Welcome back, my friends! Your Indie Huntress has returned from the fiery gates of hell! I actually wrote a satire piece yesterday, (my first one!) I have to say, that interviewing independent creators is definitely more of my thing; however, that's not to say every once in a while I won't post something snarky. That's more of Jude Terror's gig- who is damn good at it, I might add! Onwards and upwards. Let's talk about Keith Brown.
Today I am bringing you an interview with Keith Brown. I met Keith through Facebook, I'm not entirely sure how that came to be, but he immediately posted on my page- "Greetings, from hell!", combined with a strip from his webcomic, The Wages of Sin. I had a good laugh out of it, and have been enjoying his strips ever since. It's basically the devil and an assistant, often bickering, or getting into some type of mischief. It's a fun read, and I'm looking to pick up the collected editions at some point. He is a one man band on this, along with the children's book he produced, It's an Extra Spooky Creepy Heebie Jeebie Halloween. Drawing, inking, coloring, lettering, and writing the whole thing himself. There aren't too many out there that can pull off all of these aspects, and do it well on top of it. I'm particularly fond of the animated style he uses, it has a nostaligic feel of an 80's cartoon to it. The Halloween kids book is adorable, using rhymes and reminds me of a kids special on TV. It was a quick read that gave me a cheesy grin. I would say it's perfectly appropriate for ages four and up.
Keith has been one cool dude to chat with, and he even hooked me up with this strip to use as my Indie Huntress Facebook page cover photo. I've been swapping it out about once a month to showcase someone's work. In attempts to pull more viewers to some of these guys. I'm sure some of you wonder why I care so much in the first place. I firmly believe that anyone who is busting their ass to work towards their dreams, deserves a chance to be seen and heard. Plus there are a lot of great reads out there besides the same old stuff from the big two. Also, this strip pretty much describes my daily life. Coffee = happiness.
How long have you been doing The Wages of Sin, and what made you decide to do a strip comic?
I've been doing Wages for about 3 years now...I think. I never really planned on doing a strip. 5 years ago I was doing local editorials and single panel stuff. I saw a website that was having a contest so I entered 10 of my single panel toons. There was still time left so I was trying to think of something else to enter. I hadn't planned on doing a strip as I never wanted to be locked in to anything specific but I was looking through some old editorials and had done a hack idea about the Devil and his assistant .The idea hit like a bolt of lighting. Just like that. Since hell is a "mystical" place, I knew I could thread in any subject matter or characters- without need for explanation or continuity. My single panel stuff got me about half way through the contest but Wages made it to the 9th out of 10 rounds before being eliminated and I thought, "well maybe I've got something here." Even at that point, I still didn't know if I wanted to do a strip. In the same contest the next year, 2012, I only entered single panel toons and again I got bumped out of the contest about half way through. It was at that point, I decided to make a concerted effort at trying something with this strip. I devoted all of my energies towards The Wages of Sin! In 2013, I entered the Cartoonist Studio contest once again . The winner was single panel cartoonist Tyson Cole, but I came in second in the "Best Strip" category. This meant a lot to me because although there was fan voting, the winners were picked by pro cartoonists. Naturally I thought "Hooray! Here we go!" "Fame and fortune, here we come!" Turns out those statements may be the funniest things I've written to date. As fate would have it the website summarily went defunct and I never even got the prize of a book or something. I can't remember. So, I just kept going. I remember how difficult it was to come up with the original 10 strip ideas and now here I am,, 524 strips later with 3 different book collections for sale. Wages has taken on a mind of it's own. So much in fact that any other ideas don't have any room to rattle around in my noggin right now.
Who are the characters of wages? Will you please elaborate on their back stories?
Although I may weave other characters in and out from time to time there are 4 main characters. The Devil or "The Boss" His assistant Jinx, who is the only one who really seems to know what's going on. I've heard of him being compared to "Radar" from M*A*S*H - I'll take that. The field is rounded out by Spider and Skull. Very simple. Very silly.
I see that you have 3 collected editions out. While writing this, did you keep to story arcs?
The only story arc is that it takes place in Hell. Each strip is a stand alone gag (at least I hope). While some successive strips may address a common theme, each one is designed to stand on it's own. 3 panel, for the most part, set-up and punchline.
Being a one man band on this project, how do you set deadlines for yourself? How long does the average strip (start to finish) take?
I don't have specific deadlines. If someone wanted to pay me to produce with specific deadlines I would, but alsa no one has made that offer. I usually average one every other day for the most part. I can go frm rough sketches to finished toon in about three hours if uninterrupted.
What are your tools and methods of choice when it comes to illustrating wages?
I'm a little old school and a little new school. I use Corel draw. I have a template page with a specific color pallete that I like to use. I rough sketch the characters and then run them through a trace program that turns them in to vector files. I import those in to my template page and size them to suit the frame. Then I add text. Yes, I use a computer font. That was the whole idea of computers in the first place for heaven's sake. Some purists think it's cheating. If that is the case then any use of the computer would be cheating in my opinion. At this point I blow up the art and print it out as large as I can on my 8 1/2 x 11 printer. I sketch in word balloons, backgrounds etc. Now I cover with drafting vellum and ink by hand. This usually takes takes an hour or two. Once I'm done inking I scan and run through the trace program again to turn it into a vector file. The tracing process add just a little bit of flourish to the line work. I like this and I think it adds to the "feel" of the strip. Now I spot color with my predetermined pallette, throw on the title block and boom, another Wages of Sin! is born and hopefully it'll be funny.
In regards to It's an Extra Spooky Creepy Heebie-Jeebie Halloween-: I noticed that you kept a nostalgic feel to it, with influences of 80's era cartoons. How did you come into writing this book?
I actually wrote the story 15 or 16 years again and in my head, it's a song. Maybe someday I'll get to make it in to a song. The original title was It's an "Ultra " Spooky, Heebie-jeebie, Creepy Halloween.
When I finally got a chance to publish ithe story I was getting ready to do Illustrations and I was worried that youngters might not understand what the word "Ultra" means and if it had to be explained it might take away from the fun. So, at the last minute I changed if from "Ultra" to "Extra". Fortunately, they have the same basic meaning and both being two syllable words, it didn't hamper the rythm or meter of the poem.
Are there plans for other children's books in the future?
Yes, I do have serveral other titles that I hope to publish soon. Any agents out there looking for some projects to pitch?
Do you open yourself up to commissions at all? If so, what are some of the pieces you're most proud of?
Commisions? Ok, but no one has ever really asked. I am very proud of The Wages of Sin! and I have built a small, but loyal audience. I am aslo really proud of my Halloween book. My dream is that it someday finds it's way on to retail shelves and becomes a holiday classic.
What else is on the horizon for you?
There is a Sunday Funnies project in the works to revive the Sunday Comics papers of old. I've been invited along with 250 other cartoonist to have our work included. It's an honor to be a part of it.
Where can people view/ purchase Wages of Sin and It's an Extra Spooky Creepy Jeebie Halloween? Also, where can we follow you on social media for updates?
I am published by Hound Comics: http://www.houndcomics.com and they can find my books at their website as well as ComiXology.
Like my Facebook page to see updates there at: The Wages of Sin
Follow me on Twitter at: @stixx3969
As always you can find me all over the internet!
Facebook: The Indie Huntress Page
Mayhem and Chaos Group (come share your independent creations!)
You want to check out some cool podcasts? Great stuff from great people!
Basement Fodder Podcast:
Digital Nerdage Network: http://www.digitalnerdage.com/
An Elegant Weapon Podcast: http://anelegantweapon.ca/
Dave's Nerd Compendium: http://www.podbros.com/podcast/dave's-nerd-compendium#.VcgDUnFViko
Drunk Dorks: http://www.drunkdorks.com/