Welcome back my faithful minions! Your Indie Huntress is here once again, to wine, dine, and seduce you into the land of independant comics. Meet Josh Dahl, writer for, "Rapid City" and, "Rapid City: Below Zero." Josh is from Boston, MA. We met, like most everyone else- through the depths of Facebook. Actually, Michelle and I reviewed, "Rapid City: Below Zero" on our very first podcast episode. Without further delay, here are the bits you crave so desperatley.....
What made you decide to make comics and how did you make that happen for yourself?
I don't even think it was a decision. It's just the language my brain uses. However, I did let it slip to the back burner for a while. Then, a few years ago I lost my job and was on unemployment. I took that as an opportunity to get going on making something. I was still spinning my wheels. Out of nowhere, a close friend lost someone very close to them. That struck me hard. This person was alive one minute and dead the next. If I was going to make comics, I needed to make comics right now.
That's what lit this fire. I wish I could say that I had consistently maintained that focus and determination, but I haven't. I've done well enough to get some comics made, but I could always do better.
How does self-publishing work for you? What have been some of the challenges and rewards of going this route?
Better would be "How do you work for self-publishing?" It is very hard work and if you don't do it, it doesn't get done. The challenges have been constant. You have to figure out every single part for yourself. Even if you read one of the many great books on the subject, it still doesn't really make sense until you stumble through that lesson yourself. Then you look around at the aftermath of your mistake and say "Oh! That's why that book said to not do this!" I guess the trick is to just make sure that your mistakes aren't disasterous. The reward is holding a thing in your hand and saying "I made this." Looking around at the crowds of people I pass on the street and thinking, "I made THIS. What did YOU make?"
What is, "Rapid City" about?
Rapid City is about the decisions people make and the effects those decisions have on their lives. In my stories, those effects are amplified by the existence of super powers. In the first arc, "Objects at Rest", that decision is to pursue the life of a superhero. The story then follows the main character from MAKING the decision through what it takes to actually ACT on the decision. That story is very similar to the process which created it. They both hinge on what it takes to go from decision to action.
I understand the current story for, "Rapid City" is finished for now and you've moved along to a different arc, "Rapid City Below Zero". What does this story involve?
Rapid City Below Zero is about Icicle, a young super villain who has been wronged by another villain and swears revenge. The story of those twelve issues follows what that decision to get revenge does to her life. She has to face the realities of living in the super-criminal under world. The bonds of friendship and loyalty on which she has built her life are tested, because her actions put criminal against criminal.
Will we be seeing any character cross overs from the two arcs? Will you be returning to the original set?
Yes. There is actually one small crossover hidden in Below Zero issue 1. Issue 2 brings in a character who had a small role in Objects at Rest. As the issues go forward, a few more characters and settings will crop up. If we ever get there, there is another story arc following Below Zero, which builds directly from the events of that series. In that arc, tentatively called "Rapid Citizens", lots of characters from across the books will come together to react to what has gone on in several different stories. I would like to keep working on these books until all of these stories get told... and then tell some more.
While writing for these characters, what are some of your influences? Are they reflections of people you know?
Oh yeah, they are all based on people I know. I usually take bits and pieces from different people. If I can picture how someone talks, then they are fair game. I've used actors, musicians, co-workers, anyone really. I also use more generic types for general reactions to situations. I will think of how artists in general will react to a chance to reach a broader audience. Maybe that is cautious enthusiasm. So, then I think of how does THIS individual character show that feeling? How does he look and sound while doing it?
Who are the people involved in the illustration, coloring and lettering team? How do you converge together to make this work?
That's Shawn, Micah, and Kyle. I ran into Shawn through other comics creators connections. He had done a book called, "Earthruler" and I asked him to do a pin-up for, "Objects at Rest". While that was coming together, art for that book started to slow down. I started talking to Shawn about putting together a pitch. He liked the idea and we started working on it. Before that project got past a few sketches, it became clear that the, "Objects at Rest" book was stalled. I asked Shawn if he wanted to work on, "Below Zero" and he did. Micah is my best friend from High School. He's incredibly talented and hard working. When I needed someone to color the covers, he was the only choice. Not only can I take advantage of our friendship for better rates, he is amazingly talented. Kyle I have known since 7th grade. We had an art class together. In High School, we worked together on some comics that didn't really go very far. Much later, Kyle was at a place where he wanted to get back into doing comics. He saw what i was doing and we started talking. When Below Zero came together, he said he wanted to letter it. We work together very sloppily, but we get tighter and faster with every time around.
Shawn Langley pretty much blows my mind on a daily basis in my news feed- how did you meet him?
Shawn had done a comic called, "Earthruler" with Darrin O'Toole. Darrin also worked with Objects at Rest artist, A. Kaviraj. We all went back and forth "liking" what the others were doing online. And then, as I said above, I asked him to do a pin-up and that was it! Also, if you think YOUR mind is blown, imagine what it is like being me. Those aren't just pretty pictures I am seeing. Those are concepts that were born in my mind, and he is making them real... better than real. It is amazing. (Stay tuned because I will be doing a whole seperate article with Shawn Langley)
Where are you looking to go from here? What other works do you have in mind for the future?
I have a few other pitch projects simmering, waiting for the right artist. Most of my recent effort has been going in to a dark crime story. But it is very dark, and so is Below Zero, so lately I have been wanting to do something fun.
Where can people find you and your work online? Where will you be at during the summer con season?
As for me, you can find me all over the internet in the following places:
The podcast Facebook Page Mistresses of Mayhem and Chaos
Our Network with Digital Nerdage (our archives of podcast are here)
My partner in crime Michelle Gallagher Poetry
On Facebook as The Indie Huntress