SPACE, TIME, COMICS...
Hi Bob (DRINK!), thanks once again from taking time out of your busy schedule setting up for this year’s SPACE show. How are things going so far for this year’?
It’s the usual disaster behind the scenes but we’re getting there. I work best in the midst of chaos. Right now I’m waiting for about 4 different things to be delivered, hopefully on time.
Bob, you’re among a solid group of today’s Indie-friendly, small-but-mighty press publishers and event organizers.
I’m talking about yourself, Top-Shelf’s Chris Staros, Jeff Mason of Alternative Comics, not to mention the Sequential Artists Workshop that Tom Hart helped set up and many others as well!
Thanks, I’m honored to be included in that group.
Do all of you ever talk, work together or discuss strategies on how to get the Independent comic scene to the next level?
Actually, I’ve met Chris and Jeff before and will meet Tom at this year’s show but no, I’ve never been part of some Small Press Illuminati. I think we’ve all been doing stuff separately with similar goals. I don’t know about the other guys but my goal originally was just to increase the awareness of the local small press comics scene with a small show but it just kind of took on a life of its own. I just set it up each year and watch.
What’s it like being one of the recent pioneers of the scene within the last decade? No pressure right?
I've never looked at myself that way. Just want to sell some comics and have a good time. If we upset an apple cart or two on the way, I guess that’s okay. The only pressure I feel is to make sure the show runs as smooth as it can and everybody enjoys themselves.
SPACE 2011 vs. SPACE 2012...
Last year I asked what the difference was between the SPACE 2011 and SPACE 2012 shows. You rightly pointed out that you’d have to wait and see till 2012’s show had ended. This year? Same question.
In 2011 we seemed to be keying on the past with exhibitors like Steve Willis, Collin Upton and John Porcellino (not to say these guys work still isn’t vital). In 2012 the focus seemed to move to the women. We had the premiere of the Indie Ladies Comics Anthology and panel. 6.5 of the 9 SPACE prizes were awarded to women cartoonists. Once again it’s nothing I did to influence things, it just the direction the show and the exhibitors take.
How was last year’s show?
Great! Everything seems to have gone off without a hitch. The Live Art Event in the bar was a big hit. I just finished my taxes and on paper it looks like the show made more money than ever. I’m not sure where it went but on paper it worked. Attendance seemed to be our usual 10% growth.
Is there anything different in store for this year’s show that you want to tell people about?
We have a full day of pre-show events on Friday this year and two events going on Saturday night. We also have two exhibits going on in the exhibitor room instead of just one. Friday goes 1-5PM Panel in Pink Exhibit at the Wild Goose Creative, 5-7PM Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum Open House and at 7:30 the Laughing Ogre Pre-Party. Saturday night at 8PM both the Drink & Jam in the hotel bar and the S.P.A.C.E. Polymaths After Party Pageant at the Kerouac Café. There is more info at http://www.backporchcomics.com/program.htm
Last year was the first year that the SPACE anthology was made available in print form. Will this year's anthology also be available in print form?
Yes there will. They're set in boxes in my living room as I type this. We had a successful Kickstarter campaign so we have already paid for all the contributor copies. All the proceeds from this book will go to fund the SPACE prize.
Will you ever collect the prior years in print?
That would be difficult since we only have low rez digital files suitable for the web. Also we would need to get all the contributors’ permission. We still haven’t made a profit on last year's book but I’m hoping the success of this years book will increase interest in it.
Brian John Mitchell originally came up with the idea. Who works behind the scenes on these anthologies? Any unsung heroes?
Well, Brian is still putting it together. He’s the hero. Also, I think Ed Delaney’s great cover helped us a lot. All the contributors sent great stuff.
2013, This Year’s SPACE..
For those that are just now hearing about SPACE, what can people expect?
About 180 comic artists, writers and publishers charging a room with a great atmosphere of creativity. It’s what I love the most about it. I feel like I need to get home and get another project going.
How does it differ from a show like San Diego Comic Con?
It’s about comics and the people who make them.
My particular interest besides the actual show of course is the SPACE Drink & Jam. Can you talk about that a little bit?
Last year Justin Stewart asked if he could do his Live Art Event in the hotel bar so I worked it out with the hotel and it was great! There had to be about 50 or 60 people in there all drawing on 6 boards. There’s a lot of great pictures of it up on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.3394417211457.146809.1000482943&type=3
Unfortunately Justin isn’t coming this year so I jumped in to set it up. I hope I can do as good a job.
I noticed you’re supplying lots of sharpie markers. Can we expect any heated competition resulting in duels of marker mustaches?
I would recommend not falling asleep in the bar. There’ll be a room full of cartoonists. Who knows what could happen.
What’s the atsmosphere like for you watching all these artists in the same small space, slinging ink?
It was kind of mystical. They even turned on the theatrical smoke.
For those that have never attended a drink’n’draw or a jam, what can they expect?
A lot of drinking and drawing. Last year we even had some painting going on. There was both individual illustrations and true jam comics where the first guy draws the first panel and the next guy draws the second panel and on and on until you hit the end of the paper and hope you have a good punch.
It Takes One to Know One, A Creator Himself…
You started out actually creating comics yourself. Did you both write and draw when you published OH, Comics? Do you still find time to create comics yourself?
I did manage to get a strip in both the SPACE Anthology and my own Oh, Comics! anthology this year. I missed finishing my long running mini-series Bunny Blues/ Leaves by a few pages.
What are your favorite go-to tools to create?
The Pentel pocket brush pen. Although I’m still pretty bad at controlling it.
Flight for the Future and Yesterdays…
This is the 14th year that SPACE has been going on….can we expect something even more special for year 15? Is it too soon to say?
I really haven’t thought about anything beyond this year. We are penciled in for the same weekend next year at the same location.
I’d love to see more shows like this pop up in other areas. I think people, especially creative people are really missing out. What advice can you give someone who may have an interest in starting up a show?
Make sure you ask a lot of questions from anybody you’ll be dealing with. There’s always hidden costs. Get a contract with everything itemized. Read it.
Looking back anything you would do differently?
We kind of dodge and weave every year so there’s been changes and compromises every year but overall I probably wouldn’t change anything. The program book is “Minicomic digest” size and all the tee shirts are hand-printed so I want to keep things traditional small press for the most part. Although we’ve taken advantage of technology as we go.
What else do you have coming out that people should know about?
Once I finish Bunny Blues / Leaves I hope to be working on my webcomic, Vugz.
I’ve done a few strips with the characters in the SPACE Anthologies and Oh,Comics! and I’ve been playing around with acrylic paint. I can’t compete with the glitzy digital stuff out there so I’m going hand-made just glopping paint in quick messy strokes. A Vug is a hollow rock. One of the main characters, Vugz, is made up of hollow rocks that are mysteriously animated. The other main character is Ti, a guy who recently lost his wife and is an alcoholic. I’m heading in a little deeper than usual so I’m not sure where it will head.
Lastly where can people find out more about you and SPACE on the web?
Once again Bob, it’s been an honor. Thank you sir!