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Indy Hunter 5 Ohh! Interview with Ken Eppstein of Nix Comics Quarterly!!

Written by J.M. Hunter on Wednesday, November 23 2011 and posted in Columns

Nix Comics and The Outhouse's Indie Insights columnist Ken Eppstein goes a few rounds with Indy Hunter and talks about Nix Comics Quarterly latest kickstarter effort!

I'm the Indy Hunter and He's The Indie Insights Guy. As he likes to point out to me more often than not, his column will come up first if you do a search! But no...awww hell no, not here! Nope, this is my world, The Indy 5-Ohh! World! So let's extend a warm welcome to my fellow columnist and fellow independent creator/publisher Ken Eppstein of Nix Comics Quarterly!! Ken's with us today to answer a few questions about his publishing imprint's new Kickstarter effort for issue no. 4 of Nix Comics Quarterly as well as settle the great debate, Indy or Indie?!

So, let's get ready to rummmmmaaage...err...okay let's just get to it!

IH: Ken, for those that are sooo uncool and late to the game, how did Nix Comics Quarterly Come about?

KE: I'm pretty sure I don't rate being the yardstick for cool or uncool, but here's the scoop: For many years I ran a Evil Empire Records, selling mostly used and collectible vinyl. Mostly garage rock and punk rock type stuff. It had gotten to the point that the biz wasn't really shaking for me the way it should, so I decided to return to my long lost dream of making my own comic book.

(When I was a kid I wanted to be an artist. By the time I got through college it became apparent that the only thing my artistic skill was good for was amusing myself, so I kinda put the dream away. Didn't occur to me at that point that I could collaborate.)

Anyways, I sold off most of the vinyl merchandise I had stockpiled on ebay to pay my artists and printer and launch the Nix.


IH: Let's talk about that Record Store experience and how it pertains to comics. I know personally when I used to go into a record store, there was a similar feel to going to a comics store but with the Record store there were usually more chicks and more piercings.

KE: Take my word for it... The record store biz is just as much a sausage party as the comic shop biz. Nerd is nerd. Appreciate the women who do want to be involved in either, they are a special breed.

And you're right, they are largely the same businesses, selling niche nostalgia while demanding that they aren't antiquated. Both I'm sure get the dude wandering in going "They still make comic Books/Records?" He always comes in on a slow day when you'd be best served slapping some collectibles up on ebay and proceeds to yak at you for hours, despite his complete lack of intent to buy anything.

IH: Still the hunt for that sole treasure of either an album or a single issue that's been missing is arguably a shared ritual. Even the quarter and cheap bins are similar. Skid Row anyone? No?

KE: Skid Row probably is in the normal bins. You'd be surprised how much people will pay for Hair Metal. I don't know if that's an irony thing or if people actually like it.

But yeah... It's the same guys. The mumbly guy flipping through a little pocket notebook to check off the copy of Sandman #18 (blue panel variant) is pretty much interchangeable with the one who wants to find a copy of the Fabulous Poodles 'Mirror stars' on the promotional pink vinyl.

(For the record... My copy is pink. I don't actually collect comics anymore. I read them but then either resell them or pass them on to friends.)

IH: Would you consider it a novelty nowadays to go to a record store vs a comic book store?
If so, do you think one day it'll be the same experience going to a comics store as it is for going to look for old cds or vinyl?

KE: You mean a novelty for me? Nah. I sell Nix at both types of stores, so I'm in both all the time.

I'll say this, though, the joy of buying records is back for me, now that I don't sell them anymore. It had gotten to the point that every record store trip was a business venture, and I looked at all records as price tags as opposed to what they are: wonderful little pieces of collectible pop art that anyone can own. That may be why the gig wasn't exciting to me anymore.

I think the main thing that I'm looking forward to is comic shops getting to the point that they have to diversify the way record shops do. You know... One shop is the place you go if you want to get punk records, another for R&B and another for Jazz. Some record shops have cool old high end expensive collectibles, while others have lots of junkers. Some record shops even have house labels.

There's some of that in modern comic shops, but by in large they have mostly the same merchandise. They're all going to have to figure out ways to diversify and make their mark to survive. I mean, how fun would it be if every local comic shop had their own niche imprint?

IH: What I've noticed with your efforts doing Nix Comics Quarterly is you're not only championing comics as it's original printed artform/format, you've also opened the door to potential readers to enjoy your stuff in digital and pdf formats. What's the thought process behind that?

KE: Pssssh. I don't have to champion print. It champions itself. There's nothing like the feel of holding a comic book in your hand. The weight of the book. The sound of the pages crinkling. If you're lucky and reading an indie like mine, the smell of the ink. Printed comics are an experience unto themselves.

Digital is convenient, I guess. I wouldn't be against a digital version of Nix if I was approached by one of the bigger digital retailers. I think the major roadblock for me would be figuring out the labor overhead involved... Right now I pay my guys based on print run. Digital would lead to a lot of bookkeeping for not a lot of money.

KE: One thing I'm thinking of discontinuing is the free B&W PDFs of the back issues. My original thought on those was that people would get excited about free comics and pass it on to their friends. As far as I can tell, no body really reads them, much less passes then on. I underestimated inertia, I guess.

IH: So you're not alone putting on this show, who else is in the line up for Nix Comics Quarterly no. 4?

KE: Well, lessee. For the stories I've written, I started with hiring on my usual group of artists who are also local musicians: Bob Ray Starker, Matt Wyatt and Donovan Taylor Roth. Donovan is new to Nix, but he used to do all of my Evil Empire Records flyers. Darren Merinuk and Ryan Brinkerhoff from issues #1 and #2 are back for shorts. Oh! And Andy Bennett is doing a story of mine! I'm very excited about that!

I only ended up having space for one completely open submission by Rachel Deering and Glen Ostrander. They did such an awesome job in issue #3, I could say no to a story for issue #4.


IH: Now about your Kickstarter Effort. Tell the folks at home or in the office what it's about and why they'd be fighting against bullyism if they were to donate towards your Kickstarter cause?

KE: Fight bullyism? I wish! I can almost guarantee that if you pledge to my kickstarter, bullies will sense it on you like the stink of virginity and mercilessly beat you to a pulp. The only way it'll fight bullyism is if they happen to be caught running you over by a red light camera. You want protection from bullies? My advice is a good fast pair of sneakers. You want to help support a cool indie comic? Check out the Nix kickstarter.

Y'know the thing about kickstarter in general is that it's an opportunity for fans to help support some of that growing diversity I was talking about. If the comics industry is going to survive tough financial times, the stuff that Diamond distributes can't be the end-all of what comic fans support. Unfortunately, for many years there was a void where there should've been opportunity, largely caused by the need for the money to launch or maintain a comic book. Kickstarter has filled the void. It's a key to both start up projects looking for funds and on going projects like mine that want to grow and energize a fan base.

IH: To follow up, what kind of goodies are you offering when someone donates to kickstarting another awesome issue of NCQ?

KE: Well, there are the basics... A copy of issue #4 for $7 inclusive of shipping or all four issues to date for $20. (Both a discount from what direct order from my website will be)

I'm still offering a life time subscription to anything I self publish for $100. I got a late start in life on this, but I got the fever now, so this is actually a pretty good deal from the perspective that I plan on doing this for the next 40 years.

Pages of the original from the book will be available to fans of specific artists for $100-$200. I'll be showing those pieces as they come in to me. Right now you can see the original cover art and a Page of Matt Wyatt's story.

I'm offering stuff for retailers this time around with kickstarter as well. For $25 they will receive 10 copies of Nix Comics Quarterly shipped to there shop. (whatever quantity of each issue they want)There are advertising ops as well. The half pages are already taken up, but the back cover is still available for $150.

Best of all? All rewards will include a print by Ryan Brinkerhoff. A fake gig poster for the monster hunting Vicar recurring character.. Ryan's a pretty sought after gig poster designer nowadays, having done posters for bands like Bright Eyes.

Between you and me and the internet: Michael Neno told me that he's never sold a piece of original art for more than $20. Twenty dollars!? Have you seen Signifiers? He's one of the great talents working right now! Someone step up to the plate.

IH: After Nix Comics Quarterly no. 4 debuts what's next for you? What kind of projects do you have planned?

KE: I'm knee deep in two Nix side projects that I'll release as limited editions in early 2012: Nix Western Comics #1 and Nix Comics For Kids #1.

Nix Western is being drawn by Bob Ray Starker, who after only doing shorts and the Pander Bear webcomic for me thus far is ready to be freakin' unleashed. In addition to his illustrating skills, Bob is one of the best musicians in Columbus, currently heading up a band called WHOA NELLIE, so we're gonna take advantage of that. Each copy will come with a 7" record as the soundtrack. Spooky guitar music, kind of a cross between Ennio Morricone and James Calvin Wilsey's stuff on Chris Isaak's early albums.


As for Nix Comics for Kids, the honest truth is that I've gotten tired of chasing kids away from my table at fairs and street fests. "Look kids, Comics!" has become the last thing I want to hear, as a parent who hasn't bothered to check the content of my books sends a gaggle of really young kids over to me. What a shame. I don't want to be that guy, but I also don't want some angry soccer mom yelling at me for exposing there child to bad words, gore and subversive ideas. Frankly I need a product that is a layer of protection against vapid unattentive parents.

So I've teamed up with Bryan Kraft, who recently won the Moonbeam Children's Book Award for Best First book for his autobiographical children's book titled 'The Year My Dad Went Bald: A Tale of Cancer, Chemo and Coping With A Cold Head." We've co-created a main character named Boy Howdie (a nod to Creem Magazine) who will explore the relationship between kids and hipster parents. Basically, Dad Howdie spends a lot of time explaining why things like the original Planet of the Apes movie and the Velvet Underground were cool while Mom Howdie holds the family together and Dog Howdie steals sausages from the dinner table.


IH: Any dream project not achieved yet?

KE: You kidding? There are far too many dream projects not yet achieved. I may be thinking big, but I've put them all under the umbrella dream of making Nix an actual studio with full time artists and writers. I'm of the philosophy that when you get a good group of talent together in close quarters, they start to feed off of each other and make real magic... whether it's the Marvel Bullpen, Usual Gang of Idiots or the Funk Brothers as the house band at Motown.

I guess my dream project is to make a dream project machine.

IH: Now for the most important question yet: Indie vs. Indy and why?

You mean besides the fact that my column will always show up before yours on alphabetical lists? Haw!

Really, I dunno. About twenty years ago I bought a cool compilation at Used Kids Records called "The Indie Scene '77" with all sorts of cool bands on it. Joe strummer's first band The 101ers, The Flamin' Groovies, Ramones, Adverts, Gary Numan's Tubeway army and more. The record did a lot to set my musical tastes for years to come. I'll blame that.


Sooo there, you have it from the Kenmeister, Myster? From Ken Eppstein himself!! Be sure to check out Nix Comics Quarterly no. 4 on kickstarter and also don't hesitate to check out previous issues at nixcomics.com!
Till then I am J.M. Hunter, the InDY Hunter!!

Written or Contributed by: J.M. Hunter

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About the Author - J.M. Hunter

J.M. Hunter is best expressed as an artist who enjoys working in many mediums. One of them is writing. In the guise of InDiY Hunter, J.M. Hunter’s focus is as an independent comics creator who interviews other Independent artists/creators and showcases their personal ideologies and stories. The “hits” and “almost-got’ems” of the creative collective that do their craft not because it’ll make them rich but because they love what they do, even when they don’t is a special kind of magic. This is the reward that keeps on giving and J.M. Hunter likes it. HE LIKES IT!


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