Jericho Projects was founded in 2001 by Adrian “Asia” Petty. Their first publication was Teshuvah, Prophets of Jah. After a break from publishing, they returned in 2008 with their flagship title Ms. Johnni. Ms. Johnni gained positive reviews and was hailed as “a fresh take on the genre”.
Adrian “Asia” Petty tells Indyfest more.
IM: What’s your background?
AP: I majored in graphic design and minored in English in college, after illustrating and writing stories since I was a kid. Drawing and relaying allegories always had an allure for me.
IM: How did you get started in comics?
AP: My interest in comics began when I was nine and never ended. While I enjoyed reading them, my preference was to work on my own, even as a child. So, once I had enough cash, I launched my company and published my first book in 2001, entitled Teshuvah #0.
IM: Do you think the “self-imposed hiatus” mentioned on your website was helpful to you?
AP: That hiatus was one of the smartest things that I’ve ever done. Rethinking and retooling my approach was something that I really needed. What I was doing up to that point wasn’t working. Stepping back and taking a fresh look at everything was invaluable.
IM: What are the art teams’ backgrounds?
AP: Rebecca Fedun is a graduate of SCAD. Geoffrey Gwin has worked on a major Subway commercial. Sherrie Hunt has worked with me for years—as well as on several graphic arts projects in Australia. Donté K. Hayes is a well-established fine artist with a national following. Javier Lugo (who penciled the cover of Ms. Johnni #1) is an artist that has worked on the popular Indyplanet book, Frank Ng Hired Gun. Joe Rubinstein (who inked the cover of Ms. Johnni #1) is a well-known inker who has worked on The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe and the 1982 Wolverine miniseries. Buddy Prince has work featured on Marvel Comics trading cards. Marcel Zero and Florencio Duyar III are incredibly talented freelance artists from Brazil and the Philippines. I have been honored to work with them all.
IM: What is Ms. Johnni about?
AP: Ms. Johnni deals with a housewife who goes on a quest to find her child, who is kidnapped one day.
IM: The lead character is not the norm for a superhero comic (an “unhappy, frustrated housewife with self-esteem trouble, not to mention weight and eating issues”). Did that make it harder to sell?
AP: The good thing about Ms. Johnni is that it filled a niche that wasn’t being filled. While not necessarily appealing to traditional superhero fans, the story struck a chord with others who were looking for something different.
IM: Why self-publish?
AP: I never wanted to write Batman or the X-Men. I have way too many of my own tales to tell. Nor did I want to have to answer to any higher powers regarding how to tell stories that I wanted to tell. I certainly had no desire to prove that my ideas were marketable or give up my rights. So self-publishing was my only option.
IM: Who is the target audience?
AP: I’ve had my sights set on more-seasoned comic book readers, who are looking for something unlike what is already being offered.
IM: You did a crossover with Baker Comics, where Ms. Johnni made a cameo in “Enter the Wolf”. Do you have any other crossovers planned?
AP: Ms. Johnni has appeared in a Red Giant Entertainment compilation released this year called Japan Needs Heroes. The proceeds for this publication benefit the victims of the Japanese tsunami of 2011.
IM: You’re part of the Independent Creators Connection. Can you tell us more about it?
AP: I LOVE the ICC! It’s a Facebook group comprised of creatives from various artistic genres, who share and talk about their endeavors. It stays positive and focused on networking between artists. There are so many talented folks there that help to keep me inspired.
IM: What effect has advancing technology had on the comic book industry?
AP: In some ways, it’s hurt the industry, as print sales have suffered. In other ways, with the advent of more affordable digital printing for publishers and web comics, it’s given exposure to creatives that otherwise may not have gotten it.
IM: How are you distributing Ms. Johnni?
AP: Right now, distribution is via conventions and www.indyplanet.com.
IM: Have you marketed your work?
AP: Yes, I have marketed via advertisements, word of mouth, and even went old school and sold my books out of my vehicle.
IM: I see that you attend various conventions. How important do you think they are for independent creators?
AP: Conventions are very important, as that’s the most effective way for many creatives to get their work seen and purchased, and to build a rapport with fans.
IM: Do you think the smaller or larger events are better for small press publishers?
AP: It depends as I’ve done well at both and done not so well at both. I think it’s more important to make sure that the convention itself is tailored toward your target audience.
IM: Have they changed a lot over the years you have been exhibiting at them?
AP: The heart of conventions has remained the same with comics, yet there seems to be a stronger emphasis on cosplay as of late. And that’s fine, as everyone should have a way to express themselves in an artistic manner.
IM: What advice would you give to someone exhibiting at a convention?
AP: Have realistic expectations. Do this for the love of the genre, not the love of the money. Make sure that you’re doing something on your books and at your table that will make you stand out from everyone else. It’s VERY important to have your sales skills sharp. You’re selling yourself just as much as you are selling your product.
IM: How important do you think it is for creators to have their work in bricks-and-mortar comic book shops, as well as online?
AP: As that’s the original method of selling your books, it’s still the best way to get your books out there on a large scale. But it’s not always the easiest for the little guy. However, with the internet age upon us, it’s not the only way. One person that comes to mind is Everette Hartsoe, who has had a well-balanced attack of marketing his books without the help of Diamond distribution. I know of others that make their primary revenues from their own web storefronts, patreon.com, and online campaign fundraising.
IM: Do you think the number of self-published comics, print-on-demand comics, digital comics and web comics makes it more difficult for individual creators to promote and market their work?
AP: I think that the truly high-quality material marketed in a proper fashion will succeed, regardless of how much product is out there. The stuff that isn’t worth much will eventually fall by the wayside.
IM: What future plans do you have for Jericho Projects?
AP: I want to expand the universe that Ms. Johnni is in and introduce a whole new set of characters involved in other adventures. I’d also love to do a children’s book.
IM: Do you have any advice for people who want to start their own comic?
AP: First off, have something of value to say. Truly believe in it. Then, balance yourself with excelling in both the creative side and the business side of comics, because they are both equally important. And if you think that you will need $2000 to start, save up $4000.
IM: Is there anything you’d like to add that we haven’t covered?
The picture that I sent of me standing by the graffiti picture of the confederate flag represents something that I like to do in my comics, which is to tell stories through images. That one tells the story that a symbol only has the power that you choose to give it.
ONLINE FOLLOW THROUGH
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