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Sitting and Chatting in the CHAIR of Peter Simeti!

Written by Greg Anderson-Elysee on Wednesday, June 25 2008 and posted in Columns

Today's guest is Alterna Comic's Peter Simeti discussing his upcoming new graphic novel, The Chair!

Greg: Mr. Peter Simeti! Welcome to Face to Greg. How is everything?

Pete: Everything’s been going pretty good!

Greg: So as we’re starting, tell us about yourself.

Pete: I’m very happy that my book’s finally headed for distribution; it’s a great feeling to be on the other side of that since I’m used to being the one that tells other creators their books have been picked up.

Greg: I feel you. Can you tell us a little about your comic?

Sure, here’s the official summary: THE CHAIR is a psychological thriller that takes place on death row. Richard Sullivan has spent the past 10 years on death row, awaiting execution for crimes he claims he never committed. But lately strange events have started occurring in the prison, including a piling body count of inmates, a viciously sadistic warden, and enough twists and turns to make Sullivan question his own sanity. Can he prove his innocence before it's too late - or is there entirely something else going on?

Greg: What if there was nothing going on? How about that?

Pete: Ya got me, the whole “prison” plot is just something we thought would sell the book. It’s really a book about different toilets from across the world. Haha, now that I think of it, that sounds like a pretty good book, haha.

Greg: Heh! How’d you come up with the story? Was it lingering in your noggin for a long time?

Pete: I guess I came up with the book’s premise about 2 and a half years ago. It was when everyone thought JonBenet Ramsey’s killer had confessed. I was thinking about capital punishment vs. life in prison and which one was actually worse. I know it sounds weird but that’s how my mind wanders.

Greg: Hmm. Interesting. Did you do a lot of research for your character and the position he was in?

Pete: I looked into what happens to a lot of people when in isolation on death row. It turns out death row can make crazy people even crazier. Human beings are social by nature and prolonged isolation can actually alter our brain chemistry and twist our perception of things. I mean think about having to be alone in your house for a day or two, without TV, radio, anything really. Now imagine that for ten years or more? I’m not saying the punishment is too harsh for someone that commits a horrendous violent crime, but there’s no doubt that if you weren’t insane before, you might end up becoming that way.

Greg: Are you usually interested in the insanity of the human psyche?

Pete: I’ve always been interested in what makes a person tick.

Greg: What makes Pete Simeti tick?

Pete: That’s another book for another day, my friend. Haha

Greg: Haha! I’ll find out somehow. So tell us about the art for your book. They have a very raw and scratchy look to them and I quite like how the lettering is attached to it.

Pete: I wanted the art to feel very scratched in and nightmarish for the book and Kevin [Christensen] couldn’t have done a better job. It was a lot of fun to add the tones over his pencils. As far as the lettering, that actually went through a small change going to the graphic novel. The graphic novel also has some tweaks and extras that the issues didn't have. Think of it as a “director’s cut” or something, haha. I liked a lot of what I did for the lettering on those first issues, but there were some readability aspects to it that many people were irked by, so I ended up tweaking it a little bit.

Greg: By the way, I’m one of the lucky ones to have a copy for your first issue, which you already know. From what I understand, two issues were released but all of a sudden a trade is being released with all the issues together. Why the change of plans?

Pete: The series started off as a 6-issue mini. The first three issues came out and then there was a company changeover at Alterna. We were headed in a direction of only producing graphic novels and trades; the only single issue we produce to this day is the Alterna Tales Anthology. It was just a decision that has allowed us not only distribution through Diamond, but distribution through Partners Book Distributors, Ingram, Baker & Taylor, and more. Single issues can only go so far and we found that they would soon become an economic risk. Given the rising costs of everything, it’s easy to see single issues heading to $4.50 or $5 a piece. That’s just ridiculous. But that’s the way the economics of printing those things works. Since most of the cost of printing is involved in just preparing and starting the press, a single issue can become almost as costly as a 100 page graphic novel. I really believe that eventually the single issue will become obsolete if the world’s economy keeps worsening as it is. It might not be immediate, but I believe it will be eventual.

Greg: That saddens me…

Pete: Also by buying a trade, 9 times out of 10 you actually save money than by buying the single issues. So the only thing you’d be sacrificing is a monthly fix. And even then, if publishers timed releases the right way and released a different set of trades/graphics each month, then there will still be many to choose from.

Like for instance, The Chair would be at $3 an issue given the new rising cost of printing, which would come out to $18 and would’ve spanned over a 12-month period as it was a bi-monthly release. But instead it’s going to come out in one-shot for $13.95 (or less in some places) and there will be no waiting involved.

Greg: Very interesting indeed. Some of the reasons a lot of people have decided to just wait for trades rather than buy books monthly.

Tell us more about Alterna Comics. What are you guys doing over there?

Pete: We’ve got over a dozen books scheduled for release from now till this time next year, so look for those in a store near you! We’re also working on expanding our children’s line of comics. Convention season is coming up, so we'll be making stops at different cons like Baltimore Comic-Con, SPX, San Diego (Stephen Lindsay of Jesus Hates Zombies will be there), Boston Comic-Con, and many more. We’re also making plans to officially exhibit at New York Comic-Con 2009, so that should be a blast.

Greg: What else do you have planned after The Chair? Maybe Spectrum?

Pete: As of now, I’m just focusing on the publishing aspect of things. I’ve got 2 or 3 stories on the back burner but I won’t be getting around to those for a while. Spectrum was discontinued as I just didn’t have the time at all for the book, I don’t think I'll ever start that up again either. So if anyone has those, I guess just save them in case they become collector’s items! (haha yeaaa right...)

Greg: (stores Spectrum copy in bubble wrap) Heh…

Pete: I’ve got a few signings lined up for The Chair and I know I’ll probably be promoting that book till doomsday as I’m a firm believer that you can never stop promoting a book just because it’s sold X amount of copies or has been around for X amount of months/years. There will always be new readers!

Greg: Heh heh, most definitely. Well, we’re back to The Chair! One thing I know about writing is that when you have an idea and while you’re writing, you tend to look at stuff or read through things, mostly favorite books or subjects, to sorta “channel” what inspires you into your writing. Any of that happen to you while producing The Chair and what?

Pete: Hmmm... I know I was reading Arkham Asylum again by Grant Morrison and Dave McKean. Batman’s always been my favorite comic character as his stories are just slightly more grounded in reality than a lot of others. A good Batman writer is like a good mystery writer. [The] Long Halloween comes to mind as well.

In general, I try not to read too much when writing because I don’t want any ideas to be subconsciously stolen.

I think that’s what was happening when I was writing Spectrum. It just ended up seeming like another cliched revenge/scientist type story that’s been done to death already.

Greg: Definitely understandable. So when you make it big in the industry, who are the characters you’ll be writing?

Pete: I’d love to write a Batman graphic novel. I could never do serial story telling, I’m much more a fan of a complete story being told. Other than that though, I really have no other aspirations right now. I’m just concerned with getting my book out there and with helping Alterna grow into a great company.

Greg: And a great good luck, man! I’m definitely interested to see what else you guys produce. Anything else you’d like to add for the readers, man?

Pete: I’d like to say that even if people aren’t interested in my book - or well, any book we have at Alterna - as long as they read comics in general, then that’s a great thing. The comic industry needs all the help and support it can get and as long as people keep reading, there will be people that keep on making them. Oh yeah, and buy THE CHAIR! Diamond code: JUN08 3610 - 136 pages for $13.

95 (or less if you order at What, you didn’t think I’d end this without plugging my own book did ya?

Greg: Hahaha, Pete! Thanks a lot for the visit. You were a great guest.

Pete: No problem, the pleasure was all mine!

Diamond code: JUN08 3610 - 136 pages for $13.

You can also read the preview pages here ->

Look through more Alterna Comics stuff!

Posted originally: 2008-06-25 22:59:25

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About the Author - Greg Anderson-Elysee

Gregory Anderson-Elysee is a Brooklyn born and based filmmaker (director and editor), playwright, comic book writer, model, and part time actor. He was one of the first writers and interviewers of The Outhouse. He is the writer and creator of the upcoming book Is'nana the Were-Spider. He can be found on Twitter and Facebook.

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