Gaspare cover--deathsquad_KC2-webIF: When did you get started in comics?

GO: The first comic I read was Superman. I was captivated by his adventures. I remember that I was eight.

IF: What made you get into comics?

GO: I cannot explain. It was something instinctive, perhaps the desire to feel accomplished.

IF: How long have you been drawing?

GO: Drawing for me is like breathing. I could not help it.

IF: What is your first published work?

GO:  My first published work was in November of 2012 for Arcana Comics, a Canadian publishing house, in a comic anthology called Steam punk Originals. I also created a cover for this anthology. But the follow-up work experience was very short.

IF: Who have you worked for?

GO: I worked with several Italian and foreign publishers, including Arcana Comics (Canadian), Mitomano Comics (Chilean), and Absolute Black, (Italian). For almost two years I’ve been collaborating with The Crazy Monkey Ink and with Headshrinker’s Press.Gaspare DS0_pg7-print-web

IF: Who are your artistic influences?

GO: I have different influences, but I think we can say that for my artistic training, there have been important artists like Frank Miller and Mike Mignola, but above all, the great artists who created the 90s publisher Image Comics: Todd McFarlane, Erik Larsen, and Jim Lee.

IF: What is your favorite genre to draw?

GO: I do not have a genre that I like to draw over another. I like to explore, to try to draw more and experiment with something different. Although, strangely, I can draw monsters very easily. In fact many people think that I like the horror genre, but I do not.

IF: Do you draw digitally or on paper?

GO: I like to draw on paper, to feel the touch of pencil on paper. Although I see that many now work entirely with the computer.

IF: What are your favorite tools?

Gaspare DS0_pg9-print-webGO: I love drawing on recycled paper, using colored pencil. In fact, I use these materials for my sketches of characters or scenes that I’m going to use in the comics.

IF: Do you watch TV or movies or listen to music while you create art?

GO: While drawing, I’m usually listening to different music. I love rock, but lately, I have come to appreciate punk music. I think I have a punk spirit.

IF: Do you currently collect comics?

GO: My collection of comics is monstrously huge. I have comics of Spider-Man, Wolverine, Batman, X-men, Dylan Dog, Hell Boy, Spawn, Sin City, and many others.

IF: Do you currently read anything regularly?

GO: I regularly read the comics drawn by Jim Lee, a Great I’d like to meet one day.

IF: Do you ever buy/read comics digitally?

GO: Lately, I’ve been reading comics digitally, although I by far prefer hardcopy.

IF: Who is your favorite superhero?Gaspare DS01_P1-print-web

GO: I have several superheroes that I like, but my absolute favorites are Wolverine and Batman.

IF: Can anyone beat Batman?

GO: No one can defeat Batman!

IF: How do you feel about Cannabis?

GO: A good question. I believe that cannabis is a personal thing. I have no preconceived ideas, so I think it should be legalized worldwide.

IF: What do you like about drawing comics?

GO: The force of the imagination, creating new worlds, characters performing impossible missions. I believe that making comics is like making a film on paper.

IF: Do you have a Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, and/or Instagram?

GO: I have a Facebook page: gaspareorricoart, where I post public previews of pages of comics and various sketches. I also have a page that rarely use on Instagram.Gaspare DS01_P2-print-web

IF: Got a website?

GO: I do not have a website, but a blog:  gaspareorrico-sketchbook.blogspot.com. This is a public blog where I write all the news about my activities in the world of comics.

IF: Please take this final question and use this space to promote any projects, peddle yer products and give your shout outs! Thank you, Gaspare, for taking the time to do this interview. YOU ROCK!

GO: Plans for the future… a good question. I am currently engaged to complete the pages of the second issue of Deathsquad-0 for Crazy Monkey Ink and finish the illustrations for the Book of Monsters for Headshrinker’s Press. Very ambitious project, because the illustrations are accompanied by short stories and macabre nursery rhymes.

I would love to continue this partnership with these publishing houses and be able to participate in some comic conventions in America.

Till the next interview this is MuchaMuchaMota signing off, it’s time for a celebration!

Follow Gaspare Orrico at his Website: http://gaspareorrico-sketchbook.blogspot.com

Follow our Interviewer: Gabriel Ramirez

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