SPACE Pre-Coverage is still going strong! Meet the man who created Micro-Comics. 60 of them! Special InDiY 5 Ohh! interview with Brian John Mitchell!
IH: So Brian John Mitchell, or BJM for short...hey speaking of short, you're the Micro-Comics guy aren't you?!
BJM: Yeah, most of my comics are about the size of a pack of matches. I love the format.
IH: Can you tell our readers what exactly is a micro-comic?
BJM: Well, they measure 1.83x2.125 inches & because of that size constraint generally consist of a single panel per page. So you can fit them in your pocket & read them on a bus in a few minutes.
IH: I have to ask. How do you make these awesome bite-size pieces of comicky goodness? From story seed in your head to our pockets, what's the process? You've got over sixty stories so far right?
BJM: Well, in general, I can't draw very well... so a big part of the process is running into someone that seems like a match for a story idea. So sometimes I have a rough story sitting around for a couple of years waiting for me to stumble on the right artist & other times I stumble upon an artist & write a story particularly for them. Some of the stories come from real life inspirations & other come from half remembered dreams. Right now I have sixty comics that are printed up & finished & about thirty other stories in various stages from waiting on the artists to get me the finished artwork to only having a two sentence idea written down. I usually start with writing down a rough idea & if it is still nagging at me a few days later I'll write a rough script by hand. Then I'll do a second draft typing it into the computer. Then I send it to the artist for suggestions & do another draft. Then I do a draft based on how the words actually end up looking on the tiny pages & send the artist a PDF with the words in it to draw in the boxes. Some of the artists prefer to do hand lettering & I let them take some liberties with the text. It's also worth mentioning I very rarely tell the artist what to draw or send reference images or anything – I usually give an artist the same text that you see on the final page & let them be good at what they are good at.
IH: So you'll be at SPACE, what are you bringing to the table?
BJM: I have a spinner rack I built that holds the sixty comics, but I'm kinda sad because it won't be able to hold more books in it & I'll need to come up with something else to use soon for my display. I also have some buttons, some t-shirts, some CDs of my music, some wooden boxes I've made for holding the comics, some puzzle boxes, & if I remember some balloons. & I'll have my paper cutter & saddle stapler so I'll be physically constructing comics right there & that always helps strike up conversation.
IH: Having a successful Kickstarter campaign what's was the experience like watching the tally of backers start to trickle up?
BJM: It was kinda frightening in a way. I set an initial goal of $300 & I thought that was realistic. I got fully funded after just a couple days & when it broke $2000 I realized it was going to take me several weeks to get all the work done filling the orders because I needed to make a couple thousand comics. You can't really complain about too much success on sales, but it is daunting to need to make that many books. I'm still in the middle of getting all the books ready. I really could use some interns, as it's hard to get all my daily work done & then assemble the books as well.
IH: What's next for you?
BJM: I got in the art for book 61 (Pow Wow #1) yesterday, & there should be more books soon (I'm hoping for ten more at least by September). I haven't had a chance to do proper promo (I actually send out promos to a lot of press & blogger folks, which I guess is uncommon for small press folks) of the dozen new books because of the Kickstarter campaign being so successful. So I need to get that done. Also I am going out on tour doing merch for this horror punk band called The Independents & the last time I went out with them I came back with a set of thirty day dailies for my stick figure comic Lost Kisses, so that might happen again.
I want to maybe try my hand at more conventions, right now the only appearances I have planned besides SPACE are Maker Faire NC in Raleigh, NC & Stomp Fest (art fair associated with a winery) in Lansing, NC. I want to try my hand at organizing a local indie con too. A lot of ideas, but it's hard to know about timing.
I've also become really fond of working with wood lately & I might do a Kickstarter for making up some puzzle boxes so I can afford to buy the wood blocks in bulk.
On the music end I have a new Remora album coming out on Fluttery Records, a new Small Life Form record just out from Blondena, & a couple records that I'm working on for my own label (Silber).
I also put in for doing an artist in residence thing in Finland this August & if that happens it would be an awesome opportunity, but I'm not going to hold my breath on it.
So I think I have enough lined up to keep myself out of trouble for a little while.
IH: What's a dream project for Brian John Mitchell?
BJM: Well, if I could make decent money doing the comics & I could pay the artists what I think they are worth I'd be able to build a real industry around some of the books. Maybe buy an old school house & build an artist colony for us all to work from. I've always seen XO as an important book to me & it has a really ridiculous story arc (maybe a couple hundred issues) & we've only been able to do one book a year instead of a dozen a year, so it would be nice to get that to really start going & see how the story arc naturally changes from what's in my mind right now. I also have a Joker Elseworlds story that I've wanted to get out of my head for about twenty years now so it would be cool if that opportunity ever comes to fruition.
To be honest I've been really lucky to get to scrimp by doing my comics & music more or less full time the past six months & if I'm able to keep that happening & organize myself enough to do it where I'm not stressed out & overworked all the time, that would be a dream right there.
IH: Where can people find you on the internets?
BJM: My comics are at www.silbermedia.com/comics (includes free PDFs & CBZs of some of the books) & you can find all the other stuff I do (zines, music, etc.) throughout the rest of the Silber site. & of course I'm easy enough to find on Facebook & Twitter, links to that from the Silber site as well.
Thanks for your interest & support & the opportunity to discuss my work.
Remember, all this week, The Outhouse will be showcasing SPACE! If you live in the Mid-West and are looking to check out some great small press comics, be sure to come!
The Small Press & Alternative Comics Expo (SPACE)
The Mid-West's Largest Exhibition of Small Press, Alternative and Creator Owned Comics
Over 170 exhibitors
April 21 & 22 Saturday 10am-6pm Sunday 10am-5pm
Ramada Plaza Hotel And Conference Center in Columbus.
4900 Sinclair Road Columbus, OH 43229
Off I71 at the Morse / Sinclair exit. Free Parking!
Admission $5.00 per day and $8.00 per weekend.
Written or Contributed by: J.M. Hunter