Well I’ll have you know James Moore, I think it’s fate now sir that we meet again!
Or it could just be that this year’s S.P.A.C.E show is coming up?
Last year you introduced me to a Baby with a Moustache. Then I had a baby, (well the wife did all the work actually) and then little did I know I’d be painting a crapload of mustache paintings in the month of March! Coincidence?
S.P.A.C.E. 2012…One Year Ago…
Seriously….How was last year for you James personally? Also for your team, 2-headed Monster Comics in general?
We had a blast. Maybe the most fun I’ve ever had at a show. We met a lot of great new friends and I picked up an excellent selection of books. It’s always fun to meet old fans and new. And course hanging with two of my best friends/comics crew. Everybody agreed at the end of the show that we had a fantastic show. We sold a lot of books and talked to an unbelievable amount of cool folks.
Was the Little Monsters EP sampler a success? (If you still have any left, I want one!), Will you have another this year?
Yeah, The Little Monster EP did well for us and exposed readers to the range of work we do. There will not be a new sampler this year (but we do have new work premiering.)I do think it functions as a pretty good statement of intent for the company though.
What was the most memorable moment for you from last year, at the show, post show, the after-party etc.? If you don’t mind, describe for our readers what the process is like for you?
We had met a lot of out-of-town folks who we had hit it off with, so we invited people to come out and get sushi with us. Word even spread to some folks we hadn’t met and we ended up with an enormous dinner group. Afterwards we went to the after-party and hung out all night. Joel, Katie and I ended the evening chilling in the Ramada lobby after everyone else had gone to bed. Just a great relaxing good time.
S.P.A.C.E 2013…. This year, this time…
So Another year of SPACE what are you looking forward to the most?
That we have two new books premiering and meeting with friends old and new.
Is there anything you experienced last year that you think will influence your approach this year at the show?
I think we’ll try to interact with other visitors more.
Let’s talk about your writing...
You had a story in Nix Comics within the last year right? What was it like penning something for another publisher and knowing you wouldn’t have to worry about all the particulars of production/distribution?
How was the experience working with one of your artist in someone else’s sandbox? Did it differ at all from your usual process of collaboration?
Not really. Just had to run some things by a third pair of eyes a few times.
How did it come about? Did you approach Nix Comics publisher Ken or did he hit you guys up? Was this one of those things that just developed over time/ SPACE?
I’ve known Ken for a few years now and I just thought it would be fun at some point to pitch him. Nix Comics Quarterly has an open submissions policy so I just pitched when I had an idea that fit the remit.
You went with the Six-Panel grid some people dig it, some don’t, what was the reasoning behind that choice?
Basically the story needed to be short. Ken likes submissions to be short. Plus the story play off the very thin line between punk rock and ‘60’s girl groups (The Ronnettes and the Ramones are really not terribly different when it comes down to it). So I wanted to be simple, fast, and just dense enough to be satisfying. It needs a regular tight rhythm as well. Nine panels would have crowded out the images and going down to four panels would either meant taking the page count up (a Nix no-no) or losing piece of what I hope is a tight, pared down story.
How did Joel your artists respond when he got the script? Any challenges or was it a smooth ride? Did he offer any feedback or changes once he tackled the script?
Joel really dug it even before he became the artist of it. I had originally offered it to another artist to try them out and they unfortunately had to back out. Joel stepped in like a pro and was really excited to draw the story. We’ve worked on enough comics together that all he really asks for are clarification on a few script details.
Are you a planner? Do you do a lot of prep before you script or are you the type that enjoys writing themselves out of a corner? Revise! Revise! Revise!
It depends from story to story. The big thing for me is to know the theme, tone, characters and rough ending in mind. For a longer story I might know some key plot points but I don’t like to over plan. It needs a little spontaneity. Revising is important up to a point, but again I prefer not to over work. Maybe two or three revisions (and I tend not to change much honestly) not counting proofing for spelling and other errors. Working a story too much leaves it bland and lifeless.
What would you like to write whether it’s another genre, medium, style that you haven’t tackled yet?
So many things. I have a lot of different material in me.
As a writer when you read other works what’s one thing that makes you think, “Well I’d have gone a different route”?
There’s not just one thing. I think it’s natural for creative types to try to figure out how stories work or do not work. It’s actually very useful to experience full-on train wrecks or ambitious failures. You can learn a lot from them.
Last question before we get to your books… And this is an important one... What’s with all the mustache fans these days anyways?
Facial hair is awesome. It’s a science fact man.
Let’s get to your books shall we?
Let’s Talk Coco. Coco Fiasco is a fast-passed kinetic-centric type of comic. What inspired you to come up with the character/story?
I think the bits that would come together for Coco had been floating around in my head for a while. The sprightly teenage girl hero. I can’t recall if I’d attached the name Coco Fiasco to that idea just yet but I had liked the ring of the name and was waiting for a fitting story. The small person taking on a big monster was something I lifted from the video game Shadow of the Colossus.
The book really came together though when Joel and I decided to enter a self-publishing contest run by Packrat Comics. We wanted a self-contained story for that, as well as something all-ages. Plus we had to create the whole book in about seven weeks which would be difficult for an issue of Radio Free Gahanna which involves a high degree of verisimilitude. So I ran the Coco concept by Joel and we got the book together. We won that contest too!
Joel draws some wild contraptions and accessories that Coco uses. Visually, how much involvement did you have with the design, details of the character’s looks?
We have a very collaborative working relationship so we tend to hammer out details together. I usually provide a brief description of main characters and we tweak sketches as needed. A lot of elements from the goggles to the wings to the wands to the robot are in the script. Joel then applied his expert sense of design to make cool looking gadgets. The monster is pure Joel . I’m smart enough to stay out of his way when it comes to monster designs!
Did Joel request anything in particular from the story that he wanted to draw? Did he surprise you with stuff after you got the artwork back?
It was a concept he was excited to draw so no real requests. There were plenty of fun surprises. Lot of great little details sprinkled all through the comic. Part of the fun of comics making is the element of surprise when you get art back from a great artist.
After Issue 1, where does Coco Fiasco go to next?
I think of it as our shiny electro-pop single. It was meant to (and it could) stand on its own. Still people seem to like it an awful lot, so we may do more at some point. Not for a while though as we need to wrap up Radio Free Gahanna and we have plans for our first big project after that.
The Rotten Ones…
The Rotten Ones, Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, A Trans-dimensional former Riot-Grrl, A Chain-Smoking Frenchy Robotic DJ, A Viking, and a Brainy Witch walk into a bar…. No they literally walk into a bar. There’s like tons of them in a College town where they live. How’d you come up with the idea for that anyways?
That one was entirely inspired by Katie. We knew each but were not that well just yet. Her husband had posted something on her Facebook wall about guessing who the new Tank Girl artist was. Her reply was something like “Well it’s not me, so I guess its Jim Mahfood.” Not knowing her well it was interesting to see she was interested that kind of work (she had also expressed a big love of Ashley Wood as well). I half-jokingly said “I would write that for you.” I have no idea how serious she was when she said I totally should write something like that for her. It snowballed from there accumulating characters as I took that seed and grew into something very different. I sent her a pitch and she agreed to do it.
How many issues do you see this story being told?
I’m writing it issue to issue. I’ll keep writing them as long as Katie wants to keep drawing them. The character may find natural endpoints eventually but I’m pretty much working without a net. It needs that chaotic energy. They are such fun characters and it’s such a flexible narrative I can imagine writing it for quite a while.
You’ve got to basically write in four other voices, what gets you into each character’s head space before you write them? Or is it more of writing the plot/environment and making each respond to the overall narrative?
The Rotten Ones is all about the interaction of these very distinct personalities. They all came into my head fully formed and thinking for themselves. It’s a book more about character and setting than plot per se.
What’s in store for The Rotten Ones?
The first issue is in the near future. Besides that I wouldn’t want to ruin the surprise of the book.
Radio Free Gahanna…
This one, Radio Free Gahanna really draws upon your musical tastes back when you were in college doesn’t it? This feels like a true labor of love for you. Would that be safe to say?
Every comic I do is a labor of love, but I will say RFG has a lot of my personal experience folded into it.
Did you surprise yourself when you wrote this type of story? How would you classify it genre wise if you had to?
Not on making it. It reflected a lot of stuff I was absorbing at the time both life and art. What surprised me most was the stuff that happened to me after I came up with it, wrote part of a first issue and the years that would pass before Joel and I started working on the actual book. Life stuff that really reflected aspects of the book.
If pressed I describe it as a slice-of-life indie rock romantic comedy.
I noticed with this book, your panels are more structured and formal, yet the dialogue feel s fluid. Does that contrast help free things up for you?
It’s a book that needs very deliberate and controlled panels to work. It’s supposed evoke indie rock song structures. It fits the tone and mood and the characters. As far as the characters dialog, that is more about naturalism. Capturing the way people around me talk, but hopefully avoiding the pseudo-Mamet dullness of some modern writers. Or thing of it this way: panels are your beats (whether that’s drums or synths) and the dialogue is your guitars.
And Joel’s really kicking ass on this too! Those backgrounds?!
I take every opportunity to say he is one of the best because he really is. We take a decent amount of photo reference for the real places in the book. What’s amazing about Joel is that he expresses that locations feel without going full on photorealism. Place (and time) are important in all of my work but especially here. He nails it.
Well James at the end of the day what would you like people to take away from Radio Free Gahanna?
Whatever they want really. Once it’s in their hands it’s the readers to interpret. Also I don’t want to give away the ending.
I’ll offer a few ideas that I can tip that I can tip my hat to right now. It might seem like it’s always going to be awful but things can change. Art can provide release. Art can connect. There’s a great Rilo Kiley quote that applies “I’ve heard with every broken heart/we should become more adventurous.”
Well I think we’ll end on that note. Thanks again James. Next year?