What do you do on Sundays at 10:00AM PST? If you love comics, you ought to be spending the time chatting about them. For just an hour of your Sunday, you can add your voice, along with other readers and creators from all over the world, to the themed Twitter discussion. The catch? No catch. Just be sure to add the hashtag #ComicBookHour.
The weekly Q&A event has been running for some time, but I only just discovered it — thanks to an invitation from its creator, Jamie Me. The theme of my first #ComicBookHour was “Inspiration,” as in, which comics and creators inspire you? For exactly one hour, a diverse group of people respond to a series of questions presented by Me through @ComicBookHour, and then take the conversation wherever it needs to go. When it comes to comics, “wherever” can lead to some pretty dark places, but I was pleased to find that the discussions I’ve since been involved in have largely remained very positive, with everyone simply sharing in their love of the medium. Says Me: “Everyone is very friendly, and can have debates without wanting to kill each other. A rarity on Twitter, ha ha.”
If you know me, then my answer to this particular question shouldn’t be a surprise:
— WmnWriteAboutComics (@womenoncomics) April 24, 2016
This Sunday, May 15, is special treat for the online communities that love to chat about comics. #ComicBookHour will be temporarily replaced by the #OnlineComicCon. The virtual event, which started in December of 2015, originally featured three comic communities including #ComicBookHour (formerly known as #ComicTalk), #WebComicChat, and #BlackComicsChat. These groups will be joined by Aftershock Comics, Tapas Media (AKA Tapastic), and more to present a Q&A session for creators and fans alike. The topics discussed won’t just focus on mainstream comics. The Big 2 will inevitably show up in conversation, but Me keeps webcomics and indie comics in the spotlight as well, and participants are eager to share their favourite reads or their own creations to help broaden everyone’s horizons. As a creator himself, Me has a vested interest in ensuring that webcomics and indies get the attention they deserve, but I’ll let him tell you all about that– and about himself!
In my first #ComicBookHour experience, your questions focused on inspirational comics and creators. So let’s turn that back on you: How did you get into comics and what comics and creators inspire now?
When I was a kid I’d buy and read Sonic comics, but over time comics like that didn’t appear in shops any more, so I went for quite a long time in my childhood without reading comics. Skip to my 20s, and after a long time of watching anime, I decided to start reading manga. Some of the shows end, and then you can pick up the Japanese style of comics to finish the series. I recently did that with Deadman Wonderland, and I’ve read Bleach for longer than I can remember at this stage. I read more manga than I do anything else, if honest. I just bought Ajin to continue the storyline after watching it on Netflix. Top stuff.
I see people complaining day and night on my Twitter about how their franchised superhero comics are disappointing them. Sometimes you have to say no to McDonalds, and go find yourself a proper meal.
Or make your own meal! You have your own successfully funded Kickstarter comic, Queen, a British political thriller. I thoroughly enjoyed the first issue, particularly the main character and her little family. Tell us a bit about the main character, Emily Green, and why you wanted to tell her story.
Emily Green is a deeply unhappy character. She feels like she’s spiraling downwards in life. Her family life is falling apart, she doesn’t feel inspired to continue with politics and her dream of becoming Prime Minister is evaporating too, but she has these thoughts of how she’s part of a bigger problem at the same time. Has she contributed towards a corrupt government? I wanted to create a character that was as close to the truth about something we all fear, that the UK government doesn’t serve its people, and give them the opportunity to do something about it. Emily also comes from a dark time in my life when I was undergoing therapy for OCD, and anxiety plays quite the big part in her character. For anyone who was invested in politics last year, and was hoping to see change in the country this is a story for you, and it’s also for people who absolutely hate politics. Queen will task its readers with playing detective and judge. Just how far is the Deputy Prime Minister willing to go for her country?
A second successful Kickstarter brings us Start Again (which might be a bit mature for Emily’s son James to be requesting!) It is described as a “superhero boy meets girl” story–but we need to know more! Where did this idea come from and where is it going?
START AGAIN at it’s core is about a guy and a girl meeting, and the madness that comes with being a superhero. I wanted to explore the consequences of meeting someone in this line of work, and how it would affect the non-superhero. Ajay and Natalie are both the main characters. You don’t get one without the other. I got the idea after thinking about life outside of playing the hero for a supe, and then I started to imagine what it would be like to do this story set in my local area. West Yorkshire, where I live, is quite unique. It’s full of characters, and I walk on the set of START AGAIN, Leeds, most weeks. Just yesterday I was pointing out to my partner where Natalie lives. I drew a lot of inspiration for the storyline from experiences in my relationship too. My partner is of Indian heritage, and as a result we’ve had some “interesting” moments over the years. Hilariously, in Leeds city centre we once had someone shout out of a car “she’s not white you know.” I feel sorry for anyone who says stupid stuff to Ajay like that. Natalie will batter them. In terms of what is next… page 9 would get banned by most publishers, and Emily would not be amused, at all, by James reading the comic.
Both Start Again and Queen are accessible through a Taptastic subscription, a platform that lets readers read and creators publish indie and web comics, and fosters a “community for indie web comic artists and visual storytellers to connect with fans.” How would you describe your experience with this platform? Do you recommend it for other creators?
Tapastic is interesting. I host my comic previews on the site, for such titles as START AGAIN and QUEEN, and I also create a NSFW joke comic called IRL on the platform. It’s free to view tons of content, and then they have some paid stuff, but the real beauty here is the power of the actual community. The people on the site are passionate comic readers, and they support people in a legit way. There is a solid argument to be made for a lot of indie comic creators, like myself, to jump ship to a webcomic-first format. I’ve tested it by running the START AGAIN preview on the platform, and the figures were far greater than what I got by featuring on, quite frankly, uninterested comic movie sites. I’m now more interested in getting featured on quality sites like yours, and reaching passionate indie readers like the ones that exist on Tapastic and Kickstarter. You don’t have anything to lose by signing up with them and posting a six page preview, but you could gain some new readers that care about originality.
A good example of this format working is KAMIKAZE. They’ve only had the comic going for a year, but they have 1.2k subscribers, and they have had 132k plus impressions. They have an upcoming Kickstarter on May 11th, so for anyone who requires proof of this format working keep an eye on it. I study this stuff closely, and I’m not tied down to outdated concepts. We live in the Netflix-era, and comics are a long way from when they were in corner shops, but they are killing it online. Big time.
With two comics on the go and weekly #ComicBookHour events, what comes next for you?
I want use this opportunity to announce that QUEEN #2 is going into pre-production. Today is the one year anniversary of the original Kickstarter, and I’ve had tons of questions as to why the comic hasn’t returned yet. The truth is that a title like this requires a lot of planning, so we are taking advantage of the fact that we treat QUEEN more like a movie we are taking around to festivals than a monthly comic. I can’t tell you exactly when the comic will hit Kickstarter currently, but I can tell you that the next piece of news will hit June 23rd, the date of the UK EU referendum, so be sure to follow @JamieMeWrites for the next details.
What will I be doing on Sunday at 10:00AM PST? I’ll probably sharing my love of comics with other comic book fans and creators, and when the question of “What are you reading this week?” comes up, my answer just might be Queen #2.